Ladakh - Zanskar: World’s Rooftop Safari

  • Duration
    25 Days
  • Region
  • Category
  • Best Time
    • June - September


Trek Grade: Easy

Exploring the beautiful Zanskar, Indus and Rupshu Valleys and the Changthang Plains of Little Tibet in our 4WDs, where the timeless culture of the Buddhist Lamaistic lifestyle still flourishes. Something which is slowly disappearing in the Chinese-controlled Tibet. Starting with the lush green Kulu Valley with the Beas River flowing, crossing into the Lahoul Valley over the Rohtang Pass (3,978 meters) and the Dhauladhar Range of the Himalayas, the safari comes to the foot of the Great Himalayan Divide. With beautiful alpine views of towering snow-covered peaks, the scenery is breathtaking.

Crossing the Shinkun La pass at a height of 5,091 meters over the Great Himalayan Divide which seperates the Himalayan Ranges from the Karakoram Ranges, enter the secluded Zanskar Valley. Visit the quaint villages of Kargyak and the spectacular cave monastery of Phuktal. Drive on-to Padum and visit the very sceenic Karsha Gompa. Crossing the Singge La pass at a height of 4,872 meters and Sisir La at a height of 4,760 meters, we enter the Indus Valley. Visit the spectacular Lamayuru Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries set against a lunar landscape and then drive on-to Leh.

From Leh cross the strategic Khardung La at a height of 5,359 meters into the Nubra and Shyok River Valleys which is just before the Siachen Glacier, the world’s largest valley glacier entering into the Karakorams. Try to spot the Bactrian Double Humped Camels that belong to the Gobi Desert and reside here.

Crossing the Wari La pass at a height of 5,312 meters and the Chang La at a height of 5,391 meters enter the Changthang region which spans across Western Tibet and Eastern Ladakh, reaching the vast lake of Pangong Tso at a height of 4,250 meters. From Pangong Tso drive to the Tso Moriri Lake at a height of 4,522 meters and visit the Karzok Gompa. Cross the Tso Kar lake at a height of 4,530 meters and decend back to Lahoul after crossing the Lachlung La pass at a height of 5,059 meters, Nakee La at a height of 4,769 meters and Baralacha La at a height of 4,850 meters. Drive back to Manali via the new Atal Tunnel bored through the Himalayan ranges.

Truly a journey of exploration over the world’s rooftop!

Tour Highlights

  • A 25 days mountain safari with SUVs crossing 7 passes above 5,000 meters and transcending from Kullu to Lahaul, from Zanskar to Ladakh and finally, with the extension even to Spiti
  • English speaking mountain and local guides including entrances to monuments and monasteries
  • Camping in tents and staying in lodges as per itinerary & personal baggage of maximum 20 kgs.
  • Sightseeing of Old & New Delhi as the gateway city
  • All Arrival & Departure with Representative and transportation by SUVs in mountains and cars/coaches in Delhi
  • Prices on request

Destinations Covered

Detailed Itinerary

  1. Day 1 Arrive Delhi


    After clearing Customs and Immigration, step into the receiving area, where our representative will meet you and escort you to the hotel.

    On arrival, check into the hotel.

    Overnight at hotel (No Meals)

  2. Day 2 Delhi


    Delhi is a dynamic city where the past coexists with the present. While historic evidence shows that the area around Delhi was first occupied around 2,500 years ago, Hindu mythology predates that by another 500 years. The British captured the city in 1803 and when they decided to make it the capital of India in 1911, they commissioned Sir Edwin Lutyens to draw up the plans. The result is slightly surprising with spacious tree-lined avenues punctuated with architecture which is among the most striking in the world.

    On the tour of “Old Delhi,” you will head out to explore this exotic locale with its narrow dirt roads, myriads of people and inexpensive and colorful bazaars that keep alive the traditional workmanship for which Delhi has always been famous. Drive past Red Fort and visit the Jama Masjid, one of the largest Muslim mosques in India. A bicycle rickshaw will take you into the heart of Chandni Chowk (the silver square - so named because of the silver merchants).

