11 nigts - 12 days
Destinations : Markha valley with Stok Kangri (6123m)
Day 01. Zingchen to Ganda La base (3/4Hrs)
Early in the morning drive by jeep to Zingchen and after lodging the horses we will enter Hemis National Park, where we may be fortunate enough to get a glimpse of wildlife as diverse as the Snow leopard, lynx, Ladakhi Urial (a type of goat), Arghali (great Tibetan sheep), Blue sheep, Red fox, Tibetan wolf, Dhole (wild dog), Marmot and Mountain hare. After paying the entrance fee, we will climb gradually through a beautiful gorge that will unveil the imposing Stok range from time to time. Before reaching Rumbak, we will stop at a teahouse run by women from the village. After a warm cup of tea, we will continue through Rumbak, and pass by the house of Yurutse village, before reaching camp at the base of Ganda La (4545m). From our campsite, we can see a spectacular view of Stok Kangri and the whole of the Stok range.
Day 02. Ganda La base to Skiu via Gandala 4900m (6/7Hrs)
After a light breakfast, we will begin our 2-hr ascend to Ganda La; views of the lofty Zanskar and Stok Ranges will leave you breathless. The usual chorten and prayer flags mark the top of the pass, where one may see blue sheep and marmots roaming the hills. After a short rest, we will make a gradual, hour-long descent to Shingo and break for lunch. We will finish the day by hiking through a spectacular gorge before pitching camp at Skiu (3300m). Within this idyllic village lies an old monastery and ruins of an old castle (once a rest stop for the Royal family on their way to Srinagar).
Day 03. Skiu to Markha (7/8Hrs)
Following the Markha River, we will hike through the lovely valley on a fairly level path. The trail crosses the river at various points, and passes through winter settlements that contain Lhatos (religious shrines for local deities) and Mani walls (stones inscribed with Buddhist prayers). During peak season, a number of tented teahouses will be open, providing hearty refreshments. After crossing the river for the last time, we will arrive in Markha, the largest village in the valley, consisting of around 20 houses, an old monastery and a ruined fort.
Day 04. Markha to Thachungtse (5/6Hrs)
The Markha valley trek route continues past old stone-mills, a ruined castle and the auspicious monastery of Techa, which is proudly perched on a towering cliff that looms above Markha, well worth visiting if we have the energy. The path then intersects the river several times before cutting through the last hamlets in the valley. After leaving the village of Umlung, we will have our first view of Kang Yatse (6400m), which will stay in sight until we cross Kongmaru La. After we break for lunch in the village of Hangkar (the last in the valley), we will press onward to the lovely green pasture of Thachungste, where we will camp.
Day 05. Thachungtse to Nimaling (4Hrs)
Today the trail will lead us up to the beautiful plateau of Nimaling, where the people of the Markha Valley bring their herds to graze during the summer months. At 4700m, Nimaling is the highest camp on the trek, giving us spectacular views of Kang Yatse to the right, the Zangskar Range and the Markha Valley below.
Day 06. Nimaling to Shangsumdo via Kongmarula 5200 m (7Hrs)
After a hearty breakfast, we will cross Kongmaru La, the highest pass on the trek. Here we have a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The 2-hour descent is quite steep, but will gradually level as we enter Shang Gorge, with its strange and other worldly rock formations. More river crossings bar our way before we arrive at the sour-spring of Chuskurmo (used in traditional medicine by the Amchi doctors). After a break, we will pass through a couple of villages before reaching Shang Sumdo. Overnight Camp at Shang Sumdo.
Day 07. Shang sumdo to Shang Phu. (5/6Hrs)
Today the trail ascend gradually through green fields of wheat and barley, after distance walk visit small gompa of Shang and continue to walk path adjacent to a water channel flowing from south of Matho kangri.The trail flourish you with chortens( Buddhist structure which indicates the step to enlightenment of Buddha)many high altitudes flowers like anemone, blue poppies and meadows etc.The valley heads up to shepherd hut where animals from different villages live together for grassing for a period of about 3 months which includes Yak,Zo,Cow, sheep, goat and donkeys. Camp o/n at Shang phu at the height of 4250m.
Day 08. Shang Phu To Gangpoche, Via - Shang La (6/7Hrs)
The day is long and strenuous with over 6 hrs. walking. The first three hrs.is gradually steep up to shang pass through couple of zigzag trail. The area declares as snow leopard area by forest Dept, where every year about 30 to 40 pet animals has been killed by snow leopards. The killing actions by snow leopards normally done night time but some time you can see them on high mountain cliff.
Animals like blue sheep, marmots and brown eagle can find everywhere in that area. When you reach shang pass the view from there puts you in beauty of nature, the mountain wall of Matho kangri 5800 to 5900 m will refresh your mind. As you descend from the left hill side, the undulating slope makes your way more interesting and beautiful. Gangpoche( high plateau)is most wonderful place for camping.
Day 09. Gangpoche To Monkormo, Via - Matho La
Today the trail steadily ascends to a series of grassy slopes, Yak herders from the nearby villages live in stone settlement at the foot of the pass and the view from the pass is absolute amazing , the popular Stok kangri peak makes you statue for a while. If weather clear you can able to see Karakoram mountains. The route from the pass follows 3 km gradual descend towards Mankarmo campsite.
Day 10. Mankarmo - Base Camp (2/3Hrs)
Gradually we go higher into a desolate area, which is inhabited only by marmots and blue sheep. Surrounded by high mountains, we, at base camp (4980 m), will prepare our self mentally and physically for the big day.
Day 11. Base Camp - Stok-Kangri Summit 6123m - Base Camp (10/12Hrs)
Depending on weather and snow conditions, we leave early around midnight or 1:00 am. Usually conditions are better in the night when the sky is clearer because it is colder and the snow will be harder to walk on. We will just take a cup of tea and take our lunch bag, before walking into the night with our head torches. However, if it is a full moon night, the moon will guide us in its silvery glow. It is a strenuous walk, and in the last part we will most likely use not only ice axes, but also crampons and, maybe, even rope, depending on snow conditions.
However, by the time we come close to the top, you will forget about the hardships as you are surrounded by one of the most beautiful sights i.e. the Himalayas, lighted up by the slowly rising morning sun. In good weather conditions we can see the Saser group in the Great Karakoram Range, where K2 lies. To bring good fortune, we leave our Khatag, a religious scarf, on the mountain top with prayer flags. Leaving the peak, we go down to the Base Camp and by the time we arrive, the only thing running in our minds will be crawling back into our sleeping bags for a well deserved rest.
Day 12. Base Camp – Stok- Leh (4Hrs)
This morning we will not hurry and by the time we open our eyes, you will realize that you have scaled a peak higher than any mountain in Europe or North America. After breakfast we will walk down to Stok, retracing our footsteps. Drive back to Leh your trip Markha Valley Trekking with stok kangri climb comes to an end here.