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Into the Spectacular Hidden World of “Little Tibet”

Overview

Awe-inspiring Ladakh is an absolutely striking moonscape of 20,000-foot peaks sheltering stone-built villages and brilliant green fields of barley. An ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture thrives here, beautifully expressed in the traditional dress of the people, in thousand-year-old cliff-side monasteries, and in long walls of exquisitely carved mani stones (Buddhist prayer stones). In this former Buddhist kingdom hidden in the Western Himalayas, we’ll walk among serene villages under a cobalt-blue sky, discover the grand hilltop monasteries of the Indus Valley, and experience a Tibetan Buddhist festival. One special highlight is the breathtaking Nubra Valley, where the ancient Nubra kings once reigned. Here we visit oasis-like villages, ride a Bactrian camel across dunescapes, and watch a golden sunset from a 7th century monastery.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-4
Delhi / Leh / Hemis / Thikse (Lamayuru Festival Departure)

From Delhi, we fly across the Himalaya to Leh (11,500'), Ladakh’s striking capital, which sprawls down from the foot of a ruined Tibetan-style palace, with taupe-colored desert on one side and a swath of lush farmland on the other. We roam the bazaar, which still has a Silk Road ambiance, and visit massive medieval monasteries, including Hemis and Thikse, living centers of worship perched on rocky hilltops.

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Days 5-7
Indus River Valley / Alchi / Lamayuru Festival

After seeing rare Buddhist frescoes at Alchi, we head to Tingmosgang for a fascinating glimpse into traditional Ladakhi village life. At ancient Lamayuru Monastery, one of Ladakh’s great cliff-perched landmarks, we witness the vibrant Lamayuru Yuru Kab-gya Festival, with its sacred dances and rituals performed by costumed monks representing guardian deities.

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Days 8-12
Nubra Valley

Motoring across the Khardung La (18,300'), we descend into the luminous, deep-cut Nubra Valley, where sand dunes carpet the valley floor. Here we have the chance to ride a Bactrian camel and visit tranquil villages, including Diskit, with its 700-year-old gompa and huge statue of Maitreya Buddha that gazes serenely over this vast, ethereal valley. Depart on Day 12 via Delhi.

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Highlights

Highlights

Experience Ladakh’s breathtaking landscapes and unique Tibetan Buddhist culture
Stroll the atmospheric Leh bazaar, which still retains a Silk Road atmosphere
Explore medieval monasteries of the Indus Valley including spectacular Hemis and Thikse
Discover the once-forbidden Nubra Valley, with its ancient villages amid dunescapes
Witness the Lamayuru Festival (June) or Leh Festival (September)

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $5195  
Arrive: Delhi, India
Depart: Delhi, India
Lodging: 6 nights hotels, 5 nights guesthouses
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Rugged road travel with light hikes, altitudes of 10,000-18,379 feet