I recently went on a five day trek with some friends to the Markha valley in Ladakh. We flew into Srinagar, and then drove down to Leh via Kargil, with an overnight halt at Kargil. The roads are awesome and it’s a lovely drive with some stunning landscapes along the way. We stopped at the Kargil War Memorial, Lamayuru Monastery, Alchi Monastery and the Pathar Sahib Gurudwara enroute and each of the places was a unique and interesting experience. We then spent a day relaxing in Leh to further acclimatize ourselves, during which we visited the Thiksey monastery for the early morning prayers, roamed around the market area soaking in the sights and sounds, and also sampled some local cuisine.
The next morning we set out on a short drive which took us past the place where the Indus and the Zanskar rivers meet. We then embarked on our trek along with our team and the ponies that were carrying our bags. The Markha valley is one of the most beautiful valleys in Ladakh- the trek takes us across high passes with stunning views of the snow-capped mountains, deep gorges, arid landscape which changes its color and texture every few minutes, and some small villages with their colorful fields.
The daily routine was to wake up at 6 am, and set out after breakfast by 8 am. We stopped for lunch at the local villages along the way, and would reach our next camping area by 5 pm. Dinner was usually around 7 pm and lights out two hours later. We had an excellent cook with us, who dished out an amazing variety of food including Chinese, Indian and Continental.
The last day was a tough one, where we ascended about 400 meters from our camp at Nimaling (4849m) up to the Kongmaru La pass (5287m). From the pass there are stunning views of the mountain ranges including the Kang Yatze peak. We then descended for about five hours, and then were picked up by our vehicles to get back to Leh.
There was no network for the five days and we hardly saw any people other than some villagers- this really helped me disconnect from the outside world and go through a digital detox. It offered me an opportunity to become more mindful of the present and also reflect within. I also ended up having great conversations with my fellow travelers-something that we don’t do as often in the ‘real world’.