Trek the Majestic Markha Valley with རི Ri Guides and experience the classic adventure
The Markha Valley Trek is the classic trekking adventure of Ladakh through the Trans-Himalaya mountain ranges.
In a small, personal group, you will make you way up to high mountain passes at around 5,200m (17,000ft) decorated with prayer flags. You will be surrounded by incredible Himalayan mountains like Kang Yatse (6,400m / 21,000ft), one of the highest mountain in the Zanskar Range. You will experience spectacular views of the Himalayan mountain ranges, glaciers, rock cliffs, gorges, powerful rivers and ancient forts and castles and small villages.
Duration: 13 days (8 walking days)
Best months: July - October
Dates 2019: 16 July - 28 July
Day 01: Delhi - Leh
Day 02: Guided tour
Day 03: Start of trek
Day 04: Trek
Day 05: Trek
Day 06: Trek
Day 07: Trek
Day 08: Trek
Day 09: Trek
Day 10: Rest Day
Day 11: Trek
Day 12: Trek and Drive back to Leh
Day 13: Fly Leh - Delhi
Day 01: Leh (3,500m/11,483ft)
Welcome to Leh, the capital of Ladakh, a large town tucked far in between the great mountain ranges of the Himalayas and East Karakoram and part of the great Trans Himalayan range. Your early morning 75 minute flight to Leh, the capital of Ladakh, over the Himalayas will be one of the most picturesque flights you’ll ever experience. If you sit on the left side of the plane, you will see Nun (7,135m / 23,409ft) and Kun (7,077m / 23,219ft), one of the two highest mountains in far western Ladakh. If the sky is clear, on the Northern horizon you will see K2 (8,611m / 28,251ft), the world's second highest peak, and other 8000m peaks of the Karakoram Range.
We will greet you at Leh airport and drive you to your hotel or home stay. The rest of the day depends on your jet lag and acclimatization to Leh’s high altitude. We can take an evening stroll in the old Leh town with narrow alleys with muslim bakeries, Tibetan monasteries, Tibetan and Kashmiri antique shops, and a bustling Main Bazaar.
Day 02: Guided tour in Leh (3,500m/11,483ft)
Today is another rest day for you to get acclimatised and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, the bustling Main Bazaar and explore the 17th century Leh Palace built by the King Singge Namgyal with Namgyal Tsemo Gompa perched on the top. Leh town which is a bustling scene during the summer season and is packed with Kashmiri and Tibetan antique shops, many restaurants and cafes, muslim bakeries tucked behind the picturesque mosque in narrow alleys, and Ladakhi women selling vegetables and fruits and the people from Da Hanu selling their dried fruits and nuts at the end in the Main Bazaar.
Ladakh was once an integral part of Western Tibet and a major trading hub along the Silk Route. Caravans of merchants from far-flung areas such as Tibet, Yarkand, Kashgar, Northern lower India passed through Leh trading salts, wool, pashmina, spices, tea and semi-precious stones, everyone leaving a mark on this unique ancient capital.
We can also go for a walk up to the Namgyal Tsemo Gompa which overlooks the panoramic view of Leh and Leh Palace. We can visit the museum, and the nearby gompas (tibetan buddhist monasteries). The architecture of Leh Place resembles that of the Great Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. It will be great to walk the streets of changspa and climb up the many steps which leads us to the Japanese built Shanti Stupa to get a great view of the surrounding villages filled with green fields, willows and poplar trees and white washed Ladakhi houses. The precariously perched Leh Palace and Tsemo Gompa is on the eastern flank.
You can get view as far as to the Indus River and beyond that of the Stok range. Walking down we can visit the Sankar Gompa (17th - 18th century) which is the summer palace of Bakula Rinpoche (highly incarnated lama). This is tucked in between the Sankar village, amidst the groves of willow and poplar trees.
OPTIONAL MONASTERY TOUR:
We can go for a days excursion in a jeep to some of the Tibetan Buddhist Gompas (monasteries) driving past by the fertile Indus Valley and the River, and going past the ancient ruins of fortresses and palaces and traditional villages.
Monasteries towards east: Shey, Thiksey, Hemis, Stakna, Matho and Stok.
Monasteries towards west: Phyang, Basgo, Likir, Alchi, Ridzong and Lamayuru.
Hemis Monastery, belonging to the Drukpa Kagyu sect, is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Ladakh. It was first built in the 11th century. Stories of Kalachakra and the Lords of the Four Quarters are etched on the walls of its ancient corridors. There are golden statues, precious stones and a library with Tibetan books, relics and manuscripts.
