Markha Valley Trek
Ladakh, J & K | 9D/8N | 17,060 Ft.
May to October
(Above mentioned cost is for a fixed departure)
- Reviews 3934.9/5
- Vacation Style High Altitude Trek
- Activity Level Moderate
- Group Size Medium Group
All about the Markha Valley Trek.
The Markha Valley trek is one that graces the bucket lists of every trekker, and for good reason. It is a panoramic window to the stunning views of the Ladakh and Zanskar ranges. The lofty peaks of Stok Kangri and Kang Yissay accompany you through most of the trek, while the striking landscape of the valley leaves you awestruck. The trail to Markha Valley stems from Hemis National Park, and coils through the incredible, high altitude Gandala La Pass and Kongmaru La Pass. Graced by quite a few rivers and streams that you cross, the trek also exposes you to the beautiful Ladakhi villages and cultures. The rocky terrain of the trek trails several Buddhist villages, and eventually dips into stunning, arid canyons, adding to the thrill. Wading through waist-deep river also adds to the appeal of the trek.
Also famous for the tea houses and parachute tents that the trails run past, the Markha Valley trek is nicknamed as a ‘tea house trek’. Although the trek falls into the difficult category of Himalayan treks, it is not difficult to justify the fame it enjoys amongst trekkers. It is really no wonder that this is one of the most sought-after treks in Ladakh, thanks to the unique diversity of terrains trekkers see throughout. Every day of the trek has something new in store, a compilation of surprises. The trails are lined with beautiful, colorful rock formations, while the brilliant landscape drains all the negativity from life. The rustic villages of Ladakh also give trekkers an insight into the fascinating Ladakhi culture and way of life. Trek in Markha Valley to escape the city life and drudgery that it entails.
That said, the importance of acclimatization for the Markha Valley trek cannot be overstated. Make sure you’re hydrating yourself well before as well as throughout the trek for a seamless journey.
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Best Time To Visit
The window of May to September is the most ideal time for the Markha Valley trek. During this season, the weather is relatively pleasant and sunny with cool nights. The roads are also accessible, and easy to navigate. Anytime after September and before May, it is very cold, and snow covers the entire area. Camping at high altitudes becomes dangerous, almost impossible. Roads become difficult to navigate, and might also shut down if snow is heavy.
How To Reach
You can take a direct flight to Leh from Delhi, Mumbai, and Srinagar. Take a cab to the base camp from Leh Airport.
You can reach Leh by road either from Srinagar or from Manali, although the Srinagar route is widely preferred over the Manali route.
Jammu Tawi is the nearest railways station to Leh and is well connected to most major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai.
- Revel in the engulfing beauty of the passes of Ganda La and Kongmaru La.
- Drink in the unmatched views of the sprawling Zanskar and Stok ranges.
- Fuel the adrenaline by trekking through multiple rivers and streams, along with steep ascents, riverbeds, and stunning canyons.
Markha Valley Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Leh and Rest for the day.
Arrive in Leh and rest to acclimatize in the thin air of Leh.
Day 2 : Trek from Leh to Zingchen (11,090 ft.) via Spituk (10,500 ft.)
Drive from Leh to Spituk early in the morning, as the way to Zingchen tends to get quite hot during the day. We start our trek from Spituk, from where a dirt road flanked by the beautiful Indus river leads to Zingchen about 2 hours away. The trail beings from the first Gelukpa Gompa in Ladakh, and snakes past a beautiful little village, leading you over the flowing beauty of Indus via a bridge. Post crossing that, the famous Hemis National Park flags the trail that winds through a dirt road. After about 2 km, the trail branches out into two, and we stick to the lower, relatively shorter trail. After a few minutes into the trek, the splendour of the Indus Gorge unveils, from where we continue trekking towards Zinchen gorge and Zinchen village.
Distance: 15 km
Trekking time: 4-5 hours
Day 3 : Trek from Zinchen (11,090 ft.) to Yurutse (13,520 ft.)
An hour’s trek brings us to the check post of Hemis National Park and brings up tp Sumdzom. Post registration and payment of fees, the trail meanders over a stream gushing through a gorge called Zingchen Nala. Crossing the stream, the trail leads to Rumbak, which takes about 3 hours to reach. Leaving behind the gorge, we venture forth into a narrowing valley and move up to Rumbak Village by walking over a stunning riverbed. This can get quite taxing as the trail requires treading over rocks. Crossing another stream, the trail opens up to the village of Rumbak along with stunning vistas of the snowy Stok Ranges. Overnight stay in Yurutse.
