About The Markha Valley :
The Markha Valley Trek is also called the ‘Teahouse’ trek since in this trek there are lot of parachute trek accommodation for trekkers. This region is a dry and cold desert that gives trekkers magnificent views of the Zanskar and Ladakh which are beautiful regions cherished by travelers throughout the world. The majestic and wonderful peaks of Kang Yissay (21000 ft) and Stok Kangri (20086 ft) awe trekkers. They also get to see the Hemis National Park, Gandala La and the Kongmaru La, which are also splendid attractions in the Markha Valley Trek Route. Yet another aspect that makes the trek entertaining is the excitement of crossing the Markha River to reach the path to the Buddhist villages and rock structures.
This valley is very close to Leh and every trekker who comes to Leh, can easily trace the way to the Markha to do this splendid trek. Trekkers initially should get themselves acclimatized for atleast two days as it will cleanse their mind and make them fit and healthy to undertake this trek. In the meantime, they can discover monasteries, fort, and local market and see the beautiful and wonderful Leh Palace. Trekkers also cross the huge mountain peak of the Ganda La (4800 m) and finally come to the charming Markha Village, which is located amidst lush green fields, willow trees with barren mountains in the backdrop. Other excitement and adventure include camping beside the flowing streams, splendid views of the Kangyatze peaks.
The Markha Valley Trek:
Trekkers after arriving in Leh spend their time to acclimatize to the climate before starting the trek. Sightseeing in Leh will make trekkers to come to know of the Buddhist traditions and culture. After reaching Yurutse the first camping destination, trekkers can see the Markha Valley from a close angle. The route from Yurutse to Ganda La is a steep ascend and trekkers can reach the giant Zanskar Range and farsighted majestic Himalayan peaks. At Skiu, they can see the convergence of the Markha and Zanskar rivers, which is a feast to the eyes.
From Skiu it is a 6 – 7 hour moderate trail to Markha and there are lot of beautiful streams that trekkers see located in the center of the cold region. Green fields, willow trees and picturesque villages seen from the top make it more beautiful. From Markha Valley, trekkers can see exotic views of the Kangyatze peaks that is really a lifetime experience and reward that trekkers get. Nimaling, Kongmaru La, Sumdo and lastly Leh would be the route that trekkers take to end the trip and come back to the wonderful destination of Leh thereby concluding this splendid trek.
Markha Valley Trek Highlights:
Some of the highlights of the Markha Valley Trek are as follows:
- Trek unique landscapes of Ladakh, exploring the desolate villages, and Buddhist monasteries.
- Capture the splendid views of the Kang Yatze peak (6400m) from the highest point of Kongmaru La (5200m).
- See the century old Hemis monastery the richest and most famous in Ladakh.
- Enjoy the walk alongside the banks of the Zanskar and Markha river.
- Cimb to the Markha valley to an altitude of 17000 feet it is very exciting and challenging but not that much difficult.
- They can interact with the locals of the villages and come of know of their culture and tradition.
- Camp in a region untouched by any of the modern day practices.
- See 11th century monasteries of Spituk , Hankar, Humlung, Thiksey and Shey.
- Trail to Zinchen, Yurutse, Skiu, Markha, Hankar, Nimaling and Shang Sumdo villages.
- Explore the Leh palace.
- Relish the delicious food, stay in a relaxed accommodation, and get to see the warmth and hospitality of the people of this region.
- Trekkers get hypnotized by the beautiful Khardongla pass.
- Discover the small remote villages of Ladakh.
- Soak in Ladakhi culture and tradition by spending some time with Ladakhi people.
- Trekkers cross the giant and elevated peaks of the Kongmaru La at (5200 m) and Ganda La at (4900 m) passes.
- Explore the stunning deep gorges of the Ladakh region.
- Get some splendid views of the Stok Kangri and Kang Yatze peaks.
- Trekkers spot some rare animals like the Bharal (blue sheep), Yaks and the Marmots.
- Swim across several streams and the Markha river.
- Trek through the Hemis National park.
- Climb through the steep rocks and narrow ridges.
- Set up a campfire and camp gaze the sight of the beautiful stars.
Key Facts About The Trek:
- Region: Leh- Ladakh
- Starting Point: Leh
- Ending Point: Leh
- Duration: 9 Days and 8 Nights
- Ideal Time: The best time to visit this region is somewhere between mid-May – September since the weather will be pleasant, sunny in the daytime, and calm during nights. After September, snowfall starts and the whole region is covered with dense snow and heavy rain starts so it is not an ideal time to visit this place. Temperature: Summer temperature varies between 22*C to 30*C but it can be hot, dry and sultry but in winter it can drop to – 5*C.
