Markha Valley is exquisitely guarded by Kang Yatse 6400 mts from east and Zanskar range from the south west. During the Markha Valley Trek one can witness the breath-taking views of the Korakoram Saser Kangri peak (7670 mts) Stok Kangri (6150 mts) Kang Yatse 6400 mts and Nun Kun (7135 mts.). Further more the Sculpted canyons, Incredible rock formations, medieval villages, Buddhist gompas and snow-peaks add to the glamarous views this route has to offer. The Markha Valley trek is one of the most prominent treks in Ladakh region. Due to it proximity to Leh, the walking is mostly below 4000 metres with night stops around 3500 meters. This trek takes you through Stok la and Ganda La , crosses the Markha Valley and Kongmaru la and ends up in Hemis National Park, so there is always an opportunity of spotting rare species of wild animals.
Arrival at Leh, Check into the hotel and Explore Leh Town.Try a cup of traditional ladakhi butter tea and ladakhi bread for breakfast. Some of the Incredible gems around the town are Shanti Stupa, Leh Monastery, Leh Palace etc. Overnight at Leh.
An early start is imperative for the Markha Valley Trek as there is no shade along the south banks of the Indus River until you enter the Zinchan Gorge. We will depart for Spituk from Leh by jeeps. In Spituk our team will be waiting for us with horses to carry our trekking equipment. The trek will begin along an old kucchha(un-metalled) road into a barren & dried region of Leh Ladakh with wild roses along the trail. After trekking through the parched land we will enter the lush Zingchen Valley, where the Rumbak River flows into the mighty Indus. Further into the valley lies our campsite, in the two-house hamlet of Zingchen (meaning ‘big field’).
Today we will enter in the Hemis National Park and if we are fortunate you will get a rare sighting of a Ladakhi Ural or Arghali and other wildlife. Hemis National park is home to the lynx, Ladakhi Ural (a type of goat), Arghali (great Tibetan sheep), Bharal (blue sheep), red fox, Tibetan wolf, dhole (wild dog), marmot and mountain hare etc.(link).After paying the entrance fee, we will climb gradually through a beautiful gorge before reaching the valley leading to the village of Rumbak. At Rumbak we will stop for tea at tea house made of a parachute run by women from the same village. After a cup of warm tea we will continue past the house of Yuruche before reaching our camp at the base of Ganda La (4545 m). From our campsite there are spectacular views of Stok Kangri and the whole Stok range.
A big day and if this is your first pass crossing in the Himalaya you will be impressed.From the Ganda La there are views north to the Ladakh Range while to the south the rugged folds of the Zanskar Range extend to the snow-capped peaks of the Himalaya.
After a few stretching exercises and breakfast, we will begin a 2-hour ascent towards Ganda La (4900m). The ubiquitous chorten and Tibetan prayer flags mark the top of the pass, where one may see Blue sheep, Marmots and Arghali roaming the hills around us. Views of the lofty Zanskar Range and the distant Himalaya Range are great as well. After a short rest, we will make a gradual descent to Shingo and break for lunch. We will finish the day by hiking for 2-hours through a spectacular gorge before making camp at Skiu (3300m). There are ruins of an old monastery and a castle which makes a perfect setting for a photography session with deep blue skies and barren landscape of Leh Ladakh in the background.
From Skiu we head east up the Markha Valley. After 2 km the trail winds high above the riverbed. Floods in 2005 wiped out most of the then existing trails. There are a number of tiring 50 m ascents and descents before the trail reaches a side gorge and potential campsite about 3km above Skiu. There is a dhaba selling buckthorn juice and locally made wheat biscuits run by the Women’s Association of Ladakh.
En route there is an abundance of willow thickets and poplars where ancient mani walls and chortens line the trail and barren cliffs rise high above the valley.
The trail continues through a series of willow and gorse thickets to a bridge over the Markha River. Trekking along the Markha River we get stunning views of the valley below. We will cross the river at and reach Markha (3800m). Markha is the largest village in the valley, consisting of around 20 houses, an old monastery and a ruined fort. We have an option of staying in a village homestay in Markha or in our tents for the night.
The Markha valley trail continues passed old stone-mills, a ruined castle and the auspicious monastery of Techa, which is proudly perched upon a cliff that looms above Markha. 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 mighty Mt. Kang Yatse (6400m), which will stay in sight until we cross Kongmaru La. After we break for lunch in the village of Hangkar (the last one in the valley), we will continue onward to the lovely green pasture of Thachungste (4100 m), where we will camp for the night.
After breakfast we will follow a trail which leads 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 4700 m, Nimaling is the highest camp (4600m) on the trek, giving us spectacular views of the huge peak of Kang Yatse to the right.
We will cross Kongmaru La (5200 m), the highest pass on the trek, and from there we will have a wonderful view of the Indus Valley and Ladakh Range. The descent is quite steep, but will gradually level out as we enter Shang Gorge, with its fascinating rock formations. Your pick will be there to take you back to Leh. Overninght in Leh.
Departure from leh