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Expedition At A Glance

13 days, 12 nights

Difficulty Level: 5

Price (US$): From $2,195.00

Months Available: June through September

OVERVIEW


Essence of Ladakh: Markha Valley Trek

Ladakh, the land of high passes, is a stark high desert (Ladakh’s elevation ranges from 9,000ft. to 25,000ft.). But none-the-less this land is stunningly beautiful. Present day Ladakh was shaped mainly by rulers of the Namgyal dynasty whose descendant still lives till today at the Stok Palace. At one time, the Kingdom of Ladakh extended beyond the Guge Kingdoms in Western Tibet.

The journey starts at Leh (11,500 ft.) which means acclimatization is very important. So the first few days are spent trying to get accustomed to the altitude by resting and exploring the sites near Leh including the Thiksay monastery and the Hemis monastery. The 7 day trek can be undertaken by anybody in good physical condition. The trail on the first three days of the trek is pretty level; only on the fourth day, you start making a gradual ascent towards the Kongmarula pass (17,280ft.). The descent from the pass till camp is quite steep though. Do note that the second day’s hike can be up to 8 hours long. The trek goes through several villages including Skiu, Markha and Hunker which are small oases in the otherwise stark desert landscape. You will will also trek past several chortens, mani walls and old forts in ruins always perched on a cliff. The most prominent peak you will encounter is Kang Yatse (21,000ft.). For those of you who’ve trekked in Nepal, the landscape will remind you of Mustang and Dolpo.

Because it lies behind the Himalayas, a natural barrier for the rain-bearing clouds from the South, Ladakh receives very little rain. So the best months to visit are June through September when the other regions in the Himalayas experience heavy monsoon rains. Day time temperatures in Leh can reach the high 90’s and compounded the fact that there is little tree cover it can be brutally hot on the first couple days of the trek. But since it receives very little rain, humidity is not a problem.

Highlights:

  • Explore monasteries and palaces of Leh.
  • Drive to Khardungla, the highest motorable road in the world at 18,380ft, for views of the Karakoram range.
  • Experience the beauty of rural Ladakh by trekking through the stark Markha Valley

