Marchoi Valley Trek

Srinagar | India
  From  INR 6,990  | From 4 Days

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All You Need to Know About the Marchoi Valley Trek

Kashmir, the Paradise on Earth, needs no special introduction when it comes to picturesque trekking sites. A treasure chest for Indian and foreigner trekkers alike, the Kashmir Valley provides the best views of the gigantic Himalayan ranges, green meadows, alpine lakes, and pristine water of the glacial rivers.

The Marchoi trek is an offbeat winter trek in Kashmir. It is a short adventure that takes the trekkers to a height of 3200 meters through a snow-covered landscape characterized by tall pine trees and clear mountain streams.

A trek to the valley of snow:

Visiting the trail during the Marchoi trek best time is a rewarding experience in itself. It is an enchanting place covered with a thick blanket of snow. Lofty peaks of the Himalayas can be seen from the Marchoi Valley. A sweeping 360-degree view of the landscape provides the ideal subject for photography enthusiasts and professionals.

Remarkable landscape:

Marchoi valley offers gorgeous sights of lush green meadows dotted by colorful wildflowers, crystal clear water flaunting green and blue hues in the small, meandering streams beside the Himalayan ranges. One can observe with wonder as the landscape takes on a more rugged form as the trek progresses. 

The Gujjars are the nomadic shepherd tribes living here, and the trail to Marchoi Valley follows the ancient routes they took. Sometimes the rippling streams filled with trout are to be crossed via bridges on the trail. It is thrilling to see the water flow with gusto beneath one's own feet from the bridges. The remarkable scenic beauty is worth every buck of the Marchoi trek cost.

The ancient Naranag Temple ruins:

A Marchoi trek package usually covers the entire trip from Tourist Reception Center (TRC), Srinagar, back to the TRC. But the official starting point of the trek is considered to be at Naranag Temple. It is an ancient landmark of the Marchoi Valley that provides food and lodging to trekkers passing through it.

The Naranag Temple was built by Lalitaditya Muktapida of the Kayastha Naga Karkota Dynasty in the 8th century A.D. It is believed to be dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Shiva and also to the Nagas, the highly revered serpent gods. This important archaeological site is a popular starting point for other treks in Kashmir like the Mount Haramukh trek (5,142 meters), Gangabal Lake trek, Satsar trek (Seven Lakes trek), Gadsar Lake trek, Vishansar Lake trek, and the Krishansar Lake trek.

Picturesque campsite:

The short Marchoi Valley trek is done from the Dumail campsite, a 2 hours trek from the Naranag basecamp. The camping grounds are located on the banks of a swift-flowing stream, flanked by the great Himalayas on all sides. Campers can make a bonfire here and enjoy the unobstructed view of the stars against the clear night sky.

Experiencing the Paradise on Earth:

The Marchoi valley is an excellent example of why Kashmir is called the paradise on earth of all places. The sense of peace and calm that comes over the visitor away from the hubbub of the city is like no other. If one is looking for spiritual healing with a taste of adventure, there is nothing like being in the lap of nature and feasting your eyes on the superb views without a single worry.

Overview of the Marchoi Trek:

Location and basic information:

The Marchoi Valley is located in the Ganderbal district of Kashmir, the basecamp being 57 km away from Srinagar. Wangath River, the tributary of the Sind River, flows through it, with several mountainous streams joining it along the trail. The highest altitude here is up to 3200 meters.

It takes around 4-5 nights to cover the trek. It is best not to do the Marchoi trek solo since this trail is quite remotely placed. In case of any mishaps, the immediate help of a local guide can be a lifesaver.

Budget:

The Marchoi trek cost is around USD 80 to 120 (INR 6000 to 9000). This cost depends upon the services provided by the trekking package one chooses. The expenses of hiring an experienced local guide may not be included in this package.

Cell phone connectivity:

Unfortunately, the Naranag village is still not equipped with basic mobile connectivity even as India has entered its highly digitized stage. Cell phone connection and internet facilities are available till Srinagar, but as soon as trekkers arrive at Naranag, they will be off the grid for the entirety of the trek.

How difficult is the Marchoi Trek?

