Overview

A classic trek crossing high passes, fertile valleys and visiting remote villages

Ladakh remains one of the best places to experience the unique culture of the High Himalaya. As our trek follows the Markha River, we discover a landscape where lofty peaks of the Stok, Matho and Zanskar Ranges tower above picturesque Ladakhi villages and verdant valleys below. From the highest pass, the Gongmaru La (5200m), we enjoy incredible views extending as far as Tibet, before descending to Hemis, Ladakh’s largest and most famous monastery.

7 Days of Walking & Trekking

Pace: Approximately 4-6 hours walking per day; some longer days

Terrain: High altitude; including steep, rocky terrain and river crossings

Key information

  • 6 nights hotels, all en suite, 7 nights full-service camping
  • 7 days point-to-point walking
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader and staff. Min age 18 yrs
  • Altitude maximum 5200m, average 3900m
  • Travel by jeep, on foot and 2 internal flights
  • Full porterage throughout the trek

 

    14 Nights 15 Days 06 Jul, 10 Aug, and 24 Aug
    Inclusions/Exclusions

    What is included in the tour

    • All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners
    • All accommodation 
    • All transport and listed activities
    • Tour leader throughout
    • Flights from London 
    • Arrival and departure transfers

    What is NOT included in the tour

    • Travel insurance
    • Single accommodation (available on request)
    • Visas or vaccinations
    Highlights
    What makes this tour special
    • Visit remote villages on this classic Himalayan trek
    • Explore colourful Buddhist monasteries in the Indus Valley
    • Discover multi-coloured rock formations of the Ladakh Range
    • Cross wild, barren mountain passes and trek through spectacular gorges
    • Visit Hankar and Skiu Women's Eco-cafe's
    • Enjoy a sensational flight over the Himalaya

    Essential Info

    India Visa

    Visas are required if you are British and for most other nationalities. Visa information changes regularly for India; for the latest information on applying for a visa please follow this link: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html​

    If your trip visits Ladakh, in the very north of India, or Sikkim in the north east, do not mention this on your Indian visa application. This can sometimes slow down or even cause the embassy to reject your visa.

    If your flight arrives into Delhi Airport and you have an e-visa, please follow the overhead signs to the e-visa booth at the back of the immigration hall. You will need to fill out an additional form at the booth. Please make sure that you have the details of your start hotel ready. These details can be found on your Final Joining Instructions.


    Vaccinations

    There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. Some of our India trips spend time at altitude. In regions over approx. 2000m, there is low to no risk of mosquito-borne diseases. For trips going to altitudes of over 3000m there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected.


    Eating and Drinking

    All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners are included.

    All meals except for main meals in Delhi and Leh are included; please allow about GBP70 (approx. USD115) for these.

    Whilst camping, the staff will bring a hot drink (usually tea) to your tent each morning. When you reach camp in the afternoon tea and biscuits will be served. At breakfast, dinner and in the afternoons, there is a choice of hot drinks. Breakfasts typically include cereal, toast and jam, eggs and porridge. Lunch on trek is usually served as a picnic en route (except on shorter days when it is in camp). Lunch and dinner typically include soup to start, followed by a variety of hot dishes (both local and western) such as potatoes/chips, vegetables, curry, pasta, rice, dhal and paneer (cottage cheese). At dinner time a dessert such as tinned fruit and custard, fritters or cake is also be served. 

    Please note that although some meals will include meat, it is not as readily available whilst camping.


    Drinking Water

    Staying hydrated is important when undertaking any physical activity but particularly so at altitude where it is generally recommended to drink at least 3-4 litres per person per day.

    We strongly encourage you not to buy bottled water as this contributes to the growing problem of plastic pollution in Ladakh. In Leh there is a shop called Dzomsa which sells safe drinking water. Your leader will show you where this is on your first day in Leh.

    During the trek the cooks will collect and boil drinking water from the mountain streams and fill up your water bottles for you, but you may need to collect water during the day and may wish to use your own water purification treatment as well.

    We also suggest that you may like to bring a reusable bottle with a wide opening (Nalgene or similar) with you and use a SteriPEN to treat any non-boiled water. A SteriPEN is a handheld UV water purifier – small, lightweight and battery powered so easy to pack for a trek. It’s quick to use, far more effective than purification tablets, and the water is ready immediately. It’s fine to use a SteriPEN on non-boiled water so long as it isn’t cloudy or full of sediment (which is uncommon in these regions).

