Adventurous families will love the off-the-beaten-path thrills of this two-week exploration of northern India. Start in the bustling capital of Delhi before flying to the mountains and lakes of the Ladakh region, where you'll visit remote monasteries, go whitewater rafting on the mighty Indus River, cross the dunes of Hundar by camel, and spend two nights at a comfortable lakeside camp. Fly south again to end your trip, meeting the monkeys of Agra Fort and watching the sunrise over the Taj Mahal.


  • Take in the vibrant colors, sights, and sounds of lively Delhi
  • Visit the ancient, sacred monasteries of Leh and Nubra 
  • Conquer the whitewater rapids of the mighty Indus River 
  • Camp along the stunning blue waters of Pangong Lake

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1  Arrive in Delhi Delhi
Day 2  Fly to Leh, Guided Walking Tour  Leh
Day 3 Monastery Tours: Thiksey, Hemis & Matho Leh
Day 4 Rafting Adventure on the Indus River  Leh
Day 5 Ladakh Monasteries, Tea with a Local Family in Tingmosgang Village Leh
Day 6 Transfer to Hundar via the Nubra Valley & Diskit Monastery Nubra Valley
Day 7 Explore Hundar: Sand Dunes, Camel Rides & Hot Springs  Nubra Valley
Day 8 Transfer to Sumur, See the Samstanling Monastery Sumur
Day 9 Camping Adventure on Pangong Lake Pangong Tso
Day 10 Explore Pangong Lake Pangong Tso
Day 11 Return to Leh, Lamayuru Monastery & Leh Market Leh
Day 12 Fly to Delhi, Transfer to Agra, Explore Agra Fort Agra
Day 13 Taj Mahal Sunrise Tour, Transfer to Delhi Delhi
Day 14 Depart Delhi  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1:  Arrive in Delhi

Explore the sights and sounds of Delhi

Welcome to India! Upon your arrival at the New Delhi airport, your driver will meet you and transport you to your hotel. Once you've checked in and had a chance to regroup, step out and start exploring India's capital city! Sitting on the banks of the Yamuna River and part of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, this is a vibrant, dense metropolis with a rich history and plenty to see and do. 

Start your tour with a visit to Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, an important Sikh place of worship with gorgeous architecture and a large pool called the Sarovar. It's also home to the world's largest community kitchen, where more than 20,000 people are fed for free each day. Next, head to Birla Mandir Temple, an Orissan-style temple that was erected by a wealthy industrialist in the 1930s and honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. 

Afterward, stop at Lal Qila or the Red Fort. Built in the 1600s, this was once the residence of Mughal emperors, featuring stunning architectural elements that combine Persian and Hindu influences. You can stroll the grounds on your own or take a guided tour for a true history lesson and education on the fort—something older kids or teens might find especially interesting. Rest up tonight at your hotel before continuing your journey tomorrow. 

Day 2:  Fly to Leh, Guided Walking Tour 

Get acclimated with a walk to Tsemo Monastery in Leh

This morning, a private transfer will take you to the airport and catch your flight north to your next destination, Leh. Located in the territory of Ladakh, this charming city sits in a fertile valley just north of the mighty Indus River. The region is known for its abundance of picturesque monasteries, as well as being a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The plane crosses the peaks of the Himalaya, providing an amazing overhead view of the mountains and glaciers, so be sure to grab a window seat!

After arriving at Leh airport, you'll be met by your driver and taken to your hotel. You may immediately notice a change in altitude—Leh sits at 11,500 feet (3,500 m), which can be a bit of a shock to the system. You can spend today resting and acclimating, or your family can take a gentle, guided walking tour around the valley.

The tour takes you to Leh's old Royal Palace, which sits on Namgyal Hill, then to the nearby Tsemo Monastery, where you'll be rewarded with magnificent views of the whole city and its surrounding villages. See the Japanese Peace Pagoda, Shanti Stupa, which was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu, Gyomyo Nakamura. End the day with a visit to some of the local bazaars, where you can get a bite to eat and the kids can run around freely. 

Day 3: Monastery Tours: Thiksey, Hemis & Matho

Visit  Maitreya Buddha at Thiksay Monastery

Today's excursion covers three of the major gompas (monasteries) around Leh. Your guide will pick you up in the morning and drive you to Thiksey Monastery, which belongs to the Gelukpa order (Yellow Hat) sect of Buddhists. The monastery is perched on top of a hill, with red and white buildings that can be seen for miles. A recently built temple there contains a magnificent two-story image of the Maitreya Buddha (Future Buddha).

