Few places in the world are as spectacular as Ladakh, a moonscape of jagged peaks and cloud-swept monasteries high atop the Tibetan Plateau. On our extraordinary cultural adventure, you’ll hike among serene villages under a cobalt-blue sky, cross the highest road in the world, and experience festivals where Ladakhi women often wear exquisite turquoise headdresses and the air is filled with the sounds of dung-chens (long trumpets) and clashing cymbals. You’ll also explore the spellbinding Shyok and Nubra Valleys, enchanting visions from the Silk Road days. In this realm of Bactrian camels and sand dunes below snow-dusted mountains, we’ll climb to the lookout atop the massive Buddha statue at Diskit Gompa to watch a golden sunset.
An excellent trip—a fabulous location and an experience you will get nowhere else.
— Barbara B., Redmond, WA
Delhi / Leh / Hemis / Thikse (Lamayuru Festival Departure)
In Delhi, we have an unforgettable visit to Gandhi’s last home, then take a spectacular flight across the Himalaya to the historic trading post of Leh (11,500'). Caravans once rested here on the arduous mountain crossing to Yarkand, and we’ll explore the bazaar that still has a distinctly Central Asian ambiance, with its mix of people from different regions—elderly Ladakhi women, farmers from the Nubra Valley, Tibetan and Kashmiri shopkeepers, schoolchildren, and red-robed monks from Zanskar. We’ll also explore the Indus Valley’s striking monasteries, including Hemis and Thikse.
Indus River Valley / Alchi / Lamayuru
After seeing the treasure trove of rare Buddhist frescoes at ancient Alchi, we head to Tingmosgang, where our guesthouse, set amid apricot and apple trees, grants us an incredible glimpse into traditional Ladakhi village life. We take tea with the monks at cliff-perched Lamayuru, in a setting of rugged cliffs and rock spires, and witness the vibrant Yuru Kab-gya Festival, where elaborate masked dances celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
Crossing the Khardung La (18,300'), for centuries a trade route for spices, pashmina shawls, opium, and saffron, we descend into the once-forbidden Shyok and Nubra Valleys where our hikes lead along the valley floor. You’ll 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 the vast valley. Depart on Day 12 via Delhi.