The world’s highest motorable road


The world’s highest motorable road

Introduction: Ladhak, an extension of the Gobi desert and Tibetan plateau, comprises the world’s highest and harshest terrain. Large stretches of stark high altitude deserts and ‘moonscapes’ makes this a forbidding landscape to view, even from the safe embrace of an aircraft. There is a strange beauty, a hidden mysticism and peacefulness about the land which makes a traveler keep stumbling back again and again. A photographer’s paradise, you constantly come across a never-changing palette of the mountains.  Unbelievable hues of purple and red stand out in contrast to snow-capped mountains. The predominantly Buddhist region has gompas (monasteries) clinging to mountain tops in what seen to be the most precarious locations against the bluest sky that a painter could stoke with his brush.

Your journey on this inspirational tour gives you a glimpse into the lives of humble people living in the harshest of terrain, cut off from civilization for many months on end, yet who possess an inner peace or moksha which all of us crave for. This tour brings you face to face with a different culture: living with the nomadic herdsmen, meditating with a Buddhist scholar, understanding the traditional healing system and trying out the local cuisine. Your exploration starts from the capital city, Leh, unraveling beautiful monasteries, continuing into unexplored remote villages and vast sand dunes which seem empty, until a faint tinkle of bells heralds the arrival of a herdsman with his yak and sheep.

Day 01: Arrive Delhi

  • Namaste! Welcome to India!
  • After clearing customs and immigration, our representative will meet you in the arrival area. Transfer to your hotel.
  • Delhi stands as the capital of Modern India. Here you can see the mingling of the Old and New India, the ancient and the modern. Delhi is made up of seven ancient cities, spanning the period from the 11th to 20th centuries. Delhi has seen the rise and fall of many emperors, which has left behind a plethora of monuments that commemorate the grandeur and glory of bygone ages. Very few cities in the world can express such a profusion of architectural styles.

Day 02: Delhi

  • After breakfast this morning, proceed for full day tour of Old and New Delhi. Old Delhi had been the capital of Mughal India between the 12th and 19th centuries. See the 17th century Jama Masjid Mosque and walk through the narrow, winding lanes of the colorful and bustling Chandni Chowk. Take a rickshaw ride through some of the lanes of the bazaars.  Drive past the Mughal Empire’s most opulent fort, the Red Fort. Visit Raj Ghat the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Further proceed to New Delhi with visits that include a drive past the Presidential Palace, the one-time imperial residence of the British viceroys; India Gate, a memorial raised in honor of the Indian soldiers martyred during the Afghan war and a drive along the Rajpath past the Parliament House and Secretarial buildings. Visit Qutab Minar, the 12th century tower of victory built by a slave king and prototype of all minars (towers) in India and the 16th century Humayun’s Tomb, a precursor to the Taj Mahal.
  • Late afternoon, walk through Nizzamuddin basti (colony), a medieval settlement where the tomb of the famous 13th century Muslim Sufi Saint Nizzamuddin Auliya is located. An underprivileged young adult trained by a local NGO will conduct this tour.

Day 03: Leh

  • Depart Delhi on an early flight to Leh. Ladakh. Spend most of the day relaxing and acclimatizing. In the evening take a short walk around town. A particularly attractive sight is to see women from nearby villages sitting along the edge of the footpath with baskets of fresh vegetables brought for sale. Behind the main bazaar, Chang Gali is less bustling but has interesting little shops selling curios and jewelry.
  • Later watch the sunset from Shanti Stupa over the Indus Valley.

Day 04: Thiksay, Hemis & Shey Palace

  • Leave early morning to attend a morning prayer in the Thiksay monastery and spend time interacting with the monks over breakfast at the monastery restaurant. From here visit Hemis monastery and Shey palace. Lunch is in the lap of nature listening to the bubbling of a river in the backdrop of rugged mountains. The day ends with an interesting visit to the Central Institute of Bodhi Studies for sculpture and Tibetan fine art.

Day 05: Oracle Lady, Sham Valley

  • Today visit an oracle lady. The word “oracle” is used to refer to the spirit that enters those men and women who act as media between the natural and the spiritual realms. Oracles were thought to be portals through which the gods speaks directly to people and therefore considered to be a source of counsel. Later drive to Yangthang village via Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, and experience the phenomenon known as the Magnetic hill. On reaching Yangthang village take a gentle walk in the breathtaking surroundings. Today you will be invited to experience the hospitality of a local Ladhaki family, break bread with them and spend the night in their home.

Day 06: Half – day trek

  • If yesterday’s trek built up your appetite, today we will satisfy it with a half day trek from Yangthang village to Ule Tokpo via Chulichan nunnery. Enjoy the pristine beauty all around walking at your own pace.

Day 07: River Rafting

  • Spend an exciting day rafting in the Indus/Zaskar River in settings that will sweep you off your feet.

Day 08: Leh- Nubra Valley

  •  This morning drive towards Nubra valley crossing Khardungla pass, the world’s highest motorable road at 5602 meters.
  • Visit Diskit monastery and the biggest statue of the Buddha in Ladakh. Later continue the journey and reach Sumur village. Dinner and overnight stay will be at a camp.

Day 09: Nubra Valley – Leh

  • After a comfortable breakfast go for a village walk with a friend of our company who will explain the nomadic way of life and share his experiences with you. In the evening meet a person who is fondly known as the ‘Iceman of Leh’ and hear about his lone struggle against global warming.

Less snowfall, receding glaciers are already affecting farmers in the Ladakh region whose agrarian population is dependent on the glacier melt water. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change, the Himalayan Glaciers, if the current situation persists, may disappear entirely as early as 2030. For 22 years, Chewang Norphel has been getting villagers to work together to build ‘artificial glaciers’ — a system where melt water is diverted to a shady area through iron pipes in winter, and trapped by an embankment. Once trapped, the water freezes naturally, forming ‘glaciers’ that can hold about 10 lakh cubic feet of ice, enough to irrigate about 200 hectares of land.

Day 10: Audience with a Buddhist Scholar, Leh

  • Participate in a private audience with a Buddhist scholar to better understand their faith. Later visit a local school to interact with the school children.

Day 11: Leh – Tsomoriri  

  • After a comfortable breakfast drive towards Tsomoriri Lake at Korzok village via many villages and hot spring at Chhumathang. Spend time interacting with nomads who live in yak wool woven tents and rear goats, sheep and yaks and don’t do any farming as they shift from one place to the other. The final destination is Tsomoriri Lake. After check in, take an excursion to the lake to spot different species of birds.

Day 12: Tsomoriri – Tsokar

  • Drive to Tsokar Lake via Puga valley and see a hot spring fountain. We have a very good chance of spotting wild ass and black neck crane so keep your eyes open. Visit the magical salt lakes.

Day 13: Tsokar – Leh

  • Drive back to Leh passing Taglangla pass and see unusual rock formations.

Day 14: Interact with an Amchi In Leh

  • Spend personalized time with an Amchi. Amchi is a person practicing Tibetan medicine, based on the herbs and natural products of Tibet and the Himalaya, and has existed for thousands of years. This holistic approach to healing combines the body’s need for physical wellness with the quest for spiritual balance and mental peace. The teachings of Buddha are considered to be the foundation of Tibetan medicine. Understand how an Amchi is not only someone who has medical skills but a qualified Amchi must also have knowledge of religious philosophy, astrology, and traditional painting.

Day 15: Depart Leh for Delhi

  • Depart Leh for Delhi. Driver will be available to take you around Delhi until it is time for your International flight back home.

End of the Tour