    SteriPENs are widely stocked on Amazon, outdoor shops and other online retailers; look for the latest models but avoid USB charging ones. Using a SteriPEN means you won’t leave behind a single plastic bottle – and you can keep it for future trips.


    Weather

    The above weather chart for Leh shows average temperatures only - it does not reflect extremes of heat and cold. Please refer to the paragraph below for further details of the temperature range. Generally the weather is good in Ladakh during the summer time, with warm to very hot sunny days (up to 30ºC/35ºC+) with cooler nights depending on the altitude (it can reach freezing at Nimaling in September). There is, however, the possibility of rain, and you should be prepared for this. The sun is very strong at these altitudes and some of the days on trek can be extremely hot.

    Ladakh, though technically part of the Tibetan plateau and classified as a high altitude desert, can and does occasionally experience the effects of the Indian monsoon. Although the departures are timed to coincide when the weather is normally good, you should remember that in any mountain area the weather is never wholly predictable and you should be prepared and equipped to deal with any differences in weather beyond the conditions described above.

    Delhi in the summer it is very hot and humid.

    Leh


    Is this trip for you?

    This is a reasonably strenuous trek involving seven days point-to-point walking at quite high altitudes; maximum altitude 5,286m, average 3,900m. As such is has been graded as ‘challenging’ (activity level 5). Most days involve 4-6 hours walking, although there are a few longer days, and there are two passes over 4,900m.

    Most of the trails are well made on sandy paths. There are a few river crossings. Daytime temperatures can be very hot, especially in the middle of the day as at these altitudes the sun is very strong. Nights will be cooler and cold at Nimaling.

    This trek is for those who are willing to put in the necessary fitness preparation and like a good walk for around 6 hours a day. This is a fully supported camping trek with full porterage (mules and ponies) throughout; you need only carry your day pack. 

    The transfer journeys at the start and end of the trek are both very short (less than an hour’s drive).

    As this trip spends considerable time at altitude, we ask you to refer to the altitude warning within the Trip Notes. We spend 3 days in Leh (3500m) before the trek to allow you to acclimatise before starting the trek.

    Walking distances and hours are given as approximates only. Timings stated include rest and photo stops but not a longer lunch break and will vary depending on the pace of your group.


    Why Trek with Leisure Hoppers?

    • Year's of experience in organising treks in Ladakh.
    • Experienced English-speaking local leaders who are qualified in first aid and trained in recognising and dealing with altitude sickness.
    • All staff (leaders, guides and porters) are fully insured and paid a fair wage.
    • Carefully planned ascent rates and itineraries with built-in acclimatisation and contingency days.
    • Staff carry oxygen and first aid kit.
    • Self-assessment AMS cards used to monitor every client at altitude.

    Itinerary

    DAY 1

    Depart London.

    Flights usually depart London in the evening.


    DAY 2

    Arrive Delhi.

    We arrive in Delhi in the morning and transfer to our hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax and recover from the flight or for individual exploration of Delhi. Rooms in the hotel are usually available after mid day. Those who have made their own flight arrangements will join us at the hotel during the day.
    Comfortable Hotel


    DAY 3

    Fly to Leh (3500m); rest of the day free.

    A very early start today for the flight to Leh. We often have to leave the hotel at around 2 am and drive to the airport for the very early morning but highly spectacular flight over the Himalaya to Leh. If the weather is good and the flight goes on time we should be in Leh early. The rest of the day is free to relax and acclimatise to the altitude (3,500m). In the morning we rest and catch up on some sleep and in the afternoon there will be a gentle orientation walk of Leh and its bazaars.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: breakfast


    DAY 4

    Exploring in and around Leh, visiting the town, palace and monasteries at Shey and Thikse.

    Today there is a sightseeing tour to two of the major gompas in the area. We first drive to Shey, a former Royal Palace of the Ladakh kings. Inside is a small temple containing a 350 year old copper and gold statue of the Buddha. From Shey we drive (or we can walk across the fields) to Tikse, where we visit the monastery - perched on top of a hill - its red and white buildings can be seen for miles. A recently built temple contains a magnificent image of the Future Buddha. We return to Leh and the rest of the afternoon is free to explore.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: breakfast


    DAY 5

    Acclimatisation walk in Leh Valley; optional jeep drive to the Khardung La (which at 5602m, is the highest motorable road in the world).

