DURATION: 12 DAYS
GROUP SIZE: FLEXIBLE
HIGHLIGHTS: HIMALAYAN LANDSCAPES / RED FOX / TIBETAN WOLF / BLACK NECKED CRANE / MONASTERIES
The Himalayan landscape around Leh, is famous for its arid remote mountain beauty and culture of the Tibetan population of the area. These landscapes have been termed as supernatural and surreal. With cold deserts, snow peaked mountains and colourful prayer flags in every nook and corner, this tour focusing on the local monasteries and wildlife in these high altitudes, will be an epic cultural, ethnographic and wildlife experience for you. In Leh you will get familiar with age old Tibetan monasteries and culture. Tso Kar, a salt water lake, will give you the opportunity to spot and photograph a variety of birds, including the Black Necked Crane and the rare Bar headed geese. The areas surrounding the lake are home to wild asses, Tibetan wolves and Red Foxes. Nubra Valley is again a rich heritage spot for Tibetan culture.
From Delhi- Direct flight to Leh
ABOUT LEH CITY
Leh is one of the largest districts in India. Surrounded by three Himalayan ranges which run parallel to each other, Leh has been called the Light of the Himalaya by Lonely Planet. With mudbrick houses and numerous monastery stupas, the Old Town of Leh is topped by an imposing Tibetan fort and palace. This tourist friendly place will transport you to a different world with its high mountains and patchwork of irrigated fields. Due to its high altitude, you will be needing a day for acclimatization.
TSO KAR LAKE (pronunciation- SO- CAR)
From Leh- By road, 150 kms (3 hrs 40 mins)
Known as the White Lake, Tso Kar is one of the three salt water lakes in Ladakh. Its White Lake name comes from the white salt deposits around its shores. A popular area for bird watchers, the lake is surrounded by marshlands which are ideal breeding grounds for bird life. The main species of birds that can be photographed and documented in the region are the famous Black Necked Cranes, Bar Headed Geese, Brown Headed Gulls and Terns to name a few. The Black Necked Cranes come to Tso Kar to nest and lay eggs. The surrounding mountains also host a variety of wildlife which include the Kiang, the largest of the wild asses, the Tibetan wolf, the Tibetan gazelle and Red Foxes. Steppe Marmots are one more species that can be seen in the hills around the lake.
From Tso Kar- Travel back to Leh by road (150 kms, 3 hrs 40 mins). From Leh travel by road via Khardungla Pass (160 kms, 4 hrs 40 mins).
Cradeled by rugged mountains, Nubra Valley has vast hinterlands of uninhabited land, deep valleys and enchanting monasteries. To reach Nubra, you will be traveling on the world’s highest motorable road via the Khardungla Pass. There are two rivers crisscrossing the valley and you will find settlements with step type cultivated fields on top of the rivers. You can also spot Bactrian camels on the dune like arid landscape between the rivers and the mountains.
TOUR ITINERARY- WILD HIMALAYAS (LEH + TSO KAR + NUBRA VALLEY)
DAY 1 (TRAVEL): Arrival at Delhi airport. Direct flight to Leh. Once you check in to your hotel, you will rest for the day and acclimatize yourself. This is required due to the high altitudes of the area (3500 m).
DAY 2: After resting the previous day, you can take it easy on your second day as well and visit the famous Shanti Stupa and the Hemis Monastery at your leisure. The Shanti Stupa is a white domed stupa on a hilltop and its location provides a panoramic view of the valley and the breathtaking mountains. The Hemis Monastery is said to have existed before the 11th century and is well known for its festival which hosts a magnificent dance performance depicting the reincarnation of Buddha. While exploring these places, you will find yourself traversing narrow footpaths linking beautiful traditional Tibetan houses. The second day of rest is also needed for your acclimatization.
DAY 3 (TRAVEL): After spending two restful days, on the third day you travel to Tso Kar by road. Upon reaching your accommodation at Tso Kar, you check in and relax for the rest of the day. This is again needed for your acclimatization as its at an even higher altitude than Leh, standing tall at 4530 m.
DAY 4- DAY 6: You reach the lake via car / yak and spend the day photographing the rare bird species that are found in the area. Your days will be divided between the lake area and the surrounding hills and mountains where you will get the opportunity to make images of Kiangs, Tibetan wolves and Red foxes.
DAY 7 (TRAVEL): You will depart for Leh early in the day and reach by afternoon to rest at your hotel. The night will be spent in Leh.
DAY 8 (TRAVEL) : From Leh, you will depart for Nubra Valley driving through Khardungla Pass, the highest motorable road in the world. Once you reach Nubra, you check in and relax for the day.
DAY 9: You begin your day with a hearty breakfast and then leave to explore the Diskit Monastery and the 32 m tall Maitreya Buddha statue next to it. This monastery is the oldest and largest in the region. Lachung Temple and Hundur Monastery are the other two places of interest you will be visiting.
DAY 10: Post breakfast, you will spend the day in the surreal landscapes with a Bactrian camel ride in gorgeous sand dunes. A short 20 mins trek will get you to a hidden holy lake called Yarab Tso. The rest of the day can be spent exploring the local area and the market place.
DAY 11 (TRAVEL): From Nubra Valley, you will be leaving for Leh early in the day and stay overnight in Leh.
DAY 12 (TRAVEL): From Leh, you take a flight back to Delhi