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Magnificent Ladakh

Nestled near the center of the world's highest region, amidst the Tibetan Himalayas, lies the distant and isolated realm of Ladakh and Zanskar.

With its roads cut off from the rest of the world for the better part of a year, the snows clear for a few months between June and October, allowing road access to this land of frontiers that is slowly gaining a reputation of being one of the most scenic, wild and pristine places on the planet.

The barren landscape stretching out in all directions, bounded only by towering peaks, brings to mind the landscape of another planet. Hidden behind the peaks in small, secret valleys are mountain lakes and small streams, supporting a surprisingly large and diverse wildlife. Nomadic shepherds still spend the summers wandering from mountain to mountain grazing their sheep and watching out for snow leopards and wolves. Buddhist monks still hold vigil in their centuries-old monasteries, providing faith and support to their local communities.

 

Some of the highlights of this region are:

Monasteries

Ancient monasteries, ranging from the well known such as Lamaruyu and Hemis, to smaller, more obscure but just as storied, such as Stakhna and Hunder, these bastions of Buddhist belief exist untouched by political turmoil (as in nearby Tibet) and rampant commercialization. Friendly monks still sit and share a cup of herbal tea with you, while discoursing on the Ladakhi way of life past and present.

Hiking

If you are a keen outdoor enthusiast, the trails of Ladakh stand out - these are not the pedestrian highways that some of the more popular hiking destinations have to offer, but genuine expeditions into the uncharted ranges of Zanskar, Karakorams and more. Trails range from moderately easy to extremely rigorous - starting from 3,500m all the way to 6,000m plus. Scenic landscapes, rare Himalayan wildlife, plentiful birds - for a photographer, hiking expeditions are a great way to get photos of species that have been rarely photographed outside captivity.

Landscapes, lakes and valleys

Surrounded by the mighty Himalayan peaks, you will experience a sense of wildnerness and gain a perspective on how small humans really are in the grand scheme of the cosmos - an enriching and humbling experience that will inspire you to produce photos straight from your heart.

This is the land of lakes: Sun Lake, Moon Lake, Pangong Tso (the world's highest saltwater lake and with a length of over 100km, technically an inland sea), Tso Moriri and Tso Kar, home to rare Himalayan wildlife.

This is also the land of valleys, both verdant and barren: lush Nubra Valley, where high-altitude deserts and two-humped camels exist against a backdrop of snowy peaks, and barren Chumathang, where hundreds of kilometers will pass before you see anyone except marmots, and lots more.

This is the land of the extremes - the Moray Plains, a vast meadow at over 4,000m stretching out in all directions surrounded by craggy peaks; the remote Zanskar valley, surrounded by harsh and unforgiving peaks; the sand dunes of Hunder and more.

Suffice to say, if you are interested in landscapes, there is inspiration here at every corner.

Wildlife

Snow leopard, kiang, 300+ species of birds, Himalayan blue sheep, tahr, wolves, and lots more. - Ladakh is one of the best places in the world to see Himalayan wildlife in its glory. Admittedly, spotting this wildlife requires a level of planning and commitment that is not for the casual viewer, but for those willing to put in the effort, the thrill of being one of the few people in the world to have actually seen a snow leopard in the wild is something that'll remain for ever.

Trips

Our Ladakh trips come in 2 flavors - jeep safaris and hiking safaris. Either can include accomodation in guest houses or camping.

Jeep safaris allow everyone to visit some of the more beautiful landscapes and temples of the region in relative ease and comfort. We can also arrange camping safaris that take you to the more out-of-the-way places. For the more active, we can also do hiking expeditions ranging from 3-14 days, visiting "the third peak from the right" (or whichever one you take a fancy to!).

Leh, the capital of Ladakh, can be reached in 2 ways - via flight from Delhi, in which case we recommend 2-3 days of rest in order to adjust to the increased altitude (almost 3,500m), or by jeep, via Manali - one of the most picturesque drives in the country.

We strongly recommend doing the drive atleast one way - this is one of the highest motorable roads in the world and takes you through some of the most interesting - and occasionally surreal - landscapes on the planet, such as Baralacha La, the place of 4 passes that once was the crossroads between India and Central Asia and Moray Plains, a vast, high-altitude meadow at 4,000m stretching out as far as the eye can see, Rohtang Pass, where you can look down as well as up on soaring Himalayan griffons and lots more!

Some of our more popular itineraries include:

Note on Ladakh trips

Because of its high-altitude location - Leh is at 3,500m and we ascend to as high as 5,800m during our trips - altitude sickness is a real and valid concern. We recommend that participants with health and fitness issues speak to a doctor before signing up on the trip, especially if they are going to be hiking. Also, due to Ladakh's remote location, traveler's insurance (including emergency evacuation) is recommended, in order to be prepared for any contingencies that may arise.

 

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