Current as of: April 25, 2024 - 05:41

Ladakh: Trails of Little Tibet

Ladakh: Trails of Little Tibet Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group
  • Destination: India
  • Programmes: Walking & Trekking
  • Activity Level:

    3 out of 7 - Moderate

  • 14 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 13 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: TGX

Trip Overview

Discover Ladakh, where mighty mountains conceal a culture unlike any other in India

Remote, rugged Ladakh is making a name for itself as a paradise for adventurous walkers. The high-altitude desert region in northern India is flanked by the mighty peaks of the western Himalaya, Karakorum range and Tibetan Plateau and soaked with a history stretching back centuries. Our journey starts with a scenic flight from Delhi past the mighty Himalaya to the regional capital Leh, where we acclimatise and explore the town. We then set off on a fairly gentle trekking adventure, allowing us to marvel at jagged mountain ranges, explore Buddhist monasteries and find out why this culturally rich region has earned the nickname Little Tibet.

At a Glance

  • Six nights in hotels and six nights in lodges and homestays
  • Four days of walking; one half-day walk in Leh
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader and local staff. Minimum age: 16
  • Altitude maximum: 13,392ft (4,082m); average: 11,485ft (3,500m)
  • Full porterage throughout the trek

Highlights

  • Take a sensational flight over the Himalaya
  • Enjoy a short trek through traditional villages and intriguing multi-coloured landscapes
  • Stay in village homestays and local lodges to experience Ladakhi hospitality and learn about the traditional way of life
  • See colourful Tibetan Buddhist monasteries along the Indus and Sham valleys
  • Visit Lamayuru with its lunar landscape and Alchi Monastery with 11th-century paintings

Is This Trip for You?

This tour is graded Activity Level 3 (Moderate). For more on our trip gradings, visit our Activity Level Guidelines page.

It includes a fairly gentle five-day trek (including four days of point-to-point walking plus one optional daywalk). It reaches a maximum altitude of 13,382ft (4,082m) and an average of 11,483ft (3,500m). The trip should be within the capabilities of those who are active and enjoy regular trail/hill walks.

This adventure is a mixture of sightseeing and walking; the short trek takes in the best of the contrasting scenery that the Indian Himalaya offers. The trails are generally well made and we walk for four to six hours each day with frequent stops. We tend to set off early each day to avoid the heat, and usually arrive at our accommodation around lunchtime. The luggage is transferred by vehicle and there will be a backup 4×4 in case you want to spend more time exploring the villages. It can be very hot in Ladakh during summer so we start walking quite early to avoid the heat of the day.

As this trip spends considerable time at altitude, we ask you to refer to the altitude warning within the Trip Notes. We spend three days in Leh (11,483ft/3,500m) before the trek to allow you to acclimatise.

Walking distances and hours stated within the itinerary are given as approximates only. Timings stated exclude lunch and photo stops and will vary depending on the pace of your group.

Why Trek with Exodus?

  • More than 30 years’ experience organising treks in Ladakh.
  • Ask an expert by talking to Exodus office staff who have done the treks themselves.
  • Experienced English-speaking local leaders who are qualified in first aid and trained in recognising and dealing with altitude sickness.
  • All staff (leaders, guides and porters) are fully insured and paid a fair wage.
  • Carefully planned ascent rates and itineraries with built-in acclimatisation and contingency days.
  • Staff carry oxygen and first-aid kit.
  • Self-assessment acute mountain sickness (AMS) cards used to monitor every client at altitude.

Group

There will be an English-speaking local leader who, on trek, will be supported by a local guide, assistant guides, cook team, pony men, plus drivers where needed. Our team of Indian leaders has proved very popular with their incredible knowledge, passion and hospitality adding greatly to the experience. There is no better way to experience Indian culture than letting an Indian guide show you around their country.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 4

Max group size: 16

Itinerary

Ladakh: Trails of Little Tibet

Land Only

  • Start City: Delhi
  • End City: Delhi

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Delhi

Welcome to Delhi, a captivating city full of life and cultural intrigue. To make the start of your adventure easy, free arrival transfers are available for all travellers provided you have supplied your flight details in advance and have requested a transfer.

