Page 1


Top of the World Ladakh & Kashmir

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

Dossier validity 2018 - 2019 Welcome to Incredible Indian Tours’ Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir Tour. This is a very exotic adventure throughout the Indian Himalayas. First we journey to Ladakh through Himachal Pradesh, visiting Shimla and Manali before driving the spectacular Manali - Leh road. In and around Leh we explore the Nubra Valley, and also experience the Hemis Festival. Heading west we drive through the upper Himalayas along one of the most stunning drives in the world to Kashmir, and Srinagar, holiday mecca of India.

Highlights • • • • • • • • • • •

the splendour and contrast of the 7 cities of Delhi the historic toy train ride up the mountain to Shimla witness the remnants of the British Raj in Shimla see the mountain views from the beautiful green Beas River valley in Manali experience the spectacular Manali - Leh Highway be part of the energetic and colourful Hemis Festival drive the highest motorable pass in the world - the Khardong La - at over 5600m explore the amazing Nubra Valley in Ladakh drive the amazingly scenic Leh - Srinagar Highway discover the monastery villages of Uleytokpo & Basgo soak up the relaxing ambience of Dal Lake in Srinagar

2/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

(24 nights/23 days)

Itinerary Days 1-2 Delhi The tour starts at 6pm. After a short tour briefing, we head out for dinner to get to know each other and discuss the journey ahead. On day 2, we visit New Delhi - specifically Humayans Tomb, Rajpath and the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara. India's capital is an exciting, busy and chaotic city. With a past that stretches far back into the mists of time, it is rich with the splendor and vitality of an eternal city. Divided into an ancient and a modern part, 1000 years of history greet the visitor at every step. Monuments, mosques, and forts from many different eras, bazaars, shops and museums lie scattered across its sprawling expanse. There is so much to see in Delhi. If you arrive earlier than day 1, there is an opportunity to make more discoveries - the ruins of Qutb Minar and Purana Qila, Indira Gandhi Museum, Rajghat, Akshardam tempe and the Lotus Temple are all recommended. Hotel: Claridges

3/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

Itinerary Days 3-5 Shimla (2276m - 7467ft) Travel time: 10 hours After a morning express train to Kalka, we board the famous Shimla Toy Train that takes us up the mountain over hundreds of bridges, through many tunnels and switchbacks providing an entertaining trip with the locals to Shimla, the summer capital of the British Raj. Shimla, today the capital of Himachal Pradesh state, is a sprawling town set amongst spectacular cool hills with plenty of crumbling decaying colonial charm. Whilst in Shimla, we take a heritage walk to visit the Vice-regal Lodge, now home to the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, the site of the signing of India’s Independence treaty. The walk takes us past the Mall and the Ridge with many colonial buildings that still grace the streets. There are plenty of walks to be done around Shimla, including the hike up to Jakhu Temple, Prospect Hill and the Glen. We visit Wildflower Hall for morning tea and there is also the opportunity to enjoy the markets or take in a Bollywood Movie at the local Cinema. Hotel: Clarkes

4/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

Itinerary Days 6-7 Manali (2050m - 6726ft) Travel time: 6-7 hours We head deeper into the mountains today to Manali, the jumping off point for Ladakh, the Rohtang Pass, and the Spiti Valley. A centre for trekking, climbing, and other adventure sports, Manali is one of the most popular Indian summer resort towns. After a day’s drive through the mountains, we take a morning hike to a nearby village, untouched by tourists where we can meet the locals and experience traditional life here in the Kullu valley. You also have the opportunity to explore some of the temples around Manali, take a massage or soak in the hot springs in nearby Vashisht. Hotel: Hotel Mayflower

