Our trek in northern India from the Zanskar Valley to the Indus River with World Expeditions was for the most part well off the proverbial beaten path for all but the last three days. We ended our trek walking through the spectacular Markha Valley. Beauty here comes with a price; a lot more people and the tea-house culture. There’s nothing wrong with that but it requires an adjustment after a couple of truly remote weeks.
Our trip up the Markha Valley began after a long day that included crossing the Rubrang La at 5,020 metres followed by a long descent and walk up a river valley. We only had a few kilometres in the actual Markha Valley itself but what a glorious entrance it was.
Hankar Village to Nimaling
Over 6.5 hours with a nice long stop for lunch by the tea house we hiked from Hankar Village gradually at first and then more steeply to finally reach the windswept meadows used for grazing yaks in the summer in Nimaling. While the hiking on this section was never difficult, I for one was feeling fatigued from several weeks of hiking. This section was one of the more spectacular days on the hike, especially because you have 6,000 plus metre peaks in your view for long stretches.
Nimaling to Shang Sumdo
It was cold camping in Nimaling, elevation 4,800 metres (15,748 feet) but once the sun hit the plains in the morning, it warmed up almost instantly. From our campsite we could see our route up to the Kongmaru La at 5,150 metres (16,896 feet) and it looked innocuous enough. But when you’re trekking at altitudes of 5,000 metres are more it’s still slow going. It took me 90 minutes to reach the top, going at what felt like a snail’s pace. What a glorious pass to finish on with lots of sunshine and a real sense of camaraderie among the other hikers.
The descent was steep initially but with a backdrop of purple mountains I think most people were focused on the incredible beauty. It got even better the deeper you got into the gorge.
We stopped at a tea house – and sipped cold mango juice which was a total treat, about 30 minutes from the formal finish at Chogdo at 4,000 metres (13,123 feet). We’d descended 1,200 metres which in my normal life would leave me feeling sore for days but at the end of the trek didn’t faze any of us a bit. Our camp for the night was still another 90 minutes away via a dusty road so cars had been arranged which felt a bit like cheating but in the end it was a treat to be done.
The Zanskar to Indus traverse is one tough hike but looking back at the photos I’m still in awe of the landscapes we traveled through.
Other posts you might enjoy related to this trip (so far):
- 20 Photos that Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India
- What You’ll Want to do if You Have 24 Hours in Leh
- What a Day Looks Like on a Multi-Week Trekking Expedition