The High Road…From Ladakh to Kashmir
August 5 -17, 2018

For more than a decade the holiday Mecca of Kashmir was considered out of bounds. Not anymore! Since 2005, tourism has returned with great success.

Join Iconic Journeys Worldwide on this trip to these remote regions, for what promises to be one of the most unusual travel experiences. We will visit Ladakh, with its strong Tibetan Buddhist influences. Starting with an epic flight over the Himalayas to Leh, we will first visit ancient palaces, forts and monasteries of the Indus Valley where we will also be able to see rural life in the old Silk Road kingdom of Ladakh.  From here we will visit the remote Nubra Valley over the world’s highest driveable pass before heading on what is generally regarded as one of the most spectacular roads in the whole Himalaya – via Lamayuru to Srinagar and its beautiful Alpine mountains and lakes. This itinerary is perfect for those with a real sense of adventure!

From Leh in Ladahk to Srinigar in Kashmir

HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE
Delhi’s historical sites

Epic flight over the Himalayas to Leh

  • Visit the Nubra Valley

  • Drive the highest mountain pass in the world – the Khardung La

  • The houseboats of Kashmir

Lake Dal in Kashmir Valley

Sunday, August 5 – Arrival into DehliArrival into Delhi by International Flight.  After clearing the immigration, you will be met by our representative and will be transferred to your hotel and time to recover from your travels. Evening dinner with your fellow travelers and overnight in Delhi ( D)

The Red Fort in Delhi

Monday, August 6  – Delhi
Morning after breakfast meet your guide will run through the day’s program.  Later, explore Delhi starting with a stroll down the Rajpath to see Rashtrapati Bhavan, formerly the Viceroy’s palace before picking up some lunch and moving on to the old Delhi for a wander from the Red Fort, down Chandi Chowk – the old town’s main thoroughfare – through the narrow alleyways of Shajehanabad, to emerge at the beautiful Jama Majid Mosque.

After dinner we will have a short lecture by a local expert on the Kashmir Issue. Overnight in Delhi. ( B,L, D)

Tuesday, August 7 – Delhi to Leh
An early start to take one of the most spectacular flights in the world, from Delhi across the plains and over the Himalayas.

Ladakh is a region in northern India not far from the Himalayas with stunning scenery and fascinating monasteries. The area is characterized by the alpine desert climate, being in the rain shadow of the Zanskar range. The majority of the precipitation falls as snow, but in recent years, as in many parts of the world, changes have been noticed in the general pattern of the climate.

Arriving in Leh mid-morning we plan to transfer to our accommodation where we will take it easy as we begin to acclimate to the altitude of 3,500 meters. We spend the morning reading and sipping sweet green tea for starters, after which we will have an orientation walk around this remarkable town. Overnight in Leh. (B, L, D)

Ladakh women

Wednesday, August 8 – Leh
Today, we will spend the day visiting some of the spectacular monasteries in the area surrounding Leh. We plan to visit Tikse, Moatho and Shey, the ancient capital on the Indus with its giant golden Buddha. Here we will find beautiful palaces, temples and restored murals. This evening we will have a lecture on Ladahki culture. Overnight in Leh. (B, L, D)

Thursday,  August 9 –  Leh to Nubra Valley
Only recently opened up to foreign visitors, the Nubra Valley, lying high on the Tibetan Plateau, is like stepping back in time. We will drive the highest road in the world and over the Khardung La, some 5,600 meters, before descending into the valley. In the afternoon, we’ll be free to explore the region. From the pass one gets to see the Indus Valley and rich agricultural lands interspersed with willow trees, giving the landscape a lush green look.

Following a packed lunch in the village of Khaltsar continue onwards, driving past the famous sand dunes of Nubra, arrive at the village of Diskit. On arrival, check in to your camp.

Rest of the day is at leisure to explore on own. Our base will be a fixed camp, somewhat rugged in its amenities. (B, L, D)

Friday,  August 10 – Nubra Valley
Today we will take a walk in the stunning countryside, passing through villages to see how the Nubra people live, enjoying the magnificent culture and scenery before heading back to the campsite.  A visit to the nearby Nubra dunes will show us the local Bactrian camels where we may even get the opportunity to ride one.

