15-DAYS Northern INDIA LADAKH INCL HEMIS FESTIVAL

Women Only

Max group 12

Lifetime Deposit

Now is the time to discover Ladakh: Northern India’s less-travelled and hidden cultural treasure – in the very vicinity of the Himalayas. On this women-only tour, join our local guides who are well-versed in the district languages, with an intimate knowledge of this remote, high-altitude region.  

Be prepared for real cultural immersion while you pause from the digital, ‘always on’ reality of back home. Get intimate with the region’s simple and traditional way of life, all while you bask in the colours that shape Ladakhi culture, the land, its endearing people… and even the cuisine. 

You’ll visit monasteries, attend the most celebrated Buddist festival and meet with indigenous Tibetans in a village so remote that it literally defines the expression ‘off the beaten track’. 

It’s so much more than the culture though. Ladakh, or ‘Little Tibet’ as it’s often called, has spell-binding views, unspoiled nature, mountains, plains, rivers and valleys that will recharge your soul as you journey your way through this remote area.

Travel with other women in a maximum group of 12, for a tour that simply cannot be experienced as part of a larger trip… and before it becomes too popular.

Highlights

Explore the former royal Leh Palace - from when Ladakh was a Himalayan Kingdom

Learn how the monks adapt to their remote locations as you visit their monasteries

Enjoy breath-taking views from Khardung La at 5600m above sea level

Attend the Hemis festival – the most important religious event on the local Buddhist calendar

Day trip to Turtuk – one of the few places to witness the culture and heritage of the Balti people

Admire the beauty of Pangong Lake and the Sangam rivers confluence

Trip Details

Price

$7.625 AUD (twin share)

  • $1,650 AUD deposit per person 
  • 2-week cooling-off period applies.
  • Lifetime Deposit. If you need to cancel, your deposit is transferable to other trips.
  • Twin Share: we’ll match you with a roomie if you’re travelling solo.

Private supplement available: $2,553 AUD, max 4 spots.


Trip length

15 days, 14 nights


Dates

June 2024

Starts: New Delhi, 6 June 2024

Finishes: New Delhi, 20 June 2024

NEW DATE


Meeting point

The Claridges Hotel, Delhi


Ending point

The Claridges Hotel, Delhi


Group size

Maximum 12


Participation requirements

Please see our “Participation” section to see the requirements.


Included

  • Meals: 14 breakfasts 2 lunches and 14 dinners
  • List transport: 1 x private air-conditioned vehicle in Delhi, 1 x private vehicle in Ladakh 
  • Domestic flights: Delhi – Leh, Leh – Delhi (return trip)
  • 13 nights boutique and premium accommodation
  • 1 night fixed tented camp
  • 1 top-rated English-speaking tour leader throughout – local expert guides at monuments and sights
  • All listed activities and more!

Not included

  • International flights and travel insurance (necessary)
  • Visa info summary: Australian passport holders have a relatively simple online process to apply for their e-Visa. We will gladly help answer any questions you have as you pass through the process
  • Additional hotel nights & late checkouts
  • Drinks and other personal expenses
  • Tip kitty. Note: as Aussies and Kiwis, we are not used to tipping! However, guide and driver tipping is customary for tours in India.

Click the tabs to find out more
Day 1: DELHI

Welcome to India! One of the team will meet you at Delhi International Airport and we’ve arranged a private transfer to take you directly to the hotel. Your adventure begins this evening. After a meetup with your tour leader, the group will head out into the chaotic streets of Delhi.

The restaurant for tonight’s welcome dinner is in an immaculately renovated manor-house tucked down one of the lanes of the old city – what a perfect splash of opulence before you embrace the grassroots lifestyle of the remote Indian Himalayas starting tomorrow!

Accommodation: The Claridges Hotel (or similar)
Included: Dinner

Day 2: LEH

The flight to Ladakh only takes 1 ½ hours and, depending on the airline-scheduling Gods, you’ll be catching your breath in awe of Ladakh’s stark mountain-scape by lunchtime. This is a pinch-yourself moment. Yes! You are here – The Himalayas!! The ‘Roof of India’.

