Markha Valley

Ladakh: The Markha Valley Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Destinations:
India
Programmes:
Walking & Trekking
Trip Code:
TGR
Activity Rating - Challenging
Challenging

You have a good level of fitness and are looking for a physically challenging holiday.  Previous experience is essential for activity based trips.

15 Days Flight Inclusive
14 Days Land only
Ages: 18+

Trip Overview

Ladakh remains one of the best places to experience the unique culture of the High Himalaya. As our trek follows the Markha River, we discover a landscape where lofty peaks of the Stok, Matho and Zanskar Ranges tower above picturesque Ladakhi villages and verdant valleys below. From the highest pass, the Gongmaru La (5200m), we enjoy incredible views extending as far as Tibet, before descending to Hemis, Ladakh’s largest and most famous monastery.

6 - 20 August departure (flight inclusive) led by Valerie Parkinson

At a Glance

  • 6 nights hotels, all en suite, 7 nights full-service camping
  • 7 days point-to-point walking
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader and staff. Min age 18 yrs
  • Altitude maximum 5200m, average 3900m
  • Travel by jeep, on foot and 2 internal flights
  • Full porterage throughout the trek

Trip Highlights

  • Visit remote villages on a classic Himalayan trek
  • Explore colourful Buddhist monasteries in the Indus Valley
  • Discover multi-coloured rock formations of the Ladakh Range
  • Cross wild, barren mountain passes and trek through spectacular gorges
  • Visit Hankar and Skiu Women's Eco-cafe's - a community project for which Exodus won the 'Giving Back' Adventure Travel Award in 2017 
  • Enjoy a sensational flight over the Himalaya
  • 6 - 20 August 2022 led by Valerie Parkinson

Is This Trip for You?

This is a reasonably strenuous trek involving seven days point-to-point walking at quite high altitudes; maximum altitude 5,286m, average 3,900m. As such is has been graded as ‘challenging’ (activity level 5). Most days involve 4-6 hours walking, although there are a few longer days, and there are two passes over 4,900m.

Most of the trails are well made on sandy paths. There are a few river crossings. Daytime temperatures can be very hot, especially in the middle of the day as at these altitudes the sun is very strong. Nights will be cooler and cold at Nimaling.

This trek is for those who are willing to put in the necessary fitness preparation and like a good walk for around 6 hours a day. This is a fully supported camping trek with full porterage (mules and ponies) throughout; you need only carry your day pack. You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: https://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

The transfer journeys at the start and end of the trek are both very short (less than an hour’s drive).

As this trip spends considerable time at altitude, we ask you to refer to the altitude warning within the Trip Notes. We spend 3 days in Leh (3500m) before the trek to allow you to acclimatise before starting the trek.

Walking distances and hours are given as approximates only. Timings stated include rest and photo stops but not a longer lunch break and will vary depending on the pace of your group.

Why Trek with Exodus?

• Over 30 years’ experience of organising treks in Ladakh.
• 'Ask an expert' - talk to Exodus office staff who have done the treks themselves.
• Experienced English-speaking local leaders who are qualified in first aid and trained in recognising and dealing with altitude sickness.
• All staff (leaders, guides and porters) are fully insured and paid a fair wage.
• Carefully planned ascent rates and itineraries with built-in acclimatisation and contingency days.
• Staff carry oxygen and first aid kit.
• Self-assessment AMS cards used to monitor every client at altitude.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

This trip will be led by an experienced local English speaking leader. The leader will be supported by local guides, cook crew and pony men and as many helpers as the group size dictates. All Exodus leaders are highly experienced and as well as Exodus leader training courses they are all trained in wilderness first aid.

The 7 August 2022 departure (land only start date) will be led by Valerie Parkinson. Valerie has been leading treks and climbs in Ladakh and the rest of the Himalaya for the last 35 years. Her experience in this area is second to none and she has led the trek many times. Places on Valerie’s treks book up quickly, so we advise booking early if you would like to trek with her.

Adult min age:
18
Min group size:
4
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

TGR Trip Map

Land Only

Start City:
Delhi
End City:
Delhi

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Delhi.

