Day 1: Pick-up from Delhi Airport and transfer to guest house to refresh. Free day in Delhi. Arrive in the morning into Delhi airport. Transfer to guesthouse. Freshen up and relax. Half day tour of Delhi, lunch en-route. Drive by India Gate, the Presidential Palace, lunch en-route, and then on to Old Delhi – visit impressive Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site - a symbol of India`s Mughal past, and now of India`s sovereignty. Immerse yourself in the chaos of Chandni Chowk on cycle-rickshaw. Stroll around magnificent Humayun`s Tomb and its gardens, and watch it change colour as the sun starts to set. Evening to relax and enjoy sumptuous North Indian cuisine. Overnight in Delhi. Meal plan: N/A.
Day 2: Early morning flight to Leh. The flight to Leh is truly breathtaking. Sit on the left hand side of the aircraft for spectacular views of the snow capped Himalayan mountain range. The plane touches down in what must be one of the most dramatic runways in the world. Your driver will greet you at the airport for transfer to hotel. Leh is at an elevation of 3500 m above sea level, so complete rest is advised for this day to get acclimatised.
Enjoy a light lunch at the hotel. Late afternoon, visit Leh Palace, modeled on the Tibetan Potala Palace in Lhasa. From there we move on to Shanti Stupa which enjoys stunning views of Leh valley. Sit on the edge of the cliff-face and watch the valley change colour under the setting sun. On the way back your driver will drop you off at Leh Market. Wander through the bazaar and back to the hotel by foot. Feast on the excellent buffet dinner. Overnight in Leh. Meal plan: B, L, D.
Day 3: Leisurely start to day. After a satisfying breakfast, set off on a full day tour of Leh. We spend the day visiting some of Ladakh`s most famous and spectacular religious sites. This includes Sindhu Ghat, where Hindus and Buddhists go for religious prayers by the River Indus. Breathe in the atmosphere of this serene place and take a stroll by the bank of the river. From there we move on to Thiksey Monastery, one of Leh`s most architecturally impressive structures, amazingly constructed on the cliff-face.
This is one of Ladakh`s most impressive monasteries containing numerous stupas and exquisite murals of Lord Buddha. After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit the former home of the Ladakhi royal family, Shey Palace and Museum, which is quaintly situated on a hillock. It houses an impressive 7.5 metre gold statue of Lord Buddha. Our final stop is the awesome Hemis National Park, India`s largest national park and the only one north of the Himalayas. It is home to a number of endangered species and the 400-year old Hemis Monastery. Return early evening to the hotel. Buffet dinner and overnight at hotel. Meal plan: B, D.
Day 4: Early start to the day. Get into our 4x4 jeep and head for Nubra Valley. This must be one of the world`s most spectacular journeys with sublime views of Ladakh`s valleys. Despite its altitude and barren mountains, the landscape is dotted with lush greenery, the winding River Indus, sporadic wildlife and snow-capped peaks. Be one of the few to travel the highest motorable road in the world. At 18,380 feet, Khardung La Pass literally is on top of the world. Drive onwards to Nubra Valley, a remarkable setting with silver sand dunes contrasting with snow peaks in the background.
After settling in at the Eco-retreat, have a hot cup of chai and snacks, then set forth in the `Himalayan desert` on shaggy double-humped camels. These fine beasts are amongst the rarest of its kind in the world and this will be a ride you will never forget. Return to the Eco-retreat as the light fades. Enjoy excellent food in the buffet tent and gaze at the night sky from your own private veranda. Overnight in Nubra Valley. Meal plan: B, L, D.
Day 5: Relaxing start today. The Eco-retreat is located close to the picture-postcard village of Hunder and it is well worth a light morning stroll. The village contains a lone stupa, a meandering stream, cobbled pathways all set against a backdrop of imposing mountains. Return for breakfast at the eco-retreat then leave for Leh. Drive back to Leh via impressive Diskit Monastery. A short detour but not visited by many, this Monastery enjoys fantastic views of the Ladakhi landscape.
The Monastery itself houses a number of shrines and is steeped in Buddhist folklore. It is believed that an evil anti-Buddhist Mongol demon once lived there and was killed near the monastery grounds but is said to have been resurrected. Apparently the head and hand of the demon lie inside one of Diskit`s temples. After walking around the monastery complex, hop back into the jeep. Head back to Leh via Khardung La Pass, stopping off for your packed lunch. On arrival in Leh, unwind and relax in hotel. Evening buffet and take a well-earned rest. Overnight in Leh. Meal plan: B, L, D.
Day 6: After breakfast, we drive through more spectacular mountain scenery to the appropriately named village of Chilling. This is the departure point for your exhilarating white water rafting trip on the River Zanskar. After safety checks, ride some of the best rapids in the Himalayas along the 28 km route to the confluence of the Zanskar-Indus rivers. The scenery en-route is unreal. The raft ends on the sandy bank of the confluence, where a hot buffet lunch awaits you. Lie back and soak in the Himalayan sunshine.
En-route back to Leh, stop off at the truly bizarre Magnetic Hill, where you will experience nature defying gravity. Also stop at the Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, a small Sikh temple surrounded by barren mountain landscapes. It is revered by local Sikhs (mainly those serving in the army), as the appearance of Sikh Guru Nanak seems to be etched in one of the rocks. Drive onwards to Leh and cap the day off with dinner back at the hotel. Overnight in Leh. Meal plan: B, L, D.
Day 7: Lake Pangong is one of Ladakh`s true gems. In the opposite direction to Nubra Valley, you will set off after breakfast and cross the world`s second highest motorable road, Chang La Pass (5300 m, 17,350 ft). The lake forms part of the border area between India and China, and sits at at an altitude of 13,930 ft above sea level. Its most striking feature is the phenomenal colour variation, with its different hues of blue.
Packed lunch provided or have a snack at a foodstop en-route. On arrival at the lake, you will be assigned to your private tent overlooking the serene lake. Tents come fully equipped with beds and attached bathroom. After unwinding from the journey, take a short hike by the lake. Sit back and enjoy a delicious dinner buffet in the midst of the starry nightsky with the moonlight shimmering off the lake`s soothing waters. Overnight in Lake Pangong. Meal plan: B, L, D.
Day 8: Wake up to the sight of Lake Pangong in resplendent glory. Take an optional early morning walk, followed by a hearty breakfast. After soaking in the surroundings for the final time, start the journey back to Leh. Packed lunch will be provided. Arrive into Leh late afternoon. Spend the rest of the day at ease, wandering the streets of Leh`s bustling market, shopping for souvenirs. Feast on Ladakhi cuisine at the hotel. Overnight in Leh. Meal plan: B, L, D.
Day 9: Check out after early morning breakfast. Transfer to Leh airport for flight to Delhi. Enjoy stunning scenery as you fly over the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges. Connect for evening return flight home. End of tour. Meal plan: B.
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