4 - 12
On this Ladakh hiking tour, you will experience breathtaking mountain scenery, discover the history of ancient kingdoms and visit the bustling market in Leh.
The Ladakh region, known as “Little Tibet” or “ Land beyond the Passes” is one of the most remote areas of India, lying to the north of the Himalayas on the Tibetan Plateau. On this trekking adventure, we will visit many of the incredible Tibetan monasteries, palaces and local people’s homes in the region.
Ladakh is far removed from the disputed and troubled region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan, and is a fantastic opportunity to experience the area; join us on this breathtaking hiking tour and experience this peaceful way of life beneath the snow-capped mountains.
(Available as a small group tour or tailor-made holiday)
Beginning the tour in Leh, we visit several centuries-old functioning monasteries and the monks, beginning our trek from Ridzong. It is a short and easy route that seldom goes over 4000m. We will pass through many medieval villages on the way experiencing their temples, libraries and the unchanged lifestyle of the locals in their fields and homes.
This high mountain region has remained isolated for centuries to the outside world due to its inaccessibility. From high altitude lakes surrounded by snow capped mountains we head down into remote valleys dotted with lush meadows and spectacular ochre coloured rocky landscape that changes its mood along with the light. You can even go white water rafting. This is truly the road less travelled.
3 star hotel
Leh is 3500m above sea level so the body needs time to acclimatise to the lower pressure and relative lack of oxygen (for further information please reference the Essential Information on our Ladakh pages).
Gentle exercise and plentiful hydration is the best way to spend the first day.
Flights arrive mid to late morning, so after lunch we’ll spend the afternoon resting, meandering through the small streets of the town, exploring shops filled with prayer flags and Buddhist trinkets, drinking mint tea or hot lemon and honey, and trying the local momos. We will enjoy our first dinner as a group at the hotel this evening.
Recommended flights: we recommend flying via Delhi the day before, and spending a night in Delhi. We are happy to help you with this: booking you a suitable hotel for your stopover in Delhi, arranging the transfers to and from the airport. Please contact us about this by email or add it as an add-on to your trip (see below).
3 star hotel
Some of the most colourful and interesting monasteries in the world are situated close to Leh, so while we are still acclimatising, we spend day 2 visiting three of them.
We take a quiet country road to the Sashi Zampa – a bridge over the Indus River – and take a short walk to visit Shay Monastery. Following this we go just a few miles down the valley to Thiksey Monastery. Modelled on the Potala Palace in Tibet, Thiksey is a large collection of buildings which cascade down the hillside, and house a large collection of well preserved murals and paintings. The magnificent Maitreya Buddha is housed in one of the temples and is three storeys high.
If we have time we will also fit in a visit to Shey Palace and climb up to the huge Buddha & stupa. On our return to Leh we have a further chance to rest and acclimatise or enjoy the hustle and bustle of the town. Some may have the energy to explore the market.
Today we get to stretch our legs properly - testing how they feel at altitude. After breakfast we walk up through the village and ascend the many steps (565!) to Shanti Stupa – the startlingly bright white monument overlooking the town. As well as being extremely beautiful and photogenic, it offers panoramic views across the Leh, valley and across to the Stok mountain range dominated by the peak of Stok Kangri. We walk through the old villages that have been swallowed up by Leh - it feels rural, ancient and very quiet.
From here we can continue to Tsemo Palace, worth it for the views alone, and then take on the steep descent to Leh Palace. On our return to Leh we have the afternoon at leisure with a further chance to rest and acclimatise as required. The day’s walk and visits take approximately 4 hours.
We reluctantly leave Leh, Alchi bound. The 12th Century Alchi monastery contains unique Kashmiri artwork on its statues and intricate wooden carvings: enjoy the wonderful ancient buildings, murals, medals and thankas on show. We spend the night in Alchi in small homestay or guesthouse depending on availability.
From our accommodation in Alchi, we drive to Rizong (around 30 mins) in a peaceful and beautiful valley and, before our trek, we make a brief visit to the Monastery and nunnery. This monastery is known for its strict order of monks, who only possess their books and robes.
