This unique two-week journey highlights a region in northern India known for Buddhist sites and outdoor activities. After a night in Delhi, you and your guide will fly to Jammu and Kashmir where you'll acclimatize to the altitude while enjoying Himalayan culture in the town of Leh. Then, begin a series of hikes and scenic transfers to the area's best temples, monasteries, valleys, and wildlife preserves—all while staying in friendly lodges and camps for the ultimate adventure.

Highlights

  • Pay a visit to a center in Leh that helps children with disabilities
  • Trek to Likir and see one of the most important monasteries in the region
  • Join a cooking demonstration (and tasting) organized by hospitable locals
  • Spend two nights near a beautiful and sacred lake called Tso Moriri
  • Experience a slice of Old Delhi in the form of historic monuments and markets

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Delhi Delhi
Day 2 Fly to Leh - Orientation Walk Leh
Day 3 Morning Heritage Walk - Afternoon Tour Leh
Day 4 Trek to Phyang & Likir - Transfer to Hemis Shukpachen Likir
Day 5 Trek to Themisgam - Transfer to Alchi Alchi
Day 6 Visit the Alchi Monastery - Transfer to Leh Leh
Day 7 Transfer to Hundar, via Khardung La Pass & Nubra Valley Hunder
Day 8 Transfer to Sumur, via Diskit Monastery Sumur
Day 9 Transfer to Sakti & Zingral, via the Wari La Pass Zingral
Day 10 Transfer to Lake Tso Moriri Karzok
Day 11 Explore Lake Tso Moriri Karzok
Day 12 Transfer to Leh, via Hemis Monastery Leh
Day 13 Fly to Delhi - City Tour Delhi
Day 14 Depart Delhi  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Delhi

Dilli Haat is an outdoor craft market bazaar
Dilli Haat is an outdoor craft market bazaar

Welcome to India! Your trip starts in bustling Delhi, home to the capital of India and more than 21 million people. Think of this sprawling city as divided into two distinct areas: Old Delhi, founded in the 17th century, and New Delhi, established in the early 20th century by the British. 

Upon arrival, you'll meet your guide at the airport for a traditional swagat (welcome), followed by a transfer to your hotel. Check-in and take some time to relax after your travels.

If feeling energized, you can take a taxi to Dilli Haat, an outdoor craft bazaar selling handcrafted souvenirs from each of 29 of India's states. The bazaar also offers various street food stalls selling a range of regional eats from all over India, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, so come hungry!

Day 2: Fly to Leh - Orientation Walk

Scenery in the Himalayas near Leh
Snag a window seat as you fly into Leh

After breakfast in Delhi, you'll take a morning flight to Leh in India's northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir. Surrounded by mountains, this high-altitude city (11,483 feet/3,500 m) is best known for its Buddhist monuments and outdoor adventures. Snag a window seat if possible: Your flight travels over the Himalayan range where, if lucky, you'll get an amazing view of the peaks and fertile valley just above the Indus River (views depend on weather and flying conditions). Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel.

The rest of the day is free to relax and acclimatize to the altitude. In the late afternoon, you can take an easy orientation walk through Leh and its bazaars. Historically, Leh was an important trading center along the Old Silk Route from China. The town is still known for its impressive Namgyal Palace (you'll see this tomorrow) which has been compared to the Potala Palace in Lhasa. 

Day 3: Morning Heritage Walk - Afternoon Tour

The Shanti Stupa was built to promote world peace
The Shanti Stupa was built to promote world peace

Today is a busy day of sightseeing! After breakfast, you'll take a Heritage Walk conducted by the Tibetan Heritage Fund (THF) whose goal is to preserve Leh's Old Town and its historic buildings. The walk lasts for more than two hours and is accompanied by an experienced local guide who shares facts about important historic buildings restored by the THF. 

Later in the morning, you'll have the chance to see more key sites starting with the Leh Palace. This was originally built in the 17th century as the residential palace for the King Singge Namgyal, but it has been deserted since the royal family shifted to the Stok Palace in the 1830s. Next, visit Shanti Stupa, located on the hilltop at Changspa. Constructed by a Japanese Buddhist organization, the aim behind the construction of the Stupa was to commemorate 2,500 years of Buddhism and to promote World Peace.

You'll also see Namgyal Tsemo Monastery, founded in the early 15th century. The monastery is renowned for its three-story solid gold idol of Maitreya Buddha. Situated on a mountain top behind the Leh Palace, the monastery offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, the gently flowing Indus river, and snowcapped peaks of the Zanskar range.

