Markha Valley and Kang Yatse II
- Trekking & Hiking
- Trekking peaks
Welcome to Ladakh! Today you should fly from Delhi to Leh where a member of our team will be waiting to collect you at the airport. You will transfer to your hotel where you will meet your guide and the other members of your group. There will be a pre-trip briefing this evening at 7pm.
First day of discovery of Ladakh, on the northern borders of India. Today, we leave to follow the valley of the Indus, which follows the river of the same name, and discover its postcard landscapes dotted with remarkable monasteries. We start with the magnificent monastery of Thiksey, perched on a hill overlooking the Indus, this complex of temples and chörtens contains beautiful Buddhist art work including paintings, masks and thangkas.
I*n the afternoon, we cross the Indus to reach its western bank and visit the small monastery of Matho, standing on a ridge above the town. The view of the valley is magnificent! We take some time to explore the museum here and learn more about the local Buddhist culture. On the way back to Leh, we visit Stok Palace. Built in 1825 to house the Namgyal dynasty, it is still the home of the royal family who retire to Manali during the severe winter cold. We end our day back at our hotel in Leh.
We leave Leh this morning and set off on the road to Lamayuru, a village located halfway between Leh and Kargil, the biggest town in Jammu and Kashmir State. After a few kilometers, we stop at the Spituk monastery, which overlooks the fertile lands of the River Indus in the base of the valley. This monastery of Tibetan Buddhism is still the place of residence and meditation for hundred monks. We then continue along the Kargil road to the confluence with the river Zanskar. A small detour on the road allows us to admire the superb monastery of Alchi. They contain murals and sculptures by artists from ancient Tibet, Kashmir and Afghanistan. The carved wooden porches display some of the most interesting statues and frescoes in Ladakh, built by the scholarly monk Ringchen Zangpo.
Around midday we reach Lamayuru and its extraordinary landscapes, including the famous "Moonland", eroded mountains covered with a layer of yellow sedimentary rocks, with extravagant patterns. We pause for Lunch before taking some time to explore the pretty village and its monastery, perched at an altitude of 3800 meters facing the Zanskar range.
This morning we continue our journey by vehicle to Zingchen, the starting point of our trek to the Markha Valley. We depart on foot along the river, gradually ascending to the beautiful village of Rumbak, gateway to the Hemis National Park. After a little tea break, we can visit the village and its gompa, before continuing our journey.
We continue our ascent following another fast flowing mountain stream up a side valley before arriving at the small hamlet of Yurutse. This is the perfect location to spot the local animal life such as the bharal or argali.
We continue our ascent up the valley gradually rising to the base of Ganda La. from here the climb is steeper to the top of the pass where, from 4950 meters, the view is mezmerising. The peaks of the Zanskar range can be seen to the south and the Ladakh range to the north, a truly breath taking moment that makes the grueling ascent worthwhile! After savoring this astonishing position for a while, we begin our descent towards the village of Shingo.
We leave Shingdo and begin our descent through a narrow canyon to reach the Markha River. We have a short day walk to Skiu, one of the largest villages in the valley. Many chortens decorate the entrance to this beautiful village located on the right bank of the Markha. We have a free afternoon to rest, meet the inhabitants of the village and explore our surroundings.
Today we begin climbing up the superb Markha valley where the forested river banks contrast with the ocher colour of the surrounding mountains. We cross the river several times on bridges or sometimes with feet in the freezing waters. From Skiu to Markha the walk is easy along the base of the valley but this is a long day with a significant distance to cover. In the afternoon we will reach Markha village, the largest in the valley, surmounted by a monastery overlooking the cluster of building below. At the end of the day we can visit the monastery which offers incredible views of the surround valley.
We go up the Markha valley, still relatively green, on the right bank. In the distance we see the monastery of Tanzé perched on top of a cliff. Possibility of going up to the monastery there and back to have an overhanging view of the Markha Valley. We repeatedly cross the tributaries of the Markha River by fording or over bridges and arrive at the village of Humlung crowned with its monastery. The valley then narrows and just before reaching Hankar, the majestic peak of Kang Yatse comes into view and excitement builds as we see our objective for the first time.
We start today with a steady climb through pastures to the Kang Yatse base camp located on the Nimaling plains, where large herds of yaks often pass. This is a nice opportunity to meet the shepherds of the Markha valley who know these mountains and valleys better than anyone.
Once we arrive at basecamp we meet our high altitude guides who will accompany us for the ascent of Kangyatse. This afternoon there will be a briefing by our guides and we spend some time checking equipment and ensuring we are all ready for the challenge ahead. There is the option to hike up to a small shoulder (5400 m) offering beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and a good acclimatisation trek.
In the morning we prepare for the ascent and after breakfast we climb for 3 hours to reach the high camp. Arriving at high camp, we settle into our tent and our high mountain guides will give a briefing for the next day.
We depart around 1am to begin our ascent to the summit. A steady climb for 60 minutes in loose scree takes us to the glacier and we continue on steeper ground (about 35-40°) to reach the ridge that leads to the summit of Kang Yatse II at 6250m.
At the top, the views of the Zanskar, Stock and Karakoram massifs are breathtaking. In clear conditions it is possible to see the enormous 8000m peaks of K2 and Nanga Parbat in the far distance. After taking time to absorb the sheer enormity of our location, we descend to base camp for a well-deserved rest and a good meal. In the afternoon, easy descent towards the sheepfolds of Nimaling and our camp for the night.
Today starts with a steep climb to Kongmaru La Pass at 5150m, a steep and difficult ascent but we are well rewarded with views of the north face of Kang Yatse and the various peaks of the Zanskar range. We descend a very steep trail and drop into a deep canyon where rock formations in a wonderful array of colors are fascinating to look at. A long descent of 1400m takes us finally to the village of Chogdo.
Short morning hike to reach the end of the trek at Shang Sumdo, a village of about ten houses scattered in wheat and rapeseed fields. The vehicle is waiting for us here to take us to Hemis, whose monastery is considered the largest and most revered in Ladakh. Built in 1670 by Buddhists of the Drukpa lineage, it is home to over 500 monks and governs all Ladakhi monasteries. Above all, it celebrates Padmasambhava, the great Indian sage who introduced Buddhism to Himalayan India.
We return to our hotel in Leh and enjoy some free time to relax and explore the town. Anyone with energy still remaining can climb to the Shanti Stupa for magnificent views over the Indus valley and Stok massif.
Transfer to the airport for your return flight.
In India, tipping is a common practice and highly appreciated. The amount you tip depends on the level of service you feel you have received.
We recommend budgeting roughly USD50 per person per week for tips. The amounts given below are not exact and are only given as an indication.
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