Depending on your arrival time, you may then have time to explore this electric city. A short taxi drive from our hotel is Karol Bagh Market, where colourful stalls are packed with clothing and jewellery, and Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, a magnificent Sikh temple topped with an onion-shaped gold dome. Alternatively, there is a pretty rock garden within a 10-minute walk from the hotel if you need a stretch of the legs after your flight.

Accommodation: Hotel Deventure (or similar)

Day 2
Fly to Leh; rest of the day to acclimatise

We have a very early start today for the flight to Leh. We sometimes have to leave the hotel around 2am and drive to the airport for the very early morning departure but the spectacular flight over the Himalaya is worth it. Flying straight to the high altitude of Leh (11,485ft/3,500m) can take your breath away (literally) and so we concentrate on acclimatising for the first few days.

In the morning, we rest and catch up on sleep. In the afternoon, there will be a gentle orientation walk of Leh and its bazaars.

Accommodation: Hotel Rafica (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3
Drive to Shey Palace; short walk to Tikse Monastery

Today there is a sightseeing tour to two of the major gompas (Buddhist monasteries) in the area. We first drive to Shey, a former royal palace of the Ladakh kings. Inside is a small temple containing a 350-year-old copper-and-gold statue of the Buddha.

From Shey, we walk across the fields (approximately two hours) on a good, level trail to Tikse, where we visit the hilltop monastery; its red-and-white buildings can be seen for miles. We can explore the temples and courtyards and meet the red-robed monks who live here. In one of the temples, there is a 50ft (15m) high statue of the Future Buddha. We return to Leh in the afternoon with free time to relax.

Accommodation: Hotel Rafica (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 4
Half-day walk to Leh Palace and Sankar Monastery; optional 4WD trip to the Khardung Pass

Today we have an acclimatisation walk around the Leh Valley. Set above Leh on the Namgyal Hill are the ruins of the Old Royal Palace; from here, a winding path takes us to the Tsemo Monastery, where our efforts are rewarded with magnificent views of the whole of Leh and its surrounding villages.

Descending round the back of the palace, we walk via Sankar to the recently built Japanese Peace Pagoda. This huge stupa overlooks Leh and we have stunning views of the town and the Stok mountain range across the valley.

There is the chance today to take an optional 4×4 trip to the nerve-jangling Khardung La, one of the highest motorable roads in the world at 18,379ft (5,602m) above sea level and once a route for Silk Road traders. On a clear day, we enjoy views over the mighty peaks of the Himalaya, including the Ladakh and Karakoram ranges. The journey to the top and back takes roughly four to five hours and can be booked and paid for locally. Your leader will have details (if you do the 4×4 trip, this will be in the morning and you can do a walk in the afternoon).

Accommodation: Hotel Rafica (or similar)

Distance covered: 5mi (8km)

Activity hours: 3hrs to 4hrs

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 5
Drive to Yangtang, visiting Basgo fort and Likir

Well acclimatised, we leave Leh this morning, taking a road west towards Kashmir. We climb out of Leh and descend to the Indus River with great views of the Zanskar River as it meets the mighty Indus. Descending to the village of Nimmu, the road climbs to Basgo village where an old fort and temples seem to be built out of the mud cliffs. Climbing out of Basgo, we take a short stretch of straight road before turning off to Likir, where we can visit the monastery. The gompa is well kept and there is an active school for young monks.

We then drive to Yangtang village (12,083ft/3,683m). Time allowing, we can explore the village and maybe visit the small school or watch the Ladakhis sowing barley and potatoes, the staple crops of these hardy mountain people. From Yangtang, there are wonderful southerly views over the village to the Zanskar mountains beyond.

