Markha Valley Trek | Everything important you need to know!

Markha Valley Trek | Everything important you need to know!

Know everything interesting about Markha Valley Trek

How amazing is Markha Valley Trek

The Markha Valley trek is a very beautiful and popular trek in Ladakh. Now just imagine you are walking through a cold desert where mountains are covered with snow everywhere, isn’t it interesting. During the trek you’ll cross beautiful high water flowing rivers, cross a high altitude pass, and see many colorful prayer flags on your way. The best thing about the trek is that you don’t have to be an trekking expert to complete the trek, it is a perfect trek for beginners as it doesn’t require any climbing skills or any prior trekking experience.

The trek is all about facing challenges and difficulties but enjoying the beautiful surrounding view and unique Ladakhi culture. During your journey you can even get a chance to stay in villages with traditional houses and eat delicious local food of Ladakh. By staying there you’ll learn a lot about Ladakh’s culture and there behavior and came to know that how people of Ladakh really are. Once you complete the trek, the memories of it will surely stay with you forever.

Markha Valley Trek Route

Overview of the routes

There are basically two main routes for the Markha Valley Trek

1. Chilling to Hemis: Chilling to Hemis route is the shortest and more popular route for the Markha Valley Trek. The trek is typically completed in 6 days and a distance of 78 Km is covered in this route. According to me this route is best for beginners and people who have high altitude sickness as it only crosses one high altitude pass which is Kongmaru La situated at the height of 5170 meters. On your journey you’ll se various beautiful and amazing spots where you can stop and click some pictures and have fun.

2. Spituk to Hemis: The Spituk to Hemis route is slightly a longer route as compared to the Chilling to Hemis route. The route usually take 8 days to complete and a distance of 113 Km is being covered in the route. If you doesn’t feel high altitude sickness and want to cover a route which offers more amazing views then this is the best route for you as it crosses two high altitude passes which are Gandla La at 5360 meters and the Konmaru La at 5170 meters.

Choosing a route completely depends upon you. Both of the route offers amazing surrounding views, sceneries and beautiful mountains covered with white snow. The trek is an excellent way to experience the beauty and culture of Ladakh.

Trip Itinerary if you’re following Chilling to Hemis route

Chilling to Hemis route for Markha Valley trek

Day 1: Chitting to Skiu

  • Distance: 8 Km
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Markha Valley Trek starts from Chilling, it is a very small village located between the mountains of Ladakh. Starting of the trek is easy continuing from the banks of Markha River. During your journey you’ll see big green fields and experience the beauty of villages in Ladakh. Your night stay will be in Skiu, it is a beautiful small village with houses made with old Ladakh’s architecture.

Day 2: Skiu to Markha

  • Distance: 14 Km
  • Time: 5-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

On the next the the trek will continue along the Markha River which provide amazing scenic and panoramic views of the valley. On the way to your journey you’ll see the locals of Ladakh grazing their animals and you’ll see the unique lifestyle of the people of Ladakh. The major attraction of the second day will be Markha and Saraswati rivers. Your second day will be ending in Markha village . If you love to do adventurous stuff you can do camping at the village as it offers beautiful camping locations.

Day 3: Markha to Hankar

  • Distance: 8 Km
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

The third days trek is relatively shorter and much easier as compared to the preceding days. You will continue your trek along the wide and empty areas with almost no plants around you. You’ll continue following the beautiful Markha river. You’ll see many birds flying in the open sky. Finally after some time you’ll arrive to Hankar, it is a lovely village. In the village you’ll notice some bushes with small yellowish and orangish fruit called Champa. These bushed and fruits makes the village more interesting. Your night stay will be at Hankar.

Day 4: Hankar to Nimaling

  • Distance: 12 Km
  • Time: 5-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Day 4 is going to me slightly more tougher as compared to the preceding days as you will climb up to the highest point of the trek call Kongmaru La, The pass is really high located at a amazing height of 5170 above the sea level. The path gets narrower as you get closer to the pass but reaching to the top of the pass is totally worth it as it offers amazing views of the mountains all around you, that feeling will be un imaginable.

After reaching to the top you’ll move toward Nimaling, it is a very big land in the mountains where animals like to graze. From the point you can see a beautiful mountain Kang Yatse and this is the place where you will set your camp for night stay.

Day 5: Nimaling to Shang Sumdo

As you come down from Nimaling you will see breathtaking views of the Indus Valley. Along the way you will pass through beautiful villages where you might get a chance to see farmers working in their fields. You will spend your night in the Shang Sumdo, it is a pretty village surrounded by apricot trees. You’ll get tired after full day of exploration and trekking and staying at the Shang Sumdo will gain your energy back for the next day.