The Hemis Festival is a dazzling celebration of the birth of the Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). The Cham Dance (masked dance by the monks) should not be missed at Hemis Monastery.
Thiksey Monastery, belonging to the Gelugpa sect, is 12 stories high. It has 10 temples, showcases stunning Ladakhi architecture, a 15m high statue of Maitreya (future Buddha), fierce paintings and statues of deities and other Tibetan Buddhism artifacts.
Day 03: Drive to Spituk, visit Spituk Monastery and drive to Zingchen, and trek to Rumbak (3,880m/12,726ft, 3 hours)
Like Hemis Monastery, Spituk Monastery was built in the 11th century. You will see the amazing scenery that the 100 monks who call home to this monastery see every day - the wild Indus River and the snowy, majestic peaks of the Himalaya. Spituk Monastery also reveals many ancient shrines, idols and religious scriptures. The campsite at Zingchen marks the start of the Markha Valley trek. Now that you are acclimatised (and possibly enlightened), you will begin the Markha Valley trek and start walking to Rumbak, not a very long walk, we take it easy on the first day. We will be crossing streams and climb gradually in a narrow valley. Our camp will be a bit below the village.
Day 04: Trek to Ganda La Base Camp (4,520m /14,825ft, 4-5 hours)
You will trek through the spectacular scenery of the snow-capped mountains in the Stok Range. Spectacular and wild purple and green rock towers rise into the sky all around you. After you pass a small village called Yurutse with one household, you will arrive at the Ganda La Base Camp.
Day 05: Trek to Lower Shingo Camp (4,055m crossing Ganda La at 4,970m / 16,305ft) - 5-6 hours
We're up early with a hot mug of coffee and a good breakfast to get us going. We will start off with a steep climb of the hill to the right of camp, along a gully, and then switch back up to the top of the hill. Behind us, Stok Kangri looms impressively, and we will take some time to catch our breath and take in the views. It will take us about an hour to reach the pass from here. At the Ganda La pass, 360 degree views await us and we can see as far as the Zanskar Range to the south. After hanging our multi-colored Tibetan prayer flags, we head steeply down into the Shingo Valley, which we can see below us. The trail becomes more gradual and we will arrive at our green campsite marked by chortens and a mani wall after passing Shingo Village which is another small hamlet of houses. We'll have the afternoon for laundry and washing up in this beautiful spot.
Day 06: Trek through Markha Valley to Hamurja Chumik camp (3520m / 11,548ft, 5-6 hours)
We will continue along the Markha River, past mani walls, white washed chortens, and poplar and willow groves. We will come across many traditional village houses at Skyu. After reaching cluster of old chortens and a lhatoo perched high on a ridge, we will come to Sumdo where local village women runs a small shop. There, you might find some seabuckthorn juice for sale. Then we will cross a spring coming out of a mountain hill and afterwards, cross a bridge spanning the Markha River.
The campsite at Hamurja Chumik is a green, wet grazing area of the village people nearby. Our camp will be set up for the night, and cold beers and cokes are available from the small tea-house. Enjoy the spring water stream running in front of the campsite.
Day 07 - Trek to Markha (3760m / 12,335ft, 4 hours)
We will continue along the right bank of Markha River, ascend to a plateau with mani walls and chortens and then come across Nakdi with two households. After a while, we arrive at Sara, where there is a parachute tent tea shop and a camping site. We also pass through patches of sea buckthorn and many ruins of small forts and monasteries built high up on the cliff sides. We will cross the fields of Chalak, walk along a large mani wall and meet big chortens. We will come across an ancient lhatoo, where people make offerings to the local deities. As we approach an intersection of Markha Valley with another small tributary, we will pass a tri-coloured chorten which marks the entrance to the village, and descend by the wolf trap. Then we will cross a wide section of Markha River and reach camp.
In the afternoon we'll head to the 400 year old Markha Gompa, built by Kushok Tsering Palden, the prince who became a monk. The gompa has been renovated and affiliated with Hemis Gompa. We will also take a walk through the lively, colorful village and its barley fields.
Day 08: Trek to Thachungtse (4,270m / 14,009ft, 6 hours)
We begin today by keeping our sandals ready to cross the Markha River after passing through Markha village. Afterwards we will will a valley going right, which leads to the Rubrang La and the wild Junglam trek. Then there would be one more river crossing on a newly built bridge before we come across the breathtaking Tacha Gompa perched on a sharp cliff. We can go up to take a look. Afterwards, we will approach the small hamlet of Umlung, where we will stop for a break and have some tea or sea buckthorn juice produced locally by the Markha women's group. We will be able to see the first views of our next objective Kang Yatse peak in a while. After another an hour's walk on the river side before reaching lower Hangkar village, we walk up towards upper Hangkar village, past long mani walls, ruined walls of an old fortress and a tiny old gompa. We will pass just left of the village through the many barley and wheat fields, then head along the river coming from Nimaling.