    The tour starts in Delhi today. The group flights usually arrive in the morning. There will be a welcome briefing but otherwise, today is free to relax and recover from the flight or for individual exploration of Delhi. Rooms in the hotel are usually available after mid day. 
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    Fly to Leh (3500m); rest of the day free.

    A very early start today for the flight to Leh. We often have to leave the hotel at around 2 am and drive to the airport for the very early morning but highly spectacular flight over the Himalaya to Leh. If the weather is good and the flight goes on time we should be in Leh early. The rest of the day is free to relax and acclimatise to the altitude (3,500m). In the morning we rest and catch up on some sleep and in the afternoon there will be a gentle orientation walk of Leh and its bazaars.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Exploring in and around Leh, visiting the town, palace and monasteries at Shey and Thikse.

    Today there is a sightseeing tour to two of the major gompas in the area. We first drive to Shey, a former Royal Palace of the Ladakh kings. Inside is a small temple containing a 350 year old copper and gold statue of the Buddha. From Shey we drive (or we can walk across the fields) to Tikse, where we visit the monastery - perched on top of a hill - its red and white buildings can be seen for miles. A recently built temple contains a magnificent image of the Future Buddha. We return to Leh and the rest of the afternoon is free to explore.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Acclimatisation walk in Leh Valley; optional jeep drive to the Khardung La (which at 5602m, is the highest motorable road in the world).

    Today we will have an acclimatisation walk round the Leh Valley. Set above Leh on the Namgyal Hill, are the ruins of the Old Royal Palace. From here a winding path takes us to Tsemo Monastery, from where we are rewarded for our efforts by magnificent views of the whole of Leh and its surrounding villages. Descending round the back of the palace we walk via Sankar to the recently built Japanese Peace Pagoda. This huge stupa overlooks Leh and we have stunning views of the town and the Stok range of mountains across the valley. (There is the chance today to make an optional jeep safari to the Khardung Pass; at 5,602m, one of the highest motorable roads in the world.The journey to the top of the pass and back takes roughly 4/5 hours in total and can be booked and paid for locally. Your leader will have details. (If you do the jeep safari this will be in the morning and you can do a walk in the afternoon).
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Short drive to Jinchen; trek to Rumbak.

    By now we should be well acclimatised, and we take a short drive from Leh to Jinchen. We drive past Spituk, the site of the first Gelugpa Monastery in Ladakh. There should be time to visit the monastery with its commanding views over the Indus Valley. From here a new road takes us across the Indus towards Jinchen. We will drive as far as the road conditions allow and to where our ponies will be waiting. After they are loaded up we start our trek into the Jinchen Gorge at the foot of the Stok Mountains. The trail is straightforward as we follow the Jinchen Nala upstream. The valley closes in around us and spectacular rock formations tower above us. An ever-changing panorama of fantastic coloured mountains surrounds us as we ascend the valley. We may have to cross the river as the stream forces the path closer to the side of the valley. Suddenly the valley widens and reveals the snow-topped peaks of the Stok mountains. Prayer flags on a wide pasture mark the junction with the trail leading to Rumbak village. Tonight's camp is below Rumbak village with stunning views all around - looking left towards Rumbak a fantastic multi-coloured toothy skyline ridge appears in the distance. We can visit the village this afternoon and maybe sample the local delicacy, salty yak buttered tea, in one of the many home stays.

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,880m)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 6 km / 4 miles
    Activity (hours):
    4-5
  • Day 6

    Pass Yurutse village to reach the base of the Ganda La.

    A short day today for acclimatisation. We head up the main valley past a watermill and to a bridge, which we cross. The trail ascends the valley gradually and when the valley splits we take the right-hand fork up past the one house village of Yurutse. Leaving the fields behind we ascend towards the Ganda La and camp tonight by a small stream below the pass. In the afternoon there will be an acclimatisation walk on the hills around camp.

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 4,539m)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 6 km / 4 miles
    Activity (hours):
    4
  • Day 7

    Cross the Ganda La (4970m) to Skiu in the Markha Valley.

