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Zanskar Valley
zanskar valleyAbout 20 kms. South of Rangdum stands the Pazila watershed across which lies Zanskar, the most isolated of all the trans Himalayan Valleys. The Panzila Top (4401 m) is the picturesque tableland adorned with two small alpine lakes and surrounded by snow covered peaks. As the Zanskar road winds down the steep slopes of the watershed to the head of the Stod Valley, one of Zanskar's main tributary valleys, the majestic "Drang-Drung" glacier looms into full view. A long and winding river of ice and snow, the Drang-Drung" is perhaps the largest glacier in Ladakh, outside the Siachen formation. It is from the cliff-like snout of this extensive glacier that the Stod or Doda River, the main tributary of river Zanskar, rises.

Zanskar comprises a tri-armed valley system lying between the Great Himalayan Range and the Zanskar mountain; The three arms radiate star-like towards the west, north and south from a wide central expanse where the region's two principal drainage's meet to form the main Zanskar River. It is mainly along the course of this valley system that the region's 10,000 strong, mainly Buddhists population lives. Spread over an estimated geographical area of 5000 sq. kms. High rise, mountains and deep gorges surround Zanskar. The area remains inaccessible for nearly 8 months a year due to heavy snowfall resulting in closure of all the access passes, including the Penzi-la. To-day, Zanskar has the distinction of being the least interfered with microcosms of Ladakh, and one of the last few surviving cultural satellites of Tibet. Within the mountain ramparts of this lost Shangrila stand a number of ancient yet active monastic establishments. Some of these religious foundations have evolved around remote meditation caves believed to have been used by a succession of famous Buddhist saints for prolonged meditation in pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment.

The 240 km long Kargil-Padum road, of which the first 90 km stretch is paved, remains opened from around mid July to early November. In June, the summer is at its height in the region and the climate is ideal for trekking along the route free from vehicular traffic of any kind and when the countryside is freshly rejuvenated into life after months of frigid dormancy.


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Markha Valley
markha valleyThe secluded Markha Valley 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.

Tour trip starts in the fascinating capital of Leh, which developed as a trading centre, drawing merchants from Yarkand, Kashmir, Tibet and North India. During our 3 day stay, which is essential for proper acclimatisation, we explore its colourful 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 Stok, all of which provide an insight into the rich heritage of the region.
The circular rek itself starts from Stok, climbing steadily to cross the first of the passes, the 4848m Stok La. Following a rocky ridge, we keep the views for a while, then descend to the hidden Rumbak Valley. From the next pass, 4878m Ganda La, 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. 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 lammergeirs, 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 trek ends at Martselang, from where it is a short drive back to Leh.
Fitness & Experience: Though daily walking distances are not great, this trek is strenuous because of the altitude and the cumulative ascent and descent. A three day stay in Leh, prior to the trek, is included for essential acclimatisation. Some previous trekking experience is helpful.


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Places of Interest
Zanskar Valley » Markha Valley » Nubra Valley » Tsomoriri Valley » Pangong Lake » Suru Valley

Discover Ladakh
Introduction » Cultural Ladakh » Climbing Peaks » Ladakh Tribal » Ladakh Factfile » Monasteries » Festivals in Ladakh
Wildlife in Ladakh » River Rafting in Ladakh » Weather

Trekking in Ladakh
Ladakh Zanskar Trek » Glimpses of Little Tibet » Lamayuru-Alchi Trek » Multi Aventura Himalaya Ladakh Combinado » Ladakh Culture FIT Program » Ladakh-Markha Valley Trek
Sandakphu Singalila Ridge Trek » Spiti to Ladakh

Ladakh Mountain Biking Tour
A Ride through Little Tibet » The Great Trans- Himalayan Biking Tour » Cycling in the Shadow of the Kanchenjunga Peak

Jeep Safari Tours
Leh Jeep Safari » Leh - Pangong Lake Jeep Safari

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