This 12-day outdoor adventure will take you past stunning peaks and villages in India's Ladakh region. Start in Delhi, the country's bustling capital, then fly north to the city of Leh, where you'll visit palaces and monasteries around the area. From here, begin a guided trek from village to village in the Markha Valley, stopping to take in views of the surrounding mountains along the way. Reward yourself with a free day in Leh and some shopping in Delhi before heading home.


  • Visit three stunning monasteries and palaces around Leh
  • Trek through the scenic villages of Skiu, Markha, and Hankar
  • See Mount K2, the second-highest peak in the world behind Everest
  • Shop for souvenirs and handicrafts in Delhi's bustling markets

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Delhi, Free Time Delhi
Day 2 Fly to Leh, Afternoon Orientation Walk Leh
Day 3 Visit Leh's Monasteries & Palaces Leh
Day 4 Trek from Leh to Skiu Skiu
Day 5 Trek from Skiu to Markha Markha
Day 6 Trek from Markha to Hankar Hankar
Day 7 Trek from Hankar to Nimaling Nimaling
Day 8 Explore Nimaling Nimaling
Day 9 Trek from Nimaling to Chogdo, Drive to Leh Leh
Day 10 Free Day in Leh Leh
Day 11 Fly to Delhi, Shopping at Connaught Place Delhi
Day 12 Depart Delhi  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Delhi, Free Time

The India Gate in New Delhi
Explore the attractions in Delhi, like the India Gate
Welcome to India! A representative will meet you at the airport for a traditional swagat (welcome) and private transfer to your hotel in Delhi. After checking in, the representative will introduce the tour to you and hand over your tour documents. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city at your leisure.

Delhi is the historic capital of India—a vast and densely populated metropolitan area where ancient culture meets modern life. This city has seen the rise and fall of many empires, and each dynasty of kings has left behind monuments and memories to commemorate the grandeur of bygone days. Very few cities in the world offer such a diversity of architectural styles. The old city today stands as an exemplar of historic Indo-Islamic architecture. Some important sites in Delhi include the India Gate, Lotus Temple, and Humayun's Tomb

Day 2: Fly to Leh, Afternoon Orientation Walk

Leh Stok Palace
Take a guided walk around town and visit Leh Palace
After a delicious breakfast at your hotel, transfer to the airport in Delhi to board your flight to Leh. On the way, the plane will fly over the Himalayan Range, providing overhead views of enormous glaciers and striking peaks as you approach the fertile valley of Leh. The city has an altitude of 11,500 feet (3,500 m), so it's best to take it gently on the first day to give your body time to acclimate. Upon arrival at Leh, transfer to your hotel. 

Later in the afternoon, head off on a guided orientation walk. Leh offers abundant mountain views and was once a significant trading post at the junction of the historic silk route from China to India. Take some time to explore the city, beginning with Leh Palace. Bearing a passing resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, this nine-story dun-colored building took shape under the 17th-century king Sengge Namgyal. It has been unoccupied since the Ladakhi royals were stripped of power in 1846. Once you've seen the palace, take a pleasant short walk around Leh's bazaars.

Day 3: Visit Leh's Monasteries & Palaces

Visit Thiksey Monastery, a short drive from Leh
Your first stop is Thiksey Monastery, a short drive from Leh

Rise and shine! Today you'll take a guided tour of three significant gompas (monasteries) around Leh. The adventure starts with an early morning drive to Thiksey Monastery, where you'll experience the morning prayer of the Gelukpa order Buddhist sect. The monastery is perched atop a hill, and its red-and-white buildings can be seen from miles away. A newly-built temple there contains a beautiful two-story image of the Future Buddha. Following the prayer, return to your hotel for breakfast.

Continue your excursion with a visit to Matho, right across from Thiksey on the other side of the Indus River. This monastery, founded in the 16th century CE, is the only Tibetan monastery in the Sakya order. Then, drive down a road bordered with white-painted chortens, or stupas, for a visit to the Shey Palace erected in the 16th century CE. Afterward, return to Leh. 

Day 4: Trek from Leh to Skiu

Plan your trip to India
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Multi-colored prayer flags in Skiu
Look for multi-colored prayer flags in Skiu
In the morning, depart by car for the village of Chilling. Keep an eye out as you cross the bridge on the Indus River, and follow the Zanskar River for 2-3 hours. Meet your "pony man" and trekking guide on the other side of the river, who will accompany you from here. 

After sorting out the loads for the ponies, begin your first day's trek along a narrow trail on the right bank of the Zanskar Gorge to a point where the Markha River meets the central valley. Climb to cross a high spur, from where the mighty Zanskar Gorge disappears around a corner. A group of red-painted chortens on the far side of the river points the way to the route into Zanskar. At this point, turn southeast into the Markha Valley and continue until you reach the irrigated fields of the hamlets of Kaya and then Skiu, where you'll camp for the night after visiting Skiu Monastery

Day 5: Trek from Skiu to Markha

Enjoy a day of trekking as you make your way from Skiu to Markha
Enjoy the views along this easier trekking route from Skiu to Markha
Today's trekking route is a relatively long but easy walk of 5-6 hours as you make your way along the valley to Markha, a journey of about 13 miles (21 km). The overall ascent is less than 1,150 feet (350 m), and the terrain along the valley is not too demanding, providing plenty of opportunities to admire the magnificent scenery. The colors of Ladakh's barren mountains are truly spectacular, with pastel pinks, bold blues, and turquoise greens that change dramatically depending on the sun's position.

