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India: Journey to Ladakh

Group Tour

14 Days From $4,305

Overview

Ladakh lies on the Tibetan Plateau and is the highest, least populated and most inaccessible region in all India. It is a striking destination, home to many Tibetan Buddhists and its capital, Leh, is often referred to as a “Little Lhasa”. Fascinating in its own right, it is the overland route to Leh from the lowland town of Manali that draws travellers from all over the world, being renowned as one of the world’s most spectacular road journeys.

Crossing four Himalayan Mountain passes (including ...

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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

13 x Breakfasts
10 x Lunches
13 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will use minibuses and autos, train travel including a world heritage toy train and a domestic flight.

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary

ACCOMMODATION

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Moderate

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-5hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

MODERATE/HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-6 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 4-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

India: Journey to Ladakh
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN DELHI

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN DELHI

The tour starts this morning in Delhi at our hotel. After a welcome meeting and lunch we’ll head off to explore New Delhi and Old Delhi, visiting India Gate before continuing along Rajpath and past Parliament House to Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly the Viceroy’s Palace). From here we’ll drive past the imposing Red Fort and visit Jama Masjid mosque, the largest in India commissioned by Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal. We’ll then take an exciting rickshaw ride through the maze of alleyways in Chandni Chowk bazaar, a great chance to see the city at its most lively! This evening we’ll enjoy a welcome dinner.

The Claridges or similar
Lunch, Dinner

DAY 2: DELHI - KALKA – SHIMLA

DAY 2: DELHI - KALKA – SHIMLA

This morning we’ll transfer to Delhi railway station for our journey north to Kalka. On arrival we’ll board the UNESCO World Heritage Himalayan Queen ‘Toy Train’ to Shimla. This picturesque journey travels through the forested foothills of the Himalayas to Shimla, once the summer capital of the British Raj. Built between 1898 and 1903, the narrow gauge track passes through 107 tunnels and crosses a total of 864 bridges. The longest tunnel on the journey is at Barog, and when Engineer Colonel Barog dug the tunnel from both ends and couldn’t align them he was symbolically fined one rupee! Barog couldn't live with the shame and as a result committed suicide inside the incomplete tunnel.

The Oberoi Cecil or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: IN SHIMLA

DAY 3: IN SHIMLA

Often described as Epsom in the hills, the quaint hill station is today a surreal place, with a mall lined by mock Tudor cottages, the Viceroy’s neo-Gothic palace at one end and Christ Church at the other. Halfway along is the Gaiety Theatre, a charming miniature Drury Lane! We’ll take an orientation walk and discover why today Shimla is a town of contrasts, on the one hand buzzing with modern Indian life while on the other echoing that of its colonial past.

The Oberoi Cecil or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: SHIMLA – MCLEOD GANJ

DAY 4: SHIMLA – MCLEOD GANJ

Today we have a full day drive to Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj. Established in the mid-1850’s as a British garrison, McLeod Ganj sits 4km from Dharamsala (with which it is intrinsically linked) and is situated at a height of 1,770m. It is now the seat of the Tibetan government in exile and as residence to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Considered as “Little Lhasa”, it’s also one of the best places to view Tibetan culture outside of Tibet.

Chonor House or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: IN & AROUND MCLEOD GANJ

DAY 5: IN & AROUND MCLEOD GANJ

Named after Donald McLeod, Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, we have the whole day to enjoy this legendary hill station with the opportunity to take a day walk in the surrounding area. After ascending through forest to Dharamkot we’ll reach Naddi village (2,000m), visiting a Buddhist stupa en route and some meditation caves where Tibetan Buddhist monks live and meditate for many months during the year. From Naddi village we’ll enjoy beautiful views of the peaks of Dhauladhar before descending via the Tibetan children’s village back to McLeod Ganj where there’ll be time to wander through the town’s fascinating bazaar. Those preferring not to walk can easily pass their time soaking up the fascinating interplay between Tibetan and Indian cultures.

Chonor House or similar
Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 6: MCLEOD GANJ – MANALI

DAY 6: MCLEOD GANJ – MANALI

Leaving the home of the Dalai Lama we travel on to Manali. En route we’ll visit Palampur, known as the tea capital of northwest India, and the 13th century temple dedicated to Shiva as ‘Vaidyanath’ the Lord of physicians at Baijnath. We aim to arrive in Manali by the late afternoon.

Banon Resort or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: IN & AROUND MANALI

DAY 7: IN & AROUND MANALI

Manali is set in a stunning location amongst the Himalayan foothills and old Manali in particular contains some beautiful old wooden houses. After a wander through the town, and for those that wish, there will be the chance to take a fascinating day walk around the area. Using village paths we’ll walk through apple orchards and forests, cross rivers and meet some of the villagers who eke a living out of this mountainous land. Later we’ll return to Manali in time for dinner this evening.

Banon Resort or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: MANALI – JISPA

DAY 8: MANALI – JISPA

Today we start our journey along what many consider the most spectacular drive in the entire Himalayas - from Manali to Leh. Travelling over 460km across mountain passes reaching over 5,300m, we’ll pass through lush Alpine foothills peppered with juniper, cedar and deodar pines, and see waterfalls crashing beside the road. We’ll depart early and journey towards the Rotang Pass (3,980m) where mighty peaks are visible in all directions, and onto Jispa, a picturesque village lying beside the river in a beautiful valley near the entrance to the Spiti Valley. Depending on what time we arrive there might be the opportunity to take a walk around the village and surrounding area.