Accommodation: Village homestay

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6
Start trek to Ullay

We leave Yangtang away from the main trail and head north with spectacular rock formations surrounding us. Ladakh is a mountainous desert and the multi-coloured hills are magnificent in any light.

During the first couple of hours of the walk today, we come across some interesting erosion features, including pinnacles with rock boulders precariously balanced upon them. We get to our accommodation around lunchtime. In the afternoon, there is the chance to walk higher up the valley. This area is well known for ibex, while snow leopards have also been seen here.

Accommodation: Village lodge

Distance covered: 4mi (6km)

Activity hours: 3hr 30min to 4hrs

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7
Cross the Spangpo La to Hemis Shukpachen

We head along an easy trail, climbing to our first pass, the Spangpo La (13,392ft/4,082m), with wonderful views of the hills ahead and down to Hemis Shukpachen (12,018ft/3,663m). This tranquil village with a small gompa, green pastures and a clear stream is a lovely place to stay for the night. In the afternoon, we can visit the monastery and have a look around the village.

Accommodation: Village lodge

Distance covered: 5mi (8km)

Activity hours: 4hr 30min

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8
Cross the Mebtak La and the Lago La to Ang and onto Temisgam

From Hemis Shukpachen, we cross the pastures in a northwesterly direction, skirting the sides of the fields. After a stop at a chorten (a Buddhist shrine), we follow the trail past the mature juniper trees (known locally as shukpa), after which the village is named. The path climbs easily to our first pass today, the Mebtek La (12,454ft/3,796m), from where we can admire the pink and mauve mountains ahead.

We descend into the next valley and the trail ahead can just be made out as it zig-zags up the mountainside in the distance. The path winds up to the Lago La (12,572ft/3,832m) and from the top there are magnificent views across to the south side of the Indus Valley. The trail descends steeply from the pass to the village of Ang. This area is regarded as the richest in Ladakh and fields of barley, potatoes and orchards provide more than adequate food for these villages.

From Ang, it is an easy walk (although it can be hot and dusty) along the 4×4 track to Temisgam (10,682ft/3,256m). This is the largest, most prosperous village on the trek with fertile fields, spreading apple and apricot orchards, and large, white-washed Ladakhi homes, plus castle ruins and temples you can visit.

Accommodation: Village homestay

Distance covered: 8mi (13km)

Activity hours: 5

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9
Trek to Khalsi, crossing Bong Bong La and drive to Lamayuru

The size and wealth of Temisgam becomes evident as we continue our hike through the village to the foot of Bong Bong La (11,910ft/3,630m), our last pass. As we hike up, we gain wide views of the Sham Valley, with streams and the Tia Monastery in the background. From here, it goes down to the nearest road to Khalsi. Now it’s time to say goodbye to our trekking crew and the other employees before we are picked up and driven to Lamayuru. Shortly before the evening falls, we can get to know the village on a short walk.

Accommodation: Lodge

Distance covered: 9mi (14km)

Activity hours: 5hrs to 6hrs

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10
Drive to Alchi

In the morning, we visit the 11th-century Lamayuru Monastery, which houses more than 150 monks and some of the largest thangas (traditional Buddhist paintings) in the world. On the subsequent journey, we cross one of the most extraordinary landscapes in Ladakh, which is called Moon Land due to the forms of erosion and unusual colours. We reach Alchi in the afternoon, take a leisurely stroll through the village in the evening and see many barley fields, apple orchards and apricot trees.

Accommodation: Lodge

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11
Alchi Monastery and drive to Leh

We visit the Alchi Monastery this morning, a fascinating complex said to have been built around the 11th century by the Tibetan translator Richen Zangpo. Where other gompas in Ladakh are built on hilltops, Alchi was constructed on the plains with exquisite architecture including a Kashmiri-style assembly hall and wall paintings depicting Ladakh kings in an intriguing combination of Buddhist and Kashmiri styles. After our vist, we drive to Leh and arrive in the afternoon.

