9 Days$1790USD

  • 9 day cultural tour
  • 8 nights hotels & guesthouses
  • 7 Dinners
  • 7 Lunches
  • 9 Breakfasts

Trip highlights

  • An exhilarating winter journey to Ladakh attracting only a handful of visitors
  • Explore cultural traditions and wild and remote corners beyond Leh
  • Visit monasteries and secluded settlements reflecting Ladakh’s rugged rural landscape
  • Attend the annual masked dance festival at Spitok monastery
  • Includes day walks & excursions to remote corners of Ladakh without the commitment to trek

The Ladakh landscape in winter offers an unrivalled opportunity to explore Leh (with its labyrinth of alleyways, vibrant markets and museums reflecting Ladakh’s cultural heritage) and the upper Indus Valley including Shey Fort, Tikse and Matho monastery. Winter attracts only a handful of visitors. We capture the rugged landscape of rural Ladakh with walks in the vicinity of Rumbac village and two nights at a comfortable homestay Hemis Shukpachen. Weather permitting we undertake an adventurous day walk to Tingmosgang and excursions to the remote Mangyu and Rizdong monasteries. On our return to Leh the ancient Buddhist complex at Alchi and Likir monastery set beneath of the impressive flanks of the Ladakh Range add a further dimension to our journey while the annual masked dance festival at Spitok monastery caps this remarkable adventure.

Trip Code: SOG8082

After the incredible Magic and Mysticism tour concludes you will need to fly from Kolkata to Delhi for the extension tour in Ladakh. This flight is not included but a group flight will be suggested and we are happy to assist in booking this. Overnight: Hotel Lalit, Delhi NOTE: This tour is an exclusive extension designed to follow on from the Magic, Mysticism and Wonders of West Bengal tour (code WBM5). If you are not joining the main tour but are interested in joining the extension in Ladakh, please let us know and we can advise if places are still available.

Meals:  B

On arrival in Leh you are at 3500 metres and its imperative to rest and acclimatise. On the first day we wander to the main market to savour the rich array of market stalls and buildings (some newer than others). We also visit Changspa famed for its ancient stupas that possibly date back to the 11th century. At this point it is an opportune for our guide to offer a brief overview of the various Buddhist orders in Ladakh – in order to come to grips with the fascinating Buddhist heritage of the region. During our stay in Leh we will include a visit to the Snow Leopard conservancy. Overnight Mahey Retreat, Leh NOTE: The internal flights are not included in the tour cost, we will advise the group flight numbers and assist with booking.

Meals:  B,L,D

An opportunity to explore Ladakh’s rich historical heritage. We visit to Shey Fort (the former capital of upper Ladakh) with its two-storeyed statue of the Shakyamuni Buddha. We then drive to the nearby Thikse monastery located on a sugar loaf mountain with views commanding the Indus Valley. Thikse is one of the most important Gelug (Yellow Hat) monasteries in Ladakh and nowadays closely associated with His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama. We visit the main assembly hall before ascending to the rooftop to gain a birds eye view of the snow-capped Stok range south of the Indus Valley. We also visit the multi denominational temple, built from funds with the upsurge of visitors in the 1980’s and proof indeed of the continuing vitality of Buddhism in Ladakh. We also a visit Matho monastery located on the south side of the Indus Valley. In comparison to Thikse, Matho receives only a handful of visitors with the monks pleased to show us around the main assembly hall and adjacent temples. Matho is the only monastery in Ladakh affiliated to the Sakya order that can be traced back to the 11th century in Tibet. On return to Leh there is an opportunity climb to the Shanti Stupa built in the 1980’s with panoramic views across the city of Leh and the road leading to the Khardung La – the highest motorable road in the world Overnight Mahey Retreat, Leh

Meals:  B,L,D

We drive to the isolated Rumbac village and undertake day walks. Rumbac is famed for snow leopard sightings during the winter and although the possibility of seeing a cat is stacked against you, we can nonetheless gain a sense of the snow leopards' habitat as they descend to lower elevations in the immediate vicinity of Rumbac, where villagers tend their flocks of sheep and goats. Overnight Mahey Retreat, Leh

