MARKHA VALLEY TREK
5 Nights / 6 Days
Destination Covered : Leh Ladakh
Tour Activities : Hill Stations & Valleys
Leh Ladakh Tour Overview
MARKHA VALLEY TREK
Markha, a part of the Hemis National Park is a ‘must do trek’ in Ladakh and it will be all about breath-taking views of surreal landscapes, snow-capped mountains, and desolated fortress. One will be astonished to traverse through the tiny hamlets as you gain altitude.
Since the trail goes through Hemis National Park, all its treasured fauna, mountain sheep, Arghali, rabbits, snow leopards, Red Fox, Marmots, Ladakhi Pica, Lammergeier etc. can be spotted at every camping site. Markha being a splendid trek, our eyes will be busy encountering the diverse landscape of this place. Markha village is considered as the largest village, you can find numerous houses, scattered away. You will have to walk in the running stream of Markha river to reach to the Markha village. Surprisingly most of these villages has eco cafes run by the women self-help groups and one can savour the refreshing tea or coffee. One after another Sku, Hamurja, Markha, Hankar,and Nimaling settlements will be full of adventure.
A few minutes of walk from the Markha valley will put you near an ancient fortress. As the altitude rises and move towards Nimaling one will come across tranquil twin lakes. The trails enter into a huge grassland after a few fights crossing streams of the high altitudes. After a strenuous climb of 2 hours to Kongmaru La pass, you will be pleasantly welcomed by the Karakoram Range Mountains and the excellent array of peaks. The trail then gradually descends, coinciding with villages to say goodbye. The immediate trail from pass has steep and narrow gorge which later opens to Chikirmo village. Throughout the route, you can get indulged into the scenery of Indus valley and Ladakh range. After a gradual climb down and rocky terrain, you will reach Chokdo. This is the last stop of the entire trek, that also has many homestays.
Altitude: 17,060 ft.
Duration: 9 Days
Best Season: June to September
Leh Ladakh Tour Itinerary
Altitude: 11,560 ft – 10,490 ft – 11,160 ft
Distance: 60 km drive, 7 km trek
Duration: 2 hours drive, 2-3 hours trek
Chilling is the point where Markha river drains into the mighty Zanskar river. It is also the nearest road head for starting the trek.
Once at Chilling, begin by crossing the Zanskar river using the trolley bridge. Crossing the mighty river sitting on the trolley is a fun way to kick things off. Recently a bridge has been constructed here so that is another option for crossing the river.
After crossing the river, take a right turn. This is actually motorable road which continues for a few kilometers. Just as you start you will notice a path that deviates from the road and climbs up. Feel free to take this path to skip the rather monotonous walk along the road.
The initial part of the trail involves a steep climb for about half an hour and you might struggle a bit because of the altitude. But the tough part of the today’s trek is over. The trail joins the road from here and flattens out.
From here it is a relatively flat walk above Markha river all the way till Skiu. Enroute you will pass the village of Kaya after another 3 km. There are homestays in this village as well so you can rest here for the night, though it will make the next day very long.
Skiu is another 3 km ahead of Kaya. It is a nice village nestled between huge rocky mountains. There are homestays here, as well as camping grounds. It is not advisable to go ahead as the next village is quite far away. Get some good rest tonight to prepare for tomorrow’s long walk.
Altitude: 11,160 ft – 12,370 ft
Distance: 20 km
Duration: 6-7 hours
Today is a long day of relatively flat trekking along the riverbed. It is also the lone day of the trek where you see some greenery, as you pass by many barley fields and thickets along the Markha river. The challenge (and fun) today will be crossing the icy waters of Markha river, not once but twice.
Start by heading eastwards up the Markha valley. The trail goes along the river for 2 km till you reach a bridge. Do not cross the bridge but stay on course along the river.
The trail from here has a few washout sections requiring you to climb up and down to pass the broken section of the trail. The trail ahead goes through a bridge crossing. 2 km further from this bridge is a clearing known as Narding. Another 3 km ahead is a campsite called Sara.
1 km ahead of Sara is another bridge which you have to cross. You have reached the village of Chalak. It is a beautiful village with Barley fields. It takes 5 to 6 hours to reach Chalak from Skiu. From Chalak, the trail ascends gradually as you pass by a trail marked by Bharal horns.
