Trans Himalayan Jeep Safari

Destinations: Dhramsala,Spiti,Kinnaur,Ladakh
Trip Duration: 18 Days
Best Time: Mid June - Mid Sept
Activities: driving, valley, Lakes
Grade: Easy-Moderate
Altitude: 4950 Baralacha
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Trans Himalayan Jeep Safari

Day by Day Details Itinerary

 The Trans Himalayan Jeep Safari

This fascinating Jeep Safari takes you through the alpine state of Himachal Pradesh and cross over to the high-altitude cold desert regions of Ladakh and Zanskar mountain ranges, from the lower Himalayas – the Shivalik foothills to the lesser Himalayan ranges and finally to the heart of the Great Himalayan ranges. Dharamshala - The headquarters of the Tibetan Government in exile and the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The colourful rustic Kangra valley, the vibrant Shimla and Kullu regions and the tribal territories of Kinnaur and Spiti all spread over completely different terrain ranging from sub tropical to alpine to hi-altitude cold desert. Religions merge - Hindu and Buddhist faiths being equally respected all over the state more so in the tribal belts. This memorable jeep safari give a close look into the different hill cultures that live in these beautiful places; the varied flora and fauna that survive at different altitudes and mainly the exquisite and breathtaking landscapes that make up the Himalayas. Indian Himalayan Tours & Travels makes sure that you experience a journey of a lifetime as we take you on this memorable tour.


Day 01: Arrive Delhi

On arrival at Delhi airport we meet you and drive you to your pre-reserved hotel. You can either spend the day relaxing or opt for a half day city tour. Explore the imposing Red Fort and the elaborate yet simple Jama Masjid a Moslem mosque both built in the 15th century and by late evening return to hotel. After dinner we transfer you to New Delhi Railway Station to board your overnight train to Pathankot.

Day 02: Arrive Dharamshala

Reaching Pathankot early in the morning we are met by our vehicle to drive us to the hill resort of Dharamshala and Macleodgunj. Arriving there before lunch we check into the hotel. In the afternoon we visit the Namgyal Monastery; the Dal Lake 11 Kms away; the church of St. John in the Wilderness and return to hotel for the night stay.

Day 03: Explore Mcleodgunj

We visit the Namgyal Monastery and the Jokhang or main temple opposite the residence of the Dalai Lama and then take a 2 Km stroll to the ancient Bhagsunag temple and spend some time near the cascading waterfall nearby. Return to Macleodgunj in time for lunch. In the afternoon drive down to Norbulingka is dedicated to handing down tradition and restoring standards by providing training, education and employment for Tibetans. It supports an environment in which Tibetan community and family values can flourish. It reconciles the traditional creatively and respectfully with the modern, and seeks to create an international awareness of Tibetan values and their expression in art and literature. Return to Macleodgunj hotel.

Day 04: Dharamshala – Shimla (279 Kms)

We start our drive to Shimla the state capital of Himachal Pradesh through the scenic Kangra valley with its rambling green fields and quaint villages. We drive past the undulating tea gardens at Palampur - 1249m / 4096ft with the massive granite face of the Dhauladhar ranges in the backdrop keeping us company till we branch off at Jogindernagar - 1500m / 4920ft. We reach the large town of Mandi 760m / 2493ft, in time for lunch. Mandi is an important business centre and also home to numerous temples. From here we turn south east and go through thickly wooded hillsides passing small villages and towns till we reach Shimla - 2130m / 6986ft by evening where we check into a comfortable hotel.

Day 05: Explore Shimla

After a leisurely breakfast we visit the ridge adjacent to the Mall road and visit the landmark of the town - the 1857 built Christ Church that holds several memorial plaques and beautiful stained glass windows; the imposing Viceregal Lodge now the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies built in 1880; and the State Museum. Most of the buildings in Shimla are built in the colonial neo-gothic style and are more than a 100 years old. In the afternoon we drive over to the Jhakoo Temple dedicated to Hanuman a god in the Hindu pantheon. It is the highest point in Shimla at 2445m / 8019ft and is home to a large monkey population. In the evening we stroll along the Mall road and you can shop for some old books, local handicrafts and other curios. In the evening we return to the hotel.

