15 day Ladakh tour
Great Himalayan Crossing
- One of the world’s most spectacular road trips
- Travel over high mountainpasses of the Himalaya
- Visit highest villages of the world
This is one of the world’s most spectacular road trips! Within 15 days you cross the Great Himalayan Range, ending in Ladakh on the Tibetan Plateau. Gradually, you’ll see the landscape change from lush green and forest-covered hills to the barren but beautiful high altitude desert of the Trans-Himalayas. At the same time, you’ll see a remarkable change in the culture and people. “Indians” make way for “Tibetans”, while Hinduism is replaced by Buddhism. In Spiti, you’ll see the famous Tabo Gompa, probably the oldest lama Buddhist monastery in India, and walk among some of the highest villages in the world.
The road becomes even more spectacular as you cross three road passes of altitudes between 4885 and 5300 m while traversing an immense no-man’s land between Spiti and Ladakh. Reaching the Indus Valley and Ladakh’s capital Leh, will be like reaching Timbuktu.
15 day Ladakh Tour – Great Himalayan Crossing:
Route: Delhi – Shimla – Sarahan – Sangla – Chitkul – Rarang – Tabo – Kaza – Chandratal – Serchu – Leh – Delhi
Day 01 – Arrival at Delhi International Airport
At Delhi, you are met outside the International Arrivals Hall by our representative and transferred for an overnight stay to a hotel in Delhi or a guesthouse in Gurgaon; closer to the airport. If your flight lands after midnight, we suggest that you spend the next day sightseeing in Delhi. Feel free to ask about the different tour options we can offer.
Day 02: New Delhi – Chandigarh – Shimla (109 km, 3–4 hrs)
You board the Shatabdi Express to Chandigarh at New Delhi Railway station. On arrival at the railway station in Chandigarh, you’ll be met by our local guide and driven to Shimla (109 km/ 3-4 hr drive). Since the evening is free, we recommend a walk down the mall road – the main promenade that runs along the top of the Ridge – a busy shopping area with old colonial buildings, souvenir shops and restaurants.
Day 03: Sightseeing around Shimla
In the morning, you can visit some interesting places, such as the vice regal lodge. Housed in the gothic splendor of this building, is the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, India’s premier academy for higher research. Quite close to this is the Himachal State Museum, a colonial building set in spacious lawns. It has collections of Pahari miniatures, stone sculptures, local handicrafts, textiles and embroidery.
Day 04: Shimla – Sarahan (175 km, 7–8 hrs)
Your road trip (with driver) officially starts today. You’ll drive to Sarahan (2165 m), which takes about 7-8 hrs from Shimla. You follow the Sutlej River gorge, driving through small towns such as Nirth, Dutt Nagar and Rampur. At Nirth, there is an old temple, dedicated to the local Sun God. And Dutt Nagar is known for its archaeological importance. Sarahan is a small but beautiful village situated at 2680 m, which is host to the historical Bhima Kali Temple, believed to be 1500 years old. Overnight stay is in a comfortable hotel.
Day 05: Sarahan – Sangla (95 km, 4–5 hrs)
Going to Sangla in the Baspa Valley takes about 4 to 5 hrs on a well-surfaced road. The Sangla Valley is renowned for its lush greenery and apple orchards, nestled amid the formidable mountains. The valley gives access to Tibet, and small-scale trade is still happening (although the border area is off-limits to foreigners). Overnight stay is at a hotel in Sangla.
Day 06: Sangla – Chitkul – Sangla (56 km, 5–6 hrs)
While you stay in Sangla, you can visit the beautiful village of Chitkul (3450 m), the highest village in the Baspa Valley. The route to Chitkul is rocky, narrow and steep. Chitkul consists of picturesque wooden houses and has a temple dedicated to the local Goddess, Mathi, which is presumably 500 years old. You can also visit the striking village of Rackcham, surrounded by forests and rocky cliffs of granite rocks. The whole day is spent visiting these beautiful villages. You return back to the hotel in Sangla for overnight stay.
Day 07: Sangla – Rarang via Kanam (105 km, 6 hrs)
You return to the banks of river Satluj, and again travel eastwards along the river. As the mountains get more barren, religion gradually changes from Hinduism to Buddhism. You can make an excursion to Ribba Village, one of the biggest villages in Kinnaur and famous for Angoori, local alcohol brewed out of the grapes, as well as to Kanum. Kanum means, “a place of sacred books.” Here, you’ll experience the real Kinnaur, where legends and old Hindu and Buddhist literature occupy an important place in the local culture. Overnight stay is at a quaint homestay in Rarang.
