Tag Archives: responsible tourism

Ladakh: A Photographic Journey To Little Tibet - Ibex Expeditions

LADAKH: SPECIAL EDITION PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNEY TO “LITTLE TIBET”

Ladakh: A Photographic Journey To Little Tibet - Ibex Expeditions

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.

ITINERARY
13 nights / 14 days
15 – 28 September 2019

15 September
Arrival Delhi
Hotel Imperial

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.

16 September
Delhi
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.

17 September
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).

18 September
Leh
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.

19 September
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.

20 September
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.

21 September
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.

22 September
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.

23 September
Nubra Valley
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.

24 September
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.

25 September
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.

28 September
Leh – Delhi by flight -Depart
Early morning, you will be transferred to the Leh airport, for your flight to Delhi.

Zanskar Rafting - Ibex Expeditions

Ecotourism Society of India—Working Towards Sustainable Tourism

 

Zanskar Rafting - Ibex Expeditions

Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in India. With this pace of rampant growth, there is a need for a set of guiding principles that tour operators and the hotel industries need to be abide by, to be able to grow and prosper sustainably, in an environmentally friendly manner.

Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI) is a non-profit organisation that aims to promote and ensure environmentally responsible and sustainable practices in the tourism industry. The society was formed in 2008  by 13 widely experienced founding members from state government departments of tourism and forests, the tourism industry, wildlife conservation, NGOs and also Members of Parliament. It has been formed under the advice of the Ministry of Tourism. It is the national body for responsible tourism.

The outfit stands on three pillars:

  • Engaging in advocacy
  • Helping create policies and guidelines
  • Helping with certification

In its advocacy role, ESOI has launched national workshops on Environmental Law, Responsible Tourism and Best Practises, in partnership with WWF-India, supported by the Ministry of Tourism and state governments. These workshops allow for knowledge sharing, capacity building and a better understanding of ecotourism and its practical implementation. They also help raise awareness on the implications of unsustainable tourism and the need for green measures.

ESOI has conducted “Best Practice” workshops all over India, and has successfully managed to create state ecotourism societies as well.

The society is open for membership to conscious companies and individuals who wish to walk the sustainable path and lend support to the cause.

Some of the advantages of becoming a member of this important outfit are:

1. Exchange of environmental good practices among members
2. Sharing of best practices on responsible tourism
3. Invitation to training programs, seminars at concessional members rate
4. Use of logo on members website / stationery / publicity material to communicate  organization’s commitment to being eco-friendly organization
5. Certification of tourism enterprises
6. Society shall champion for Member’s issues concerning Ecotourism and take up with the govt. bodies for resolving the same
7. Affiliation with worldwide ecotourism bodies
8. Mention in membership directory and website
9. Visits and invitations to selected ecotourism sites
10. Membership certificate
11. Possibility of becoming an Honorary Ecotourism Warden of the Society

Mandip Singh Soin has been the Founder President, and is the Immediate Past President  of the Ecotourism Society of India. Other founding members include:

1. Dr. Venu, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Government of India;
2. PD Rai, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha;
3. Avay Shukla, (Retd.) Addl, Chief Secy, Forests, Govt of Himachal Pradesh;
4. Rakesh Mathur, Director & Principal Advisor – Zinc Hospitality, Cross Roads Hotels, Speciality Restaurants;
5. Toby Sinclair, wildlife filmmaker
6.  Sudip Sahi, UNDP Consultant
7. Krishna Kumar, former MLA and environmentalist
8. Ravi Singh, CEO, WWF India;
9. Steve Borgia, Chief Managing Director, Indeco Hotels;
10. Sarat Champati, chief naturalist
11. Jose Dominic, MD CGH Earth Hotels;
12. Niranjan Kharti, GM Environment, ITC WelcomGroup Hotels.

The Honorary Members include:

1. Shri Shilabhadra Banerjee IAS 
Former Secretary, Govt.of India, Min. of Tourism;
2. Shri Sujit Banerjee IAS Former Secretary, Govt.of India, Min. of Tourism;
3. Dr. H S Pabla Former PCCF, Madhya Pradesh; Retd. IFS;
4. Maharaja Gaj Singh Ji, The Maharaja of Marwar, Jodhpur;
5. Shri M.P. Bezbaruah, IAS, (Retd.) Honourable Member of North East Council (NEC).

Ibex Expeditions has been associated with ESOI since May 2009, and our association is going strong. We uphold the values of #treadlightly and encourage our travellers to avoid using single-use plastic

We recommend you to become members of this wonderful association as well.
Website: http://www.ecotourismsocietyofindia.org/

World Environment Day 2019 – Beat Air Pollution | Ibex Expeditions

World Environment Day 2019 – Beat Air Pollution

The United Nations’ mandated World Environment Day on 5th June every year.   Since it began in 1974, the event has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.