Once checked into your hotel, we’ve put aside time for you to take it easy. Leh, known for its epic views and pristine nature, is a high-altitude town (3500 metres above sea level), so just take the time to acclimatise. The group will catch up again for dinner.

Accommodation: Ladakh Sarai (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3: LEH

You may not have heard of Leh, but this is a special place to start our Ladakh trip, and it won’t take you long to find out why.

First, there’s a 45-minute gentle walk through Leh’s ‘old town’. It’s a labyrinth of covered pathways that weave beneath the traditional mud houses, and you’ll tread them, step-by-step, with a local guide. There’s a spectacular view across the whole town and valley from the ruins of the 350-year-old Leh Palace.

You’ll discover the colourful market too, which you’re bound to return to for more shopping and maybe some people watching. The town of Leh is ethnically and religiously diverse and is often referred to as ‘Little Tibet’ or the ‘Land of Lamas’ for all of its Buddhist temples. Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam are all significant faiths here and this is reflective in the people and their daily life. We’ve factored in some time to rest this afternoon too; before regrouping for dinner.

Accommodation: Ladakh Sarai (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4: LEH

By today, you’ll be feeling way more comfortable with the change in altitude, so let’s venture outside Leh. It’s only a short drive to the Shey Palace. Constructed for the first King of Ladakh around 550 years ago, the buildings and the mountainside they were built on now appear to have merged as one. You’ll find that the contrasting view from the top, across the fertile green river plains below, is nothing short of jaw-dropping!

There are four schools of thought in Tibetan Buddhism and today you’ll visit two incredibly old and still practising monasteries that are devoted to two of these orders. Shut your eyes – can you smell the incense as it clouds the air? If we’re lucky, you may even hear the monks in a state of chanting meditation.

Accommodation: Ladakh Sarai (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5: ULLEY

By now you’ll feel completely at home with your surrounds in Leh, but it’s time to say goodbye for the moment – because there’s so much more of Ladakh to discover! You’ll have uninterrupted views from your window seat as your group’s two high-roof minivans travel in tandem westwards, along the Indus River Valley. On the way you’ll stop to view the Zanskar River confluence; fiercely propelled by the icy Himalayan snow melt – and the Alchi Monastery built more than a thousand years ago.

Today’s destination is only 85km from Leh and you’ll arrive at your accommodation with ample time to absorb its remoteness. Wander through the orchard or take advantage of the views from one of the sitting areas around the grounds. Dinner will be served in-house tonight.

Accommodation: Ulley Ethnic Resort (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6: LAMAYURU MONASTERY

Lamayuru Monastery is renowned – not only because it’s Ladakh’s oldest monastery, but also because of the unusual lunar-like landscape that it’s surrounded by. Most visitors to Lamayuru are day-trippers from Leh, so you’ll be able to examine the detailed Dharma murals and colour deity statues this morning before the tranquil site fills with people. By then, you’ll be moving on to explore the little-known Lion Temple just nearby.

It’s equally as impressive and missed by most visitors. In the afternoon, there’s plenty of time back at the resort for a stroll along the river, or a recharging rest, before dinner.

Accommodation: Ulley Ethnic Resort (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 7: LEH

Today you’ll return to your home-away-from-home; Ladakh Sarai in Leh. In case you’re wondering why we’re using Leh as a base, it’s fairly simple. The Ladakh region is quite remote, both distance-wise and in a geographical sense, which means a lack of infrastructure in many areas. Leh is the big centre, with all the lodgings, restaurants and a marketplace so it gives you the most options in an otherwise fairly remote – and spiritual – area.

It’s around a 2-hour drive so there’s plenty of time to roam back to your favourite parts of town. And tonight, you’ll share dinner at one of your best-loved places to eat. After all, you’re a local by now, aren’t you? So you’re bound to have a favourite!

