Ladakh Festival Tour

Ladakh Hemis Festival Tour an 11 day Small Group Tour.

A differentiation is sometimes made between those drawn to the sea, those preferring deserts and those for whom the mystical pull of the mountains is a constant.

If you fall in the latter category, then the Ladakh Festival tour is what you’ve been waiting for.



Coinciding with the Buddhist Hemis Festival, traversing high mountain passes over 5,000m, barely navigable by vehicles, and visiting ancient monasteries and remote villages, this tour is truly an off-the-beaten-track adventure.

Encompassing Silk Road trade routes, fallen kingdoms and an enduring spiritual aesthetic, Ladakh provides a rich context for exploration. More recently, the route includes areas of India close to territory disputed by Pakistan, only recently opened to foreigners, and as such little-visited.

This is a different India, far from that portrayed by Bollywood or conjured by tired associations with the British Raj, and if needed, that’s just one more reason to go now. The Ladakh Buddhist Hemis Festival is the perfect excuse to visit!

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track
  • Culture 
  • History 
  • Wildlife 

Tour pace


Tour style


Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.


Start the Ladakh Festival tour when you arrive in Delhi, the capital of India, meet the driver and transfer to hotel accommodation. The rest of the day is free to relax. Overnight at Taj Princess or similar – No meals. 

Please note: For those arriving in good time it’s possible to arrange sightseeing or other excursions. Please contact us for details.

(Approximate journey time: one-and-a-half-hours)

After breakfast we leave for the airport and a short flight to Leh in the remote region of Ladakh (Please note: 15kg checked bag allowance and 7kg hand baggage). On arrival, meet the driver and transfer to hotel accommodation. Depending upon flight times there should be some to relax before we take a gentle orientation walk around Leh and its bazaars. Overnight at Hotel Singge Palace Hotel or similar. (B)

Please note: the flight to Leh is often scheduled for early in the morning. Exact flight details will be provided nearer to departure.

This morning we visit the city’s busy food market as part of a short city tour. The route follows the main street where strikingly dressed Buddhist women wearing traditional tall Ladakhi headgear loudly proclaim their wares. We follow narrow alleys as they wind their way through the old city to the 16th century Leh Khar Palace and its gompa, the Temple of the Guardian Deities. This palace is perched on top of a hill, providing a dramatic backdrop to the city’s earthen-bricked scattering of houses. Afterwards we head a few kilometres outside Leh to Shey, the oldest of the monasteries and no longer in regular use. The building contains a magnificent 12 metre Buddha seated in meditation and occupying three floors. 20km east of Leh, we travel to see the 800-year-old Thikse Gompa (monastery). Standing above the valley at 3,600 metres, this is an ideal place to witness Buddhist ceremonies. The monastery’s monks chant prayers, ring bells, clash cymbals and sound longhorns, creating an immersive sensory experience. Overnight Hotel Singge Palace Hotel or similar. (B)

The Hemis Gompa is the largest, wealthiest monastery in Ladakh and the centre of the Kagyu lineage of Buddhism. It probably dates from 11th century, being the subject of extensive restoration in 1672. The main courtyard provides the setting for the famous Hemis Festival marking the birth of celebrated guru Padmasambhava who built Tibet’s first monastery at Samye in the 8th century. The two-day spectacle takes place the 10th day (Tse-Chu) of the fifth Tibetan lunar month. Local people arrive in droves for the occasion, adorned in their finest traditional garb, to perform acts of devotion under a canopy of countless streaming prayer flags. Chhams (Lamas) perform masked dances and ritualistic plays accompanied by a barrage of percussion and blasts from ceremonial longhorns. Overnight at Overnight Hotel Singge Palace Hotel or similar. (B)

(Approximate driving time: five to six hours)

After early breakfast, we again drive to Hemis monastery to watch festival activities for couple of hours. Afterwards we continue to Nubra Valley via Sakti and the spectacular 5,342m Wari La pass, one of the world’s highest drivable mountain passes situated in the northeast of the Ladakh valley. From the pass panoramic views stretch far south over the Indus valley to the seemingly endless peaks and ridges of the Zanskar mountain range, and north to the giants of the Saser massif, the highest of which, Saser Kangri I, stands at 7,672 metres. Be prepared for a bumpy ride as road conditions near the pass, on both sides, are quite poor. Descending, we pass through the villages of Nubra Valley such as Tangyar and Agyam. Here we encounter double-humped Bactrian camels, once the backbone of transport along the ancient Silk Road. If time allows there may even be a surreal opportunity to ride a camel among the dunes of this enigmatic high-altitude desert. Accommodation this evening is located hotel in Hundar. Overnight at Karma Inn, or similar. (BLD)