    A long day today as we cross our first pass. The trail is clear as it zigzags towards the pass. As we climb the views become more and more spectacular. Behind us, Stok Kangri dominates the skyline. Finally, we reach the top of the Ganda La (4,970m) decked with colourful prayer flags and the views are worth all the effort. Ahead is the Zanskar Range and behind are the Stok Mountains. Far below in the valley are the fields of Shingo. As we descend keep an eye open for marmots and blue sheep, both of which seem to thrive in these desolate, high altitude spots. The trail to Shingo is easy and in the main season, there is usually a tea tent here, which may sell cold drinks. From Shingo, the trail takes us through a spectacular gorge with beautifully coloured and eroded rocks. We continue down the gorge all the way to the small hamlet of Skiu. As we pass through Skiu we can stop and have a look at a Women’s Eco Café that Exodus helped renovate as part of our Himalayan Community Support. We camp either in Skiu itself or about 20 minutes beyond the village by the river.

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,360m)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 17 km / 10.5 miles
    Activity (hours):
    8-9
  • Day 8

    Follow the river to Markha (3750m).

    A fairly long, but easier walk today, as we trek along the valley to Markha. The terrain along the valley is not demanding so there are plenty of opportunities to admire the magnificent scenery. The colours of the barren mountains of Ladakh are truly spectacular, pastel pinks, blues and greens shine in the brilliant sunshine and change colour dramatically as the sun rises and sets.

    We follow the river all day today and will have to cross the river a few times and although bridges have been built in some places there will be some river crossings today. We will have lunch in Sara, where there is usually some welcome shade in a tea tent. Beyond the settlement of Chalak, there is an impressive line of chortens and a huge mound of goat horns, which are placed on the chortens to ward off any evil spirits trying to enter the valley. Climbing up to a small col we descend again to the river and a mediaeval fort silhouetted on the hillside tells us that we have almost reached Markha. Just before Markha, we will need to don our river crossing sandals for at least 2 river crossings.

    Markha is only a small village and there will be time to explore the small monastery in the afternoon. Our camp will be on grazing flats near the village.

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,750m)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 20 km / 12.5 miles
    Activity (hours):
    8
  • Day 9

    Trek to Thachungste, visiting Tache Gompa perched above us en route.

    Just beyond Markha, the trail meets the Chacham Valley. We will have one or two river crossings this morning. Just after the river crossings is Tache gompa, set way above us on the cliff face. There is time to visit the monastery, which is the most important in the valley and is affiliated to Hemis. It is a steep 10-minute climb up to the small temple but the stunning views from the top are well worth the effort. Continuing up the valley we walk through Umlung village to Hankar where there are more impressive fort ruins and a small gompa. We have lunch in Hankar at the Eco Cafe that Exodus has helped set up and support as part of our Himalayan Community Support Projects. From Hankar the trail turns off from the main valley, climbs up a small side valley past the ruins of Hankar Fort before dropping down to Upper Hankar. Climbing more we now follow the Nimaling stream to Thachungtse where we camp. We may be lucky and see Blue Sheep (a type of wild goat) high up on the grazing areas above the campsite.

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 4,250m)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 15 km / 9 miles
    Activity (hours):
    7
  • Day 10

    Climb to the high plateau at Nimaling.

    A short but quite tough walk today to Nimaling. The trail climbs steeply to a plateau where the valley opens out. Ahead are spectacular views of Kang Yangtse, at 6,400m, the highest peak in the valley. In this area, there is no permanent habitation but during the summer months, the shepherds bring their flocks of sheep, goats and dzos (cow-yak cross breeds) to graze on the high altitude pasture. The shepherds stay in stone shelters close to the grazing area for the whole summer and we can often buy yoghurt or local cheese from them. In the evenings, the animals are brought down from the hills and it is quite usual to have hundreds of them wandering through the campsite. Look after your edibles! We should get to Nimaling by lunchtime and in the afternoon, there is an optional walk up behind camp towards Kang Yangtse. This is well worth doing and highly recommended for the impressive close-up views of Kang Yangste. 

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 4,854m)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 7 km / 4 miles
    Activity (hours):
    4-5
  • Day 11

    Cross the Gongmaru La (5286m) with views of the Ladakh Range.