Accommodation: Ladakh Sarai (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8: NUBRA VALLEY

You know that feeling you get when you’re constantly aware of the commotion of the world around you? Busy life, errands, catching up with friends and family, those sorts of things. It may well be the reason why you’re doing this trip. In a world of complete contrast, you’ll really get to know the simple yet beautiful lifestyles of local communities built on Buddhist culture through generations of ruling dynasties – from monasteries, temples and ancient traditions.

Let your thoughts wander far on today’s 5-hour journey to Nubra Valley, amidst high-altitude scenery and vivid landscapes coloured by Mother Nature herself. Your intimacy with the Ladakh region and its very remote and very special culture is set to grow deeper still as we visit the Diskit Monastery, the oldest monastery in the valley, protected by the Dalai Lama’s blessing.

After your long drive, you’re going to arrive hungry. Good thing then that we’ve organised a special dinner for you. Lovers of Indian food, you’ll enjoy this one.

Accommodation: Lchang Nang Retreat (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9: TURTUK

A very special day today indeed. It’s a bit of a journey to Turtuk but undoubtedly worth every minute to get to this mountainous terrain. There are a couple of reasons why this place is so special; firstly, it’s only been open to tourism since 2010 so the privilege of being there is quite humbling, and secondly, it’s one of very few places in India where you can experience the Balti culture.

The Balti people are of Tibetan descent, native to northern India and adjoining Pakistan. While you’re in Turtuk, you’ll engage with these warm, friendly locals – when you’re not completely distracted by the ridiculous beauty around you. Warning: they will convince you to try their delish apricots, from which they earn their living!

Accommodation: Lchang Nang Retreat (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10: SAKTI

Road trip! That’s the theme of the day as we transfer to the village of Sakti for the two-day Hemis festival. Being a major event on the Buddhist calendar, locals from across the region will be streaming towards the village to enjoy the coming celebrations.

However, that’s tomorrow. For now, the morning will be a 4-hour, 120km drive through the mountains that you’re now familiar with. Familiar, but still stunning – and the views will be no less incredible as you drive along the Shyok river. 

In town, we have no activities scheduled so you can take the opportunity to have a rest and do some laundry. But, what we recommend is heading out to enjoy the atmosphere, which will be buzzing. Your trip leader is a local who speaks the languages of the region, and they will be with you to help you navigate the surroundings and translate your questions.

Accommodation: Fana Resort (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11: HEMIS FESTIVAL

Day 11 is Wednesday 28, June 2023 in the Western calendar.

But it’s a different calendar that matters, today. For this just happens to be the 10th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan lunar calendar; which is a very important date indeed. On this day, the revered founder of Tibetan Buddhism was born: Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rimpoche).

For over 1200 years, followers of Tibetan Buddhism have marked this day, and this morning so will you! All through the early hours of the morning, groups of locals, pilgrims – and let’s be honest, a few contingents of Westerners like us – will be heading up to the monastery to witness the kaleidoscope of colour that is the Hemis Festival commemorations.

Yes, it will be busy, crowded and a bit noisy, but that’s part of the experience. Your trip leader will explain to you the rituals, but we also recommend doing some Googling to learn the significance of this festival in order to understand what you’re seeing.

Accommodation: Fana Resort (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12: PANGONG LAKE

The festival is now over, and it’s time to leave the area. You’ve experienced the culture, and now it’s time to see some more spectacular scenery.

The scenic drive today takes us to the brightly coloured Pangong Lake that forms part of the Indo-China border. You could literally swim or row to Tibet… however, we wouldn’t! It’s actually the highest saltwater (brackish) lake in the world at over 4000m. The sights are unforgettable on this journey as you enjoy panoramic views of the villages and the summer pasturelands of the yaks.

Tonight’s accommodation is a fixed-tented camp (similar to a yurt camp) right by the lake. You’re in the middle of nowhere, up close to nature, under Himalayan skies and tonight you’ll possibly see the brightest-ever stars in your lifetime – and it’s time to enjoy it all. Go for a hike and enjoy the beauty, which has been described as ‘supernatural.’

Accommodation: Pangong Serai (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13: LEH

We return for the final time on this trip, to our familiar base of Leh. Your 6-hour journey from Pangong will cover 165 scenic kilometres that include the 5300-metre Chang La pass – the third-highest motor pass in the world!