Distance: 5 km
Trekking time: 3 hours
Day 4 : Trek from Yurutse (13,520 ft.) to Skiu (11,160 ft.) via Ganda La Pass (15,748 ft.)
We begin trekking early the in the morning towards the Ganda La Base camp, which means an hour of a steep climb. Enroute the base camp, the towering Stok Kangri peak rises behind us. From atop the Ganda La Col, the view of Zinchen gorge, shadowed by the Stok Ranges will take your breath away. We embark on the clearly marked, twisting trail towards Skiu. The pass crossing might be strenuous, especially given the drastic gain and loss of altitude. Make sure you maintain a slow pace, as speeding up might increase the chances of AMS. A 2-3 hours’ descent will lead us to Shingo, at 13,615 ft.. From Shingo, we take the trail that coils through a narrow gorge which blooms with vibrant wild roses. Enroute Skiu, we cross Shingo Nallah nearly 4 times. The trail descends through a stream. Once we reach the end of the gorge and leave behind the stream, the Markha Valley begins, graced by the incredible Markha river, marking the merging of Stok valley and Markha valley. We camp overnight at Skiu.
Distance: 25 km
Trekking time: 8-9 hours
Day 5 : Trek from Skiu to Markha (12,369 ft.)
A long day. From Skiu, we follow the trail heading towards Markha Valley, alongside the flowing Markha river, flanked by lofty peaks on both sides. Stick to this trail for 2 km, and move along the trail towards Chalak village through a bridge. Once we cross the bridge, another 2 km of trekking will open up to the clearing called Narding, followed by another 4 km till we reach yet another bridge to cross. This brings us to the right flank of the river. We rest at Chalak village and have lunch. Post lunch, the trail weaves uphill and is marked by Bharal horns. We reach Markha Valley after another icy river crossing, which needs another 2-3 km of trekking. Followed by this, a final crossing will bring you to the village of Markha, where we camp for the night.
Distance: 20 km
Trekking time: 6-7 hours
Day 6 : Trek from Markha to Thochuntse (13,165 ft.)
A relatively shorter day, we begin trekking along the Markha river for 2 km, after which we come to the point where the path leading to Zanskar can be seen. We cross the Markha river more than once as we head towards Umlung. Crossing the base to Umlung Gompa will lead you to Umlung, while the magnificent My. Kang Yissay looms into view. 2 hours later, the village of Hankar greets us, beyond which, the trail forks into two different routes. We continue further along the one leading to Thochuntse, which is about 1 km away, and includes another bridge crossing. Camp overnight at Thochuntse.
Distance: 13 km
Trekking time: 5-6 hours
Day 7 : Trek from Thochuntse to Nimaling (15,518 ft.)
We begin the short trek to Nimaling. Once again, the trail splits into two, and we set out on the left one. A scenic little pond greets us about 2 hour in the trek, where you can fill up your bottles. Soon a grassy, verdant meadow gives way to the campsite of Nimaling, which is a great vantage point to the majestic Kang Yatse peak and glacier! A handful of trickling streams nearby act as the cherry on top. The campsite bears cold, strong winds that the mountains send our way. Camp overnight at Nimaling.
Distance: 7 km
Trekking time: 3 hours
Day 8 : Trek from Nimaling to Shang Sumdo (12,237 ft.) via Kongmaru La Pass (17,060 ft.)
Perhaps the most difficult day of the trek, we make for Kongmaru La over a steep terrain. The high altitude and thinness of air increase the challenge twofold. A gushing stream cuts through a gorge, following the first 500 meters of steep descent. The stream needs to be crossed a few times, post which another steep descent to a riverbed trail meets Sumdo. The trail to Sumdo is treacherous, steep and rocky, which demands that you tread with extra caution. Soon, the trail enters a beautiful, narrow canyon which is the quintessential terrain of Ladakh. From Sumdo, it takes about 2-3 hours to reach Leh.
Distance: 17-18 km
Trekking time: 7 hours
Day 9 : Depart from leh
You can go on with your onward travel plans.
The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance.
