The Place

Ladakh-Zanskar-map

Map of Ladakh, Northern India

The expedition is bound for the Ladakh region, which is a remote and high altitude desert environment in the Himalayas, with very little rainfall, warm summers and extremely harsh winters.

This google map gives some idea of the local terrain:

The Zanskar region, where the expedition will be based, is geographically distinct from Ladakh, being much more remote and less frequented by tourists. It is located in a glacial valley holding the Zanskar river. It is connected to Leh (Ladakh) by a c. 500km road route via Kargil, which takes two full days to travel by 4 x 4, and along which the expedition will travel to get to the valley.  Currently, the valley in inaccessible to outsiders for seven months each year as the road is frozen. A new and much more direct route following the Zanskar river, the Chaddar road, is currently in the process of being built, which will change the characteristics of Zanskar significantly.

 

kumi copy

Livestock in Kumik

The image above is of Kumik, one of the most ancient villages in the Zanskar valley where we will be living for a significant proportion of our research period. The villagers are predominantly subsistence farmers reliant on seasonal meltwater from a small glacier at the top of the valley which has retreated dramatically in the past few years, resulting in chronic shortages. After several failed  attempts to divert meltwater by building stone canals, the village made the decision to relocate three kilometres closer to the Zanskar river. In the present day there are now two sites of the village: Old Kumik and New Kumik. It is the human stories behind this decision to move as a means of adaptation which forms the core of our research.

 

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