India Trekking » Ladakh» Markha Valley Trekking

Marka valley. photo by Lila Guurung
The secluded Markha Valley is wedged between the Ladakh and Zanskar ranges, behind the Himalaya, to which it runs parallel. The wild and barren, yet hauntingly beautiful landscapes of this hidden land are often likened to Tibet - Ladhakh used to be known as 'Little Tibet' - and are every bit as dramatic and enticing.

Tour trip starts in the fascinating capital of Leh, which developed as a trading centre, drawing merchants from Yarkand, Kashmir, Tibet and North India. During our couple of day stay, which is essential for proper acclimatization, we explore its colorful bazaars and backstreets, dominated by splendid Leh Palace, which is like a miniature version of Lhasa's Potala. We also visit several of the outlying historical and cultural gems of Ladakh, including the 500-year-old Shey palace and gompa, Tikse and Hemis monasteries and the royal palace at Stock, all of which provide an insight into the rich heritage of the region.

The circular trek it self starts from spituk and then descend to the hidden Zinchen and Rumbak Valley. From the next pass, 4878m Ganda La, the views are equally rewarding - a sea of snowy peaks merging into the distant Karakoram ranges. Reaching the lower Markha Valley, we follow the wooded banks of its river upstream as the trail meanders from village to village. We visit the monastery at Markha and ruins of a fort Strategically positioned atop a crag between the twin settlements of Lower and Upper Hankar. Climbing out of the valley through alpine meadows, we are in view of the highest peak in the area, 6400m ice-clad Kang Yatze, which rises from the Nimaling plains. Yaks, dzos, sheep, goats and horses from the lower villages graze the high pastures, while marmots and white-tailed hares can often be spotted, along with Himalayan griffon vultures and lammergeyers, which soar overhead. A free day in these magnificent surrounds allows time to walk to the base of Kang Yatze or take a well-earned rest in preparation for the long climb to the 5274m pass of Kangmaru La. The highest pass of the trek offers predictably fabulous views and on the descent, we may be lucky and see blue sheep. The trek ends at Martselang, from where it is a short drive back to Leh.

Outline Itinerary

Day 01: Arrival in Delhi Airport and Transport to Hotel.

Day 02: sightseeing in Delhi and overnight in Hotel.

Day 03: early in the morning fly to Leh and transport to Hotel

Day 04: Sightseeing around Leh Place and santi stupa.

Day: 05: exploring in and around Leh, visiting the town, the palace and the monasteries at Shey and Thikse.

Day 06: Drive to Spituk and trek to Zingchen 4 hrs.
Drive to Spituk Bridge where the trekking to marka valley starts. You will head westward after crossing the Bridge. It is long gentle walking before you enter Zinchen Gorge. The gorge is dotted with popular trees and you reach Zinchen village after walking for an hour. There are two different camps in the village, one before the village has toilet facilities but not very well maintained. The second camp at the end of the village has better toilet and garbage disposing area.

Day 07: Zinchen to Gandala Base Camp 6 hrs.
An early start is recommended to avoid the b sun at the mid day. This day you will walk though the gorge till Rumbak Sumdo from where the gorge widens up. You can expect the trails and signs of snow Leopard and golden eagle flying overhead. As soon as you come out of the gorge, there is a stupas and fields. From here the right side trail leads to Marka Valley and left to Rumbak and stock-La.walking to the same direction along the river than walk from the right side the river. The Yurutes village with only the House comes after through the valley and there are two camp sides and second one at the Gandala Base Camp.

Day 08: Ganda-La to Skyu 6 to 7 hrs.
Ganda-La to Ganda-La pass 4970m.it takes almost two hrs to reach on the top. From the top under full view of Stock khangari and mountain ranges can be viewed from the top of the pass. Descend to Shingo is steep and tedious; you can view marmot, mouse hare and Tibetan Antelope in this area. The trail leads you to skiu passing through the village of Shingo and from here you walk eastern side to Marka and here is nice and green camping.

Day 09: Skyu to Marka 7 to 8 hrs.
Keep walking from the hillside trail till pentse from where you will cross to the left bank of Marka River. Pass through Chalak and cross the river again before Tunspa come.Marka village comes after walking for another two hours. There is a camp before crossing the river and after crossing the river in the main Marka village.

Day 10: Marka to Thachungtse 6 hours.
This day is an easy walking day passing through Umlung and Hankar village. The towering kangatse peak makes this valley beautiful with small villages and monasteries located on the top of the Hill. You will have cross the Marka River several times before you reach Umlung.the trail towards east crossing the two river leads to Rupsho to Takh and the trail north side to Heemis via Kongmarula.the Thangchugtse comes after walking for around one hour across the river; it is an excellent camping.

Day 11: Thachungtse to Nirmaling 6 hours.
The Trail from Thachungtse lead you to Nirmaling passing through several mani walls and shepherds Camp.spactaculer view of the kangyatse peak can be enjoyed while walking to Nirmaling.the trail ascends up and the slops down to Nirmaling where you can see village of Marka grazing there livestock.

Day 12: Nirmaling to Shang Sumdo 6 to 7 hours.
For this day as your early start can make your climb to kangmaru –La 5274m easier. As you leave Nirmaling Chu and start steep climbing to the ridge and northwards to the top of the pass. The view from pass is wonderfull.the trail lead to Shang river passing through a few camping sites, and you will pass Mani walls. You will have to cross the steam several times before you reach Shang Sumdo.

Day 13: Drive to Leh via Hemis.
You will have breakfast and drive to Leh via Hemis Monastery.

Day 14: Free Day in Leh

Day 15: Early in the morning flight to Delhi and transport to Hotel.

Day 16: Transport to Airport and fly back Home.