Accommodation: Hotel Rafica (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12
Fly to Delhi

We fly from Leh to Delhi. The rest of the day is free for individual sightseeing. You may want to visit the colourful bazaars and the Red Fort in the heart of Old Delhi or visit some of the Mogul monuments dotted around this ancient city.

Accommodation: Hotel Deventure (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 13
End Delhi

Your journey in India ends after check-out from the hotel. Free departure transfers are available for any flight, provided you have supplied your flight details in advance. Alternatively, speak to your sales representative about joining our five-day post-trip extension taking in the Golden Triangle: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. This extension can also be done before the tour.

Meals included: Breakfast

Post-trip Extensions

Golden Triangle extension

A visit to the incredible Taj Mahal and other great Moghul cities close to Delhi is an excellent way to begin or end a visit to northern India. The five-day Golden Triangle extension may be booked before or after your main itinerary or both options might be available depending on the trip start and end location. The Taj Mahal in Agra was built by the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631, and is one of the most beautiful sights on earth. Close by is the imposing Red Fort of Akbar with its beautiful courtyards and palaces and let’s not forget the deserted royal city of Fatehpur Sikri. The extension also visits the pink city of Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan, which is one of the most attractive and colourful cities in India. The detailed itinerary and if pre or post tour is available can be found here.

Please ask your sales representative for more details. Prices listed are starting prices.

Price per person

£ 549


Mandatory Single Supplement

£ 190

Altitude warning

This trip includes one or more nights over 11,480ft (3,500m) above sea level, where there is a genuine risk of being affected by acute mountain sickness (AMS). If left untreated, AMS can be life-threatening. We expect most clients to experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headaches, shortness of breath while walking or sleeplessness. Our leaders are trained to identify symptoms of severe AMS and if a client requires extra care, arrangements such as rapid descent, will be made immediately.

On some days, this trip climbs faster than commonly published ascent-rate recommendations. Based upon an assessment by our external safety and medical advisors and our risk-assessment process, we consider the ascent rate acceptable due to the additional safety measures in place for our customers. All our trips operating at high altitude meet our internal altitude-safety standards, which minimise the risk of serious incidents occurring while travelling at altitude.

Several medical conditions or medications can reduce your body’s ability to acclimatise. This may affect your performance and make you more susceptible to AMS. If you are worried about any pre-existing conditions, such as heart conditions, or your overall physical ability, you must seek medical advice prior to booking. The drug Diamox (also known as acetazolamide and normally only available on prescription) has been shown to aid acclimatisation in some individuals, and therefore may reduce the risk of AMS. Clients considering using Diamox should speak to their doctor about the drug, its side-effects and a prescription. While we endeavour to assist all our clients in achieving their goals, there may be times when your leader decides to delay or stop your ascent based on your overall condition or the onset of AMS.

If you are not taking out Exodus Travel Insurance, make sure your policy covers you up to the maximum altitude on this trip (if trekking in the Himalaya your policy should also cover the use of a helicopter for emergency medical evacuation).

Please note: It is possible the order of the itinerary listed above will be changed to ensure the best possible conditions for each activity during the trip. All listed activities and services will be included. Your leader will inform you of any changes locally after assessing conditions.

Ascents, descents and distances

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders, in many cases with satellite-based mapping software. Please note, different GPS measuring devices can give differing results, particularly on winding paths or in mountainous terrain. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter. Timings stated will vary depending on the pace of your group.

Accommodation

Hotels, lodges and homestays

Ladakh Homestay, India

We spend six nights in hotels and four nights in lodges and homestays.

In Delhi, we use a standard hotel with air-conditioned rooms. In Leh, we stay in a standard hotel, close to the market and town centre. All rooms in Delhi and Leh have private bathrooms. There is wifi available in Leh; however, there is no coverage for international phones in Ladakh.