Afternoon visit the Diskit Gompa, perched on a hill in the village of Diskit. Considered to be the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley, it belongs to the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a sub-gompa of the Thiksey monastery and has a statue of the Maitreya Buddha in the prayer hall, a huge drum and several images of fierce guardian deities. An elevated cupola of the monastery depicts a fresco of the Tashilhunpo Monastery of Tibet.

In the evening, a local meal will be served. (B, L, D)

Inside a Nubra Monastery.

Saturday, August 11 – Nubra Valley to Leh
We shall return to Leh where we will have free time to explore at our leisure.

Evening, head to the Leh Bazaar where you’ll find Jokhang – a Buddhist temple built in the 1980s by the Ladakh Buddhist association, and an imposing 17th century mosque – which reflects a mixture of Islamic and Tibetan architecture and accommodates more than 500 worshippers, that sit opposite each other. Just behind the main bazaar is Chang Gali – a less bustling street with interesting little shops selling curios and jewelry. A particularly interesting sight at the market is to see women from nearby villages sitting along the edge of the footpath with baskets of fresh vegetables brought for sale.

Overnight in Leh. (B, L,D)

Sunday,  August 12 -  Leh to Kargil
Today we depart Leh, taking the High Road to Kashmir. En-route we will stop at both Alchi and the magnificent Lamayuru Monastery before cracking over the 4000 meter  pass, and on towards Kargil. In the late afternoon we will stop for the night at a fixed camp. Here, just as in Nubra, we’ll enjoy overnight facilities that include walk in tents with beds and a dining tent.

Situated on the bank of river Suru at a height of 9,000 feet, midway between Srinagar and Leh, Kargil provides a mid-overnight stop. The second largest town, it is an important junction of the historic routes leading to Kashmir, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Tibet and via Zanskar to Jammu and Himachal. Climatically, Kargil enjoys a distinct advantage over the rest of Ladakh. Kargil retains the characteristics of a medieval town with narrow alleys cobbled streets and curios right out of the Arabian Nights. A predominantly Balti Shia Muslim settlement, the two mosques here are superb examples of Turkish architecture. Overnight in Kargil. (B, L, D)

Dal Lake in Kashmir

Monday,  August 13 – Srinagar
After breakfast we’ll drive through Kargil and on to Srinagar, where arguably the real highlight of the trip will begin. The drive along the Drass river shows remarkable evidence of indigenous engineering – water channels cut deep into the granite slopes, rising terraces of carefully nurtured soil preciously preserved between vertical walls of rocks and boulders, several plantations and green fields at Channi Gund and Kirkit Chu with groves of poplar, willow, apple and apricot orchards, barley and buckwheat fields, all lending an air of serenity to the area.

After an hour drive, you will reach Drass where you can visit the Drass war memorial, built in the memory of fallen soldiers in the 1999 Kargil war. Enroute enjoy a magnificient view of the legendary Kargil war famous peaks – Tiger Hill and Totoling.

Continue your drive crossing Zojila pass, at a height of 11,500 feet. Zojila is historically of great interest since tanks for a major battle were used here at such a height for the first time, in 1948. The pass at Zojila marks dramatically the boundary line between Ladakh and Kashmir. Bare multi-coloured mountains of stark beauty give way to dense green forest clad slopes.

Sitting at the heart of the Valley of Kashmir lies this extraordinary town, famed for centuries for its clean, clear air, its idyllic setting and of course its lakes. Framed by high-forested hills that rise up in the distance to the snow-capped Himalayas, it is simply one of the most picturesque places you’re ever likely to visit. To drift across Dal or Nagin Lake on one of the elegant shikaras is relaxation at its most exotic and peaceful. We will check into one of the beautiful houseboats, which have changed very little since the British first built them back in the 19th century, and chill-out. This afternoon we will enjoy a water born adventure across the lakes and through the old town. This evening we will have a talk given to us on Kashmir’s famous crafts, which will precede the next days tour. Overnight on a houseboat. (B, L, D)

The floating vegetable market in Srinigar

Tuesday, August 14  – Srinagar
Today we will spend a portion of the day doing a craft tour, with the other portion of the day involving the Jhelum River and Old Town Tour. Lunch will be in between.