    Today we will have an acclimatisation walk round the Leh Valley. Set above Leh on the Namgyal Hill, are the ruins of the Old Royal Palace. From here a winding path takes us to Tsemo Monastery, from where we are rewarded for our efforts by magnificent views of the whole of Leh and its surrounding villages. Descending round the back of the palace we walk via Sankar to the recently built Japanese Peace Pagoda. This huge stupa overlooks Leh and we have stunning views of the town and the Stok range of mountains across the valley. (There is the chance today to make an optional jeep safari to the Khardung Pass; at 5,602m, one of the highest motorable roads in the world.The journey to the top of the pass and back takes roughly 4/5 hours in total and can be booked and paid for locally. Your leader will have details. (If you do the jeep safari this will be in the morning and you can do a walk in the afternoon).
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: breakfast


    DAY 6

    Short drive to Jinchen; trek to Rumbak.

    By now we should be well acclimatised, and we take a short drive from Leh to Jinchen. We drive past Spituk, the site of the first Gelugpa Monastery in Ladakh. There should be time to visit the monastery with its commanding views over the Indus Valley. From here a new road takes us across the Indus towards Jinchen. We will drive as far as the road conditions allow and to where our ponies will be waiting. After they are loaded up we start our trek into the Jinchen Gorge at the foot of the Stok Mountains. The trail is straightforward as we follow the Jinchen Nala upstream. The valley closes in around us and spectacular rock formations tower above us. An ever-changing panorama of fantastic coloured mountains surrounds us as we ascend the valley. We may have to cross the river as the stream forces the path closer to the side of the valley. Suddenly the valley widens and reveals the snow-topped peaks of the Stok mountains. Prayer flags on a wide pasture mark the junction with the trail leading to Rumbak village. Tonight's camp is below Rumbak village with stunning views all around - looking left towards Rumbak a fantastic multi-coloured toothy skyline ridge appears in the distance. We can visit the village this afternoon and maybe sample the local delicacy, salty yak buttered tea, in one of the many home stays.

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,880m)

    Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner


    DAY 7

    Pass Yurutse village to reach the base of the Ganda La.

    A short day today for acclimatisation. We head up the main valley past a watermill and to a bridge, which we cross. The trail ascends the valley gradually and when the valley splits we take the right-hand fork up past the one house village of Yurutse. Leaving the fields behind we ascend towards the Ganda La and camp tonight by a small stream below the pass. In the afternoon there will be an acclimatisation walk on the hills around camp.

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 4,539m)

    Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner


    DAY 8

    Cross the Ganda La (4970m) to Skiu in the Markha Valley.

    A long day today as we cross our first pass. The trail is clear as it zigzags towards the pass. As we climb the views become more and more spectacular. Behind us, Stok Kangri dominates the skyline. Finally, we reach the top of the Ganda La (4,970m) decked with colourful prayer flags and the views are worth all the effort. Ahead is the Zanskar Range and behind are the Stok Mountains. Far below in the valley are the fields of Shingo. As we descend keep an eye open for marmots and blue sheep, both of which seem to thrive in these desolate, high altitude spots. The trail to Shingo is easy and in the main season, there is usually a tea tent here, which may sell cold drinks. From Shingo, the trail takes us through a spectacular gorge with beautifully coloured and eroded rocks. We continue down the gorge all the way to the small hamlet of Skiu. As we pass through Skiu we can stop and have a look at the newly restored Women’s Eco Café that Exodus is helping renovate and run in 2017 as part of our Himalayan Community Support. We camp either in Skiu itself or about 20 minutes beyond the village by the river.

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,360m)

    Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner


    DAY 9

    Follow the river to Markha (3750m).

    A fairly long, but easier walk today, as we trek along the valley to Markha. The terrain along the valley is not demanding so there are plenty of opportunities to admire the magnificent scenery. The colours of the barren mountains of Ladakh are truly spectacular, pastel pinks, blues and greens shine in the brilliant sunshine and change colour dramatically as the sun rises and sets.