The Marchoi trek is classified as a moderate-level trek by experts. It takes the trekkers up to a maximum height of 3200 meters in winter, which is not an easy feat to achieve. The thick layers of snow on the trail, paired with the altitude and low pressure, make this a moderate-level trek.

The trekkers availing of a Marchoi trek package must ensure that they are physically and mentally fit to complete the winter trek. It is going to be challenging for people with chronic breathing problems to cover this trek. Absolutely novice trekkers should have the experience of at least 2 to 3 treks before they visit the Marchoi Valley trek.

Best time to visit the Marchoi Trek:

The Marchoi trek best time is during the winter. The season of snow from the end of November to the middle of February makes this region bloom into its otherworldly beauty. Snow-covered pine trees and rhododendrons populate the forests during this time. The wildflowers sprouting in grassy patches in the middle of the white carpeted meadow offer a refreshing splash of colors during this time.

Gear guide and checklist for the Marchoi Trek:

The winter trek to Marchoi Valley calls for light luggage packed with essentials required to overcome any eventualities. The sub-zero conditions require trekkers to have enough warm clothes to fight off the icy chill.

Apparel and necessary accessories:

The Marchoi trek best time is definitely winter. So, naturally, one will require warm clothes to not let the biting cold weaken them. It is a short trek of only 4-5 nights, so just a few essential clothing articles will be enough. 

Firstly, a thermal innerwear set is vital. Over this, a trekker can layer t-shirts, track pants, sweaters, and jackets as they see fit. 2-3 quick-dry, polyester, full-sleeve t-shirts, and 2-3 pairs of sweatpants or track pants should be enough. Fleece sweaters and cardigans can be layered with padded, down jackets with a hood. This will allow the body to maintain an optimum temperature. A light poncho of good quality material can protect trekkers in case of the occasional rainfall or snowfall. 

Coming to the accessories, a woolen cap or balaclava can be worn under the hood of the padded jacket so that no heat loss happens from the head. A winter trek also requires woolen mufflers, woolen gloves, and woolen socks. Synthetic sports socks will be ideal during the daytime treks as the snow can wet them, but the synthetic material is quick to dry. One can also layer them with a pair of woolen socks to keep warm at night.

At such great heights, one is closer to the sun than usual. So, UV-protection sunglasses, sun caps, and sunscreen lotion will protect them from the strong sunlight. The trekker should also carry battery-powered torches and a pair of sturdy trekking poles.

Footwear and sleeping bag:

High-quality, waterproof trekking boots with proper ankle support and microspikes on the sole will help with the feet' grip. Gaiters are necessary while traversing the snowy trails as it protects the lower half of the legs from getting wet in the freezing cold. They also prevent any kind of debris from entering the boot.

Bringing a thick, good-quality sleeping bag will be essential on this trek. It will keep the trekkers warm.

Cutlery:

Whether doing the Marchoi trek solo with the help of a local guide or in a group with other experienced trekkers, bringing one's own cutlery on a trek is a must. The best material for one's cutleries on a trek should be stainless steel. A cutlery set should consist of a steel plate or a steel lunchbox, a fork, a spoon, and a mug. These are non-reactive and easy to wash.

Backpacks and waterproof covers:

A backpack of 60 liters capacity will be enough for the trek to Marchoi Valley. The trekker can also carry a fanny pack for their essentials and electronics, like the camera, batteries, and the mobile camera. Trekkers can offload their extra luggage in Srinagar.

The weather in the mountains is quite unreliable, so carrying waterproof covers for the backpack is considered wise. Water-resistant bags should also be taken to put in one's electronics, camera equipment, wallet, and essential documents. This will protect them from any apparent damage.

Toiletries and hygiene products:

It doesn't matter if you are not doing the Marchoi trek solo; one must always have a personal set of toiletries, even in a group of trekkers. It should consist of a toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, moisturizer, lip balm, hand sanitizer, and deodorant. Toilet paper, tissue rolls, and wet wipes will be helpful in a quick clean-up.

Women should carry enough sanitary napkins, tampons, or menstrual cups to be as comfortable as possible on the trek.

