The Markha circuit is the most popular hike in Ladakh, northern India, bordering Tibet. It’s excellent, one of the best hikes in the Indian Himalaya.
Alchi is a nearby alternative.
- easy access out of Leh
- 70km on paved roads to the trailhead at the Alchi monastery
- 6-8 days
- early June to mid-October
- challenging 1st pass
- big risk of altitude sickness
- up to 5 high passes (Stakspi La 5177m is highest)
- several nights at very high altitude
- hike independently or with a Guide
Why We Don’t Recommend This Hike
At first glance it looks similar to Markha. Perhaps better as it’s less touristed.
However the first pass on the standard route is very challenging. Guidebook author Kucharski estimates 10hrs between Alchi and a homestay in Sumda Chungun – but it could take much longer. It took us longer due to snow and route finding.
If you don’t want to take the risk, you’ll need a tent. Be very self-sufficient. Not many hikers nor locals cross Stakspi La.
Of course you could skip Alchi and Stakspi La, starting instead at one of the other trailheads.That brings up our second problem with the Alchi circuit – road building. Local people want electricity and roads. But we feel they both degrade the hiking experience.
If you still want to trek Alchi, be prepared to spend many hours walking blacktop.
If you still insist on trying the Alchi Circuit, get the Kucharski guidebook.
Rather than booking online, It would be cheaper to fly to Leh and organize your support team (guide/cook/mule/horsemen) in town during the days you’re acclimatizing to altitude. There are hundreds claiming to be Guiding companies.
Budget an additional 10-20% of your tour costs for tips, assuming you are happy with your trek.
If you don’t mind carrying your own packs, consider hiring only a guide. Often you’ll get a young student. It doesn’t take much experience or expertise to guide this trek.
If you sign on with a Guide, they handle all arrangements.
If you want to do it on your own, get a Guidebook in advance of the trip. Plan on a few days in Leh to get organized, buy fuel and food.
Best Trekking Guidebooks
- Cicerone Trekking in Ladakh 2012 by Radek Kucharski
Best Trip Reports
- besthike editor Rick McCharles – Alchi to Sumda Do 2015 (independent tenting)