Delhi - Leh - Stok - Taru - Nimoo - Leh - Delhi
Duration:8 Days / 7 Nights
Arrive Delhi, after clearing Immigration & Customs formalities; you will reach the arrival hall. Here you will meet your guide from Banyan tours and then you are transferred to your hotel. Overnight: The Claridges, Deluxe Room
DELHI - LEH (by Air) - STOK
Early morning transfer to domestic airport to board flight for Leh (9W 609 - 0540/0700 Hrs). On arrival at Leh Airport (3332m), please proceed to the arrivals hall to collect your baggage and register yourself at the foreign registration counter, where foreigners must register. Once you have collected your luggage and have registered, continue outside of the airport, where a representative from 'Mountain Trails' will meet you. Please note that Shakti guides are not allowed into the airport, hence we use a local agent and that your Shakti guide will be waiting for you at the village house. You will then be driven to our village house in Stok, around thirty minutes from the airport.
The charming village of Stok (3650m) lies at the foot of Stok Kangri which at 6120m is not Ladakh's highest mountain, but one of its most beautiful. The village is home to Ladakh's royal family and their Tibetan style palace watches over the village's unspoilt vernacular architecture, apricot orchards and barley fields.
Shakti has renovated an impressive Tibetan style house on the edge of the village and we recommend that you do very little on your first day whilst you get used to the altitude. After a delicious lunch prepared by our chef, we would recommend that you spend the afternoon reading on the roof terrace whilst soaking up the gorgeous rural Ladakhi scenery. Overnight: Stok Village House - Double/Twin Room. BLD
Today we would again advise a fairly leisurely pace as you will still be acclimatising. This morning your guide will take you on a gentle walk to explore Stok village, further to a one hour walk to Stok Palace, you will visit the Palace and Museum before continuing for forty-five minutes to the picnic lunch site. A further ten minute walk takes you to the Heritage House which you will visit before walking for forty-five minutes back to the village house. Cars will be on stand-by so that any of the walks can be done by vehicle, depending on how you are feeling and acclimatising. By the same token, this walk can be lengthened according to how you are feeling. Overnight: Stok Village House - Double/Twin Room. BLD
For those who are prepared to get up at around five am, we would recommend starting early and driving for one hour to Thiksey monastery (3400m) to experience the early morning Buddhist prayers (you would need to leave at five thirty). Built around 600 years ago, Thiksey monastery is one of the finest examples of Ladakhi religious architecture. The monastery consists of twelve levels ascending the hillside crowned by the current lama's private residence. Below the monastery proper are chapels and houses stretching down the hillside where one hundred monks of the Yellow Hat Buddhist sect reside.
After the monastery visit, drive back to Stok village house for breakfast and a rest and freshen up. You will then proceed to Hemis monastery (3500m) which is an hour away around mid morning. Belonging to the Red Hat sect, Hemis was built in 1630 and is Ladakh's largest monastery. It is an impressive and intriguing experience. Your guide will show you around providing you with an insight into Buddhism and a glimpse into the monks' way of life. If you are lucky enough to be here during the annual festival (in June or July each year) you will experience dancing, a colourful pageant and an annual bazaar where people come from all over Ladakh to buy and sell wares.
After you have visited the monastery and the museum, you will have the option of a short walk in the area before driving to Shey (3400m, 30 minutes away) for a picnic lunch. After lunch drive back to Stok with the option to visit Leh bazaar on route. Very quickly developing and somewhat a wash with backpackers and tourists, Leh's busy central bazaar is worth visiting (especially if you want to pick up any souvenirs) but is perhaps not essential to a Ladakh itinerary. Overnight: Stok Village House - Double/Twin Room. BLD
STOK - TARU
After breakfast you will be driven for forty-five minutes to the rafting point on the Indus river at Karu for a two hour raft to Choglamsar. We have deliberately not used the term white water here as the rapids here are no more than grade two making this is more of a float than anything else. Please note that the rafting trip will only be available from mid June to mid September.
