WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM THIS ADVENTURE TRIP
The Markha valley trek takes us through the Hemis National Park well known for its wildlife, like the blue sheep (Bharals), Marmot and the elusive Snow Leopard. It is the most popular trek in Ladakh. This valley is highly scenic with breathtaking landscape, small streams, tiny hamlets offering home stays, narrow gorges and high peaks like Stok Kangri and Kang Yatse.
DAY 1: NEW DELHI TO LEH (3,500 m / 11,484 ft)
We catch an early flight from New Delhi to Leh, flying over the Great Himalayan Range with the stretch of the high altitude desert below us. Pick up from the airport and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is spent in acclimatization walks in the markets of Leh. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
DAY 2: ACCLIMATIZATION DAY IN LEH. OPTIONAL HALF DAY SIGHTSEEING (3500 m / 11484 ft)
Spend the morning relaxing. Post lunch we step out for an orientation and acclimatization excursion around Leh. We visit Leh Palace, Hall of fame and head to Shanti Stupa which is a Buddhist white-domed stupa on a hilltop in Changspa. We enjoy the panoramic view of the city at sunset.
DAY 3: LEH – FULL DAY SIGHTSEEING (3,500 m / 11,484 ft)
This day is for taking in the sights of Leh and to use this as an opportunity to acclimatize further. We visit Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery and Stok Palace. Hemis stands on the western bank of the Indus River. The monastery boasts of a very rich collection of ancient relics. The Hemis Monastery also serves as the venue for the annual Hemis Festival. Thiksey houses one of the largest Buddhist statues, the 15-meter tall Champa, the Buddha of Future. Thiksey is one of the most frequently visited and most photogenic monasteries in Ladakh. About a hundred monks live here. The Stok Palace is where the current royal family lives.
DAY 4: DRIVE LEH TO ZINCHEN (1 ½ hrs). TREK STARTS TO RUMBAK (3,800 m / 12,468 ft; 3 hrs)
After breakfast we drive to Zinchen. Our trek starts from here, and we gradually walk along the Rumbuk Nala to reach Rumbak, which is a large, beautiful village in the valley. Camp overnight.
DAY 5: RUMBAK TO BASE OF GANDA LA (4,380 m / 14,366 ft; 4 hrs)
We follow the main trail on the left of the Rumbak Nala leaving the village behind us. We enter a valley leading to the south and proceed to the village of Yurutse. Here we can take some good pictures of the valley and rest for a bit.We proceed in the same valley for about another 1 ½ hrs to first base camp of Ganda La. We go a little further (about 45 mins) up the hill till we reach another camp of Ganda La. Camp overnight.
DAY 6: BASE OF GANDA LA TO SHINGO (4,150 m / 13,616 ft; 4 hrs)
Ganda La is our first pass on the trek. From the base we have a gradual ascent before the steep climb to the top of Ganda La. From the pass we get a fabulous view of Mt. Stok Kangri and the Stok La range on the South East, while the Zanskar range is on the West. We descend steadily along the Skiu Nalla to reach a small village called Shingo with a beautiful campsite. Camp overnight.
DAY 7: SHINGO TO SKIU/PENTSE (3,950 m/13,035 ft: 4 hrs)
We continue to descend along the Skiu Nalla. This walk is through a narrow gorge with willows and shrubs of wild roses. We walk all the way crisscrossing the Nalla till we reach the Skiu Village on the banks of the Markha River. We visit Skiu monastery and then proceed further for 3-4 km to camp at Pentse. Camp overnight.
DAY 8: SKIU/PENTSE TO MARKHA (3,700 m / 12,140 ft; 5 ½ hrs)
We follow the Markha River for the next few days. We reach Markha village after crossing the river a few times and passing through villages Chaluk and Tunespa. Camp overnight.
DAY 9: MARKHA TO TAHUNGTSE (4,150 m / 13,616 ft; 4 hrs)
Our trail continues east along the Markha River passing through the villages of Umlung and Hankar, fairly large villages in the valley. After the Hankar village we see the Nimaling nalla coming from the left to join the Markha River. We reach the village of Tahungste. Camp overnight.
DAY 10: TAHUNGTSE TO NIMALING (4,720 m / 15,486 ft; 3 hrs)
We start on the trail that continues to climb up above the village and soon we head to the southeast to reach the plains of Nimaling. Nimaling is at the base of Mt. Kang Yatse (6,553 m / 21,500 ft) which dominates the area. Nimaling being a meadow provides pastures in the summer for many yaks, sheep, goats, dzos and horses. Nimaling is a wonderful campsite! Camp overnight.
DAY 11: NIMALING TO SHANG SUMDO (4070 m / 13354 ft; 7 hrs). DRIVE TO LEH (3500m / 11484ft; 50 km; 1 ½ hrs)
Today we cross the last pass on our trek that is the highest, Kongmaru La (5,150 m / 16,897 ft). It is a short climb to the pass but later a steep descent through a narrow but spectacular gorge to the village of Chogdo. Then walk to Shang Sumdo and further drive to Leh. Overnight in a hotel.
DAY 12: REST DAY IN LEH
We prefer this one rest day at the end of the trek so that we can make use of this extra day as a contingency day in case of any delays, due to flight cancellation or any delays on the trek due to bad weather. Alternatively one can make use of this extra day to visit Khardung La (5,602 m / 18,380 ft) pass the highest motorable pass in the world. Overnight in a hotel.
DAY 13: FINAL DEPARTURE
We drive to Leh airport and as we take off we look down on stark beauty of Ladakh, our minds filled with everlasting memories of our trek…