5/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

Itinerary Days 8 - 10 Manali - Leh Road Travel time: Approx 18 hours over 3 days Heading up from Manali, the first stop is the Rohtang Pass at just under 4000m (13060ft). Heading further north into the Lahaul & Spiti Valleys we have a stunning drive through Keylong town and if we’re lucky, with views of the Shigri Glacier to the first nights stop - Jispa (3200m - 10500ft) Hotel: Hotel Ibex On day 9, we drive further into the high Himalayas to our overnight camp at 4290m (14075ft) at Sarchu. Hotel: Goldrup Camp Day 10 is the most spectacular day of this drive, as we head over two high passes, the Lungalacha La (5059m - 16600ft) and the Taglang La (the second highest motorable road in the world) at 5359m (17582ft) past stunning eroded cliffs and mountains before descending down into Ladakh and the capital Leh at 3500m (11483ft). Hotel: Hotel Ladakh Residency

6/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

Itinerary Day 11 Leh / Hemis Festival (3500m - 11483ft) Built in the 1600’s, Hemis Monastery is a stunning Tibetan Buddhist Gompa (one of the largest in Ladakh) famous for it’s annual festival with ceremonies including music, ceremonial displays and the mystic masked dances or chhams. Chham dances are considered a form of meditation and an offering to the gods, providing merit to anyone who witnesses them. The Hemis Festival commemorates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava who is revered throughout the Himalayan regions as the second Buddha. Hotel: Hotel Ladakh Residency

7/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

Itinerary Days 12-13 Nubra Valley (3144m - 10315ft) Travel time: 6 hours Travelling over the Khardung La Pass, at 5602m (18380ft), the highest motorable pass in the world, we head into the remote Nubra Valley with green oasis villages surrounded by stark scree slopes, boulder fields, sand dunes and arid mountains. Part of the old Silk Road between India & China, local communities once prospered as caravans of cloth, spices, gold & gemstones traversed this route. Double-humped Bactrian camels were abandoned here by traders and travelers and have thrived. There are now around 200 of these camels and you have the opportunity to take a camel-ride into the Hunder sand dunes. We visit the 14th century Diskit Monastery, with its majestic views, old temples and halls and a 32m high statue of the Maitreya Buddha facing down the Shyok river towards Pakistan. We also take the opportunity to wander through the village of Diskit, where our camped resort is located, where you can visit an old Ladakhi house and perhaps try the local butter tea. Hotel: Desert Himalayan Resort

8/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

Itinerary Days 14-15 Leh (3500m - 11483ft) Travel time: 6 hours We head back to Leh, another drive across the high Khardung La, where we spend the afternoon relaxing, or wandering the market in Leh where you’ll find many Tibetan market stalls and Kashmiri shops selling beautiful handicrafts. On day 15, we visit the nearby villages of Shey and Thiksey, exploring the Shey Palace and Monastery and the Thiksey monastery as well as soaking up the beautiful, stark scenery produced by the river flowing through the valley creating a green belt of willow and poplar trees. We also make an afternoon visit to the Shanti Stupa to the north of Leh town, where you’ll experience amazing views of Leh, the valley and the Stok mountain range. Hotel: Hotel Ladakh Residency

9/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

Itinerary Days 16-17 Leh - Kargil Road Travel time: Approx 7 hours Another epic road trip awaits us as we drive west along another scenic Himalayan mountain road. On day 16, we visit the monastery villages of Basgo and Alchi before stopping the first night at Uleytokpo. Basgo was an impregnable monastery/fort that was never conquered. It’s location atop a hill towering over ruins of the ancient town is spectacular. While other monasteries in Ladakh were always built upon a hill, Alchi was hidden in plain sight within the village at ground level, thereby escaping attacks from invaders. Built in the 10th century, the shrines and temples are very different in style from other gompas and the Kashmiri artisans who created wall paintings and sculptures lent their own unique style to the detail in the temples. After a night in charming cottages overlooking the Indus River in Uleytokpo (3040m - 9974ft), on day 17 we head on to Kargil, via our last monastery stop - Lamayuru. One of the largest and oldest gompas in Ladakh, Lamayuru has around 150 permanent resident monks. The town and monastery of Lamayuru are situated in what is known as ‘Moonland’ - a series of undulating hills that resemble the surface of the moon - yet again another unique and spectacular landscape. We stop the night at Kargil (2676m - 8780ft), the second largest town in Ladakh after Leh, and an ancient town in the area known as Baltistan. Hotel: Ule Ethnic Resort / Zojila Residency

