A Starters Guide to Markha Valley Trek
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One of the most exhilarating and diverse trekking expeditions in the Himalayas, the Markha Valley Trek offers a wide miscellany of landscapes. Ascending to the peak of Kongmaru La and Ganda La highlights this fruitful trekking experience with its magnificent backdrops adorned with streams, snowcaps, river and spine-tingling meadows. After a two-day acclimatization in Leh, this expedition takes you through the Zingchen and Yurutse plateaus before reaching Skiu. A confluence of rivers welcome you as you head towards the much awaited Markha Valley that is adorned with willow trees and green fields. With many more stream crossings on your path, encounter Thochuntse to view the Peak of Kangyatze and further to Nimaling to reach the eye-catching Kongmaru La Peak. With the heighest ascent to 5150 meters, the trekking in Markha Valey will offer you an enraptured experience of a lifetime.
How To Reach
The Markha Valley Trek begins its amazing experience with its commencing point of Leh. You must get acclimatized for the first two days on your arrival to prepare for this exhilarating experience. Leh is accessible by air and road through the months between May and September. Various flights are scheduled from the Indira Gandhi international Airport of New Delhi, which arrive in Leh’s Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport latest by 3:00 pm, as weather predicaments may not facilitate flight arrivals after dusk. If you choose to arrive in Leh by road, the road route is via Manali, which can be accessed from Delhi or Chandigarh. Although it takes a considerably long road journey to reach Leh, the drive by state-run or private buses will grant you beautiful picturesque sights along the way. These roads are only open in the summers and may take you 2-3 days to arrive, depending upon your mode of transport, frequent stops or stopovers and the climate situations.
Image Credits:M+M Photographers– Flickr
This amazing trekking expedition begins at Leh, where getting acclimatized to the altitude is deemed essential. Making your way through the Markha Valley, you will enter Nimaling, which will be the basecamp for this trek. The Ganda La Pass and the Kongmaru La Pass are two major attractions of this region. Nimaling stands tall at 4700 meters with its open meadows overlooking a spacious sweeping valley that houses watercourses. With sporadic green and white valleys, depending upon the weather and snowfall, Nimaling’s base campsite is a nirvana with its beautifully carved landscapes.
Best Season To Visit
The Markha Valley Trek begins at Leh where you must stay for the first two days to get acclimatized to the high altitude conditions. The temperature here varies anywhere from 22 °C to 30°C in the summers and dips to –5 °C or way below that in winters. The months during June and September are the prime season to experience this trek, as the climate is suitable and highly appropriate to climb. October and November can also be considered as a model season yet it may hold unpredictable weather, as winter is fairly nearby.
About The Locals
Image Credits:M+M Photographers– Flickr
The populaces of Ladakh are exceptional from the rest of the country owing to their exciting culture, distinctive behaviour and inquisitive lifestyle. The residents embrace the looks and clothing styles that are similar to Tibet, due to the genes of immigrants in ancient times. Buddhism is widely deep-rooted in their ethnicity with many Buddhist monasteries that sprawl across Ladakh. The natives enjoy a natural joy of life due to the candid ascendancy of primordial practices. They are a secure community who involve in relished sports of Polo and Archery apart from religious activities and other festivities and social gatherings.
This breath-taking trekking expedition offers an exquisite view of innumerable high peaks with bewildering visions of mountains and valleys across the Markha Valley. Jumpstart your trek with a drive from Leh at 3500 meters and acclimatize here before you head out to Zingchen that positions at 3400 meters. Begin your trekking expedition to Yurutse that stands at 4150 meters to reach Ganda La, with a the majestic height of 4800 meters attained. Find your stride as you descend to Skiu at 3400 meters. The much-awaited Markha Valley lays at a slim height above Skiu at 3800 meters allowing you to enjoy the picturesque landscapes. Reach Thochuntse with its peak summiting at 4150 meters and proceed to the 4700 meters boost of Nimaling. The added unsurpassed magnetism lays here at Kongmaru La with the supreme elevation of 5150 meters that you shall accomplish on your trek.Henceforth, you will be driven to Sumdo that stands at 3800 meters before you head back to Leh.