Day 6: Shang Sumdo to Hemis

  • Distance: 12 Km
  • Time: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

The final day of the trek will going to be much easier and amazing as you’ll walk through flat land. Finally you’ll reach to Hemis which is the largest monastery in Ladakh where you can even get a chance to see ancient Buddhist. From Hemis you’ll get back again to Leh and your Markha Valley trek will be completed.

Trip Itinerary if you’re following Spituk to Hemis route

Spituk to Hemis route for Markha Valley Trek

Day 1: Spituk (3,500m) to Zingchen

  • Distance: 15.7 Km
  • Time: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The trek starts from Spituk located at a height of 3500 meters. Before starting the trek you can even visit the beautiful Spituk monastery to take blessing from God. The starting of the trek you have to follow Indus River before before entering a valley that takes you to Zingchen. You can even take a jeep to Zingchen if you want to.

Day 2: Zingchen – Yurutse (4,148m)

  • Distance: 6.5 Km
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

The seond day you will enter into the Hemis National Park and follow the valley until you reach the beautiful village Rumbak. The second day is easy and includes slow relaxing walk and opportunities for homestays in Rumbak.

Day 3: Yurutse to Sku (3,366m) via Gandala (4,961m)

  • Distance: 14 Km
  • Time: 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty: Difficult

The third day will going to be a lot difficult and challenging as you will continue a difficult ascent to the Ganda La located at a height of 6961 meters. Just be ready to experience breathtaking views of the surrounding brown mountains and the amazing Indus river from the pass. The path down will take you to Sku which is a beautiful village where you’ll setup a camp for the night.

Day 4: Sku to Markha (3,760m)

  • Distance: 8 Km
  • Time: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The trek path will continue along the Markha River valley which offers amazing surrounding views. On your way you will a lot of travelers as like you and you’ll experience the traditional Ladakhi way of life. Markha is a small and beautiful village located in the mountains it is the final destination of yours’s for the day.

Day 5: Markha to Hankar (4,030m)

  • Distance: 8 Km
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

Similr to the Chilling to Hemis route, the 5th day of the trek involves a comparatively shorter and much easier trek continuing through the plains along the Markha River. At the evening you’ll reach to Hankar which is a beautiful village welcoming you for the overnight stay.

Day 6: Hankar to Nimaling (4,700m)

  • Distance: 12 Km
  • Time: 5-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The challenge increases as you reach to the Kongmaru La located at a impressive height of 5170 meters and it is the hightest point of the entire trek. Although the trek gets narrower but the panoramic views you see in your journey are breathtaking. Nimaling is a area with plain land located in high altitude offers amazing scenery and it is you destination to stay overnight.

Day 7: Nimaling to Shang Sumdo (3,680m) via Chokdo

  • Distance: 18 Km
  • Time: 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty: Difficult

This extra day involves travelling through Chokdo which is a less popular and less explored route then the Chilling to Hemis route. It is less popular but offers amazing and stunning scenery views of the surrounding mountains and possible fewer fellow trekkers. Your night stay will be in Shang Sumdo which is a small village famous for its apricot trees.

Day 8: Shang Sumdo to Hemis (3,600m) – Leh

  • Distance: 12 Km
  • Time: 4-5 hours (trek) + drive to Leh
  • Difficulty: easy

The final day will going to be much easier as compared to the preceding days as you walk through plain land. You will arrive at Hemis which is home to the Ladakh’s largest monastery. Finally after all those adventure and thrill your amazing Markha valley trek will be completed.

Tips for the trek

  • Increase your strength and endurance for the trek by weight training and cardio.
  • It is preferable to spend 2-3 days in Leh before starting the trek.’
  • Carry essential gears like trekking shoes, clothes for all weather conditions, rain coat, sleeping bag, and trekking oles.
  • Always stay hydrated to prevent hydration as you won’t be able to find hospitals very easily.
  • Obtain necessary permits like Line Permits in Leh.
  • To make your experience smoother try to consider a guide.
  • Ladakh’s weather is unpredictable, be ready for sudden change in weather conditions.
  • Carry necessary medicines and a first aid kit with you.
  • Bring some high energy snacks along with you.

Best time to do Markha Valley trek

According to me the best time to do Markha Valley Trek is from June to September. As during these months the weather is slightly warmer and more comfortable and stable. Moreover, crowd is also very less in June and from July to August the landscape become more beautiful and sky become more clear. You can avoid commencing the Markha Valley trek from October to May due to snow and harsh weather conditions.

Is it Markha Valley trek difficult?

The Markha Valley Trek is moderately difficult. The trek takes 5 to 8 days to complete depending upon the route taken. You have to walk for hours and cross high altitude points up to 5200 meters. If is advisable to enhance your endurance and physical abilities before commencing the trek. Your adapting abilities should be good enough to tackle the high altitude sickness. However if you’re fit and healthy you can easily tackle it. You won’t be regretting after completing the trek as you will make some unforgettable memories during that period.