From Hangkar, it's a another hour of walking to the summer grazing area of Thachungtse, where the high-altitude light make for spectacular photos. The campsite is beautiful and you can enjoy a late afternoon wash in the rocky stream or take a short hike and look out for blue sheep, which would descend to the stream for a drink. There is plenty of bird life as well.
Day 09: Trek to Nimaling (4,700m / 15,419ft, 3 hours)
A truly wonderful day of trekking today. It is not very long but absolutely spectacular, with broad views of the Zanskar range andthe mountain Kang Yatze. The trail snakes up the valley before reaching a small doksa and pond where the reflection of Kang Yatze and the peak itself stands in front of us as a reward for our climb. Behind us is one of the most dramatic views of the trek, with layers and layers of mountains clothed in subtle hues.
Another hour brings us to the high altitude grazing region of Nimaling, where lower villagers herd their flocks of Pashmina sheep and other animals for the summers as they've done for centuries. The campsite is a vast ground which can be windy at times. You have the whole afternoon to relax or look for wildlife and explore this unique, high plateau. Yaks and Dzos roam freely, creating an environment of Changthang Nomadic life. Sunsets are spectacular on the Nimaling plain.
Day 10: Rest day on Nimaling plains
You will spend this day recuperating and enjoying the landscape, geology, animals and plant life of Nimaling plain. You can also walk up to Kang Yatse Base Camp today.
Day 11: Trek to the sulfur springs of Chuskyurmo (4,140m / 13,579ft) (cross Kongmaru La at 5,200m / 17,060ft) - 6 hours
After crossing the Nimaling River you will reach Kongmaru La, the highest pass on this trek. You will be rewarded with the stunning vista of the Himalayas. On a clear day, you will see K2 and other giant 8000m+ mountains of the Karakoram Range. Afterwards, we will descend steeply into the Martselang Valley. Our final camping spot for the Majestic Markha Valley Trek is near the sulfur springs of Chuskyurmo.
Day 12: Walk to Chokdo Village (3,960m / 12,989ft) and return to Leh
Today is our final short walking day. We will follow the Martselang stream to reach Chokdo village. From Chokdo Village, we will be driven to Leh.
This marks the end of the Majestic Markha Valley Trek.
Day 13: Fly Leh to Delhi
We will drive you to Leh airport and so you can fly back to Delhi.
- Experienced, professional local guide
- Guide for the monasteries, Ladakhi culture and history tour
- InReach satellite messaging system (when allowed)
- Oxygen saturation monitoring system
- Full medical kit
- All accommodation in Leh with breakfast
- Camping accommodation during trekking
- All camping equipment including personal (twin share) tents, mess tent, dining tent and toilet tent
- All meals and drinks during trekking
- High quality food serviced with seasonal, fresh produce, good coffee, chai and Kashmiri and herbal teas, by an experienced cook and attendants during the trek
- Warm washing water
- Service of horse/mule drivers and horses or mules
- All monastery entrance fees, entry fee into Hemis National Park and camping fees
- Pick up from Leh Airport and return to Leh Airport.
- Airport transfers
- Transportation by private vehicle.
- Domestic and International flights – please ask us if you need help with arranging your domestic flights
- Indian visa
- Meals other than breakfast in Leh (while on trek, all meals are included)
- Rental equipment
- Alcohol and bottled drinks
- Gompa (monastery) donations
- Travel, Medical and evacuation insurance
- Personal climbing and trekking gear
- Lunch and dinner in Leh (breakfast is included with accommodation)
- Laundry services
- Tipping & other items of a personal nature
- Other services not mentioned in the package.
Please note: This itinerary is approximate. Clients are embarking on adventure travel in a remote mountain region and the itinerary is subject to weather, road conditions, vehicles and local availability of horses or mules. Ri Guides will make every effort to see that clients acclimatize completely, and complete and enjoy their trip. Please read RiGuidesTermsandConditionsandLegal.
US$ 1440 p/p
Optional: Kang Yatse II climb + Majestic Markha Trek:
US$ 1640 p/p
Optional: Dzo Jongo climb + Majestic Markha trek:
US$ 1640 p/p
Hotel Single supplement: Additional $100.
Tips and Extra Cash: Allow approximately $300 for meals (while not on trek), drinks (on trek) and cash for tips .