The required permits for the trek and camping charges for the trek may be included as part of the trekking expedition. Please carry your ID cards and photocopies of your driving license or voter ID or passport (along with visa for non-Indian travellers), along with passport size photos. A medical certificate ensuring your fitness for the trek and a disclaimer certificate ensuring your submission to voluntarily participate in this trek is mandatory. Climbing permits from the Office of Indian Mountaineering Foundation in Leh is mandatory and takes a day to be dispensed.
Medical Advice and Emergency Numbers
A well-equipped first aid kit will be accessible with the guides throughout the duration of the trek. We recommend that you carry your own individual resource of first aid items such as medicines, antiseptics, insect repellents, prescription drugs etc. All precautionary measures shall be taken to ensure your safety yet there lays no harm in having awareness of the general know-how of healthcare. CPR and other common medical knowledge about altitude sickness (Acute Mountain Sickness) should be present. This illness is associated with trekking with symptoms that range from headache, insomnia, gastrointestinal issues, lung problems, ataxia etc. Please consult your doctor before your trip to procure prescription drugs for such possible situations and only consume them if required, as they are powerful and have strong effects, especially if taken during your trek.
As the Markha Valley Trek lies in Ladakh, please keep with you at all times the following emergency contact details.
Jammu & Kashmir Road Transport Corporation: Leh (Ladakh): +91-1982-252085
Airport Contact Number: Leh (Ladakh): +91-1982-253076
Tourist Reception Centre: (Jammu): +91-191-2548172/2520432
Tourist Office: +91-1982-252297, +91-1982-252095
Tourist Information Office: +91-1982-252297, +91-1982-252094, +91-1982-253462
Sonam Norbu Hospital: (Ladakh): +91-1982-253626
Police Station: (Leh) 100, +91-1982-252018, +91-1982-254880
Advice and Expectations
This expedition is the perfect experience to enjoy the thrill of the Himalayas yet it holds extremely harsh conditions and is generally considered to have a hard level of difficulty. Prepare thoroughly with regard to clothing and other protective gears to endure the unpredictable mountain weather, as it may get very cold. Keep your trekking gear safe and always keep essentials such as wind-proof jacket, dry socks and caps at hand. Make sure you choose correct and good quality footwear and fitted boots to avoid frostbites. Wear the right kind of socks to facilitate blood circulation. Carry a sturdy sleeping bag that is durable and comfortable. Carry a good quality backpack that can ensure harsh conditions of wear and tear, especially with a plastic or waterproof lining. Carry your identification proof as you might be expected to furnish it with the officials for obtaining permits.
Things To Carry
– Durable good-quality trekking shoes
– Camping shoes for crossing streams
– Thick woolen socks
– Thermal inner wear
– Heavy fleece clothes
– Covers to store used/wet clothing
– Winter jacket and water proof coat
– Trekking pants
– Woolen cap, gloves, etc.
– Sun screen lotion and other toiletries
– Water bottle
– Trekking pole
– First aid kit
– Personal medication
– Swiss knife
Image Credits:M+M Photographers– Flickr
Leh – A tourist-affable abode with bewitching and dazzling sights, Leh boasts of mountain- frames with mesmerizing landscapes. Obfuscated with embellished stupas and mud-brick house, the town of Leh is dominated by Tibetan flair with forts that are dictated by gravelly crests. It is the trekking hub of the Himalayas and motions to awe-inspiring sights that are parallel to paradise. With an elevation of 3500 meters, Leh has a history that can be perceived in the well-preserved palaces of the antecedent royal families who dwelled here.
Zingchen – A small village that lies ahead of Spikut Village near Leh, Zingchen marks as a moderate gradient trekking trail. It is a two-house refuge and makes an enhanced preliminary point for trekking. It holds on its path beautiful canyon lands that are very photogenic to witness. One will find a campsite and a parachute café here, alongside a homestay option for those who wish to stay over.
