Duration: 18 days, 9 days trekking
Accomodations: Camping on trek
Best time: May-November
Grade: Moderate to Strenuous
Will the trek run? Guaranteed to run
The Markha Valley epitomizes the best of this scenery. It has giant rock pinnacles, beetling cliffs, narrow defiles, prayer-flagged passes and evidence of a much older civilization, 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 pretty unlikely places!
It is a fairly long trek, crossing a pass of over 17,000ft, and has the fine objective of visiting the base camp of the highest peak in the Zanskar range, Kang Yatse, 21,000ft.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
DAY 1: ARRIVE DELHI. Our Local representative will greet you at the international airport and help you Transfer to the hotel.
DAY 2: FLY TO LEH. (11,500ft/3,505m) You will have an early morning transfer to the Domestic Airport for the flight to Leh. This must be one of the most sensational flights in the world! On the northern horizon you may be able to pick out K2, the world's second highest peak, and other Karakoram giants. On your left you can see Nun and Kun the highest peaks in Ladakh at 7100m and 7080m. On your arrival in Leh transfer to hotel. Day at your leisure for acclimatization
DAY 3: AT LEISURE IN LEH. Again we will take it easy today and your guide can show you around town. Leh is very Tibetan in many respects; 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.
DAY 4: PHYANG SIGHT SEEING. The Phyang Gompa has 50 lamas and seven 'novices' of the red-cap sect and possesses five chapels. The monastery is interesting for its museum containing some old Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian and possibly Saracen weapons and armour. The museum room itself is said to be nearly 900 hundred years old. The monastery has had several renovations recently, including the addition of a large house for the head lama and a new entrance hall with a large prayer wheel. The 650 year old Dukhang Temple was renovated in the late '70's. Return to Leh hotel.
DAY 5: DRIVE TO SPITOK, TREK TO ZINGCHEN. After breakfast we drive to Spitok Gompa (approx. 2 hours) for a visit. This monastery 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 together 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.
After leaving the gompa, we cross the bridge over the Indus river and meet up with the horseman. The trek begins here and follows the Indus for a short distance, before striking out for the mountains. You soon enter the narrow gorge that leads to the first camp at Zingchen.
DAY 6: TREK TO YURUTSE. (6 hours) You will follow the trail beside the river till the valley widens at Rumbak, where you can see the snow-capped peaks of the Stok mountains. Take the right fork of the river and continue to the very small village of Yurutse. The purple and green rock formations are quite impressive. Continue past the village to the base camp of Ganda La.
DAY 7: TREK TO SKIU. (11,050ft) (7hrs) The climb over the Ganda La is not as steep as that up to the Stok La, but it is a bit longer. From the top of the pass there is a fabulous view of snow-capped peaks.
The descent into the Skiu valley is steady. The wide pastures at the top of the valley closes into a narrow 'waist' at Shingo, where there is a stream junction and a few houses and fields. From here the river swoops exuberantly down the tight narrow gorge choked with willow and wild rose, with the trail following, swapping from bank to bank as it goes. The village of Skiu is at only 9,900ft, and the Markha Valley here is narrow, so the temperatures can soar. We camp at Skiu, and at dusk it is worth climbing back up the valley to where the Skiu Nala meets the Markha river. Here there is a small monastery cared for by an old nun who comes every evening to light the candles at the altar of 'Chamba', the future Buddha.
DAY 8: TREK TO MARKHA. (11,776ft) (6 hrs) 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, just before the village of Markha.
DAY 9: TREK TO THACHUGTSE. (13,078ft) (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. Between the twin villages of Lower and Upper Hankar is a ruined fort, the walls of which climb sharply up a crag to an aerie of a lookout tower - worth visiting for those with a good head for heights. Follow the Nimiling river up the narrow valley to the camp at Thachugtse. It will be considerably cooler here.
DAY 10: TREK TO NIMALING. (16,097ft) (3 hrs) The trail continues to climb up the valley to a picturesque lake with a reflection of snow-capped Kang Yatse, the highest peak in the Zanskar range. From here the Nimaling plain is a broad undulating meadow which slopes upwards to the base of the ice-clad Kang Yatse which dominates the area.
Nimaling with tiny ponds and rivulets flowing all over its meadows provides pasturage 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. You should reach camp in the early afternoon and have the rest of the day to relax and explore.
DAY 11: REST DAY IN NIMALING. A day to recuperate and enjoy this beautiful alpine meadow. You can take a short hike to the base of the glacier on Kang Yatse.
DAY 12: TREK TO SUMDO. (13,230ft) (7-8 hrs) After crossing the Nimaling river, climb to the top of the highest pass on the trek, the 17,409ft Kangmaru La with its wonderful views from the top. Snow peaks in every direction, and on a clear day the giants of the Karakorams, including K2 can be seen on the north-western horizon. The trail descends steeply to the head of the Martselang valley past the sulfur 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.
DAY 13: TREK TO HEMIS. (5-6 hrs trek) An easy descent mainly along the left bank of the Martselang river to where it broadens into the valley of the Indus river at the village of Martselang. The trail ends at the Hemis Monastery, the largest and richest in Ladakh.
DAY 14: RETURN TO LEH. We visit the monastery in the morning and then meet our transportation for the 2 hr drive to Leh. Overnight at the hotel in Leh.
DAY 15: AT LEISURE IN LEH. A chance to relax in the relative luxury of Leh, and do any last sightseeing and exploring. There will no doubt be a chance to have a final celebration with your guide and crew before the flight tomorrow. In the summer there are often polo matches on a Sunday. Overnight in the hotel.
DAY 16: FLY TO DELHI. Our representative will meet you and transfer you to your hotel.
DAY 17: RELAX IN DELHI. Late night transfer to International Airport.
DAY 18: FLY HOME.
LAND COST: on request
- All accommodation in Delhi and Leh with breakfast.
- Camping accommodation as per the program with all meals during the treks.
- Mule drivers and mules during the trekking.
- All monastery entrance fees, wild life fees and camping fees.
- English-speaking guide in monasteries and while trekking.
- Service of cook and attendants during the trekking.
- All camping equipment including North Face sleeping tent, foam mattresses, mess tents, dining tent & toilet tent
- All transportation from pick up from the Delhi Airport to Airport.
What’s not included:
- Medical and evacuation insurance
- Miscellaneous expenses and tipping to the staff
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and food in Leh and Delhi.
- International Air ticket to and from Delhi.
- A single supplement.
- Laundry and other services not mentioned in the package. If you need any arrangement Please let us know.
IMPORTANT TREK NOTES
Whilst every effort is made to keep to the above itinerary, clients will hopefully appreciate that this is Adventure Travel in a remote mountain region. There will quite likely be changes to the itinerary in terms of anything from on-the-spot choice of campsite to when a rest day is taken. Weather conditions, road conditions, vehicle breakdowns off the beaten track, local availability of horses or yaks, can contribute to the need for changes. The Trek guide will do everything in his power to see that you are inconvenienced as little as possible in such circumstances. Timings are approximate.
© Yama Adventures, 2017.