A Journey into Ladakh
We invite you to join us on a photographic journey through Ladakh, India’s most far reaching landscape, where spectacular mountains create a magical backdrop to Tibetan Buddhist monasteries adorned with spiritual prayer flags. It’s an unforgettable terrane dotted with whitewashed stupas, spinning prayer wheels and religious buildings decorated with painted murals. Yet to be consumed by mass tourism, Ladakh is a destination where outsiders are welcomed with ‘open arm’ hospitality. You’ll meet the humblest of people where you will spend time connecting and learning about their lifestyle and culture.
Our journey is designed for photographers wanting to improve their travel photography and explore new ways of connecting to part of the world where distant cultures still practice age-old beliefs. This 13-day photography expedition will teach new skills on how to enhance travel imagery. It will also challenge you to photograph from an emotive level through connecting with your subject within the landscape. The result being a portfolio of images that will showcase your individual style.
We’ve planned our itinerary to take in remote villages in Ladakh where visitors are rare and the breathtaking landscape is untouched. Each day is planned to explore a range of photographic opportunities, including morning prayers, the old Silk Route, famed Nubra Valley and Changthang – a high altitude plateau stretching 1,600 kilometres.
Day 1 : Fly to Leh
Fly to the old silk route town of Leh, nestled in the mighty Trans-Himalaya.
Upon arrival, you will be met by your Tour Leader and you will be transferred to your hotel. You must rest all day to acclimatize to the high altitude of 3,400 meters. This necessitates limiting your activities today to properly acclimatize.
Leh, the capital of Ladakh, was an important stopover on trade routes along the Indus Valley between Tibet to the east, Kashmir to the west and also between India and China for centuries. The main goods carried were salt, grain, pashm or cashmere wool, charas or cannabis resin from the Tarim Basin, indigo, silk yarn and Banaras brocade.
Stay at the Grand Dragon Hotel.
Day 2 : Rest and acclimatize
Today we will spend at leisure. There will be a short, optional walk and a brief session on travel photography covering tips to maximize our time in Ladakh.
Stay at the Grand Dragon Hotel
Day 3 : Explore Leh
After an early breakfast, drive down to the monastery of Thiksey to attend morning prayers. This is a beautiful and calming experience steeped in the tradition of the Gelugpa, or yellow hat order, of Buddhism, headed by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.
After the morning prayers have concluded, drive around the beautiful Indus valley and view the monastery of Stakna towering above the meandering Indus. Then drive to the monastery of Matho to view a different order of Buddhism and take in the sights of the Indus valley from up high.
Rest at your hotel after lunch and then head out again to view a sweeping and glorious sunset from the Shanti Stupa, or peace pagoda, built by the Japanese, with commanding views of Leh and the Stok Range.
Stay at the Grand Dragon Hotel
Day 4, 5, & 6: Nubra Valley
Cross the high pass of Khardung La, one of the highest motorable roads on earth and descend into the famed Nubra Valley, overlooking the Ladakh Range, the Saltoro Range, and the high Karakorum Range. Nubra is a melting pot of the Central Asian culture of Xinjiang, just across the mountains in China, the Muslim influences of Baltistan (now mostly in Pakistan), and the Buddhist history of Tibet that infuses so much of Ladakhi daily life. It is the perfect blend of landscapes and portraits for the photographer.
Using the village of Sumur as a base, you will explore Ladakhi culture, silk route history, and some of the impressive local monasteries. Over three days in Nubra valley, you will visit a few remote villages, including Hunder and Deskit, explore the high altitude sand dunes and get awed by the towering mountains around you.
We will visit an old caravanserai, a remnant of the days of the silk route for some portraits. Sumur and Teggar were the last major villages that silk route caravans encountered before crossing the Karakorum pass into the region known as Yarkand, south of Xinjiang in China. The area still has some fascinating traditional houses that you will get to visit. This is also a lesser frequented part of Nubra valley, which is crawling with tourists and cars during the summer, so you will be off the beaten path and closer to the glorious history of the Silk Route.