Yurutse – A welcoming trail from the enchanting Rumbak Village with packed homes leads through a riverside hike to discover Yurutse. Located at 4200 meters, this beautiful abode houses an eerie hamlet for stopovers. Various stupas can be seen that adorn the structure. It offers a framed view of the Stok Kangri through a cleft opening in the valley.
Ganda La – Located at a majestic elevation of 4980 meters, this beautiful locale connects the Markha Valley to Leh and is commonly used by the local people apart from trekkers. Flanked by snow covered ridges and boulders; it holds a steep climb to view the Ganda La Pass. Wide and open terrains and fields dusted with yellow stains makes this an ideal camping site.
Skiu – Located at the beautiful congregation of Shgri Nala and the Markha River, Skiu offers a picturesque vision of colourful rocky terrains. A beautiful monastery located here is a major attraction. Skiu marks the first entry into the Markha Valley, as one can witness camping spot and villages on either side of the swift Markha River.
Image Credits:M+M Photographers– Flickr
Markha – Offering one of the most famous trekking trails in the region of Leh Ladakh, The Markha Valley is illustrious for the various Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, remote villages and of course, its panoramic view. Home to an abandoned fort, it is also the path of the Markha River that originates from Zanskar. Old civilisations with forts and castles and various rivers and beautiful streams decorate the region.
Nimaling – The basecamp for the Markha Valley Trek, Nimaling boasts of an emblematic paradise frame with its verdant meadows and torrential water streams. It is positioned in a spacious valley and is subjective to resilient winds. The mesmerising green valley turns completely frosty in winters from the snowflakes and makes for a picturesque scrutiny. Temporary stone settlements and shepherds herding cattle can be witnessed amidst the streams at rush hours.
Kongmaru La – With a steep and difficult climb amidst the thin air, Kongmaru La lays ahead of this trail, which is marked by beautiful Buddhist prayer flags. With various streams besides walking along the riverbeds, the Kongmaru La stands at the highest elevation of 5150 meters. With a spectacular view of snow peaks in all directions, the giant summit of Karakoram and K2 can be witnessed on a clear day.
Day 01: Arrive at Leh (3500 m)
Day 02: Leh Sightseeing and Acclimatisation
Day 03: Drive from Leh to Zingchen (3400 m), Trek from Zingchen to Yurutse (4150 m) (Trek/4hrs)
Day 04: Trek from Yurutse (4150 m) to Ganda La (4800 m) to Skiu (3400m) (Trek 7/8 Hours)
Day 05: Trek from Skiu (3400 m) to Markha (3800m (Trek 6/7 Hours)
Day 06: Trek from Markha (3800 m) to Thochuntse (4150 m, Trek /4-5 Hours)
Day 07: Trek from Thochuntse (4150 m) to Nimaling (4700 m) (Trek/ 4 Hours)
Day 08: Trek from Nimaling (4700 m) to Kongmaru La (5150 m) to Sumdo (3800 m), Drive from Sumdo to Leh 3500 m (Trek/7 Hours) (Drive/ 2 Hours)
Day 09: Departure from Leh
Tips And Tricks
– Hydrate two days before your trek – you must triple your water intake to avoid dehydration.
– Choose a shoe that is half a number larger than your normal size. It may be uncomfortable if one chooses a shoe size, which is one number smaller than your actual size. You may end up with sore fingers and blisters at the end of the trek. To avoid blisters, you can wear double layers of socks – a thin nylon one first followed by a thick Turkish sock.
– In case you carry your camera or a mobile phone, make sure you carry enough supply of plastic waterproof bags to keep them safe.
– Once you start trekking with the entire group, try and get your natural rhythm of walking. Never attempt to walk too fast or too slow as this can lead to premature fatigue.- It is advisable to carry a windcheater but it is not advisable to wear it while trekking. During trekking, our body produces solid heat and to regulate that, the heated muscles of our body sweat profusely. In a humid atmosphere with a hot and perspiring situation, we aggravate it by wearing windcheaters. All in all, it leads to a suffocated feeling. Our advice is to carry a windcheater in your sack and wear it only when you take a long halt.