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Call us: +44 (0) 1453 844400Email us: info@mountainkingdoms.com

Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • A local English-speaking leader
  • Economy class return air fares from London & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • Single, timed group airport transfers for international flights on arrival and departure
  • All internal flights and domestic airport...

Markha Valley Trek Festivals Great Treks of the world

Walking & Trekking

Leh, Indian Himalaya, Ladakh | Walking & Trekking

Markha Valley Trek
  • Grade:

    Vigorous

  • Duration: 14 days from the UK
  • On trek: 7 days
  • Private Departures Available

Land only from £1650

Dramatic and varied scenery make this Ladakh's most celebrated trek.

Highlights

  • A classic summer trek in the dramatic Indian Himalaya
  • A week long trek crossing a pass of 5,216m/17,113ft
  • Plenty of pre-trek acclimatisation time in and around Leh
  • Time at a traditional Ladakhi festival

Reviews          

Had a great time, had it so hot! Then saw snow, thunder storms but some great views and memories throughout.

Mr P B, Powys

Next

Our guide was outstanding - the best we have had - his knowledge of the culture and wildlife was unrivalled.

Mr & Mrs K, St Albans

Next

Our guide knew everyone in the Markha Valley and was extremely knowledgeable about the culture, flora and fauna.

Mr & Mrs H, London

Next

Personal service when we emailed or phoned. Efficient pick-ups etc.during the trip. No compromises on quality.

Mr & Mrs M, Surrey

Next

The itinerary was well planned - we had plenty of time to acclimatise in Leh before the trek. Accommodation in Delhi and Leh very good, great food and friendly service.

Ms G, Bicester

Next

Took our grown up family of four on our first Mountain Kingdoms holiday to Ladakh and had a superb time in a magical country. Every little pre-holiday query was dealt with swifly by the office and all the pre-trip planning came to fruition. Potential problem with the airline going under a few weeks before the trek was dealt with efficiently and replacement flights an accomodation booked for us...

Charlotte - London

Next

Had a great time, had it so hot! Then saw snow, thunder storms but some great views and memories throughout.

Mr Peter Bradley

Next

Personal service when we emailed or phoned. Efficient pick-ups etc. during the trip. No compromises on quality.

Mr & Mrs M

Next

Our guide was outstanding - the best we have had - his knowledge of the culture and wildlife was unrivalled.

Mr & Mrs K

Next

Our guide knew everyone in the Markha Valley and was extremely knowledgeable about the culture, flora and fauna.

Mr & Mrs H

Next

View All

Ladakh is often called 'Little Tibet' as, lying north of the main Himalaya chain, it receives little rainfall, and unlike other parts of the Himalaya, this means that the best time to visit is in the summer months. The scenery of Ladakh is stark and dramatic characterised by deep gorges, alluvial fans, contorted strata, large Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, flat-topped mud-brick houses in verdant oasis-like villages, snow-capped mountains and grand vistas.

The Markha Valley epitomises the best of this scenery and is perhaps Ladakh’s most celebrated trek. It has giant rock pinnacles, spectacular cliffs, narrow defiles, prayer-flagged passes and evidence of a much older civilisation, the history of which has been lost in antiquity. As you trek up the valley, there are the ruins of many forts and castles, some built in the most unlikely of places, whilst the many monasteries and gompas that are still central to the lives of the Ladakhi people, illustrate the deep Buddhist heritage of the region.

Before the trek begins, there is plenty of time to acclimatise whilst exploring the sights and sounds of Ladakh’s ancient and modern capital, Leh. You will then spend a further day visiting the major cultural attractions of the Indus Valley including Shey Gompa and Thikse Monastery. Both departures attend a Ladakhi Festival which are wonderful social and spiritual occasions full of music, dance and colour.

Your trek begins by driving up the Zanskar River gorge to the village of Skiu from where you begin trekking up the Markha Valley. This route offers the best acclimatisation as it avoids having to make the demanding crossing of the Ganda La.

You now have three fabulous days walking up the valley, gradually gaining altitude, passing by villages, occasionally wading through shallow streams, admiring the awesome cliffs and canyons. You then gradually climb to Nimaling to find yak herders grazing their animals in the wide verdant pastures. From here you can look across to the towering summit of Kang Yatse and the other peaks of the Zanskar range. Finally, you will cross the Kongmaru La, the highest point of the trek at 5,216m/17,113ft, before descending back down into the Indus Valley and the village of Sumdo, near Hemis. You drive back to Leh for a well-earned rest and celebration of your achievement.

