India – not as you know it.
Ladakh: the very name conjures up visions of ancient monasteries amongst high altitude passes, surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
Ladakh is in northwest India sandwiched between China and Kashmir. It is a desert with fertile green valley’s threading through the spectacular Himalayan Mountains. Nomadic tribes with yaks, pashmina goats and camels cross arid landscapes against cobalt blue skies. The dominant religion is Buddhism, especially in the central and eastern areas. In fact, it is one of the few places where Mahayana Buddhism, also known as Lamaism, is still practiced. This religion is a mixture of the animistic Bon faith and ancient Hindu tantric practices. The stark but beautiful landscapes contrast greatly with the rich décor found in the monasteries. The light that plays on the mountains, near and far, will delight any photographer. The people here live very tough lives but we have found them to be some of the friendliest folk in the region and very willing to engage with you as you take their photograph. You will meet nomads, monks, farmers and gentle Muslim communities as they go about their daily lives in the towns, villages and countryside.
We have timed this tour to include two Buddhist monastic festivals.The monastic festivals are the heart of all the festivals. They are performed by monks wearing colorful silk garments and different facial masks. They swirl and dance as they portray old legends and stories– a photographers dream
The tour is one of our most adventurous, entailing some long drives along mountain roads. You will have to be relatively fit to do this tour due the effects of traveling at high altitude. There is no trekking involved but there will be some short walks. This itinerary is designed to appeal to all travel photographers with a great mix of landscape, people and culture.
The tour contains 11 full days on tour and 12 nights’ accommodation.
Highlights:• Leh – the streets and markets.
• Thicksey Monastery
• Phyang Monastery (Festival)
• Traditional medicine being manufactured “The Amchi”.
• Nubra Valley, Bactrian camels.
• Deskit Monastery
• Tsomoriri Lake (Festival)
• High Mountain passes
• Himalayan Mountain vistas
• Likir Monastery
• Alchi Monastery
• Indus River Valley
• Lamayuru Monastery
This tour is focused on improving an in-depth understanding of good travel photography. Nathan is especially keen to promote three aspects of travel photography; technical competence, creative observation and ethical responsibility. Introductory workshops cover all three and although they don’t leave the novice out of their depth there’s usually enough in these workshops to keep the most seasoned practitioner interested. After the workshops most of the teaching is done on location. Constantly unearthing interesting scenarios, Nathan will work alongside the group to help you understand particular technical challenges, give you artistic inspiration and most importantly, to lead by example, in approaching local people. This approach will both open doors and help you take better pictures. Time is also put aside to help develop your post-production skills so that you can ‘up the wow factor’ of your pictures and go home with a portfolio of the tour that anyone would be proud of. In fact many of our past participants have gone on to win awards or competitions.
Day 1: Arrive Delhi:
Upon your arrival in Delhi you will be met by our representative who will transfer you to the Hotel in Delhi near the Airport. Overnight at the Hotel. Nathan will run the workshops in the late afternoon.
Day 2: Delhi to Leh (Flight):
In the early morning you will be transferred for your flight to Leh.
Upon arrival we drive on the Indus river route to visit the lovely oasis of Alchi situated in the outer Zanskar region. As we drive past colorful villages and hillside monasteries the journey will get more interesting. We spend the rest of the day resting as it is vital to acclimatize because of the high altitude. Alchi is 500m lower than Leh so we hope it makes acclimatization easier, it also has one or two nice cafes where you can kick back and watch the world go by.
Day 3: Alchi
We spend the day exploring the small village of Alchi. Nathan and his local guide will show you around the village streets and venture out into the fields. Hopefully it will be harvest time so there will be plenty of activity for you to shoot. One of the interesting aspects of this village is its monastery. Mainly known for its wall paintings of the 11th century, the monastery was built by the great translator “Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo”. The wall paintings in Alchi Monastery are some of the oldest surviving paintings in Ladkah and reflect artistic and spiritual details of both Buddhism and Hindu kings of that time in Kashmir.
Day 4: Alchi to Lamayuru
In the morning after leaving Alchi we go to Likir monastery in the morning and Lamayuru in the afternoon.
Besides being one of the oldest monasteries of Ladakh, Likir also has the distinction of being one of the wealthiest. Precious statues made in gold, silver and copper, besides numerous rare thangkas, murals and art works form the wealth of the monastery. All will give us lots to photograph.
We then continue along the Indus Valley to “Lamayuru” it’s about 65 kms. On the way we will pass through the famous ‘moonland’, a unique landscape of amazing rock formations.. Upon arrival at Lamayuru we will visit the Monastery and the village.
The monastery at Lamayaru is considered one of the oldest Gompas of Ladakh and houses more than 400 Buddhist monks even today who are undergoing training to take up responsibilities in monasteries across the globe. The monastery is located on a sediment rock hill cliff and appears to be precariously balanced by some strange mystical power unknown to human beings. Adjacent to the cliff is a deep gorge where the Lamayaru rivers meanders like a snake through the valley. The village is located below the monastery close to the river. The green fields around the village and the stream called Drogpo which flows through the fields is a refreshing change from the otherwise out of the world environment around Lamayaru.
Day 5: Lamayuru to Leh
After breakfast we will retrace our route to Leh, on the way we will visit the Phyang Monastery to witness its biggest festival Phyang Tsesdup. We will spend a couple of hours here and enjoy the masked dance. The colourful dancers will give you a fantastic opportunity to get some great shots as they whirl around the courtyard of the monastery.
We will then continue to Leh, where, if time, you can explore the streets and markets.
