Flying into Leh, the former capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, feels more like landing on the moon than landing in India. Its harsh, mountainous terrain is starkly beautiful and very dry, due to its high altitude and cold desert climate. Dotted with stupas and whitewashed houses, the Old Town is dominated by a dagger of steep rocky ridge topped by an imposing Tibetan-style palace and fort.
Our 40th anniversary special edition journey to Ladakh this September will be led by Himraj Soin, an adventure travel journalist and photographer.
Following a theme of a responsible eco adventure, walking in the footsteps of the this photo adventure journey will take you to all Buddhist monasteries, trek through breathtaking passes. You will discuss Buddhist traditions, learn about renewable energy projects with conservationists, visit outfits promoting sustainable development and walk along hillsides dotted with chortens and monasteries with exquisite Himalayan vistas.
Since 2012, Ibex Expeditions has supported the Give Back to Nature programme of WWF India and for each participant of this journey, we will donate US $ 40 per person.
13 nights / 14 days
15 – 28 September 2019
On arrival into IGI Delhi airport, you will be met by our Office Assistant, holding a
name placard followed by transfer to your hotel. Since your arrival is late night, check-in to your hotel and catch up on jetlag.
After breakfast, proceed on a guided tour of Delhi at 0930 hours which includes the city’s world heritage sites.
Drive through New Delhi roads & sights such as India Gate, The Presidential Palace and Parliament house to get a feel for the grand new city that Sir Lutyens built in the early 1900s.
Delhi – Leh (3500 m) by flight – Stok Village by road (30 minutes)
This morning you will be transferred to the airport to board early morning scheduled flight to Leh.
Note – Check In starts 1.5 hours prior to flight departure.
Met on arrival at the Leh airport followed by transfer to your hotel in Stok Village.
On this day, it is important for you to take it completely easy to allow for good acclimatisation, taking plenty of liquid and relaxing.
Today you meet Raja Jigmet of Ladakh and interact with him, as he welcomes you to his family home (note – subject to his availability).
This morning, you can still take it easy for further acclimatisation and then go out for
a half day sightseeing only after lunch. You will be taken by a Ladakhi guide to see two local sites and walk in Leh’s main bazaar.
Shanti Stupa – Dominating Leh from a high, rocky ridge, this gigantic white spired
pudding of a stupa was built in 1991 by Japanese monks to promote world peace.
You can circumbulate to canned mantras and meditate in the Buddha Hall, but the
greatest attraction is the stunning view over Leh. Ideally, make the breathless 15-
minute climb when golden afternoon light still illuminates the city but the steps up
from Changspa are already bathed in cooling shadow.
Shey monastery, 15 Km south of Leh was constructed by the first king of Ladakh,
Lhachen Palgyigon and of successive kings. Around 12 ft Shakyamuni Buddha’s
statue made by copper guilt is the largest in the region, built by Deldan Namgyal in
1633 is a funerary memorial to his father, King Singee Namgyal. There is another
statue of the Buddha three story in height at Dresthang down the castle. Stone
carving and many chortens are scattered around the Dresthang Gompa.
This evening visit a local home in the village for a culinary class and home cooked
meal. Interact with the host family and learn about the Ladakhi lifestyle.
Leh – Likir by road (45 Kms, 1.5 hours) – Yangthang (3630 m) by trek (3 hours)
After breakfast, check out and do a short drive to Likir where you visit the monastery atop a hill, upstream of the village.
Here you meet the trek staff and mules and thereafter commence trek to Yangthang. The trail passes over a small pass of Phobe La (3550 meters) and Charatse La (3650 meters). Arrive Yangthang and camp near the stream.
Yangthang – Hemis Shukpachan (3600 m) by trek (6-7 hours)
After breakfast, gear up for the day ahead.
You walk alongside the river and trees amidst the gorge to the Rizong Monastery, which is isolated at the back of a natural amphitheatre and has three main rooms to visit, two with large Buddhas and third with a large stupa.
After visiting the gompa, you ascend gradually to the Shushut pass (4000 m). From the pass you will have a view of Hemis Shukpachan as well as surrounding peaks. An easy descent towards your camp at Hemis Shukpachan takes a couple of hours. It is one of the major villages of Sham, and the name of the village is derived from the conifers (shukpa cedar or juniper). Visit the village for photography and interaction with the locals.