The Markha Valley Trek represents a great value ‘classic’ trek and provides a superb opportunity to enjoy a Himalayan trek in the summer months.

Private Departures

Kirsty and Adam on Kala Pattar close up 800x750

Markha Valley Trek - Private Departures

If you would prefer to travel just with your partner, friends or family, we can arrange a private departure of this holiday. You follow the same itinerary, but travel on dates that suit you. Alternatively we can include elements of this holiday in a bespoke Tailor Made itinerary. Contact our friendly team for details and prices, and to make a booking.


At a glance

Grade:

Vigorous

Duration: 14 days from the UK

On trek: 7 days

Max. Altitude: 5,216m/17,113ft, Kongmaru La, Day 11

Private Departures Available

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 5 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Delhi

Accommodation types: Hotels, Camping

Festival:

The June 2021 & July 2022 departures attend the Hemis Festival

The July 2021 & August 2022 departures attend the Dakthok Festival

Meal arrangements: Bed and Breakfast in Delhi, all meals included in Leh and on trek: 12 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 10 dinners.

Itinerary overview
Day Activity
1-3 Fly London to Delhi. Arrive Delhi. Half day sightseeing tour of Qutab Minar. Fly to Leh.
4-5 Sightseeing in Indus Valley visiting Thikse and Shey Monasteries. Time at leisure. Attend either the Hemis or Dakthok Festivals (depending on departure date).
6 Visit Phayang Monastery. Drive to Skiu.
7 Trek to Markha.
8-9 Trek to Hangkar and trek to Nimaling.
10 Rest day at Nimaling.
11 Trek to Chogdu across the Kongmaru La Pass, 5,216m/17,113ft.
12 Trek to Sumdo. Drive to Leh.
13-14 Fly to Delhi and on to London.
Leader: Local leader, Ladakh

Your leader will be a knowledgeable, English speaking guide, most likely from Ladakh. However, sometimes Sherpas come over from Nepal in the summer season and you may therefore have a Nepalese guide. In addition to helping you get the most out of your visit to Ladakh and taking care of you, your leader will co-ordinate all your arrangements, ensuring that everything runs as smoothly as possible.

Local leader, Ladakh

Holiday Itinerary

Download a detailed itinerary
Day 1 - Fly London to Delhi.

Fly overnight from London to Delhi.

Overnight icon Overnight: In flight

Day 2 - Arrive Delhi. Half day sightseeing tour of Qutab Minar.

You will arrive in Delhi in the morning and you will be met and transferred to your hotel which is situated not far from the airport. Although Delhi can still be quite a culture shock, it is nowadays a vibrant and cosmopolitan modern city with thriving business areas, an excellent metro system and plenty of reminders of its exciting history and ancient civilization.

In the afternoon, you will have a sightseeing tour. You will visit Qutab Minar, a 73m high tower built in 1193 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak to celebrate his victory over Delhi's last Hindu King. It is considered to be one of the finest monuments in India.

Our local representative will let you know details of your flight to Leh tomorrow and will arrange an early breakfast for you, if you wish.

Overnight icon Overnight: Red Fox Hotel Or Similar, Delhi

Day 3 - Fly to Leh.

An early morning transfer to the domestic terminal of the airport for the flight north to Leh. This surely is one of the most sensational scheduled flights in the world, taking you right over the Greater Himalaya before dropping in a series of steep turns to land at the small military airport at Leh; flight time about 70 minutes.

You will be met on arrival and driven through Leh to check into your hotel. Leh is 3,505m/11,500ft above sea level and therefore we recommend that the rest of the day is spent resting to help you adjust to the altitude.

Overnight icon Overnight: Ladakh Residency Hotel or Similar, Leh

Day 4 - Half day sightseeing in Indus Valley visiting Thikse Gompa and Shey Palace. Afternoon at leisure.

Today you will be driven in jeeps to see a couple of the largest monasteries and palaces in the Indus valley, Thikse Gompa and Shey Palace.

