The Markha Valley Trek is certainly one of the most varied and beautiful treks in the world. It ventures high into the Himalayas crossing two passes over 15,000 ft. (4575 m) as it circles from the edges of the Indus Valley, down into parts of Zanskar, and passes through terrain that changes from incredibly narrow valleys to wide-open vast expanses. It is very interesting place as it is well known for its ancient form of Buddhism that flourishes in the many monasteries.
These monasteries dot the landscape perched high atop hills. The trails are decorated by elaborate “chortens”(shrines) and “Mani”(prayer) walls that further exemplify the region’s total immersion in Buddhist culture. As you trek to the upper end of the Markha Valley you will be rewarded with spectacular views of jagged snowcapped peaks before crossing the 5150m Kongmaru La (Pass) and the famous Hemis Monastery, where we end our trekking. There are also few days to explore the fascinating town of Leh and raft the Indus River.
- Trek: Markha valley
- Duration: 7 days
- Best Time: June to September
- Highest Point: Kongmaru La (5135m)
- Highlight: People, Village, Wildlife and High Passes
- Physical Challenge: Moderate
Moderate: suitable for most hill walkers and generally involving shorter days at moderate altitude, on good paths and tracks. However, a reasonable level of fitness is required as these treks can involve considerable amounts of ascent and descent and the occasional difficult day.
Preparations for Ladakh Trekking
Since most trekking routes in Ladakh starts around 3500 meters, proper acclimatization is necessary to avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). The best way to acclimatize is a 2 days’ rest. Other than that, you can acclimatize with baby treks
Day1, Day2, Day 3 – Acclimatization
The three day has been kept free for getting acclimatized to the low level of oxygen in Ladakh. We will do short visits to places around in a vehicle and also take short walks around the town.
Day 4 -The Trek Begins
Zingchen – Ganda La base (3-4 hours) (3100 mts / 10168 ft.)
We will start our trek from Zingchen in Hemis National Park, where we may be fortunate enough to get a glimpse of wildlife as diverse as the Snow leopard, lynx, Ladakhi Urial (a type of goat), Arghali (great Tibetan sheep), Blue sheep, Red fox, Tibetan wolf, Dhole (wild dog), Marmot and Mountain hare. Later we will climb gradually through a beautiful gorge that will unveil the imposing Stok Range. Before reaching Rumbak, we will stop at a teahouse run by women from the village. After a warm cup of tea, we will continue through Rumbak, and pass by the house of Yurutse village, before reaching camp at the base of Ganda La (4545m). From our campsite, we can see a spectacular view of Stok Kangri and the whole of the Stok range.
The Markha valley
Ganda La base – Skiu via Gandala 4900 m (6-7 hours)
After a light breakfast, we will begin our 2-hr ascent to Ganda La; views of the lofty Zanskar and Stok Ranges will leave you breathless. The usual chorten and prayer flags mark the top of the pass, where one may see blue sheep and marmots roaming the hills. After a short rest, we will make a gradual hour-long descent to Shingo and break for lunch. We will finish the day by hiking through a spectacular gorge before pitching camp at Skiu (3300m). Within this idyllic village lies an old monastery and ruins of an old castle (once a rest stop for the Royal family on their way to Srinagar)
Skiu – Markha (7-8 hours)
Following the Markha river, we will hike through the lovely valley on a fairly level path. The trail crosses the river at various points, and passes through winter settlements that contain Lhatos (religious shrines for local deities) and Mani walls (stones inscribed with Buddhist prayers). After cross the river for the last time, we will arrive in Markha, the largest village in the valley.
Markha – Thachungtse (5-6 hours)
The Markha valley trail continues past old stone-mills, a ruined castle and the auspicious monastery of Techa, which is proudly perched on a towering cliff that looms above Markha, well worth visiting if we have the energy! The path then intersects the river several times before cutting through the last hamlets in the valley. After leaving the village of Umlung, we will be afforded our first view of KangYatse (6400m), which will stay in sight until we cross Kongmaru La. After we break for lunch in the village of Hangkar (the last in the valley), we will press onward to the lovely green pasture of Thachungste, where we will camp for the night.
Day 8 Thachungtse – Nimaling (4 hours)
Today the trail will lead us up to the beautiful plateau of Nimaling, where the people of the Markha valley bring their herds to graze during the summer months. At 4700m, Nimaling is the highest camp on the trek, giving us spectacular views of KangYatse to the right, the Zangskar Range and the Markha Valley below.
Day 9 : Nimaling – Shangsumdo via Kongmarula 5200 m (7 hours)
After a hearty breakfast, we will cross Kongmaru La, the highest pass on the trek. Here we have a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The 2-hour descend is quite steep, but will gradually level as we enter Shang Gorge, with its strange and otherworldly rock formations. More river crossings bar our way before we arrive at the sour-spring of Chuskurmo (used in traditional medicine by the Amchi doctors). After a break, we will pass through a couple of villages before reaching Shang Sumdo, where we will spend our last evening together enjoying the camaraderie and an excellent beer!
Day 10: Shangsumdo – Leh via Hemis monastery (1 hour drive)
We drive back to Leh enroute we will visit the Hemis monastery belongs to Red hat sect and stay at the hotel. Rest of the day free for personal and leisure activities
Day 11: Leh: Day free in town
Day 12: Departure from Leh
After week of walking in wilderness witnessing age old custum with lots of good memories you will be drop to airport by our company representative for your further journey.