Markha Valley Trek in Ladakh

Duration : 13 Days / 12 Nights
Attractions : Delhi - Spitok - Trek to Zinchen - Yurutse - Shingo - Skiu - Markha - Thachungtse - Nimaling - Shang - Martselang - Leh - Delhi

In comparison to Nepal, Ladakh has relatively few trekkers, and although you are still in the Greater Himalaya the scenery is so different you would hardly know that you were in the same range. It is often called 'Little Tibet' and lying north of the main chain it receives little rainfall. 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. 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 pretty unlikely places!

It is a fairly long trek, crossing a pass of over 5,182m, which can be achieved in just 10 days and has the fine objective of visiting the base camp of the highest peak in the Zanskar range, Kang Yatse, 6,553m.

We have run this trek many times, usually as private itineraries. People are always highly enthusiastic and come back with a feeling of real achievement. Great value as a classic with a Ladakhi guide.



DAY 03 : DRIVE TO SPITOK, TREK TO ZINCHEN (3,530m) 5-6 hours.
Spitok GompaSpitok Gompa - 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 Spitoks 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. Our 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 Rumbak Valley, which is lined with trees, providing sufficient shade for a rest stop, before we reach the tiny village of Zinchen, which consists of just 4 or 5 houses. Camp overnight.

DAY 04 : TREK TO YURUTSE. (3530-4,180m). 5/6 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. We then follow the well-marked trail on the left bank of the Rumbak Nala, passing cultivated fields and scattered houses until we enter a side valley leading to the south. Further trek 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 ascend towards Yurutse, where the villagers grow Barlay, Potatoes and some green vegetables. Near the village are some impressive purple and green rock formations. Camp overnight.

DAY 05 : TREK TO SHINGO. (4180-4985mt). 6 to 7 hrs. Today we 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. We make an early start today to ascend the Gangala pass (4985 mts). You can have a spectacular view of Stok Kangri massif from Gandala top on a clear day. From here descend to Shingo for overnight camping.

DAY 06 : TREK TO SKIU. (4985-3660m). 5-6 hrs. Immediately after we leave camp, a gradual ascent followed by a steep climb gets us to the Kundu La (4906m). 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 we 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 3660m and the Markha Valley is quite narrow, the temperature is higher here.

DAY 07 : TREK TO MARKHA (3660-3200 MTS). adventure treks of himalayas Cross the river and trek upto the Markha village. It is the longest valley. A beautiful oasisterraced green fields and small irrigation canals. At dusk just as the evening shadows begin to envelop the valley, it is worth walking 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 08 : TREK TO THACHUNGTSE. (3,589m). 6-7 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 village and further to Hankar village from where we get a goog view of Gyalpo-Ri peak. The camp is beyond this small village on the bank of the river. Camp overnight.

DAY 09 : TREK TO NIMALING. (3500-4,800m). 5-6 hrs. 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 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. Camp overnight.

DAY 10 : REST DAY. A chance to relax at Nimaling and enjoy & explore 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, 6,553m. Camp overnight.

DAY 11 : CROSS PASS, TREK TO SHANG. (4800-3600m). 7-8 hrs. Crossing to the north of the Markha, climb to the top of the highest of the three passes the 5,400m Kangmaru La with its wonderful views from the top. 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 12 : TREK TO MARTSELANG. DRIVE TO LEH 4-5 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 Hotel.

DAY 13 : LEH - DELHI. Transfer to Leh airport to catch flight for Delhi, arrive Delhi transfer to hotel near International airport. Late evening transfer airport to catch flight for home........Tour end with happy memory.