    A long day as we cross our second, and highest, pass of the trek. Our trail begins today by climbing to the Gongmaru La. It is a fairly long, steep ascent zigzagging to the top of the pass at 5,286m, but the views from the top are worth the effort. Looking back we see Kang Yangtse, Dzo Jongo East and West and Regoni Malari. Ahead there are views of the Stok Range and down to the Indus valley. The descent is steep at first and we then enter a spectacular gorge and descend more gradually with many small river crossings. High up on the barren cliffs we may spot the elusive Blue Sheep which inhabit this area. Passing through Chuskurmo we continue our long descent crossing the river several times to the village of Chokodo. Today is a tough one due to crossing the high pass and the long descent.

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,980m)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 18 km / 11 miles
    Activity (hours):
    8-10
  • Day 12

    Finish the trek near Hemis; visit the monastery and drive to Leh.

    This morning we drive to Hemis Monastery though very occasionally the road gets blocked and our transport cannot make it so we will then need to walk down the jeep track to Hemis.  Hemis was once the largest and richest of all the Ladakhi monasteries. A wander round the dimly lit temples containing grotesque yet beautiful masks and statues will take us back hundreds of years in time. We then drive back to Leh and the comforts of a hot shower at our hotel. We should get to Leh for lunch and the rest of the day is free for last minute sightseeing or shopping in the bazaars.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Fly to Delhi.

    We fly from Leh to Delhi. The rest of the day is free for individual sightseeing in Delhi.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 14

    End Delhi.

    The tour ends after breakfast today. 



    Meals included:
    Breakfast
Altitude charts
TGR Altitude Chart

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.

Please note: it is possible that the order of the itinerary listed above will be changed to ensure the best possible conditions for each activity during the trip. All listed activities and services will be included. Your leader will inform you of any changes locally after assessing conditions.

Extend Your Trip

Golden Triangle extension

A visit to the incredible Taj Mahal and other great Moghul cities close to Delhi is an excellent way to begin or end a visit to Northern India. The five-day Golden Triangle extension may be booked before or after your main itinerary or both options might be available depending on the trip start and end location. The Taj Mahal in Agra was built by the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631, and is one of the most beautiful sights on earth. Close by is the imposing Red Fort of Akbar with its beautiful courtyards and palaces and let's not forget the deserted royal city of Fatehpur Sikri. The extension also visits the Pink City of Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan, which is one of the most attractive and colourful cities in India. The detailed itinerary and if pre or post tour is available can be found here

Accommodation

Hotels & Camping

Campsite at the base of the Ganda La, Ladakh

In Delhi, we use a comfortable hotel (usually the Hotel Jaypee Siddharth), which has air-conditioned rooms, all en suite. In Leh we stay in a simple hotel but all rooms have en suite facilities. There is intermittent Wi-Fi available in Leh, however, there is no mobile coverage for international phones in Ladakh. 

The trek itself is on a full-service camping basis, meaning that our camp staff will erect and dismantle the tents for you, cook, and do all of the camp chores for you. You need only carry your day pack. Most of the camping on this trek is wild camping. We stay in two-person tents which have enough room inside for your kitbags. We also have a dining tent complete with table and folding chairs, and at least one toilet tent (usually two) for use during the evenings. No running water is available whilst camping. You will be camping close to a river or stream and the camp staff will provide bowls of warm water (to wash with) whilst trekking.

Single rooms and tents can be requested for a supplement (subject to availability). Please enquire at the time of booking.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £400.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners are included.

All meals except for main meals in Delhi and Leh are included; please allow about GBP70 (approx. USD115) for these.

Whilst camping, the staff will bring a hot drink (usually tea) to your tent each morning. When you reach camp in the afternoon tea and biscuits will be served. At breakfast, dinner and in the afternoons, there is a choice of hot drinks. Breakfasts typically include cereal, toast and jam, eggs and porridge. Lunch on trek is usually served as a picnic en route (except on shorter days when it is in camp). Lunch and dinner typically include soup to start, followed by a variety of hot dishes (both local and western) such as potatoes/chips, vegetables, curry, pasta, rice, dhal and paneer (cottage cheese). At dinner time a dessert such as tinned fruit and custard, fritters or cake is also be served. 

Please note that although some meals will include meat, it is not as readily available whilst camping.

Drinking Water

Staying hydrated is important when undertaking any physical activity but particularly so at altitude where it is generally recommended to drink at least 3-4 litres per person per day.

