“The land is so barren and the passes so high that only our fiercest enemies or our best friends would want to visit us.”
– a Ladakhi saying
Ladakh, a place so explored yet unexplored, is the dream of every adventure seeker who adores some roughness and a lot of beauty. Positioned at an average elevation of more than 11000 feet, Ladakh is known to be the land of high passes. It’s a cold mountain desert with rugged roads, clear blue skies, magnificent landscapes, postcard-perfect serene lakes, vast plateaus, hilltop monasteries, rustic houses, snow-clad mountain peaks, and verdant valleys that surprise us with a splash of vivid green patches.
Let’s embark on a lifetime adventure to this heaven on earth, and open up our heart to a new road while taking a deep breath. More than landscapes, the bright smiles and the warm hospitality of Ladakhi people make a visit to Ladakh an unforgettable experience, and we shall forever be haunted by the beauty of the prayer flags waving in the air, smiles of monks, eternal silence in the monasteries, and countless cups of butter tea.
1. Suraj Tal: Located at an elevation of 15900 feet, Suraj Tal is considered as the third highest lake in India. Positioned in the close vicinity of Baralacha Pass, it is also the meeting point of the roads leading to Spiti, Ladakh, and Zanskar. Surrounded by rugged but snow-covered mountain peaks and graced with green emerald waters, Suraj Tal is a refreshing break for the travelers driving from Manali to Leh.
2. More Plains: It’s a beautiful stretch of 40 km on Manali-Leh highway flanked by mountain ranges on both the sides. The beauty of More Plains is that the road is completely plain for 35 km even in such a high altitude mountain terrain before it again begins to rise to Tanglang La. A journey through more plains is surreal, blessed with breathtaking views, and a lifetime one.
3. Tanglang La: Standing at the height of 17582 feet, Tanglang La is one of the highest mountain passes in the world. A bit swayed away from the main highway; it offers a breathtaking view with ample vegetation on both the sides. We will take a quick halt here to absorb the beauty of the pass.
4. Gata Loops: Gata Loops is probably the second name for the adrenaline rush on Manali-Leh Highway. These loops are the series of twenty-one steep hairpin turns leading to the top of a very high mountain pass named Nakeela. The average altitude of Gata Loops is 15302 feet. They are famous for the adventurous ride through them; picturesque location and the ghost stories weaved around them.
5.Magnetic Hill: Located at a distance of 30 km from Leh city, on Leh-Kargil highway, is a small stretch of road that is believed to be defying the concept of gravity. The magnetic hill seems to be pulling the stationary vehicles upwards. If one parks their vehicle in the designated area on the highway, it can be seen to be moving at 20 km per hour with engines being entirely off. Let’s unravel the mystery behind this – science or supernatural?
6. Pathar Sahib Gurudwara: Beautifully tucked between rugged and rustic terrains, Pathar Sahib Gurudwara was built in 1517 to commemorate the visit of Guru Nanak Dev to Ladakh region. It’s located at an altitude of 12000 feet, and 40 km from Leh city. The Pathar, translated to stone in English, has a legendary story behind it which we shall learn during our visit to the place.
7. Sangam Valley: The confluence of Indus and Zanskar river is breathtaking beyond words. The muddy color of Zanskar can easily be distinguished from the emerald green Indus River at the even at the convergence point. One can overlook this magical beauty from the highway, and it’s a perfect place to sit, relax and click photos.
8. Alchi Monastery: Renowned as the oldest Buddhism learning centre in Ladakh, Alchi Monastery was built between 958 and 1055. The monastery complex is divided into four portions which have monuments constructed at different times. All the structures are adorned with minutely carved paintings and intricate woodwork which never fail to captivate the visitors.
9. Khardung La: Located at an altitude of 18380 feet, Khardung La is one of the highest motorable roads in the world. It’s also a high mountain pass (La in Tibetan stands for a pass) connecting Leh city to Nubra and Shyok valleys. It was built in 1976 but opened to general public in 1988. Riding Khardung La has been the dream of every Himalayan rider. Not to mention that this pass is crucial to India as it is used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier.
10. Diskit monastery: Built in 14th country, Diskit Monastery is the oldest surviving monastery in Nubra Valley. Beautifully tucked on a hilltop right above the floodplains of Shyok River, it can be easily recognized even from the far because of the stunning 106 feet tall statue of Maitreya Buddha. The monastery also runs a school for the Tibetan kids in the region.
11. Bactrian Camel: Bactrian Camel, mainly found in Central Asia, is one of the endangered camel species. These are double humped camels that make them unique, as compared to their single hump Arabian relatives. It’s is an incredible species as it can adapt to all kinds of harsh environments, from dense snowfall winters to scorching desert summers. Not to mention that Bactrian Camels were a lifeline of ancient silk route. We are going to have a close-up encounter with them during our visit to Nubra Valley.
12. Hundar Sand Dunes: A desert is probably incomplete it doesn’t have dunes, be it a cold mountain desert like Ladakh. Spread over an elevation of more than 13000 feet, the stunning sand dunes of Hunder look even more picturesque with the backdrop of snow-clad rugged mountain peaks. We will have an option to take a Bactrian Camel ride during our visit to Hundar Sand Dunes.
13. Pangong Lake: Pangong Lake doesn’t need any introduction to someone who has been wanting to visit Ladakh. Shimmering at an altitude of 14270 feet, and 134 km in length the lake is completely frozen during winter. Not to mention that 60% of the length of the lake lies in China only. It’s a saline water lake and is known to keep changing colors. Did we tell you that we are going to spend a FULL MOON night at Pangong Lake? Be ready to spend a fairytale night at the lake.
