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Markha Valley Trek

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Markha Valley Trekking is wedged between the Ladakh and Zanskar ranges, behind the Himalaya, to which it runs parallel. The wild and barren, yet hauntingly beautiful landscapes of this hidden land are often likened to Tibet - Ladhakh used to be known as 'Little Tibet' - and are every bit as dramatic and enticing.

Trekking in Markha Valley starts in the fascinating capital of Leh, which developed as a trading centre, drawing merchants from Yarkand, Kashmir, Tibet and North India. During our couple of day stay, which is essential for proper acclimatization, we explore its colorful bazaars and backstreets, dominated by splendid Leh Palace, which is like a miniature version of Lhasa's Potala. We also visit several of the outlying historical and cultural gems of Ladakh, including the 500-year-old Shey palace and gompa, Tikse and Hemis monasteries and the royal palace at Stock, all of which provide an insight into the rich heritage of the region.

Markha Valley Treks it self starts from spituk and then descend to the hidden Zinchen and Rumbak Valley. From the next pass Ganda La (4878m), the views are equally rewarding - a sea of snowy peaks merging into the distant Karakoram ranges. Reaching the lower Markha Valley, we follow the wooded banks of its river upstream as the trail meanders from village to village. We visit the monastery at Markha and ruins of a fort strategically positioned atop a crag between the twin settlements of Lower and Upper Hankar.

Markha Trek Climbing out of the valley through alpine meadows, we are in view of the highest peak in the area, 6400m ice-clad Kang Yatze, which rises from the Nimaling plains. Yaks, dzos, sheep, goats and horses from the lower villages graze the high pastures, while marmots and white-tailed hares can often be spotted, along with Himalayan griffon vultures and lammergeyers, which soar overhead.
A free day in these magnificent surrounds allows time to walk to the base of Kang Yatze or take a well-earned rest in preparation for the long climb to the 5274m pass of Kangmaru La. The highest pass of the trek offers predictably fabulous views and on the descent, we may be lucky and see blue sheep. The Markha Valley trek ends at Martselang, from where it is a short drive back to Leh. The best time Markha Valley Trekking in july to September.

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