- Accommodation: All accommodation on the trek will be on twin sharing basis in Tents or Homestays. Any accommodation in a hotel/guest house/hostel (if mentioned in the itinerary and not mentioned in exclusions) will be in a 2-3 star accommodation unless mentioned otherwise.
- Trek Leader and Guides: A team of an experienced and certified Trek Leader, as well as a professional guide, will accompany you for the trek.
- Services of a Professional Trekking Team: A team of an experienced Cook, Camp Staff, Porters/Mules will accompany you for all the arrangements on the trek.
- Meals: All Meals on the Trek are included. We will serve Vegetarian Indian food on the trek which will be cooked by our high altitude chefs. It will be a five meal plan including Morning Tea, Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Dinner. You will be provided with clean mountain water from the streams to drink. You can carry water purification tablets if you deem necessary but we advise otherwise.
- Trekking and Safety Equipment: All the camping equipment such as Tents, Sleeping bags, Toilet Tents, Dining Tent, Mattresses, and other things will be provided by us and we guarantee the quality. Safety Equipment including Medical kit, Oxygen Cylinder, Oximeter, Crampons & Gaiters(if required) will be provided by us. We recommend you to bring your own sleeping bags if possible.
- Permits and Forest Camping Charges: Only for Indian Clients, All the applicable trekking permits, Camping Charges, Forest Entry Fee etc will be paid by us. Foreigners have to pay these charges if not mentioned.
- A Life Changing Experience: We assure you that by trekking in the Himalayas you will have a life changing experience and we will do everything we can to provide you with the best services and make your venture in the wild an unforgettable one.
- GST and Other Taxes: The goods and services tax is not included in the price mentioned with the trek. They will be charged once you add the trek in your cart. They are subjected to change according to government rules of India.
- Food in Leh: Food in Leh is not included in the package. We can recommend a few good options.
- Flights and Transportation: Flights or other means of transport is not included in the package. Transportation from home to Leh and vice versa is not included in the package. We can arrange a cab for you according to your requirements but you will be liable to pay for the same. Any expenses occurred during the journey are not included in the package cost.
- Personal Trekking Equipment: Your Rucksack, personal clothing, shoes, trek poles, and other personal trekking gear is not included in this package. You have to bring your own gear according to that weather and difficulty of the trek.
- Portage of Personal Bags(Offloading): We highly advise you to carry your own burden (your rucksack) but due to any reason if you wish to not carry your rucksack, we can arrange for a porter/mule to carry it. For this service, you will be charged over and above the trek cost. The charges for offloading vary with every trek.
- Travel Insurance: Travel Insurance is not included in this package. We recommend you to have travel insurance before opting for such adventures.
- Personal Expenses: Any personal expenses incurred (laundry, Bottled Water, Beverages, snacks, orders tea houses or dhabas, Tips for guides etc) are not included in the package.
- Emergency Expenses: Any costs arising out of unforeseen circumstances such as accidents, bad weather, landslides, road conditions and any other circumstances beyond our control are not included in the package.
- Anything not mentioned in Inclusions of the package.
FAQs and Reviews
Whom is the trek for?
The level of this trek leans towards difficult, which naturally demands exceptional physical fitness, stamina and cardiovascular endurance. It is strongly advisable to have prior trekking experience of scaling at least 3,500 meters before you approach this trek, which means beginners should stay away. Also, proper acclimatization is key here, which helps you better adjust to the high altitude and lower oxygen levels during the trek.
What is the best season for the trek?
Mid May to September is the ideal season for the trek, as the weather conditions are not very extreme.
How to reach Leh?
By Air You can take a direct flight to Leh from Delhi, Mumbai, and Srinagar. Take a cab to the base camp from Leh Airport. By Road You can reach Leh by road either from Srinagar or from Manali, although the Srinagar route is widely preferred over the Manali route. By Rail Jammu Tawi is the nearest railways station to Leh and is well connected to most major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai.
What things are needed to be carried?
Rucksack, high ankle trekking shoes, one fleece jacket, one down feather / hollofil jacket, 3 pairs of quick dry T-shirts and trek pants, 5-6 pairs of socks, balaclava, a daypack, sunscreen SPF 50+, scarf, towel, lip balm, headlamp / torch, 2 water bottles of 1 litre, and personal medicines. For a complete checklist, download the checklist from the footer.