Duration: 12 days
Best time: June - October
This Himalaya family adventure holiday explores the best of Ladakh, or ‘Little Tibet’ as it’s otherwise known. Ladakh is a remote Himalayan region that’s an adventure playground all year round, with walking, rafting and cycling all high on the agenda. Your trip starts in Leh, where you’ll spend three days acclimatising to the (3,500m) altitude, and exploring the city’s bazaars, the former Royal Palace and the Peace Pagoda, or taking an optional jeep safari to the Khardung Pass, which at (5,602m) is one of the highest driveable roads on the planet. Having gotten used to being up high, the adventure begins in earnest with whitewater rafting on the Indus River, followed by a three-day trek through the mountains. Along the way you’ll walk past fertile fields, orchards and large, whitewashed Ladakhi homes, and traverse a wild, boulder strewn landscape home to Snow Leopards and Blue Sheep. History buffs can get their fix at the 11th century Alchi monastery and ruined Basgo Fort. There’s also a chance to see Bactrian Camels at a breeding farm. The trek is moderate and suitable for people with good general fitness, with walks of between three and five hours a day, and a few steep ascents and descents. As well as hotels, you’ll spend a night in a village homestay and four nights camping, though your tents will be set up and taken down for you, so all you’ll have to carry is your daypack.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
DAY 1: FLY TO BEAUTIFUL LAND “LADAKH”. A very early start today for the flight to Leh. We usually leave the hotel at around 2am and drive to the airport for the very early but highly spectacular flight over the Himalaya to Leh. If the weather is good and the flight leaves on time we should be in Leh by early morning. The rest of the day is free to relax and acclimatize to the altitude (3,500m). Flying straight to the high altitude of Leh can take your breath away (literally), so we concentrate on acclimatizing for the first few days. In the morning you rest and catch up on some sleep and in the afternoon there will be a gentle orientation walk of Leh and its bazaars. Overnight at (hotel)
DAY 2: SIGHT SEEING AROUND THE INDUS VALLEY. Today there is a sightseeing tour to two of the major Gompas (monasteries) in the area. You will first drive to Shey, a former Royal Palace of the kings of Ladakh. Inside is a small temple containing a 350 year old copper and gold statue of the Buddha. From Shey you will walk across the fields on a good level trail to Thiksey, where you will visit the monastery perched on top of a hill - its red and white buildings can be seen for miles. You can explore the temples and courtyards and meet the red-robed monks who live here. In one of the temples there is a 15-metre high statue of the Future Buddha. You return to Leh in the afternoon. Overnight at (hotel)
DAY 3: DAY TRIP TO HIGHEST MOTORABLE ROAD IN THE WORLD . There is the opportunity on this day to make an optional jeep safari to the Khardung Pass; at (18380ft/5,602m). It is reputedly one of the highest motorable roads in the world. This can be booked and paid for locally, your leader will have details. Those not wanting to do the jeep safari can walk up to the Leh Palace and Tsemo monastery, which are set above the town on Namgyal Hill with magnificent views of the whole of Leh and its surrounding villages. In the afternoon you can climb the 555 steps to the recently built Japanese Peace Pagoda. This huge stupa overlooks Leh and with stunning views of the town and the Stok range of mountains across the valley. Overnight at (hotel).
DAY 4: RIVER RAFTING. By now you should be well-acclimatized; you leave Leh and head towards the river for a stint of easy white water rafting. You will drive to Phey, where the rafting starts. After a full safety briefing you set off down the river. This is not high-level white water rafting, but there are some sections of grade 2 and 3 rapids. This means that a novice rafter will find it exhilarating and not too scary. Just after setting off you will float through an impressive gorge to where the Zanskar River flows into the Indus. After about 3 hours the rafting ends at Nimmu, where you will dry off and rejoin your transport for the 2-3 hour drive to Yangtang. If we have time, there is the chance to visit Likir monastery en-route. The monastery is well-kept, and there is an active school for young monks. We will camp near Yangtang village (3,683m). If there is time we can explore the village and maybe visit the small local school or watch the Ladakhis sowing the barley and potatoes, the staple crops of these hardy mountain people. From the campsite there are wonderful southerly views over the village to the Ladakh Range beyond. Overnight (home stay).
