Duration: 8 days
Best time: April - October
This eight-day tailor-made cultural tour of Ladakh and the Changtang plateau region takes you from downtown Delhi into the Himalayan foothills to leave you in no uncertain terms as to the natural beauty of northern Indian. Flying from Delhi to Leh, in Ladakh, allows for an efficient means of making the most of your time. We also recommend travelling during the months of June to September so as to coincide with the nomadic migration of the Changpa people.The suggested itinerary below has been designed to incorporate many of the cultural highlights of Ladakh and Changtang as well as many lesser-known landmarks to give you an extremely well-rounded tour. The opportunity to join the Changpa people as they embark on their journey from higher to lower ground for cattle grazing is a remarkable and rare experience. Camping out close to the herders' temporary villages is an authentic way to become immersed in the culture of the region as well as being able to experience, first-hand, the vast lakes and high altitude plateau on the Tibetan border. Listening to the folklore tales around the campfire is one such way that travellers get to learn about the cultural traditions of the Changpa people, on their terms. This is not a gimmick or a display for the tourists, this is an opportunity to live with local families and find out more about their lives in a natural setting. A combination of organized activities and organic adventures allows this eight day trip to unfold at your own pace as well as including interactive herding, cooking and dancing sessions to ensure you become completely immersed in the nomadic way of life in the mountains. Spending two whole days within the Changpa community is an absolute privilege and an experience that's bound to stay long in the memory for cultural travellers and adventure seekers alike. Life in Ladakh and on the Chantang plateau is geared around farming, much of which means preparing food and livestock for the colder months of winter. The contrasts between life in the country-side and life in the town of Leh is significant, and you'll find both locations provide fascinating perspectives with the meeting of Buddhism, Sikhism and Islamism, which is certain to make an indelible impact.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN LEH. After arrival in Leh by flight, you will drive through the beautiful village of Palam with a panoramic view of the Leh Valley with the Stok mountain range on your left and the Indus river on your right. You will check in to your hotel after a refreshing drink and a warm Ladakhi welcome. We take it slow until the afternoon so that your body has the time to adapt and acclimatize to the change in air pressure and altitude. A picnic lunch will be arranged along the banks of the Indus River. It is a Ladakhi way of chilling out. Here you can check out the Indus river, the organic farming and other agricultural activities before a dinner invitation from a Ladakhi family. Overnight at (hotel)
DAY 2-3: SHAM VALLEY. After breakfast you will visit the Hall of Fame, which houses a thorough introduction to the Ladakh region. En-route you will receive blessings from the Gurudwara Pather Sahib, a holy place for Sikhs with storytelling. You will also check out the funny Magnetic Hill and witness the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar Rivers. You will then reach Saspol village, one of the greenest and most beautiful villages of Sham Valley followed by your check-in to the homestay with your respective families. This day is meant to relax and check out the beautiful village. We highly recommend that you join the family for the daily chores of feeding and milking the cows. You are encouraged to take part in cooking from plucking vegetables and learning the Ladakhi cuisine. You are free to take a walk in the village and find the amazing rock-cut temples called the Gon-Nila-Phuk caves. Four of these caves are richly adorned with paintings of the Buddhist pantheon from 13th - 15th century AD, representing a fusion of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist art. It's a beautiful hike and quite a hunt to find the caves. Check out the beautiful fields, water-mills and apricot trees on the way. After lunch, you will visit the nearby Alchi monastery The paintings of Saspol caves and Alchi monastery are exquisite and hold archaeological and spiritual significance. You can also choose to stay in the village and spend time with the villagers instead. You will have dinner with your host family at night. Overnight at (homestay)
DAY 4-5: CHANGTHANG. You will say goodbye to your hosts and embark on the journey of the nomadic trail with Changpa people. You will have lunch at a local house en-route and then cross Taglang La, the Leh - Manali highway. The nomads of Changthang have a distinct and seasonal migration pattern and depending on the season you will camp closest to their settlement from June- September. By evening when the herders return, you can witness the art of enclosing the goats in their pens and various activities of identifying missing goats and their foals, milking of goats and shearing of Pashmina wool if the day is long. You can enjoy a bonfire while dinner is prepared and have a glass of nutritious goat milk and slip into the warmth of your bed as it gets chilly outside. Experience the everyday morning in the lives of the nomads from shearing Pashmina, milking goats, separating the injured goats and making sure they don't join the herds to leave for grazing. You can then check out the beautiful Tsokar lake and have a picnic lunch there. Spend the day hoping to catch a glimpse of the endangered Black Necked Crane and other wildlife. Afterwards you will come back to the settlement and relax for the day. Overnight at (homestay).
DAY 6: RETURN TO LEH. On the final day you travel towards Leh and stay with a family. In the evening, you will check out the Palam Caves and the monastery. Optionally, you can walk to the Palam Bridge through the village, which is an excellent walk where you can come to an old, flag laden wooden bridge. Return to have some tea and enjoy the scenic beauty. Overnight at (hotel)
DAY 7: SIGHTSEEING AROUND LEH . After breakfast, you leave for Leh and walk through the old Leh town and visit LAMO (Ladakh Arts and Media Organization). It is an organization promoting the distinct cultural heritage and arts of Ladakh. LAMO is a center for material and visual culture, performing arts and Ladakhi literature. You can also see the traditional houses of Ladakh that were restored to showcase the heritage of the Ladakhi architecture. You can visit the Leh Palace which is right above LAMO. You will have lunch with a local family in Leh, and proceed for 'Shanti Stupa' which has a beautiful view overlooking Leh city. In the afternoon you can visit Leh market for any souvenir shopping and come back to the hotel for dinner. Overnight at (hotel).
DAY 8: FLY BACK . Departure from Leh for Delhi followed by onward flight home. We will provide airport transfers in Leh..
LAND COST: on request
- Hotel accommodation with breakfast and dinner
- All monastery entrance fees, wild life fees.
- English-speaking guide.
- All transportation.
- Innner line permit
- Medical and evacuation insurance
- Miscellaneous expenses and tips for the staff
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and food.
- International/Domestic Air ticket to and from Delhi, and air ticket to Leh.
- Laundry and other services not mentioned in the package.
- Trip cancellation, travel delay or baggage loss insurance.
- Charges incurred as a result of delays, natural calamities beyond the control of Yama Adventures.
CANCELLATION: 20% cancellation fee will be applied if cancelled 60 days prior to departure. Cancellation in less than 60 days is non-refundable.
© Yama Adventures, 2019.