Best time to visit: Mid June to Mid October
One of the most amazing alpine treks in Ladakh that passes through a remote region and snakes through varied landscapes, the Markha Valley Trek is no doubt a serious quest amid the barren beauty. It is one of the moderate to difficult treks in the Ladakh region that requires a lot of stamina, technical skills and strength. With steep and craggy cliffs, deep gorges and pinpricks of dust all throughout the trail, the journey takes a beetling shape at a certain elevation when it embarks upon to cross some high altitude mountain passes and deadly moraines. Gandala at 4,800 meters and Kongmaru La at 5,150 meters offers a panoramic view of the beautiful Markha valley, which is one of the major attractions on the trek. Further, the Markha Valley trek cuts across several remote Ladakhi villages where you can dig into the vivid culture of the Indo - Tibetans. The trek also passes through the Hemis National Park, which is a home to several endangered animals and you may often encounter species like the Baharal, marmot or wolf here. If you are lucky enough then a snow leopard and ibex might just appear in front of you out of nowhere and make your day.
The Markha Valley trekking tour starts from Leh at 3,500 meters and heads to Spituk, which is a few hours of drive from Leh. Thereafter an easy trek of 4 - 5 hours leads to Zingchen where from the trail turns to Yurutse at 4,160 meters. The trek from Zingchen to Yurutse mostly stretches over a phantasmagoric landscape and cuts across the Zingchen Nallah and Kandala Nallah. Thereafter en route the Rumbak village the trail proceeds to the base of Kandala or Gandala thus making your journey a bit strenuous. A steep descent from Gandala turns you to pass through the beautiful barley and mustard fields where the journey leads to Skiu. The trek from Yurutse to Skiu is approximately 8 - 9 hours and hence one needs to be prepared for the long day hardships. Following the barren landscape and a few remote villages the trail from Skiu heads to the picturesque Markha village and later leads to Thochuntse at 4,150 meters. From Thochuntse the trail slowly follows a gradual climb to Nimaling at 4,750 meters and later dips down to conclude at Shang Sumdo via Kongmaru La.
Day 01: Delhi - Leh (Complete Rest In Leh For Acclimatisation)
Take the morning flight for Leh. Check into the guest house and relax the whole day. This is necessary for getting acclimatised. Overnight at the guesthouse.
Day 02: Leh - Shey - Thiksey - Hemis
On this day you will go a sightseeing trip to some ancient monasteries in this area.
Shey Gompa is about 15 kms from Leh. It used to be the summer palace of the kings of Ladakh. There are lots of Stupas and Gompas built around the palace. Shey palace was built by Deldan Namgyal in the beginning of 17'Th century AD. Main attraction in Shey is the 12m Shakyamuni Buddha statue inside the Dresthang Gompa.
Thiksey Gompa, close to Shey is about 17 kms from Leh. The monastery is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Ladakh and belongs to the Gelukspa order.
Hemis, about 45 kms south of Leh it is one of the most famous and largest monastery in Ladakh. It belongs to the Drukpa order and was founded in the early 17'Th century. The setting is perfect with the monastery cradled in a lovely valley, surrounded by streams and fronted by long Mani walls. Overnight stay at the guest house.
Day 03: Leh - Spitok (Drive) - Trek To Zinchen (3200 M)
Leave Leh early morning by Jeeps and reach Spituk (1 hr). Visit the Spituk Gompa, built about 500 years ago. Start the trek from here by crossing a bridge and walking south-west of the river Indus. The gorge section leads to the confluence of Indus and Zinchen. Camp near the village of Zinchen. Overnight in Tents.
Day 04: Zinchen - Yurutse (3900 M) Via Rumbak
It's a gradual climb from Zinchen to Rumbak. From here one gets fabulous views of the snow capped Stok Mountains. From here we move along the Rumbak Nala towards Yurutse. At Yurutse village you will find fields of barley and potatoes. Overnight in Tents.
Day 05: Yurutse - Skiu (3100 M) Via Ganda La
A gradual ascent followed by a steep climb gets one to the Ganda la (4900 M). From here views extend south to the Zanskar range and distant summits of the Himalayan range. This is followed by a long descent to Shingo village. From Shingo the trail heads into a narrow gorge leading towards Skiu. At Skiu there is a confluence of the rivers coming from Markha valley and Shingo. Overnight in Tents.
Day 06: Skiu - Markha(3800 M)
It's a very pleasant hike, up the Markha valley today with the trail crossing numerous streams. Markha is a quaint village with a deserted fort and a small village Overnight in Tents.
Day 07: Markha - Thochuntse
From Markha the country changes and the warm, relatively heavily wooded sections of the lower Markha is left behind. One will be required to cross the river several times as there are no bridges here. Hankar, en route, is the highest village in the Markha valley. Overnight in Tents.
Day 8: Thochuntse - Nimaling (4700 M)
Trek starts on a good path with several small inclines and a series of grassy ridges. There are a series of mani walls (walls carved with Buddhist prayers) and chortens en route. This is one of the most beautiful high valleys in Ladakh and is dominated by the Kangyaze peak. Overnight in Tents
Day 09: Nimaling - Kongmaru La (5150 M) - Sumdo
Today one will cross to the north of the Markha, climbing to the top of the highest of the three passes, the 5,306 M Kongmaru La, with its wonderful views from the top. There are snow peaks in every direction and on a clear day the giants of Karakoram, including K2, can be seen on the north-western horizon. The trail descends to the Martselang valley, following the Martselang stream to the village of Sumdo. Overnight in tents.
Day 10: Sumdo - Hemis (4 Hrs Trek) - Leh
Today make an easy descent along the Martselang to where it broadens into the valley of the Indus at Martselang village. Board the awaiting jeeps. Visit Hemis monastery and after that drive to Leh via Shey and Thiksey monastery. Overnight in a hotel.
Day 11: Leh - Delhi
Transfer to the airport for the spectacular flight across the main chain of the Himalaya to Delhi.