We begin our trek from the monastery with a very pleasant walk to the village of Yangthang. Our path starts as a jeep track but soon becomes a single track path along the edge of the River Utley. We head up to the high plateau where Yangtang Village is situated (3670m).
In a 2.5hr walk before stopping for lunch, we drop down to cross the river, followed by a long climb up to the pass of Tsermanchanla at 3910m. We then descend gently for around an hour to the large village of Hemis Shukpachen at 3596m (Hemis of the Juniper Trees). We are likely to meet children walking to school in the morning. We will visit some typical village homes in the afternoon with an opportunity to learn more about the local culture.
Today is a longer day on foot and is all about undulating! Crossing farmland we leave the village and head west, to a gradual climb up and over our first small pass about an hour into our walk. We then descend steeply to a dry and dusty valley before some long zig zags (around 300m ascent) to our 2nd pass of the day, with great views, Mebtak La, at 3840m. From here we enjoy a long (90min) meander down to the fertile village of Ang, hopefully stopping at a small campsite with a tea tent en route!
A rough jeep track guides us, in around an hour, to the prosperous village of Tingmosgang - 3250m - which was once the ancient capital of Ladakh and one of the largest in the area. The ruins of the castle and small temple dominate the landscape here above Tingmosgang and are well worth a visit in the evening.
3 star hotel
If you didn't get to see the monastery on the hill above Tingmosgang yesterday, then there is the option of doing that this morning. It is the site of an ancient palace and well worth the several hundred steps up!
From Tingmosgang we walk up through the village on the opposite side of the hill from Tingmosgang, and take the long easy switchbacks up to the Bongbong La pass at 3580m which is a perfect place to stop for a snack.
Our descent to the village of Bhalukhar takes us through a lovely hanging valley and down some steep zigzags to where we meet with our vehicles (around 3000m altitude).
The drive back to Leh takes around 1.5hrs, so leaves some time for optional souvenir shopping and compulsory celebration of all we have seen and done, on our final evening.
All good things must come to an end and today you enjoy your last breakfast in Ladakh. Transfers are arranged for your flight out of Leh Airport, connecting in Delhi for flights home.
To get to Leh, you will no doubt have to travel via Delhi. We recommend flying via Delhi the day before, and spending a night in Delhi. We are happy to help you with this: booking you a suitable hotel for your stopover in Delhi, arranging the transfers from the airport, and back again the next day ready for your journey onwards to Leh.
Single rooms are available on a first come, first served basis, however, due to the nature of the accommodation we are using on this adventure, there are some nights where single rooms are not possible, so the supplement price reflects this (it varies depending on the season, so please check with us if you are not sure). We will charge on a pro-rata basis if a single room is not available to book for part of the trip where it would have been possible.
Carbon Compensation is not the perfect solution, and it is important to first reduce our carbon emissions as much as we can, yet trees remain an excellent natural technology to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow global warming.
For every client and guide who attends a YellowWood Adventure, we donate £30 to our partner charity WeForest to plant 15 trees to (over) compensate for the carbon footprint of the tour.
We also invite our clients to match this with an optional additional £30 for another 15 trees to be planted to help compensate for the carbon footprint of their international flights.
WeForest run many tree planting and tree maintenance projects such as this seedling nursery in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil and many other projects in other countries including Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania & India.
Click Here to find out more about their amazing projects around the world.
We fully believe in, and practice, Responsible Tourism and use hotels run by locals. We put time and effort into building our relationship with them to ensure you have a a great trip.
This accommodation on this adventure involves both hotel and homestays. We choose accommodation based on cleanliness, comfort, safety, proximity to our route (to avoid unnecessary extra travel), and a warm client welcome, as well as reliability in their service to us. Some hotels will be basic, and in modern buildings and or in towns. Wherever we can, we will choose smaller more characterful, individual hotels, but in areas where tourism is still developing, this may not be available.
An aspect of our adventures is to escape the ‘trappings’ of modern Western lifestyles and to experience new things which is exciting and memorable, and reflects the countries we are visiting.