Hemischukpachen -Thimsgam by trek (4 hours) – Alchi (3100 m) by road
From Hemis Shukpachan post breakfast, you go onto a flat ground as far as ill-defined pass alongside the Chortens (stupas). A steep descent will lead you to the right side of the mountains and climb steadily on the slope towards the Mebtak La (3720 m). After a short rest and enjoying the view from the pass, you head down to the village of Ang. From Ang, you head towards the south on the dusty jeep road to the village of Thimsgam . Thimsgam, is well famed for its monastery, and is perhaps the most affluent village in the Sham valley for its apricots, apples, nuts and beautiful houses.
Here you meet your transport followed by drive to visit the famous and ancient Lamayuru Monastery – the oldest monastery of Ladakh. Thereafter, proceed onwards to Alchi Village for overnight stay, with a visit to the village for photography. The village of Alchi is unmissable for the murals and carvings of its world-famous temple complex, founded in the early 11th century by ‘Great Translator’ Lotsava Ringchen Zangpo and one of the Himalaya’s great artistic treasures. The village itself is a charming and relaxing place.
Alchi – Nubra Valley (3050 m) by road (230 Kms, 6-7 hours)
After breakfast, depart for Nubra Valley via the Khardung la pass. This is one of the highest motorable roads in the world, passing over the Khardung la pass at a height of 5602 m. The road begins from Leh itself and winds its way up to reach the Khardung la. The views from here are magnificent and take in the Zanskar and Karakoram ranges.
After this you descend to Shyok Valley in Nubra. From the hamlet of Khalsar, which is at the far end of Shyok Valley the trail divides, one heading up along the Nubra River to the Siachen Glacier and the other to the villages of Bogdang and Turtuk, which were once a part of erstwhile Baltistan, now a part of Indian-administrated Kashmir. On arrival in the valley, proceed to your resort for check in. Later visit Hunder village and take a brief Bactrian camel ride.
Hunder – is a pretty village set among lots of trees and mingling streams and is about 7km from Diskit. Between Diskit and Hunder is an area of sand dunes, not unlike the Sahara region if one ignores the snow-capped Alps like mountains in the background. The Gompa here is about a 2km walk above the village. It is completely deserted and quite eerie. There is only a small Buddha statue and some frescoes, but the climb is worth it for the views and atmosphere.
Hunder has a palace, deserted 50 years ago and now belonging to the Hunder monastery. Hunder is a pretty village full of religious and historical sites including the palace and monastery and a huge Chorten arch with fine paintings in the dome.
Possibility for Upgrade to TUTC’s Chamba Camp in Diskit Village for a supplement.
After breakfast, visit Samstanling Monastery in Sumur.
The picturesque village of Sumur is a charming spot in Ladakh. Calm and peaceful is what this village is all about and giving it an added beauty is the Samstanling Monastery. Set amidst scenic mountains and greens Samstanling is a popular monastery which showcases the traditional touch with shades of gold, red and white. It houses about 50 monks.
Afternoon free for independent activities.
Nubra Valley – Pangong Lake (4350 m) by road (5-6 hours)
After breakfast, check out and drive to Pangong Tso. Remainder of the day is at leisure to walk around and for many photographic opportunities. Thereafter, drive to Tangste (14 kms away) where you check-in to your fixed camp for the night with the evening at leisure.
Pangong – Stok Village by road (160 Kms, 4-5 hours)
After breakfast, check out by 0900 hours and drive to Leh, visiting Thiksey monastery enroute.
Thiksey is an imposing monastery and one of the finest examples of Ladakhi architecture. This Gompa is situated on the top of the hill and part of the Gelukpa order.
The 12-storey monastery complex contains numerous stupas, statues; Thangkha, wall paintings, swords and a large pillar engraved with the Buddha’s teachings, there are sacred shrines and a many precious objects to be seen. The successive reincarnation of the Skyabje Khampo Rinpoche act as in charge of the monastery. The main prayer hall has a 15-metre-high-seated Buddha figure.
In the afternoon, visit the Leh office of the Snow Leopard Conservancy Trust India (weekdays during office hours only). Interact with the staff and learn about the good work being done by them in partnership with the local communities to preserve this beautiful mammal.
Thereafter proceed to your hotel in Stok Village, for the night.
26 September Leh
Enjoy the colourful Ladakh festival which is a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of Ladakh spread over 4 days. The activities include archery competitions, polo matches, masked dances from the monasteries and dances by cultural troupes from the villages. There is also a grand procession/parade with musicians, dancers and cultural troupes.
27 September Leh
Continue to enjoy a second day of the Ladakh festival and imbibe in the colour and dance and music of this amazing landscape.
Leh – Delhi by flight -Depart
Early morning, you will be transferred to the Leh airport, for your flight to Delhi.