Day 06: Shimla – Sarahan (175 Kms)

Leaving Shimla after breakfast we head north to the charming town of Sarahan built on a hill ridge overlooking the Sutlej river valley. We pass the small hill towns of Kufri and Narkanda both popular ski resorts in the winter and affording unbeatable 180° panoramic views of the Great Himalayas to the far north. Passing the town of Rampur with its ancient ornate palace, we drive up to Sarahan - 1920m / 6298ft and check into a comfortable hotel.

Day 07: Sarahan - Recong Peo – Kalpa (102 Kms)

We visit the large Bhimkali temple built in a fusion of Hindu and Buddhist architectural style and after a late breakfast drive down to the banks of the River Sutlej and continue driving north to Recong Peo the district headquarters of Kinnaur district. We continue on to the charming town of Kalpa 2960m / 9,710ft where we check into a comfortable hotel. The view of the 6050m / 19,844ft Kinner Kailash peak soaring across the valley at sunset is one of the most captivating views you get to see in Kalpa. We explore the surrounding apple orchards and the narrow lanes of the town; visit the ancient temple of Narayan Nagini with beautiful carvings and the close by Hu-Bu-Ian-Car Gompa a Buddhist Monastery. We return to our hotel for the evening highlighted by fascinating views of the Kinner Kailash mountain range.

Day 08: Kalpa - Nako Lake – Tabo (186 Kms)

We continue on our journey by driving back to National Highway 22 once known as the Hindustan Tibet Road. The scenery now slowly transforms from lush green to beautiful shades of pale brown and rust as we drive into the high altitude desert zone. We stop at the small hamlet of Khab - 2831m / 9,286ft the confluence of the Spiti and Sutlej rivers. Crossing the bridge we begin our ascent to Nako village and lake at 3959m / 12,986ft. After strolling around this medieval appearing village with dwellings of mud and stone skirting the jade green tiny Nako Lake we resume our journey to the 1011 year old Tabo Monastery through amazing sun, wind and snow sculpted shale hills. We reach Tabo - 3050m / 10,004ft, by evening and check into a comfortable guesthouse.

Day 09: Tabo – Kaza (47 Kms)

After breakfast we explore this most beautiful of Buddhist monasteries housing a wealth of exquisite frescoes, stucco images and wall paintings. Tabo is now a 'world heritage site' and is unlike other monasteries built on level land. It has often been referred to as the Ajanta Ellora of the Himalayas for its fine artwork. After lunch we head to Kaza the sub divisional headquarters of Lahaul Spiti 47 Kms away. En-route we stop over at the dramatically situated Dhankar Gompa high up on a craggy hill at 3893m / 12,774ft above Sichlling village overlooking the wide confluence of the Pin and Spiti rivers. Once the capital of Spiti in the 17 th century Dhankar houses a statue of Vaircohana and some ancient thangkas. From here we drive down to the highway and passing a few oases like villages reach Kaza 3800m / 12,464ft, by evening. On arrival we check into a comfortable guesthouse.

Day 10: Kaza - Ki - Kibber – Kaza (34 Kms)

After breakfast we leave for the Ki Monastery 14 Kms North West at an altitude of 3750m / 12,300ft on a conical rocky hill overlooking the vast Spiti River basin. The Ki monastery is the largest in the valley and imparts religious training to a large congregation of monks. Within are ancient musical instruments and weapons of war besides priceless thangkas, stucco images and manuscripts. From here we head north to Kibber which is said to be the highest permanently inhabited village in the world at 4490m / 15, 055ft. This neat white washed village lies in a semi circular formation on a hillside with small fields. After lunch and a stroll around we return to Kaza by afternoon. In the evening we walk to this interesting town with its cobble stone paths and mud dwellings and shops. After spending some time here we return to our guest house for the night.