This year, the theme revolves around air pollution. Air pollution is a man-made problem that has been responsible for early deaths of about seven million people every year, around 600,000 of whom are children. It is estimated that 90 per cent of the world’s population breathe polluted air. 

“The right to a healthy environment is fundamental to human well-being and is legally recognized by over 150 States at the national and regional levels. It should be globally reaffirmed to ensure the enjoyment of this right by everyone, everywhere while upholding the human rights principles of universality and non-discrimination,” David Boyd, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment said in a statement.

As travellers, we explore everything. The fresh mountain air, the warm tropical breeze, the aromatic smell trailing through winding lanes of old quarters of world cities, the powerful fumes of history in old monuments…the list goes on. Air is primary to our existence. Whether it is the cold, billowing wind of Antarctica, or the sultry breeze of Rajasthan, or the mountain air of the Himalaya, every breath we inhale adds to our experience and to our memory of that place. So it becomes important for our tribe to be aware of this primary important element of life. While policy makers have the larger responsibility of ensuring clean air for all, we as world citizens can do our bit by reducing our carbon footprint, by supporting causes and outfits that work towards reducing air pollution, and by generally advocating good clean air. After all, we have only one planet.

International Day for Biological Diversity 2019 - Ibex Expeditions

International Day for Biological Diversity – What Can We Do for Our Planet?

International Day for Biological Diversity 2019 - Ibex Expeditions

Today, the world celebrates the International Day for Biological Diversity, giving us a chance to reflect on the important role nature plays in our lives. It gives us food to eat, fresh water and air to breathe. It protects us from extreme weather conditions. It gives us beauty, an education, a system, a structure.

The United Nations proclaimed 22nd May as the day dedicated to Biological Diversity to increase our understanding of biological issues. When first created by the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly in late 1993, 29 December (the date of entry into force of the Convention of Biological Diversity), was designated The International Day for Biological Diversity. In December 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted 22 May as IDB, to commemorate the adoption of the text of the Convention on 22 May 1992 by the Nairobi Final Act of the Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

This year, the theme for the day is “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health”.

A UNDP India blog post describes the current situation perfectly.

“This year, International Day on Biodiversity falls just two weeks after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem’s (IPBES) Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. It confirms what we’ve also heard from numerous other recently released reports. Over the past 50 years, we have destroyed half of the world’s tropical forests, degraded 40 percent of all land, and promoted unsustainable land use that led to one quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. Today, over one million species are threatened with extinction. In short, nature — our planet — and humankind — are in trouble.”

Our biodiversity is in a crisis. While governments, corporates and policy makers have the most important role to play to ensure the crisis is contained, we, as travellers, explorers and regular citizens of the world can also do our bit to lessen our own impact on the planet.

Here are a few tips,

1. During your travels, follow the principles of Leave No Trace.

2. Eat and purchase seasonal foods

3. Buy local foods

4. Reduce food waste

5. Compost food scraps

6. Reduce packaging by using reusable bags or glass jars

7. Avoid Single-Use Plastic

8. Travel with tour operators that adhere to strict policies of sustainability and responsible tourism.

Our upcoming journeys to Ladakh, Rajasthan, Satpura National Park and Tapovan will follow these principles. As we all know, our biodiversity is all that we have that makes us a unique, beautiful planet. And we have only one planet.

In the Namib desert - Ibex Expeditions

Wide Oyster Magazine Interviews Mandip Singh Soin

In the Namib desert - Ibex Expeditions

Netherlands’ based international travel magazine Wide Oyster recently interviewed Mandip Singh Soin about his journey, his passion for exploration and his concern for the planet. Given below is the republished version. The original article is available here.

For Love and For the Planet: Reisheld Mandip Singh Soin
By Marco Baneveld

There are more and more voices that traveling is bad for the environment. We believe that traveling in the right way makes the world a better place. In the words of David Attenborough : “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”

WideOyster highlights travel heroes who are committed to the world. In this edition Mandip Singh Soin, explorer and environmentalist.

When I met Mandip in a bus in Salta, en route to the Juramento River (for those who raft: a number 5), we immediately got talking. An incredibly nice man, full of puns and easily recognizable by his colorful turbans. I knew a lot that I was laughing with a fairly remarkable person. But I would soon find out.

Over the past four decades, Mandip Singh Soin, an Indian Sikh, has climbed, skied, jumped parachute and immersed himself in a thousand other adventures on all seven continents. “My wanderlust started early,” he recalls. “I was 15, climbed into the Himalayas and was overwhelmed by adventure and nature.” He turned his passion into his work.

His company Ibex Expeditions was born in 1979. Ibex organizes tailor-made adventures and has received many international awards over the years. Just like Mandip itself, by the way. This year the company is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

His experiences all over the world made him more and more involved in protecting the nature that he loves so much. And with success.