10/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

Itinerary Days 18-20 Srinagar (1585m - 5200ft) Travel time: Approx 8 hours Srinagar dates back to the 3rd century BC with evidence that Emperor Ashoka built many stupas in the valley. Over the next 2000 years, Buddhist rulers strengthened the Buddhist traditions before the Hindus took over around 960CE. After the 14th century, the city came under the control of several muslim dynasties, including the Moghals. The Sikh’s also had control over the valley for a period before the British took control and installed Gulab Singh as the Maharajah in the mid 1800’s. After our final mountain drive over the heartstopping 3528m (11575ft) pass of Zoji La, we descend down into the Kashmir valley and making our way to Dal Lake, we board Shikaras which will take us to our houseboats situated in a quiet and serene spot on the stunning Dal Lake. We have two full days to explore the sights in and around Srinagar. In town, the old city, the Moghul Gardens and Pari Mahal are all must-sees, although you will probably enjoy spending much of the time relaxing on your houseboat. In fact you don’t really need to leave as shikaras pass by regularly bringing local handicraft sellers, money changers and even the ice-cream wallah to your boat. Hotel: Royal House Boats

11/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

Itinerary Days 21-22 Delhi Travel time: 2 hours After a free morning, we have an afternoon flight over the spectacular Himalayas to Delhi. Tonight, we’ll head out for a final night dinner to celebrate a remarkable journey across the top of the world. Hotel: Claridges

There are no activities on day 22. You are free to depart at any time

12/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

general tour information group size minimum 4, maximum 10 days 22 days 21 nights

do not wish to share accommodation, but would like to guarantee your own room throughout the tour a single supplement payment of USD960 (or equivalent) will be payable.

starts and finishes in Delhi Cost From USD4890 per person twin share price includes Arrival and departure transfers All accommodation as specified All transportation between overnight stops and to and from included sightseeing Entrance fees for all sites listed as part of the itinerary Meals as specified Tips & Gratuities price does not include Visa costs Meals other than those listed Drinks, meal tips, laundry and other items of a personal nature International flights accommodation Guesthouses/hotels (15 nights), Houseboat (3 nights), Tented Camp (3 nights) This tour uses a variety of accommodation. From guesthouses to heritage hotels to tented camps, we experience a wide range of accommodation styles. Hotel rooms are twin share with private bathrooms with western style toilets. Although a few rooms may be air-conditioned, most will be fan-cooled. The tents are all en-suite. single supplement If you are a single traveller we do not charge a single supplement and will pair you with other travelers of the same sex, often rotating room-mates at each stop so you get to share with different group members. However if you

13/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

transport Train, private vehicles, auto-rickshaw, cycle-rickshaw, flight. Train travel in India is essential considering it is such an efficient and extensive network, and is also such a part of India’s culture and heritage. On this journey we enjoy a trip on the UNESCO World Heritage Shimla Toy Train. We have one domestic flight and will be taking private vehicles (Awd - 3 person maximum per vehicle) for all other journeys. activities included The following is a list of included activities on this trip. Other activities are optional and will be at your own expense. Humayans Tomb, Rajpath, Bangla Sahib Gurudwara (Delhi) Toy Train ride, Vice-regal Lodge, Jakhoo Temple (Shimla) Village hike, Hidimba Devi Temple (Manali) Hemis Festival and Monastery, Shey Palace, Thiksey Monastery, Shanti Stupa (Leh) Diskit Monastery, Village hike (Nubra Valley) Bagso, Alchi and Lamayuru Monasteries (Leh-Kargil Rd) Shikara Rides, Floating vegetable market, Moghal gardens, Pari Mahal (Srinagar) meals Traveling with Incredible Indian Tours we ensure that you will experience a vast array of the gustatory treats available in India. Generally, meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options. This allows you to choose where, and what to eat. More often than not however we eat together as a group. Your leader will offer suggestions for favourite restaurants throughout the trip. meal inclusions 21 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 9 Dinners