Stay at The Kesar
Day 7 & 8: Shashukul Monastery, Changthang
Cross the high pass of Chang La (5,300m) and descend into the Tibetan Plateau region of the Changthang. The Changthang is a high altitude plateau that stretches 1,600 kilometers from southeastern Ladakh in India to northwestern Tibet in China with altitudes averaging 4,500 meters above sea level. The nomadic people that call this harsh land their home are called the Changpa, or northern people. Their name comes from the region, which itself means the western plains, referring to the area’s location from the perspective of the former rulers sitting in Lhasa.
It’ll take about 5 hours to arrive at the remote monastery of Shashukul, far off the tourist route. The monastery is home to a school for young monks, the perfect place for you to learn about the yellow hat (Gelugpa) form of Tibetan Buddhism and to get portraits of young monks. There are two prayer halls, one that is about 400 years old and a newer one. We’ll camp besides the monastery for 2 nights to get a few good interviews and portrait sessions in along with morning prayers.
We will also explore the nearby village and do some portrait sessions there.
Overnight in home-stays.
Day 9: Return to Leh
Drive back about 4 hours to Leh by recrossing the high pass of Chang La.
Free evening in Leh to process images. rest, or shop.
Overnight, Grand Dragon Hotel
Day 10 & 11: Tso Moriri Lake and Nomads
After a relaxed breakfast, you’ll drive to the village of Korzok, perhaps the highest altitude village in the world that is inhabited year round. Korzok is nestled by the stunning lake of Tso Moriri at 4,500 meters and is one of the headquarters of the Changpa nomads of the region. You will stay in a luxurious mobile camp by the lake. The stunning landscape is home to families of pastoral nomadic Changpa that have reared pashmina goats and livestock in the region for millennia. Pastoral nomadism has played an important role in shaping world history.
Nomadic life is often romanticized, usually with representations of freedom, wanderlust, and being beyond society’s obligations. In reality, the lives of these nomads are harsh, difficult, and dangerous. They follow migration routes that are centuries old, moving in between pastures and meadows that have been divided and assigned to different families. They walk the same path that their ancestors trod, moving their herds of Pashmina goats, sheep, yaks, and horses in cyclical journeys season after season.
The snow-melt and spring fed meadows of the Changthang are delicate ecosystems that rely on winters with heavy snow to provide the moisture to grow grass in the spring.
The village of Korzok, by Tso Moriri lake also has one of the highest situated monasteries in the region. This monastery follows the Drukpa system of Tibetan Buddhism. You’ll get privileged access at the monastery and can shoot in different locations with a few monks.
You’ll camp besides Tso Moriri Lake in Voygr’s luxurious mobile camps for 2 nights.
Day 12: Return to Leh
Cross Taglangla La, one of the highest passes in Ladakh open to civilian traffic, and descend into the Indus valley. It’s about 5 hours driving to Leh if road conditions are good. Spend a free afternoon in Leh.
Overnight at the Grand Dragon Hotel.
Day 13 : Delhi
Fly to Delhi in the morning.
Dates: August 21-2 September 2020 – 13 days
Led by: Lynn Gail & Seng Mah
Price: Mid-range AUD$8,990 (single supplement is available AUS$2,050).
Tour price includes: accommodation, all travel within Ladakh, all food, some alcohol, tourism permits, entrances, expedition tour leader and photographer, Abdul Rashid.
Early bird booking discount $400 – expires 15th September 2019
Number of guests: Minimum 5, Maximum 8
- Twin-sharing accommodations as stated in the itinerary;
- Airport transfers in Leh with meet and greet;
- All meals;
- Alcohol included when camping in Voygr’s camps;
- All road transport across Ladakh;
- All tourism permits;
- All entrances;
- All guiding by Abdul Rashid
- Any flights
- Alcohol anywhere besides Voygr’s camp.
- Travel / medical / trip cancellation insurance; (REQUIRED)
- Items of a personal nature e.g. curios, souvenirs, beauty treatments and telephone calls.
- Tips/ Gratuities
Securing your place
A deposit of AUD$1500 will secure you a place on this tour. This deposit is refundable if the tour does not go ahead (we require a minimum of 5 guests to run the tour).
Final payment of the balance by 30th September 2020.
To join this tour, contact us with your questions by using the form below, or please call Lynn on 0422 427 161 or send an email directly to: info(at)lynngail.com.au