During the trek, we stay in a mix of homestays and lodges. Homestays offer an authentic experience of village life, allowing you to immerse in Ladakhi culture, lifestyles, hospitality, food and drinks. Homestays directly empower and benefit the community as well as the environment, while giving visitors the chance to experience the true Ladakhi culture. They enable a constant flow of travellers to rural economies, creating multiple livelihood opportunities for local people. At some locations on the trek, we also use lodges. These are also run by local people but are slightly more comfortable than a homestay. Homestays and lodges generally provide common/shared Western toilets and showers, although shared squat toilets may be the only option in some locations.

The quality of food in homestays and lodges can vary, so we carry our kitchen with us including the cook and the helpers to provide full-service meals during the trek.

Single rooms can be accommodated in Delhi and Leh for a supplement (subject to availability); however, single rooms are difficult to guarantee at the homestay and lodges so, if available, an additional supplement charge can be paid locally. Please enquire at the time of booking.

Single supplement from £ 315

Food & Drink

All breakfasts, five lunches and six dinners are included.

Indian food is highly regarded and there is ample chance to try traditional Ladakhi cuisine, which was influenced by Silk Road traders from Tibet and China. Don’t miss the delicious and popular snacks momos (dumplings) or yak cheese. Also try thukpa, a clear vegetable soup with noodles and often mutton, chicken or yak meat; tingmo (pronounced tee-mo), steamed bread eaten with dal; and a favourite found in most restaurants, chutagi, a thick soup of local vegetables and bow tie-shaped pieces of dough cooked in the broth (also served with meat).

Allow at least 1,600-2,000 rupees (approximately US$20-US$25) per day for lunch and dinner (where not included). You can eat out very cheaply in India, but if you go to the more expensive restaurants most of the time, you will spend more than the suggested amount. Please note, service in restaurants can be quite slow. Tea and soft drinks are very cheap. A (large) bottle of beer is approximately 300 rupees (approximately US$4).

While camping, the staff bring a hot drink (usually tea) to your tent each morning. When you reach camp in the afternoon, tea and biscuits are served. At breakfast, dinner and in the afternoons, there is a choice of hot drinks. Breakfasts typically include cereal, toast and jam, eggs and porridge. Lunch on trek is usually served as a picnic en route (except on shorter days when it is in camp). Lunch and dinner typically include soup to start, followed by a variety of hot dishes (both local and Western) such as potatoes/chips, vegetables, curry, pasta, rice, dal and paneer (cottage cheese). At dinner, a dessert such as tinned fruit and custard, fritters or cake is also served.

Please note, although some meals include meat, it is not as readily available while camping.

Drinking water

Staying hydrated is important when undertaking any physical activity but particularly so at altitude where it is generally recommended to drink at least 100floz-135floz (3l-4l) per person per day.

We strongly encourage you not to buy bottled water as this contributes to the growing problem of plastic pollution in Ladakh. In Leh, there is a shop called Dzomsa that sells safe drinking water. Your leader will show you where this is on your first day in Leh. The Leh hotel provides safe filtered drinking water.

During the trek, the cooks will collect and boil drinking water from the mountain streams and fill up your water bottles for you, but you may need to collect water during the day and may wish to use your own water purification treatment as well. We suggest you bring a reusable bottle with a wide opening (Nalgene or similar) with you and use a SteriPEN (a handheld UV water purifier) or purification tablets to treat any non-boiled water.

Transport

Depending on the time of day, we either use taxis or a private bus for transfers in Delhi (during busy times, such as morning rush hour, taxis are preferable to negotiate the busy narrow streets). In and around Leh and for the drive to Yangtang and to and from Alchi, we use a private minibus, 4x4s or taxis. For the trek section, there will be a support vehicle, usually a 4WD. For the flights to and from Leh, we use one of the airlines operating within India.

Weather & Seasonality

The weather is generally good in Ladakh during summer, with warm to very hot sunny days (up to 30C/86F and sometimes above 35C/95F) with cooler nights depending on the altitude. There is, however, the possibility of rain, and you should be prepared for this. The sun is very strong at these altitudes and some of the days on trek can be extremely hot.

