Unlike other Indian treks that cruise you through dense forests or arid lands, the Markha Valley trek takes you through majestic landscapes that dot along foamy rivers, green pasture lands, picturesque valleys, flourishing national parks, and expansive dry deserts. While on the trek, you’ll spot some of the rarest species dwelling in the Indian subcontinent including the snow leopards; go through the hardship of crossing dangerous stretches of the waist-deep Markha River; find peace along the confluence of Indus and Zinchen Rivers; and thrill as you make your way up to the a height of 17,000 feet at Kongmaru La Pass.
Traversing through the majestic natural beauty of Markha Valley, you’ll also stop by some tiny mountain hamlets, which evidently have their own charm and feel. The trek further takes you through the valley’s scenic landscapes; makes you pass by river banks; meet localities; delve into some local delicacies; visit the region’s religious shrines at Lhatos; and confront the Mani walls.
Mani walls are gorgeous stone structures built by complaining intricately carved stone tablets which carry the inscriptions of ‘Om Mani Padme Hum,’ which typically means ‘Hail to the jewel in the lotus.’ Move further and high through the villages of Hangskar and Umlung, which seem like an eagle’s nest resting on one of the tallest trees of the jungle. While these villages give away a homely feeling and their monasteries are nearly 1000 years old and they still seem to keep pace with the contemporary world. When here, don’t miss on trying their special butter tea. It’s a reward in its own self. Other villages you’ll pass by include Spituk, Siku, and Shingo among others.
While the trek is a charm in itself, a visit to the Hemis National Park makes it worth the efforts. Most known for housing the highest number of snow leopards in any protected area across the globe, the Hemis National Park with its expansive population of some of the rarest wildlife species is indeed the best parts of the trek. Eurasian brown bears, Tibetan wolves, mountain weasel, the Himalayan mice, red foxes, and Asiatic ibexes – they all dwell here. The park is also a paradise for the bird watchers. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll spot the Lammergeier vulture, Fire-fronted serin, Tibetan snowfinch and the fork-tailed swift in their natural habitat.
And, last but not the least, living in parachute tents all through the trek. Indeed the region’s villages have ample number of homestays to get comfy in, the adventure lies in camping offside and living in tents. These parachute tents are massive in size and can accommodate nearly 6-8 people at a time. Fun much? Oh, you ought to experience it to know how much!