Save some energy because, in the afternoon, you will visit the Rewa Ability Center (RAC) with a local guide. This society was founded in 2007 by parents of children with disabilities and other local citizens who saw the desperate need of the special children of Ladakh.

Every afternoon, the therapists at RAC find new things to do for the children. It's not easy to find activities that all of the children can participate in because of their different levels of ability. You'll see how the personnel of RAC helps children of all levels develop skills. The duration of your visit depends on how much time you wish to spend there but, generally, two hours is enough to carry out this visit.

After these excursions, you'll have the rest of the evening to enjoy at leisure. 

Day 4: Trek to Phyang & Likir - Transfer to Hemis Shukpachen

The Buddha Maitreya statue in Likir
The Buddha Maitreya statue in Likir

Today, you'll take a short transfer to the bridge of Phyang, located about 9 miles (15 km) from Leh. From this point, you'll begin a trek to the village of the same name to visit some monasteries. As you continue on the route, you will see another monastery built on an ancient gompa called Likir—one of the most important monasteries in the region. You'll then descend to the foot of this magnificent site.

Later, you will drive to the village of Hemis Shukpachen for your overnight, surrounded by ancient "hurdles" of chorten (stupa) and cypress trees (a rarity here) that mark the end of the fields. 

Upon arrival at Hemis Shukpachen, a cooking demonstration will be organized by the locals who will heartily welcome you to experience their unique mountain hospitality. Make sure to look around the house's beautiful interior. Once you have observed the complete process of cooking, you will taste the delicious dishes that have been prepared.

Day 5: Trek to Themisgam - Transfer to Alchi

Scenery surrounding Alchi village
Scenery surrounding Alchi village

After breakfast, you'll depart Hemis Shukpachen on foot and head towards Rongtil La. The route is mostly flat and there are Buddshist shrines or chortens marking the pass.

From here, your second pass, Meptik La, is visible with its multi-colored mountain face. After a short steep descent to the base, Meptek La looks like a wall in front but it can be climbed in less than an hour while taking a slow leisurely walk. Your hard work pays off with the breathtaking views over the surrounding range of mountains from the top. A two-hour gradual descent through the village of Ang brings you to a prosperous village, Themisgam,  where you visit a castle.

Following this, drive to the village of Alchi to check into your hotel. The rest of the evening is free to spend at leisure.

Day 6: Visit the Alchi Monastery - Transfer to Leh

Spend some time exploring the Alchi Monastery
Spend some time exploring the Alchi Monastery

After breakfast, you will visit Alchi Monastery, an important Buddhist site, known more as a monastic complex of temples in Alchi village. Here you'll be able to absorb the ancient architecture and beautiful wall paintings. Built approximately 990 years ago, this gompa is known for its massive Buddha statues and lavish woodcarvings and artwork.

Following the visit, transfer back to Leh (43 miles/69 km) where you'll check into a hotel for the night.

Day 7: Transfer to Hundar, via Khardung La Pass & Nubra Valley

Keep your eyes out for the Bactrian camel
Keep your eyes out for the Bactrian camel

After breakfast, make the drive to Khardung La Pass 17,582 feet (5,359 m), the highest-altitude drivable road in the world with plenty of long switchbacks. Once you've reached the top, snag a birds-eye view of the Saser Muztagh mountain range with the highest peak reaching 25,170 feet (7,672 m). You'll also be able to spot the Stok mountain range if you look towards Leh.

From here, continue the drive to Nubra Valley, also known as Ldumra (valley of flowers), situated north of Leh. The area's stunning scenery, religious sites, and opportunities for outdoor activities are drawing more visitors each year. Keep in mind that the average altitude of the valley is about 10,000 feet (3,048 m) above sea level. The main attraction in this area is the presence of the shaggy Bactrian camel species (notable for their double-humps).

Upon arrival in Hunder, make yourself comfortable in the overnight camp and enjoy the views.

Day 8: Transfer to Sumur, via Diskit Monastery

Three colorful stupa, part of Diskit Monastery
Three colorful stupa, part of Diskit Monastery

After breakfast in Hunder, you'll head for another village in the Nubra Valley: Sumur. But first, you'll stop at the Diskit Monastery. This 14th-century site is the largest and oldest monastery in the area, and it also offers beautiful 360-degree views. After the visit, you'll resume the journey to Sumur. 