14. Chang La: Located at an elevation of 17590 feet, Chang La is one of the highest mountains passes and the highest motorable roads in the world. The mighty pass is guarded and maintained by Indian Army due to its proximity to Indo-China border. A drive through Chang La is going to give us an adrenaline rush. It’s covered with snow throughout the year.
15. Shey Palace: Shey Palace, graciously sitting on a mound along with a monastery in Shey Village, has only its ruins left now. It was first built in 1655 by the king of Ladakh as his summer retreat house as Shey is also the erstwhile capital of Ladakh. Shey Palace and Monastery are very exclusive as compared to the other ones we would visit during our visit.
16. Shanti Stupa: The spectacular white-domed Shanti Stupa was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Monks to promote world peace as a part of Peace Pagoda Mission. It’s a 15 minutes hike to the top of the stupa, but the mesmerizing view from the above and a simplistic café located over there makes the pain of climbing completely worth.
17. Leh Palace: Leh Palace was built as a royal palace by the former king of Ladakh in the 16th century. Being a close resemblance to the Potala Palace in Tibet, it dominatingly overlooks the city of Leh. The rooftop of the palace provides a magnificent view of Stok Kangri Mountain and the Ladakh mountain range. It’s a nine storey building, tallest of that era, where the upper floors accommodated the royal family while the lower flowers were reserved as stables and storage rooms.
18.Hemis Monastery: The beautiful Tibetan Buddhist Monastery is located in Hemis village of Ladakh which is tucked on a mountain on the west bank of the River Indus. Founded in 1630, the monastery is home to the large number of religious treasures such as Thangkas, weapons, carriers, tiger skins, skull vessels, swords and a stuffed vulture pup which are exhibited during festivals.
19. SECMOL School: Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL) is a school founded in 1988 to reform the educational system of Ladakh. It’s a fully sustainable school focusing on self-learning and social innovation. Currently, almost forty students reside here from various socio-economic backgrounds. It’s brilliant to see that how kids practically learn green construction, harnessing solar energy, farming, water recycling, building compost toilets and many more eco-friendly concepts here. It was founded by Sonam Wangchuk (the real-life Phunsukh Wangdu from Bollywood movie ‘Three Idiots’) and a couple of Ladakhi youth. A visit to this school shall send you home back with some lifelong learnings.
20. Ladakhi Homestays: Staying in a Ladakhi homestay is the best way to have a close-up interaction with the local folks and experience their culture. The smiles of the hosts and their heartwarming hospitality are one of the best souvenirs we’ll be taking back with us. The traditional architecture of houses, timeless lifestyles, and the cutely decorated rooms are going to give us the feel of an entirely different world.
Stay for minimum 15 hours to acclimatize before we start heading towards Leh on Day 1
Start driving towards Jispa at 7 am
Stopover at Rohtang Pass
Lunch in Keylong
Arrival in Jispa
Overnight stay in a hotel in Jispa
Start driving from Jispa early in the morning
Arrival in Leh
Overnight stay in a homestay in Leh
Breakfast in hotel
Overnight stay in a homestay in Leh
Breakfast in Leh
Hunder Sand Dunes (Double humped Bactrain Camel Riding)
Visiting Shyok River
Overnight stay in a homestay in Hunder village
Breakfast in Hunder Village
Reaching Pangong Lake
Camping at Pangong Lake
Breakfast at Pangong Lake
Start driving towards Leh
Arrival in Leh
Overnight stay in a homestay in Leh
Breakfast in homestay
Hall of Fame
Pathar Sahib Gurudwara
Overnight stay in a homestay in Leh
Drive to Leh Airport
33000 INR (from Manali to Leh)
Please note that you can travel with us from Delhi to Manali at actual additional costs. We leave for Manali at around 6 pm on June 22/ August 10 in a Volvo bus, and will stay in Manali for a day in order to acclimatize before we start the trip on June 24/August 12. If you wish, we can book your travel from Delhi to Manali (June 22/Aug 10) and your Manali hotel stay (June 23/Aug 11). You can inquire us for that additional cost as it’s not included in the package.
Also, if you feel that return flight from Leh to your native city is an expensive affair, then you can consider going by road from Leh to Manali/Srinagar. Get in touch with us and we will guide you on how to take shared taxis for the same.
1. The group size will be limited to 16 participants
2. Ladakh is a high altitude region. Before traveling, we can never say if an individual is susceptible to altitude sickness or not, irrespective of the age. We usually advise to take a dose of Diamox two days before reaching Leh, but we also suggest to consult to your doctor if you need Diamox or not or any side-effects it might have on your body. We carry oxygen cylinders with us for any emergency case.
3.We condemn the consumption of alcohol or smoking during the trip because makes the body dehydrate resulting in fatigue, headaches and breathlessness at high altitudes.
4. We carry Oxyen cylinders for emergency situations, but we also encourage participants to take care of them so that one never ends up having the need of oxygen.
• 60 days before the trip: 90% refund
• 60-41 days before the trip: 70% refund
• 40-21 days before the trip: 50% refund
• 20-11 days before the trip: 30% refund
• 10-5 days before the trip: 10% refund
• Less than 5 days before the trip: No Refund
You need to follow these terms and conditions while traveling with Transforming Travels.