(14 nights 15 days)
This is unarguably the finest way to visit Ladakh: you get to see all the high altitude lakes and unique landscapes (except Zanskar) that the region has to offer.
- Day 1: Arrive Manali (2050 M)
Arrive Manali and check into your hotel rooms.
Options to reach Manali:
• Board a morning flight from Delhi to reach Kulu Airport around 8AM. Drive 1 ½ hrs to reach Manali
• Board the morning Kalka Shatabdi to Chandigarh. Reach Chandigarh around noon. Drive 320 km / 9 hrs to reach Manali at night.
• On the previous evening board a Volvo Coach from Delhi & reach Manali in the morning.
• On the previous night board Himachal Express travel overnight by 2/3 AC to reach Kiratpur Sahib at 0600 hrs. Drive 230 km / 7 hrs to reach Manali in the afternoon.
- Day 2: Manali – Jispa (3150 M / 10300 ft) 140 km / 7 hrs
Leave after an early breakfast, say by 0600 hrs (to avoid traffic jams at Rohtang) drive across Rohtang La and see the landscape changes drastically from lush greenery of Manali to barren landscape of Lahaul and Ladakh. Have lunch at any of the Dhabas at Tandi. Reach Jispa late in the afternoon. Check into Safari Tents at a campsite, right besides the gushing Bhaga River. Photo ops: around Rohtang; Tandi- before Keylong where the Chandra & Bhaga Rivers meet to form the Chandrabhaga or Chenab that flows into Pakistan; around the lodge at Jispa; high altitude wildlife that you may encounter from this day onwards- Bharal, Ibex, Yaks, Marmots…
- Day 3: Jispa – Serchu (4250 M / 13900 ft) 75 Km / 3- 4 hr
After morning Tea/Coffee, go for a short acclimatization walk. Later, after a leisurely breakfast, around 1000 hrs you start the drive to Serchu. We cross over Baralacha La (4880 M / 16000 ft) and then descend to reach Bharatpur. Stop here for your packed lunch at a wayside tented amenity. Later drive to reach Serchu around 3 pm. Check in to your safari tents at a campsite. Rest of the day at leisure. Photo Ops: Suraj Tal just before Baralacha, the chocolate colored rocks at Bharatpur. Please note: Serchu is a beautiful place but quite inhospitable in terms of the weather, apart from the high altitude, this place gets very windy by late afternoon. You are advised to spend most of your time indoors in your tent / dining tent and limit the time spent outdoors.
- Day 4: Serchu - Tso Moriri (4520 M / 14850 ft) 235 km / 9 hrs
Leave after breakfast by about 0730 hrs, cross over Naki La & Lachalung La (5060 M / 16600 ft ); turn off the main highway at Mangzul and drive to Tso Kar- where you could have your packed lunch and also try & spot the rare Black Necked Cranes. Drive on over the 5030 M / 16,500 ft high Polo Kongka La. To reach Tso Moriri around 5 PM. Check in to tents/rooms at a resort overlooking the lake at Karzok. Enjoy sunset views. Photo Ops: the Gata Loops (a series of 21 hair-rising switchbacks) just after crossing the Serchu Police Check Point, at the passes, the Moray Plains after Pang, at Tso Kar & Tso Moriri.
- Day 5: In Tso Moriri
After morning Tea/Coffee go on an hour’s hike up 7 beyond Korzok to a nomadic settlement of the Changspa - interestingly they live in yak skin tents called Rebo and are constantly on the move with their flocks of Yak, Pashmina goats. Get a peek into their unique and timeless lifestyle. Walk back to the resort for breakfast. Rest of the day at leisure for walks in the wetlands around the lake that teem with exotic Himalayan avian & mammalian fauna.
- Day 6: Tso Moriri – Leh (3505 M / 11500 ft) 226 km / 7 – 8 hr
After morning Tea/Coffee go on an hour’s hike up 7 beyond Korzok to a nomadic settlement of the Changspa - interestingly they live in yak skin tents called Rebo and are constantly on the move with their flocks of Yak, Pashmina goats. Get a peek into their unique and timeless lifestyle. Walk back to the resort for breakfast. Check out after breakfast and start on a picturesque drive over Mahe Bridge, all along the Indus. Just after the bridge stop at Chumthang. Have your packed lunch here and also visit the hot springs here where you can have the unique experience of dipping one hand in naturally hot water, while the other is in naturally cold water. Reach Leh by early evening. Check into your hotel rooms. Freshen up; relax in the lawns enjoying unobstructed sunset time views of the hills beyond Shanti Stupa. Photo Ops: sunrise at the lake, at the Changspa settlement.