On arrival at Choglamsar, you will be driven for fifty minutes to Phyang monastery (3587m) in the village of the same name. The monastery belonging to the Dingung order sits in the middle of the valley floor with the village surrounding it, with many of the houses clinging to the steep sides of the valley. Here you will have a picnic lunch in front of the monastery. Continue by road for twenty-five minutes to the picturesque village of Taru which is at an altitude of 3770m and is situated at the top of a narrow valley. Our village house in Taru is another traditional Tibetan style building, though it is a little more modern than the one at Stok. The house sits at the edge of the village with stunning views over the mountains, traditional buildings, fields and orchards. You will have the rest of the afternoon at leisure to explore the village on foot with a member of the family and your guide or to simply relax at the house. Overnight: Taru Village House - Double/Twin Room. BLD
TARU - NIMOO
Today, we have various options. You can choose to walk for two and a half hours between Taru and Nimoo (driving part of the way), before driving up the Zanskar Canyon to the village of Chilling (3236m) for a picnic lunch. For those who do not want to walk, you could drive up to Chilling after breakfast before continuing onto Nimoo village house for lunch.
Chilling is a settlement that is traditionally home to metal smiths and is the only village in Ladakh that has provided copper, bronze, tin, silver and iron work to Leh through the centuries. You will get the chance to see the local metal smith at work before enjoying a picnic lunch. After lunch you will have the option of rafting (or driving) back through the Zanskar canyon to Nimoo (mid June to mid September, Grade Four Plus) or to return by car.
Alternatively, you could do a day trip to Pangong Lake. If you choose this option, we would recommend that you left after an early breakfast. You would then be driven for around five to six hours from the village house over the Chang La Pass (5475m) and onto to Pangong Lake. Pangong is a 130km long lake that is bisected by the India-Tibet border. The lake was a part of the Tethys sea (that separated India and Asia before the Himalaya were formed) that was lifted up in its entirety. As such this stunningly beautiful turquoise hued lake contains oceanic fish and seagulls.
After a lunch by the lake shore, drive back to the Indus valley to Nimoo village house. Please note that this is a very long day and involves a lot of driving and the crossing of a very high pass. The scenery however is stunning and this is one of those things that some people would find enjoyable and fully worth the long drive whilst others would find that it was too much driving.
Nimoo (3190m) is a large village situated 36km west of Leh along the Indus valley at the confluence of the Zanskar and Indus rivers. The village is characterised by impressive mountain scenery, and is considered exceptionally fertile in Ladakhi terms - lush green fields and apricot, apple, and walnut orchards abound.
Nimoo House is arguably the most impressive of the three Ladakhi houses that Shakti has renovated in Ladakh and like the Stok house, it is has a large ground floor with a first floor built in a 'C' shape around a courtyard. We have paved the courtyard and the roof terrace above with local grey slate - a perfect place to soak up the ever present sun whilst reading a book or enjoying a meal or drink on 'the rooftop of the world.' Overnight: Nimoo Village House - Double/Twin Room BLD
Before breakfast, you will be taken on a two hour walk of the village of Nimoo by the owner of our village house who is also the village Goba (head of the village), Chinglo, (villager in charge of water distribution) and Ladakhi medicine man. You will get a fascinating insight into rural Ladakhi life before returning to the house.
After breakfast, you will drive for an hour to Lekir monastery (3600m). Founded in 14th century by Lama Dhwang Chosje, a great champion of meditation, Lekir monastery belongs to the Yellow Hat sect. After visiting the monastery you will drive for around half an hour to Saspol where you will have a picnic lunch.
After lunch, continue on for thirty minutes to Alchi (3120m). Situated 69kms from Leh and around one and a half hours drive from Nimoo, Alchi is the only monastery in Ladakh to be built on flat ground. The temple was founded in the 11th century and is particularly interesting for its Indian and Kashmiri influences. Later in the afternoon, you will drive back to Nimoo, around an hour and a half away. Overnight: Nimoo Village House - Double/Twin Room. BLD
NIMOO - LEH - DELHI (by Air) - ONWARD DESTINATION
Early this morning, you will be collected from Nimoo and transferred to Leh Airport in time to check-in for your return flight to Delhi. (9W 610- 0730/0850 Hrs). Arrive Delhi and you will be transferred to International airport to board your onward flight. B