From here, you'll continue to Hemis, which belongs to the Drukpa order (Red Hat) sect. This is one of the biggest (and wealthiest) monasteries in Ladakh. The monastery boasts a rich collection of ancient relics and rare 17th-century murals, as well as painted stone reliefs that adorn the courtyard gallery.

Your final stop is Matho, which sits on the other side of the Indus River. Founded in the 1400s, this is the only monastery that belongs to the Sakya order of Tibetan monasteries. If you happen to be here in March, you and the kids will get a chance to experience the monastery's Matho Nagrang Festival, a lively, two-day celebration with masked dance performances by the monastery's monks. 

Day 4: Rafting Adventure on the Indus River 

Get ready for some rafting fun on the mighty Indus River

If your family is looking for some real outdoor adventuring, take a rafting trip on the Indus River this morning, easily considered one of the most beautiful whitewater streams in the Himalaya. Your guide will provide a safety briefing, and after you don the provided equipment, you'll begin your journey, traversing moderate class II and III rapids along the way. The run takes you through breathtakingly gorgeous mountains, many of which have tiny villages and grand old monasteries hidden among the valleys, and the kids will love the excitement of the rapids as well as the chance to spot some local wildlife! 

Day 5: Ladakh Monasteries, Tea with a Local Family in Tingmosgang Village

Enjoy tea with a local family in Tingmosgang Village

Tour some of Leh's oldest and most beautiful monasteries today. Your guide will meet up with you after breakfast, and you'll make the drive west to Alchi. Visit Alchi Monastery, where you'll find walls adorned with murals that depict Buddha in various forms. Then, head south to Stok Gompa, once the home of the Ladakh royal family. Visit the Palace Museum here, where the kids can see the costumes and crowns of bygone eras, then tour Gurphuk Gompa, a branch of Spituk Monastery, before heading to Likir to see the monastery there—one of the oldest in Ladakh.

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End your busy day of sightseeing with a stop in Tingmosgang Village, where you'll visit a local family and enjoy some butter tea—one of the most popular drinks of the Himalayan people. The kids will get a chance to run and play while the adults can relax and learn more about local life and traditions here. Enjoy your last evening in Leh with dinner at a local restaurant. 

Day 6: Transfer to Hundar via the Nubra Valley & Diskit Monastery

A welcome from Diskit Monastery

The day starts early with a drive to the Nubra Valley, which takes you along Khardung La (the world's highest motorable road) and Khardung Pass, which sits at an astounding 18,379 feet (5,602 m). Enjoy the breathtaking views that stretch south over the Indus Valley to the peaks and ridges of the Zanskar range and north to the giants of the Saser Massif. Nubra Valley, or Ldumra (Valley of Flowers), is nestled between the Karakoram and Ladakh ranges, a desert expanse with an elevation nearly 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level. 

After your arrival, you'll proceed to Diskit Monastery, which sits high atop a cliff. See the elevated cupola here, and take in the expansive views of the valley and Diskit village. Afterward, your family will head to Hundar village. Hundar is often referred to as the "desert in the sky" and is known for its sand dunes and barren landscapes. If the kids aren't too tired, you can take a stroll around the village, and if you happen to be there in the fall, the friendly residents are quite likely to let them pick a few apples from the many apple trees you'll see around town! 

Day 7: Explore Hundar: Sand Dunes, Camel Rides & Hot Springs 

Take a ride on a camel through the dunes of Hundar

See more of Hundar via camel at the amazing Hundar sand dunes. Travel across the desert on the double-humped Bactrian camels that were once an integral part of the caravans of this ancient trade route. After the kids enjoy a meet and greet with the camels, you'll mount up, and your guide will take you on a desert tour, regaling both kids and adults with stories and legends of the region. Afterward, visit Panamic Village, known for its sulfur hot springs. There is a small pool here with changing areas if you or the kids want to take a dip. The village is also near the Siachen Glacier, one of the largest in the world.

Day 8: Transfer to Sumur, See the Samstanling Monastery

See the colorful Buddhist paintings at Samstanling

Take a private transfer from the Nubra Valley to the village of Sumur, a drive of approximately 1.5 hours. After you arrive and check in at your hotel, you can step out for some sightseeing. Start at the village's monastery, Samstanling Gompa, which was founded by Lama Tsultims Nima in 1841 CE and belongs to the Gelukpa order. This is a great place for the kids to walk around after the car ride, and you can see their lovely collection of idols and thangkas (Buddhist paintings). Sumur is also home to Sumur and Charu monasteries, both of which are worth seeing.