    Drive past India Gate, a 42-meter archway built in memory of Indian soldiers killed during the First World War and Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Imperial residence of the Viceroy. Today, it is the official residence of the President of India.

    Thereafter, visit the most prominent Sikh Gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship, in Delhi. It was originally a bungalow belonging to Raja Jai Singh, a 17th century Indian ruler. It is open to people of all faiths, castes or creeds. The premises house a sacred pond in which devotees bathe. They believe that this would wash off their misdeeds and thus allow them to attain peace of mind. The 'Langars' or the community kitchen proves to be the ideal example of prodigious hospitality of the Sikhs. Anyone and everyone can have scrumptious meal irrespective of caste, color or class.

    Conclude the day by visiting the Delhi's most striking monument, The Qutub Minar, which looms majestically across the wide plains of Delhi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was constructed in 1192 by Qutub-Ud-Din Aibak. Built-in red sandstone and marble, it has a height of 72.5 meters (237.8 ft) and contains 379 stairs. A Soaring conical tower, it is an exquisite example of Indo-Islamic Afghan architecture and is the tallest minaret in India.

    Overnight at hotel (B)

  3. Day 3 Fly Delhi – Bhuntar (Kullu) and Drive To Manali (Approx. 32 Miles / 51 Kms / 1 Hour Drive)


    Air India Flight # AI -9805 Delhi/Bhuntar ETD: 06:40/ETA: 09:00 Hrs.

    After breakfast, transfer to Delhi airport to board your flight to Bhuntar (Kullu).

    You arrive Bhuntar airport and then drive for a couple of hours to Manali.

    Afternoon, visit the famous Hadimba Devi Temple. This temple worships Hidimba Devi, wife of Bhima from the Hindu epic Mahabharata. After spending some time here, head to the Vashisht Kund, Tibetan Monastery and handicraft centre.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  4. Day 4 Manali - Jispa (Approx. 75 Miles / 120 Kms / 4 Hour Drive)


    After breakfast, drive to Jispa crossing the snow covered Rohtang Pass at a height of 3,978 meters. The views of the high snow covered peaks of the Dhauladhar Ranges of the Himalayas is both panoramic and breathtaking.

    Decend into the Lahaul Valley, visiting the Kardang Monastery.

    On arrival check-in to the hotel.

    Rest of the day at leisure.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  5. Day 5 Jispa – Purne (Approx. 55 Miles / 88 Kms / 3.5 Hour Drive)


    After breakfast, we will leave for Purne. En route we will go through various water crossings that will test your limits. We will across Shinkhula (Shingo La) pass (5,091 meters) over the Great Himalayan Divide with the Himalayas to the South and the Karakorams to the North offering amazing mountain sights. On the way visit the very picturesque and remote village of Kargyak.

    Overnight stay at Purne.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  6. Day 6 Purne


    After breakfast visit the spectacular cave monastery at Phuktal, a significant Buddhist monastery located in the Lungnak Valley. The monastery is very remotely located up the mountain from the village and is reachable only by taking a one hour hike.

    The essential things for the monastery will be carried by animals during summer days and during winter they will be transported through the frozen Zanskar River. The Phutkal Monastery was built 2500 years ago and it was built around a cave with the aim of inviting any number of sages or saints to come and meditate. But the current status of Phutkal Gompa is that it belongs to the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism. It was re-established in the early 15th century.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  7. Day 7 Purne – Padum (Approx. 35 Miles / 56 Kms / 5 hour drive)


    After breakfast drive to Padum, drive with a few steep uphill and downhill stretches. The route gives almost no water crossings and stays on one side of the valley for most of the time.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  8. Day 8 Padum - Lingshed


    After breakfast we will drive towards Lingshed via Zangla.

