When is the best time to visit Zanskar Valley? The answer to this question will depend on several things really. You must take into consideration the weather, road openings, and availability of accommodation. If you were traveling by public transport, then it has to be a time when buses and shared cabs are easily available.
The road to Zanskar Valley remains open for about 6 months a year, from May to October. Steps are being taken to keep the valley open for the entire year but that is not something that will happen anytime soon. For now, your trip has to be planned within these 6 months only.
In the article below, I will provide a month-by-month comparison of how life and connectivity in Zanskar Valley are in the year. Depending on what your preference is, you can then decide which month will be the best for you to visit.
Please note that in this article, I will only talk about the best time to visit Zanskar Valley. For other details like how to reach, where to stay, and what to see, please take a look at How to Plan a Trip to Zanskar Valley.
About Zanskar Valley
Zanskar is one of the remotest and least visited regions of our country. It literally defines terms like “A land far far away” or “in the middle of nowhere”.
The road to Zanskar remains closed or non-existent. For the most part of your journey from Kargil to Padum, you will remain on a dirt road with no Tar. Your cellphone will be nothing but a dead paperweight. Accommodation choices are limited, and chances of getting stranded will be high.
If you are there at the wrong time, you will have trouble finding a place to stay and may have to return halfway if the roads are snowed out. If you are not prepared well, even something as simple as a flat tire will be enough to ruin the day.
Weather in Zanskar Valley
The weather in Zanskar Valley remains to be cold throughout the year. The only difference is whether it was pleasantly cold or freezing cold. It starts to snow here in early October and continues well until May. Even in the summer months, the possibility of a snowfall always remains.
Below is a breakdown of how the weather in the valley trends and how it affects the lives of the people here. Please note that the temperature that I am mentioning below are just the average figures. Depending on the weather and time of the day, these numbers will changes. Nights will be even colder.
Zanskar Valley in January
The average temperate in January remains to be around -20°C minimum and -10°C maximum. January is when the valley receives the highest amount of snowfall.
You cannot reach Zanskar by road in January. The only to get here is the famous Chadar Trek from Nimmu. It is a hazardous trek that requires that you have an experienced guide, porters, and camping gear with you. In recent years, even this trek was canceled a few times due to weather conditions.
The road from Kargil to Rangdum will be open though. The stretch from Rangdum to Padum will be closed.
Zanskar Valley in February
If you are planning Chandar Trek and to walk along the Zanskar river, then the best time would be early in the year, in the months of January and early February. The average temperature in February will remain at around -20°C minimum and -10°C maximum. You cannot travel to Zanskar by road at this time.
Kargil to Rangdum road will be open at this time as well and in the following month of March.
Zanskar Valley in March
It is usually in the month of March that BRO starts the snow clearing operation on the Srinagar Leh Highway. There have been times when the entire route from Leh to Srinagar was declared open by the end of March including the Kargil Padum road.
Chances of this happening are very rare though. Even if it does happen, it is always followed by road closures because the entire region continues to receive snow in March as well.
To be on the safer side, my recommendation will be that you assume that you cannot go to Zanskar in March as well. If you want to follow and get the latest updates on road status, you can check this thread Srinagar Leh Highway Road Status & Conditions for the latest updates.
The average temperature in March remains at around -13°C minimum and -3°C maximum.
Zanskar Valley in April
Srinagar Leh highway is usually always open by the middle of April. You are free to travel from Kargil to Rangdum as well but the stretch from Rangdum to Padum may still be closed. You can follow the thread I provided link of above for the latest updates.
The minimum average temperature in April is around -5°C and 5°C at maximum.
Zanskar Valley in May
The tourist season starts in the valley in the month of May. Things will start to warm up a bit and the average temperature will range between -1°C minimum and 10°C maximum.
The road from Kargil to Padum will be all open unless there had been a heavy snowfall recently causing a roadblock. Even if this happens though, it will only be for a day or two.
With that being said, if the entire region received heavy snow throughout the winter, the road may not be open in early May but will be by the end of the month.
Zanskar Valley in June
This is the peak tourist season in Zanskar Valley. The roads will be all open and you are free to include Zanskar in your Ladakh itinerary. If you go early in June, the sight of a frozen massive Drang Drung glacier is bound to leave you breathless.
Hotels will be all open and you will have no problem finding a place to stay. The average temperature will range between 4°C minimum and 15°C maximum.
Zanskar Valley in July
Snow will be mostly gone except for Pensi La Pass and Suru valley would be lush green all around. The weather at this time is very pleasant with temperatures ranging between 8°C minimum and 17°C maximum. and you will be able to enjoy your journey to the fullest.
Monsoon hits the Kashmir region in July. Even though Zanskar is in a rain shadow area and receives almost no rainfall, you will have to face the rains while traveling from the Srinagar side. Zojila Pass at this time can be a little troublesome to cross.
Zanskar Valley in August
Much like July, it is another great month to visit Zanskar Valley. The temperature will remain around 6°C minimum and 15°C maximum. Monsoon will be in full swing in the Kashmir Valley so you should remain prepared for that.
Zanskar Valley in September
September is generally considered to be the best time to visit Ladakh & Zanskar. Monsoon will be gone from Kashmir but there will be plenty of greenery left, making the views even more scenic. The temperature in Zanskar will range between 0°C minimum and 12°C maximum.
If you were visiting towards the end of the month, you may be lucky enough to even catch a light shower of snow in the valley or at Pensi La Pass.
Zanskar Valley in October
Autumn arrives in the month of October and Suru Valley is a sight to behold at this time. You will the magical orange all around and this will make the journey even more pleasant.
Winter also starts to settle in by the middle of the month and Pensi La would already have received its first spell of snow. The temperature will drop further down to -5°C minimum and 7°C maximum. The road usually is closed by the end of the month beyond Rangdum.
Zanskar Valley in November
Pensi La would be closed by November and the entire valley now starts to get snow. The weather will be very cold with temperatures ranging between -9°C minimum and 0°C maximum. You can travel between Kargil to Rangdum but not beyond that.
Zanskar Valley in December
Things will continue to get colder. The temperature will drop further down to -12°C minimum and -3°C maximum. You can travel by road to Ragdum still though.
There will be snow in the valley but it will still not be frozen enough for the Chadar trek. For that, you will have to wait until January and February.
When is the Best time to visit Zanskar Valley?
The best time to visit Zanskar Valley is the months of June and September. You can go in July and August as well but will have to face the monsoon season in Kashmir Valley. If the Chadar trek was on your mind, late January and early February will be the best time to go.
Best Time to Visit Zanskar Valley – Conclusion
I hope this information on the best time to visit Zanskar Valley was of help. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or at our Community Forum, and I will be happy to answer.