Indian Himalayas – Markha Valley Trek in Ladakh – Part 6

Final Preparations Before Starting out on the Trek

Part 1 – Intro & route variations
Part 2 – When to trek & difficulty
Part 3 – Homestays & water
Part 4 – Budgeting & guidebooks
Part 5 – Exploring Leh
Part 6 – Final preparations & kitlist
Part 7 – Route description

India is world famous for its bureaucracy. Yet to hike the Markha valley trek all you have to do is… turn up. You don’t need to fill in a single form or even pay park fees. You’ll see a few boards up along the first day of the route declaring that you need to get a permit or else be fined, but these are left over relics of a permit policy long gone.

Getting to the trail-head is also straightforward. You just take a short ride in a taxi. If you want to start at the beginning of the original route (before they built the road to Zingchan), ask to be dropped at Spituk Bridge. This will cost you around 500Rs. If you want to skip this first day (advisably, I think), ask to be dropped directly at Zingchan. The initial asking price quoted to us was 1,600Rs, but look unenthusiastic about it and you can knock the price down pretty fast.

The boundary to Hemis national park, Ladakh.

A sign welcoming you and telling you about fines that no longer exist.

Kitlist

In season: i.e. tent shop open at Nyimaling for you to hire a tent and buy some food for that one night without a village.

The main thing to keep in mind when packing clothes for this trip is dealing with the varying temperatures. It’s hot during the day with some parts feeling as if you’re walking in a desert, but at night the temperature can drop below 0 with Nyimaling notorious for being a freezer camp. As always, layers are the key.

  • Walking trousers x1
  • Polyester T-shirts x2
  • Fleece layer x1
  • Down jacket x1 (for those cold nights)
  • Lightweight waterproof coat x1 (it didn’t rain when I was there, but better safe than sorry)
  • Underwear (use your own judgement on the number of pairs necessary)
  • Wool hiking socks x2
  • Liner socks x2
  • Hiking boots (thoroughly worn in so your feet stay happy)
  • Sun hat (for the day)
  • Wooly hat (for the evening)
  • Scarf (to keep out the dust and the cold from your face)
  • Sunblock (you burn easier at higher altitudes)
  • Washkit (toothbrush, mini-toothpaste, mini-deoderant and mini-shampoo)
  • First aid kit (including plasters, bandage, wound cream, paracetamol, imodium, pills against vomiting, sachets of dioralyte)
  • Toilet roll/hand sanitizer
  • Quick dry towel
  • Head torch
  • Guidebook
  • Compass
  • Water purification tablets x 2
  • 1 litre water bottle x 2
  • Survival bag (inexpensive plastic bag that you can sleep in if things go badly wrong)
  • A bunch of snacks
  • Optional: pair of comfortable shoes to wear at camp (although in the home-stays you can wander about in socks)
  • Optional: Map (as stated above, paths are so clear you can get by with a guidebook)
  • Optional: gloves (I was never so cold that I used them)
  • Optional: Swiss army knife

Additional kit out of Season:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mat
  • Cooking equipment (Lightweight gas cooker, screw on gas cannister, cooking pot, plate, fork)
  • 2 days rations of dehydrated meals

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