Mandip is the only Indian who has received the NESS Award from the Royal Geographical Society, UK . He also received the prestigious Tenzing Norgay Adventure Award from the hands of the President of India. He is the founder of the Ecotourism Society of India and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, UK and the Explorers Club, USA . He is a man to be reckoned with. Big time.

In 2015, he was awarded the Citation of Merit by the Explorers Club for his work on mountaineering on six continents. Other recipients of this award include Jeff Bezos, John Hemming, Gilbert M. Grosvenor, Lord Robert ST Chorley, Nigel N. Winser, Naomi Uemura and Robert D. Ballard.

We were allowed to ask him some questions about how traveling can do the world well and how it can help preserve our beautiful planet for future generations.

 

Tiger - Ibex Expeditions
Mandip, why are you traveling

Mandip, why are you traveling?

“For all the amazing and different landscapes, the bewildering architectural styles and the fantastic types of people living in this world. The peculiarities and eccentricities of people and cultures around the world. It makes this planet a very interesting place to travel. ”

What did it bring you?

“A better understanding of people, myself and also a better understanding of how the planet ticks.”

How does travel define you as a person?

“There are two types of journeys: the inner journey and the outer journey. Traveling opens windows in the mind. It has taught me to be empathetic and at the same time it has made me realize that I have to contribute to a better world.

Do you think there is a ‘good’ way of traveling and a ‘bad’ way of traveling?

“The right way is to understand and open up to cultures and people you visit. But your choice of travel also counts: choose sustainable hotels, lodges and tour operators, which also respect the locals and give them back to the community where the journey goes. Also try to donate something to support nature and culture, such as the WWF or local non-profit organizations for the environment, cultures or education. There is so much to do, so little money and every drop counts. Bad tourism does nothing of the above and only goes for itself and the cheapest, without having to worry about the impact of tourism. Bad tourism is not about attracting you to what your impact is and just taking it. ”

You are committed to the environment. Can you explain that?

“Well, first we set a good example with Ibex. Just to feel good about it and to care for the environment. For example, we do not make campfires with wood from the environment during our Himalayan expeditions. There is not much firewood there and what there is is primarily meant for the local communities, we think. Nowadays we burn less and less on open fire because of the CO2 and we use solar energy to cook, shower and light to reduce our impact.

We soon started making recommendations to other tour operators. Now we do this in India on a national level through the Ecotourism Society of India. There is so much to do. ”

Why are it the more adventurous journeys that contribute to nature conservation

Why are it the more adventurous journeys that contribute to nature conservation?

“If tourism is the arrow, adventure travel is the arrowhead. These trips like to go to areas where normal tourism does not dare yet. They are often unexplored areas. Tourism then brings jobs, money and the exchange of knowledge. Adventurous travel organizations are often a pioneer in the field of nature protection. Because nature is the playground that people love so much. You don’t want to ruin that. In the words of David Attenborough : “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced. ”

However, there is a side note. Because this type of travel can also be done irresponsibly and it will be damaged more than it does well. So we have to keep making wise decisions. ”

What would your advice be for people who are concerned about the impact of travel?

“Be more aware where you are going and how you are traveling. Respect cultures and people. Pay attention to which travel agency you are traveling with and consciously choose sustainable accommodation. See if you can possibly compensate the CO2 for your flights. Traveling can be a powerful tool to protect this planet and create a better understanding between people. It is ultimately your choices that make the difference. ”

 

With Mandip to the heart of India

With Mandip to the heart of India

There is probably no better way to discover India than with Mandip Singh Soin. For the 40th anniversary of their company, Mandip and his wife Anita lead an expedition to the heart of India, in the footsteps of Captain James Forsyth, an explorer who served in the Indian army at the end of the 19th century. The journey takes you to the forests of Satpura in the state of Madhya Pradesh. You stay in luxury camps and colonial lodges and immerse yourself in art, culture, nature, wildlife and recipes from the kitchen of the Nawab family. A great walking experience through the Satpura Tiger Reserve. You also visit Bhopal, Mandu and Maheshwar where you stay in the Ahilya Fort, the private palace of the former Holkar dynasty.

Read more about this journey here. 

Ladakh: A Photographic Journey To Little Tibet - Ibex Expeditions

Ladakh: A Photographic Journey to “Little Tibet”

Ladakh: A Photographic Journey To Little Tibet - Ibex Expeditions

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.

Ladakh Tours - Ibex Expeditions
Our special anniversary edition journey to Ladakh this September will be led by Himraj Soin, an adventure travel journalist who is an avid skier and climber;
studied at Colorado College. He is a National Geographic Student Expedition leader
and photographer and his expeditions have taken him to Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan,Borneo, Madagascar, Peru, Morocco, Namibia, Argentina, Chile, and Antarctica, and more.

Ladakh Trips - Ibex Expeditions

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.

Himraj - Ibex Expeditions

The journey will take place this September. Send in your queries to ibex@www.ibexexpeditions.com!
.