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 ALL Tours >> North >> Adventure Tours >> Trekking >> Markah Valled Trek




Ladakh has relatively few trekkers in comparision to Nepal which has gained popularity for a trekking destination. The landscape is extremely different from what you may see in Nepal. In the same Himalayan range, the scenery is stark and dramatic. Deep gorges, alluvial fans, contorted strata, large Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, flat-topped mud-brick houses in oasis-like villages, snow-capped mountains and grand distances.

The Markha valley epitomises the best of this scenery and is considered a Classic Treking route. It has giant rock pinnacles, beetling cliffs, narrow defiles, prayer-flagged passes and evidence of a much older civilisation, the history of which has been lost in antiquity.  As you trek up the valley, there are the ruins of many forts and castles, some built in some very unlikely places!

It is a fairly long trek and may be considered vigorous (Up to 7 days consecutive walking through wild country, including high passes (sometimes snow-covered) between 3,660m/12,000ft and 4,900m/16,000 ft. Sometimes a 7 or 8-hour day Usually 3 weeks) crossing a pass of over 17,000ft/5,182m and has the fine objective of visiting the base camp of the highest peak in the Zanskar range, Kang Yatse, 21,500ft/6,553m.      

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DAY 1 – ARRIVE DELHI.  AT LEISURE.  The day can be spent making any last minute preparations, shopping, or just relaxing by the pool.  Should you want to do any sightseeing this can be arranged.  

DAY 2     DELHI -LEH.   An early morning transfer to the domestic terminal of the airport for the flight north to Leh.  This surely is one of the most sensational scheduled flights in the world, taking you right over the top of the Greater Himalaya before dropping in a series of steep turns, to land at the small military airport at Leh; flight time about 70 minutes.   You will be met on arrival and driven through Leh to check into your Hotel. Leh is at an altitude of 11,500ft/3,505m and therefore we recommend that the rest of the day be spent resting to help acclimatize to the altitude.

DAY 3     LEH.  Again take it easy today and enjoy a tour around town.  The national dress, 'stove-pipe' hats and felt boots with turned-up toes are much in evidence.  The Royal Palace, which dominates the town, is very reminiscent of the Potala in Lhasa and Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, large chortens, prayer flags and mud brick houses with flat roofs are a dramatic culture change from the hot, teeming frenetic rush of Delhi.  Don't try to do too much on this first day!  Visit the palace, poke around the bazaars and if you're feeling really keen and strong, walk out to one of the villages just to the north.  In the summer there are often polo matches at the polo ground in the old part of town.

DAY 4 -    LEH
Today we plan to take you to see some of the largest monasteries and palaces in the Indus valley including the Hemis and Thikse monastries and the palace at Shey.

DAY 5 DRIVE TO SPITOK, TREK TO ZINCHEN (10,500ft/3,200m) 1-2 hours.

Spitok Gompa was built about 500 years ago by Gyalpo Bumlde, although one temple, dedicated to Mahakala was built about 900 years ago.  About 125 yellow-hat sect lamas are considered Spitok Lamas, but at least half of them live and pray at Spitok’s dependent monasteries at Sankar, Stok and Sabu.  All the lamas do however gather for major festivals.  The name Spitok is probably derived from the Central Tibetan language and means, “effective as an example,” referring to the fact that this was the Tibetans’ first monastery in Ladakh.  The head lama for Spitok is the head lama for Ladakh and represents Ladakh as a Member of Parliament, spending much of his time in Delhi.  Spitok Gompa contains both old temples and those built in the 1970s.  Ancient thankas are preserved there, some having been taken from the Potala in Lhasa after the Chinese invaded Tibet.

The trek begins from Spitok by crossing a bridge and walking south west of the River Indus. The trail passes through barren countryside for about 3 hours until the Indus enters a narrow gorge at its confluence with the Zinchen. From here the trail climbs steadily through the Zinchen Valley, which is lined with trees, providing sufficient shade for a rest stop, before you reach the tiny village of Zinchen, which consists of just 4 or 5 houses. Camp overnight.

DAY 6 -     TREK TO KHILCHAY. (12,470ft/3,801m). 5 hrs. The trail from Zinchen ascends gradually all the way along the Rumbak Nala until you reach Rumbak, the largest village in the Zinchen Valley. If the fields are cultivated you may have to ford the river a few times up to Rumbak junction. You then follow the well-marked trail on the left bank of the Rumbak Nala, passing cultivated fields and scattered houses until you enter a side valley leading to the south. The whitewashed houses of Yurutse lie further up the valley. Camp overnight.

DAY 7 -    TREK TO YURUTSE. (12,793ft/3,900m). 5-6 hrs. Today you follow the trail beside the river until the valley widens at Rumbak. After 10 minutes walk from the camp you have to cross the river to the right hand side. Here you can see golden eagle nests up in the rocks. You then carry on along the river until you reach Rumbak where you can see the snow-capped peaks of the Stok mountains. Here you take the right fork of the river and continue a gradual ascent towards Yurutse, where the villagers grow barley, potatoes and some green vegetable. Near the village are some impressive purple and green rock formations. Camp overnight.

