(9 nights 10 days)
This stunning journey begins in Manali and continues for nearly 500 km through the high Himalayas & over majestic passes to reach Leh. The suggested route ensures gradual acclimatization, so that you reach Leh in fine fettle to enjoy exploring the rest of Ladakh and seeing not only must-see places like the ethereal turquoise hued Pangong Tso & the surprisingly verdant valley of Nubra, but also lesser explored gems like Turtuk. The visual delights would be aptly complemented by some firsthand experiences of the local lifestyle & traditions like a Traditional Balti meal in Turtuk. One also gets to experience the festive spirit that envelops Leh during the Ladakh festival and see the flamboyant, vibrant and varied tribes from across the region, all dressed in their traditional best, as they stroll around in Leh Bazaar, participate in festival events and break into spontaneous dances whenever possible.
- Day 1: Reach Solang Valley (2600 M) 20 min. drive from Manali Reach Solang by any of these modes:
• Board a morning flight from Delhi to reach Kulu Airport around 8AM. Drive 1 ½ hrs to reach Solang in about 2 hrs.
• On the previous evening board a HPTDC Volvo Coach from Delhi & reach Manali Bus Stand at about 0730 hrs. Drive about 20 minutes to reach Solang Valley around 0800 hrs. Rest of the day at leisure in Solang – check out Paragliding, Zorbing, Hiking…Shop/Sightseeing in Manali.
• On the previous night board Himachal Express travel overnight by 2/3 AC to reach Kiratpur Sahib at 0600 hrs. Drive 245 km / 7 hrs to reach Solang in the afternoon. Rest of the day at leisure in Solang or Shopping / Sightseeing in Manali.
• Board the morning Kalka Shatabdi to Chandigarh or take a morning flight from Mumbai. Reach Chandigarh around noon. Drive 330 km / 9 hrs to reach Solang at night.
• Leave at dawn from Delhi and drive 570 km / 13 hrs to reach
Everyone meets at dinner, for familiarization with each other and your escort. Stay overnight at a hotel in Solang.
PLEASE NOTE: Solang is at about 8600 ft and hence there is better acclimatization than in Manali Town which is all of 6700 ft.
- Day 2: Manali - Jispa (3150 M) 140 km / 7 hrs Leave around 0730- 0800 hrs after an early breakfast to avoid traffic en route Rohtang. We drive across the pass into the starkly barren landscape of Lahaul and at Tandi we stop for lunch at a Dhaba in Tandi – also the confluence point of the Chandra & Bhaga Rivers to form Chenab. Reach Jispa by late afternoon. Avoid strenuous activity but go for a short acclimatization walk. Stay overnight in a campsite & lodge besides the Bhaga River.
- Day 3: Jispa day hike to Darcha trekking point / relaxation & short walks For gentler, copy book acclimatization it’s best that you spend this day (& night) too in Jispa and do some walking/hiking. This way you also avoid the daunting combination of inclement weather & rudimentary campsites that staying in Serchu entails. Those interested can do a beautiful guided hike across the river to the Darcha Trekking Point - about 4 hrs totally. Others may just relax in the campsite, enjoying the serene, peaceful ambience and strolling around a bit to enhance acclimatization.
- Day 4: Jispa Leh (3505 M) 339 Kms / 11 hrs Early start carrying packed breakfast. Drive over Baralacha La and then via Serchu, negotiate the hair- rising Gata Loops - 21 back–to-back switchbacks. Cross Naki La (4740 M) & Lachalung La (5060 M); drive through the vast, amazingly stark Moray Plains. Cross Tanglang La (5328 M) and finally reach Leh by evening. Overnight stay in rooms at a small, cozy & comfortable guesthouse.
- Day 5: Leh see the Ladakh Festival & enjoy a Ladakhi meal in a traditional village home After breakfast we head for Leh bazaar to see the inaugural day’s parade of the Ladakh Festival. Contingents of the tribes from across Ladakh, resplendent in traditional, colorful & flamboyant attire, march through the bazaar into the Polo Ground where they simultaneously break into a riot of song & dance. We later drive across the Indus to Stok. See the palace & museum here, before going to 300 yr old traditional home high up in the village, to enjoy a Ladakhi meal. Late afternoon and evening at leisure in Leh – see the palace & walk around in the bazaar.
- Day 6: Leh - Nubra Valley at Turtuk (avg. alt. 3048 M) 225 km / 7 hrs We leave after breakfast on a stunning drive over the mighty Khardung La (5602 M) into the verdant Nubra Valley. We move on via Deskit & Hunder, past the Thoise Airfield. The wide open Nubra Valley starts closing in dramatically with the rocky mountain face getting darker & darker, finally bursting out into the verdant & vibrant Turtuk area at the north western end of the valley which borders the Balti province of Pakistan - this area & the twin villages of Turtuk Youl & Pharol were annexed by India during the 1971 war. In fact the village gives the look & feel of being in Pakistan/Afghanistan. However, you may rest assured that the locals are very patriotic towards India. Check into safari tents at a verdant campsite amidst fields & orchards, sprinkled with clumps of wild & vibrantly colored blooms. Relax for a while, have your evening cuppa, and go for a short stroll to enjoy the sunset.
- Day 7: Turtuk Nubra Valley at Deskit 92 kms / 3 hrs We have an early breakfast, check out and spend 2- 3 hrs walking in & around the villages, interacting with the warm & hospitable locals sporting European looks. The cherubic kids are especially adorable, and so are the vistas of the surrounding region. We get back to the campsite & enjoy a traditional Balti meal – so tasteful, nutritious and salubrious a diet that even 80- 90 yr olds in the villages are active & full of life. On the drive back we stop at the dunes of Hunder, here those interested can enjoy a ride on the Double Humped Camels. Reach Deskit by say 1700 hrs. After freshening up & your evening cuppa, we go to a vantage point with a huge outdoor statue of the Sakhyamuni Buddha near Deskit Gompa to enjoy great sunset views. Stay overnight in a hotel at Deskit.
- Day 8: Deskit Wari La Pangong Tso (4260 M / 14000 ft) 230 km / 9 hrs Leave post an early breakfast, on an uncommon drive over a very offbeat route that takes you over a little known pass – Wari La, into the Sakti Valley. A short while later, we stop for a quick look into the cave gompa of Chemrey, and move on to meet the route from Leh, a short distance before the imposing Chang-La (5,475 M / 17950 ft). We go over the pass and carry on via Tangse and finally reach the grand Pangong Lake by evening, in time to catch the sunset views. Stay overnight in tents at a campsite bang on the lake shore.
- Day 9: Pangong Tso Hemis Leh 165 km / 5 ½ hrs Enjoy your early morning cuppa & a spectacular sunrise by the lake shore. On the drive back to Leh, take a detour at Karu to see the glorious Hemis Gompa atop a hill in the periphery of the Hemis National Park. Later we have our packed lunch in a quaint cafeteria at the base of the main stairway. Reach Leh by late afternoon. Rest a while and leave for the bazaar to shop for Thangkas, Chunky antique Silver Jewelry with Turquoise embellishments, mementos, Apricots & apricot based beauty products… Spend sunset at Shanti Stupa for unforgettable views of Leh Valley & town. Bid your adieus as you enjoy a grand farewell dinner at Summer Harvest restaurant and reach you guesthouse in time to turn in for the night.
- Day 10: Leh Fly Back Morning transfer to the airport in time for your return flight to Delhi…