Markha Valley is located in Ladakh, a high altitude desert known as the Land of High Passes, set in the Himalaya Ranges of India, bordering Tibet. Markha Valley is the most popular trekking route in Ladakh, offers enchanting view of towering mountain ranges and deep river gorges, lush farm land, quaint villages, Buddhism stupas and gompas scattered here and there. High passes are lined with Tibetan Buddhism prayer flags flapping in the wind, blowing well wishes to passerby. The trek provides insights into authentic Ladakhi traditional lifestyle kept intact by remoteness.
Take an afternoon flight to Delhi, arrival in the evening, transfer to a hotel nearby the airport. After dinner, retire early to bed, in preparation for next day dawn flight to mountain region.
Catch an early morning flight to Leh, once the imperial capital of Ladakh Kingdom. During the flight journey, admire spectacular view of the Himalayan ranges rolling into the horizon. Upon arrival, transfer to hotel. Afternoon rest and relax to acclimatize to high altitude, as Leh is located at an elevation of 3524m. Avoid strenuous activities to keep high altitude sickness at bay.
Explore the Old Town of Leh, a town populated by people of different faiths; Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus. Visit Thiksey Monastery in the outskirt of Leh, the grand complex is noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace of Lhasa. Thiksey is perched on a hilltop by the Indus River, offering great view of the surrounding valley. Afternoon, visit the bustling local market in Leh to shop for supplies needed for Markha Valley trek.
Drive 60km to Chilling Village through Srinagar-Leh Highway and Zanskar Valley road. En-route passes the “Magnetic Hill”, whereby one would experience the unusual phenomenon as if the vehicle is going upwards on its own at speed with the engines off. Upon arrival in Chilling, cross the Zanskar River by trolley-bridge to the head of the trekking trail, after some 2 hours walk reached Skiu. Overnight in tents at camp site, cook dinner on open fire.
The hike today begins with crossing of numerous streams up the Markha Valley. The trail of the day has relatively small altitude gain, offering a pleasant hike along the riverbank for altitude acclimatization. The trail offers view of lush green plain surrounded by rocky mountain, passing small villages and farm land. Upon arrival in Sara, set up tents, overnight at campsite.
Today’s trek is short with small gain in altitude for gradual acclimatization. A relatively relax hike with mostly descending trail to Markha, a pretty village with about 20 farming households. Upon arrival in Markha, sightseeing in the village, attractions include Buddhist gompa, old monastery and a ruined fort. Overnight stay in tents.
Rise early for a challenging day of hiking. Today’s trail left behind the relatively warm, wooded, and green sections of lower Markha Valley. Several times of river crossing along the way, en-route passes Umlung village with view of Techa Gompa perched on cliff top. Later arrive in Hankar village, and from there on, steep climb towards Thochungtse. Overnight stay in tents on a patch of small grassy plains in Thochungtse.
Today’s trek to Nimaling starts on a good path with several small inclines and a series of grassy ridges. The trail is dotted here and there with a series of mani-walls carved with Buddhism scriptures and chortens/stupas. En-route, admire stunning view of the high valley, dominated by the Kangyatze peak in a distance. Upon arrival in Nimaling, a summer grazing ground, set up tents for overnight stay.
Last day of trekking starts with a short but steep ascend to the highest pass of this trek – Kongmaru La (5260m). Admire stunning view of Kang Yatse and Karakoram peaks from the high pass lined with colourful prayer flags. Later, a long and steep descent towards Chokdo, several times of river crossing along the way, enjoy view of deep gorges. The trek ends in Chokdo, transfer by car to Leh, finally you could enjoy a good scrub down and hot shower back at hotel.
Today enjoy an excursion by car to Tso Moriri, a picturesque high altitude lake set at 4522m. The lake’s calm surface reflects mirroring image of the surrounding mountains, and the lake appears in multiple shades of blue. Tso Moriri is known for wildlife sighting, such as gazelle, black-necked crane, fox, and wild ass. Nearby is Korzok village, which has an ancient monastery and a series of stupas. Overnight at campsite near the lake, at night, admire the sky covered by a blanket of stars.
On the way back to Leh, stopover for a visit at Tso Kar, which is known as the “White Lake” due to thick crust of white salt deposits scattered all over the lake shores. Despite its high salinity level, the lake is the habitat for a large number of bird species, a nice spot for bird watching. Later, a long and bumpy drive back to Leh.
Catch an early morning domestic flight to New Delhi, and then connect to an international flight bound for Kuala Lumpur in the afternoon. Arrival in Kuala Lumpur at night. End of tour.
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He is a semiconductor engineer by profession, but travel is his passion and a way of life. He likes backpacking, get upclose and engage with the locals during travel, as he appreciates true cultural exchange experiences. The destinations he has covered including western Europe, South East Asian countries, and the ancient Silk Road countries. He has previously stayed in France and Central Asia, and learnt basic French and Russian. In recent years, he is attracted to the high altitude, and has been exploring various hiking routes in Nepal.
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