Tucked away within the remote western Himalaya, this trip is definitely your chance to get to see the best Ladakh has to offer, including the beautiful Taj Mahal!
Hidden away from the rest of the world for hundreds of years, the magical and dramatic landscapes of Ladakh lie high in a remote part of the western Himalayas. Here, picturesque monasteries overlook deep valleys from their rocky mountainside perches, jagged snow-capped peaks rise high into the sky and colourful prayer flags flutter in the breeze. This comprehensive itinerary traverses mountain roads, including the world’s highest motorable pass, to give you intimate access to some of the region’s most secluded and remote locations. Discover the authentic Ladakh, land of high passes, on this unforgettable and experiential tour.
Your trip begins with a spectacular flight over the Himalayan mountain range into Ladakh’s remote capital, Leh. At around 3,500 metres above sea level, you’ll need a couple of days to acclimatise to the high altitude. This is a great excuse to indulge in some sightseeing in and around Leh – barter in the bazaars, visit the grandiose Namgyal Palace and explore fascinating gompas. Heading out in 4x4 vehicles, your tour continues with visits to ancient monasteries and beautiful high-altitude lakes as well as exhilarating hikes through the scenic Western Tibetan Plateau. Cross the world’s highest motorable pass to reach the remote Nubra Valley, before bringing your adventure to a fitting end with a visit to the incredible Taj Mahal.
Active India Holidays are local operators and, as such, have seen first-hand the benefits that tourism can bring to some of India’s most remote regions. They understand that tourism often helps to alleviate poverty and develop communities and, as part of the global tourism industry, acknowledge that they too have a crucial role to play in providing commercial benefits and financial impetus in local communities. The company is conscious of both the negative and positive impacts its operations potentially have within sensitive environments and communities, particularly in the Himalayas where most of Active India’s trekking and adventure operations are conducted.
To ensure that they operate in as responsible a way as possible, Active India trains all of its tour leaders and support staff on sustainability practices. One example is their ‘Leave no Trace’ policy, which ensures that campsites and trails are left free from any waste. The company even extends this policy to include the waste left by travellers who have come before them, collecting and disposing of any extra rubbish in a safe manner. Active India hopes to contribute towards building a tourism industry that brings pleasure to travellers whilst also constructing a future for the local people and places that the industry depends on.
Arrival in Delhi: Arrive at Delhi’s international airport and receive a traditional welcome before transferring to your hotel. Enjoy a free day of relaxation or exploration!
Delhi – Leh: Take an early morning flight from Delhi to Leh, crossing over the Himalayas. Admire the amazing views of the giant glaciers and enormous peaks of the iconic mountain range before arriving in Leh, a fertile valley north of the Indus River. Transfer to your hotel, and spend the rest of the day relaxing and acclimatising to the altitude (3,500m). In the afternoon, take a gentle orientation walk through Leh and its bazaars. Leh was formerly an important trading centre along the historic Silk Route from China, and the town is dominated by the impressive Namgyal Palace, which has been likened to Lhasa’s Potala Palace.
Leh: Enjoy some sightseeing in and around Leh: visit Sankar Gompa, followed by the magnificent Shanti Supa. This white domed structure was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama, and offers fantastic views across Leh bazaar and the Stok Kangri Range. Finish the day with a visit to Leh Palace on the Namgyal Hill. The palace, built in the 17th century, was later abandoned in the mid-19th century.
Leh – Alchi: After breakfast, visit the famous monastery of Rizong en route to Alchi. Founded in 1831, this Yellow Hat sect gompa perches on a cliff-side overlooking the Indus Valley. Continue towards Alchi Gompa, noted for its huge Buddha statues and intricate woodcarvings. The foundations of the monastery date back to the mid-12th century.
Alchi: Begin your day with a morning hike to Mangyu monastery, one of the earliest in the region dating back to the late 12th to early 13th century CE. Later, return to Alchi.
Alchi – Leh: Returning to Leh, you’ll visit Likir Village in the Indus Valley. The village is reputed to be one of India’s oldest, and its monastery is thought to have been in existence since the 11th century. The village’s Yellow Hat monastery is famed for its 75-feet statue of Buddha. Driving out of Likir, stop by at the monastery at Basgo and gain a further insight into the Buddhist religion. The monastery is located on top of a hill, presiding over the ruins of the ancient town.
Leh – Pangong Tso: Drive to Pangong Tso, a beautiful sapphire high-altitude lake. Due to its saline water, the lake has little micro-vegetation, and no aquatic life at all. En route to the lake you’ll visit the villages of Tak Tak and Sakti to learn more about the ways of life of the locals living there.
Pangong Tso: Enjoy a free day to explore Pangong Tso and other nearby places.
Pangong Tso – Leh: Visit two important gompas, Hemis and Thiksey, as you make your way back to Leh. Thiksey’s distinctive red and white hilltop buildings can be seen from miles away! A recently constructed temple within the complex contains a fantastic image of the Future Buddha. Hemis gompa is the largest and wealthiest monastery in the Ladakhi region, famed for its rich collection of ancient relics, painted stone reliefs and 17th century murals. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Leh – Nubray Valley: Today, drive north of Leh into Nubra Valley, also known as ‘the valley of flowers’. To reach the valley you’ll cross over Khardung La (5,602m), the world’s highest motorable pass. Nubra Valley is famed for its Bactrian Camels (doubled-humped camels) that can be found around the sand dunes near the Deskit and Samstanling monasteries.
Nubra Valley: Whilst in the area, pay a visit to some local villages and explore the Diskit and Samstanling monasteries. The 14th century Diskit monastery is the valley’s oldest whilst Samstanling is only around 140 years old. Enjoy an optional camel ride across the sand dunes.
Nubra Valley – Leh: Return to Leh and enjoy a free afternoon to explore at your leisure.
Leh – Delhi – Agra: Take an early morning flight to Delhi before continuing by road to Agra.
Agra – Delhi: Rise early to visit the incredible Taj Mahal at sunrise; a real ‘bucket-list’ activity. This white-marble wonder was built by the 5th Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, in memory of his wife, who died in the 16th century. Standing as a symbol of his eternal love, the building never fails to captivate visitors. After returning to the hotel for breakfast, visit Agra Fort, a walled palatial city that blends Hindu and Mughal architecture. Finally, return to Delhi and transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
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- Refunds: 80% refund available until 30 days prior to check-in; 50% refund available 15 days prior to check-in; 25% refund available 6 days prior to check-in; within 5 days of check-in there will be no refund.
- Breakfasts at hotels/guesthouse
- English speaking monument sightseeing guides at cities
- All land transport
- Government service tax as applicable
- Travel insurance
- Indian visa fees
- Any monument entrance fees
- Flights (domestic/international)
- Any optional activities or services not mentioned in inclusions
- Services of any professional English speaking tour leader/escort during the tour
- Miscellaneous expenses for tips, laundry, drinks, any medical emergencies and souvenirs etc.