This is adventure travel and on occasion the advertised services at a hotel (eg wifi, or hot showers!) may not be functional on our arrival. This tends to occur in the smaller, more remote hotels, guest houses or camps. Very rarely a hotel lets us down and we are required to find alternative suitable accommodation that might not be our first choice.
The list below gives information on our first choice of accommodation for this adventure. Where hotels and refuges are fully booked or unavailable, we will use an alternative of a similar standard, and equally well situated. We will provide you with an accurate list of accommodation, with contact information to leave with relatives, prior to departure on your adventure.
Leh Hotel (4 nights): We stay in a tourist hotel close to the centre of town. Hotels in Leh are simple and usually have en suite rooms, with breakfast and evening meals served in the hotel’s dining room. Eg Snowland Hotel (www.hotelsnowland.co.in). Single supplement £150.
Alchi & trek (4 nights): We will stay in small local homestays and guest houses in the villages that we are passing through. Local farmers have diversified to accommodate tourists and improve their income, and homestays are a wonderful way to see village life.
Not all homestay accommodation will be en-suite but many now have western style toilets with sinks and running water, and there are hot shower facilities in some. Others may be more rustic and offer long drop toilets and bucket showers. Bedding is usually supplemented by plenty of warm blankets for chilly evenings. Food is usually excellent and plentiful. Electricity supplies are usually not! There may be limited mobile signals, if any.
Supporting you on your holiday will be a minimum of 2 experienced, approachable and knowledgeable guides; one from the UK YellowWood team, and an in-country local guide who will be with us for the duration of the holiday.
This ensures you the perfect balance of information and support on your trip, with your Ladakhi guides offering insight into local life and customs, as well as routes during walking excursions, whilst your YellowWood guide ensures the smooth running of your adventure.
Your group will be any number from our minimum group size of 4, up to a maximum of 12 clients. This number works really well with the ratio of guides, and ensures an optimal level of service to you during your adventure.
We get clients booking alone, as couples and in small groups of friends. If you have a larger group of friends or family who are interested in having their own customised trip, then please let us know and we can cost it out for you. Our links with in-country travel experts often mean that we can assist you in developing a personalised itinerary.
You are visiting the Himalaya, and although you will only be walking through valleys between the mountains, you will be walking at altitude between 3000 and 4000m.
Distances walked vary between 6km and 16km, with up to 500m of ascent during the day.
To get the most of out of this adventure, you therefore need to be a regular walker and in good physical condition. You do not need to be experienced in trekking, however. Any hiking is undertaken at the natural pace of the group, with regular stops.
You will be carrying just a day pack with bottle of water, your packed lunch and basics.
As with all active holidays, the fitter you are, the more you can relax and enjoy the stunning route, and the better you can cope with challenges such as the outside elements.
Clients are advised to get into a regular walking pattern before the trip as convenient.
NB: If you have bought new hiking boots for this adventure, this is the right time to wear them in, not on the trip itself.
Your YellowWood adventure starts at the airport in Leh. We understand that arriving into an unfamiliar airport can be very daunting, so we aim to give you as much information here as possible, to help you prepare.
Flights are not included in the cost of your holiday, and whilst we are happy to help advise you, responsibility for booking the correct flights rests with you. We recommend that you use a comparison tool such as www.momondo.co.uk or www.skyscanner.net when searching for flights. We will send you a Flight Information Sheet with further pointers on which flights to book for your adventure.
For the latest travel advice from the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. We also receive notifications direct from the FCDO so we are always aware of the ‘status’ in our destination countries.
Leh Airport is a military airport on the outskirts of the town, only a ten minute drive from the main centre. It is a very small airport which only caters for 200 or so people at a time, and therefore has only very basic facilities – a new civilian terminal is being built and was expected to open in 2020 but in the meantime please remember you’re in a military airbase and not to take any photos!
You will need to fill out a disembarkation form on the plane or in the terminal (in any case, before you leave the terminal) and go through passport control.
Once through, collect your baggage and make your way in to arrivals where you will be met by your Yellowwood Guide (look out for a Yellowwood sign!) and a local driver for transport to your hotel.
Toilets are available in arrivals, though you might need your own toilet paper.
