(10 nights 11 days)
This stunning journey begins in Manali and continues for nearly 500 km through the high Himalayas & over majestic passes to reach Leh. The suggested route ensures gradual acclimatization, so that you reach Leh in fine fettle to enjoy exploring the rest of Ladakh.
- Day 1: Reach Manali (2050 M) or Solang (2600 M) • Board a morning flight from Delhi to reach Kulu Airport around 8AM. Drive 1 ½ hrs to reach Manali.
• Board the morning Kalka Shatabdi to Chandigarh or take a morning flight from Mumbai. Reach Chandigarh around noon. Drive 320 km / 9 hrs to reach Manali at night.
• On the previous evening board a Volvo Coach from Delhi & reach Manali in the morning.
• On the previous night board Himachal Express travel overnight by 2/3 AC to reach Kiratpur Sahib at 0600 hrs. Drive 230 km / 7 hrs to reach Manali in the afternoon.
• Leave at dawn from Delhi and drive 570 km/13 hrs to reach
Stay overnight in a hotel in Manali/Solang
- Day 2: Manali - Jispa (3150 M) 140 km / 7 hrs Leave after an early breakfast and drive across Rohtang to the starkly barren landscape of Lahaul and Ladakh. Reach Jispa by early evening. Avoid strenuous activity but go for a short acclimatization walk. Stay overnight in a campsite & lodge besides the Bhaga River.
- Day 3: Jispa - day hike to Darcha trekking point OR Jispa - Serchu (4253 M) 84 km / 3.5 hrs For gentler, copy book acclimatization it’s best that you spend this day (& night) too in Jispa and do some walking/hiking. This way you also avoid the daunting combination of inclement weather & rudimentary campsites that staying in Serchu entails. So this option is especially suitable if you are travelling with small children, senior citizens and those who haven’t travelled to higher altitude regions in the past. OR Seasoned mountain travelers, hardened adventure seekers and those doing a self-drive/ride trip would find the other option better suited: leave Jispa after a leisurely breakfast and reach Serchu in the afternoon. Stay overnight in tents at a campsite.
- Day 4: Leh 339 Kms / 11 hrs OR Serchu - Leh (3505 M) 255 km /8 hrs Early start carrying packed breakfast. Drive over Baralacha La and then via Serchu, negotiate the hair- rising Gata Loops - 21 back–to-back switchbacks. Cross Naki La (4740 M) & Lachalung La (5060 M); drive through the vast, amazingly stark Moray Plains. Cross Tanglang La (5328 M) and finally reach Leh by evening. OR Leave after breakfast from Serchu and reach Leh by early evening. Stay overnight in a hotel/resort in Leh or its outskirts.
- Day 5: Leh - visit select gompas, monuments & villages in Leh Valley Visit Shey, Thiksey & Hemis Gompas. Later enjoy a Ladakhi meal at a traditional home in Stok Village. Late afternoon and evening at leisure in Leh – see the palace & walk around in the bazaar.
- Day 6: Leh - Nubra Valley at Deskit/Hunder (avg. alt. 3048 M) 140 km / 5 hrs A stunning drive over the mighty Khardung La (5602 M) brings you to the verdant Nubra Valley. Do a ride on the double-humped Bactrian Camels in Hunder and spend sunset at a vantage point near Deskit Gompa. Stay overnight in a hotel in Deskit or in tents at a campsite on the sand dunes of Hunder.
- Day 7: Deskit / Hunder - Turtuk 90 km / 3 hrs Post breakfast drive further north, past the Thoise airstrip to Turtuk - a part of the Balti region of Pakistan till it was annexed by India during the 1971 war. Have a traditional Balti lunch and spend the rest of the day walking around in the village and interacting with the warm & hospitable locals with cherubic European looks- the kids are especially adorable. Overnight in tents at a campsite
- Day 8: Turtuk - Leh 220 kms / 8 hrs Post breakfast retrace you route past via Hunder- Deskit and over Khardung La to reach Leh by early evening. Spend sunset at Shanti Stupa for great views.
- Day 9: Leh - Pangong Tso (4260 M 150 km / 5 hr Leave post breakfast on a great drive over Chang-La (5,475 M / 17950 ft) to reach the grand Pangong lake by late afternoon. Enjoy spectacular views of the mountains of the Changchenmo range to the north, their reflection shimmering in the ever changing blues and greens of the lakes brackish water. Stay overnight in tents at a campsite bang on the lake shore.
- Day 10: Pangong Tso - Hemis - Leh 165 km / 5 ½ hrs Enjoy your early morning cuppa by the lake shore. On the drive back to Leh, take a detour at Karu to see Hemis Gompa. Spend sunset at Shanti Stupa for great views.
- Day 11: Leh - Fly Back Morning transfer to the airport in time for your return flight.
PLEASE NOTE: if you have more days to spare then rafting on the Zanskar/ Indus, and an overnight stay at Tso Moriri are great experiences to add-on.