Day 6: Leh
Today we will further explore Leh. It is a bustling place. The town is dominated by Leh Palace. The walk up is quite steep but worth it for the view from the top. On the way we will explore the winding and dusty streets of the old area which has a lot of very old houses and shops. Here you will see bakers making naan bread in the traditional tandoor ovens. Post lunch we will visit a small village where a traditional medicine is being manufactured called “The Amchi”. In the late afternoon we will visit a local house in Leh where you will get a chance to meet a Ladakhi family where they will invite you to sup the famed butter tea.
Day 7: Leh to Nubra
We begin our day early in the morning with a drive up and over the impresive Khardungla pass located at a height of 5800m above sea level. It is purported to be the highest driveable pass in the world. As you can imagine it twists and turns offering you vista after spectacular vista. Despite being sparsely populated you will find comfort stops along the way. From the pass, we drive along the Shyok river basin towards the Hunder region located in the Nubra Valley. The scenery here is raw, primeval even, but ever changing. The region is famous for its farms, sand dunes and Bactrian camels. On arrival we will settle into the resort and later take a walk around the village and also visit some local houses and the Deskit Monastery.
Day 8: Nubra to Turtuk
Early In the morning we will visit the sand dunes for a great photographic experience – we organise Bactrian camels to walk across fresh sands in the dunes at dawn.
Later we will go back to the camp for breakfast and then check out and start our drive to Turtuk, this village is about 120 kms from Nubra valley, along an old Silk road route. The journey can take about 3 to 4 hours. The total population of Turtuk is just 4000 and unlike the rest of Ladkah which is Buddhist, follows Islam, as, until about 40 years ago this village was under Pakistan rule. It became part of India after a short war. Here we will stay here in the camps which are basic in facilities but it’s worth it to stay in the wilderness and explore this beautiful village and explore the life here. We will go for a walk around the village to meet the people. Both on the way to Turtuk and in Turtuk itself you will be get the chance to see village life close up.
Day 9: Turtuk to Leh:
A long day of driving ahead, after breakfast we will start our drive towards Leh which will take about 9 hours. You will never tire of the views. and we will stop often to take photos,have some toilet stops and refreshments, lunch will be packed. Upon arrival in Leh transfer to the hotel.
Day 10: Leh to Tsomoriri
Today, we will drive along the Indus valley to one of the most spectacular lakes of Himalayan region, Tsomoriri. Our day will start early as, on the way to the lake, we will visit the morning prayers of the famous Thicksey Monastery. We will spend a couple of hours here observing the monks at prayer.
After breakfast in a café we start our long drive but the road is mostly in good shape and the views are just beautiful. The Indus Valley narrows and we pass through some of the most stunning mountain scenery. On the way we hope to encounter nomads with their herds of yaks and pashmina goats. In the afternoon we will arrive at the azure Tsomori Lake. This freshwater lake is approximately 40 km long and is situated at an altitude of 4500m and is flanked by the Trans Himalayan and the Greater Himalayan ranges. We will also explore the local village and it’s monastery, said to be visited by a number of explorers, dating back around 500 years. We have timed this tour to coincide with the Korzok Gustor festival. All the monks and villagers will be here to celebrate this colorful festival. Stay overnight in camp or guest house.
Day 11: Tsomoriri to Leh:
After Breakfast check out from the camps and retrace the journey back to Leh. Catching the light from a different angle at a different time of day, we hope to make some nice stops. On reaching Leh you will be free to do some shopping or grab some last minute shots.
Day 12: Depart for Delhi:
Early in the morning we will leave for the airport to catch our flight to Delhi.
Please Note: Itinerary days may be subject to changes or variations.
Dates and Prices:
26th July – 6th August
If separated group of 7 people are there we can provide new dates .
15th – 26th July
Single Supplement : US$ 1500
Please note: All prices are quoted in US$
• Photographic guidance
• Photographic workshops
• Flight Delhi – Leh – Delhi
• Local guide
• Accommodation (11 nights)
• All transfers by A/C Innova.
• Entrance at the monasteries, gardens etc.
• Sightseeing as per the Itinerary
• Environmental fees and innerline permits
• Breakfast when supplied by a hotel. Lunch and dinner in Alchi, Lamayuru, Nubra and Tsomoriri
• Oxygen cylinder for Tsomoriri and Nubra Valley in car
• Transfers in Delhi
• All current applicable taxes
Any international or domestic airfare & airport departure tax other the above mentioned
• Any airfare, train fare which is not mentioned above
• Any extra meals, beverages etc
• Any other services not mentioned in the included section.
• Any entry visa in India
• Any medical evacuations .
• Any personal expenses like bar bills, telephone bills, tips, beverages, medical / travel insurance, still/video camera fee, costs or any other cost not included above
Accommodation on the Ladakh tour will vary. The first night will spent at hotel near Delhi airport. In Leh will be staying at a deluxe hotel in the centre of Leh. This is an adventure tour and so we will be using camps in the more remote areas; Nubra, Tsomoriri and Turtuk. Each tent will have its own attached bathroom.
Please book your flights to arrive into Delhi by mid afternoon on Day 1. The outbound flight should be at from midday onwards on Day 12.
Ladakh is at a very high altitude therefore it is necessary to take account of the potential effects of altitude sickness. Time to acclimatize is built in at the beginning of the tour. It is recommended that you research altitude sickness to be aware of the effects and what you can do to mitigate them. We strongly suggest that you consult your doctor before booking. You also need to decide whether you want to take anti altitude sickness medicine. At altitude you need to take things slowly. There will not be any long walks at the higher altitudes. Oxygen tanks are taken in the cars when we are going to the higher altitudes.
Also lease read the About our tours and Essential Information pages as they contain important terms and conditions regarding touring with us and about the country you plan to visit.