On arrival at your hotel you will be welcomed and have time to settle in to your room. Once the group have arrived (they may be on a variety of different flights), you will have lunch and a trip briefing, followed by a leisurely walk around Leh to kickstart your trip and point out the key facilities – ATMs, currency exchange, internet access and the best coffee!
Holiday insurance is essential for all Yellow Wood Adventures. Unfortunately anyone without insurance is not able to take part in the holiday, so please make sure you arrange cover. We recommend sorting your insurance when you book so that if you have problems during the run up to your holiday, and need to cancel, you are covered, particularly in the light of effects that the pandemic has had on travel.
Prior to the holiday, we will ask you to send us details of your insurer, policy number, 24 hr emergency assistance contact details and the name, address, and telephone numbers of your NOK or persons to be notified in the event of an emergency.
Your insurance needs to cover you for hiking /trekking (and horse riding if you are going to be doing this) with the following fairly standard inclusions:
We would also recommend that you have cover for the following optional items:
For information on Ladakh, such as climate, weather, language, social norms, food & drink etc, please have a read of our Country specificinformation.
Ross & Zenobia Barritt
Hiking the High Monasteries of Ladakh (prev. Ladakh Mountain Adventure), 2019
All adventures can be tailored as private bespoke trips.
Please contact us for more information:
+44 207 846 0197
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This payment is due 56 days before departure date (we send reminders).
Contact us with any questions about your adventure or booking.
+44 207 846 0197
To help you choose the right adventure for you, we have given each itinerary a grading that relates to the level of Walking / Trekking you will experience during the trip. This grading can be found on the Yellow map on the adventure page of the website.
All of our trips involve a level of general activity so are designed for people who are in good health, enjoy the outdoors, and have a taste for adventure and some level of fitness. As will be clear from our destinations, the climate (and altitude) may be different to that which you are used to, so please take this into consideration when choosing the most suitable holiday.
Please read our Adventure Itinerary & Essential Information for more information and don't hesitate to contact us if you would like to chat through whether you have found a suitable adventure for you.
You need to be in good physical health to enjoy your active holiday, but you don’t need to be an experienced hiker. These itineraries offer a mix of sightseeing and easier walking for around 2-4hrs a day, with the emphasis on sights and cultural experiences.
Walks will be well marked or on defined pathways, and often around sites of interest. The expected amount of descent/ascent will depend on the landscapes of the destination, but will not exceed 400m/day, and will often be much less. Walks are at low altitude (below 3000m).
You will not be required to carry more than a day sack with water and essentials. Ensure you are aware of the weather conditions likely in the destination you are visiting and have a pair of comfortable and worn in walking shoes/boots.
You need to have a good level of fitness and be a regular walker for these adventures, with ideally some trekking experience. You can expect to be walking for 3-6 hours per day, not including rest stops, normally on good trail paths but with some uneven surfaces at times.
You will not be required to carry more than a day sack. You may be walking in more challenging temperatures. You will generally be walking at low altitude (below 3000m) but may walk at altitudes up to 4000m. The amount of ascent could be up to 800m in a day but will frequently be less. You may walk on consecutive days.
Ensure you are aware of the weather conditions likely in the destination you are visiting and have suitable clothing for this adventure.
You need to have a good level of fitness with previous experience of trekking. Extra training before your trip will ensure that you get the most out of your adventure. Areas will be remote and terrain uneven.
Expect to walk for 5 – 8 hours a day, not including breaks, with some very steep ascents and descents. You will be walking at altitude (over 3000m but not higher than 5000m).
Ensure you are aware of the weather conditions likely in the destination you are visiting and have suitable equipment/clothing for this adventure (see the packing list for your adventure).
Please check individual itineraries for details of what you will need to be carrying with you.
Get in touch via our Enquiry form to check our availability, discuss the adventure and check we can meet your needs.
Complete our Enquiry Form; contact details, additional requirements (eg diet or health requirements) & questions you may have. Include as much information as you are able to, so we can help you with the detail you are looking for
Click on 'Send Enquiry' (receipted).
We will be in touch as soon as we are able, to answer your questions and help you plan your adventure.
+44 207 846 0197