Day 08: Rarang – Tabo via Nako (147 km, 6–7 hrs)
You drive all along the River Satluj till Khab – the meeting point of the Satluj and Spiti River. After that, the road zigzags along the Spiti River. A 7 km long side road takes you to picturesque Nako (2950 m). This is the first ‘purely Tibetan’ village you encounter on this trip. After passing through a deserted stretch of ‘no-man’s land’, you enter Spiti at Tabo (3050 m.).Tabo monastery is the most important seat of Buddhist learning in Spiti and more than 1000 years old, making it the oldest monastery in the Western ‘Tibetan’ Himalayas. This Gompa is regarded as being next in significance only to Tholing Gompa in Tibet.
Day 09: Tabo – Shego via Dankar and Pin Valley (110 km, 5–6 hrs)
Driving along the Spiti Valley, you pass through many villages and monasteries of Spiti. Before reaching the capital Kaza, you can make a side trip to the Pin Valley. Given the status of a national park, the valley is famous for its wild life – ibex and snow leopard, just to name a few. Time permitting, you can also visit the small village of Dhankar (3890 m) with its ancient little gompa (monastery).
Overnight stay is at Shego, not far from Kaza.
Day 10: Visit to the villages of Langza, Komik, Kibbar and Ki Monastery (5–6 hrs)
These villages are all situated at a height of more then 4000 m, the highest one even at 4500 m, at striking locations and housing some of the most interesting monasteries in the Spiti Valley. They are most likely among the highest inhabited villages in the world. Ki Gompa (monastery), situated 13 kms from Kaza is also very picturesque. This monastery is built on what must have been a crater of an extinct volcano, and is one of the biggest and the oldest monasteries of the Gelugpa sect in Spiti.
Day 11: Shego – over Kunzum Pass – Chandratal (115 km, 5–6 hrs)
Today, you cross the Himalayan Range (again) as we drive over the Kunzum La (pass, 4550 m). After descending a little from the pass, you take a narrow sidetrack to Chandratal (4270 m). The first sight of this wondrous ‘Moon Lake’ takes one’s breath away, with its shores ringed with meadows carpeted with over a hundred varieties of alpine flowers. There is an excellent campsite surrounded by the massive mountaintops (C.B. Ranges) and glaciers at Chandratal. You may sleep lightly and you may be experiencing some headache or nausea. Though uncomfortable, this is normal. The headache will most likely go away after you descend in the morning.
Day 12: Chandratal – Serchu (240 km, 6–7 hrs)
Today, you drive all along the Chandra River through Lahaul Valley. You reach the Leh-Manali Highway at Gramphu. From here on, you drive through the Chandra River along fields of potato and peas, dotted by Lahauli villages, encountering local inhabitants working in the fields. After passing the small village of Jispa with its mud-dried houses, the landscape becomes truly alpine with gushing glacier streams, tiny white alpine flowers waving in the cold breeze and snowcapped mountains all around. On Baralacha La (4885 m), you actually cross the Great Himalayan Range (again) and cross over into an area referred to as Trans-Himalaya, the major part of which consists of Tibet.
As there is no habitation around, you will stay in a tented accommodation with full room size canvas tents with beds, table and chair, and attached bathrooms, at Serchu (4200 m).
Day 13: Serchu to Leh (253 km, 7–9 hrs)
Today, you’ll be crossing three passes that are each higher than Baralacha La: Nake La (4925 m), Lachulung La (5075 m) and Taglang La (5300 m). After that, you descend down to the Indus Valley, which is Ladakh proper. As you follow the river Indus down to Leh, you’ll be amazed at the lush green fields of barley that make for such a stark contrast with the surrounding stark mountains. Climate-wise, Ladakh is a desert but thanks to the ingenious irrigation systems, the Ladakhis are able to grow grain and vegetables here.
Upon arrival in Leh, you’ll check into a comfortable guesthouse just outside Leh town.
Day 14: At Leh
Historically, the small town of Leh had an important position as it was a hub for traders from nearby countries. Caravans from 5 different countries could be seen here. Nowadays, it breathes a more relaxed atmosphere. You can stroll through the small alleyways, visit one of the many restaurants or browse the many shops selling beautiful Tibetan and Kashmiri artifacts.
Day 15: Flight Leh – Delhi
Early in the morning, you fly back to Delhi. In Delhi, you can visit various attractions like Old Delhi, Red Fort, Kutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb and Akshardam Temple, or even do a day excursion to the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Extending your trip
After reaching Leh, you most likely don’t want to take the first flight out. There is a lot to see in and around Leh, and Ladakh is truly a magical place that definitely warrants exploring. We recommend a week for first-time visitors. Visiting the fascinating Buddhist gompas (monasteries) in the Indus Valley or crossing one of the highest motorable passes in the world to Nubra Valley or to the high altitude lake Pangong Tso, on the border with Tibet, are just a few of the highlights. And, to experience the real Ladakh, you may consider a trek into the mountains. Whatever your choice, we will be most happy to arrange it for you.