Markha Valley Stok Kangri Trek

20 Nights & 21 Days
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Markha Valley Stok Kangri Trek

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Trip Type : Trekking
Duration
21 Days and 20 Nights

Departure Date

June,July,August,September

Experience

Trekking Wildlife Camping Village Walks Monastery Visits

Price: On Request

Planned for 240 customers

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Flying into the Ladakhi capital of Leh, the shapely peak of Stok Kangri (20,075ft.) is prominent on the southern skyline. Spending several days acclimatizing, we visit the colorful monasteries at Shey, Thikse and Hemis before setting off on the lovely trek through the Markha Valley. Our route on this Ladakh trek leads by way of several remote and picturesque villages to the high Nimaling Plain below the imposing peak of Kang Yatze. Crossing the Kongmaru La, we then follow an unusual high route to Stok Kangri Base Camp, a 3–day approach to the mountain, which includes superbly located campsites and far–reaching views towards Tibet and the eastern Karakoram. Although objectively very safe and technically straightforward (involving low–angle scree and easy snow slopes), the climb on Stok Kangri is both challenging and interesting. This is a wonderfully varied trip, perfectly suited to someone seeking his or her first Himalayan summit.  

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Ladakh Trek Day 1: Arrival at Delhi

On arrival at Delhi we transfer to our hotel. We have the afternoon free for sightseeing.

Ladakh Trek Day 2: Delhi – Leh (3500 m)

We go to the domestic terminal of Delhi airport for the early morning internal flight to Leh. The hour long flight provides close views of the 7000 meter high massifs of Nun and Kun. After arrival at Leh’s 3500 meter high airfield, we drive by jeep to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to take a lazy walk into Leh’s colorful bazaar, with its roadside stalls selling Tibetan artifacts. Flying straight into the high altitude of Leh can take your breath away and it is best to concentrate on acclimatizing for the first few days.

Ladakh Trek Day 3: At leisure in Leh

A full days’ sightseeing tour, we visit some of the area’s most important monasteries, at Shey, Thikse and Hemis. The first two of these monasteries occupy hill–top sites, and offer remarkable views across the Indus valley. Hemis is the most powerful of the monasteries in the vicinity of Leh, and belongs to the Kagyupa Budhhist sect. Large areas of the surrounding farmland are controlled by the monastery.

Ladakh Trek Day 4: Leh

A second Sightseeing day.
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Ladakh Trek Day 5: Leh- Khardung La -Leh

A jeep drive up to the 5300 meter–high Khardung La (which is the highest motorable road pass in the world). This high pass in the mountains to the north of Leh leads into the Nubra valley, which has until recently been closed to foreign visitors. The 2000 meter climb to the pass provides panoramic views of the Zanskar range beyond the Indus valley, with Stok Kangri standing out prominently as one of the higher peaks in the range. After having tea at the pass, gasping in the rarified atmosphere, we return to our hotel in Leh.

Ladakh Trek Day 6: Chilling

We are now acclimatized and ready to begin trekking. Our brief introduction to the Tibetan Buddhist world of Ladakh (which has been many times threatened by invading forces over the years) will make us better able to appreciate the significance of the hill–top location of many of the monasteries which we will see on our trek through the Markha Valley. We take a 40 kilometer drive along the road towards Srinagar and Kashmir to Nimmu, where the chilly waters of the Zanskar river meet the Indus. We turn onto a dirt road, cross the Indus on a sturdy bridge and then follow the left bank of Zanskar River through a gorge to Chilling– A village well known in Ladakh and Zanskar for the skill of its silversmiths. Chilling is also the gateway into the Marka valley. We camp at Chilling and spend an easy afternoon.

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Ladakh Trek Day 7: Markha Valley

Crossing the Zanskar by way of a box and cable bridge, we meet our trek crew and our pack–ponies, who will have traveled to this meeting place, via the Markha valley, a day in advance of our arrival. After sorting out the loads for the ponies, we begin our first day of trekking along a narrow trail on the right bank of Zanskar gorge, to a point free to either rest in the shade of a hotel courtyard, or we can rest where the Markha river meets the Main valley. We climb to cross spur and can look southwards to where the impressive Zanskar gorge disappears around a corner. A red–painted collection of chortens on the far side of Zanskar and faint indication of a trail, point to the existence of route into Zanskar. In fact the only time it is practical to follow the Zanskar River south as far as Padum in Zanskar is during the depths of winter. When, for a few short weeks the frozen river allows reasonable progress through the gorge to be made but that is another story. At this point, we turn towards the southeast into the Markha valley and continue until we reach the irrigated trees and fields of the hamlets of Skays and Skiu, where we camp for the night. The main trail into the Marks valley from the north, over the Ganda La, joins our route at this point. There is a small monastery in Skiu and a derelict fortress/monastery on the cliff above our riverside camp.