Day 11: Kaza – Jispa (217 Kms)

We leave early on a long day's drive heading west in to the Lahaul valley across the 4558m / 14,950ft, Kunzum la pass and descend to the banks of the Chandra River flowing in from the north. En-route we drive past the green oasis of Losar at 4079m / 13,379ft, the last village in Spiti before ascending the pass. In the Lahaul valley though the mountains remain stark and bare the villages appear more frequently with large fields of potato, peas and barley. We drive along the Chandra River till we reach the Tandi Bridge where the River Bhaga flows in to join the Chandra. A little ahead the road turn north towards Keylong 3340m / 10,955ft, the district headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti and then continues along the Chandrabhaga River to the small village of Jispa 3319m / 10,890ft where we check into a hotel for the night.

Day 12: Jispa – Sarchu (75 Kms)

After breakfast we drive through some of the most awesome hi altitude terrain seen anywhere in the world. Here we drive past mountain streams and bare hills of granite and pale brown shale without any habitation or vegetation in sight. Our drive gives us views that'll remain in our memories forever. We bypass Deepak-tal a miniature lake before coming up on the larger Suraj Tal a large turquoise body of water below the 4650m / 16,500ft high Baralacha la the second pass on our journey. The road now descends into a large open plain where we stop for the night at the Sarchu Camp site at 4253m / 13, 950ft.

Day 13: Sarchu - Pang – Tso-kar (161 Kms)

After breakfast we drive leisurely through awesome landscape. We pass fantastically sculpted brown and rust hills in bizarre shapes and colours with the traverse of the sun in a deep blue sky. The road ascends 21 hairpin bends known as the Gata loops as it reaches the Naki la pass at 4950m / 16, 250ft and a bit ahead the higher 5064m / 16, 616ft high Lachulung la pass our third and fourth on this journey. Driving down to the tiny settlement of Pang we stop for some lunch and then continue on our way crossing some extremely impressive gorge country before emerging into the vast Mori plains. We continue our drive on a dusty road through the extensive Mori plains and later reach the large Tsokar a brackish water lake known for its enormous salt deposits and migratory avian population. On the way we can spot the large Yak wool tents of the Changpa nomads who inhabit the vast Rupshu plateau grazing their flock of sheep and goats.

Day 14: Tso-kar - Tso Moriri (77 Kms)

After a leisurely breakfast we head towards Tsomoriri, We may also glimpse herds of Kyang (Tibetan Wild Ass), several colonies of Marmots, and the Woolly Hare besides the Red Fox and the Tibetan wolf, if lucky. Tso Moriri is popular among a few rare migratory birds including the bar headed geese, black necked crane, both of which come to breed in these waters during these months. There are other avian species including the common red shank, ruddy shelduck, lesser sand plover and resident finches and martins can also be seen. This 120 turquoise blue lake now known as the 'Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve' is our campsite for the night.

Day 15: Explore Tso Moriri

A rest day at this exquisite lake appearing like an inland sea, takes us for walks around Karzok the only permanently inhabited village at the northern shores with a medium sized monastery; strolls along the shores viewing the delightful bird life on the lake and meeting the ever smiling Changpa nomads. We camp overnight in tents.

Day 16: Karzok – Leh (240 Kms)

We now head north from this charming village and drive up to the small settlement of Sumdo after which we cross the Mahe Bridge and then continue to the small village of Chumathang famous for its healing hot sulphur springs. The scenery is stunning in its stark beauty and surrealistic shaped hills a we drive on to Leh where we reach by evening and check into a comfortable hotel.

Day 17: In Leh

Today is a rest day at Leh. You can opt to visit the two prominent monasteries close by - Hemis the wealthiest and most famous in the valley housing the largest thangka in the world and the Thiksey Gompa known for its priceless murals and gilded images. In the evening stroll the bazaar for shopping. You can get deals in Changspa and the Tibetan market for antiques, yak bone curios and other fascinating handicrafts. Return to your hotel for the night.

Day 18: Leh/Delhi (Flight)

Early morning transfer to Leh airport to board your flight for Delhi. Upon arrival in Delhi meet and transfer to hotel for the day. Afternoon is free to relax or city sightseeing (optional). In the evening transfer to the airport for your flight back to home.

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