    At Zangla you can visit Zangla fort, An old ruin Fort, Known as Zangla Fort is located on a hilltop right side to the village at a distance of one km. belief of 11th century. Visit Stongde monastery, home to more than 60 monks, is the second largest in Zanskar. It is perched 300m above the valley, offering a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and villages.

    There are several temples with beautiful wall paintings inside the gompa. Gon Khang, the temple of guardian deities, is one of the prominent shrines. Visit the Karsha monastery, It is the largest monastery in Zanskar with a community of 120 monks. Belonging to the Gelugpa order, it was founded by the famous translator Phagspa Sherab in the 11th century. The whitewashed monastic quarters rise almost vertically on a mountainside above the village. Steep steps lead to the complex comprising eight temples, chortens, residential rooms and assembly halls.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  9. Day 9 Lingshed To Leh To Via Lamayury

    Leh Ladakh

    After breakfast visit the Lingshed temple and drive to crossing the Singge La pass (4,872 meters) and Sisir La pass (4760 meters) towards Leh. Enroute visit Lamayuru, Lamayuru Gompa lies 15 km east of the Fatu La (4,108 meters) on the Srinagar-Leh Highway, with its medieval village seemingly growing out of the rocky hillside below it. Lamayuru belongs to the red-hat sect of Buddhism and is the oldest monastery of Ladakh with ancient legends say that it was established at the time of Sakyamuni (the Historical First Buddha). Set against the stark, lunar landscape of golden sands, the monastery is one of the most picturesque in Ladakh.

    Arrive at Leh and check-in to the hotel.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  10. Day 10 Leh

    Leh Ladakh

    Morning free to leisure, evening drive to Visit Shanti Stupa, a Buddhist white-domed stupa (chorten) on a hilltop in Chanspa located just outside the town, to get a better view of the neighbouring exotic locales. The various monasteries which are located in this region also add to the beauty of the region.

    Then Leh Palace, it overlooks the Himalayan town of Leh, modelled on the Potala Palace in Lhasa. It is a nine multi-storey residence used to be occupied by the royals in the seventh century. The wooden balconies of the Palace truly fill the heart of an individual with pleasure and joy.

    Later in the evening walk around local market.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  11. Day 11 Leh - Nubra Valley (Approx. 108 Miles / 174 Kms / 5 hour drive)


    After Breakfast drive to Nubra Valley via Khardung La (5,359 meters) once the highest motorable road in the world and now the third highest). You can take short breaks at roadside cafes & scenic points for photography.

    On arrival check in to the camp. Post lunch, enjoy a camel safari (double-humped camel which are found only in Ladakh & Mongolia) at the Sand Dunes at Hundur village. Visit the Hundur and Diskit Gompas if time of the day’s journey allows.

    Overnight at the Tented Camp (B, L, D)

  12. Day 12 Nubra - Turtuk - Nubra


    One of the moist fascinating journeys in Ladakh this is a less popular destination recently opened for tourist , if you have a thirst for a beautiful location this is the place.

    Enroute spectacular mountain ranges and Villages like .This region is controlled mainly by the Ladakh Scouts a rear department of the India Army.

    A border village that was recaptured by the Indian Army in 1971. Locals have relatives across the border (Line of Control) and depend mainly on farming of vegetables, apricot besides providing mules and porters.

    Baltistan a beautiful village with charming people “On the night of December 13, 1971, the people of this village went to sleep in Pakistan.

    The next morning, they woke up in India.” We are in Turtuk, listening to a villager recount the history of this remote northwest corner of Ladakh, which until that night was part of Baltistan in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

    A full day rough excursion evening back to Nubra Valley.

    Overnight at the Tented Camp (B, L, D)

  13. Day 13 Nubra – Pangong Via Shayok Valley (Approx. 103 Miles / 165 Kms / 5 hour drive)


    After breakfast drive to Pangong via Shayok valley, this region actually comprises two valleys: Nubra and Shyok. Both their rivers rise amidst the remote and heavily glaciated peaks and trough of the Karakoram Range.

