We meet you on arrival at Delhi airport and transfer you to your pre-reserved hotel. As most International flights arrive in Delhi in the early morning, the entire day is kept free for you to relax. If you feel up to it we can arrange a half day sightseeing tour of historical Old Delhi in which you visit the majestic Red Fort and the largest mosque in Asia- Jama Masjid both built in the 15 th century by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan. We also take a stroll among the back streets reminiscent of a medieval town passing wayside vendors selling delicious Mughal cuisine of Kebabs and Mutton Pilafs and aromatic curries. We return to the hotel in time for dinner and the night
Day 2: Delhi - Chandigarh - Dharamshala
Morning after Breakfast Move Chandigarh to Dharamshala . Dharamshala in the Himalayas. Mcleodganj at 1800m / 5904ft, a suburb also known as upper Dharamshala is 9 Kms from Dharamshala town and is the headquarters of the Tibetan Government in exile and the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. On arrival by evening we check into a pre-reserved hotel at Mcleodganj.
Day 3: Explore Mcleodgunj
The small laidback suburb is also known as Little Tibet for its salubrious climate and small shops selling a wide assortment of Tibetan curios, jewelery and other artifacts. A number of cafes also offer a multi cuisine fare including Continental, Israeli, Indian and of course Tibetan and Chinese. We visit the Namgyal Monastery and the Jokhang or main temple opposite the residence of the Dalai Lama. It houses three main images: that of the Sakyamuni Buddha, Padmasambhava and Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion, of whom the Dalai Lama is the current emanation. The main image in gilded bronze and three meters tall is that of Sakyamuni Buddha. There are also two images of Padmasambhava and Avalokitesvara that face Tibet. We have lunch in one of the many cafes and then take a 2 Km stroll to the ancient Bhagsunag temple and spend some time near the cascading waterfall nearby. We return to Mcleodganj and your hotel by evening.
Day 4: Dharamshala - Shimla: 279 Kms
We start our drive to Shimla the state capital of Himachal Pradesh through the scenic Kangra valley with its rambling green fields and quaint villages. We drive past the undulating tea gardens at Palampur - 1249m / 4096ft with the massive granite face of the Dhauladhar ranges in the backdrop keeping us company till we branch off at Jogindernagar 1500m / 4920ft. We reach the large town of Mandi 760m / 2493ft, in time for lunch. Mandi is an important business center and also home to numerous temples. From here we turn south east and go through thickly wooded hillsides passing small villages and towns till we reach Shimla - 2130m / 6986ft by evening where we check into a comfortable hotel.
Day 5: Explore Shimla
After a leisurely breakfast we head for the Mall road the main promenade of Shimla. Lined on one side are all kinds of shops, fine dining establishments and a few hotels. Declared the summer capital of the British Indian Government in 1864 , Shimla saw a period of rapid growth though it had already been the favorite place of the British living in India since the 1820s. We visit the ridge adjacent to the Mall road and visit the landmark of the town - the 1857 built Christ Church that holds several memorial plaques and beautiful stained glass windows; the imposing Viceregal Lodge now the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies built in 1880; and the State Museum . Most of the buildings in Shimla are built in the colonial neo-gothic style and are more than a 100 years old. In the afternoon we drive over to the Jhakoo Temple dedicated to Hanuman a god in the Hindu pantheon. It is the highest point in Shimla at 2445m / 8019ft and is home to a large monkey population. In the evening we stroll along the Mall road and you can shop for some old books, local handicrafts and other curios. In the evening we return to the hotel.
Day 6: Shimla - Sarahan: 175 Kms
Leaving Shimla after breakfast we head north to the charming town of Sarahan built on a hill ridge overlooking the Sutlej river valley. We pass the small hill towns of Kufri and Narkanda both popular ski resorts in the winter and affording unbeatable 180° panoramic views of the Great Himalayas to the far north. Passing the town of Rampur with its ancient ornate palace, we drive up to Sarahan - 1920m / 6298ft and check into a comfortable hotel.
Day 7: Sarahan - Recong Peo - Kalpa: 102 Kms.
We visit the large Bhimkali temple built in a fusion of Hindu and Buddhist architectural style and after a late breakfast drive down to the banks of the River Sutlej and continue driving north to Recong Peo the district headquarters of Kinnaur district. We continue on to the charming town of Kalpa 2960m / 9,710ft where we check into a comfortable hotel. The view of the 6050m / 19,844ft Kinner Kailash peak soaring across the valley at sunset is one of the most captivating views you get to see in Kalpa. We explore the surrounding apple orchards and the narrow lanes of the town; visit the ancient temple of Narayan Nagini with beautiful carvings and the close by Hu-Bu-Ian-Car Gompa a Buddhist Monastery. We return to our hotel for the evening highlighted by fascinating views of the Kinner Kailash mountain range.
Day 8: Kalpa - Nako Lake - Tabo: 186 Kms
We continue on our journey by driving back to National Highway 22 once known as the Hindustan Tibet Road. The scenery now slowly transforms from lush green to beautiful shades of pale brown and rust as we drive into the high altitude desert zone. We stop at the small hamlet of Khab - 2831m / 9,286ft the confluence of the Spiti and Sutlej rivers. Crossing the bridge we begin our ascent to Nako village and lake at 3959m / 12,986ft. After strolling around this medieval appearing village with dwellings of mud and stone skirting the jade green tiny Nako Lake we resume our journey to the 1011 year old Tabo Monastery through amazing sun, wind and snow sculpted
Day 9: Tabo - Kaza: 47 Kms
After breakfast we explore this most beautiful of Buddhist monasteries housing a wealth of exquisite frescoes, stucco images and wall paintings. Tabo is now a ‘world heritage site' and is unlike other monasteries built on level land. It has often been referred to as the Ajanta Ellora of the Himalayas for its fine artwork. After lunch we head to Kaza the sub divisional headquarters of Lahaul Spiti 47 Kms away. En-route we stop over at the dramatically situated Dhankar Gompa high up on a craggy hill at 3893m / 12,774ft above Sichlling village overlooking the wide confluence of the Pin and Spiti rivers. Once the capital of Spiti in the 17 th century Dhankar houses a statue of Vaircohana and some ancient thangkas. From here we drive down to the highway and passing a few oases like villages reach Kaza 3800m / 12,464ft , by evening. On arrival we check into a comfortable guesthouse.