After 2-3 km, the valley opens up and a river crossing takes you to Markha Village. The water here can be thigh high. The water is icy cold so it is better to take off your shoes and socks and pull up your pants. Look for a suitable spot for wading in, preferably where the river widens.
Once you cross over, trek for a couple of kilometres till you reach the final bridge crossing for the day. As you cross over the bridge, you approach Markha- the biggest village of the valley.
Altitude: 12,370 ft – 13,100 ft
Distance: 11 km
Duration: 4-5 hours
The most beautiful part of the trek begins today. The views start to open up today as you enter upper Markha valley. You get amazing views of Kang Yatse, a near-perfect pyramid, on today’s trek.
Take the trail that climbs up from Markha village. Follow the trail from Markha village alongside Markha River. You will come across a wooden plank bridge, ignore it and continue walking with the river to your right.
After about 2 km, you have to wade through Markha River. You will need to cross over at least twice today. After the second river crossing, it is a 2 hour hike up to Umlung, a small settlement. Look out for the Umlung Gompa and cross over from its base to reach Umlung.
As you climb up from Umlung you get the first view of Mt. Kang Yatse, it is a truly breathtaking sight. Two hours of walking skirting up a gorge will take you to the picturesque village of Hankar. It is possible to go further to Thochungtse.
Altitude: 13,100 ft – 15,400 ft
Distance: 10 km
Duration: 5-6 hours
Today is another short day of trekking in a spectacular setting. Take it easy and enjoy the views, but make sure to reach Nimaling early before the weather turns bad.
Continue along the trail as it climbs up steeply from Hankar. After about 1 km, the trail splits in two. Ignore the trail that climbs up, it goes to a pass called Zalung Karpo La. Continue along the lower trail, after another 1 km, you will reach the campsite of Thochuntse.
Thocuntse has lovely green fields with a couple of teahouse tents. Just after Thochungtse there is a fork in the trail. Take the trail to your left, the trail to the right goes towards Kang Yatse base camp.
The trail remains quite steep for about an hour before the ascent becomes relatively gradual. Soon you reach a beautiful pond with Kang Yatse in the backdrop. This is a perfect spot for having your packed lunch.
From the pond, it is a gradual but long descent to the wide, windy plateau of Nimaling. Nimaling is surprisingly green given its altitude and is used as a summer pasture.
Altitude: 15,400 ft – 17,060 ft – 12,810 ft
Distance: 12 km
Duration: 5-6 hours
Today’s trek is relatively difficult. First you have to negotiate the short but steep ascent to the high Kongmaru La. But what is perhaps more difficult is the steep, almost never ending descent from the pass.
Most people descend all the way down to Shang Sumdo the same day, but that makes for a rather unpleasant last day. If time is not a constraint, it is highly recommended to stop at Chokdo for the night.
From Nimaling, Kongmaru La is very clearly visible to the east. Cross the stream near the campsite and proceed towards the pass. There is a clear trail that climbs up steeply to the pass. From Nimaling it takes around 2 hours to reach the pass.
Kongmaru La is a great spot to rest after the gruelling trek up. On a clear day you get great views of the Indus valley and Ladakh ranges from here.
This is however not the end but rather the beginning of the really difficult part of the day. The descent from the pass is brutal. The terrain is rocky and drops down steeply as you enter into a narrow canyon after trekking down 2 to 3 km.
After about 2 hours of descent, the canyon widens as your reach Sukarmo. Sukarmo has tea house tents so you can also stop here for the night if you wish to. After another hour of walking on the river bed you come to a section running along a small hill. The trail here is descending consistently.
Soon you will reach Chokdo, a small village and your destination for the night. You can stay at one of the homestays here. Chokdo has phone facilities so if you plan on taking a taxi from Shang Sumdo to Leh, it is advisable to book one at Chokdo itself. Otherwise you might have to wait long hours for a taxi once you reach Shang Sumdo.
Altitude: 12,810 ft – 12,140 ft – 11,560 ft
Distance: 5 km trek, 50 km drive
Duration: 2 hours trek, 2 hours drive
Today is a very short and easy day of trekking to the roadhead Shang Sumdo. It is a flat walk along the river bed and should take you less than two hours.
Drive back to leh.
More Details about Leh Ladakh Tour
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Cancellation & Refund Policy
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