MARKHA VALLEY TREK
The dust you left on the road, the prints of the tires of your bike, the resonating sounds of engine, the escapade from the daily routine, the feeling of belonging to a brotherhood and discovering yourself again – bike rides to Ladakh are definitely the best, no doubts about it; but, there is a problem with them – they are way too common.
Surprisingly, Ladakh is supposed to offer you the seclusion and the escapade along with the adventure you deserve. If you go in the peak seasons, you might actually get disappointed with the biking crowd in the region. Even worse, what if you are not a biker?
No no, don’t dive into disappointment! Ladakh is that big brother who embraces anyone who comes to him. Doesn’t matter if you are a biker or not. If you are looking for solace and adventure, Ladakh will not disappoint you. That is where Markha and Hankar come into picture
They may sound like the side-heroes of an old Bollywood film, but they are the hidden heroes here. A Markha Valley Trek or one to Hankar can amaze you. Here is how:
The Markha Valley Trek goes along the lines of Markha River and leads you into the depths of Hemis National Park. You can expect everything from this trek – adventure, discovery and picturesque surroundings!
You enter the trek and get into the Hemis National Park. Hemis is spread in an area of 4400 sq. km and made up of six essential villages: Skiu, Rumbak, Kaya, Shingo, Chilling and Urutse. The natural beauty here is immense and so are the 1600 people who populate the region. You can stay in the beautiful flora and fauna of the villages and can still have a 3-star hotel at your disposal. The national park has been named after a famous Buddhist monastery Hemis Gompa, which is near Ladakh.
The park is wide and offers you everything you will and will not ask from an adventure trip! On one hand, there is the luxurious hotel; but on the other hand you can stay in the beautiful and rustic parachute tents in the region which give the trek its unique popular nickname tea house trek. For the adventurous souls, the trek will be a treat. On some days you will be greeted by the songs of the flowing river, on the other you will find yourself in waist-high waters crossing the river. If you do think Hemis is getting friendly, it will surprise you with its extreme climate. Conclusion of the story – if you want to hear the music of your heartbeats in the shades of beautiful mountains, Hemis awaits you!
Somewhere on your third day of trek, you will go from Markha to Hankar. This will be one of the most peaceful routes. Not that the journey is calm. There are the mountains echoing and the rivers flowing in the valley, but the route is immensely decorated with monasteries. The Umlung monastery is one of the most prominent monasteries in the valley and worth your visit.
Apart from the rivers and the monasteries, Ladakh is obviously known for its high rise mountains and peaks. On the trek you can easily find some of the most beautiful peaks and patches of land that almost touch your soul. The cold dessert valley is for the ones seeking immense thrill.
The Zanskar valley is one of the most prominent valleys in the region and clearly shows you why this is one of the most popular trekking routes in Ladakh. The Kang Yissay stands at an astonishing 21,000 ft. There is the Stok Kangri peak standing at 20,086 ft. The jewels in the Hemis national park are the Gandala La, which touches 15,748 ft. and the Kongmaru La standing tall at 17,060 ft.
Like all other treks, be it in the North East or in the Uttaranchal, the treks in Ladakh also require a decent amount of fitness required. The best way is to travel along with a travel group organized specifically for the trek. All of this, may sound like a lot of homework required; but, when you see the peaks touching the clouds, you’ll know why it’s worth all the efforts!
Best Time to Visit
The Markha Valley Trek begins at Leh where you must stay for the first two days to get acclimatized to the high altitude conditions. The temperature here varies anywhere from 22 °C to 30°C in the summers and dips to –5 °C or way below that in winters. The months during June and September are the prime season to experience this trek, as the climate is suitable and highly appropriate to climb. October and November can also be considered as a model season yet it may hold unpredictable weather, as winter is fairly nearby.
The required permits for the trek and camping charges for the trek may be included as part of the trekking expedition. Please carry your ID cards and photocopies of your driving license or voter ID or passport (along with visa for non-Indian travellers), along with passport size photos. A medical certificate ensuring your fitness for the trek and a disclaimer certificate ensuring your submission to voluntarily participate in this trek is mandatory. Climbing permits from the Office of Indian Mountaineering Foundation in Leh is mandatory and takes a day to be dispensed.
Things to Carry
Durable good-quality trekking shoes
– Camping shoes for crossing streams
– Thick woolen socks
– Thermal inner wear
– Heavy fleece clothes
– Covers to store used/wet clothing
– Winter jacket and water proof coat
– Trekking pants
– Woolen cap, gloves, etc.
– Sun screen lotion and other toiletries
– Water bottle
– Trekking pole
– First aid kit
– Personal medication
– Swiss knife
Leh – A tourist-affable abode with bewitching and dazzling sights, Leh boasts of mountain- frames with mesmerizing landscapes. Obfuscated with embellished stupas and mud-brick house, the town of Leh is dominated by Tibetan flair with forts that are dictated by gravelly crests. It is the trekking hub of the Himalayas and motions to awe-inspiring sights that are parallel to paradise. With an elevation of 3500 meters, Leh has a history that can be perceived in the well-preserved palaces of the antecedent royal families who dwelled here.
Zingchen – A small village that lies ahead of Spikut Village near Leh, Zingchen marks as a moderate gradient trekking trail. It is a two-house refuge and makes an enhanced preliminary point for trekking. It holds on its path beautiful canyon lands that are very photogenic to witness. One will find a campsite and a parachute café here, alongside a homestay option for those who wish to stay over.
Yurutse – A welcoming trail from the enchanting Rumbak Village with packed homes leads through a riverside hike to discover Yurutse. Located at 4200 meters, this beautiful abode houses an eerie hamlet for stopovers. Various stupas can be seen that adorn the structure. It offers a framed view of the Stok Kangri through a cleft opening in the valley.
Ganda La – Located at a majestic elevation of 4980 meters, this beautiful locale connects the Markha Valley to Leh and is commonly used by the local people apart from trekkers. Flanked by snow covered ridges and boulders; it holds a steep climb to view the Ganda La Pass. Wide and open terrains and fields dusted with yellow stains makes this an ideal camping site.
Skiu – Located at the beautiful congregation of Shgri Nala and the Markha River, Skiu offers a picturesque vision of colourful rocky terrains. A beautiful monastery located here is a major attraction. Skiu marks the first entry into the Markha Valley, as one can witness camping spot and villages on either side of the swift Markha River.