Hiking through the Markha Valley allows individuals to have the experience of climbing India’s Himalayas. The valley is found in Ladakh, which is filled with interesting people and beautiful landscaping, making it a truly unique and refreshing experience for many. Ladakh is a desert located at a high altitude. Many hikers find this an appealing aspect of participating in this particular trek. The remote location of the desert peaks the curiosity of hikers coming from all over the world.
Anyone hiking in Ladakh has many options when it comes to the particular trek they embark on. With some treks more remote than others, hikers must first obtain a special permit that allows them to make the hike. Of all the treks one can choose from, the Markha Valley trek is among the most popular. This trek typically takes six or seven days to complete. To avoid the crowds, hikers are advised not to choose this particular trek during the months of July and August. Otherwise, it is among the most popular treks due to the people one is likely to meet and the Buddhist culture of the area.
Hiking a particular trek often involves the use of a guide, yet Markha Valley is easy to navigate without one. The trail markings are easy to find and hikers have the option of staying overnight in any of the villages they will encounter along the way. Some hikers find that hiring a guide for their Markha Valley trek makes the experience more satisfying for them. A hired guide is often the only way hikers can effectively communicate with those they meet along the way.
Hikers have been flocking to the Markha Valley Trek since foreigners were first permitted there in 1974. The valley got its name from a Zanskar tributary. This tributary flows from the Stok and the Zanskar mountain range.
The trek takes place in Ladakh, which was an important part of the ancient Central Asia trade route. For a period of almost 900 years, Ladakh served as an independent kingdom. The dynasties of Ladakh descend from Tibet’s former King. During the early years of the 17th century the kingdom was ruled by King Sengge Namgyal. The areas he ruled over included western Tibet and Spiti as well as both Lake Mansarovar and Mount Kailash.
When hiking the Markha Valley, the trek involves a trip through two high mountain passes in the Himalayas, found at an altitude of more than 15000 feet. During the trek hikers will see patches of wild roses as they pass by several canons. These canons are a sight to see because they are adorned with Tibetan prayer flags in many different colors. These multicolored flags represent the immersion of the Buddhist culture into life in the valley. Tibetan culture is also very much a part of the life in the Markha Valley.
In addition to the canons and wild roses, willow groves can also be spotted along the way. Hikers often enjoy this particular trek because it takes them through the Hemis National Park. While there hikers can watch local nomad families herding their yaks.
Arriving For A Markha Valley Trek
Those hikers wanting to make the trek through Markha Valley begin by flying into the airport in Leh. Most hikers stay overnight in Leh to adjust to the altitude before beginning the trek. This also allows them time to explore the area of Leh and experience its cuisine and seeing famous sites such as the Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa and the Leh Monastery.
Embarking On The Hike
The day a hiker starts navigating the Markha Valley trek calls for an early start. This is to avoid hiking through the Indus River’s south bank, where there is no shade. Hiking through the south bank leads to the Zinchen George. Hikers can then leave Leh to travel to Spituk. The most popular way to do this is in a Jeep. Once a hiker arrives in Spituk the trek begins and individuals hike to the Zingchen Valley, where they will come across the Rumbak River.
Hikers then travel from Zingchen Valley to Ganda La Base via the Hemis National Park, where local wildlife can often be viewed. Once in the village of Rumbak, hikers can make their way to one of the campgrounds in the area. The views hikers will experience at Ganda include views of the Zangskar and Ladakh Range. At the top of the Ganda Lah, Tibetan prayer flags can be seen, as well as Arghali, Blue Sheep and Marmots.
The next step in the hike is to travel to east towards the Markha Valley. Hikers will come to a bridge that takes them across the Markha River. While hiking past this river beautiful views of the valley below can be seen. Once a hiker has cleared the bridge they enter Markha Valley and can choose to stay in a tent or a village homestay.
Hiking the Markha Valley trail brings people to the Techa Monastery, found on a cliff in the valley. Hikers then make their way to Umlung Village. From here hikers will have a view of Mt. Kang Yatse before they make their way across Kongmaru La. Many hikers will often take time to explore Hangkar Village, which is the final village of Markha Valley before hikers enter Thachungste.
Wheat field located in Marhka Valley
The next step in the hike is to tackle the Nimaling plateau, Markha Valley’s highest camp. This leads to hiking across Kongmaru La and descending into the Martselang Valley, where hikers can follow the stream into Sumdo and spend the night in the village.
The last leg of the hike concludes in Leh and hikers travel directly to the Leh airport to go home.
Discover more trails in Amazing Hikes To Do Before You Die