Lamayuru Gompa, Ladakh
Lamayuru, perched on a cliff in an otherworldly setting, is the oldest gompa in Ladakh.
Photo by Bartosz Hadyniak
Trip Details at-a-Glance
|Lodging:||29 nights in hotels and lodges|
|Meals:||all meals included|
Rugged road travel with light hikes, altitudes of 10,000-12,000 feet
- Bhutan, Sikkim, Dharamsala, Simla, Ladakh, and Nepal—all on one journey
- Fascinating hill stations, kaleidoscope of Himalayan cultures
- Bhutan’s Shangri-La setting and Buddhist culture
- Ladakh’s Tibetan culture and spectacular Indus Valley
- Bustling bazaars of Kathmandu
Choosing the Right Trip
We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.
We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.
Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.
This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years. Future dates have not been set for this trip, but you can see the “Itinerary at a Glance” and the “Full Detailed Itinerary” below (there may be small changes to the itinerary for the future departures, and prices will be finalized closer to departure). Contact us to receive early notification of the trip dates. These special trips fill very quickly once the exact dates are set!
Join veteran Asia Trip Leader Roger Williams for a journey across the spectacular landscapes and striking cultures of the Himalayas, with visits to ethereal monasteries, terraced tea plantations, cliffside temples, Victorian-era hill stations, and vibrant, bustling bazaars. We begin with a week to savor the wonders of Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom where grand fortress-monasteries reign over every valley. While in Bhutan, we will witness the activities of the Paro Festival, a Tibetan Buddhist celebration complete with sacred mask dances. From Bhutan, we travel across the lush Himalayan foothills to visit an array of fascinating “hill stations” —Darjeeling, with its fine teas, Gangkok, capital of the former kingdom of Sikkim, Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama in exile, and Simla, once the queen of all British hill stations. Heading up to the lofty Tibetan Plateau, we explore the Tibetan Buddhist heritage of Ladakh and the venerable hilltop monasteries of the Indus Valley, surrounded by soaring, jagged peaks. We end our journey in vibrant Kathmandu, with three full days to explore its famed temples and bazaars, plus the palaces, pagodas, and open courtyards of Bhaktapur, a royal medieval city and World Heritage Site in the Kathmandu Valley. Roger Williams has traveled extensively across the Himalayas for many years and is the perfect guide for this special cultural odyssey.
Itinerary at a Glance
For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary
Paro, Bhutan / Thimphu / Punakha / Phuntsoling
Arrive in Paro, Bhutan, from Bangkok, Thailand. In our full week in Bhutan, we enjoy the festivities of the annual Paro Festival, hike up to the monastic retreat of Taktsang, the “Tiger's Nest,” and head over the Dochu La Pass to the Punakha Valley, visiting the marvelous Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Po Chu (the Mother and Father rivers). We also explore Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. On Day 8, we drive down to Bhutan’s tropical border with India for overnight.
Kalimpong, India / Darjeeling / Gangtok, Sikkim
We explore the old hill town of Kalimpong, once a bustling trading center for caravans coming from the Tibetan Plateau. At the striking hill station of Darjeeling, we soak up the atmosphere of the Chowrasta, the square at the heart of Victorian Darjeeling. A scenic drive brings us to Sikkim, a small and remote Indian state that until 1975 was an independent Buddhist kingdom on the main trade route from India to Tibet. We visit the hill station of Gangtok, once Sikkim’s capital, and the venerated Rumtek Monastery, seat of the Karma Kagyu or Black Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. On Day 14, we fly to Delhi for overnight.
Amritsar / Dharamsala / Simla / Delhi
After a visit to Amritsar’s serene Golden Temple, spiritual center of the Sikh faith, we head to Dharamsala, the relaxed hill station that is the home of the Dalai Lama in exile. A full day’s drive then brings us to Simla, India’s largest and most famous hill station. It was designated by the British as the summer capital of India due to its cool climate at 7,200 feet. Much of the action in Rudyard Kipling’s classic colonial novel Kim took place here. We enjoy a stroll along The Mall, the long, British-era pedestrian walkway flanked by British half-timbered buildings, and roam Simla’s vibrant bazaar, then fly to Delhi on Day 20.
Ladakh / Uleytokpo / Leh
Flying up to Leh, Ladakh’s capital, set at 11,500 feet in the upper Indus Valley, we enjoy a stay in the tranquil village of Uletokpo (10,000'), a good base for visiting cliff-side Lamayuru Monastery as well as Rizong, a spectacular Yellow Hat Buddhist monastery, 11th century Alchi Gompa, with its richly colored frescoes, and Likir Gompa, known for its 75-foot-high yellow statue of Maitreya, the Buddha-to-come. From Leh, a former Himalayan trading post, we visit beautiful Hemis Monastery as well as Thikse, which commands views of the entire Indus Valley.
Ever-fascinating Kathmandu is the perfect place to conclude our odyssey. We explore extraordinary Buddhist and Hindu temples, and head out to the Kathmandu Valley to visit Bhaktapur, a fantastic medieval city and a showcase for the genius of the 17th century Newari artists. Depart on Day 30.
For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary
What the Trip is Like
The trip is Level 3, Moderate, according to our trip rating system. While this trip is not expected to be physically strenuous, the long travel days and transportation conditions may be quite demanding. Accommodations are in good city hotels. Overland travel is in minivans and small buses, depending upon the size of the group. Travel distances on some days are long. In Ladakh, we are at an altitude of 10,500 feet for a few days, with excursions that take us a bit higher. Individuals vary widely in their physical response to high altitude. It is not uncommon to experience mild headaches or sleeplessness for a day or two when you first arrive at high altitude. For your own enjoyment, we recommend that you make a special effort to be in good physical condition. We believe that the most important requirements are a spirit of adventure and the understanding that you are visiting a remote and fascinating region. This is not a hiking trip, but we do hope to have opportunities for walks of two hours or more during the journey.