Hotel Ibex Jispa or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: JISPA – SARCHU (4,100M)

DAY 9: JISPA – SARCHU (4,100M)

Today we cross the 4,900m Baralacha La and it’s from here that the landscape begins to change. Caught in the rain shadow the land now begins to dry up, to form the high altitude desert for which Ladakh is famous. The mountains, forced upwards as the Indian sub-continental plate smashes into Asia, form the most extraordinarily varied concoction of twisted peaks and sunken troughs of serrated granite ridges and fluted sandstone gorges, of alluvial plains and sandy steppes, all carrying a multitude of colours that simply defy belief. After reaching Sarchu and checking into our campsite there’ll be the chance to head off on a good walk – though at this altitude it is usually best to take it easy. All of the tents at the camp are large, walk-in constructions, complete with beds, lights and en-suite loos and basins.

Goldrup Camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: SARCHU – LEH (3,500M)

DAY 10: SARCHU – LEH (3,500M)

Today is the longest day’s drive of the trip but arguably the most amazing, as we travel over the 5,400m Tanglang La where the rare Ibex are often spotted. We’ll drive through a series of 21 hairpin bends, extraordinary red sandstone gorges, across a high altitude desert steppe and along spectacular canyons before finally reaching Leh. Upon arrival we’ll transfer to our hotel and spend time relaxing and beginning to acclimatise. Known as the ‘Land of High Passes’, Ladakh and its capital Leh have been important junctions on the famous Silk Route for centuries.

Hotel Spic and Span or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: IN & AROUND LEH

DAY 11: IN & AROUND LEH

Today we’ll discover spectacular monasteries and explore ancient capitals during our first full day in Leh. We’ll stroll around Leh on an orientation walk and see how this fascinating town is still dominated by the ruins of the Leh Palace. This former residence of the royal family of Ladakh is built along the lines of the Potala Palace in Tibet. From here we’ll visit some of the most spectacular monasteries in the area surrounding Leh. Situated on a hilltop to the south, Shey Monastery was once the summer palace of the royal family and it’s believed that many of the Kings of Leh were born here. The monastery is home to an impressive 24m high seated image of Buddha cast from copper and covered with gold leaf. Thiksey Monastery, filled with colourful murals and statues, affords picturesque views of the green Indus valley from its rooftop. Located around 26kms from Leh, Matho Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery built around 500 years ago which belongs to the Sakya order. From here we’ll return to Leh in time for dinner this evening.

Hotel Spic and Span or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: IN & AROUND LEH

DAY 12: IN & AROUND LEH

After breakfast we leave for full day sightseeing. We'll first head west to visit Alchi. Adorned with murals depicting different forms of Buddha, Alchi Monastery is distinct from other monasteries in Ladakh in that it sits on flat ground rather than a hill top. We'll also head south and south east of Leh to visit various gompas and palaces in this region. Stok is famous for being the home of the Ladakh royal family and today boasts a Palace & Museum with costumes, crowns and thangkas on display. We may also visit Gurphuk Gompa, a branch of Spituk Monastery, which is famous for its festival 'Guru Tsechu'. Alternatively you may choose to rest and relax in Leh and enjoy the local scenery and maybe indulge in some shopping.

Hotel Spic and Span or similar
Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 13: LEH - DELHI

DAY 13: LEH - DELHI

After breakfast we will transfer to the airport for one of the most spectacular flights in the world, from Leh over the Himalayas back to India’s capital, Delhi. Depending on our arrival time there might be a couple of hours free for a last look around before heading out for our farewell dinner.

The Claridges or similar
Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 14: TOUR ENDS IN DELHI

DAY 14: TOUR ENDS IN DELHI

The tour ends after breakfast at our hotel. Those on the suggested group flight will transfer to Delhi airport in time for the early afternoon departure.

Breakfast

ACCOMMODATION USED ON THIS TOUR

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Accommodation displayed here should be taken as a guide only. *Please refer to the Detailed Itinerary of your individual departure for more information.

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
BA 257 London Heathrow (LHR) 19:30 Delhi Airport (DEL) 08:20
BA 256 Delhi Airport (DEL) 10:20 London Heathrow (LHR) 15:20

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour www.travcour.com 

For this tour, UK passport holders currently require a visa for India.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Below is just a small sample of what you could do. Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your individual requirements.

The Golden Temple at Amritsar

Why not visit the Sikh pilgrimage site of the Golden Temple in Amritsar?  Here you can experience the tranquillity of the grand gold plated temple and, if doing as a pre-tour extension,  travel across to Chandigarh – the green city – before meeting the tour to travel on the toy train to Shimla.

The Taj Mahal

If you’ve not yet seen the marble wonder of the world that is the Taj Mahal, take an extra couple of days before or after the tour to visit this amazing site coupled with the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

The main thing to bear in mind when visiting Ladakh, especially when travelling up from the Indian plains, is that weather-wise anything can happen. Though we plan our itineraries carefully taking into account the seasonal conditions, and would expect you to experience nothing but sunshine, there is the potential for lingering monsoons and chilly conditions on the high mountain passes. Therefore, as with so many of Wild Frontiers’ mountain trips, you need to come prepared for any eventuality. Saying that, you can generally expect daytime temperatures in the mountains to be in the mid-20s (C) with night-time temperatures to be a little above freezing. Delhi will be a good 10-15C hotter.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Please be advised that on this trip vegetarians can be catered for but the selection and variety may be limited. Guests with other dietary requirements should discuss their requirements with the office.

While there is a lot of driving on this trip the views are truly spectacular and ample time for walks has been factored into the itinerary. The trip will reach some high altitudes but we acclimatise as slowly as it’s possible to do so and anyone in a good state of health and a sense of adventure should be able to cope with the demands of this trip.

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.

On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £200 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 8350 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Airport Transfers: We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

INSPIRATION