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

general tour information money exchange As at April 2018 AUD1 = 50 INR CAD1 = 51 INR EUR1 = 80 INR GBP1 = 93 INR NZD1 = 48 INR USD1 = 65 INR There are many ATM machines (which accept both Cirrus/ Maestro debit cards and Visa and MasterCard) throughout India. This is a safe and convenient way to access money in India, however we suggest that you bring some money in cash for the times that ATMs are not available or working, as is sometimes the case in Ladakh. The major currencies, including AUD and CAD are no problem in general to exchange. Travellers cheques are no longer commonly accepted. Visa & MasterCard credit cards are accepted in major shops and restaurants in the bigger cities. spending money Although entrance fees to specified sites are included in the tour price, there are additional sights that you may like to visit. Many sites levy camera fees. Spending money requirements will differ from one person to the next. You will need to take into consideration your spending habits when allowing for drinks, shopping, and optional activities. You will need to allow enough money for the following: Meals – USD350 (or equivalent) Optional Activities – USD100 (or equivalent) Money for drinks, shopping and incidentals. Tipping is an integral part of Indian life and is essential to a smooth trip. To make things easier, we cover tips for hotel room boys, local guides and for drivers of private transport we use. We do NOT cover restaurant tips. You will need to allow approximately 10% on top of your restaurant bill. physical rating There will be plenty of walking around towns or sites with many steps, which due to the warm weather and the altitude of many locations on this tour will make general sightseeing more strenuous. There will also be long days of travel on rough and bumpy roads.

14/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

culture shock rating Conditions in India are not always as comfortable as in other countries. You may need to deal with squat toilets, or no toilets (especially on mountain drives), cold showers or power failure. travel insurance Travel Insurance is highly recommended whilst traveling to India and is compulsory for any group tour with Incredible Indian Tours. Please read the small print of your insurance policy to ensure it provides cover for travel to areas where your state department may be advising against all but essential travel. visas All foreign nationals require a visa to enter India. Most nationalities can apply for an e-Tourist visa. The Indian Government is in the process of extending this e-Tourist facility to more countries so check this website to find out the latest eligibility details. For the e-Tourist visa, you need to apply within 120 days of travel 60 days validity. The visa is issued online and takes up to 3 days. Regular tourist visas (issued by the Indian Embassy or Consulate) for those nationalities who do not yet have availability of the e-Tourist facility, or for those who require a visa longer than 60 days, are usually issued for 6 or 12 months and are either Single, Double or Multiple Entry. As the validity begins from date of issue, be sure you do not apply for your visa too early. For information, or assistance with obtaining a visa, check out the following websites. Australia visa_services/index.html New Zealand USA UK Canada health We recommend that you consult your doctor for current medical travel information about before departure. Your leader will be carrying a basic first aid kit, but we suggest you bring along your own as well as any personal medical requirements .

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

general tour information The following websites have up-to-date information about health requirements. Australia New Zealand USA UK Canada communications Many of our hotels have Wifi, but do not rely on it being available or fast. You can purchase a local prepaid sim card (for unlocked cell phones) and data sticks (for mobile internet on your laptop) inexpensively in India, although they will not work in Ladakh and Kashmir, where only post-paid sim cards work. Recommended are Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance. You will need extra passport photos for this as well as photocopies of your photo and visa page from your passport. your tour manager Your tour manager is there to organise and streamline your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Whilst they are not a guide per se, they will share their local knowledge, give you suggestions for your free time and manage the day to day running of the tour. They will introduce you to their local friends and recommend great local restaurants and experiences. They will have a broad general knowledge of India, so do feel free to tap into their wisdom. On this tour, we also have local guides for Ladakh and Kashmir who have unparalleled knowledge of their regions and will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting. responsible travel We believe strongly in responsible travel. This includes being respectful to the local culture (ie dressing appropriately, and learning a few basic cultural do’s and don’ts), being mindful of the environment, and leaving a positive image behind. Remember we are ambassadors for our country. Bringing a few photos of your family and home with you is a great way to interact with the locals by giving them a glimpse of your world whilst you visit theirs.

