The Markha Valley Trek is one of the most spectacular and famous treks in the Indian region of Ladakh. Located in the northwestern part of India, the Ladakh region is famous for its wild nature and unspoilt beauty. The trek follows a beautiful high valley with great views of the mountainous region and is one of the best ways to still experience the unique culture of the High Himalayan region.
The Markha Valley trek follows the Markha River downstream, traversing several high passes including Ganda La (15,748 feet) and Kongmaru La (17,060 feet). From both passes you get epic views of the landscape with the towering peaks of Kang Yissay and the 20,086 ft Stok Kangri in sight.
Trekking is not only a mountain beauty, it also takes trekkers through an ancient agricultural landscape with many green irrigated fields and local villages passing along the way. You can also discover different monasteries and meet monks dressed as brilliantly as they go about their daily business. You will be exposed to many waist-deep river crossings, high rocky canyons and explore many Buddhist villages along the way.
The trek is of medium difficulty due to the length and altitude of the two passes.There will be several steep climbs and at times you may have to walk on slippery screens. You will need a good level of stamina and fitness to really have fun. Accommodation will generally be camping.
The Markha Valley trek follows the Markha Valley river from Chilling to Kongmaru Pass and up to Hemis Monastery. Throughout the valley there are small Tibetan villages that live a very traditional way of life. While the inhabitants lived better than the land, the arrival of hikers brought a new source of income and access to supplies for mules and porters.Many mud-brick houses have been converted into homestays for trekkers, with each village running the homestay program on their own. In general, each evening, a different family in turn welcomes passing hikers.
This also means that the price is very constant and each village sets a price for accommodation and food per hiker. It’s a nice change in India to know that there is no bargaining or cheating and you know how much you have to pay.
better to tackle the Markha trek during the high season in Ladakh between June and September. This is when the weather is best with clear skies, dry weather and relatively warm days.
You don’t need a guide to hike in the Markha Valley. The trail is ideal for independent hikers and it is quite common for budget travelers to complete this trek without a guide.
Another option is to start at Spitok, a short drive south of Leh.From Spitok you can follow the trail to Ganda La Pass at 4950m and then descend to Skiu where it joins the Markha Valley trek.
Day 1: Chilling to Skiu
Day 2: Skiu to Markha Village
Day 3: Markha to Lower Hankar
Day 4: Hankar to Nimaling Camp
Day 5: Nimaaling to Kongmaru La to Shanghai Sumdoo
Trek ends in Markha Valley and back to Leh
Cost of trekking in Markha Valley
Transport to and from: 3050 rupees
Homestay accommodation and food: 5000 rupees
Snacks bought before to leave Leh: 1000 rupees
No permit required although I was leaving the valley I was charged a park fee of 20 rupees per day.
Tips & Tricks
- Hydrate two days before your hike – you should triple your water intake to avoid dehydration.
- Choose a shoe that is half a size larger than your usual shoe size. It can be uncomfortable if you choose a shoe size that is one number smaller than your actual shoe size. You might end up with sore fingers and blisters at the end of the trek. To avoid blisters, you can wear a double layer of socks: a thin nylon first followed by a thick Turkish sock.
- If you are bringing your camera or cell phone, be sure to bring a sufficient supply of waterproof plastic bags to keep them safe.
- It is advisable to bring a windbreaker but it is not recommended to wear it during the trek. During trekking, our body produces solid heat and to regulate it, the heated muscles of our body sweat profusely.In a humid atmosphere with a hot and moist situation, we will make it worse by wearing anoraks. All in all, it leads to a feeling of suffocation. Our advice is to bring a windbreaker in your backpack and only wear it when you are staying for a long time. • – Once you have started the trek with the whole group, try to reach your natural walking pace. Never try to walk too fast or too slow as this can lead to premature fatigue.