Ladakh Trek Day 8: Markha

Crossing and re crossing the Markha stream, we make a long day’s walk of around 7 hours to the 30 or 40 houses of Markha Village (c.3800m ). The trail passes through quite lush vegetation at the riverside, whilst the upper valley– slopes are uniformly brown and dry. There are bridges at many of the more difficult crossing places. En route we pass several more derelict monasteries, which are often quite difficult to pick out, high on the valley sides. There are also a number of well maintained chortens and prayer walls and at least one good example of a wolf trap. During the winter, wolves and snow leopards are a nuisance in these high valleys, becoming bold on account of their hunger they descend to the villages and prey on domestic animals. The local form of a wolf trap is a stone enclosure with overhanging sides, into which is placed live or dead animals bait. If a wolf jumps into the enclosure to eat the bait, it is unable to escape and is stoned to death by the local people. We also pass a couple of isolated houses, one of which is known as a peraq. On a hill to the north of Markha there is a small gompa. The resident monk will be happy to show you the ancient wall paintings and festival masks which are contained within this lovely old monastery –reputedly one of the oldest in Ladakh. The trek from Skiu to Markha is as good a day’s trekking as any in the Himalayas.

Ladakh Trek Day 9: Hangkar (Markha Valley)

We continue above Markha Village, trekking eastwards, deeper into the Markha valley, to a good camping place at Hangkar. During today’s 4 to 5 hour walk we pass more impressive monasteries, some ruined and some intact, a testament to the fact that this valley was once more populous than it is today. Hidden away between the two hamlets which make up Hangkar village, high on a rocky spur is another remarkable ruined monastery. In this high valley we are likely to see small herds of blue sheep (bharal) which often come right down to the river to graze.

Ladakh Trek Day 10: Markha Valley

Leaving Hangkar, we now have good view of a prominent snow peak at the head of the valley. This is Kang Yatze, a 6400 meter high mountain which has a subsidiary summit at around 6100 meter which is very straightforward and often climbed as a trekking peak in its own right .Passing another well maintained wolf pit we cross the Markha stream on the last bridge that we will see and start a steep climb up towards the high plains known as Nimaling, Today we will climb from around 4000 meters to a camp at 4600 meters and we will feel the effects of altitude. The scenery opens out as we traverse around to the north side of Kang Yatze and look out for the pass which we must cross to return us to the Indus valley – the Kongamaru La is not immediately apparent from our camp beside the frozen upper reaches of the Markha stream.

Ladakh Trek Day 11: Markha Valley

A spare day in case we have encountered any problems on the trek thus far. If everything has gone according to plan, we may opt to take rest and acclimatization day in this lovely spot. Camping up here 4600 meters for a second night will be excellent preparation of the climb to come. Those among’st the group who are feeling energetic can trek over towards Kang Yatze, to a high point on the ridge which runs from the peak towards the north west. As well as a herd of blue sheep, huge golden marmots and large hares are found here. The other impressive wildlife species here are immense birds of prey, including lammergeyers (bearded vultures– The biggest of the Himalayan raptors) and golden eagles. The sight of a lammergeyer drifting towards you on motionless wings, passing just overhead, unconcerned by your presence, is simply unforgettable.

