Starting from Darcha
Why start from Darcha, why not from somewhere else?
when you come to Darcha, and have decided to stay there for the night to
acclimatise, that's what you ask yourself. I felt like moving on as soon as
Indian tourism-frontier cowboys.
If you don't
come to these guys they will come to you! You may have tasted better food in
your life, but this restaurant, part of the trek-n-travel agency outfit, is
(was in 2000) the only restaurant in Darcha. The cowboys will offer to hook
you up with guide and/or horsemen, but you could easily negotiate a
yourself; try looking in the campground behind the first row of houses, where
you'll probably be camping yourself as well.
A band of horsemen waiting to be hired by a new team
They are usually local enterprising Zanskaris doing this
as a lucrative summertime job; not that they get rich off this business, it
may be their only money income. Unlike in Nepal there are no porters in Zanskar,
all transportation in the mountains is done by horseback. While there are yak
breeds (dzopkios) in Zanskar, I didn't see any yaks being used for
As I'd experience later on, the horsemen often don't get treated
well. And some trekkers expect them to work 24 hours a day for the meager
pay they receive. While I donīt think it's necessary to pay these people a
higher rate than the "market" (they won't expect that either) it is
imperative to treat them like fellow human beings.
You feel sorry for Western civilization (to quote Mr Gandhi
"that would be a good idea"), or maybe rather just for "common sense", when
you see western tourists fighting with the local Indians over amounts of
money that none of the tourists would care about back home.
The Nepali immigrant workers
are seemingly not very well liked in Zanskar. I heard quite a few
stories accusing these Nepalis of everything from murder, robberies, violent
assault and drug smuggling (as well as gambling and drinking - very grave
indeed). While some of it is probably largely crap and gossip, I am sure you
have to be a roughneck for this kind of job.
There are a lot of Nepalis abroad due to the enormously high
rates of unemployment in that country. You'll meet Nepalis everywhere in the
hotels and guesthouses, probably usually working for lower wages than Indians
This is the first shack you
encounter after you leave Darcha (2000). It's a 'teahouse' and restaurant,
believe it or not, and there is a camping ground outside; it's the logical place
to stop if you want to divide the trek from Darcha to Zanskar Sumdo into two
days, which is probably the wiser option. (I slept there the first night after
Go back or continue trekking.