Markha Valley, India

Markha Valley, India


The Markha Valley hike in the Indian Himalayas is one of the most popular treks in this region. The area is also known as little Tibet, due to its geographical and cultural proximity to Tibet. The Markha Valley hike will take you at least 7 days to cover the 111km distance. A few more days will give you more time to acclimatise and take side trips. The rating for this hike is medium to difficult.

Markha Valley

flickr image by trapheler

You can start the Markha Valley hike from Spitok and finish in Shang Sumdo, though hikers sometimes prefer to shorten the total route. The Markha Valley hike requires you to go across two passes at 5000m, so be aware that this is no trivial hike. You may also have to camp at high altitude, so you must give yourself sufficient time to acclimatise.

The hike is best done during the period June to October, when roads are open. Bringing a tent is optional, since accommodations may be found along the way. If you decide to camp, remember to bring your food, stove, and fuel. In any case, it is essential to bring a decent sleeping bag, while a mat will make your nights more comfortable.

Markha Valley in India

flickr image by trapheler

Pay your entry fee at Rumba Village. You can catch a bus from Leh to Spitok, and at the end of your hike, you can catch a bus from Sumdo back to Leh.

The Markha Valley hike takes place in the border region between Ladakh and Tibet (though hiking close to the border is now forbidden, thanks to the war between India and China). The routes in the area were originally used by Khampa, and then adopted by pilgrims from the Indus Valley.

Markha Valley Tour

flickr image by trapheler

The region is very dry and cold, with temperatures rising to the 20s in the summer.

Some of the animals you may glimpse during the Markha Valley hike include: bharal, ibex, urial, snow leopards, lynx, wolves, wild yak, kiang, brown bears, marmots, black-necked cranes, citrine wagtails, horned larks, and Tibetan partridge.

A typical itinerary for the Markha Valley hike looks like this:
Day 1: Spitok to Zinchen, 4.5 hours, 15km
Day 2: Zinchen to Rumbak, 5.5 hours, 14km
Day 3: Base of Ganda La to Skiu, 7 hours, 24km (side trip to Zanskar Gorge, 4.5 hours, 12km)
Day 4: Skiu to Markha, 6.5 hours, 20km
Day 5: Markha to Thochuntse, 4.5 hours, 13km
Day 6: Thochuntse to Nimaing, 3 hours, 7km (side trip to Kangyaze Base, 4.5 hours, 8km)
Day 7: Nimaling to Shang Sumdo, 6.5 hours, 18km

Most travellers to the Markha Valley hike pass through Leh. Some good bookshops in Leh include Ladakh Bookshop, Main Bazaar, and Leh Ling Bookshop. You can get money from State Bank of India, Main Bazaar, and Jammu & Kashmir Bank, Fort Rd.

Accommodations

At Zinchen you may sleep at campsites or in a parachute tent. At Changmar there is a parachute tent. In Leh, you may stay at Asia Guest House, Changspa; Jigmet Guest House, Upper Tukcha Rd; Padma Guest House & Hotel, Fort Rd; Omasila, Changspa; and Lotus Hotel, Upper Karzoo.

Date posted: 17th February, 2016

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