Ladakh: Markha Valley Trek
Trip Code: AITMVT
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Remote, stark, haunting, extreme, unforgettable. All words which start to describe the Himalayan region of Ladakh.
For the present day traveller Ladakh is a meeting place of experiences, images, encounters and challenges unlike any other in India.
Flanked by the Great Himalayas and the Karakoram mountain ranges, Ladakh lies between two other mountain ranges: the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range. The Markha valley trail begins from Shang village, located deep inside the valley, and crosses several remote picturesque villages and passes, reaching a height of 5150m.
The trek is only possible between July and mid-September. It involves high-altitudes and moderate to strenuous walking. The itinerary can be modified slightly to suit different levels of experience and fitness. Please contact us to discuss fitness requirements of the trek.
Day 1 Delhi
You’ll be met on arrival at the airport and transferred to your hotel. New Delhi is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines the ancient with the modern. Along with the fast spiraling skyscrapers, the city is dotted with many historical monuments and reminders of the region’s ancient legacy, as well as spacious gardens and roads lined by trees.
Day 2 Delhi
Relax in the morning then take a half-day guided city tour of New Delhi. The division between New and Old Delhi is the division between the capitals of the British and the Mughals. Visit Imperial Delhi and the Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India and Humayun’s tomb, built by the widow of the second Mughal Emperor, Humayun.
Day 3 Leh
Early morning, transfer to airport to board your flight to Leh airport, the world’s highest commercial airport. Transfer to hotel and take the day to adjust to Leh’s altitude of 3505m – acclimatisation is a must! Leh is the headquarters of the Ladakh region and an interesting town – colourful, with lively people and food. Evening, visit the bazaar.
Day 4 Leh
Breakfast visit to Shey and Thikse monasteries. Shey Palace was built in 1645 as a summer residence for Ladakh’s kings. Thikse Gompa is picturesquely perched high on a hill above the Indus. The gompa possesses a rich and beautiful collection of hand-written or painted prayer books. After lunch, walk to Shanti Stupawith a panoramic view of Leh.
Day 5 Leh
After breakfast visit Phyang and Spituk monasteries. Spituk Monastery was founded in the 11th century AD. Phyang Monasteryis remarkably built on the hilltop, similar to the Likir monastery. Lunch at the hotel then visit the Tibetan refugee camp at the SOS village near Choglamsar. [Image: SOS Children’s Village].
Day 6 Shang
Morning drive to Shang, our starting point for the trek. En route, visit Hemis Monastery, one of the largest and wealthiest monasteries in Ladakh. Built in 1620 by king-architect Singe Namgyal, a great patron of Buddhism, Hemis is filled with golden statues and thangkhas brought from many places, including Tibet. Reach Shang for lunch. Overnight stay in tents.
Day 7 Churkimo
Begin our first day of the trek with a 3 hour gradual ascent on the left side of the valley, along the stream. Pass through the tiny settlement of Chogdo to Churkimo. Here there is a small water spring and the water is said to have medicinal values that can cure stomach problems. Overnight stay in tents.
Day 8 Nimaling
Enter a deep gorge and start ascending towards the pass. As we continue, the trail climbs steeply to the beautiful grassy slopes at the foot of Kongmaru La (5150m). After a brief break, ascend gradually to the top and the amazing views of Kang Yatse peak (6400m). Descend to Nimaling (4650m) and camp by the side of the river. (7 Hours)
Day 9 Markha
Nimaling is the grazing ground for animals like yaks, dzos, sheep, goats and horses. See Himalayan Marmots and glimpse a blue-sheep or wolf. Descend through meadows to Thachungtse and cross the Nimaling river passing some villages and barley fields. Enter Markha via a gorge. Overnight stay in tents. (8 hours)
Day 10 Markha
Have a day at leisure to explore the valley. Markha is at 3850m and is the largest village in the valley. It has a fort and a gompa (monastery) perched on the northern hill. The gompa is said to be one of the oldest in Ladakh.
Day 11 Siku
Today the trail passes through quite lush riverside vegetation. En route, discover a few derelict monasteries. Dinner and overnight stay in tents, altitude 3450m. (6 hours)
Day 12 Shingo
Climb up a gorge, which opens on to the broad grassy shoulders of the upper valley of Sumdo. Small villages with few houses and fields lie at the junction of a small stream with the Skiu Nala. Continue the trail upward for another half an hour and set up camp at 4150m, below the pass. Overnight stay in tents. (6 hours)
Day 13 Rumbak
After an hour’s steep ascent arrive at the Ganda La pass (4950m) to a welcome of colourful, flapping prayer flags and spectacular views of the Zanskari range and the snow-capped Karakoram mountains. Descend steadily to the other side of the valley to Jingchan river and head towards the Rumbak at 3750m. Overnight stay in tents. (7 hours)
Day 14 Mankarmo
Cross the Rumbak Nala and follow the right bank to the top of the pass. After spending some time at the pass enjoying the excellent views of the Indus valley, descend into the gorge that leads to the campsite near the small shepherds’ village of Mankarmo. Dinner and overnight stay in tents at 4200m. (6 hours)
Day 15 Leh
After breakfast, pack up camp and trek 4 hours downhill to reach Stok village, which is your finishing point. On arrival, board the waiting vehicle and drive 1 hour back to Leh for lunch at the hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in hotel.
Day 16 Leh
Half-day excursion to Khardung La, the world’s highest drivable road at 5600m. It is a test of your physical endurance as this is the same altitude as the base of Mt Everest. Relax in the afternoon and take the opportunity to purchase last-minute souvenirs. Dinner and overnight stay in hotel.
Day 17 Delhi
Transfer to the airport to board the flight back to Delhi where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Late evening or early morning transfer to the airport for a domestic Indian or international flight.
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