Follow the river all day, stopping to cross it a few times. Stop for lunch in Sara, and enjoy some welcome shade in a tea tent. After climbing up to a small pass, descend again to the river. Look for the medieval fort silhouetted on the hillside, which indicates that you've almost reached Markha. Take some time to explore this small village and its monastery before spending the night in a nearby homestay. 

Day 6: Trek from Markha to Hankar

Scenic mountain views around Hankar
Make your way to Hankar, the last important village in the Markha Valley
Today's trekking route will take about 4-5 hours. The trail reaches the Chacham Valley just beyond Markha, where you'll see the Umlung Gompa set on a cliff face far above you. Take some time to visit this monastery, which is the most important in the valley and is affiliated with Hemis village. Then, progress to Hankar, the last important village in the Markha Valley. You'll find more impressive fort ruins and a small gompa, gathering about 10 families here.

Day 7: Trek from Hankar to Nimaling

Views on the way to Nimaling
Look for vast expanses of green fields on the way to Nimaling
Although today's trek is rather lengthy, it offers a beautiful opportunity to enjoy where you are and make the most of the spectacular setting. About half a mile (1 km) from Hankar, you'll find a trail diverging into two sections and take a left. From here on out, you'll find many such forks in the road, so stick close to your guide during this part of the trek. After another two hours of walking, you'll find yourself at the Thachungtse campsite, with vast green fields and several teahouse tents.

Another hour of trekking will take you to a picturesque emerald-green pond, with the Kang Yatse mountain standing tall in the background. This is an ideal location to have your lunch. From the pond, continue along the trail until you reach the windy plateaus of Nimaling. Despite being perched at an astounding altitude, Nimaling is lush and green. You'll find sheep and mountain goats grazing idly here, though you may also witness snowfall depending on the season. Spend your night camping on the plateau, letting the breeze carry you into a peaceful slumber. 

Day 8: Explore Nimaling 

A yellow tent at Nimaling camp
Stay in the Nimaling area for another day and choose your own day trek
Today is a free day to explore your surroundings at your own pace. Some climbing options along the ridges opposite Nimaling Plateau take you through the lush green pastures. A challenging option is Kang Yatse, the highest peak in the Markha Valley at 21,000 feet (6,400 m). The 2-3 hour trek there will take you to base camp at 16,700 feet (5,100 m), with the last half of the path being a drop. This is an excellent opportunity to observe the panoramas of the mountainous landscape around you. 

Day 9: Trek from Nimaling to Chogdo, Drive to Leh

Trek the Kongmaru La Pass
Start the day with a scenic trek to Kongmaru La Pass
Begin your day with a short but steep climb to the Kongmaru La Pass. Here, you'll be greeted by the spellbinding beauty of the Karakoram Mountain Ranges and the majestic Mount K2—one of the highest peaks in the world, second only to Mount Everest. Take in the sight of prayer flags dancing in the chilly wind, mountains flanking the morning sun, and ranges stretching out forever. After enjoying the views, follow the trail to the river bed at ChuskirmoYouou can reach Chogdo in 30 minutes, where you'll meet your taxi and drive to Leh. 

Day 10: Free Day in Leh

Explore Leh on foot today
Save some energy to explore more of Leh on foot today
Relax at your hotel today, or enjoy some more trekking and sightseeing. One option is a full-day private group trek to Saboo. This moderate trek starts in the main bazaar of Leh, passing through its famous polo ground. The first leg of this spine-tingling journey is uphill, followed by an ascent of two small mountains. After crossing these mountains, you'll walk through a dry valley to reach Saboo village. Once you arrive, take in the legendary beauty of the Indus Valley and Stok Kangri Range. Return to Leh and enjoy some free time to walk around and explore the city a bit more. 

Day 11: Fly to Delhi, Shopping at Connaught Place

Go shopping in New Delhi's Connaught Place
Pick up authentic souvenirs at Connaught Place
After an early breakfast, check out of your hotel and transfer to the airport to board your flight to Delhi. Once you arrive, transfer to your hotel and head out for some shopping. Some prominent places to check out are Chandni Chowk, a traditional and historical site for shopping since the Mughal era; Paranthewali Gali, famous for its delicious parathas; Katra Neel, a well-known cloth bazaar where one can find Indian silk, muslin, cotton, and other types of fabric; Kinari Bazaar, specializing in zari work for the Indian bridal trousseau; and Dariba Kalan, known for gold and silver shopping. 

Be sure to visit Connaught Place, a popular shopping hub where you can check out Central Cottage Industries, famous for handicrafts produced in India, including precious silken carpets, brassware, and more. You can also check out Janpath Market, which includes four markets in one, to find handicrafts made of brass and wood, as well as souvenirs, clothing, and household items. There's a Tibetan section, a Gujarati section, a leading market, and a street market. 

Day 12: Depart Delhi

Safdarjung's Tomb in New Delhi, India
Until next time, Delhi!
It's time to say goodbye to India today! Enjoy one more leisurely breakfast at your hotel. At the appointed hour, transfer to the airport for your onward journey. Safe travels!

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Map of India's Markha Valley Trek - 12 Days
Map of India's Markha Valley Trek - 12 Days