Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Hamlets & Lakes tour to Ladakh
We just returned from a memorable trip to Ladakh and what an experience it was!
Getting to the capital Leh was a bit challenging. Our flight from Delhi to Leh left Delhi at 5am and we landed in Delhi around 11pm. So we had to spend the night at the Delhi airport catching a few winks in the waiting area. i expected all of us to be completely exhausted during our flight in to Leh. But within 15-20 minutes into the flight, we found ourselves flying over gorgeous ice-capped mountain ranges that provided a glimpse of what we would experience over the next nine days.
Leh is situated at an altitude of over 10,000 feet and you feel it from the time you step out of the airport. The thin and dry air can lead to severe altitude sickness and we had to take steps to acclimatize ourselves. These included drinking lots of water and eating well during our entire visit and minimizing sleep during the first full day. All of us did fairly well and barring a few headaches we got adjusted to the altitude by the second day.
The landscape of the Ladakh region is magical and you feel that you have been transported to a different world. You are surrounded by gigantic mountain ranges with mostly brown sandy and rocky mountains with occasional patches of greens and lined with the taller snow covered mountain peaks. The mighty Indus river cuts through the mountain ranges and is usually within sight as you travel through the region. Deep patches of green within the valley create an extraordinary contrast in the landscape. The sky was a clear blue during the week of our visit.
During our trip we visited several Buddhist monasteries including Hemis, Thiksey, Diskit, Alchi and Lamayuru. Most of these are over a thousand years old and each one of them is unique. Our favorite was Alchi - one of the oldest monasteries and the only one that is built on flat ground. Another highlight was a visit to the world's highest lake, Pangong - a magnificent salt water lake that spans India and China.
A trip to Ladakh is not complete without the appropriate dose of adventure and we had our share. We bicycled down 14 kms from a point close to Khardung La (claimed to be the world's highest motorable pass). We did white water rafting on the mighty Zanskar river. We trekked through the 12,000 ft high pass called Prinkti La. Another highlight was a ride on double humped Bactrian camels on sand dunes in the beautiful Nubra valley.
Here's another one off the '100 things to do before you die' list!