Discover the Hidden World of “Little Tibet”

Overview

Awe-inspiring Ladakh is a striking moonscape of 20,000-foot peaks sheltering stone-built villages and an ancient cultural heritage. In this Buddhist land hidden in the Western Himalayas, we take day hikes to traditional villages under a cobalt-blue sky, discover the grand hilltop monasteries of the Indus Valley, including 11th century Alchi, with its rare frescoes, and witness a vibrant festival. Tibetan heritage is beautifully expressed here in the traditional dress of the people, the thousand-year-old monasteries clinging to cliffs, and the serpentine walls of exquisitely carved mani stones (Buddhist prayer stones). One special highlight is our exploration of the breathtaking Nubra Valley, where we cross the world’s highest motorable road, visit oasis-like villages in the high mountain desert, and watch a golden sunset from atop a massive statue of the Maitreya Buddha.

Itinerary at a Glance

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

From Delhi, we fly across the Himalaya to Leh (11,500'), Ladakh’s atmospheric capital, which sprawls down from a ruined Tibetan-style palace, with taupe-colored desert on one side and a swath of lush farmland on the other. We roam the Leh bazaar, which still has a Silk Road ambiance, and visit medieval Hemis and Thikse, two living centers of worship perched on rocky hilltops. Atop these monasteries, we’ll have commanding views of the whole heartland of the Indus Valley.

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Days 5-7
Indus Valley / Alchi / Lamayuru Festival

After seeing the extraoardinary Buddhist frescoes at the Alchi Monastery, we make our way to the quiet village of Tingmosgang, an oasis of green barley fields and an ideal place to watch life in a traditional Ladakhi village. At ancient Lamayuru Monastery, one of Ladakh’s great cliff-perched landmarks, we witness the vibrant Lamayuru Festival, with its sacred dances and rituals performed by costumed monks representing guardian deities.

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Days 8-12
Nubra Valley

A fantastic road journey brings us over the Khardung La (18,300'), the world’s highest motorable road, and down into the hidden Nubra Valley (10,000'), with the mighty Karakoram Mountains on one side and craggy Ladakh Range on the other. We visit tranquil Nubra villages, hike across the valley floor, have the option for a Bactrian camel ride, and watch an ethereal golden sunset from a viewing platform atop the massive Maitreya Buddha statue at 14th century Diskit Monastery. Return to Leh and depart on Day 12 via Delhi.

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Highlights

Highlights

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

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $5295  
Arrive: Delhi, India
Depart: Delhi, India
Lodging: 6 nights hotels, 5 nights guesthouses
Meals: All meals included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

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