Day 10: Kaza - Ki - Kibber - Kaza: 34 Kms
After breakfast we leave for the Ki Monastery 14 Kms North West at an altitude of 3750m / 12,300ft on a conical rocky hill overlooking the vast Spiti River basin. The Ki monastery is the largest in the valley and imparts religious training to a large congregation of monks. Within are ancient musical instruments and weapons of war besides priceless thangkas, stucco images and manuscripts. From here we head north to Kibber which is said to be the highest permanently inhabited village in the world at 4490m / 15, 055 ft . This neat white washed village lies in a semi circular formation on a hillside with small fields. After lunch and a stroll around we return to Kaza by afternoon. In the evening we walk to this interesting town with its cobble stone paths and mud dwellings and shops. After spending some time here we return to our guest house for the night.
Day 11: Kaza - Jispa: 217 Kms
We leave early on a long day's drive heading west in to the Lahaul valley across the 4558m / 14,950ft, Kunzum la pass and descend to the banks of the Chandra River flowing in from the north. En-route we drive past the green oasis of Losar at 4079m / 13,379ft , the last village in Spiti before ascending the pass. In the Lahaul valley though the mountains remain stark and bare the villages appear more frequently with large fields of potato, peas and barley. We drive along the Chandra River till we reach the Tandi Bridge where the River Bhaga flows in to join the Chandra. A little ahead the road turn north towards Keylong 3340m / 10,955ft, the district headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti and then continues along the Chandrabhaga River to the small village of Jispa 3319m / 10,890ft where we check into a hotel for the night.
Day 12: Jispa - Sarchu: 75 Kms
After breakfast we drive through some of the most awesome hi altitude terrain seen anywhere in the world. Here we drive past mountain streams and bare hills of granite and pale brown shale without any habitation or vegetation in sight. Our drive gives us views that'll remain in our memories forever. We bypass Deepak-tal a miniature lake before coming up on the larger Suraj Tal a large turquoise body of water below the 4650m / 16,500ft high Baralacha la the second pass on our journey. The road now descends into a large open plain where we stop for the night at the Sarchu Camp site at 4253m / 13, 950ft.
Day 13: Sarchu - Pang - Debring: 154 Kms
After breakfast we drive leisurely through awesome landscape. We pass fantastically sculpted brown and rust hills in bizarre shapes and colours with the traverse of the sun in a deep blue sky. The road ascends 21 hairpin bends known as the Gata loops as it reaches the Naki la pass at 4950m / 16, 250ft and a bit ahead the higher 5064m / 16, 616ft high Lachulung la pass our third and fourth on this journey. Driving down to the tiny settlement of Pang we stop for some lunch and then continue on our way crossing some extremely impressive gorge country before emerging into the vast More plains - 4650 m / 15,252 ft. The road continues arrow straight for 45 Kms till we reach the small nomad camp at Debring at 4700m / 15,416ft
Day 14: Debring - Tso-kar - Tso Moriri: 84 Kms
We begin our drive on a dirt road through the extensive More plains and 7 Kms later reach the large Tsokar a brackish water lake known for its enormous salt deposits and migratory avian population. On the way we can spot the large Yak wool tents of the Changpa nomads who inhabit the vast Rupshu plateau grazing their flock of sheep and goats. We may also glimpse herds of Kyang (Tibetan Wild Ass), several colonies of Marmots, and the Woolly Hare besides the Red Fox and the Tibetan wolf, if lucky. On reaching Tso kar we set up camp on the lakeshore. Tso Moriri is popular among a few rare migratory birds including the bar headed geese, black necked crane, both of which come to breed in these waters during these months. There are other avian species including the common red shank, ruddy shelduck, lesser sand plover and resident finches and martins can also be seen. This 120 sq.km turquoise blue lake now known as the ‘Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve' is our campsite for the night.
Day 15: Tso Moriri
A rest day at this exquisite lake appearing like an inland sea, takes us for walks around Karzok the only permanently inhabited village at the northern shores with a medium sized monastery; strolls along the shores viewing the delightful bird life on the lake and meeting the ever smiling Changpa nomads. We camp overnight in tents.
Day 16: Karzok - Leh: 240 Kms.
We now head north from this charming village and drive up to the small settlement of Sumdo after which we cross the Mahe Bridge and then continue to the small village of Chumathang famous for its healing hot sulphur springs. The scenery is stunning in its stark beauty and surrealistic shaped hills a we drive on to Leh where we reach by evening and check into a comfortable hotel.
Day 17: Today is a rest day at Leh.
You can opt to visit the two prominent monasteries close by – Hemis the wealthiest and most famous in the valley housing the largest thangka in the world and the Thiksey Gompa known for its priceless murals and gilded images. In the evening stroll the bazaar for shopping. You can get deals in Changspa and the Tibetan market for antiques, yak bone curios and other fascinating handicrafts. Return to your hotel for the night.
Day 18: leh To Back Delhi
We leave you at the airport to catch the early morning flight to Delhi.