We strongly encourage you not to buy bottled water as this contributes to the growing problem of plastic pollution in Ladakh. In Leh there is a shop called Dzomsa which sells safe drinking water. Your leader will show you where this is on your first day in Leh.

During the trek the cooks will collect and boil drinking water from the mountain streams and fill up your water bottles for you, but you may need to collect water during the day and may wish to use your own water purification treatment as well.

We also suggest that you may like to bring a reusable bottle with a wide opening (Nalgene or similar) with you and use a SteriPEN to treat any non-boiled water. A SteriPEN is a handheld UV water purifier – small, lightweight and battery powered so easy to pack for a trek. It’s quick to use, far more effective than purification tablets, and the water is ready immediately. It’s fine to use a SteriPEN on non-boiled water so long as it isn’t cloudy or full of sediment (which is uncommon in these regions).

SteriPENs are widely stocked on Amazon, outdoor shops and other online retailers; look for the latest models but avoid USB charging ones. Using a SteriPEN means you won’t leave behind a single plastic bottle – and you can keep it for future trips.

Transportation

Depending on the time of day, for transfers in Delhi we use either taxis or private buses (during busy times such as morning rush hour taxis are preferable to negotiate the busy narrow streets). In and around Leh and for the drive to Jinchen and from Sumdo we use a private minibus, jeeps or taxis. For the flights to and from Leh we use one of the airlines operating within India.

Weather & Seasonality

When to go

Generally the weather is good in Ladakh during the summer time, with warm to very hot sunny days (up to 30degC/35degC) with cooler nights depending on the altitude (it can reach freezing at Nimaling in September). There is, however, the possibility of rain, and you should be prepared for this. The sun is very strong at these altitudes and some of the days on trek can be extremely hot.

Weather Information

The above weather chart for Leh shows average temperatures only - it does not reflect extremes of heat and cold. Please refer to the paragraph below for further details of the temperature range. Generally the weather is good in Ladakh during the summer time, with warm to very hot sunny days (up to 30ºC/35ºC+) with cooler nights depending on the altitude (it can reach freezing at Nimaling in September). There is, however, the possibility of rain, and you should be prepared for this. The sun is very strong at these altitudes and some of the days on trek can be extremely hot.

Ladakh, though technically part of the Tibetan plateau and classified as a high altitude desert, can and does occasionally experience the effects of the Indian monsoon. Although the departures are timed to coincide when the weather is normally good, you should remember that in any mountain area the weather is never wholly predictable and you should be prepared and equipped to deal with any differences in weather beyond the conditions described above.

Delhi in the summer it is very hot and humid.

Weather Charts

Leh

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 15 days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Virgin Atlantic (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Internal flights during the trip are with a local airline.

Travelling land only: 14 days starting and ending in Delhi

Your trip normally starts at our hotel in Delhi in the morning of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Leh Flight Delays

Leh Airport can sometimes experience adverse weather conditions and fog which can occasionally cause flights to be delayed or cancelled. If booking your own flights we advise you to book your international flight home from Delhi departing no sooner than mid‐ afternoon/evening on the last day of the itinerary. Please also be aware that should you miss your international flight as a result of delays from Leh, your insurance may not cover you for any additional expenses incurred.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure. The usual, standard check-in baggage weight allowance is 20kg.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Free Transfers

Exodus offers FREE airport arrival and departure transfers on any flight for this trip, for both Land Only and Flight Inclusive clients. Unless specified otherwise, the transfer will be to the Exodus start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel, and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers may be shared with other Exodus customers on the same flight, or on a flight with similar arrival times. All those taking advantage of the free airport transfers must provide full flight details for both arrival and departure in advance. 

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

The cost of a taxi is likely to be about £10 (approx. US$15) should you decide to make your way independently.

Location start:
Delhi
Location end:
Delhi

What to Take

Essential Equipment

You will be restricted to 12 kgs of luggage whilst on trek for porterage. Please also see the 'internal flights weight limit' section below.

