The Markha Valley Trek is certainly one of the most varied and beautiful treks in world. It ventures high into the Himalayas crossing two passes in the vicinity of 5000m as it circles from the edges of the Indus Valley, down into parts of Zanskar, and passes through terrain that change from incredibly narrow valleys to wide-open vast expanses!
Day 1: Leh to Zingchen, 4-5 hours
Day 2: Zingchen to Gandala Base Camp (4380m), 5-6 hours
Day 3: Gandala Base Camp to Skiu, 6-8 hours
Day 4: Skiu
Day 5: Skiu to Markha, 6-7 hours
Day 6: Markha to Thujungtse, 4-5 hours
Day 7: Thujungtse to Nimaling, 3 hours
Day 8: Nimaling to Shang Sumdo via Kongmaru La, drive to Leh, 6-7 hours
Leh to Spituk- an early start to this stage is important as it can get very hot crossing the plain between here and the Zingchen Gorge. We will drive through the village on a bumpy road to the bridge across the Indus. We cross the bridge, follow the jeep track south for about 300m and then west to a Phe village. We leave behind all vegetation behind as we begin crossing a flat and desolate plain at the foot of the Stok Mountains. Leaving the River Indus behind, we walk towards Zingchen gorge ahead which is another 7kms away from the confluence of the Zingchen and Indus River. As we cross over, the trail heads towards the south as we cross another road bridge next to a gorge. Another 3 to 4 kms walk form here and we get to Zingchen.
A short stage up an impressive gorge with tantalising views of the snow-capped peaks beyond Rumbak. The route is straightforward as we are simply following the Zingchen Nala upstream. Down by the river is a small hut which is the official entry point to Hemis National Park. From here, there is an upstream walk and we cross the wooden bridge twice as we pass through a beautiful gorge. The trail enters a valley which narrows down as we move ahead passing via two rock buttress. The stream forces the path closer and closer to the right side of the valley until you have no choice but to wade across. Prayer flags on a wide pasture mark the junction with the trail leading east to the main part of Rumbak village and to the Stok La. Continue walking upstream to the water mill and a bridge. The camp is just after passing a blue and purple scree slope. There are wonderful views back to the Stok La.
Climb the spur above the camp leaving dry stream beds on our left and right. A clear path soon appears which takes us west towards the Ganda La. Stok Kangri dominates the south- eastern skyline as we climb. We may see yak, brought up her so that the fodder close to the villages has a chance to grow during the short summer. From the pass we can see the Zanskar Range to the west, while there are views to the Stok Mountains and beyond on the east. Keep an eye out for marmots as we descend from the pass as they seem to thrive in these desolate, high-altitude spots. The trail down to Shingo is straight forward and passes a number of possible camp sites. The next stage takes us through a spectacular gorge with beautifully coloured and eroded rocks. The trail is well defined all the way to Skiu. Expect to cross the Shingo Nala three or four times on the way to Skiu. The bottom of the gorge is full of willow and seabuckthorn providing much needed shade from the sun. A little before the end of the gorge the stream disappears and we reach Skiu. We have just entered Markha Valley. As we enter the tiny village the towering rock faces ahead of us are awe- inspiring. There is an attractive gompa on top of the cliff on the right.
From Skiu we can make a day trip downstream to the Zanskar gorge pssing many apricot trees and the village of Kaya. The round trip takes four to five hours
The trail to Markha is not too strenuous, rising 300m over 22km. keep going as we cross the settlements of Narding, Zara and Chalak each having parachute tents. Beyond Chalak, we can see green barley fields, colourful birds and huge mounds of Bharal horns known as ‘Lato’ that act as a protector to the valley. At the top of the village we reach a collection of large chortens and mani walls. There are wonderful views back down the valley. A well- defined trail continues for 2km to where the valley widens and the river braids. There is no bridge so wet boots are in order before completing the final 3 km to Markha village. As we approach Markha we get the first glimpse of the snow- covered slopes of Kangyatse (6400m) rising above the Nimaling plains. Markha consists of about 25 houses and is by far the largest village in the valley. Well before reaching the village the silhouette of a dilapidated fort can be seen. The fort dates back to the 1830s and the time of the invasion of the Dogra army under Zorawar Singh. Immediately to the north of the fort us a gompa.
A moderate day for trekking. From Markha village take the trail that climbs immediately to take you to upper Markha Valley. Cross the Markha River here before continuing for a further 1km and re-crossing the river again. After the second crossing continue to the base of Umlung gompa and continue along the river bank to the solitary house and parachute tent at Umlung (3870m). The trail goes on a ledge over the bank of the river. In 2 hours, spot the summit of Kangyatse on your right. The next dwelling enroute is Hankar. After ascending a steep gully we reach the main village of Hankar (3980m) set beneath a dilapidated fort that also dates back to the times of Zorawar Singh in the 1830s. After Hankar a rocky and steep ascent brings us to Thujungtse camp site. Enroute we pass through green barley fields and finally cross a stream.