Day 9: Camping Adventure on Pangong Lake

You can walk for hours along the sparkling Pangong Lake 

Your family departs for gorgeous Pangong Lake today, also known as Pangong Tso, one of Asia's largest lakes, with crystal clear waters that span the borders of India and China and create stunning vistas of water meeting sky. The drive takes you along rocky mountain roads and back through the majestic Khardung Pass, where you'll have a chance to stop for some photo ops, and the kids can stretch their legs. You'll be camping lakeside tonight at one of the several luxury camps here, most of which have modern facilities, meals, and fun optional excursions.

After you check in at your camp, the rest of the day is yours. While the lake is not considered swimmable (sorry, kids!) in part because of its cold temperatures, you can walk along the shores, take lots of photos, and let the kids explore at their leisure on the vast, open expanses. Tonight, unwind at your campsite, where you can have bonfires, meet other travelers, and enjoy family-friendly group activities and games.

Day 10: Explore Pangong Lake

Curious marmots say hello at Pangong Lake

Relax at the lake today, enjoying some downtime as the kids play around camp and you take in the stunning vistas of the lake and surrounding areas. While the lake's high saline content means there is minimal vegetation, it makes for an open expanse that truly feels endless. You're likely to see plenty of migratory birds landing on the lake and trolling the shores, so bird-watchers should definitely bring their cameras along if you go for a walk! The lake is also home to a large population of ground squirrels or marmots, and the kids can have fun spotting these curious creatures over the course of the day. 

Day 11: Return to Leh, Lamayuru Monastery & Leh Market

Visit Leh Market for souvenirs and snacks! 

Make your way back to Leh, breaking up the drive with a stop at Hemis Monastery if you didn't get to see it earlier and a visit to Lamayuru Monastery. According to local legend, Lamayuru's valley was once a lake where nagas (holy serpents) lived, and it was prophesized that the lake would one day be emptied and a monastery would be built here. 

After arriving back in Leh, take advantage of a free afternoon with a visit to Leh Market, a bustling, colorful space where you'll find all the gifts and souvenirs you might want—and maybe discover some you didn't know you needed! The market consists of small pathways and streets and has clothes, spices, food items, and handmade woolens, perfect for staying cozy in colder climates. The kids can look for some treasures to take back home, and there are also plenty of restaurants and food stalls, so this is a great place to have dinner before heading back to your hotel. 

Day 12: Fly to Delhi, Transfer to Agra, Explore Agra Fort

Visit Agra Fort and maybe see some playful monkeys

Depart Leh this morning and catch a flight back to Delhi, where your driver will collect you and transport you directly to the city of Agra, a drive of just under four hours. Agra, which is part of the state of Uttar Pradesh and sits on the banks of the Yamuna River, grew to prominence as a leading center for art, commerce, and culture in the 16th century. Modern Agra remains a cultural hub and a popular destination for both tourists and locals. 

After checking in at your accommodations, take a tour of the historic Agra Fort, one of the city's major landmarks. This massive red sandstone and white marble fortress was built on the banks of the river and features a mix of architectural styles and designs that showcase the style of the various emperors that lived and ruled here. Learn more about the fort and walk the lavish grounds, and the kids should keep an eye out for the monkeys that like to play along the fort's walls!

Day 13: Taj Mahal Sunrise Tour, Transfer to Delhi

Take the family on a sunrise tour of the majestic Taj Mahal

The day starts before dawn this morning as your family visits one of India's top monuments, the glorious Taj Mahal. Built in the 1600s by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, this incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered one of the greatest achievements of Indo-Islamic architecture. Your guide will get you there in time to watch the sun hit the epic marble monument, bathing it in buttery shades of gold—a vision well worth the early wake-up call. After sunrise, you'll get a chance to explore inside, as well as walk the beautifully maintained grounds.

Return to your hotel in time for breakfast, then make the drive back to Delhi, where you're free to catch some of the sights you might have missed earlier. You can get in some last-minute shopping, or if the kids need to burn off some energy, visit India Gate, which was built as a memorial to the Indian soldiers who fought in World War I. There is a large stretch of grassy lawn here, with a huge playground right next door. And if you've got little ones who are obsessed with trains, be sure to stop at the National Rail Museum, where you can see rail exhibits, and the kids can climb on real trains!

Day 14: Depart Delhi 

Farewell to beautiful India! 

It's time to say goodbye to India today, as your driver transfers you to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels! 

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Map of Family Discovery of Northern India: From the Himalaya to the Taj Mahal - 14 Days
Map of Family Discovery of Northern India: From the Himalaya to the Taj Mahal - 14 Days