3/4-season sleeping bag (liner optional)
Sleeping mattress/Thermarest
3-season jacket
Walking boots - lightweight and waterproof with ankle support and worn in.
Waterproof jacket and trousers
Trainers/sandals for the evening (and river crossings)
Warm hat, Warm gloves
Several pairs of walking socks (not too thick as it can be very hot in Ladakh in summer)
A thermal layer
Mid layer (fleece)
T-shirts/shirts/base layers
Lightweight trousers
Shorts (or skirt for women)
Sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve with sun protection
Daypack (at least 25 litres)
Head torch
Water Bottles (minimum 2 litres)
Plastic bags (bin liners) to line daypack and for packing clothing in the kitbag
Toilet paper
Small personal first aid kit

Please note that many Indians are still traditional in the way they dress. Out of respect for the country, we ask you to dress conservatively – no sleeveless tops or tight leggings. Although shorts are acceptable on trek they should be modest and reach to just above the knee and for women, a skirt or trousers are preferable (shorts are not acceptable in the monasteries).

We believe in reducing our negative environmental impacts wherever possible, this goes for when you need to spend a penny in the great outdoors! If no facilities are available there may come a time when you need to go to the loo behind a tree/bush/rock. To avoid leaving toilet paper behind we recommend taking biodegradable dog poo/sandwich bags with you. Once you have done your business you can pop the used toilet roll in here and take it off the mountain or trail at the end of the day and dispose of it when there are appropriate facilities available.

Donations to Ranbirpura Primary School

Exodus supports underprivileged children at Ranbirpura Primary School, near Tikse in Ladakh. Although the basic education is looked after by the government, some of the facilities are limited. If you have any extra room in your luggage the school and the children would appreciate any of the following items: children’s books for 5-15 year olds, notebooks, pens, crayons, painting books, school bags, girls and boys socks or underwear, warm hats and gloves, toothpaste & brushes, lightweight board games. These items can be handed over to your leader on arrival to your hotel in Delhi, and your leader will carry it to Leh (our local partner will pay for any excess baggage charge on the Leh flight associated with this).

Please note:

As of November 2019 the Indian government has announced a ban on e-cigarettes and related products.  You will be unable to buy e-cigarettes in India or bring them into the country. Please ensure you do not pack these in your luggage.

Equipment Hire

Duvet jackets and sleeping bags are available for hire from Trek Hire UK. Trek Hire UK can also provide a range of trekking essentials and accessories, from rucksacks to trekking poles. Please note that supplies are limited, and it is advisable to reserve any equipment as early as possible. For trips to Kilimanjaro, Nepal and Peru, certain items such as duvet jackets, sleeping bags and thick mattresses (mattresses not available in Nepal) can be hired through our local agents. For Kilimanjaro and Nepal trips these must be pre-booked through the Exodus office to ensure availability. For trips to Peru there is no need to pre-book these as they can be arranged locally through your tour leader in Cuzco. Please call for details.

Optional Equipment

Water purification
Trekking pole(s)
Hand washing gel
Biodegradable soap/shampoo

Umbrella (for sun/rain)

Internal Flights Weight Limit

Internal flights to Leh are subject to a weight limit of 15kg checked luggage plus 7kg hand luggage. On the flight back from Leh to Delhi, no hand luggage is allowed but you will have 22kg checked baggage allowance.

We recommend you wear your walking boots on the flight to Leh to help with the weight allowance.

Exodus Kitbag

If you book this trip, we provide an Exodus kitbag to pack your luggage in whilst on trek. Once you have booked you will be sent instructions on how to claim your free bag (they will not be sent out automatically). There are also details on how to claim for another item from the Exodus shop should you already have one of these. If you book via an agent, it is at the agent’s discretion and you should speak directly to them to arrange delivery. Please note that if you book less than three weeks before the departure date we cannot guarantee that your kitbag will arrive before your trip starts, so if this is the case please contact us on [email protected] to let us know. For full T&Cs see www.exodus.co.uk/kitbags.

Walking in the Markha Valley, Ladah, India

Practical Information

Passport

India

All nationalities require a full passport which must be machine readable, with 2 blank pages for your visa and valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of your visa  application. However, the guidelines regarding passport validity on arrival in India are unclear. To avoid possible problems at immigration, make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of entry into India.  It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

India 

Visas are required if you are British and for most other nationalities. Visa information changes regularly for India; for the latest information on applying for a visa please follow this link: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/travelink/India-visa-information.pdf

If your trip visits Ladakh, in the very north of India, or Sikkim in the north east, do not mention this on your Indian visa application. This can sometimes slow down or even cause the embassy to reject your visa.

