Kang Yartse Expedition – 11 days
Day 1: Spituk to Zingchen (4-5 hrs)
Start your adventure early in Leh, where a jeep will take you to Spituk. From there, we'll switch to horses that will carry our gear while we hike. The trek begins on a bumpy jeep road that leads to a remote and arid area. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen. After about 3 hours of walking, we'll arrive at the lush Zingchen Valley, where the Rumbak River meets the powerful Indus River. Our campsite for the night is located in the charming village of Zingchen, which means "broad field" in the local language. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing or taking a dip in the brook.
Day 2: Zingchen to Ganda La Base (3-4 hrs)
Today, we'll enter the Harmis National Park, where you might spot some of Ladakh's unique wildlife, such as the Ladakhi Urial (a type of wild goat), red fox, marmot, dhole (wild dog), mountain hare, leopard, lynx, Tibetan wolf, or blue sheep. After paying the entrance fee, we'll climb up a beautiful ravine that offers breathtaking views of the Stok Range. We'll stop at a teahouse run by a local woman before continuing to Rumbak and passing through Yurutse village on our way to Ganda La Base (4545 meters). From our campsite, you can enjoy a stunning view of Stok Kangri and the entire Stok Range.
Day 3: Ganda La Base to Skiu via Gandala (6-7 hrs)
After a satisfying breakfast, we'll embark on a 2-hour climb to Ganda La Pass (4900 meters), where you can catch a glimpse of the majestic Zanskar and Stok Ranges. The pass is marked by chortens (Buddhist shrines) and prayer flags, and you might see blue sheep and marmots roaming the hills. After a short break, we'll continue our 1-hour descent to Shingo and stop for lunch. The rest of the day will be spent trekking through a stunning gorge before arriving at our campsite in Skiu (3300 meters), a peaceful village that boasts a historic monastery and the ruins of an old fortress (once a royal rest stop on the way to Srinagar).
Day 04. Skiu – Markha (7-8 hours)
On this day, we'll follow the enchanting Markha River through a relatively flat trail. The path crosses the river at various points and leads us through winter settlements, where we can see Lhatos (religious shrines for local deities) and Mani walls (stones inscribed with Buddhist prayers).
During the peak season, many tented teahouses will welcome travelers, offering refreshments. After crossing the river for the final time, we'll arrive at Markha, the main village in the valley. It has around 20 houses, a rundown monastery, and a dilapidated fort.
We'll have plenty of time to explore the village and soak in the local culture. In the evening, we'll set up camp for the night, surrounded by the picturesque beauty of the valley.
Day 05. Markha – Thachungtse (5-6 hours)
Today, we'll continue our trek through the Markha Valley. The trail takes us past old stone-mills, a decaying bastion, and the auspicious Techa monastery, perched on a towering cliff above Markha. We'll take a break here if we have the energy to spare.
The path crosses the river several times before reaching the last settlements in the valley. After leaving the village of Umlung behind, we'll get our first glimpse of Kang Yatse (6400m), which will remain visible until we cross Kongmaru La.
We'll stop for lunch in the village of Hangkar, the last settlement in the valley, before moving on to the beautiful green meadow of Thachungtse. We'll set up camp here for the night, surrounded by the stunning beauty of the landscape.
Day 06. Thachungtse – Nimaling (4 hours)
Today, we'll head towards the gorgeous upland of Nimaling. It's a beautiful pasture land where the people of the Markha Valley bring their herds to graze during the summer months.
At an elevation of 4700 meters, Nimaling is the highest camp on the trek, offering breathtaking views of Kang Yatse on the right, the Zangskar Range, and the Markha Valley below.
We'll take our time to explore the area and enjoy the serene beauty of the surroundings. In the evening, we'll set up camp and spend the night under the stars.
Day 07. Nimaling to Base camp Kang Yatse
Today, we will embark on a balanced ascent up to the Base Camp (5200 meters) of the stunning Kang Yatse, the crowning jewel of the Markha Valley trek.
Day 08. Base camp to High camp (4 hours)
Take a well-deserved break this morning to recover from the previous days' trekking, and then gear up for the most critical day of the journey.
A steep 2-hour climb awaits us to reach the High Camp (5500 m), and even though the distance is relatively short, the altitude makes it quite demanding.
Day 09. High camp – Summit – Nimaling (9-10 hours)
The final push begins at 2 am and will be a physical and mental test of endurance.
However, once we reach the pinnacle of the mountain (6200 meters), the breathtaking views of Tibet and the Zanskar and Karakoram ranges will make all the hard work worthwhile.
Spend an hour reveling in the glory of standing on top of the world before descending to Nimaling, where we can relax and relive every moment of the incredible journey.
Day 10. Nimaling to Shangsumdo via Kongmarula 5200m (7 hours)
As we begin our descent from Nimaling, we will pass by the mighty Kongmaru La, which is the highest pass we'll cross during our hike.
As we trek downwards, we'll be surrounded by stunning peaks and picturesque gorge and basins, making for a truly breathtaking experience.
While the descent can be steep at times, the land becomes progressively level as we make our way into the Shang Gorge, which boasts of otherworldly rock formations.
We'll encounter a river passage that blocks our way, but we'll soon arrive at the sour-spring of Chuskurmo, which has been used in traditional medicine by Amchi doctors for centuries.
After taking a break and admiring the natural beauty around us, we'll pass by a couple of rural communities before finally reaching Shang Sumdo, where we will spend our last night together on this epic journey.
Day 11. Shangsumdo to Leh via Martselang & Hemis (2 hours trek, 1 hour drive)
As we bask in the glory of a successful trek, we'll take a leisurely two-hour walk along a jeep road towards Martselang, where a jeep will be waiting to pick us up.
On our way back to Leh, we can make a pit stop at some of Ladakh's majestic monasteries, including the famous Hemis, Shey, and Thikse, which are known for their stunning architecture and rich cultural significance.