Ladakh, though technically part of the Tibetan Plateau and classified as a high-altitude desert, occasionally experiences the effects of the Indian monsoon. Although the departures are timed to coincide when the weather is normally good, remember that in any mountain area the weather is never wholly predictable and you should be prepared and equipped to deal with any differences in weather beyond the conditions described above.

Summer in Delhi is very hot and humid.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start hotel: Hotel Deventure, Bp -11, Opposite Metro Pillar No 221, New Delhi 110002, India
Phone: +91 99961 17770
Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL)

Getting to the start hotel

The start hotel is approximately 35 minutes’ drive from the airport. Exodus provides free arrival transfers to the start hotel from the airport for all customers. If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.

Catching your return flight

Exodus provides free departure transfers for all customers to Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) from the end hotel.

Please note, unless specified otherwise, the transfers will be to the start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers should be booked with your sales representative at least two weeks before the tour starts.

Leh flight delays

Leh Airport sometimes experiences adverse weather conditions and fog, which can occasionally cause flights to be delayed or cancelled. If booking your own flights, we advise you to book your international flight home from Delhi departing no sooner than mid‐afternoon/evening on the last day of the itinerary. Please also be aware that should you miss your international flight as a result of delays from Leh, your insurance may not cover you for any additional expenses incurred.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Delhi
Location end: Delhi

Free Transfers

Exodus offers free airport arrival and departure transfers on any flight for this trip. Unless specified otherwise, the transfer will be to the start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel, and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers may be shared with other Exodus customers on the same flight, or on a flight with similar arrival times. All those taking advantage of the free airport transfers must provide full flight details for both arrival and departure in advance.

What To Take

Essential Equipment

There is a weight limit of 33lb (15kg) checked baggage plus 15lb (7kg) hand luggage on the flights to/from Leh. You will be restricted to 26lb (12kg) of luggage on trek for porterage. There are left luggage facilities in Delhi and Leh. Please note, many Indians are still traditional in the way they dress. Out of respect for the country, we ask you to dress conservatively – no sleeveless tops. Although shorts are acceptable, they should be modest and reach to just above the knee; a skirt or trousers (pants) are preferable.

  • Three-season sleeping bag (liner optional)
  • Warm jacket
  • Lightweight waterproof walking boots (worn in)
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers (pants)
  • Trekking sandals for sightseeing and evenings
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves
  • Several pairs of walking socks (not too thick and preferably with wicking properties)
  • Comfortable wear/tracksuit
  • Mid layer (fleece)
  • T-shirts/shirts/base layers
  • Lightweight trousers (pants)
  • Shorts or skirt for women
  • Sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve with sun protection
  • Daypack
  • Head torch (headlamp)
  • Refillable water bottle/water bladder (also known as a hydration pack/CamelBak, which are useful for rehydrating on the go)
  • Water purification treatment (tablets/Steripen)
  • Plastic bags (bin liners) to line daypack and for packing clothing in the kitbag
  • Small towel for trek
  • Hand sanitizer gel
  • Mini toiletries – preferably refillable bottles (biodegradable soap/shampoo)
  • Toilet paper
  • Small personal first-aid kit

Please note: The Indian government has banned e-cigarettes and related products. You cannot buy e-cigarettes in India or bring them into the country. Please ensure you do not pack these in your luggage.

Equipment Hire

Duvet jackets and sleeping bags are available for hire from Trek Hire UK. Trek Hire UK can also provide a range of trekking essentials and accessories, from rucksacks to trekking poles. Please note that supplies are limited, and it is advisable to reserve any equipment as early as possible. For trips to Kilimanjaro, Nepal and Peru, certain items such as duvet jackets, sleeping bags and thick mattresses (mattresses not available in Nepal) can be hired through our local agents. For Kilimanjaro and Nepal trips these must be pre-booked through the Exodus office to ensure availability. For trips to Peru there is no need to pre-book these as they can be arranged locally through your tour leader in Cuzco. Please call for details.