    Arrive Pangong Lake it is the highest saltwater Lake in the World, shared by two countries India & China after crossing the pass of Wari la (5,312 meters).

    Enjoy the beauty of the turquise coloured lake on the Banks of Pangong Lake while appreciating the changing colors and fascinating high altitude of the Lake.

    Overnight at the Tented Camp (B, L, D)

  14. Day 14 Pangong – Leh (Approx. 140 Miles / 225 Kms / 6 hour drive)

    Leh Ladakh

    After breakfast, drive back to Leh, over the Chang La Pass 5,391 meters, it is the fourth highest motorable road in the world.

    (Overnight at the hotel (B, L, D)

  15. Day 15 Leh

    Leh Ladakh

    After breakfast visit the Thiksey Monastery, located on a hill-lock with formidable views of the Indus valley.

    Thiksey is especially noteworthy for its gigantic seated statue of the Maitreya and is also known for its (Dukhang) assembly hall which houses hundreds of rectangular prayer books, stacked between wooden covers and bound in silk.

    After that visit the Stok Palace, situated on the banks of the River Indus, on the outskirts of the city, Stok Palace is a magnificent, three-storey structure. Still the summer home of the royal family of Ladakh, about 12 of its 80 rooms remain functional today.

    The Royal Palace Museum is a must-visit as it displays items like imperial thangka paintings, the king's crown, dresses, coins, perak jewellery pieces adorned with turquoise and lapis lazuli and the queen's ancient turquoise and gold yub-jhur (turquoise-encrusted headpiece) and many religious objects.

    In the afternoon you have free time to explore the Leh Bazaar for some personal shopping as the market has a lot of lovely handicraft shops.

    Overnight at the hotel (B, L, D)

  16. Day 16 Leh - Chumathang – Tso-Moriri (Approx. 149 Miles / 240 Kms / 7 hour drive)


    It’s highly advised that you start from Leh as early as possible, After breakfast leave for Tso-Moriri. A comfortable journey along the Indus upstream till Mahey Bridge passing through many small villages.

    At Mahey we cross the Indus to the right and re-enter a narrow gorge. It's a picturesque drive to Tso-Moriri. Camp at Korzok village next to the lake.

    Evening walk around the Tso-Moriri. The lake is at an altitude of 4,522 m (14,836 ft). It is the largest of the high altitude lakes entirely within India. The lake is fresh water and has many species of migratory birds which makes the lake come alive and on the banks of the lake one can manytimes meet the Changpa tribals who herd the goats that give the world famous Paschmina wool, which is the finest wool in the world. The tribals live in their Rimo tents made of Yak hair.

    Overnight at the Tented Camp (B, L, D)

  17. Day 17 Tso -Moriri –Tso Kar - Lachulung La – Nakee La - Sarchu (Approx. 142 Miles / 228 Kms / 7.5 hour drive)


    After enjoying morning view drive towards Sarchu via TsoKar Lake 88kms from Tso Moriri, the Lake which is at an altitude of 4090 mts, we cross Lachulung La pass (88kms from Taglang La Pass) at 5,065 m, Nakee La pass (20kms from Lachulung La) at 4,739 m, and en-route drive across the More Plains (Biggest and Highest Plateau on Earth on Stretch of 42Kms) continuous drive to Sarchu (37kms). This region is part of the Changthang Plains which stretches across Western Tibet and into Eastern Ladakh.

    Sarchu is the last inhabited point in Himachal Pradesh on the Manali -Leh route- which is regarded as one of the highest highways in the world.

    Overnight at the Tented Camp (B,L,D)

  18. Day 18 Sarchu – Baralacha La Pass – Zing-Zing Bar - Darcha - Jispa - Kelong (Approx. 66 Miles / 107 Kms / 3 hour drive)


    After breakfast drive to Kelong, en-route we cross Baralacha La Pass (40kms from Sarchu) 5,030 m, after we cross Zing-Zing Bar (18kms from Baralacha La pass) 4,270 drive onto Darcha 33kms from Zing-Zing Bar, finally arriving at Jispa (10kms from Darcha).