Medical kit with first-aid:

Common medicines like paracetamols, anti-nausea medicines, antihistamines, antacids, and painkillers should be carried by a trekker. They should also have a simple first-aid kit containing bandaids, crepe bandages, antiseptic liquid, ointment, gauze swabs, insect repellent cream, and a pain-relieving spray. Water-purifying tablets must be carried as the streams here are the only source of water.

Important documents:

Carrying one's identity proof and at least two of its photocopies is an absolute necessity. It must contain the address of the trekker. Two passport-sized photographs should also be kept at hand. Foreign trekkers should look after the safety of their passports and visas as these are essential items while traveling abroad.

The Marchoi Trek Itinerary:

The Marchoi Trek itinerary spans over 4-5 nights. Trekkers usually assemble at the Tourist Reception Center (TRC) of Srinagar. It is a 20 minutes drive from the Sheikh Ul Alam International Airport of Srinagar. Cabs are readily available for taking the trekkers to TRC. From here, people can take the various routes to their destination of choice in and around Kashmir.

  • Day 1: The first day of the trek is kept for the trekkers to get acclimatized to the climate of Kashmir. From TRC, it takes about 2 hours by cab to reach the base camp at Naranag, 57 km away. This is where the trekkers will halt at the homestays booked through their Marchoi trek package for the night. On the way to Naranag basecamp, the picturesque landscape is truly an otherworldly beauty. The lofty Himalayas stand guard as the River Sindh accompanies the road. The views of the heavily forested mountains from Naranag are perfect to look at as the sun sets behind them.
  • Day 2: Proper trekking starts from the next day. It is a 3 km distance from Naranag to Dumail that takes around 2 hours. The starting point of the trek is the Naranag Temple built by Lalitaditya Muktapida of the Kayastha Naga Karkota Dynasty in the 8th century A.D. The ancient temple of Naranag and the ruins of its adjacent complex are stark evidence of the eventful history of Kashmir. Its stone-cut designs speak of the fables of the yore. The trek towards the Dumail camp starts after breakfast. Snow-covered mountain peaks can be seen in the distance as one trek along the trail. Dumail is located at the bottom of the river valley, surrounded by tall Pine trees and patches of snow. It is a beautiful location where the trekkers shall spend the rest of the nights in camping tents that their Marchoi trek cost must have covered.
  • Day 3: After breakfast on the next day, the trekkers will hike up to the Marchoi Top according to the Marchoi trek itinerary. This is the summit day. The trek will take around 6 hours, so it is best to start early. The trek towards Marchoi top offers a 360-degree view of the snow carpeted landscape accompanying the trekkers. The soaring summits and rolling river valley paint the picture of a winter wonderland. The snow gets thick along the way, and walking through it is a strenuous exercise. However, like all Kashmir treks, the end destination is rewarding. The trekking guide will narrate the myths and legends about the Marchoi top as the trekkers stop to admire the view from the top. The aesthetic setting will give the trekkers a sense of peace and tranquility. A number of bridge crossings can be found in this area, once again covered in snow. The trekkers can explore the Marchoi valley on their own for a while before they have to head back to the Dumail campsite by sundown.
  • Day 4: It is time to bid adieu to the valley of snow. Trekkers should pack up their belongings early in the morning, and after breakfast, they shall begin the hike back to Naranag. In a similar way, as they had arrived, the trekkers can then take a cab back to Srinagar and then leave for other tourist spots or their hometowns from there.

Getting fit for the Marchoi Trek:

The Marchoi trek package provided by any trekking company requires the prospective trekker to be physically fit and able to trek for 2 to 3 hours at a stretch. In order to get ready for the trek, one must follow a regular exercise routine to build stamina and core strength. Exercises like jogging, squatting, swimming, cycling, walking, and doing yoga can help to achieve this.

Not only physically, but one also has to be mentally strong for trekking to the Marchoi Valley. Meditation and pranayama can increase mental fortitude as no obstacles can stand in the way of determination and grit.

The Marchoi valley trek is one of the most beautiful winter treks of Kashmir. The trekker must follow proper protocols and precautions for a safe trip. The experience full of adventure in the snowy land will definitely become a treasured memory for every trekker.