DAY 5: TREK TO HEMIS SHUKPACHAN. You start your trek today heading west on an easy trail which climbs to your first pass, the Tsarmangchan (3,888m). There are wonderful views down to the village of Hemis Shukpachen (3,663m). This tranquil village with a small gompa, green pastures and a babbling brook is a lovely place to stay for the night. Today's walk is 4km and should take approximately 3 hours. In the afternoon you can visit the monastery and have a look around the village. Overnight (home stay)
DAY 6: TREK TO TEMISGAM. From camp you cross the pastures in a north westerly direction skirting the sides of the fields. After a stop at a chorten you follow the trail past the mature juniper trees that give the village its name, juniper is shukpa in Ladakhi. The path climbs easily to your first pass today, the Mebtek La (3,796m) from where you can admire the pink and mauve-colored mountains ahead. You descend into the next valley and the trail ahead can just be made out as it zigzags up the mountainside in the distance. The path winds up to the Lago La (3,750m) and from the top there are magnificent views across to the south side of the Indus Valley. The trail descends steeply from the pass to the village of Ang. This area is regarded as the richest in Ladakh and fields of barley, potatoes and fruit orchards provide more than adequate food for these villages. From Ang it is an easy walk (although it can be hot and dusty) along the new jeep track to Temisgam (3,256m). This is the largest, most prosperous village on the trek. Set amongst fertile fields as well as spreading apple and apricot orchards there are some fine examples of large, whitewashed Ladakhi homes. As a result of a division of Ladakh in the 14th to 15th centuries, the lower kingdom was controlled from Basgo and Temisgam. Little remains of its glorious past and the castle is in ruins but there are still temples you can visit. Today's walk should take approximately 5 hours and is 13km. Overnight (home stay).
DAY 7: TREK TO SKINDYANG. You start today with a short drive to the pretty village of Tia. Then start walking to the village of Charcha, from where you start climbing a barren hillside. From here a wonderful boulder strewn landscape greets us. The wild landscape around here is home to Snow Leopards and Blue Sheep. You can see the pass ahead and an easy 45minutes walk brings us to the top of the pass at (4,060m). you now descend into a dry valley which you follow to a set of chortens above the village. The last 30 minutes of the descent is a little steeper as you drop down to Skindyang (3,531m), a traditional Ladakhi village where we spend the night. Today’s walk is approximately 3.5/4 hours and 7km. Overnight (home stay).
DAY 8: DRIVE TO ALCHI . You descend to the road head and join the main Leh to Srinagar road from where you drive to Alchi, where you stay in a simple guesthouse near to the monastery. Alchi village is set in a side valley hidden from the main road and is an oasis of calm. In summer the villagers are busy in the fields with their crops of barley, wheat and vegetables. The climate here is very mild and apricot trees abound. You have time here to observe village life and you may get the chance to visit a local family. Alchi Monastery is one of the most important cultural sites in Ladakh. Built in the 11th century, it is a treasure trove of early Buddhist art in the Kashmiri tradition, a style quite different from the Tibetan art found in Ladakh’s other monasteries. Overnight at Alchi (hotel/Guest house).
DAY 9: VISIT TO MANGYU VILLAGE. From Alchi you drive to the small village of Mangyu. You have the chance to visit a local school and the village monastery. The Mangyu monastery consists similar architechure to Alchi Choskar and Tabo Monastery which are in Spiti and was also founded by Lotsava Rinchen Zangpo. Mangyu Gompa Alchi is situated on a flat surface like other monasteries such as Alchi and Tabo monasteries. Lotsava Rinchen Zangpo most likely founded this monastery during the same era as the Alchi Choskor. Mangu monastery consists mainly of four temples. In this Mangu Gompa Alchi it has small temples, on either side of the main temple which contains the statue of Avaloketesvara and Maitriya in the standing position. On the right side of the temple it contains a figure of a four-headed Vairocana, as the main image and the wall has a mural of Mandala. You will return to Alchi for the night. Overight at Alchi(hotel/Guest house)
DAY 10: DRIVE BACK TO LEH. You drive back towards Leh and en route stop at Basgo Fort. Now mostly in ruins, it is spectacularly situated in the windblown rocks. You spend some time here exploring the ruins and temples. Driving past Leh we continue to Stok village where we spend the night. On the way, you can stop at a Bactrian Camel breeding farm. For centuries the double-humped Bactrian Camel was used to transport loads over the Himalaya but they are now rarely seen in Ladakh. The small breeding farm was set up by the government to keep the species alive. You stay tonight in Stok, a large village with beautiful views across to the Ladakh mountains. Overnight at Stok. (hotel).
DAY 11: STOK – LEH . Stok is only an hour from Leh and is home to the royal family of Ladakh. Ladakh still has its own king, who spends some of the year in the palace here in Stok. The magnificent red and white palace overlooks the village. Some of the rooms are private but some have been made into a museum which you can visit. There is an optional cycle ride back down to the Indus River and along the banks of the Indus towards Choglamsar. (Please note the smallest bike size available in Leh is 15 inches). You finish the bike ride close to Leh and return to hotel in Leh tonight. In the afternoon there is the chance to visit the Donkey Sanctuary in Leh. For the last few years Exodus has been helping support this home for old or injured donkeys and it’s adelightful place to visit. Make sure you take lots of tasty carrots with you – the donkeys love them! Overnight at Leh (hotel).
DAY 12: FLY BACK. Some places in the world are dream destinations. One such place is Ladakh. When you leave Ladakh you will bring many memories with you so that when you look back you will definitely cherish the moments you have spent here in Ladakh.
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.