DAY 8 -    TREK TO SKIU. (9,900ft/3,018m). 7-8 hrs. Immediately after you leave camp, a gradual ascent followed by a steep climb gets you to the Kundu La (16,097ft/4,906m). From the pass there is a fabulous view of white-fringed mountains merging into the distant ranges of the Karakoram.  The trail descends steadily to the head of the Skiu Valley, where a number of rivulets join to form a small stream. The broad grassy shoulders of the upper valley narrow sharply to the pinched waist at Sumdo, with its few houses and fields at the junction of a small stream with the Skiu Nala. From here the river swoops exuberantly down a tight, narrow gorge, choked with willow and wild roses, and you follow the trail as it leaps from bank to bank all the way to the village of Skiu on the banks of the Lower Markha.  You enter the village confronted by towering rock faces. Since Skiu is only at about 9,900ft/3,018m and the Markha Valley is quite narrow, the temperature is higher here.  At dusk just as the evening shadows begin to envelop the valley, it is worth walking back along the trail where the Skiu Nala meets the Markha to visit a small monastery. This is cared for by an old nun, who comes every morning and evening to light the butter lamps at the altar of Chamba - the Future Buddha. Camp overnight.
DAY 9 -     TREK TO THINLESPA.  (11,776ft/3,589m).  6 hrs.  Today is a very pleasant walk up one of the loveliest sections of the Markha valley.  Woody bushes grow thickly along the river, which is spanned by several bridges over which the trail marches to Thinlespa.  The camp is beyond this small village on the right bank of the river. Camp overnight.

DAY 10 -     TREK TO HANKAR.  (13,078ft/3,986m).  6-7 hrs.  The trail continues eastwards climbing steadily up the valley through the picturesque village of Markha, which has a fascinating monastery well worth a visit.  Coming in from the south is the trail from Rubering La, one of the routes from Zangla.  From Markha the country changes and the warm, relatively heavily wooded section of the lower Markha is left behind.  The camp below the twin villages of Lower and Upper Hankar is distinctly cooler than at Thinlespa.  Between the two villages is a ruined fort, the walls of which climb sharply up a crag to an eyrie of a lookout tower, worth visiting for those with a good head for heights. Camp overnight.

DAY 11 - TREK TO NIMALING.  (16,097ft/4,906m).  8hrs.  From Hankar the trail climbs steadily up the now narrow valley, past villages smaller and seemingly poorer than those in the lower areas.  The Nimaling plain is a broad undulating meadow, sloping upwards to the base of the ice-clad Kang Yatse, 21,500ft/6,553m, which dominates the area.  Nimaling with tiny ponds and rivulets flowing all over its meadows provide pastures in the summer for an astonishing number of animals; yaks, sheep, goats, dzos and horses, not only from the Markha, but also from villages all around.  Himalayan marmots and white-tailed hares are seen in plenty and it is not unusual to spot the occasional blue sheep or wolf. Camp overnight.  

DAY 12 -      REST DAY.  A chance to relax at Nimaling and enjoy the superb scenery and surroundings.   There is the chance to walk to the base camp of Kang Yatze, the highest peak in the Zanskar range, 21,500ft/6,553m. Camp overnight.

DAY 13 -     CROSS PASS, TREK TO SUMDO.  (13,230ft/4,033m).  7-8 hrs.   Today you cross to the north of the Markha, climbing to the top of the highest of the three passes, the 17,409ft/5,306m Kangmaru La, with its wonderful views from the top. There are snow peaks in every direction and on a clear day the giants of the Karakoram, including K2, can be seen on the north western horizon.  The trail descends steeply to the head of the Martselang valley past the sulphur springs of Chyushkarmo, and follows the Martselang stream to the village of Sumdo or Shang-Sumdo, at the confluence of the Shang Nala and the Martselang. Camp overnight.
DAY 14 - TREK TO MARTSELANG. DRIVE TO LEH 3-4 hrs trek. Today you make an easy descent mainly along the left bank of the Martselang to where it broadens into the valley of the Indus at the village of Martselang.  Transport will be waiting here for the 2 hr drive to Leh. Overnight at Kang Lhha Chen Hotel.
DAY 15 -       AT LEISURE IN LEH.  A chance to relax in the relative luxury of Leh and do any last-minute sightseeing and exploring.  There will no doubt be a chance to have a final celebration with your guide and crew before the flight tomorrow.  
DAY 16 -      FLY TO DELHI. Return flight to Delhi transfer to Hotel.  

DAY 17 –DELHI.     Visit the sights of Old and New Delhi and do some last minute shopping.

In time transfer to the airport for your onward journey.






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