Meals:  B,L,D

We commence with an exhilarating drive down the Indus valley. En route we reach the dramatic confluence of the Zanskar and Indus rivers before leaving the main highway at Likir. We divert to the monastery that was the oldest (dating to the 15th century) Gelug monasteries in Ladakh. However on account of its location it attracts few visitors. The main assembly hall is impressive with statues of the Shakyamuni Buddha (the historical Buddha), the Maitreya Buddha (the Buddha to be) and Tsong kha pa (the Tibetan founder of the Gelug order). We continue along a minor road linking smaller settlements and crossing several small passes that afford wonderous views back to the snow-capped peaks of the Ladakh range to the east of Leh. The drive from Leh to Hemis Shukpachen takes three to four hours including a diversion to the village of Ullay, another popular viewing location for the endangered snow leopard. On arrival at Hemis Shukpachen homestay we meet the family and explore the rugged rural landscape in the immediate vicinity of the village. Overnight Serupa Guest House, Hemis

Meals:  B,L,D

If weather permits we will undertake a three hour trek across two small passes to Tingmosgang, one of the former capitals of lower Mustang. Note that the passes we follow and the road leading back through Hemis Shukpachen to Likir formed part of the original Royal highway to Leh, long before a trail was carved out alongside the Indus. From Tingmosgang we drive to Mangyu, one of the oldest monastic complexes in Ladakh dating to the 11th century. It is located in a secluded gorge just south of the Indus Valley. We then cross back over the Indus to another secluded monastery at Rizdong. The monastery, built in the 19th century attracts only a handful of visitors and yet it has much to offer including its famous 200 year old ‘Black Kitchen’ originally built to accommodate the resident monks. Overnight Serupa Guest House, Hemis

Meals:  B,L,D

On our return to Leh we make an early morning visit to the famous monastic complex at Alchi. The four temples are some of the oldest in Ladakh while the impressive wall paintings reflect a Kashmir/India style introduced by artists when they visited Ladakh in the 10th century in terms of patronage. We then return to the main highway to Leh to complete the two hour drive back to Leh. On return we have time to visit an exclusive textile gallery, the Silk Road Museum as well as wander to the Kings Palace. It has been extensively renovated over the past twenty years to capture something of the life of Ladakh rulers who lived in the Palace until they were exiled in 1835 to a more modest palace in Stok after Ladakh was invaded by the Dogra army intent on making Ladakh part of its vast Himalayan kingdom that included Ladakh as well as Jammu, and Kashmir. Overnight Mahey Retreat, Leh

Meals:  B,L,D

We've timed our visit to Ladakh to attend the first day of the masked dance festival at Spitok monastery located just below Leh airport. The festival marks a highlight in the monastery's calendar; a chance for the monks and the village community to re-affirm and celebrate their Buddhist beliefs and rich cultural ancestry. Set amid a stark, winter landscape the masked dances offer a welcome respite for the attendees who may have travelled from throughout the upper Indus Valley. The dances follow a time-honoured sequence where senior and novice monks dressed in heavily embroidered gowns twirl and pirouette around the monastery courtyard with each significant step met with a clash of cymbals and the sound of horns played by musicians seated on the side of the courtyard. As the day gradually unfolds. There is no resounding finale. The day simply progresses until the final dance is completed and the congregation depart. After returning to Leh, we head to the nearby Grand Dragon hotel for a final dinner to mark our final evening in Ladakh. Overnight Mahey Retreat, Leh

Meals:  B,L,D

An early morning departure to board the one-hour flight from Leh to Delhi. Trip concludes on arrival at Delhi airport. If you are staying on in Delhi we can recommend the Ambassador Hotel by Khan market as a great final stop to shop and eat before your onward travel home.

Meals:  B


  • Escorted by Margie Thomas
  • 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners
  • Good quality accommodation in Delhi & Leh
  • Expert bilingual guide
  • Private transportation

  • International flights
  • Internal flights Delhi-Leh-Delhi (budget apporox USD250-350 per person)
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Meals not detailed in the itinerary
  • Bottled water, aerated and alcoholic drinks
  • Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, laundry etc.
  • Tips
  • Visa

Departure dates


Exclusive Departure

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Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
  • Single supplementUSD$350
*Prices listed are per person

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Julay Ladakh: tradition, culture & wild places with Margie Thomas & Nawang Tsering trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

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Why travel with us

Award Winning Adventures

Enhancing your journey with authentic experiences, genuine cultural exchange and real exploration are the focal points on all of our adventures. In 2019, we were crowned by our peers as the best in adventure travel at The Travel Awards in Sydney.

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Our vision is to leave the world a better place by following our sustainable active outdoor travel charter. All our adventures are 100% carbon offset and our Regenerative 2030 Project aims to integrate ‘regenerative’ projects into every one of our global operations by 2030.

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 When you book one of our adventures, you will receive quality services at the best prices with plenty of inclusions. There are no hidden costs, single travellers don’t pay more and you’ll enjoy many ‘extra touches’ that ensure your holiday is excellent value for money.

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