Once you've arrived at the village camp, there will be time to visit the Samstanling Monasteries, set amidst scenic mountains, with traditional touches of gold, red, and white. This site is home to around 50 monks who govern the monastery, giving it blessings with morning prayers. 

In the afternoon, you'll also have the option to enjoy a camel ride across the sand dunes.

Day 9: Transfer to Sakti & Zingral, via the Wari La Pass

Buddhist monks in Sakti
Buddhist monks in Sakti

This morning, you'll drive to the spectacular Wari La Pass (17,526 feet/5,342 m)—one of the world’s highest motorable mountain passes situated in the north. The magnificent views offer you a panorama which stretches far south over the Indus valley to the seemingly endless peaks and ridges of the Zanskar range, and north to the giants of the Saser massif, the highest of which, Saser Kangri I stands at 25,1700 feet (7,672 m). Please be prepared for a bumpy ride, as the road conditions near the pass on both sides are quite poor.

Next, you'll continue to drive towards the Sakti/Zingral area. Here, you'll visit Taktok Monastery. The name Takthok literally means 'rock-roof' because both its roof as well as walls are made up of rock. Built around a cave, it also houses beautiful frescoes.

Day 10: Transfer to Lake Tso Moriri

Himalayan lake Tso Moriri Tsomoriri
Himalayan lake Tso Moriri Tsomoriri

Today, you'll drive to Lake Tso Moriri near the villages of Sumdo and Karzok (130 miles/209 km) for the next leg of the trip.

Flanked by lofty mountains, this is one of the most beautiful, calm, and sacred high-altitude lakes in India. Tso Moriri attracts a range of wildlife, including migratory birds, marmots, and (rarely) Tibetan wolves. The lake and surrounding area are protected as the Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve. Take in the views!

Day 11: Explore Lake Tso Moriri

Take in the sunset views over Lake Tso Moriri
Take in the sunset views over Lake Tso Moriri

Today, you'll wake up on the shores of Lake Tso Moriri where you'll have the entire day to explore the area.

Start by visiting the monastery of the 19th-century Karmapa School—the only place of education for young monks in the region. Next, you'll take a scenic drive through the Nomad Valley, followed by a short transfer to the northern tip of the lake where an ornithological reserve is located. Here, you'll have the opportunity to walk around and embrace the landscape. There's also the chance of spotting unique wildlife here.

In the afternoon, transfer back to your camp for the night.

Day 12: Transfer to Leh, via Hemis Monastery

Young monks being addressed at Hemis festival in Hemis Monastery
Young monks being addressed at Hemis festival in Hemis Monastery

After breakfast at camp, it's time to depart Lake Tse Morini and take the road back to Leh (132 miles/213 km) through the Kiagar Pass and Indus Gorge. During a portion of the drive, you'll notice multicolored rocks rising above until you reach the plain of Leh.

You'll also take a small diversion to Hemis Monastery in order to observe the beautiful architectural ensemble. Nestled on the valley floor, this monastery was built around 1602 by a Bhutanese monk who was invited by the king of that time.

Upon arrival in Leh, check into your hotel and enjoy some free time to explore on your own.

Day 13: Fly to Delhi - City Tour

Delhi's Red Fort
Delhi's Red Fort

This morning, you'll be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Delhi. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel for your last night of the trip. How you spend the rest of the day is up to you! Relax at the hotel, or—if there's time—join a half-day city tour in Old Delhi.

This authentic part of town is crowded, abuzz with activity, and still influenced by the great Mughals who once ruled from the ramparts of the majestic and historic Red Fort. During the visit, you'll see top sights like Jama Masjid, the largest 17th-century mosque in India, Chandni Chowk, the typical Indian market (a treat for the senses), and Rajghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi (also called the 'Father of the Nation’).

Time permitting, you can even check out New Delhi where you'll drive past the Presidential Palace, the Secretariat Buildings, India Gate, and other colonial buildings. Make sure to look for the early 20th-century work of Edwin Lutyens, a British architect, who is featured prominently in the colonial districts.

Day 14: Depart Delhi

Delhi's India Gate monument
Delhi's India Gate monument

It's time to say goodbye to India! At the designated time, you would be transferred to Delhi's international airport for your departure flight or onward journey. Safe travels!

Map

Map of India's Last Frontier - 14 Days
Map of India's Last Frontier - 14 Days