Srinagar Crafts Tour
This expert guided half-day tour is a pioneering effort to take visitors on an enthralling journey of discovering Kashmir through its rich arts and handicrafts. Most will have encountered Kashmiri shawls, intricately designed carpets, beautiful papier maché and intricate wood carvings, and this tour gives you the chance to meet those responsible to continuing this ancient legacy and lean the culture of the region through their stories and work. On the tour you’ll follow the 15-month process of creating a true pashmina shawl – from spinning to weaving – visit embroiderers, copper workers and experts at the crewel stitch. For anyone interested in textiles and handicrafts this tour is a must… it is a history that has set Kashmir aside for centuries.

Jhelum River, Museum and Old Town Tour
This fascinating tour starts on the ‘Bund’ – or cornice – on the Jhelum River. Firstly we’ll be able to take a stroll through the fascinating and deeply atmospheric Shri Pratap Singh museum, home to among other things a stunning collection of antique shawls, before continuing the main jetty on the Jhelum River. From here take a launch along the river, passing ancient Hindu temples, old houses and warehouses, to the Shah-i-Hamdan mosque. Here we’ll alight and start our walk around the old town bazaars – a place reminiscent of London before the fire – finishing our tour at the Jamia Majid, with its amazing 372 cedar pillars. Overnight on a houseboat. (B, D)

Wednesday, August 15 – Srinagar
This morning you will be woken by your houseboat staff with a hot cup of chai, before boarding a shikara and being paddled to the floating vegetable market. Depending on which houseboat you are staying the journey of less than an hour, a tranquil way to travel. The houseboat will lend you a blanket. Once at the site you’ll be able to paddle around watching the action, pick up some snacks from Mr Delicious – try the macaroons they’re great – before floating back to your houseboat for breakfast. After a good rest and lunch we will once again take to the shikaras to travel to the Shalimar Gardens. As the most famous of all Kashmir’s Moghul Gardens, enjoy a walk among the fountains, flower beds and mighty chinar trees, to the black marble pavilion. From here continue around the lake to the Nishat Gardens before visiting the garden at Chashma Shahi, meaning royal spring, before finishing the tour at the impressive Pari Mahal, or Fairies Palace. This is definitely one of the best sites in Srinagar, where the views from the eight-tired stone ached construction offer stunning views down over the lakes. Overnight in houseboat. (B, D)

Thursday, August 16  – Srinagar to Delhi
Your morning is free to relax and/or do any last minute exploring around Srinagar. Transfer to airport to connect your flight for Delhi. Arrive Assistance and check into our hotel. Tonight, we enjoy a “farewell dinner”. (B, D)

Friday,  August 17 – Departure
Transfers will be arranged to the airport for your morning departure flights. (B)

 

HOTELS

Delhi: The Claridges http://www.claridges.com/the-claridges-newdelhi/overview.asp?links=nd1
Leh: Hotel Grand Dragon http://www.thegranddragonladakh.com/
Nubra Valley: Desert Himalaya Resort  http://www.deserthimalayaresort.com/
Kargil: Highland Mountain Resort  http://www.thehighlandkargil.com/
Srinigar: Royal Group of Houseboats. Example of houseboats  http://www.royalhouseboats.com/default.htm

 

COST per person: $3,985, based on double occupancy.

Single supplement: $1,100.

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

  • Full services of an English speaking  Tour Leader with local guides and drivers.
  • Meal plan as detailed in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner) with mineral water as required.
  • All transport as outlined in the itinerary.
  • All accommodation
  • All entrance fees, as per itinerary

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED?

  • International air to Delhi from North America or point of origin.
  • India Visa
  • Tips (always optional, but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information pack you’ll receive after booking)
  • Beverages & any costs of a personal nature.
  • Airport transfers for those NOT arriving early morning of June 8th or departing on the morning of June 19th.

 NOTE: Suggested flight itinerary: International air is NOT included in the above tour price. However, as you make your flight arrangements, we strongly encourage you connect with the flights below. Arrival in Delhi should be in the early morning of Sunday, August 5, 2018.

It may sound obvious but…

Iconic Journeys Worldwide tours are not always for everyone! It is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. Please therefore take time to read the itinerary description very carefully. This particular tour will include some rather rustic and basic travel segments. We try and make the trip as comfortable as we can with regards to accommodations and the vehicles used, but this is to be balanced with the remote area of some of the itinerary. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

TO REGISTER OR FOR INFORMATION

For additional information, contact Iconic Journeys Worldwide at;
info@IconicJourneysWorldwide.com or 888-474-5502.