To do artistic justice to the beauty of Ladakh, you must make more than merely panoramas, time-lapse videos, star-trail images and wildlife photographs. You must embrace its inseparable culture and its people in toto, and be at the right places at the right times of the day, so with a squeeze of the shutter button you send a vignette of the welkin straight into the annals of photographic posterity. And in an exclusive experience with just three participants in each vehicle, this Toehold Tour will help you do all that and more.
At Pangong Tso, you will discover a new scale for size. An international lake that is 134 kilometres long, it stretches to Tibet and has the Line of Actual Control with China running through it. Although said to be bereft of fish, the lake supports a rich population of birds in the summer, and around its water, a number of mammals thrive. In the winter the lake freezes completely but in the summer it gleams with the magnificence of a polished jewel and the serenity of an elegant bride.
At 4,595 meters (15,075 feet), Tso Moriri, the largest of the higher Himalayan lakes that are entirely in India, stands as a paradise for landscape photography with brackish water and a backdrop of whitish mountains. 34 species of birds and many mammals, including the Lynx and the Tibetan Wild Ass favor this area, for it is as much a wildlife haven as the strongest antonym for the word ‘eyesore’.
And finally, the Tso Kar, literally meaning ‘salt lake’, completes the trinity of high-altitude lakes to behold near the roof of the world, with turquoise water set amidst the spectacular ambience of verdant greenery. Apart from the salt concentration around the water, the other noticeable feature is the plentiful wildlife around, including the Red Fox, Tibetan Wolf, Little Owl, Brahminy Duck, Bar-headed Goose, Pied Avocet, and different Sandpipers and Gulls.
At the sightseeing sites of Leh, Thikse, Stok, Hemis and Shanti Stupa, savour the rich culture and heritage of the region that make Ladakh such a unique place. The monasteries inhabited by lamas and Buddhist paintings and sculptures offer a wealth of opportunities to make images and stories throbbing with cultural intrigue and chromatic richness.
At 5,600 metres (18,368 feet), you will experience the dizzying Khardung La, India’s highest motor able road and possibly the highest pass in India. Historically, its significance is that it lay on the major caravan route from Leh to Kashgar in Chinese Central Asia, which around 10,000 horses and camels would use annually, and a small population of Bactrian Camels can still be seen at Hundar, in the area north of the pass. During the Second World War, there was even an attempt to transfer war material to China through this route. Overall, with an average altitude of 4,800 meters on the Tour and such abundance of joy on offer, you will likely soon find yourself getting high on the Himalayas
Lahaul and Spiti region is a desert in the higher ranges of Indian Himalayas, where nothing more than tiny grass a few inches tall grows. Muddy brown mountain surface stretches as far as the eyes can see, and the peaks keep growing taller and taller as we look ahead. Moisture laden clouds from the south are blocked by Pir Panjal ranges of the Himalayan mountains, ensuring that it never rains in these parts.
There was no permanent habitation sighted on the journey for next eight hours of our drive. The road passes along lines of tall mountains forming a narrow valley bisected by Chandra River. Mountain peaks are dressed in snow that would soon melt and bare it all in high summer. Nomadic shepherds wander this forbidding land during the warm seasons in search of narrows plateaus where nothing more than bits of tiny grass grows. Herds of sheep seem to be content with just this grass and survive effortlessly, and the shepherds survive on sheep.
The tour price includes
Accommodation on twin sharing basis
Transportation during the tour in non-A/C vehicle with 4 participants per vehicle
All meals during the tour, except lunch and dinners at LEH.
Inner line permits and all entry fees
Photography sessions, expert advice and assistance, image reviews and critiques on all days
All applicable taxes
The tour price does not include
Additional snacks, bottled water or other beverages ordered
Anything else that is not part of the includes list above
The itinerary mentioned in this page is subject to favourable weather and road conditions. In case of bad weather and inaccessibility to a destination, we will do our best to make alternate plans. The cost of the tour or any part of it will not be refunded in the event of unfavourable conditions any time during the tour days.
Dinner on Days 5 and 7 and Lunch on Day 8 is exempt from the price above. On our previous tours, we’ve seen that some participants would like to have their schedule free at that time to go shopping or just walk around Leh at their own leisure. We wouldn’t like to impose a schedule on you by having fixed dinner and lunch timings on those days.
All participants would have to sign a Release of Liability, Assumption of Risk & Arbitration Agreement before joining the tour.
Accommodation will be in comfortable hotels on the days we are staying in Leh. At Nubra Valley we stay in simple but comfortable resorts in the valley. At Pangong Lake , we will be camping in tents near the lake.