Everything you need to know about the Markha Valley Trek in Ladakh
The hidden gem of Zanskar Himalayas, the Markha Valley trek is one of those few treks which still remain far from the crowds. One of the classic Himalayan Treks, the Markha valley trek is a perfect hike for those seeking stunning Himalayan vistas and experience real Tibetan culture in Ladakh. This trek gives a great opportunity to experience the unique Ladakhi culture and wildlife while trekking through gorgeous valleys and high mountain passes. The landscape is vibrant and encompasses exotic flora and fauna. The 6-day trek through the cold desert of Ladakh offers some exceptional views of the majestic mountains of the Stok and Zanskar range.
Long hours walk, maximum altitude reaching up to 5130m, steep ascent and descent on mountain passes and multiple stream crossings all makes it a challenging yet rewarding trek for trekking lovers.
Some quick facts about the Markha Valley trek:
- Duration: 8 days (6 days of trekking)
- Maximum altitude: 5260m
- Difficulty level: Moderate
- Total distance: Approx. 50km
- Commences at: Leh
- Ends at: Leh
- Recommended age group: 12 years and above
- Recommended for: Experienced trekkers, Fit beginners
- Best time to visit: July to September
Where does the trek start from?
Markha Valley trek begins in the heart of the famed Hemis National Park, popular for the various flora and fauna. Once you arrive in Leh, it is very important to spend a couple of days in Leh to acclimatize to the higher altitude. We will be spending two nights in Leh before starting the trek. From Leh, we drive down to Chilling which is around 65km (3 hrs) from Leh. From Chilling it’s a 3hrs hike to Skiu which is the starting point of the Markha Valley Trek. The trekking distance may vary depending upon the status of the road from Chilling to Skiu which is currently under construction.
How to reach Leh?
Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh is the nearest airport. There are daily flights to Leh from most of the major cities in India.
One can do a road trip on the Manali-Leh highway or Srinagar-Leh highway if you wish to travel by road.
Which is the best time to go for the Markha Valley trek?
Although the trek can be done anytime between June to September, July to August is the most suitable time to do the trek. The temperature is pleasant around this time with the daytime temperature around 20-25 degree and nighttime temperature around 0-7 degree. Expect clear blue skies and gorgeous views of the mountain peaks during the day while the night rewards with star-studded sky.
What’s the itinerary like?
You can find the full itinerary here.
Markha Valley Trek is an 8-day trek from Leh to Leh. The trip involves 6 days of trekking. We will be spending 2 nights in Leh before you head off for the Chadar Trek. This is so that your body has enough time to acclimatize to the altitude. The first day is spent in the hotel and maybe a hike to the Leh Market in the evening. Day two is when we’ll hike up to Shanti Stupa and Leh Palace. One can also go for optional half-day sightseeing around Leh and visit Thiksey monastery and Hemis Monastery.
On the third day, we will arrange a comfortable vehicle for the road journey to a place called Chilling. From Chilling we hike for 3 hours to reach Skiu which is the start point for the Markha Valley Trek. We hike for around 6 hours to reach Markha village and the next day we move towards Thachungtsey via Hankar. Thchungtsey to Nimaling is the most scenic route on the trek. From Nimaling we hike towards Kongmaru La which is the highest point on the trek at the altitude of 5260m. We end the trek at Chuskurmo and drive back to Leh with million memories of this gorgeous trek.
Where will I be staying?
In Leh, you will spend three nights in a comfortable hotel near Leh market. Your hotel stay will be on a double sharing basis. However, we can arrange for a single room on a prior request and at an additional cost. We encourage our guests to use minimal water during their stay as Ladakh is a cold dessert.
While on the trek, you will be staying in 3-person Alpine tents on a double sharing basis. This will ensure you have sufficient place to sleep and also keep your luggage inside. We can also arrange single tent as per prior request and on an additional cost. If it is your first experience of staying in a tent you might find it a little uncomfortable, but it’ll get better and once the trek ends, you’ll miss the tent.
The bottom of the tents is lined with a thin piece of foam. This is to insulate you from the ground. The thin piece of foam is followed by a thicker sleeping mat. As the name suggests, this is the mat on which you’ll be laying. On top of the sleeping mat is where your sleeping bag will be placed. The numerous mats with the thick sleeping bags that we provide will ensure that you get a good night’s rest and wake up charged and ready for the new day.
You can carry your own sleeping mattress if you want to add extra comfort to your tent. We also recommend to carry your own sleeping bag or a liner (not mandatory).
There are homestays on the Markha Valley trek route owned by the locals. However, we will be arranging camping accommodation to avoid any direct contact with the locals to keep them safe during this pandemic.
What will be the Camp arrangements?
On this Camping expedition format for the Markha Valley Trek, we will be carrying all our equipment, ration etc on mules and will be setting up our campsites at suitable locations. Adventure Pulse team will make sure to give you a comfortable trekking and camping experience on this glamping trip. We will be providing three-man tents on a double sharing basis along with sleeping mats and high-quality sleeping bags. A single tent can also be arranged on prior request and at an additional cost. We will be carrying a kitchen tent where the kitchen staff will prepare the meals. There will be toilet tents at each campsite with a portable flush toilet only for the group members to use.
Where will the meals be served?
We will have a separate big dining tent where the meals will be served on a dining table with camping chairs/stools. Dining tents are also used as a commonplace to relax and hangout place. Daily briefings about the trek and next day’s plan will also happen at the dining tent.
Where will we go to the loo?
As part of our premium trek services, we provide a toilet tent with a flushable loo. After the porters reach the next campsite, they will set up the loo on one end of the campsite, away from running water and the camping area. The toilet tents will then be pitched, and the portable flushable commode will be placed. The tent will be sanitized regularly to maintain the hygiene. At the start of the trek, your trek leader will explain how the loo works. Each Toilet Tent will also come equipped with sanitizing sprays, toilet paper and a packet for the waste. While on the trail, you will have to go Au Natural behind a rock.
How fit do I have to be for the Markha Valley Trek?
Markha Valley Trek is considered a moderate grade trek. However, it does require a good level of fitness. The trek involves long days of walking and some steep ascents and descents. With a maximum altitude of 5260m, and some treacherous climb to the mountains passes, this trek will surely test your stamina and endurance. Altitude related problems can also occur hence acclimatization is a very important factor for the successful completion of the trek.
With respect to fitness, you will need to work on your ability to walk for long periods of time with some weight on your back. This is to prepare your body for walking in the mountains with your day pack. If you need any advice on how to go about training for any trek, please feel free to contact us. We recommend following the physical fitness plan as mentioned on our website.