Thikse Gompa The 500-year-old Thikse monastery, perched on a hill high above the Indus, has the largest contingent of monks in Ladakh. On the right of the entrance to the main courtyard a new chapel houses an enormous 15 metre high figure of Chamba, Buddha of the Future. About 100 yellow-cap monks belong to the gompa. If you get there by 6.30am you can witness the daily morning prayers but there are also prayers closer to noon, preceded by long, mournful sounds from the horns on the roof.

Shey Palace Located 15km from Leh, the old 'summer palace' of the kings of Ladakh was built about 550 years ago by Lhachen Palgyigon, the first King of Ladakh. From the palace you can see over the fertile Indus plain north east to Thikse Gompa and over the Indus to the Zanskar mountain range. The old Shey Palace has the largest golden Buddha statue in Ladakh in its gompa. The 18th century statue worked out of gold and gilded copper sheets stands 12m high and has blue hair. The most important moment in the construction of such a figure is when the eyes are painted in and the statue can 'see'. No artist, or monk would dare to look the Buddha in the eye, so the pupils are painted over the artist's shoulder, with his back to the idol, using a mirror.

Overnight icon Overnight: Ladakh Residency Hotel or Similar, Leh

Day 5 - Attend a Ladakhi festival.

Ladakhi festivals are a highlight of the year for the local people. These festivals are very colourful and cheerful affairs. People from all over the region flock to them to celebrate, to achieve religious merit and to socialise. Festivals are always great fun to attend and you can expect large crowds of local Ladakhi people to be there in all their finery. At the centre of the celebrations are the sacred dances and plays where monks in incredible colourful costumes and masks perform elaborate, highly choreographed dances to an accompaniment of drums, cymbals and horns. These dances, which act out stories and philosophies of Tibetan Buddhism, represent the triumph of good over evil and the illusory nature of life.

If travelling on our June 2021 or July 2022 departures you will visit the Hemis festival, held in Hemis Monastery, the largest and richest monastery of all Ladakh. The festival is held in honour of the anniversary of Guru Padma Sambhava.

On our July 2021 or August 2022 departures you will visit the Dakthok festival, a major festival of Ladakh and always well attended by locals as well as visitors. It is held at Dakthok Monastery, the only Nyingma Monastery in Ladakh, founded around a cave where Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche) is said to have meditated in the 8th century. The festival is famous for its sacred masked dances.

Overnight icon Overnight: Ladakh Residency Hotel or Similar, Leh

Day 6 - Visit Phyang Monastery and drive to Skiu, 3,290m/10,794ft.

Today you will drive west along the Indus and turn north up a valley to visit the spectacular Phyang Monastery, which like so many such buildings in Ladakh is set on a hill overlooking the valley. Phyang is one of the most important monasteries of the Indus Valley though it tends to be less visited than those to the east of Leh. It is one of the earliest monasteries in Ladakh and is believed to date back to the 16th century. It is one of the few monasteries belonging to the Kagyu-pa sect of Buddhism (Red Hat) and it houses some magnificent paintings and images as well as showcasing a collection of Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian fire arms and weapons in its museum.

After your visit you will drive back down to the Indus and follow it to its confluence with the Zanskar River. You drive down alongside the Zanskar River, cross a bridge onto the east side and enter the Hemis National Park. You then drive up the valley to the village of Skiu, the starting point for your trek. This is a pleasant, sprawling village set amidst poplar, apricot and willow trees. Your first camp will be set up here and you will meet your ponies and pony-man.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 7 - Trek to Markha, 3,750m/12,303ft - 7-8 hours.

Today is a very pleasant walk up one of the loveliest sections of the Markha valley. The trail follows the river bed, occasionally climbing up the valley sides, through this dramatic steep sided valley. Woody bushes, roses, poplar and willow trees grow thickly along the river, which is spanned by several plank bridges. Beyond Thinlespa the trail continues eastwards climbing steadily up the valley until a river crossing (have your sandals at the ready) before you enter the picturesque village of Markha. It is worth walking up to visit the fascinating monastery and ruined palace here if you have time.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 8 - Trek to Hangkar, 3,900m/12,795ft - 6-7 hours.

