Ladakh, the land of numerous mountain passes, is one of the most stunning places in India, located in Jammu and Kashmir. Due to its harsh and challenging terrain, Ladakh is the most sought after destination for travellers from all around the world. Travellers visit Ladakh for many adventure activities like mountain biking, trekking, camping, river rafting, rappelling, etc.
Markha Valley, that is nestled in Ladakh, is one of the most sought after trekking destination in the Western Himalayas. This trek allows you to walk through the beautiful Hemis National Park and ascend two peaks, Gandala La and Kongmaru La peaks, perched at a height of 4800 m and 5100 m respectively.
Trekking up this valley will give you vistas of everything nature has to offer. Huge rocks, stunning pinnacles, spellbinding, panoramic views of Ladakh and even ruins of forts and castles can be found spread through this route. Along with colourful and vibrant Tibetan prayer flags, that will be found throughout the way, Markha Valley trek will be surely a fullfilling one.
PC: Simon Matzinger
Basic Details Of the Trek
The entire trek will be 6-8 days long. The route will have different terrains at different points, which makes it quite a difficult trek. Prior experience in trekking is necessary to complete the Markha Trek. The base camp will be at the town of Spituk and the best time to make the Markha Valley trek is between May to September.
Things To Carry For The Trek
Since it is almost a week long trek, you will have to carry the following things:
Basics include a good pair of shoes, a walking stick, a backpack with a medical kit, snacks and toiletries. Carry simple but efficient clothes like t-shirts, wind and waterproof jackets, thermals and trekking pants. Apart from these, you will have to carry additional accessories like woolen caps, sunglasses and neck gaiters.
Trekking Day 1 - Day 3
Once you reach Leh, take a day off to explore the city, have Ladakhi chai while marvelling over the beauty of the mountainous terrain of Ladakh. After settling in, start the trek by first travelling to Spituk via jeeps. You must reach Zingchan village on the first day. Here you will see the river Rumbak flowing into the magnanimous Indus river.
On day two you will enter the Hemis National Park and if luck has it, you might witness wildlife like the Ladakhi ural or Tibetan wolf. After climbing gorges,you will reach the final destination for day two, which is the Ganda La base. It is perched at a height of 4545 m, which is where you must pitch your camp.
Day 3 will be trekking to Skiu through the Ganda La peak. Through this route you can view the majestic Himalayan and Zanskar ranges, and the path will be dotted with vibrant Tibetan prayer flags. Once you reach Skiu at 3300 m, pitch a camp and relax with the backdrop of a breathtaking view of the region, where you can also find ruins of ancient monasteries and castles.
Trekking Day 4 - Day 6
Day 4 is when you finally begin your trek to Markha Valley. From Skiu, you need to trek on ascending and descending terrains and gorges, through thickets of willows and barren cliffs. After a long trek you will reach the bridge that goes across the Markha river. This bridge will take you to the Markha village, which is the largest village in the entire valley. This should be the end of day 4.
On the day 5, the trail will be through the Techa Monastery, Umlung village, where you can view the Mt Kang Yatse, Kongmaru La peak, Hangkar village and finally the destination for the day, Tachungste, which is a spread of lush green pastures where you can camp for the night.
The trail will get easier with most of it being a trek through plateaus, to reach the plateau of Nimaling on day 6. It will be the highest camping site of the entire trek, with height being 4600 m. You can spend the night with the view of Mt Kang Yatse right beside the campsite.
While returning, the trail will cross Nimaling and the highest peak of Kongmaru La once again. Here you can stop and absorb the spellbinding views of the entire region of Ladakh and the majestic Indus river. On your return, you will go through the Shang Gorge and its beautiful formations of rocks. You should reach Leh from here which will mark the end of the trek.