The trek up to the high plains of Nimaling can be completed in a short morning allowing time to explore the ridges and yak herders’ settlements in the vicinity, set beneath the dramatic backdrop of Kangyatse. This peak is a popular mountaineering objective and is usually climbed by way of the north-west ridge. While the climb to the lower secondary summit is not considered particularly difficult, reaching the main summit is far more demanding. Beyond Thujungtse, the trail steadily ascends to a series of ridges before a steep gully leads to the edge of the vast Nimaling Plains. This large flat-bottomed valley has a semi-permanent population of villagers who come up from Markha Valley to graze their livestock on the summer pastures.
A relatively demanding stage traversing the Kongmaru La, the highest pass on the trek. It also affords magnificent views that extend south to the peak of Kangyatse and the snow-capped ridges that stretch to the Zanskar Range, while to the north is the Ladakh Range and the route to the Indus Valley 1500m below. It is 2 hour climb to Kongmaru la pass which is marked by numerous prayer flags. There is a steep 500m descent to a small shepherd encampment and shelter for trekkers coming from Shang Sumdo and Hemis. The trail enters a narrow gorge, crossing the main stream on several occasions as it drops steeply. Until Chogdo the descent is particularly difficult for pack animals and very tiring for humans! From the settlement it is a further 3km down a well-marked trail on the true left of the valley that wind high above the riverbed and on down to Shang Sumdo. Once at Shang Sumdo, transport is arranged to drive us back to Leh. End of Trek.
The Markha Valley Trek is certainly one of the most varied and beautiful treks in world. It ventures high into the Himalayas crossing two passes in the vicinity of 5000m as it circles from the edges of the Indus Valley, down into parts of Zanskar, and passes through terrain that change from incredibly narrow valleys to wide-open vast expanses! It is made all the interesting by the ancient form of Buddhism that flourishes in the many monasteries that dot the landscape perched high atop hills. Once into the Markha Valley take in the whitewashed settlements, ancient gompas and Mani walls reflecting an abiding Buddhist culture.
June to September
Duration: 8 days
Difficulty Level: Moderate
You will be woken up with a cup of tea brought to your tent at around 6:00 am followed by a small bowl of warm water for washing. Then, before breakfast, you will pack up all you gear. Pack your sleeping bag and mat into their respective stuff sack and ensure that your tent is free of rubbish and ready for the next camp. Your duffle bag will then be taken and tied up with other gear into the load, which will be packed on the waiting pack horses. Of course any help you offer when setting and breaking camp, when there are many tasks is always welcome. We are usually on the trail by 7:30- 8:00am. We may have lunch en route or we can aim to be in camp. Once we have reached camp and the kitchen is set up, alight snacks is prepared, leaving us with the rest of the afternoon free to explore the nearby villages or undertake a side option. Dinner is served around 7:00 pm. Remember to bring your water bottle to the dining tent so it can be filled. Trekking evenings afford some of the best memories of your trek, whether it is sitting around talking, playing cards, chatting with the staff or joining in some singing and dancing with the local people, it is always a very special time.
Himalayan Challenges (HC) is an operator of all Adventure Travel and sports shown on our website. HC is registered with the Department of Tourism and Civil aviation, Government of Himachal Pradesh, India.
In respect of these Booking Conditions, “We/ Himalayan Challenges” and “You/ Participant(s)”- will be the person(s) whose name and details appear on the online booking form.
Before joining the tour we recommend that you take out travel insurance. This should include adequate cover for baggage, medical expenses, cancellation, helicopter evacuation and emergency repatriation. You must supply documentary proof of it to us before starting the trip. If you do not have travel insurance you must have a credit card with at least a US $5000 limit.2) Booking Confirmation:
Your booking will be confirmed by email once we have received a deposit of 50% and the signed copy of booking form and contract. The balance is due no later than two months prior to departure. If you book a tour less than 2 month prior to departure, you must send the full payment within 7 days of confirmation by us.3) Terms of Cancellation:
(a)All cancellations must be made in writing and signed by the person who signed the booking form and will be taken into account by the agency upon receipt of that letter.
If you cancel, the following scale of charges will apply:
|DATE OF CANCELLATION||CHARGE INCURRED|
|2 months before departure||Loss of deposit|
|29 days to 2 months before departure||departure 30% of total trip cost|
|10 to 28 days before departure||60% of total trip cost|
|Less than 10 days before departure||100% of total trip cost|
(b)If you do not show up at the meeting point specified on the agreed date, we will assume you have been delayed and will wait for you to contact us with your new expected arrival date. If you do not contact us within 48 hours we will assume you have cancelled the tour. There is no refund of any money paid.
(c) The tour will not be cancelled unless we are forced to do so because of unusual or unforeseen circumstances, such as a major natural disaster, major political unrest or war. If we cancel the tour we will promptly refund all payments made to us including the deposit (less the unrecoverable costs such as air tickets cancellations). We shall not be liable to refund any additional expenses that you may have incurred (such as insurance, visas, vaccinations and other incidental costs).4) Refunds:
(a)In case the journey is broken off early upon the client’s own wish or causes, Himalayan Challenges shall not be liable to any refund of the days not utilized. Clients will have to pay for hotel or any extra costs incurred after leaving the itinerary.
