The Ladakh region, in the Indian Himalayas, is the perfect place for people who love outdoors activities. Snow-covered peaks above 6,000 metres altitude, small villages, Buddhist monasteries and a strong Tibetan culture is what one will find when travelling to this remote region.
One of the most popular activity here is trekking. There are many possible treks in Ladakh and the Markha valley trek is one of the favourite. Even though this trek is very famous, it’s not crowded and it is so much more authentic than the popular treks in Nepal. You can hike around Markha for hours without meeting anyone except a few Ladakhi shepherds.
You need 6 days for this trek. The trek starts from Chilling, a small village on the bank of the Zanskar river. The total distance is 80 kilometres and the highest point is the Kongmaru La pass at 5,260 metres above sea level.
Do you need a guide for this trek?
Trails in Ladakh are not marked and find the way in the mountain is not always easy. It is highly recommended to hire a guide for this trek, for your own safety. Moreover, trekking with a guide is more enjoyable because you can learn more about the region.
Where will you sleep?
The best option is to stay in homestays. The families charge 1,500 Indian rupees per person and it includes accommodation and meals. Another option is to do camping but you will need to carry all the equipment and food from Leh (the main city in Ladakh) or hire horses to carry everything.
Transportation: How to get there and back?
It is difficult to find buses in Ladakh, especially to small villages. The easiest option is to take a taxi from Leh to Chilling on the first day and from Hemis back to Leh on the last day. For the return taxi, you should book it in advance as it will be complicated to arrange a taxi at the last minute directly from Hemis village. The taxi from Leh to Chilling costs 4,200 Indian rupees (1 hour drive) while the taxi from Hemis to Leh costs 2,500 Indian rupees (45 minutes drive).
When is the best time?
The best time to do the Markha valley trek is from May to October. Depending on the snow condition, the trek is sometimes possible from early April. In winter, the full Markha trek is not possible because there is too much snow at the Kongmaru La pass, but it is still possible to do the first part of the trek from Chilling to Hankar village and back to Chilling.
Day 1: trek from Chilling to Skyu. 6.9 km, 2-3 hours.
Day 2: trek from Skyu to Markha. 21.2 km, 6-7 hours.
Day 3: trek from Markha to Hankar. 11.2 km, 4-5 hours.
Day 4: trek from Hankar to Nimaling. 10.7 km, 5-6 hours.
Day 5: trek from Nimaling to Shang Sumdo via Kingmaru La pass. 17.0 km, 6-8 hours.
Day 6: trek from Shang Sumdo to Hemis. 10.5 km, 3-4 hours.
The stretch from Skyu to Markha (on day 2) could be done over 2 days with one night halfway in the small village of Sara.
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