If your flight arrives into Delhi Airport and you have an e-visa, please follow the overhead signs to the e-visa booth at the back of the immigration hall. You will need to fill out an additional form at the booth. Please make sure that you have the details of your start hotel ready. These details can be found on your Final Joining Instructions.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

India

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. Some of our India trips spend time at altitude. In regions over approx. 2000m, there is low to no risk of mosquito-borne diseases. For trips going to altitudes of over 3000m there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please see the TRIP NOTES for further information.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

As we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Altitude warning

This trip includes one or more nights over 3500m above sea level, where there is a genuine risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). If left untreated AMS can be life-threatening. We expect most clients to experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headaches and shortness of breath while walking or sleeplessness. Our leaders are trained to identify symptoms of severe AMS and if a client requires extra care, arrangements such as rapid descent will be made immediately.

On some days this trip climbs faster than commonly published ascent rate recommendations. Based upon an assessment by our external safety and medical advisors and our risk assessment process, we consider the ascent rate is acceptable due to the additional safety measures that are in place for our customers. All our trips operating at high altitude meet our internal altitude safety standards that minimise the risk of serious incidents occurring whilst travelling at altitude.

A number of medical conditions or medications can reduce your body's ability to acclimatise. This may affect your performance and make you more susceptible to AMS. If you are worried about any pre-existing conditions, such as heart conditions, or your overall physical ability, you must seek medical advice prior to booking. The drug Diamox (also known as acetazolamide and normally only available on prescription) has been shown to aid acclimatisation in some individuals, and therefore may reduce the risk of AMS. Clients considering using Diamox should speak to their doctor about the drug, its side-effects and a prescription. Please note that while we endeavour to assist all our clients in achieving their goals, there may be times when your leader decides to delay or stop your ascent based on your overall condition, or the onset of AMS.

If you are not taking out Exodus Travel Insurance, make sure that your policy covers you up to the maximum altitude on this trip (if trekking in the Himalaya your policy should also cover the use of a helicopter for emergency medical evacuation).

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

India's Timezone:
Asia/Kolkata IST (GMT +05:30)

Electricity

India's Electricity:

In India the voltage is 230/240 volts AC, 50 Hz.

Power plugs and sockets are of type C, D and M. It varies greatly which is used in different locations. M is the least used. There are recharging facilities at all the hotels, though the electricity supply is not 100% reliable but it is usually only off for short periods of time.

There are recharging facilities at all the hotels in Delhi and Leh. In Leh the electricity supply is not 100% reliable but it is usually only off for short periods of time. Whilst on trek there are no charging facilities and you will need to bring spare batteries, a solar charger, or power bank if you wish to recharge anything.

Money

India's Currency

The national currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR), with an exchange rates at the time of publication (September 2019) GBP£1 - 88 INR, CAN$1 - 54 INR, US$1 - 71 INR, AUS$1 - 48 INR.

It is illegal to import or export rupees. Do not accept torn or (very) dirty Indian banknotes from banks or in change as they will almost certainly not be accepted as legal tender in India. Please ask for low denomination notes of 100 and 500 Rupees as the new 2000 Rupee notes can be difficult to use out of Delhi. You can change money back from Rupees into Pounds or Dollars at Delhi airport (before going through security), but you must produce an exchange receipt showing that you changed money in India.

ATM Availability

There are ATMs in Delhi. There are a few ATMs in Leh.  Please do not rely wholly on ATMs as often they are broken or run out of cash and there is a maximum amount per day that any one machine will dispense. We recommend you change all the money you need for the trip before leaving Delhi. Credit cards are accepted in larger shops in Delhi and Leh.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

You are advised to bring most of your money in cash as you will not be able to change travellers cheques in India. It makes no difference whether you bring Sterling or US Dollars. You can change your money on arrival at Delhi airport but the rates tend to be very low at the airport so we recommend changing cash either in the hotel in Delhi or at the money change kiosks in Leh. You will need approximately £100-150 (approx. US$175-255) for meals, entry fees and tipping for the whole trip.