(b)The trek information sheets and the dossier give information and conditions relating to the tour and are deemed to be part of the contract and so you should be fully aware of their contents. However, the itinerary is an indication of what the group should accomplish, but is not a contractual obligation- changes may be made because of exceptional weather, flight cancellations, sickness or other unforeseen circumstances. No refund will be given for unused services or unrealized dreams.
(c)Himalayan Challenges shall not be liable to refund of any Bank charges deducted while making the bank transaction.5) Your Responsibility
(5.1)Acknowledgement of Risk:
It is a fundamental condition that you acknowledge that this is an adventure tour. This requires some flexibility. The day to day itinerary is taken as a guideline only. We cannot be held responsible for any delays caused by International or domestic flights, Strikes, Government regulations, weather or natural casualties. In such cases, Wild Himalayan Challenges shall be responsible for suitable alternatives which could be decided upon mutual agreement. If an agreement cannot be made, Wild Himalayan Challenges shall be responsible for refund after deducting expenses already incurred.
You confirm that you are in proper physical and mental condition before going on a Challenge/trek/tour with Himalayan Challenges. You confirm that it is your own responsibility to determine the ability to participate. If you are going on an Expedition a Doctors Certificate would be required stating that you are fit for such a tough and demanding experience. You also confirm that you will notify us about any medical condition or the use of prescribed medication that we should know about. It is your duty to notify us beforehand and is your responsibility to obtain medical advice as regards to vaccinations required for the trip.
(5.3)Documents (just a guide)
All participants must bring with them the following paperwork without which Himalayan Challenges may refuse them from joining their expedition:
Himalayan Challenges will take no responsibility if you are not allowed to fly due to inappropriate paperwork.
In alliance with your expedition booking with Himalayan Challenges you agree to give authority to your expedition leader during your travels, where decisions may be needed for the benefit and safety of everyone.
(a)You agree to abide by the authority of the leader. Signing the booking form implies your acceptance of the tour leader’s decisions which could affect the group or individuals. The tour leader will give you a complete briefing at your arrival about your journey with Himalayan Challenges. The guide or group leader designated by the agency reserves the right to expel at any time a group of person or an individual whose conduct may be regarded as affecting or endangering the safety or well-being of the group. No compensation or refund will be due to such individuals.
(b)The client agrees to behave responsibly in environmental and cultural matters and agrees to follow proper hiking and camping etiquette while in the mountains and to act respectfully towards the people and customs of the region.6) Accommodation
Room allocations are as per same sex twin-room sharing- double room for couples. Where a single room has been requested, a single room supplement will apply.7) Our Responsibility:
(7.1)It is our duty to ensure to we deliver the trip you have booked with us to the best of our ability and the it precedes in accordance with the itinerary as stated on our website/ tailor made to your requirement, thereafter making sure as reasonable as possible your journey is unhindered en-route. Our itineraries have been designed with consideration to the environments in which we travel its people and its cultures. Participants’ should therefore realize that hygiene and safety standards in countries which you journey are far different to the standards of your own. However, Himalayan Challenges take care when booking locations, should offer the best of the area in which you stay and dine.
(7.2)Any Participant(s) portraying acts of negligence on the expedition will not only risk their own life, but also that of their fellow participant(s) and will be cautioned. Repeated actions of the Participant(s) in question will have their trip terminated immediately and no refunds will be given. No refunds will be given to participant(s) who leave an expedition en-route. Himalayan Challenges will not be responsible for any traffic accidents caused through carelessness.
(7.3)Due to the nature of our adventures and their locations- Himalayan Challenges reserve the right if deemed necessary, to divert the course of an already commenced expedition away from events (deemed harmful) to the safety of an alternative route.
(7.4)Force Majeure- if for any unforeseen reason interruptions cause delay(s) en-route, preventing Himalayan Challenges from fulfilling their expedition obligations. Any additional expenditure incurred during the interruptions will have to be borne by the participant(s). However, we will do our utmost to rectify the situation into continuing on with the adventure.8) Complaints:
Himalayan Challenges endeavors to supply you the best possible service on your journey, ensuring you have a great time. However, if you have a complaint during your expedition, please notify your expedition leader immediately in order to rectify the situation. If your complaint was unresolved, then a written letter should be sent within 25 days from the expedition completion date to: Himalayan Challenges, Hillco Building, Vill. Shuru, P.O. Prini, Manali, Distt. Kullu, H.P.9) Law and Jurisdiction:
The Contract shall be construed in accordance with the Indian Law and the parties irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Indian Court; Manali, District Kullu, H.P. to settle any disputes, which may arise out of or in connection with this Contract.10) Currency conversion:
All our prices are coated in US dollars. For Client comfort, we forward quotes in their local currency on request. This also depends on the Current Exchange Rate. We will Quote the Exchange rate on the Bill.
11)When making your booking it is implied and accepted that you have read and understood all these booking conditions and agree to abide by them.