- Level: The trek passes through barley paths, difficult regions, and rough environments, which sometimes has tough weather conditions; it is a solo trek and sometimes has steep ascents. This is a high altitude trek and requires great amount of physical fitness, good health and a positive attitude.
- Total Distance: 85 km.
- Maximum elevation: 10,500 ft at Spituk and reaches a maximum altitude of 17,060 feet at the Kongmaru La pass.
- Weather: Hot and sunny in summer (May- August) (June to October) is the best time to visit Markha valley. Post monsoon (November- February) the temperature drops to -5*C and the entire region has snowfalls.
- Communication: Only BSNL networks get connectivity and work, and there is no phone connectivity during the whole course of the trek to Leh, in case of emergencies only satellite communication works. Battery drains out very quickly in this region especially when trekkers are carrying smartphones, so in case trekkers are using smartphones they must carry an extra reserve of batteries or they must switch to airplane mode to retain the battery life of their cell for a longer time.
- ATM Point: The last ATM point in this region is Purola before the trek starts.
- Health insurance cards and policy waiver.
- Proof of yellow fever vaccination – If in case the trip needs travelers to take completed International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis card or medical waiver.
- Copies of all prescriptions- Be sure to have copies of all prescriptions that have generic drug names. Also, carry prescriptions for eyeglasses/ contact lenses and other essential medical supplies.
- Photo Identity ID card, PAN, Driving License, Voter ID ( better to carry copies for submission to any higher authorities)
- Contact details
- Travelers must carry cards having contact numbers and e- mail id of their friends/ relatives in case of any emergencies.
Arrival at Leh
Stay at Leh (3500 m)
Leh - Zingchen (3400 m) - Yurutse (4150 m) – Trek – 4 Hrs
Yurutse (4150 m) - Ganda La (4800 m) - Skiu (3400 m)
Skiu (3400 m) - Markha (3800 m) – Trek 6 – 7 Hrs
Markha (3800 m) – Thochuntse (4150 m) – Trek 4 - 5 Hrs
Thochuntse (4150 m) - Nimaling (4700 m) – Trek 4
Nimaling (4700m) - Kongmaru La (5150m) - Sumdo (3800m) - Leh 3500m - Trek 7 Hrs / Drive – 2 Hrs
Departure from Leh
Some of the inclusions are as follows:
- a) Accommodation:
Accommodation is provided in lodges during the stay at the base of the mountain at Leh and teahouses or tents will be given to trekkers during their stay in the mountains. The types of accommodation during the trek are:
- Guest houses
- Tea houses
- Home stay
- Parachute tents
Travelers can preferably book through www.edreams.com to avail discounts and cheap rates on hotel bookings. Some of the recommended hotels for accommodation are:
|Name of Hotel||Star Rating|
|Hotel Ladakh Greens||3 Star|
|The Grand Dragon Ladakh||4 Star|
|The Zen Ladakh||4 Star|
|Padma Guest House & Hotel||4 Star|
|The Auspicious Hotel||3 Star|
|Hotel Caravan Centre – Ladakh||4 Star|
|Hotel Lingzi||3 Star|
|Hotel The Kaal, Leh, Ladakh||4 Star|
|Reenam Hotel, Leh||3 Star|
|Omasila Hotel||4 Star|
|Hotel Ladakh Himalayan Retreat||4 Star|
|Hotel Holiday Ladakh||4 Star|
|Hotel Lasermo||4 Star|
|Yarab Tso Hotel||3 Star|
|Hotel Shambhala||3 Star|
|The Druk Ladakh||4 Star|
|Ladakh Residency||4 Star|
|Hotel Chube||3 Star|
|The Hotel Ladakh Continental||4 Star|
|The Mogol Hotel||4 Star|
|Cho Palace||3 Star|
|Hotel Glacier View||4 Star|
Travelers have plenty of options to choose different types of accommodations from luxury to star hotels that are available across different price bands from low cost economical hotels, homestays, heritage hotels and resorts. The GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam) is located 6 km from Leh Ladakh region of Leh. Largely GMVN offers economy accommodation with dormitories having basic facilities i.e – hot water facilities, clean linen and an attached bathroom.
Meals are typically served in the Ladakhi style. People of this place generally grow their own food and are self-sufficient in food grains. Due to severe and harsh climate majority of the people are vegetarian. Ladakhi food is largely influenced by Tibet and Kashmir. Ladakh is also famous for the food festival of “Wazawan” where there are 36 types of rich and deliciously cooked meals. These mostly consist of non- vegetarian dishes. Ladakhi fields also grow potatoes, rice, beans, beetroot and pumpkin. The Ladakhi foods is filled with energy and nutrition to keep the body warm. Some vegetarian specialties are Dam-Aaloo and Chaman, Korma Saag, Vegetarian momos, Lotus Root butter tea, Ladakhi pulao, Skyu, Tingmo, Thupka, Khambir, Chhurpi, and the apricot jam. Non vegetarian dishes include Thukpa, Skieu, Yakhni and Tabaq Naat, non- vegetarian momos, Roghan Josh, Yaknee, Gushtaba, Rista, Marchwangan Korma and Methi Korma. The rich and the delicious cuisine of Ladakh draws tourists from all over the world.
