About Markha Valley Trek
Markha Valley Trek is known to be one of the most appealing trekking routes in Ladakh and this Valley is accessible from Ganda La pass near Spituk in the West, which usually marks the beginning of the Trek. The trek usually ends near Gongmaru La pass located near the Hemis National Park.
Markha Valley is known for the River Markha situated in Ladakh. The river is a tributary of Zanskar, starting from the junction of the Langtang Chu and Nimaling Chu.
The Markha River is present within the Hemis National Park and the river valley is surrounded by the villages like Skiu, Markha, Umlung and Hangkar. Also, many small monasteries are located within the Markha Valley, like that of the Tache Gompa Buddhist Monastery.
One of the highlights of the Valley is that near the head of the Valley, there is a Mountain about the height of 6400 metres. The river Markha passes through the Stok Range towards the South and the 6153 metres high Stok Kangri Mountain is situated within the Stok Range.
In order to start the Markha Valley Trek, one has to reach the city of Leh, in Ladakh. Leh can be reached in several ways :
1. Reaching Leh by Road : There are two ways by which Leh can be reached by road –
Manali Leh Highway
This highway is quite beautiful with a lot of scenic beauty. The highway connects Himachal and Ladakh and it also contains some of the highest passes of the world such as the Rohtang Pass and Tanglang La. It also passes through the upland desert plateau of Rupshu whose altitude ranges from 3,660 m to 4,570 m.It takes an average of two days to reach Leh from Manali and you can take a break either in Jispa or Sarchu.
The Srinagar-Leh Highway or the NH1D is more appealing than the Manali Leh Highway. This is a one day journey and you can make a stop at Kargil for the night if you wish to, continuing for Leh in the morning. This Highway also passes through Zoji La.
2. Reaching Leh via Flight :You can also reach Leh via flight. The main airport of Leh is the Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport. In the summer months, all flights to Leh are scheduled in the morning.
Best Time to do Markha Valley Trek
The Markha Valley Trek begins from Leh and the temperature here fluctuates from 22 degree celsius to 30 degree celsius in the summer months, whereas it decreases to -5 degree celsius and lower during the winter months. Thus, the best time to go on this Trek is between June to September as the climate is pleasant and suitable to undertake the climb.
After arriving at Leh, in order to go on the Markha Valley Trek, it is essential to get acclimatized. This is so because the Trek takes you to an altitude of above 6000 metres. Thus, the air there is very thin; many people will have difficulty to adjust without taking proper precautions.
Day 1 : Leh-Zingchen-Yurutse (Zingchen to Yurutse – 3,380 m to 4,120 m; 5Km, 3 hrs)
The first day of the Trek will include a drive from Leh through Spikut Village to reach Zingchen. Zingchen involves a moderate slope trekking trail. Along its path are beautiful canyon lands which are very picturesque. Staying on the trail through the Rumbak Village one can reach Yurutse. Along this trail there are several streams and beautiful fields around. This whole trek will take around 4 hours.
Day 2: Yurutse-Ganda-Skiu (4,120 m – 4,800 m – 3,535 m; 25 Km, 8-9 hrs)
This day will include an ascension to Ganda La at an altitude of 4800 metres. The climb will be steep and expect strong winds. Once you reach the Pass you will be able to enjoy breathtaking views of the Valley from all sides. Also, you can see the Zanskar Range and some distant mountain peaks of the Himalayas. The descent to Shingo Village is a road of a narrow gorge leading towards Skiu where there is a confluence of the rivers originating from Markha Valley and Shingo.
Day 3: Skiu-Markha (3,535 m – 3,770 m; 20 Km, 6-7 hrs)
The hike from Skiu to Markha Village is a long one. One will pass across several beautiful streams along the way begore reaching the Village. The place is filled with green lush fields, a deserted palace and willow trees.
Day 4: Markha-Thochuntse (3,770 m – 4,012 m; 13 Km, 5 hrs)
This Trail has been especially designed to take a breathtaking view of the Kangyatze Peak at an altitude of 6400 metres. The trek will take about 4 to 5 hours to reach the Village of Hankar.
Day 5: Thochuntse-Nimaling (4,012 m – 4,730 m; 6.5 Km, 3 hrs)
Nimaling is the base camp for the Markha Valley trek and it is beautiful with its serene water streams and meadows. However, the wind blowing here can make you feel a bit uncomfortable due to its arctic nature. The place is scattered with temporary stone settlements and shepherds herding their cattle can be seen here. The Trek takes about 3 hours.
Day 6: Nimaling-Kongmaru La-Sumdo-Leh (4,730 m – 5,200 m – 3,730 m; 17 Km, 6-7 hrs)
This day includes a trek to the highest pass on the trail – the Kongmaru La, at an altutide of 5200 metres. To the North you will be able to see the Saser Kangri and to the West, the Nun Kun. Then the descent will take you to Sukarmo and a walk to Sumdo. From here, it is a drive back to Leh. The entire time taken for the Trek is about 6 to 7 hours.
BSNL connection has a wide coverage and it is the best option for getting any cellular connection on the trek. However, there might be places where even BSNL sims might not get a network.
Click on Jumping Jazza’s blog for his experience on Markha Valley Trek which he did during his visit to India.