Markha Valley Trek 5286m
Duration: (07 Nights | 08 Days)
Day 01: Arrive at Leh Airport
Day 02: Leh – Full day at own leisure (No Transport)
Day 03: Leh to Skiu drive & Trek to Sara (12 km/3-5 hr)
Day 04: Sara to Markha (10 km/3-5 hr)
Day 05: Markha to Hankar (11 km/3-5 hr)
Day 06: Hankar to Nimaling (11 km/5-8 hr)
Day 07: Nimaling to Chokdo via Kongmaru La 5260m (12 km/5-8 hr), drive to Leh
Day 08: Leh Airport Drop
- Enjoy views of the Ladakh, Zanskar and Karakoram Ranges
- Trek to top of Kongmaru La 5260m
- Explore and stay in remote villages of Ladakh
- Drive on Leh-Srinagar Highway
- Visit Sangam and enjoy the drive along the Zanskar River
- Visit remote Monasteries
- Leh (3N)
- Markha Valley (4N)
• Room category & accommodation as desired
• 03 nights’ stay at Leh with breakfast
• 04 nights’ stay in homestays during Markha Valley Trek
• Meals – dinner, breakfast & packed lunch included during the trek
• Trekking permits & wildlife entry fees
• Experienced guide for the entire duration of the trek
• Accommodation & meals cost for the guide
• Transportation: Leh to Skiu & Chokdo to Leh by Non-Ac Innova
• Leh Airport pick-up & drop
• Fuel, driver allowances
• All applicable taxes
• Taxi service on Day 02
• Porter/mule charges if applicable
• Entrance fee for monasteries/palaces, etc.
• Expenses of personal nature, such as laundry, telephone calls, room service, alcoholic beverages, mini bar charges, tips, portage, camera fees, room heater, etc.
• Any meals and services not specifically mentioned in the inclusions
• Any expense incurred or loss caused by reasons beyond our control such as bad weather, natural calamities (landslides, floods), flight delays/rescheduling/cancellations, any accidents/medical evacuations, riots/strikes/war/roadblocks, & force majeure events, etc.
• Medical insurance/travel insurance/oxygen cylinder
• Additional sightseeing charges or extra usage of the vehicle apart from the suggested itinerary
The journey through the Markha Valley is a classic 56 km trek in Ladakh crossing a 5000m pass, traversing kaleidoscopic gorges, and visiting ancient settlements and monasteries. Views of the Ladakh, Zanskar, and Karakoram Ranges abound, along with the opportunity to absorb the region’s enduring Tibetan-Buddhist culture.
There are multiple river crossings to be cautious about in the early part of the season – trekking poles and a sturdy pair of sandals are recommended.
If flying into Leh, acclimatization is essential before setting off on this trek as it climbs to dizzying altitudes fairly quickly.
Day One: The Hum of the Himalayas
Arrive in Leh 3500m
You will arrive at the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport (Leh Airport) which is nestled in the midst of The Mighty Himalayan Mountain Range. Leh Airport; one of the highest airports in the world is also considered to be one of the most scenic owing to its heavenly surroundings. It is encircled by immense golden brown, barren mountains which are truly a sight for sore eyes.
You will be warmly welcomed by Unplugged Life’s representative and transferred to your hotel in Leh City. The rest of the evening is for you to acclimatize yourself by casually strolling in and around your lodgings. Overnight stay at Leh City. The capital of Ladakh, at one time, was a major stop on the Asian “Silk Route”.
Day Two: Being Local in Leh
Leh: Day at own leisure (No Transport)
Take this day to explore the small lanes of Leh by foot or just go shopping and eating at Leh Market. Remember NOT TO EXERT yourself as your body is still acclimatizing to the change in altitude.
The Leh Market is starkly different from its metropolitan counterparts. The shops here are small, colourful, and vibrant. It has a rare mix of western and native cultures which is unique to itself. Leh also boasts of a widely diverse population and shows its influences on its infrastructure.
Day Three: Text Me Later – I’m gone for a while
Leh to Skiu by Taxi (70 km/3-4 hours) and trek to Sara (12 km/3-5 hours)
You will be driving along the skilfully paved roadways crossing marvellous landscapes. Throughout the road, you will encounter military camps decorated with colourful big rocks around the camps. Do not miss Gurudwara Pathar Sahib on the right and Magnet Hill on the left as you move ahead.
The Stok Range remains on the right until it vanishes slowly when you reach Hemis National Park. You will be pleasantly surprised once you reach Sangam. Indus and Zanskar rivers, both bottle green, yet so unique, form the most spectacular confluence. This point is also famous as the starting end for rafting. Take a diversion here towards Chilling.
The surrounding view henceforth changes magically. The open terrain beside the road enters into the closed valley. Valley having stunning purple, black, grey shades of the mountains. Juniper and tall alpine trees will border the route as you cross the Zanskar River over green iron bridges. Take a deep breath once you get down at Chilling, as the walking will begin in a few minutes.
The trek ahead incepts with a steep ascent going through Zingchen Gorge. Amidst you will also cross the river on a trolley at Kaya-Do place. The trail many times comes across the river. Skiu will mark the first camping in the tents. It is located at the confluence of rivers Shgri Nala and Markha.
Skiu is largely divided into two sections, upper and lower village. Lower Skui has 12 houses quite close to each other. A small trudge, an old monastery, and ruins of a palace separate it from upper Skiu. There are small White Stupas and Mani Stones laid towards upper Skiu.
Markha River lies on the right of the village. Most of the places here offer homestays. Relax after a mini-trek, while looking forward to the upcoming trek.