    We follow the river all day today and will have to cross the river a few times and although bridges have been built in some places there will be some river crossings today. We will have lunch in Sara, where there is usually some welcome shade in a tea tent. Beyond the settlement of Chalak, there is an impressive line of chortens and a huge mound of goat horns, which are placed on the chortens to ward off any evil spirits trying to enter the valley. Climbing up to a small col we descend again to the river and a mediaeval fort silhouetted on the hillside tells us that we have almost reached Markha. Just before Markha, we will need to don our river crossing sandals for at least 2 river crossings.

    Markha is only a small village and there will be time to explore the small monastery in the afternoon. Our camp will be on grazing flats near the village.

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,750m)

    Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner


    DAY 10

    Trek to Thachungste, visiting Tache Gompa perched above us en route.

    Just beyond Markha, the trail meets the Chacham Valley. We will have one or two river crossings this morning. Just after the river crossings is Tache gompa, set way above us on the cliff face. There is time to visit the monastery, which is the most important in the valley and is affiliated to Hemis. It is a steep 10-minute climb up to the small temple but the stunning views from the top are well worth the effort. Continuing up the valley we walk through Umlung village to Hankar where there are more impressive fort ruins and a small gompa. We have lunch in Hankar at the Eco Cafe that Exodus has helped set up and support as part of our Himalayan Community Support Projects. From Hankar the trail turns off from the main valley, climbs up a small side valley past the ruins of Hankar Fort before dropping down to Upper Hankar. Climbing more we now follow the Nimaling stream to Thachungtse where we camp. We may be lucky and see Blue Sheep (a type of wild goat) high up on the grazing areas above the campsite.

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 4,250m)

    Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner


    DAY 11

    Climb to the high plateau at Nimaling.

    A short but quite tough walk today to Nimaling. The trail climbs steeply to a plateau where the valley opens out. Ahead are spectacular views of Kang Yangtse, at 6,400m, the highest peak in the valley. In this area, there is no permanent habitation but during the summer months, the shepherds bring their flocks of sheep, goats and dzos (cow-yak cross breeds) to graze on the high altitude pasture. The shepherds stay in stone shelters close to the grazing area for the whole summer and we can often buy yoghurt or local cheese from them. In the evenings, the animals are brought down from the hills and it is quite usual to have hundreds of them wandering through the campsite. Look after your edibles! We should get to Nimaling by lunchtime and in the afternoon, there is an optional walk up behind camp towards Kang Yangtse. This is well worth doing and highly recommended for the impressive close-up views of Kang Yangste. 

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 4,854m)

    Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner


    DAY 12

    Cross the Gongmaru La (5286m) with views of the high Ladakh Range.

    A long day as we cross our second, and highest, pass of the trek. Our trail begins today by climbing to the Gongmaru La. It is a fairly long, steep ascent zigzagging to the top of the pass at 5,286m, but the views from the top are worth the effort. Looking back we see Kang Yangtse, Dzo Jongo East and West and Regoni Malari. Ahead there are views of the Stok Range and down to the Indus valley. The descent is steep at first and we then enter a spectacular gorge and descend more gradually now with many small river crossings. High up on the barren cliffs we may spot the elusive Blue Sheep which inhabit this area. Passing through Chuskurmo and Chokdo we continue our long descent crossing the river several times to the village of Shang Sumdo. Today is a hard day due to the crossing of the high pass and the long descent.

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,800m)

    Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner


    DAY 13

    Finish the trek near Hemis; visit the monastery and drive to Leh.

    Our transport should arrive this morning and we drive to Hemis Monastery. Very occasionally the road gets blocked in which case we walk down the jeep track to Hemis. Hemis was once the largest and richest of all the Ladakhi monasteries. A wander round the dimly lit temples containing grotesque yet beautiful masks and statues will take us back hundreds of years in time. We then drive back to Leh and the comforts of a hot shower at our hotel. We should get to Leh for lunch and the rest of the day is free for last minute sightseeing or shopping in the bazaars.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: breakfast


    DAY 14

    Fly to Delhi.

    We fly from Leh to Delhi. The rest of the day is free for individual sightseeing in Delhi.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: breakfast


    DAY 15

    Fly to London.

    The group will be transferred to the airport this morning for your daytime flight back to London.

    Meals included: breakfast

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