    We will see the beautiful village of Jispa, The village is situated at the junction of two nullahs with the main river Bhaga. Jispa has a very large dry river-bed, a rarity in Lahaul. The Bhaga River joins the Chandra River to form the Chandra Bhaga River or, the Chenab River, which is one of the five famous rivers that give the name of Punjab (the land of five rivers).

    Later drive to Kelong.

    Rest of the day at leisure or you have an option to visit to Shashur and Gemur monasteries.

    Shashur or Sashur Monastery is a Buddhist monastery of the Drugpa sect in Lahaul and Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, northern India. It is located 137 kilometres from Manali. Sha-shur means "blue pines" in the local dialect, as patches of blue pine can be seen around the monastery.

    Gemur Monastery is a Buddhist gompa, above the village of Gemur, Lahaul and Spiti district, Himachal Pradesh, northern India. It is about 700 m (2,300 ft) on foot from Gemur which is located 18 km upstream from Keylong in the Bhaga River valley, Lahaul. The monastery is around 700 years old.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  19. Day 19 Kelong - Manali (Extension: Keylong-Kaza)

    Manali | Kaza

    Main tour: After breakfast the main tour drive to Manali, en-route we cross the 9.2 kms long Atal Tunnel bored through the Himalayan mountain under the Rohtang Pass. The Rohtang Pass is where the old road taken at the beginning of this safari is located.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

    Extension tour: Drive to Kaza. We drive along the Chandra River over some dirt jeep tracks crossin g streams. On the way we stop over at the Chandra Taal Lake (Lake of the Moon), located at an altitude of 4,295 meters and Kunzumla pass (4500 m) and enjoy the landscape of Spiti valley to the East and the towering peaks of the Bara Shigri Glacier to the West. It is a very sceenic Himalayan drive with snow covered mountains surrounding on all sides. Enter the Spiti Valley and follow the Spiti River to reach the quaint town of Kaza.

    Overnight at hotel (B)



  20. Day 20 Manali – Kullu and Fly To Delhi (Extension: Kaza - Kyi - Kibber – Kaza)

    Delhi | Kaza

    Main tour

    Air India Flight # AI -9806 Bhuntar/Delhi via Chandigarh ETD: 09:30/ETA: 11:50 Hrs.

    After breakfast check-out from the hotel and drive to Bhuntar airport to board the flight to Delhi.

    On arrival at Delhi, check into the hotel.

    Overnight at hotel (B)

    Extension tour

    After breakfast, visit the Kyi monastery and Kibber village. Kyi Gompa is a Gelugpa sect monastery. Its hilltop position points to a post-thirteenth-century construction. The three-storied structure consists largely of storage rooms at the bottom level, while the middle floor houses the Dukhang: the assembly hall while, the uppermost floor has another temple, the head Lama's quarters and on one side an open terrace.

    From here a scenic drive takes us into the pasture country of Kibber. The pastures are spread over hundreds of square kilometers. Kibber is a small village and is the take-off point for the popular trek to Tso Moriri in Ladakh.

    Further up six kilometers from Kibber, we drive up to a charming village of Gete. Consisting of just six houses, it boasts of being the highest village in Asia connected by road. Gete is located at a height of 4,270 meters.

    Drive back to the retreat for lunch and spend the rest of the day at leisure - preferably resting.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  21. Day 21 Extension: Kaza - Dhankar - Tabo - Kaza (Approx. 70 Miles / 112 Kms / 3.5 hour drive)


    After breakfast, move on to see Dhankar monastery. Dhankar, the traditional capital of Spiti, sits pretty on a hilltop. The fort here overlooks the Spiti valley and it was used as a jail in olden days. Today, more than 160 lamas reside here. A statue of Dhyan Buddha is the main attraction of this more than seven-century old monastery.