Environmental considerations

We believe in reducing our negative environmental impact wherever possible, even when nature calls. If no facilities are available, you may need to go behind a tree, bush or rock. To avoid leaving toilet paper behind, we recommend taking biodegradable bags with you. Once you have done your business, put the used paper in the bag and dispose when appropriate facilities are available.

Optional Equipment

  • Trekking pole(s)
  • Umbrella (for sun/rain)

Exodus kitbag

If you book this trip, we provide an Exodus kitbag to pack your luggage in while on trek. Once you have booked, you will be sent instructions on how to claim your free bag (they are not sent automatically). Please note, if you book less than three weeks before the departure date, we cannot guarantee your kitbag will arrive before your trip starts. If this is the case, please contact us on customerops@exodus.co.uk (or customeroperations@exodustravels.com if you’re based in the US or Canada). See www.exodus.co.uk/kitbags for full T&Cs.

Practical Information

Visa

To avoid possible problems at immigration, make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of entry into India.

Travellers from the UK, US, CA and EU normally need a visa to enter India. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

• Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/asia/india
• Canada: www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/india
• United Kingdom: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india/entry-requirements
• USA: www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/India.html

Travellers eligible for an e-visa, which includes those from the UK, US, CA and EU, can apply at www.indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html.

Please note: If your trip visits Ladakh, in the very north of India, or Sikkim in the northeast, do not mention this on your Indian visa application. This can sometimes slow down or even cause the embassy to reject your visa.

For more information on applying for your Indian Visa, including details required for your start hotel and local reference contacts, please click on this link: Indian Visa Information

Vaccinations and Health

India

There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for tetanus, hepatitis A, typhoid, cholera, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, rabies and tuberculosis. The risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your doctor or travel clinic for further advice.

You will also require a yellow fever vaccination certificate if arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. Proof of a polio vaccination may also be required by some travellers. Please confirm all requirements and recommendations with your doctor or travel clinic.

Additionally, dengue, a viral disease spread by mosquitoes, is a known risk in India. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, so we strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Some of our India trips spend time at altitude. In regions over approximately 6,560ft (2,000m), there is little risk of mosquito-borne diseases. For trips above 9,840ft (3,000m), there is a risk of being affected by acute mountain sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please see the Trip Notes for further information.

The risk of malaria on this trip is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Local Time

India's time zone: Asia/Kolkata (UTC +05:30)

Electricity

There are recharging facilities at all the hotels in Delhi and Leh. In Leh, the electricity supply is not 100 percent reliable but it is usually only off for short periods of time. While on trek, there are no charging facilities and you will need to bring spare batteries, a solar charger, or power bank if you wish to recharge anything.

Ladakh: Trails of Little Tibet

Money

India's currency: Indian rupee (INR). Please note, it is illegal to import or export rupees. Do not accept torn or very dirty Indian banknotes from banks or in change as they will almost certainly not be accepted as legal tender in India. You can normally change money back from rupees into US dollars or British pounds at the departure airport, but you must produce an exchange receipt showing that you changed money in India.

ATM Availability

There are ATMs in Delhi and a few in Leh. Please do not rely wholly on ATMs as often they are broken or run out of cash and there is a maximum amount per day that any one machine will dispense. We recommend you change all the money you need for the trip before leaving Delhi. Credit cards are accepted in larger shops in Delhi and Leh.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

You are advised to bring most of your money in cash as you cannot change travellers cheques in India. It makes no difference whether you bring British pounds or US dollars. You can change your money on arrival at Delhi airport but the rates tend to be very poor at the airport so we recommend changing cash either in the Delhi hotel or at the money exchange kiosks in Leh.

Apart from the extra food, you should allow approximately 500 rupees (US$7) a day for drinks and incidentals, more if you enjoy a few beers, as these are comparatively expensive in India. Most monasteries in Ladakh charge a small entrance fee that goes towards the upkeep of the building. These may add up to about 800 rupees (approximately US$10) in total.

