Flights to Leh are almost as spectacular as our Markha Valley trek. The view of the high snow capped peaks is quite simply put mesmerizing. Landing at Leh is an adventure in itself as the airport strip is between mountains on both the sides. Leh airport is around 6 km from Leh city. Check-in to a hotel and get briefed on the day’s program. Leh is at an altitude of 10,000 feet so acclimatizing yourself to high altitude is important to enjoy trekking in Ladakh. Rest for the first half of the day and in the evening go for a walk to the Leh market.
Go out and explore Leh before the start of the Markha valley trek. Try a cup of traditional ladakhi butter tea and ladakhi bread for breakfast. Some of the famous places to visit in Leh are Shanti Stupa, Leh Monastery, Leh Palace etc.
An early start is imperative for the Markha Valley Trek as there is no shade along the south banks of the Indus River until you enter the Zinchen Gorge. We will depart for Spituk from Leh by jeeps. In Spituk our team will be waiting for us with horses to carry our trekking equipment. The trek will begin along an old kucchha(un-metalled) road into a barren & dried region of Leh Ladakh with wild roses along the trail. After trekking through the parched land we will enter the lush Zingchen Valley, where the Rumbak River flows into the mighty Indus. Further into the valley lies our campsite, in the two-house hamlet of Zingchen (meaning ‘big field’).
Today we will enter in the Hemis National Park and if we are fortunate you will get a rare sighting of a Ladakhi Ural or Arghali and other wildlife. Hemis National park is home to the lynx, Ladakhi Ural (a type of goat), Arghali (great Tibetan sheep), Bharal (blue sheep), red fox, Tibetan wolf, dhole (wild dog), marmot and mountain hare etc.(link) . After paying the entrance fee, we will climb gradually through a beautiful gorge before reaching the valley leading to the village of Rumbak. At Rumbak we will stop for tea at tea house made of a parachute run by women from the same village. After a cup of warm tea we will continue past the house of Yuruche before reaching our camp at the base of Ganda La (4545m). From our campsite there are spectacular views of Stok Kangri and the whole Stok range.
he Markha valley trail continues passed old stone-mills, a ruined castle and the auspicious monastery of Techa, which is proudly perched upon a cliff that looms above Markha. The path then intersects the river several times before cutting through the last hamlets in the valley. After leaving the village of Umlung, we will be afforded our first view of mighty Mt. Kang Yatse (6400m), which will stay in sight until we cross Kongmaru La. After we break for lunch in the village of Hangkar (the last one in the valley), we will continue onward to the lovely green pasture of Thachungste (4100m), where we will camp for the night.
After breakfast we will follow a trail which leads us up to the beautiful plateau of Nimaling, where the people of the Markha Valley bring their herds to graze during the summer months. At 4700m, Nimaling is the highest camp (4600m) on the trek, giving us spectacular views of the huge peak of Kang Yatse to the right.
We will cross Kongmaru La (5200m), the highest pass on the trek, and from there we will have a wonderful view of the Indus Valley and Ladakh Range. The descent is quite steep, but will gradually level out as we enter Shang Gorge, with its fascinating rock formations. More river crossings bar our way before we arrive at the sour-spring of Chuskurmo (used in traditional medicine by the Amchi doctors).
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