lamayuru gompa monastery ladakh india

Lamayuru Gompa, Ladakh

Lamayuru, perched on a cliff in an otherworldly setting, is the oldest gompa in Ladakh.

Photo by Bartosz Hadyniak

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Trans-Himalayan Odyssey

Ladakh, Bhutan, Sikkim, Kalimpong, Darjeeling & Nepal
Repertory Trip: No Future Dates Set

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
Length: 30 days
Arrive: Paro, Bhutan
Depart: Kathmandu, Nepal
Lodging: 29 nights in hotels and lodges
Meals: all meals included
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Rugged road travel with light hikes, altitudes of 10,000-12,000 feet
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Highlights

  • 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.

References

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.

Repertory Trip

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

Days 1-8
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.

Days 9-14
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.

Days 15-20
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.

Days 21-25
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.

Days 26-30
Kathmandu, Nepal

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.

Explanation of Trip Levels

Roger Williams

In 1986, Roger Williams led his first Wilderness Travel trip. Nearly 30 years later, he shows no sign of stopping, with added trips filling up quicker than the one before. If it isn’t the surplus of knowledge Roger brings when he leads a trip that makes it so unique, including his cultural insight to places like Nepal (where he spent eight years studying Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist iconographics, Himalayan languages, and woodblock art) and Japan (where he spent another two years studying Japanese woodblock art, Japanese language, and Shingon Shu, an esoteric sect of Japanese Buddhism), then it may be his awareness for cultural preservation that keep clients coming back. In July 2014, he returned from The Great Game journey, a special Wilderness Travel Expedition that included visits to the Wakhan Valley as well as Mazar i-Sharif and Balk (formally Bactria) in northern Afghanistan. Roger has also been working as a technical advisor with USAID consulting in tourism development projects in Mongolia, Armenia and Croatia. When not leading trips, Roger is the director of Snow Lion Graphics/SLG Books in Berkeley, California, a publishing house specializing in books and calendars relating to Asian cultures. “There should be a rating higher than excellent for Roger,” one client wrote after her Central Asia Explorer trip with Roger. “His knowledge, energy planning, and attentiveness are superlative.”

Upcoming Trips:

China's Wild Southwest, October 13-November 4, 2015
India's Malabar Coast, January 27-February 20, 2016
Iran: In the Footsteps of Kings, March 10-April 2, 2016
Iran: In the Footsteps of Kings, April 7-30, 2016
Trans-Caucasus Adventure, May 20-June 13, 2016
Nagorno-Karabakh: Land of the Black Garden, June 13-22, 2016
The Great Game, August 20-September 14, 2016
Wonders of Nepal, October 2016
Eastern Bhutan and India's Wild Northeast Frontier, November 21-December 17, 2016

Client Testimonials:


Tibet is a place like no other on the planet! Roger’s language skills and knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism opened many doors. Connie D., Alamo CA
Heart of Tibet
Exceedingly knowledgeable, very caring. Priscilla and Franklin O., Malvern PA
Mystical Bhutan
Roger knows how to run a trip. He’s very organized and clearly communicates the daily plan. Also, he's a lot of fun and I was impressed with his expertise on Buddhist iconography. Fran M., Mill Valley, CA
Hidden Himalayas
Roger is remarkable. This trip showed him at his best. We could never have traveled across the roof of the world without his preparation and energy. Thanks for a grand experience! Ruth and Frank H., Edmonds WA
In the Footsteps of the Great Game
Roger takes good care of his travelers and we learned a lot about the people, their culture, and history. His love for this part of the world is infectious. Ruth G., Del Mar CA
In the Footsteps of the Great Game
Roger is great! Hard working, knowledgeable, personable. He really makes a difference. Bill R., Walnut Creek, CA
Passage to India
I can understand why Roger has such a big following. He worked all the time to make the trip the best it could be. Marsha S., New York, NY
The Great Game
Roger is clearly a well-seasoned professional. He is passionate about India and it shows everyday, whether it is interacting with the locals or talking about the iconographics and sites. Grace L., Boston, MA
Passage to India
Exceptional dedication, passion, and professionalism. Roger has the right personality and attitude for this. Jonathan T., Boston, MA
Passage to India
Roger is a wealth of knowledge and very well traveled. He takes his duties as trip leader extremely seriously and goes out of his way to please each client. Terri H., Berkeley, CA
Armenia and Beyond
Roger provided a unique and enjoyable travel experience. His knowledge and familiarity with the sites visited and enthusiasm for these countries and peoples made this a great travel experience. Judy A., Davis, CA
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon
Roger's extensive travel experience and knowledge of Asian culture and Buddhism greatly enhanced the trip. And all the planning he did before and during the trip ensured an excellent itinerary and made everything run smoothly. Nancy R., Walnut Creek, CA
Tribal China
There should be a rating higher than excellent for Roger. His knowledge, energy planning, and attentiveness are superlative. Debra B., Jackson, WY
Central Asia Explorer
Roger is the best tour leader with lots of experiece and profound knowledge of the subject area. Kudos to him and WT. Tan Kiet T., Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tribal China
Roger has tremendous skills as a trip leader. He has a real gift with people and his relationship with local guides enriches the areas we visit. Joan L., Baltimore, MD
Journey to the Heart of China
Roger is simply a brilliant organizer and always finds the very best services available. He also brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to anything Asian. Elizabeth M., Providence, RI
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon
I'm struck again with the magnitude of the incredible adventure you led us on. I have pretty much traveled the world since that trip, with adventures galore...but nothing has, or ever will, compare to it. Aleen S., Cedar Mountain, NC
The Great Silk Road
Roger is an exceptional trip leader with an historian's grasp of the influences shaping this part of the world. Kathe W., Pittsburgh, PA
The Best of Southeast Asia
Roger was nothing short of outstanding as a trip leader...managing people as well as logistics of a 25+ day intensive trip. He has a clear desire to share his knowledge, interest, and excitement about Southeast Asia. We've had a lot of good Trip Leaders and I'd rate Roger as #1 on my list. Greg W., Pittsburgh, PA
The Best of Southeast Asia
Roger was well organized, with careful planning and terrific knowledge of the culture and religion. His interaction with the group was unlike anything we have experienced on prior trips. He is a real treasure for WT, one of your best. Donald H., Farmington, CT
The Best of Southeast Asia
Roger is a flexible leader who listens to his travelers and absolutely cannot do enough for people. He looked after us well and programmed as much variety into the trip as possible. Mary R., New York, NY
Trans-Caucasus Adventure
Roger is amazing! His knowledge of the history and culture of the area is extensive and he can recall all sorts of information on any number of subjects. His enthusiasm, kindness, and energy never wane. Jane F., Naples, FL
The Great Game
Roger is a lot of fun, as well as being extremely knowledgeable! He goes out of his way to make the trip interesting and comfortable for those traveling with him. Catherine H., Cambridge, MA
Journey to the Heart of China