DETAILED ITINERARY


Day 01 - Arrive Delhi Arrive in Delhi. Met on arrival and transferred to a nearby hotel near the airport. (No meals) Day 02 - Fly Delhi to Leh (11,500 ft.). Free day. Early morning transfer to the airport. Fly Delhi to Leh. The flight is around 1.5 hours. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Immediately after you land, you will begin to notice the difference the altitude. You need to give your body time to adapt to the altitude and it is best you spend the whole day resting in your hotel and drinking ample water. (Breakfast) Stay: Umasila or similar Day 03 - Sightseeing in Leh (11,500ft.) After breakfast, drive south of Leh to Hemis monastery. Continue to visit Thiksay monastery and Shey. Welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Stay: Umasila or similar Day 04 - Sightseeing in Leh (11,500ft.) Drive towards Khardungla pass. Afternoon is free to prepare for the trek. (Breakfast) Stay: Umasila or similar Day 05 - Start trek. Trek to Skiu (11,150ft.) Drive a short distance to Chilling. Begin trek. The trek is mostly on level trail with short gradual ascents and descents. Do remember you are trekking on high desert and so you need to apply ample sun-screen, always wear a sun hat (ones with wide-brims are better), and hydrate properly. Carry up to 3 liters in your back pack. We trek a little further past the monastery at the small village of Skiu to our camp site on the river banks. Total hike is around 4 hours. (All meals) Stay: Tents Day 06 - Trek to Markha (12,100 ft.) Today is a long day of hiking and can take up to 8 hours. So it is best to cover most of the days hike early in the morning before the sun is at its strongest. Todays hike is also mostly on level trail with short graual ascents and descents. Trek past several chortens a long mani wall. A little before you arrive at your camp at Markha, there is a river crossing where you take off your shoes and wade through knee deep water. It is important to get past this point before the water level increases because of the snow melt higher above in the early evening. Camp is near a large barley field and can be busy as many groups could be using the same camp site. (All meals) Stay: Tents Day 07 - Trek to lower Hungkar (12,800 ft.) Today is a relatively short day of around 4 to 5 hours. The trail is again pretty level and only involves short gradual ascents and descents. Again, you wade through knee deep river. After the river crossing, the trail snakes through a narrow gorge with a monastery and castle perched on the cliffs. Lower Hungkar valley is then a short distance from here. Today you will be housed in a local home to allow for interaction with the local. (All meals) Stay: Home Stay Day 08 - Trek to Tharchungtse (13,600ft.) From lower Hungkar climb a short distance, past an old fort, to Upper Hungkar. In the distance, Mt. Kangyatse (6,400m) is visible behind the fields of the Hungkar valley. After crossing the Hungkar valley, the trail inclines gently to the grassy campsite at Tharchungtse. The total hike is between 4 to 5 hours. (All meals) Stay: Tents Day 09 - Trek to Nyimaling (15,500ft.) The trail now ascends steeply towards a pass with stones piled as offerings. Look out for blue sheep - sometimes they're on cliffs right above you. Looking back, you can see the many rows of mountains. A little further is a lake. From here it is a gradual ascent all the way to our grassy campsite along the river at Nyimaling. Through out the day Mt. Kangyatse looms in the distance. The total hike today is between 3 to 4 hours. (All meals) Stay: Tents Day 10 - Trek to Chu Skirmo Cross the river and start ascending steeply on switch backs towardsthe pass. The trail then becomes more gradual until the final push on steep switchbacks to the Kongmarula pass (5,270m/17,285ft.). The descent initially is on steep switch backs for a short distance. The descent then becomes more gradual. As you approach camp, the trail is on the canyon carved by the river. Total hike is between 5 to 7 hours. (All meals) Stay: Tents Day 11 - Trek end at Shang Sumdo. Drive back to Leh Descend to the road head at Shang Sumdo (3 hours) where your private transport will take you back to Leh. Evening is free in Leh.(Breakfast and Lunch) Stay: Umasila or similar Day 12 - Sightseeing in Leh Visit Matho monastery and Stok palace. Farewell dinner in the evening. (All meals) Stay: Umasila or similar Day 13 - Fly to Delhi. Onwards to home Early flight to Delhi. Flights to the US usually depart in the evening or early next morning. If it is the latter, we can arrange transfers and hotel accommodation near the airport (extra charge). (Breakfast) STOK EXTENSION Day 11 - Trek to Shang Sumdo. Drive to Stok village. Descend to the road head at Shang Sumdo (3 hours) where your private transport will take you back to Stok village. (All meals) Stay: local lodge Day 12 - Trek to Mounkarmo Ascend slowly to Mounkarmo. (All meals) Stay: Tents Day 13 - Trek to Base Camp Ascend slowly to the base camp. (All meals) Stay: Tents Day 14 - Summit and return to Base Camp Midnight start to the summit. Return to Base Camp. (All meals) Stay: Tents Day 15 - Return to Leh Descend to Stok village and drive back to Leh. Farewell dinner in the evening. (All meals) Stay: Umasila or similar Day 16 - Fly to Delhi. Onwards to home Early flight to Delhi. Flights to the US usually depart in the evening or early next morning. If it is the latter, we can arrange transfers and hotel accommodation near the airport (extra charge). (Breakfast)

PHOTO AND VIDEO GALLERY


COST AND INCLUSIONS


Per person price for 2016 2 to 3 persons: $2,795 USD per person 4 or more: $2,195 USD per person Single Supplement: $500 USD With Stok Kangri Extension: 2 to 3 persons: $3,895 USD per person 4 or more: $3,395 USD per person Single Supplement: $500 USD Airfare Delhi to Leh to Delhi is EXTRA. Airfare can vary from US$ 200 to US$ 450 per person depending on how early you book. Price includes:
  • All airport transfers
  • Sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary; all entrance fees
  • All inclusive camping (tent) trekking as indicated in the itinerary
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Double occupancy accommodation
  • Transfers by private vehicles
Price does not include:
  • Your international airfare
  • Tips
  • India visa fee (must be obtained prior to arrival in India)
  • International airport tax, if applicable
  • Travel Insurance
  • Bottled/canned beverages including soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and mineral water
  • Expenses of a personal nature

DATES AND AVAILABILITY


Private departures for a minimum of two participants can be arranged for a date of your choosing.

BOOK THIS TRIP


 

"Grand Asian Journeys provided me exactly what I was looking for in creating our custom family trip to Asia. Our family of six wanted a trip that suited all our diverse wants and needs, and destinations. Pam Perry did exactly that: she sent us on a three-week adventure that included jungles, beaches, deserts, temples and history in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. Pam spent a lot of time with me prior to the trip to ensure that she was meeting my needs and even arranged a group call so that everyone was informed and prepared. It was the trip of a lifetime that my family will never forget. Everywhere we went someone met us and provided more than what we expected. The guides were phenomenal and extremely educated. The accommodations were exactly what we requested. I was very pleased with the price and value as well. My family and I highly recommend Pam and Grand Asian Journeys!"

- Mary Gorman, Bainbridge Island, WA: Nepal, India (Ladakh) and Sri Lanka

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