On trek there is not much to spend your money on, but in Leh and Delhi there is a wealth of souvenirs, trinkets etc.

India has very good opportunities for shopping, especially for locally made goods, and in Delhi local guides may well offer to take you to emporiums and workshops where these goods are made. Many people find this a great opportunity to buy local handicrafts, silk, jewellery and carpets. Guides will often assume visitors will want to go shopping, it is part of the culture; however, if you do not wish to go, please make this clear to your local guide at the time.

Tipping

Tipping is customary in India, but it can be an awkward affair especially when you are not familiar with the country. Your leader will help with tipping and will provide a list of suggested tips. This will include tips for drivers, hotel porters and other hotel staff, local sightseeing guides, and includes camp staff such as guides, assistants, cooks and pony men. Sometimes your leader will collect a kitty during the trip and sometimes they will collect the tips towards the end of the trip (occasionally for very small groups the leader may need to collect a little more than the suggested amount). We suggest you allow 7,000 rupees total (approximately US$85) per person for this trip.

Tipping of leaders is not included in the kitty and is at your own discretion. If you wish to show your appreciation, a total tip around 2,000-3,000 rupees (US$25-US$35) per person would be appreciated. Please try to tip in local currency.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that improve life for the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

There are many community projects in Ladakh that Exodus has set up or supported over the years. Some examples include helping to rebuild houses and schools and providing materials to build a flood barrier following devastating flooding in 2007 and setting up a flood relief appeal following mudslides in 2010. In 2021, we launched our Covid Emergency Relief Appeal to raise funds to provide support to our trekking staff in Ladakh.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food, and supporting other local enterprises.
  • The hotels we stay in are dedicated to hiring local staff, this helps to benefit the surrounding community by providing employment opportunities and income alternatives where they may be otherwise hard to come by.
  • This tour uses a mix of camping and homestays, which provides income for local families and is a wonderful opportunity for our guests to interact with local people and share aspects of their culture and traditions.
  • The Exodus Covid Emergency Relief appeal was launched in 2021 and provided food and health essentials for guides, cooks, pony men and other trekking staff for several months.
  • Our Himalayan Community Project is undertaking a wide range of initiatives to support local development.

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • Read about our commitment to nature protection and restoration here including our rewilding commitment for every customer who travels.
  • By travelling in a small group led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regard to working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for reusable bottles.
  • Paper bags are used as an alternative to single-use plastics whenever possible on this trip.
  • Through the Exodus Kickstart Project funding, fruit trees are being planted in villages in Ladakh to provide income and protect biodiversity.

Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about our climate action here, including our carbon reduction and compensation commitments.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • This trip favours locally owned and run accommodation.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own reusable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided in Leh at the hotel. On trek, safe boiled water will be provided.

Cultural respect

  • Sometimes local people may object to being photographed, so please ask first.
  • It’s polite to use only your right hand when eating something without cutlery and when handing money and small objects to someone else.
  • Dress modestly to be polite and avoid stares. Do not wear tight or sheer clothing and it is preferable to have shoulders covered and skirts or shorts below the knee.
  • When visiting a sacred site, sleeveless tops and shorts are not acceptable for women or men and you need to remove your shoes. You are permitted to wear socks in most places of worship. Take your hat off before entering temples.
  • Religious etiquette also includes not touching anyone on the head or directing the soles of your feet at a person, religious shrine, or deity. You should also not touch a carving of a deity.
  • It is common practice to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home and you should tuck feet under if sitting on the floor.
  • Making the effort to fit in is invariably appreciated so being aware of these aspects of cultural respect will assist you during your travels in Ladakh.

This trip goes near an area deemed unsafe to visit by the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, whose advice we follow when operating our trips. While our itinerary doesn’t go to these areas, you should familiarise yourself with your local government’s advice if you are planning any pre- or post-trip travel. Any independent travel to areas currently against your local government advice is entirely at your own risk and unlikely to be covered by your travel insurance.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.