- c) Activities :
Some of the activities that are popular in the Leh region are:
- Jeep Safari
- Camel safari
- Mountain biking
- Visit to Magnetic Hill
- River rafting in the Zanskar river
- Bike ride to the tsomorori lake
- Ice- hockey
- Horse polo
- Heli- Skiing
- Pangong lake visit
- Visit to Ladakh prayer wheel, Hall of fame
- Motorbiking at Khardung La pass and Ladakh.
- Sightseeing around the Pangong Tso, Tsomoriri Lake, Tso Kar
- Spiritual tours To monasteries- Shanti Stupa, Hemis monastery, Phyang monastery, Shey Gompa, Leh Palace, Dikshit Gompa, etc.
d) Other Inclusions:
The other inclusions in the trek are:
- High Quality Camping arrangements
- Toilet tents
- All meals starting from dinner on the Day 1 until conclusion of the trip on day 9.
- Some have a system of providing 6 small meals along with tea / coffee in between.
- Forest entrance charges, permits & camping fee (if included in itinerary)
- First Aid / Medical kits (Guides are certified in handling first aid situations)
Leh can be reached by either air or road.
Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport is the main airport serving the Leh region. There are number of flights run by Air India, Jet Airways that connects New Delhi, Srinagar and Jammu as well few other major cities of India.
Kalka and Jammu is the nearest railhead to Leh. Kalka is well connected to Shimla with daily train services. Buses or taxis can be hired to reach Manali via Shimla. There are frequent buses that ply between Manali and Leh. From Jammu Leh is at a distance of around 820 Kms with an approximate travel time of 22 Hrs. From Manali Leh is at a distance of around 480 Kms with an approximate travel time of 13 Hrs.
Buses are regularly available to plan a road trip to Leh. The road trip by bus will be a lifetime adventurous and enjoyable that is unforgettable experience for travelers. The route that it takes is Manali- Leh NH 3 highway and is 480 Km long. The coach will have halt at Keylong and the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) provides comfortable tented accommodation with additional facilities of breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are lot of Volvo bus services available. The total travel time from Manali will be around 13 Hrs.
Some of the basic essentials that trekkers need to carry while going for the Markha Valley Trek are:
- Warm shirts
- Light micro fleece pullover
- Full sleeve t- shirt
- Water resistant trekking pants
- Windproof/ water resistant jackets
- Down jackets with minimum 600 fill power rating
- Thick fleece
- Full sleeve Woolen pullover
- Thermal inner wear
- Woolen cap
- Inner fleece gloves
- Outer water proof gloves
- Woolen / Regular socks
- Scarf/muffler (optional)
- Comfortable waterproof wear
- Hiking shoes with a thick sole
- Camp shoes
- Small light weight towel
- Insulated water bottle
- Hydration pack
- Cap / floppy, Sun glasses
- Sturdy walking stick
- Trekking pole
- Sunscreen Lotion
- Lip Balm
- Torch / Flashlight (with extra batteries)
- Personal toiletries
- Personal medication
- Wet wipes (tissues and wipes) in the mountains is not advisable since these are not biodegradable. Sanitary pads should be carried in a Ziploc bags and should be disposed after returning from trek.
- Travelers should carry a spoon, lunchbox and coffee mugs with them. If needed they can also bring their own cutlery set with them for hygienic reasons.
- Carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
- Medications for common ailments:
- Diamox- To prevent acute mountain sickness
- Dexamethasone- One strip
- BP tablets as necessary
- Crocin- for fever
- Avomine- to prevent motion sickness
- Avil- for allergies
- Combiflam- Painkiller
- Disprin- Headaches
- Norflox TZ and Lomofen- Diarrhoea
- Digene- for acidity
- Omez/ rantadine- antacids
- Crepe bandage- 3 to 5 meters
- Guaze- 1 small roll
- Band aid- 10 strips
- Cotton- 1 small roll
- Oral Rehydration solution fluids- 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
There are good roads to Leh from Kashmir valley through Kargil that is approximately takes 434 km which remains open only in the months of June – November. The route goes upto a high altitude of 11,500 feet of the Zoji- La- Pass that is the great Himalayan gateway of Ladakh. The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) State Road Development Corporation has ordinary as well as deluxe buses that plies between Srinagar- Leh, with an halt at Kargil. Taxis as well as jeeps are available from Srinagar. There is one more alternate route that is Manali- Leh , that is 473 km long and is the second approach to reach Leh. This is also open for traffic only from mid June – October. This is a high altitude road that goes upto the desert plateau of Rupsho, at a height of 3,660 m to 4,570 m. There are lot of high altitude passes that fall in this route and the Taklang-La is the world’s second highest motor able pass at an altitude of 17,469 feet. The Himachal Pradesh Tourism, (HRTC) and the Jammu and Kashmir SRTC has daily ordinary and deluxe buses between Manali – Leh. The bus journey takes around 21 hours, or two days with an overnight break in camps at Pang or Sarchu. Jeeps and taxis are also available both at Manali and Leh and the travel time varies depending upon the weather and road conditions. [On an average the travel time will be around 12 Hrs]
The distance and travel time to Leh from some important places/ destinations are:
- Srinagar – Leh – 434 Kms / 12 Hrs
- Manali – Leh – 473 Kms / 13 Hrs
- Srinagar – 810 Kms / 21 Hrs
- Kargil – 220 Kms / 5 Hrs
- Delhi – Leh– 1,050 Kms / 25 Hrs
Online bookings offer a lot of choices to pre-book tickets especially during peak season. Many types of private vehicles are also available. Travelling in tourist buses is much safer because of the comfort level and better driving standards. Trekkers assemble at Leh which is the starting point of the Markha Valley Trek.
The following are some guidelines that travelers should follow when going for the Markha Valley Trek:
- Climatic conditions in the high altitudes differ from those of that in the plains, hence trekkers should take enough time to get themselves acclimatized to the weather conditions.
- Listen to the Guide’s instructions and follow the guidelines given by him for a safe, smooth and enjoyable trekking experience.
- Refrain from consuming alcohol or any other intoxicants during the course of the trek.
- Do not trek during nights.
- Consult a physician before undertaking the trek.
- Do not litter the local sites or campsites as the whole trek takes place through eco-friendly zones.
- Physical and mental preparation is essential, be ready to trek in high altitudes. Trekkers should be ready to trek in high altitude terrains and face rough weather and trek in harsh climate.
- Trekking crew is essential since they may help in dealing with any sort of emergencies that arise on the way.
- Getting a proper insurance is necessary and it should cover medical rescue evacuation in case of emergencies. It is advisable to have safety backup like oxygen pressurized altitude chamber to handle emergencies.
- To prevent frostbites from extreme freezing temperatures, wear good socks.
- Avoid wearing more than one pair of socks to have good blood circulation.
- Wear track pants instead of denim jeans.
- Wear proper dress while going to temples.
- Vision and contact lenses – A spare will help in case of some damage.
- Suture Kit – Kit is for use by local health care providers and requires a letter from the doctor on a letterhead stationery.
- Syringe Kit- ( for diabetics)
- Medical alert tags, necklace, bracelets ( for emergency identification)
- Antifungal ointments
- Insect bite ointments
- Bandages- Multiple sizes, adhesive tape and gauze
- Moleskin or molefoam for blisters
- Elastic compression bandage wrap for sprains and strains.
- Disposable gloves
- Digital thermometer
- Scissors and safety pins
- Eye drops
- Cotton swabs
- Oral rehydration drops
The best time to visit Leh is summer (April till July). During this time the weather in Leh is pleasant and warm with the day temperature between 20*C -3 0*C . July- August is also ideal time to visit Leh since the routes of Manali -Leh and Srinagar- Leh is open and accessible.
Summer (April – July):
This is the best time to visit Leh, the passes are open for tourists. The day is warm and pleasant and the skies are bright and clear. Temperature is between 15*C – 30*C. Trekkers during this season enjoy bike rides, visit the Thiksey monastery, Shanti Stupa and the Nubra valley , Namgyal Tsemo Gompa and the wonderful Pangong Tso Lake. They can also do trekking and enjoy jeep rides around this region.
Monsoon (July – September):
The monsoon season is pretty much erratic and irregular in Leh. This season also is a good time to visit Leh and has good inflow of tourists. The temperature during the monsoon season is between 3*C – 17*C.
Winter (October – March):
This is not a suitable time to visit Leh, during this season the entire region is covered with snow and all the roads and passes are closed / inaccessible for many vehicles. Temperature drops terribly in the night from 0*C – (-15*C). The climate is harsh and cold winds blows at nights and the lakes are completely frozen with solid ice formation.
This trek provides a truly exciting, exhilarating and once in a lifetime experience. There are plenty of activities that one can indulge in. However, the trek is sure to test the physical endurance to the fullest. As the proverb goes “No Risk – No Reward” – if one manages to acclimatize to the weather conditions then it is sheer joy and enchanting experience all the way!