Markha Valley Trek
One of the most popular treks in Ladakh, the Markha Valley Trek takes you through quaint villages and past beautiful monasteries, always with the stunning Ladakh and Zanskar mountain ranges on all sides around you. Located to the south of Leh, the moderate to challenging seven day trek crosses two high passes – the Ganda La at 4,961m and the Kongmaru La at 5,260m.
Optional Extra: Extend this trek to a 10 day journey by beginning from Lamayuru and passing through Chilling before joining the Markha Valley in Skiu. Contact us for a “Chilling Markha” itinerary to find out more about this exciting option.
9 night trek
Maximum elevation: 5,260 m
Level of difficulty: Medium to challenging
Availability: May to October
Minimum group size: 2 people
* Price is based on twin-share accommodation.
Find out approximate trip price in your own currency here
Follow the winding contours of steep valleys, feel victorious as you reach fluttering prayer flags at the top of each pass, keep your eyes peeled for rare and endangered wild animals, wander alongside the undulating river. Camp under dramatic ruins, near remote settlements, peaceful farming communities, and delicate meadows.
Stop at monasteries along the way, experience life in rural Ladakh and see an insight into traditional Ladakhi culture, that has remained unchanged for centuries in this hidden corner of the world. Meanwhile high above you are the dramatic towering peaks of the Zanskar Range and other snow covered mountains. This is a spectacular journey, with memories that will last you a lifetime.
NOTE: This trek is at high altitude and needs sufficient acclimatisation time before starting. Please ask us for accommodation and sightseeing options before and after the trek.
Leh to Zingchen to Yurutse /Ganda La base: After breakfast in Leh, drive approximately one hour to Zingchen, the start of your trek. Here you’ll enter the Hemis National Park, which is known for having several endangered species such as snow leopards, blue sheep, and Tibetan wolves. Climb gradually through a beautiful gorge with views of the imposing Stok Range, before stopping for a short rest in a local teahouse just before Rumbak. Carrying on, you’ll pass through the one-house village of Yurutse to reach your camp for the night at the base of the Ganda La pass. From the camp, enjoy the spectacular views of Stok Kangri and the whole Stok Range.
Walking time: 4-5 hours
Camp altitude: 4,545 m
Ganda La base to Skiu: After breakfast in camp, begin your steep two hour ascent to the Ganda La (4,961m), for breath-taking views of the Zanskar and Stok Ranges in the morning light. Chortens and prayer flags mark the top of the pass, and you may see marmots roaming the mountain. After a short rest, begin the gradual one hour descent to Shingo where you’ll stop for lunch. Finish the day by trekking through a spectacular gorge, before pitching camp at Skiu – an idyllic village with an old monastery and the ruins of an ancient castle where the Royal Family used to stop on their way to Srinigar.
Walking time: 6-7 hours
Camp altitude: 3,300 m
Skiu to Markha: Following the Markha River, trek along a relatively flat but gradually ascending path through the valley. The trail crosses and recrosses the river at various points, and passes through winter settlements in which you can see lhatos (religious shrines for local deities) and mani walls (stacks of stones inscribed with Buddhist prayers). There are also a number of teahouses through here, providing hearty refreshment to keep you going. After crossing the river for the final time, you will arrive in Markha, the largest village in the valley. Markha consists of around 20 houses, an old monastery, and a ruined fort.
Walking time: 7-8 hours
Camp altitude: 3,760 m
Markha to Hankar: The trail along the Markha Valley continues past old stone mills, a ruined castle, and the auspicious monastery of Techa, which is proudly perched on a towering cliff above Markha. The path climbs alongside the river, with a few stream crossings, passing by several small hamlets throughout the day. After passing the village of Umlung, you’ll get your first view of Kang Yatse (6,400m) which will remain in sight until you cross the Kongmaru La in two days. After stopping for lunch in Hankar, continue a little further to the green pastures of Thachungste to set up camp for the night.
Walking time: 5-6 hours
Camp altitude: 4,100 m
Thachungtse to Nimaling: Today the trail will lead us up to the beautiful plateau of Nimaling, where the people of the Markha Valley bring their herds of yaks and goats to graze during the summer months. Nimaling is one of the highest camps on the trek, giving us spectacular views of Kang Yatse, the Zanskar Range, and Markha Valley below.
Walking time: 5-6 hours
Camp altitude: 4,700 m
Nimaling to Chokdo/Chuskurmo: After breakfast, cross the Kongmaru La, the highest point of the trek at 5,260m. The first two hours of the descent from here are quite steep, but will gradually level as you enter Shang Gorge, with its strange and otherworldly rock formations. There are more river crossings before you reach Chuskurmo, a spring used in traditional Tibetan medicine, and after a short time arrive in the small village of Chokdo, where you’ll camp nearby.
Walking time: 6-7 hours
Camp altitude: 3,985 m
Chuskurmo to Shang Sumdo to Leh: Your final day of trekking is an easy downhill trail that you’ll follow for just a couple of hours to Shang Sumdo, where your driver will be waiting to take you back to Leh. Arrive in Leh by late afternoon, to enjoy a good hot shower and delicious meal to reward you for your trek.
Walking time: 2-3 hours
Driving time: 2 hours
Altitude: 3,500 m
Extend this trek to a 10 day journey by beginning from Lamayuru and passing through Chilling before joining the Markha Valley in Skiu. Contact us for a “Chilling Markha” itinerary to find out more.