Apart from the extra food you should allow approximately £3 (approx. US$5) a day for drinks and incidentals, more if you enjoy a few beers, as these are comparatively expensive in India. Most monasteries in Ladakh charge a small entrance fee that goes towards the upkeep of the building. These may add up to about £8 (approx. US$13) in total.

Whilst on trek there is not much to spend your money on, but in Leh and Delhi there is a wealth of souvenirs, trinkets etc.

India has very good opportunities for shopping, especially for locally made goods, and in Delhi local guides may well offer to take you to emporiums as well as workshops where these goods are made. Many people find this a great opportunity to buy local handicrafts, silk, jewellery and carpets. Guides will often assume that visitors will want to go shopping, it is very much part of the culture, however, if you do not wish to go please make this clear to your local guide at the time.

Optional Excursions

The half-day trip to the Khardung La costs about INR1,650 (£20 / US$25) per person with 4 people sharing a jeep. Please note the Indian government will no longer issue the Khardung La permit to the following passport holders - Chinese, Korean or Taiwanese.

Tipping

Tipping is of course entirely at your discretion, but it is customary in India. Tipping can be an awkward affair especially when you are not familiar with the country. Your leader will help with tipping and will provide a list of suggested tips. This will include tips for drivers, hotel porters and other hotel staff, local sightseeing guides, and if trekking or biking will include camp staff such as guide, assistants, cooks and ponymen. Sometimes your leader will collect a kitty during the trip and sometimes they will collect the tips towards the end of the trip (occasionally for very small groups the leader may need to collect a little more than the suggested amount). We suggest you allow Rs4,500 (approx. £55 / $70) for this trip. Please try to tip in local currency.

Tipping of the leader is not included in the above and is at your discretion. However we suggest around Rs1000-2000 (approx. £15-25 /US$20-30) per person for the leader.

Based on the above distributions, you should allow approximately GB£70-75/US$90-100 per person in total for all tips for the tour duration. Please try to give all tips in local currency.

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Exodus has worked with our local partner in India for over 30 years. Our partner employs local staff and leaders throughout and Exodus provides regular training and support.

There are many community support projects in Ladakh that Exodus has set up or supported over the years. These include helping to rebuild houses and schools and providing materials to build a flood barrier following devastating flooding in 2007 and setting up a flood relief appeal following mudslides in 2010. Since 2011 Exodus has worked alongside other organisations to provide the Markha Valley communities with safe drinking water and we have funded several UV water filters. Locals can now sell drinking water to trekkers. The long-term goal is to ban single-use plastic water bottles in the Markha Valley entirely.

Exodus works with various local women’s groups in Ladakh, running felting workshops so that they can create handicrafts to sell to trekkers at the Eco Cafés in Hankar and in Skiu that we have opened. In Leh, Exodus supports a Donkey Sanctuary, which provides a home for old, ill or mistreated donkeys. We are also helping to raise money to build a Buddhist temple for the villagers of Ranbirpura.

If you would like more details on any of these projects please e-mail Valerie Parkinson (Asia Base Manager - [email protected]) or ask your leader during the holiday.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

 

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

Please note, although this trip doesn’t visit any FCDO no-go areas, it does visit a region close to an area where the advice is not to travel. If joining this trip, or if planning any additional travel pre or post tour in the area, you should ensure you visit their website to familiarise yourself with the advice. Any independent travel to these areas is entirely at your own risk and is likely not to be covered by your insurance.

Important Notes

In line with our ‘book and travel with confidence’ promise which allows you to cancel free of charge up to 42 days prior to departure, or transfer to another trip free of charge up to 21 days prior to your trip starting in country,  please be aware that this excludes ‘irrecoverable costs’. Details can be found here: https://www.exodus.co.uk/about-exodus/exodus-booking-conditions

For this trip the irrecoverable costs related to in-country operations are outlined below, if booking flight inclusive your sales agent will confirm the terms related to your international flights at the time of booking.

Two internal flights   £218 / US$283 / AU$414 / €240 / CA$414

Costs are accurate at time of writing in September 2020

If you need to cancel your trip because you or a member of your party is diagnosed with COVID-19 or has received a request from the Government to self-isolate, you will receive a full refund less these irrecoverable costs.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.