Ladakh, known as the Little Tibet of India, is a high-altitude region tucked in the Himalayas, with breathtaking landscapes – valleys with jagged edges, deep blue lakes surrounded by snow peaks, highland cold desert nourished by glacier-fed rivers. Steep in Tibetan Buddhism traditions, during this tour, chance to attend religious festival with sacred mask dance. The tour covers some of the most remote regions of Ladakh, including Zanskar Valley, which is only accessible during summer months while other times of the year it is often blocked by heavy snow. Also visit Changtang region, which is part of the Tibetan Plateau known as the roof of the world.
Late afternoon flight to Delhi, arrival at night, transfer to a hotel near the airport. Retire early to bed, in preparation for next day’s early flight to Ladakh region in the Himalayas.
Early morning transfer to airport, catch a domestic flight to Leh, once the imperial capital of Ladakh Kingdom. During the flight journey, admire spectacular view of the Himalayan ranges rolling into the horizon. Upon arrival, transfer to guesthouse. Afternoon rest and relax to acclimatize to high altitude, as Leh is located at 3524m. Avoid strenuous activities to keep high altitude sickness at bay.
Sightseeing around Old Leh, which is a blend of multi-culture, with monuments of various religions, including Buddhism, Islam, and Sikhism. Slow walk around the hill side up to Tsemo monastery for panoramic view of Leh city. Afternoon free and easy to explore Leh Bazaar, where there’re some stalls run by Tibetan refugees.
Take a scenic drive westward, en-route stopover at the viewpoint of the confluence of Indus River and Zanskar River. Later, visit Alchi Monastery dated from 10th century, known for its marvelous frescoes. After lunch arrival in Lamayuru, known for its moon-like landscape and ancient monastery, one of the oldest and largest in Ladakh. Overnight in Kargil, a Muslim dominated town.
Proceed towards Zanskar Valley, en-route visit Suru Valley located at an elevation above 3,600m, view of the magnificent twin peaks of Nun and Kun, both above 7,000m height. The mountain range separates Zanskar from the Suru valley and other parts of Ladakh. On top of a pass, enchanting view of towering mountain ranges. Just before arriving in Rangdum, the valley gets broader with green and lush meadow.
Morning visit Rangdum Monastery before continuing the drive to Padum. En-route, impressive view of Drang Drung glacier, which flanked the way up to the pass of Pentse La (4,200m). On top of the pass, there’re two small and greenish lakes – Sato and Langto. Around sunset arrival in Padum, our base for the next few days to learn more about Zanskari lifestyle in isolation.
Today explore nearby communities, visit Karsha monastery with a large collection of Tangka (silk Buddhism paintings) and Chushikjal Nunnery that provides spiritual education for young girls. Later proceed to the hamlet of Sani, where an ancient monastery standing by a sacred lake. Walkabouts in Sani and mingle with the locals, gain up-close contact with the local way of life. Back in Padum for stay.
Drive to nearby Zangla village, where a ruined fort perched high on a hilltop. To enter the village, cross a rickety wooden suspension bridge, with fast-flowing Zanskar River roaring beneath. Later, visit the oldest monastery in Zanskar – Stongdey, which offers sweeping view of the Zanskar Valley and the farmland at foothill.
A scenic drive along Tsarap River to Purne Village. After lunch, start trekking to Phukthal monastery, which is only accessible on foot. Perch high on a cliff 4000m above sea level overlooking a gorge, the honeycomb-like structure of Phukthal monastery has a surreal appearance, as if growing out of the rocks and exploding out of a cave. Explore the complex of prayer halls, library, chortens. Overnight at the monastery guesthouse, immerse in its solitary and divine aura.
After breakfast trek downhill back to Purne, and drive southwards until passing the last village of Zanskar – Khargiah, late afternoon arrival at the campsite under the foothill of Gonborangjon, a standalone lofty rock deemed holy by the locals.
A day of long drive, begin with ascending to 5,150m at the high pass of Shinko La, which borders Ladakh and the next-door province of Himachal Pradesh. Later, cross back into Ladakh via the Manali-Leh highway, journey through high passes of Baralacha La (5,030m), Nakee La (4,738m), and the 21 hairpin bends of Gata loops, finally arriving at the shore of Tso Kar (4,500m), a saline lake in the Changtang region of Ladakh.
Average elevation in Changtang region is above 4000m, it is part of the Tibetan Plateau extending to adjacent China. Today explore two high altitude lakes in Changtang, after sightseeing around Tso Kar, drive to Tso Moriri at an altitude of 4522m, the lake’s calm surface reflects mirroring image of the surrounding mountains, and the lake appears in multiple shades of blue.
A day of long drive back to Leh, en-route, enroute visit Hemis Monastery, a 17th century Buddhism shrine with a wide collection of Tibetan Buddhism books, thangkas, and statues. Also stop by Thiksey Monastery, which is known as the Little Potala Palace (looks like the one in Lhasa, Tibet). Arrive back in Leh around sunset.
After early breakfast, transfer to airport, board a domestic flight to Delhi. Later at night, catch an international flight bound for Kuala Lumpur. Arrival the next morning.
Morning arrival in Kuala Lumpur. End of tour.
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A nature lover, she guides forest tours, and started organic farming to lead a self-sustainable lifestyle. She’s interested in learning the relations between nature and humanity; she even traveled abroad to study the ancient ways of life of the American Indians. She believes nature shapes the culture and traditions of human life.
She thinks of travel as a process of cultural learning, which provides insights into human migration trail, just like the eco-system of a forest, where nature forces come in play. She cares about the world, not just the humankind, but also the nature and wildlife.
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