- Day 7: In Leh
Post breakfast, visit Shey Monastery & Palace and then the famous Thiksey & Hemis Gompa. Drive back and before Leh take a detour over the Indus to reach Stok Village. Enjoy a traditional Ladakhi meal in a village home later see Stok Palace & Museum. Enjoy the rest of the day in Leh seeing the Palace & Bazaar. Photo ops: the gompas & the monuments, the Stok & Rimo range of mountains from various vantage points, at Stok Village, in Leh Palace and at the Bazaar.
- Day 8: Leh - Nubra Valley at Turtuk (avg. alt. of Nubra Valley is 3048 M) 225 km / 8 hrs)
We leave after breakfast on a stunning drive over the mighty Khardung La (5602 M) into the verdant Nubra Valley. We reach the base of the valley at Khalsar. Here the road forks & the broad valley get divided into two distinct parts by the Shyok & Nubra Rivers. The RHS branch goes all the way to Siachen Glacier. We move on the other branch, 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. Upon reaching 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 9: In Turtuk short walks / hikes & traditional Balti meal
Post breakfast spend 2- 3 hrs walking in & around the villages, interacting with the warm & hospitable locals sporting European looks. The cherubic kids are especially adorable. 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. Later you go for a hike & explore the fantastic, totally pristine natural beauty all around.
- Day 10: Turtuk - Nubra Valley at Deskit (3048 M) 95 km / 3 hrs
Post leisurely breakfast, leave Turtuk for Deskit. On the drive back stop at the dunes of Hunder, here those interested can enjoy a ride on the Double Humped Camels. Reach Deskit by late afternoon. After freshening up, relax for a while. Post your evening cuppa, 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 11: 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, 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). 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 12: Pangong Tso - Uleytokpo 10000 ft/ 210 kms/ 7-8 hrs
Enjoy your early morning cuppa & a spectacular sunrise by the lake shore. Leave after breakfast. Drive past Leh on a picturesque 70 km, all along the Indus on the Srinagar highway – a great stretch of tarmac on which 2 hrs is par for the distance mentioned, of course you’d also be stopping to check out the Hall of Fame – Army Museum (15 – 30 mins depending on your level of interest, Magnetic Point – where vehicles seemingly defy gravity (about 10 -15 mins) and Nimmu – confluence point of Indus & Zanskar (about 10 -15 mins). Reach the picturesque & undisturbed Sham Valley by late afternoon and check in to you cottage. Evening at leisure in the serene & picturesque Uleytokpo village.
- Day 13: Ulleytokpo - Lamayuru 70 km / 2 hrs – Chitkan 55 km / 3 hrs – Dha 25 km / 1 hr - Batalik 30 km / 1 ½ hrs – Kargil (2850M / 9350 ft) 50 km / 2 hrs (total 215 km / 9- 10 hrs)
Leave after a slightly early breakfast – say by 0730 hrs and drive towards Srinagar. Reach Lamayuru, enjoy the moonscape terrain and have tea at a quaint cafeteria beside the gompa. Carry on over Fotu La and short of Namika we turn north on a very off-beat road that takes us via Sanjak Valley & Chitkan to meet the Batalik Hwy near Dha Village. The 80 km drive from here to Kargil is via the serene & undisturbed Batalik Sector: we pass the villages of Darchik & Batalik, go over Hamboting La and reach Kargil by evening. Check into your rooms at the hotel.
- Day 14: Kargil – Srinagar (3140 M) 204 km /7 hrs
Check out after a breakfast and leave on a drive from Kargil into the verdant landscapes of the Srinagar area. Drive via Drass, the second coldest place on the planet. You may stop to see some landscape features made famous courtesy the Kargil conflict with Pakistan in 1999- Tolo- ling, Mushkoo Valley & Tiger Hill. Cross over the mighty Zoji La and soon you enter the verdant picture perfect meadow covered vales of the Sonamarg region. You could stop here for a while to explore the area - hire ponies and ride up to Thajawas Glacier and see some fantastic views AND perhaps snow too, and also have packed lunch. Later resume the drive and reach the peaceful & serene Nageen Lake in Srinagar by late afternoon/early evening. Check into a room in a houseboat on the lake. Freshen up and relax. Around 1730 hrs go for a 2-3 hr relaxing Shikara Ride on the lake: sunset should be really nice.
- Day 15: Srinagar – Fly Out
Leave after breakfast to be dropped at Srinagar Airport in time to board flight.