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.
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)
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.
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.
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.