Ladakh Trek Day 12: Chuskirma

We trek up to the Kongamaru la ( 5100m) on a well marked trail which zigzags across scree for the final 250 meters to the pass – 2 hours ascent. From the pass there are views north to the hills of the eastern Karakoram and China, whiles the southern panorama is dominated by shapely Kang Yatze. On our descent, we enter a narrow gorge, which presents wonderfully contorted rock formations, pillars and buttresses, some of them remarkable colors, reds through to green and greys. The best trail crosses from one side of the valley to the other time and time again – and we are obliged to cross the growing stream many times except for a small level area just beyond the pass. The first reasonable camping place is at Chuskirma (which means sour water ), where there are a couple of stone huts and some rough pastures.
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Ladakh Trek Day 13: Hemis

We continue our descent, passing a couple of impressive house, the highest in the valley, and then another section of rocky gorge. The valley opens out a little as we near the picturesque hamlet of Sumdo and soon thereafter we reach a jeep road which is in the process of being built into the valley. We follow this for an hour until we can see the houses and trees of Martseylang, which is actually on the main Indus valley road. From here we opt to skirt above the valley on a train which leads after about an hour, via a number of impressive chortens, into the tributary valley below Hemis monastery, there is a good camping place in a field of large trees. Those who are not tried of gompas can re–visit Hemis. <

Ladakh Trek Day 14: Stok Kangri

In the morning we travel by jeep to Stok village which lies immediately south of Leh, on the other side of the Indus valley, Here there is a royal palace, where the recently crowned young Ladakhi King lives, and there is also a small museum which contains religious artifacts and ceremonial clothing belonging to the royal family. There is time to look around the palace and monastery at Stok before lunch and then we begin our walk–in to Stok Kangri with an easy 2 hour trek. Even so close to the Indus valley we are already in a high and wild area which is visited only by climbing groups and by the local people who spend some of the summer months in picturesque villages of stone huts, from where they tend their flocks of sheep and goat.

Ladakh Trek Day 15: Stok Kangri

A four hour trek takes us up to the base camp area for Stok Kangri. The very pleasant campsite is on a grassy area beside a number of Mel water streams. In the afternoon we can walk above our camp for views of the surroundings peaks: Stok Kangri (c.6150m), gulap kangri, Parcha Kangri and many others.

Ladakh Trek Day 16: Stok Kangri Base camp

A rest and acclimatization day to make sure that the group are feeling ready to make the ascent of Stok Kangri . The group will make the half–four climb up to the pass at 5000 meters above our camp, possibly taking the climbing hardware which can be cached at the passed in preparation for the followings day’s climb.

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Ladakh Trek Day 17&18: Stok Kangri Summit

We have allowed two days for the ascent, to try to give everyone a chance of climbing the peak. This will also allow for contingencies such as poor weather etc. Depending on the fitness of the group, we will either go for a one day ascent from our base camp, or choose to establish a high camp, from which we can make the summit push on the following day. Much of the climb involves walking across scree and boulder slopes, which are likely to be bare of snow by the time of our trip, unless there has been un seasonal snow – fall. The final part of the climb will involve the use of crampons and ice–axe on snow slopes up to about 35 degrees although this is not a technically demanding climb. At an altitude of over 6000 meters we see peaks in Tibet to the north–east, and a bird’s eye view of the Indus valley and Leh below us to the north. If we manage to climb the peak on the first day, there may be opportunity to attempt one of a number of other easy peaks above our base camp.

Ladakh Trek Day 19: Leh

From our base camp, we will descent directly to the upper reaches of Stok village, with its fields of barely and buckwheat. We meet our jeeps at Stok, and head back to the Hotel in Leh.

Ladakh Trek Day 20: Delhi

Fly back to Delhi. Check in to the hotel. Spend the afternoon at leisure.

Ladakh Trek Day 21: Delhi- Departure

Free day in Delhi. We can spend the morning relaxing and then after lunch we leave for a 5 hours sightseeing tour by coach of Old and New Delhi, which are completely different in character to one another. We visit the Qutub Minar – An 82 meter high medieval commemorative tower, the busy bazaars of Chandni Chowk, the Moghul Red fort: we also see New Delhi’s imposing avenues and the Lutyen’s designed Government houses. Alternatively, you might wish to the use this free day in Delhi to take an excursion by air–conditioned fast train to visit Taj Mahal. After dinner we transfer to the airport to check in for the flight back.
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ss Sandeep Sandhar I would love to thank the entire team of ‘Road Less Travelled’ for being a great host to this trip.The team does a fantastic job in taking care of individual requirements.
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t1I would love to thank the entire team of ‘Road Less Travelled’ for being a great host to this trip.The team does a fantastic job in taking care of individual requirements… Varun | Product Manager
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