15/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

joining hotel Claridges Hotel 12, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road, New Delhi, 110011 Ph: +91 11 3955 5000 transfer/joining instructions Your airport transfer pickup will await you holding a sign with your name when you exit the baggage claim area of the arrivals hall. There may be large crowds here so please look carefully for your transfer. arriving early The elegant Claridges Hotel is one of Delhi’s premium 5 star hotels. Built in 1952, Claridges is a short walk from the trendy Khan Market area and is just two kilometres from India Gate. The refined rooms feature wood floors and a mix of colonial and contemporary decor, plus flat-screen TVs and minibars. Dining options include 4 restaurants, a cafe and a bakery. There’s also a fitness room, an outdoor pool and a spa, plus garden cabanas and a modern Indian art gallery. early arrival information If you are arriving earlier than day 1, extra accommodation in Delhi is available at USD120 Single/Double (or equivalent) per night per room. Please notify us as early as possible if you require extra accommodation as hotels in Delhi tend to be heavily booked up well in advance. staying on If you are staying on in Delhi after the tour, extra accommodation in Delhi is available at USD120 Single/ Double (or equivalent) per night per room. Again, if you will require extra accommodation in Delhi, please advise us as early as possible as rooms tend to get booked out quickly at peak season times.

INCREDIBLE INDIAN TOURS Top of the World - Ladakh & Kashmir

general tour information what to take We will be on the move a lot, so try to pack as lightly as possible. The smaller your bag in India the better, as the various modes of transport we use tend to have limited storage space. India is very conservative and we ask that you dress accordingly. As a guideline, shoulders and knees should always be covered. The wearing of shorts is looked upon by locals as akin to wearing your underwear and will limit your entry into mosques, temples and other places of worship. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool. Singlets, tank tops and shorts are not suitable attire for India. We will be visiting some high altitude regions on this trip, which despite it being summer can be quite cold, particularly our overnight camping stop at Sarchu, where the overnight temperature can get as low as 0C (32F). Thermals and a warm windproof jacket are recommended as are layers to keep warm.

sunblock and a hat are essentials. checklist Travel documents: passport, visa, travel insurance (don’t forget your emergency insurance contact details), air tickets. Photocopy of above documents Day pack Health vaccinations/medication First aid kit Money: ATM card (widely available and easy to access); credit cards (widely accepted in big cities); cash (for when atms or credit cards cannot be used/accessed) Money pouch Alarm clock and torch/flashlight Mosquito repellent Ear plugs can be useful if you are a light sleeper Lock for your bag or suitcase Good hiking or walking shoes for optional walks in and around the mountains.

Note that some Indian domestic airlines have recently reduced their check-in baggage allowance to 15kg. If you have heavier luggage, you may need to pay the excess at the airport for your internal flights. Excess luggage charges range from around Rs300 (USD5) per kilo.

We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt to store your passport, air tickets, credit cards and cash. Avoid bringing valuable jewellery with you. Some hotels we use have safety deposit boxes.

laundry Inexpensive laundry facilities are offered by most hotels we use and are generally available wherever we have a two night stop.

Updated on: 15th April 2018

weather The weather during our journey should be great. Daytime temperatures will be warm, in the range 20-30 in the mountains (hotter in Delhi). Night time temperatures will be comfortable, and you will need to bring a jacket and layers for the cooler evenings in the mountains and our excursions to the high altitude passes. Rain is always a possibility at this time of year, so bring an umbrella, and

16/16 E-mail: Ph: +91 95490 02876

Ladakh & Kashmir Dossier  

Ladakh & Kashmir Tour Dossier 2017-2018

Ladakh & Kashmir Dossier  

Ladakh & Kashmir Tour Dossier 2017-2018