    Later visit the Tabo Gompa, reputed to be the oldest (an inscription on a wall here indicates, it was founded in AD 996) continuously functioning Buddhist monastery in India and the Himalayas, with its original decoration and iconographic program intact. The monastery complex also includes cave shrines and four decorated stupas.

    Tabo caves is part of the 1000-year-old monastery complex, the spectacular Tabo caves are clearly visible on the hillside. These artificially built caves once served as dwellings for monks who used these to escape the harsh Himalayan winters.

    Today, the monks use these caves for meditation. The caves have narrow openings, which lead to other small recesses and rooms. Holes are carved on the roof of these caves for ventilation purposes. To reach the caves, you would have to hike a distance of approximately 200 meters.

    The Monastery museum from the outside may look like ordinary huts, which are barely withstanding the test of time and harsh climatic conditions. However, when you step inside, you are greeted by a huge statue of Maitreya, thought to be the successor of Gautama Buddha who is yet to arrive. It is said that Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will achieve enlightenment and teach the world pure dharma. The museum also houses historical photos and artifacts collected by the monastery.

    This monastery has one of the most beautiful artworks inside any Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  22. Day 22 Extension: Kaza - Losar - Manali (Approx. 114 Miles / 183 Kms / 5.5 hour drive)


    Drive to Losar, is peaceful, soothing, and absolutely delightful. Your visit to Lahaul and Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh is incomplete if you have not visited this heaven like place, situated near the confluence of Losar and Peeno streams. Losar village in Spiti Valley is located adjacent to the Indo Chinese border at an altitude of 4,085 meters above sea level. It is located in the extreme end of the Spiti Valley, which is much similar to Ladakh in appearance. Further to Manali with first crossing over the Kunzum La pass again and then via the 9.2 kms long Atal Tunnel bored through the Himalayan mountain under the Rohtang Pass. The Rohtang Pass is where the old road taken at the beginning of this safari is located.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  23. Day 23 Extension: Manali – Kullu (Approx. 32 Miles / 51 Kms / 1 hour drive) and Fly To Delhi


    Air India Flight # AI -9806 Bhuntar/Delhi via Chandigarh ETD: 09:30/ETA: 11:50 Hrs.

    After breakfast check-out from the hotel and drive to Bhuntar airport to board the flight to Delhi.

    On arrival at Delhi, check into the hotel.

    Overnight at hotel (B)

  24. Day 24 Optional Agra excursion


    Full day at leisure or you have an option for Agra excursion.

    Agra: Agra has a rich historical background, which is amply evident from the numerous historical monuments in and around the city. The earliest reference for Agra comes from the epical age, when Mahabharata referred Agra as Agravana. In the sources prior to this, Agra has been referred as Arya Griha or the abode of the Aryans. The golden age of the city began with the Mughals. Akbar made it the center of art, culture, commerce and learning. Later, Agra came to its own when Shahjahan ascended to the throne of Mughal Empire. During the peaceful reign of Shah Jahan, his passion for architecture came to the fore and world-famous architectural masterpieces were constructed. He marked the zenith of Mughal architecture, when he built the Taj in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. However, after the reign of Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb (1658-1707), and the gradual disintegration of the empire, the city passed from one invader to another before the British took charge early in the 19th century.

    After breakfast, drive to Agra.

    Visit the imposing Red Fort of Agra (also known as Agra Fort). A creative, architectural, and strategic masterpiece, the Fort is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In a cruel twist, Emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal and whose grandfather built the original Fort and who also assumed the throne himself, was imprisoned here at the end of his life by his own son - in a room looking out on the Taj Mahal across the river.

    Explore the Taj Mahal, the greatest monument of love and one of the wonders of the modern world. Completed in 1652, skilled craftsmen from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy and some 20,000 labourers worked for 22 years to build this edifice, constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal.

    Later drive back to Delhi.

    Overnight at hotel (B)

  25. Day 25 Delhi & Departure


    On time check-out from the hotel and transfer to the Airport to connect with the departure International flight.


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