Avg.Time : 6 – 7 days
Start / Finish :
- Hemis / Stok
- Regular mini buses from Leh service both trailheads.
- Hemis monastery is one of the most impressive in all of Ladakh. Not to be missed.
- Don’t be tempted to finish the hike in Zinchen, rather than Stok. The section between Rumbak and Stok is one of the trek’s most spectacular.
Season : June to October.
Maps / Info :
- I used the trekking notes and basic map contained in Lonely Planet’s Trekking in the Indian Himalaya.
- I also used the 1:200,000 Loemann series Leh, Zanskar & Nubra Valley (Sheet 3).
- A better option is the 1:150,000 Ladakh/Zanskar [Centre] topographic map by Olizane Editions. It may be possible to buy this map at the Ladakh Bookshop in Leh, however, it would be a safer bet to purchase it online before leaving home.
- If you have flown into Leh (3505m), be sure to spend at least a few days acclimatising before setting out (see Altitude in the HEALTH & SAFETY section) on your trek. The same holds true for all hikes in the Ladakh region, in which the altitude is rarely below 3000m and often significantly higher.
- Bring all supplies from Leh.
Route / Conditions :
- Although popular by ‘Ladakhi’ standards, the Markha Valley trek is nonetheless reasonably challenging route. There are three passes of 4800m or higher to negotiate, the most arduous of which, if starting in Hemis, is Kongmaru La (5150m).
- The trail is relatively well cairned and not difficult to follow. If you are fit and have reasonable routefinding skills, there is no need for guides or porters.
- You can occasionally supplement your supplies at the numerous Parachute tents (think mobile tea houses) along the way. These places make for great refuge during inclement weather.
- All water collected downstream from human settlement, agriculture or livestock grazing should be purified.
- Bring a tent.
- Homestay accomodation is available with local families. Occasionally it is possible to bunk at the Parachute tents.
- The scenery along this trek is impressive, but rarely spectacular by Ladakhi standards.
- The hospitality was first rate from start to finish.
- I would definitely recommend staying at least one or two nights with local families.
- One of the things I remember most about this trek was meeting a middle-aged German guy who was paragliding from the passes. I kid you not. With donkey and porter in tow, he would amble his way up to the trek’s high points, prepare his kit, and then quite simply take off. Fantastic!