What to pack for Markha Valley Trek

Ladakh’s weather is unpredictable, you need to pack certain important things to tackle different weather conditions on the Markha Valley Trek. Some of the important things are:

  • Hiking boots
  • Backpack (30L to 50 L)
  • Clothing to tackle all weather conditions which include jackets, thermals, rain coat, and a cap)
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat
  • Water bottle and water purification tablets
  • Napkins
  • Headlamp
  • Sleeping Bag
  • First aid kit and necessary medicines
  • Trekking poles

Important packing tips for Markha Valley Treks

Pack clothing’s according to weather: During your trek journey the day will be warm and night are relatively very cold. Bring clothes like thermals, coats, rain jackets and a hat.

Protection against Sun: Bring sunglasses, sunscreen, hat to protect your skin from direct sunlight and to prevent extensive tanning and skin burn.

Hydration: Pack water bottle, glasses, and purification tablets as you won’t often find fresh water.

Footwear: Try to bring sturdy trekking botts for uneven land.

Carry essential stuff: Carry essential stuff like Headlamp, sleeping bag, napkins, sanitary pads, and other necessary medications.

Consider a experienced guide: To make your trekking journey more smoother, consider a experienced guide for navigation, setting up camp, local knowledge, best view spots, and many more.

Necessary Medicines to carry

As the Markha Valley Trek is situated in a very remote area, you won’t be able to find hospitals and other medical availability very easily. Some of the necessary medicines to carry for the trek are.

  • Altitude Sickness: Acetazolamide (Diamox)
  • Pain Relief: Paracetamol or Ibuprofen
  • Digestive Issues: Antacids, Loperamide (Imodium) for diarrhea, and Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS)
  • Cold and Flu: Cold medications like antihistamines and decongestants
  • Allergies: Antihistamines (Cetirizine or Loratadine)
  • Infections: Broad-spectrum antibiotics (consult a doctor for appropriate types)
  • Wound Care: Antiseptic cream, adhesive bandages, sterile gauze, and medical tape
  • Skin Protection: Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Personal Prescriptions: Any medication you take regularly
  • Motion Sickness: Medications like Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine)
  • Eye Care: Eye drops for dryness and irritation
  • First Aid Basics: Tweezers, scissors, and safety pins

Before directly consuming these medicines try to consult a doctor as in some special cases these medicines may not work.

10 Important things to know about Markha Valley Trek

Adopt yourself properly according to the environment: Before directly commencing the Markha Velley trek try to spend few days in Leh to get used to the high altitude and prevent altitude sickness.

Physical Fitness: Markha Valley Trek is little challenging try to improve your endurance and stamina by doing various exercises. It will be good if you are in good shape because the trek involved long days of walking and steep climbs.

Carry necessary documents and permits: Try to obtain all necessary documents and permits requried to commence Markha Valley trek.

Weather Variability: Ladakh’s weather is unpredictable, try to bring all necessary gears and clothing’s to tackle sudden change in weather and make your Markha Valley trek smoother.

Be hydrated: Always stay hydrated to avoid dehydration as Markha Valley trek is located in a remote area and you not be able to find hospitals easily.

Carry essential gears: Try to bring essential gears for the Markha Valley trek like trekking shoes, a sleeping bag, and trekking poles, and a backpack.

Carry enough cash with you: Consider carrying necessary cash with you as there are no ATMs and UPI will not work due to limited mobile network.

Try considering local guide: It is advisable to take a guide for the Markha Valley Trek as it will make your experience much smoother and better.

Carry food and snack: It will be good if you carry high energy snacks and food to gain your energy back.

Respect nature and local culture: Don’t create waste, respect local customs and be respectable to local people and their culture.

Markha Valley Trek Images/Pictures

When is the best time to trek in Markha Valley?

The best time to trek in Markha Valley is from June to September. As during these months the weather is warm and stable, making it ideal for trekking.

What permits are required for the Markha Valley trek?

Inner Line Permits are required for the Markha Valley trek. These permits can be obtained in Leh.

How should I prepare for high altitudes on the Markha Valley trek?

Spend a few days in Leh to adopt yourself to the altitude. Try to stay hydrated, avoid alcohol, and take it slow to prevent altitude sickness.

How long does the Markha Valley trek take?

The trek typically takes 6 to 8 days, depending on the chosen route and pace.

What should I pack for the Markha Valley trek?

Pack essentials for the Markha Valley Trek like trekking shoes, layered clothing, rain gear, a sleeping bag, trekking poles, a first-aid kit, snacks, and enough cash.

Know more about Markha Valley trek from here.

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