Markha Valley Winter Expedition
I have been a trekker for 10 long years. I have done treks like Rupin Pass, Valley of flowers trek, Chadar trek, Sangla Valley, Stok Kangri to name a few. I have been in Himalayas for a very long time now. I ready about the Markha Valley trek on Internet and then explored some more on the valley in ladakh. I really found it extremely beautiful.
I contacted Wanderers as one of my friends trekked with them in ladakh and so I got through to them. They had a batch going for Markha in late January so I decided to tag along and booked myself for Markha Valley trek.
We all met at Leh in hotel Zen. Extremely beautiful property I must say. Wanderers keep 2 days of acclimatization for any trek in ladakh. We were asked to relax completely on day 1 and continue to sip water. The meals and rooms were great at the hotel. The next day we were taken out for shopping some of the gear we needed and if someone needed anything else. We explored the leh maket and had another easy day. We had a briefing session in the evening and were explained how the terrain would be, how to pack the bags, what to carry and we met the extended team in the hotel.
Next morning, we drove in a scorpio to Chilling. Stopping for a few minutes at Nimmo confluence (Zanskar and Indus). Definitely a great sight. The roads were all white and snow covered. We reached chilling and a short trek got us to out our homestay. It was a warm cozy dormitory with a local heater in the center (bukhari). We had our dinner and called it a night. Our next stop was going to be Skiu (Skew) via Kaya.
The next morning, we had breakfast at ease and started our trek. We were to go across the river through a manual trolley to continue. The trolley could only take 2 people at one time. It was scary for sure but at the same time a lot of fun.
We continued our way through a small pass to the village called Skiu (also spelled as Skew) at some places. After having tea at Kaya, we continued. Kaya is a small village right near Skiu. May be about 30-40 minutes of walk to cover from Kaya to Skiu (Skew). Once there we had 2 large rooms and soup was served in the evening. Nights as usual are simply rice and veggies or lentils. After a story telling session, we called it a day.
Following day, we started around 9. We were to cover quite a bit of distance to reach our next destination called Sara. We had lunch on the way as we made our way up. The village (like every other village in ladakh region) welcomes you with prayer flags at quite a distance. That is a sign that we are almost there as the territory is marked. In Sara, there were about 6-7 houses in total. And the village had only one serving tea house managed by an old lady. The old lady supported by a couple of more ladies manages the house, which has about 2-3 rooms for trekkers to stay. The village (to say the least) is absolutely magical. Covered with snow, it was a view to remember. In the evening, the lady came in to socialize and sang local ladakhi song to which one of our trek leads started dancing with her. We had dinner and got into our sleeping bags. It takes time in -20/- 25 degrees to warm up your sleeping bags as well.
Following day, after a little briefing session, we started to trek towards Markha village. While the rest of the trek was fairly flat, one has to negotiate a steep ascend to enter Markha village. Once done, we were in Markha. It did not take long from Sara to Markha. We were there in Markha home stay around lunch time. It was again a big dormitory and we all had a great time in the evening. We went to explore the Markha monastery as well in the morning. Which was really old and amazingly beautiful. Lest I forget, the homestay in Markha also has a phone facility to make calls.
The following morning, we started retracing our steps but with continues snow fall every night, the view is completely different than our way up. Markha Valley trek in winters is definitely a must do. There is no doubt that it will give a feel of “heaven on earth” and is also a great trek to experience local ladakhi culture.