There will be enough time to contemplate all of your encounters from this trip, and you may be feeling somewhat melancholy for the trip to be nearing its end, but all the more grateful and richer for such a one-of-a-kind experience, with equally appreciative travel buddies by your side.

You still have the afternoon to do some last-minute bazaar shopping, local exploring and one final view of Leh from the lookout point.

Later in the evening we have a special treat for you, let’s keep it as a surprise, though.

Accommodation: Ladakh Sarai (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 14: DELHI

One last lingering breakfast in Leh before your transfer to Leh Airport for a domestic flight to Delhi, the final leg of your journey. Do remember that domestic flights have a smaller baggage allowance than internationals! In Delhi you’ve come full circle to again enjoy your starting point — the luxurious landmark Claridges Hotel. You have the afternoon free to take care of final packing and prepare for dinner. Your last evening among newfound friends will be quite special indeed – the group will be looked after by the third-generation family that run Delhi’s iconic United Coffee House.

Accommodation: The Claridges Hotel (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 15:  FAREWELL, FRIENDS

Your final morning; this is your last chance to make sure you’ve exchanged emails, phone numbers, photos and the rest. Check-out is at 12.00 and there are no other plans for the day, except your final transfer to Delhi Airport for your connecting flight.

We wish you a safe journey home for those leaving India after the trip, or an enjoyable onward journey if that’s what you have planned. And we are really excited to hear all about it when you return!

Trip Map
The Essential Info
HOW FIT DO I NEED TO BE?

So long as you have a general level of fitness, you’ll be fine. There will be afternoons where we’ll be spending a lot of time on our feet and some of the sightseeing involves walking, sometimes on uneven pavement. – So it’s important you are steady on your feet and remember to pack comfortable pre-worn walking shoes.

 

VISAS

Australian and New Zealand passport holders can apply for an E-Tourist Visa. If you are staying in India longer than 30 days you will need to apply for a 1 year Visa. The Visa fee is around $40AUD for 30 days and $65AUD for 1 year.

 

HIGH ALTITUDE TRAVEL

Most of the destinations on this tour are at high altitude (Between 3,500 m and 4,000m). The trip is designed to allow 3 days in Leh, Ladakh’s capital on arrival, for you to settle into the lighter atmosphere. Lucky for us, Leh is so unique and so beautiful, there’s no better place to spend it, while you adjust to the relaxed pace of mountain time! Your tour leader is experienced in high altitude travel and the guides are trained in first aid. Your vehicles will travel with oxygen on board, for assistance in the rare case someone should feel ill from an atmospheric change. We ask that you consult your doctor for direction on how best to prepare for this tour.

 

MONEY MATTERS

The official currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR). There is no need to exchange AUD into INR before you leave Australia. There are several ATM’s in Delhi but Ladakh is a remote area of India and you won’t be able to rely on access to ATMs or use credit cards for payment once you leave Delhi. We recommend you bring a minimum of $500 AUD with you.

 

MOBILE CONNECTIVITY & WIFI

Prepare to disconnect! As we’ve mentioned Ladakh is a remote location with very little digital infrastructure. International roaming may not be available all the time, if at all. You’ll likely have an internet connection in Leh, but even then it’s not guaranteed. Indian Tourist sims will have some connectivity in the region, mostly around towns.

 

FOOD

Tibet, the Middle East and India all have a hand in influencing Ladakhi food. Tibetan dumplings, called Momos are a staple and can be stuffed with veggies, minced meat, or even locally made cheese. And, there’s lots of hearty noodle broths filled with locally grown potatoes, pumpkin, barley and beans. 

Our Patchies know that with our tours they get to explore the best of local food, mostly by eating where the locals eat. Sometimes though, the places we travel are so remote, that the only place for dinner is at your accommodation – and that will happen a few times on this trip. But the experience will be just as authentic and memorable. We promise!

Frequently Asked Questions

Reserve your place at Patch Adventures.com.au or email contact@patchadventures.com.au! There is a maximum group size of 12.