The trail continues eastwards climbing steadily up from Markha and is joined from the south by the trail from Rubering La, one of the routes from Zangla. From Markha the country changes and the warm, relatively heavily wooded section of the lower valley is left behind. As you ascend you will notice that the further you travel up the valley, the smaller and seemingly poorer the villages become and the houses are correspondingly simpler. Between two villages is a ruined fort, the walls of which climb sharply up a crag to an eyrie lookout tower - worth visiting for those with a good head for heights. There are also great views across Upper Hangkar from the ridge towards Kang Yatse, particularly in the evening light. The camp below the twin villages of Lower and Upper Hangkar is distinctly cooler than at Thinlespa.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 9 - Trek to Nimaling, 4,720m/15,485ft - 8 hours.

From Hangkar the trail climbs steadily up the now narrow valley, past villages which appear smaller and seemingly poorer than those in the lower areas. The Nimaling plain is a broad undulating meadow, sloping upwards to the base of the ice-clad Kang Yatse, 6,400m/20,997ft, which dominates the area. Nimaling, with tiny ponds and rivulets flowing all over its meadows, provides pastures in the summer for an astonishing number of animals; yaks, sheep, goats, dzos and horses, not only from the Markha, but also from villages all around. Himalayan marmots and white-tailed hares are seen in abundance and it is not unusual to spot the occasional blue sheep or wolf.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 10 - Rest day at Nimaling.

Today you can relax in Nimaling and enjoy the superb scenery and surroundings. There is the chance to walk to the base camp of Kang Yatze, the highest peak in the Zanskar range, 6,400m/20,997ft. Alternatively you might like to walk up the ridge behind the camp for a birds-eye view of this beautiful valley.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 11 - Cross the Kongmaru La Pass, 5,216m/17,113ft. Trek to Chogdo, 4,133m/13,560ft - 7 hours.

Today you cross to the north of the Markha Valley, climbing to the top of the highest of the three passes, the 5,216m/17,113ft Kongmaru La. From here there are wonderful panoramic views, with snow-capped peaks stretching away as far as the eye can see. On a clear day you can see K2 and many other famous peaks of the Karakoram. The trail from the pass then descends steeply to the head of the Martselang valley past the sulphur springs of Chyushkarmo, and follows the Martselang stream to the village of Chogdo.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 12 - Trek to Sumdo, 3,880m/12,730ft - 3-4 hours. Drive to Leh.

This morning you end your trek by descending the short distance to Sumdo, or Shang-Sumdo. Transport will be waiting here for the two hour drive back to Leh.

On the way you will have a chance to visit Hemis Gompa which is one of the largest and most important in Ladakh. It was founded about 350 years ago by Stagtshang Rinchen, who was invited to Ladakh by King Senge Namgyal. Hemis Gompa is renowned for its annual festival at which, every 12 years, the largest thangka in the world is displayed. For those travelling on our June departure, you will drive straight to Leh having already visited the gompa.

Overnight icon Overnight: Ladakh Residency Hotel or Similar, Leh

Day 13 - Fly to Delhi. Transfer to hotel. At leisure.

An early start for the short drive to the airport. This is one of the most sensational flights in the world. Within minutes the aircraft flies over a sea of ice-cold peaks and glaciers as it crosses the Greater Himalaya range. On one side can be seen in the distance the peaks of possibly K2, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum and on the other side, so close that you feel you could reach out and touch it, is the Nun Kun massif. On arrival in Delhi, you will be met and transferred to your airport, the rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight icon Overnight: Red Fox Hotel Or Similar, Delhi

Day 14 - Group transfer to airport. Fly to London.

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight to London.

Map

Map Key

  • Airport Airport
  • Point of interest Point of interest
  • Mountain Peak Mountain Peak
  • Day walk in this area Day walk in this area
  • Flights Flights
  • Internal Transfers Internal Transfers
  • Trek Trek

2022

Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Mon 4 Jul - Sun 17 Jul 2022 ! Available
Available
This departure attends the Hemis Festival
£1650 Book Contact Us
Tue 2 Aug - Mon 15 Aug 2022 ! Available
Available
This departure attends the Dakthok Festival
£1650 Book Contact Us

Hold your place

Not quite ready to book? Why not call us on +44 (0) 1453 844400 to hold a no obligation place while you make up your mind?

