Join this fascinating exploration into the unique culture and breathtaking scenery of Ladakh.
Departure: New Delhi
Duration: 17 Days
Best Season: June – September
Trek Grade: Moderate to Demanding
With its snow covered peaks, remote villages, and ancient Buddhist monasteries – Ladakh transports you to another world. This tour takes you to some of the most beautiful villages and fascinating gompas on a lesser known trek through this fantastic region. Come and find out why some of the most well traveled people consider Ladakh the most stunningly beautiful place on the planet!
Day 1: Delhi
You are met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The day includes a sightseeing tour of Sir Edward Lutyens' New Delhi, the garden city built in 1911 by the British. We also visit the Birla Mandir (Lakshminarayan Temple), the President's House, Humayun's Tomb (the forerunner of the Taj Mahal), and India Gate.
Day 2-5: Leh
Today we travel by air over the gorgeous snow-covered Himalayan peaks to Leh (3521m) -- the capital of Ladakh. Leh is a bustling little town that is dominated by the ruins of the ancient castle perched above the main bazaar. People are friendly and are quick to say "Julley!" (hello). Village women sell vegetables along the main bazaar, laneways are studded with stupas, and green agricultural fields form a tapestry above the town – all making Leh a lovely place for walking and exploring. The first day we relax and acclimatize. In Leh we stay in a simple but charming local hotel. Later we visit two gompas (monasteries) Spituk and Phyang. The gompas are all different and all fascinating. You will see the lamas (monks) both young and old as they go about their daily rituals and prayers. We also visit a traditional Ladakhi home where you will get a chance to sample the local barley beer called "chang", the staple food "tsampa" a roasted barley flour, and the famous butter tea made with butter and salt! We also visit a local home where you get a chance to see up close the traditional local architecture, dress, and jewelry. In order to get fit for our trek we hike up to the Ladakh Palace and climb the many stairs up to Shanti Stupa – the "peace" stupa overlooking Leh.
Day 6: Alchi
Today we travel by jeeps along the Indus river to Alchi. We pass through a number of lovely villages including Nimu and Saspol. The scenery is fabulous with the Stok Range to the south and the Ladakh Range to the north. Near Nimu we get a view of the point where the Zanskar River flows into the Indus. Alchi is a wonderful village with one of the most beautiful gompas in Ladakh. The paintings at Alchi Gompa are almost a thousand years old. We spend a night here at a simple hotel to give us time to explore.
Day 7: Lamayuru
Today we continue to Lamayuru – the starting point for our trek. From Khalsi the road begins a steep ascent involving nearly 30 switchbacks in the last 25 km to Lamayuru. We set up camp in Lamayuru and in the afternoon visit the Lamayuru Gompa. In the 16th century it was declared a holy site in which even criminals could seek sanctuary making it known as place of freedom.
Day 8-12: Lamayuru to Chilling Trek
Today the trek begins. You are woken up with bed tea in your tents – a pleasure that will continue throughout the trek, along with three hot meals a day and warm water for washing! After a gentle climb we go down a little valley towards the Prinkitla pass (3750m), which we cross after a short climb. From here we descend into a narrow gorge to the village of Shilla. We cross the river and make our way to Wanla. In Wanla there is an interesting monastery belonging to the red sect. A monk from Lamayuru looks after the Gompa. It is a typical village monastery, well worth a visit. From Wanla we continue our way along the Yapola River to the village of Phenjilla where we ascend to a small valley before reaching our camp at Hinju. From Hinju we go up the main valley, past the last mountain pasture before making our step ascent up to the Konzkela Pass (4950m), which affords fantastic views of the surrounding peaks. From the pass it is a long descent to the river. We continue along the river to our camp at Sumdo. Along the way we can see some blocked up caves used for meditation by Buddhist oracles. From Sumdo we carry on in the main valley until we start ascending the Dundunchenla Pass (4800m). We camp at the base (4400 m). Our efforts in ascending the pass are rewarded by the beautiful panoramic views! We continue down the steep slope through a valley that continues to narrow until we reach the village of Chilling. Chilling is an interesting little village. The people here are the only ones in the region to work with metals (copper, tin, and silver), making ladles, tcheng, and teapots.
Day 13-14: Leh
We are met in Chilling by our jeeps and travel back to Leh. In the evening we have a cultural show of Ladakhi traditional dress and dance. The following day is free for individual activities. Some people may choose to go for an optional rafting trip, others may want to visit the Tibetan Refugee village in Choglamsor, and some may just want to explore the bazaar for interesting trinkets.
Day 15-16: Agra
We return to Delhi by early morning flight. We are met at the airport by our deluxe coach and continue by road to the Mughal splendor of Agra. Agra is, of course, home to the unforgettable Taj Mahal as well as the majestic Agra Fort.
Day 17: Delhi
Today we drive back to Delhi visiting Govardhan enroute. This site, near where Krishan is said to have been born, is significant as legend claims Krishan lifted the hill of the same name on the tip of his finger to shelter the inhabitants of Braj from a deluge. The entire hill is circumambulated by thousands of pilgrims every year. It's a fascinating place to visit.
Day 18: Delhi
Our tour finishes with breakfast and transfer to the airport for international departure