A deposit of $1,650 is required to hold your spot. Payment can be made by credit card (fees apply) or bank deposit.

There is a cooling off period of 2 weeks. (Applicable to all bookings made 110 days in advance.)

We have implemented a ‘lifetime deposit’ guarantee. Deposits are not refundable, but they are transferable at any time, right up until the first day of the trip.

The final balance of the trip is required 95 days in advance of the departure date. Our suppliers require upfront payment well in advance to guarantee availability.

Note: prior to the payment of your full balance, the final price may change if there is significant variation in the AUD:EUR exchange rate; this trip pricing is based on an exchange rate of 1 AUD:0.65 EUR.

Please refer to the full terms and conditions for further information.

 

Most of our trips have a tip kitty because many cultures have interesting and diverse rules when it comes to tips. We’ve found it to be the easiest way to combat over-tipping, under-tipping or having the tip fall into the wrong hands. Our goal is for guests to relax and know that the complexities of tipping are taken care of, on their behalf.

For your Indian adventure, we ask your contribution be: 4,500 Indian Rupee  (equivalent to $85 AUD)  which is given to your guide on Day 1. The kitty will be managed by your guide and distributed along the way at restaurants for included meals, hotel staff, drivers and regional guides.

What is not covered is a customary tip at the end of the trip for your guide. If they’ve ensured that your trip is memorable, we recommend the following guidelines:

8,000 to 9,000 per person (equivalent to $150 – $170) 

(Exchange Rate used – $1AUD : 52.7 Rupee)

Try to arrive before midday on the start day, although earlier would be recommendable.

 

So long as you have a general level of fitness, you’ll be fine. There will be afternoons where we’ll be spending a lot of time on our feet and some of the sightseeing involves walking, sometimes on uneven pavement. – So it’s important you are steady on your feet and remember to pack comfortable pre-worn walking shoes.

Airfares are not included. 

Yes, unless you take the single supplement option. You do not need to book with a friend. If there are spots available, feel free to book immediately.

The official currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR). There is no need to exchange AUD into INR before you leave Australia. There are several ATM’s in Delhi but Ladakh is a remote area of India and you won’t be able to rely on access to ATMs or use credit cards for payment once you leave Delhi. We recommend you bring a minimum of $500 AUD with you.

Prepare to disconnect! As we’ve mentioned Ladakh is a remote location with very little digital infrastructure. International roaming may not be available all the time, if at all. You’ll likely have an internet connection in Leh, but even then it’s not guaranteed. Indian Tourist sims will have some connectivity in the region, mostly around towns.

Australian and New Zealand passport holders can apply for an E-Tourist Visa. If you are staying in India longer than 30 days you will need to apply for a 1 year Visa. The Visa fee is around $40AUD for 30 days and $65AUD for 1 year.

June is a pleasant time to visit Ladakh after the winter snow melts. There will be warm days and cool evenings. The temperatures range from 7° overnight to 22° during the day, while rain is highly unlikely. However, it’s still good to be prepared with a lightweight waterproof jacket. 

Other than that, it’s best to bring comfortable layers – from short-sleeves to light thermals and long-sleeved tops/thin jumpers and a warm jacket in case of chilly nights and mornings. Same goes for pants, layering will come in handy. This will make it easier for you to layer up and down. Comfortable walking shoes or runners are fine. If you’re a person who feels the cold, it could also be a good idea to have a beanie, gloves and scarf on hand – just in case! Sunscreen and lip balm are recommended.

Our guide for this trip will likely be female, but this is not guaranteed. Regardless, they will be a local expert who knows the corners of this country and region, speaks the language and can navigate tricky situations.

In the unlikely event of a health or security related incident during a trip, we’ve engaged a local partner to assist. From our experience, there is not one framework that fits all, and every incident is unique and requires a different approach. With all trips, your guides are your day-to-day support. While behind the scenes, there is an active line of communication – between your guide, the on-ground support team, and Australian Ops.

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ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS?

PLEASE CONTACT CONTACT@PATCHADVENTURES.COM.AU AND WE WILL BE GLAD TO ASSIST!

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