Optional supplements
  • Single room supplement
    From £230
  • Single Tent
    From £50
Insurance
  • Cover starts from £143
No Surcharge Guarantee

No surcharges will be applied to your holiday after you book. Prices on this website are updated regularly. The Flight Inclusive holiday price, or Land Only holiday price, will be confirmed to you at the time you make your booking. There will be no surcharges after your booking has been confirmed.

Flight inclusive holidays

The 'flight inclusive' holiday prices shown on this website are based upon our preferred airlines and the best priced economy class fares we are able to secure at the time of publication.

We will be able to advise on fares with alternative airlines, upgrades to Business Class, and the options for flights from regional UK airports, please contact us for more details.

Booking your holiday
  • Deposit
    From £100

For the majority of our holidays, a deposit payment of £100.00 per person is required to secure your place(s), however a small number of holidays require a higher deposit - please refer to the holiday itinerary for more details. If the holiday departs within 60 days, a minimum deposit of £750.00 per person is required.

Book now!
  1. Book your small group holiday securely online – click the ‘Book’ button next to your chosen departure or visit our How to Book page
  2. Complete and return a Booking Form available to download here.
  3. Call us on +44 (0)1453 844400 and one of our travel specialists will talk you through the booking process.

What’s included

  • A local English-speaking leader
  • Economy class return air fares from London & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • Single, timed group airport transfers for international flights on arrival and departure
  • All internal flights and domestic airport transfers
  • Good standard hotel accommodation (3 star) in Delhi, twin share, bed and breakfast basis
  • Best available hotels in Leh on full board
  • All camping facilities and all meals on trek
  • Camp staff to carry out all camp work
  • All road transport by private vehicles
  • Full porterage
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Carbon offsetting with the Ecoan Tree Planting Project (for clients taking our flight inclusive option)
  • A free high-quality Mountain Kingdoms kit bag

What’s not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Indian Visa fees
  • Lunch and evening meals in Delhi
  • Tips


Read holiday reviews by Mountain Kingdoms travellers.

Overall score:           (Based on 6 reviews)

Fabulous holiday          

Took our grown up family of four on our first Mountain Kingdoms holiday to Ladakh and had a superb time in a magical country. Every little pre-holiday query was dealt with swifly by the office and all the pre-trip planning came to fruition. Potential problem with the airline going under a few weeks before the trek was dealt with efficiently and replacement flights an accomodation booked for us with minimum of hassle. The local agent in Leh also looked after us extremely well. Our guide and the camp staff on the trek could not have looked after us better and we felt very spoilt. This was a good thing, as the altitude makes life for the average sea-level person extremely tiring as the air is so thin. We loved the trek and found the culture of Ladakh fascinating. Due to the flight problems, we ended up spending an extra night in Delhi and actually can really recommend this as a holiday finale as it is a complete contrast to the solitude of the mountains.

Markha Valley Trek - Private Departure          

Had a great time, had it so hot! Then saw snow, thunder storms but some great views and memories throughout.

Markha Valley Trek          

Personal service when we emailed or phoned. Efficient pick-ups etc. during the trip. No compromises on quality.

Outstanding guide          

Our guide was outstanding - the best we have had - his knowledge of the culture and wildlife was unrivalled.

Knowledgeable guide          

Our guide knew everyone in the Markha Valley and was extremely knowledgeable about the culture, flora and fauna.


Extend your holiday

Agra, Taj Mahal & Jaipur - extension (India)

Agra, Taj Mahal & Jaipur - extension (India)
  • 1-day and 6-day extension options available
  • Add at the beginning or end of your holiday in India
  • Sights include the Red Fort, Taj Mahal, City Palace and Amber Fort
More Details

After your adventures in India why not add an exciting day trip to Agra to see the sights of the one time capital of the great Mughal empire? Or, if you have more time available, perhaps a longer trip visiting both Agra and another gem of the ‘Golden Triangle’, Jaipur. Whichever option you take, once in Agra you will be looked after by one of our fully trained, English-speaking guides who will show you around the Red Fort, the Taj Mahal and the ancient city and mosque of Fatehpur Sikri. For those travelling on to Jaipur, you will take guided visits to the Amber Fort, Palace of the Winds and City Palace, along with time to explore the colourful bazaars of the ‘Pink City’.

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