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12 DAY BEST OF LADAKH PHOTO TOUR

Our 12 day "Best of Ladakh" trip lives up to its name, by getting you to all the highlights of Ladakh - this includes visiting some of the best-known monasteries in the area, as well as exploring some of the most beautiful sights of this remote mountainous region.


TRIP OBJECTIVES AND DATES

The trip runs from August 1-12, 2009.

The emphasis of the trip is on exploring the wonders of Ladakh - the stunning scenery, the exotic bird and wildlife and the traditional Buddhist way of life. The trip includes the famous Manali-Leh drive, with its breath-taking views and amazing landscapes.

Because heavy snow makes driving in the region impossible for most of the year, trips to Ladakh are only fasible from July to September. This trip is scheduled from August 28 to September 8, 2008, and is led by professional photographer and founder of Photo Safari India, Vandit Kalia.


PRE-REQUISITES

Because Ladakh is at an extremely high altitude (Leh is at 3200m, and our excursions will often take us across passes as high as 5,500m and beyond), altitude sickness is a valid and real risk. Also, in order to get to the best locations, some walking may be required. As such, we require all participants in our Ladakh trips to carry appropriate medical insurance, including coverage for emergency evacuations, if needed.

Furthermore, all guests over the age of 50 will need a medical clearance certificate from their doctor. Proof of both will be required at the start of the trip.

Lasty, the goal is to get to the right places at the right time for photography. For this, we may camp in some locations, or we may stay in guesthouses. A certain degree of flexibility when it comes to creature comforts is essential for this trip.


RECOMMENDED GEAR

You can use everything from a 10mm fisheye to a 1200mm uberzoom in Ladakh. Realistically, we'd recommend real wide angle coverage (atleast 20mm in 35mm terms) for shooting inside monasteries and such - because light is low, and flash is not allowed, a fast prime works really well in such situations. For general scenics, you willl need everything from wide angle to medium telephoto (200-300mm). Wildlife in Ladakh is quite shy, so you will need your longest lens and teleconverters.

We plan our trips in order to ensure that everyone has access to proper electricity outlets every couple of days. We also provide a car inverter that puts out 220V - you can recharge your camera batteries off that, if needed. However, because cold plays havoc with battery life, an extra battery or two is always a good idea.


ITINERARY

Aug 1: Meet in New Delhi and fly to Leh, where we will spend the rest of the day acclimatizing - we strongly recommend avoiding much physical activity on this first day (L, D)

Aug 2: Continue the acclimatization process - lots of rest and sleep. Those not feeling the impact of the high altitude can go for walks and photograph the busy streets and markets of Leh.

Aug 3: Spend the day in and around the Leh area - watch sunrise over Stakhna monastery, visit Thiksey & Hemis monasteries and watch the sun set from viewpoint on top of the hill overlooking Leh valley.

Aug 4: Depart for Hunder valley, crossing the world's highest motorable pass en route. Spend the evening shooting landscapes over the high-altitude sand dunes of Hunder.

Aug 5: More photography around Hunder, including photographing two-humped Bactrian camels against a backdrop of snow peaks. Continue onwards to Diksit monastery and then drive back to Leh. Celebrate with another hot water shower.

Aug 6: Drive to the ancient monastery of Lamaruyu, stopping en route for scenic landscape shots and also to visit the monastery at Alchi. Arrive at Lamaruyu in the evening, just in time to catch the "golden light" over the monastery. (B, L, D)

Aug 7: After doing some early morning landscapes, we will visit the monastery itself, and watch the monks at prayer. Afterwards, we will head back to Leh, this time stopping for some photography along the Indus river.

Aug 8: Depart for Tso Moriri, in Chumathang valley - a large lake surrounded by abundant wildlife, including kiangs or Tibetan wild asses, marmots, many species of birds and an occasional visit from snow leopards. Camp by Tso Moriri.

Aug 9: Drive from Tso Moriri to Tso Kar, crossing a 5,500m pass via a rocky trail. Explore the area around Tso Kar looking for kiangs, or the Tibetan wild ass, and black-necked cranes. Camp overnight at Tso Kar.

Aug 10: Drive to Leh, stopping en route at Hemis monastery and arriving back in Leh by the afternoon. Rest of the day free to relax and do some street shooting. (B, L, D)

Aug 11: Catch flight from Leh to Delhi. (B)


GENERAL NOTES

This is an outdoors/nature trip to a very remote destination,where luxury is defined as bucket hot waters! Ladakh is a destination for people craving to connect to Nature - and while we provide comfortable accomodation and tasty (but simple) meals, we are exploring a region where you can walk for weeks without seeing any sign of human civilization. Please keep that in mind when it comes to setting expectations for what qualifies as "luxury" in the region - and remember: the photos will truly be memorable!

Also, do note that dependong on the weather and current stte of the road, the actual itinerary may vary a little. We have backups, alternate destinations, etc. all squared away, so we will do our best to ensure a productive 12 days of photography.

Altitude sickness is a concern, as most of Ladakh is at heights exceeding 10,000 ft / 3,000m and some of our drives will lead us to passes that are over 18,000 ft. Acclimitazation is important - and packing some medication to combat the symptoms of altitude sickness is strongly recommended.

Ladakh is often called the place where you can get frostbite and sunburn in the same day. Nights get chilly while the day-time sun is very strong. We recommend a broad-brimmed hat (not a baseball cap), light long sleeves T-shirts (or lots of high-SPF sunblock) & long trousers. Re. footwear: we will not be doing a lot of trekking, but you may end up doing some walking in order to get in position for the "perfect" shot. So sandals or comfy sneakers are good for most of the time, with medium-weight hiking shoes for the last few days.


PRICE

The prices for the trip is $2750 per person and the trip is limited to 6 people maximum.

The price includes all transfers, local transport, accommodation, meals and guides. Accommodation in Leh is in top-tier hotels; accommmodation in other parts varies from Tibetan owner-run guesthouses to camping, depending on where we are.

Not include is airfare from Delhi to Leh, which is charged at actuals (or can be booked by you directly), as well as personal expenses such as laundry, beverages, tips, etc.


BOOKING TERMS & CONDITIONS

To make a booking, please email us at info@photosafariindia.com

 

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