Start fresh for the actual first day of trekking. Be vigilant about birds and animals. Markha Valley harbours enormous wildlife. Magpie birds will be visible right after you step out of the house. The trail is quite evident and well-paved intermittently. The Markha River will remain escorting on the right, which incepts from Kang Yatse peaks.
In an hour a hut of Women’s Cafe can be spotted, take a small break here and keep walking. The trail is enclosed with the valley that goes through sparse forest cover. Another hour’s trudge and the first wooden bridge comes at Zanpa Yoakma. The bridge marks halfway of the day’s trek to Sara. Despite that, try not to relax here, because in merely 25 minutes another coffee shop at Hamourja is waiting for you to rejuvenate.
Look out for black sheep and mountain goats on these banks. Keep walking straight till Nagding Village for another 40 minutes. Right in front of the houses spot meditation caves at a height on the valley walls. These caves are believed to be having paintings of the 20th century. The banks of the Markha River get wider and you can find yourself stepping in the powdered sand.
After about 1 hour from Nagding village, a big entrance to Sara Village appears. The entrance is decorated with skeletons of wild animals. Unlike Skui, Sara seems like an open area. The homestay has a traditional round seating outside, giving it a unique look. You can have your lunch and then just roam around to get familiar with nature. Fill in your stomach with hot drinks and a delicious dinner, then get into a warm bed at the homestay.
Day Four: A Walk to Remember
Sara to Markha (10 km/3-5 hours)
Start early today from Sara, carry along packed lunch. The trail is somewhat similar to the previous day. Despite that, you will always find something new in this mysterious valley. The first tea houses arrive immediately after 30 minutes at Chalak Village. The village has houses placed on small hills with stone protection shelter for domestic animals at the base.
Visit any of the villagers they will greet you with Namkin Chai and biscuits. Re-energize by affectionate talks and hot drinks. The destination is 2 hours away from here. Every small distance you can find Mani Stones laid around white stupas. These stones are engraved with Buddhist prayers, some of them in the Sanskrit language too. Be humble in front of these historic symbols. Do not dare to touch these stones. Do not forget to notice the ruins of the palace at every turn in the valley. This can be figured out by flags at a height on small temples. These palaces were considered as viewpoints and signaling points during the reign of the Kings.
Markha is the largest village of the valley, you can find numerous houses, scattered away. You will have to walk in the running stream of the Markha River to reach the village. The cold water will bring back all the energy. In 20 minutes, you can see the hamlet. Find your homestay and pack up for the day
Day Five: Losing Sight of the City Life
Markha to Hankar (11 km/3-5 hours)
Take the most advantage of the innocence of the salient villages because today will probably be the last habitats on the route. The trail is beautiful and refreshing when it merges with flowing rivers and streams. These water bodies can also be crossed over a bridge. Umlung Village is a small village and will serve the last teahouse of the trek with yet another serene monastery to your sight.
After Umlung you can get the first sight of Mt. Kang Yatse (6496m/21,312 ft.). It seems as if the peak is calling you! Follow its voice, again overcome the river several times and enter Hankar Village. Try to spot the magically placed Tacha Monastery on a mountain. It is the last hamlet of the trek and your refuge place.
Day Six: Walking the Wild Side
Hankar to Nimaling (11 km/5-8 hours)
Get all enthusiastic, today is the most difficult day of your entire trek. Start walking and in 1 km you will find diversions or paths separating out. The other route goes to Rupshu and Zanskar. Keep walking on the left path until a stone bridge. This marks that you are on the right trail. Henceforth, you can see many diversions, please be careful and follow the trek leader/guide.
In the next 2 hours, the pastures of Thochuntse becomes visible. There are camping sites and tea houses here. Try to engulf yourself in nature and move slowly just as you focus on the Kang Yatse Peak. The peak seems to grow bigger and bigger.
Surprisingly, tranquil twin lakes also come along the path. The trails enter into a huge grassland after a few fights crossing streams of high altitudes. Sheep, mountain goats, sometimes rabbits are found grazing at Nimaling. It is a pleasant camping site and the highest point you will sleep on during this trek. There are instances of snowfall at this site hence be prepared for that. Above all that, just try to merge into the high world and sleep in peace.
Day Seven: On Top of the World
Nimaling to Chokdo via Kongmaru La (12 km/5-8 hours) & drive to Leh (50 km/ 2-3 hours)
This day will be nostalgic and exciting, as this is the last day of the trek landing at the highest point of the trek. Also, this day will be filled with surprises.
After a strenuous climb of 2 hours to Kongmaru La (5260m/17,200 ft.), you will be pleasantly welcomed by the Karakoram Range Mountains and the excellent array of peaks. Hold your breaths because of one these gorgeous peaks could be K2, the second-highest peak in the world. From the top, sulk in the amazing views of 6000m peaks (Dzo Jongo 6280m/20,600 ft., Kang Yatse I 6496m/21,312 ft. & Kang Yaste II 6270m/20570 ft.) and mesmerizing views of the Zanskar & Ladakh Mountain Range. To your surprise, there is a good network connection from the pass.
The trail then gradually descends, coinciding with villages to say goodbye. The immediate trail from the pass has a steep and narrow descend with multiple river crossings which later opens to Chikirmo Village. Throughout the route, you get indulged in the scenery. After a gradual climb down and rocky terrain, you will reach Chokdo. This the last stop of the entire trek, which also has many homestays.
Get into the pickup vehicles that will take you back to Leh. Take a sigh of relief in this village, as your next stop will be the last stop, Leh. The further road is descending that shows monastery and Hemis Gompa. Fill them in your eyes, heart, and mind. Close your eyes to rewind the entire Markha Valley diaries.
Day Eight: Wrapping Up
Depart Leh: Transfer to Airport
In the morning, you’ll be driven to the airport where you’ll board the flight to your onward destination.