(Approximate driving time: five to six hours)

Today we start early to make a full-day excursion to Turtuk, very close to Pakistan both physically and culturally. This delightful village is wedged into the narrow Shyok River valley at the farthest corner of India, right at the top of the country’s map. Only when the Indo-Pakistan war ended in 1971 was Turtuk and five other Balti villages included within the Indian Line of Control. It remained off-limits until only a couple of years ago, keeping it well off-the-beaten-track. Turtuk is in every sense a pioneering treat, culturally intact and untainted by tourism. The Muslim Balti inhabitants are exceptionally friendly, and the truly dramatic landscape offers excellent photographic opportunities. Overnight at Karma Inn, or similar. (BLD)

(Approximate driving time: one-and-a-half-hours)

In the 17th century Hundar itself was capital of the erstwhile Nubra kingdom, and this morning we have time to explore the atmospheric ruins of the town’s Chamba Gompa. In nearby Diskit we visit the 14th century gompa. The town’s relatively mild climate earned it the epithet, ‘The Orchard of Ladakh’, and as such it became a prized possession of a succession of Ladakh kings who developed it and poured favour and finance upon it. Diskit Gompa is the most important and oldest monastery in Nubra, its rooms bursting with thangka (Buddhist devotional paintings on cotton or silk), statues and effigies of the Buddha. From Hundar, the route crosses the Shyok River and heads north to Samstanling Gompa, set among the serene green meadows of Sumur village. After lunch we continue to Panamik, once a terminus on the caravan trade route and celebrated for its medicinal hot springs. Our final stop for the day is the village of Terith. As the sun sets, if time allows, we explore a village very few foreign tourists have been privileged to see. Here, the Ladakhi people are always delighted to welcome their infrequent visitors. Overnight at Osay Khar Resort or similar. (BLD)

(Approximate driving time: six-and-a-half-hours)

Today we embark on a spectacular drive from Nubra to Leh and on to Alchi. Initially road conditions are good but deteriorate as we scale the spectacular 5,602, Khardong La (5,602m) pass, another of the world highest passes open to motor vehicles. From the col, magnificent views unfold towards the peaks and ridges of the Zanskar range, and the 7,000m summits of the Saser massif. Descending, the road conditions are poor, so prepare to be shaken not stirred. Heading into South Pulu, we continue to Alchi, passing through Leh city. (BLD) Overnight at Zimskhang Hotel, or similar. (BLD)

(Approximate driving time: two-and-a-half-hours)

We travel as far west as Lamayuru, one of the most famous and spectacular gompas in Ladakh, perched on a steep cliff overlooking a strange and alien land formation locally called the ‘moon landscape’. The first Lamayuru monastery was built at the end of the 10th century, in its heyday accommodating 400 monks, but today only 20 to 30 remain. Returning east to Themisgaam, the richest valley of Ladakh, we encounter bountiful horticulture including apricots, apples and nuts in abundance. We stay at a hotel run by a Ladakhi family. The hotel sprawls over a vast area of apricot and apple orchards, creating a relaxed and rejuvenating ambience. Overnight at Namra Hotel, or similar. (BLD)

(Approximate driving time: two-and-a-half-hours)

After breakfast we explore Themisgaam, starting with a steep climb (we can drive if the road allows) to a nunnery overlooking the fertile valley. Farther up we reach the monastery of Themisgaam with its ornate interiors.  Built in the 15th century, the once thriving foundation is now run by a single monk. Each year, the monk is changed, unusually the duties being shared between the yellow cap southern order and the red cap order of Tibetan Buddhism. Alongside the monastery stands the impressive Tingmosgang castle, sentinel over the Indus valley and its trade routes, and palace of the kings of Ladakh before the court moved to Leh. Later in the afternoon we drive back to Leh. Overnight Hotel Singge Palace Hotel or similar. (B)

(Approximate journey time: one-and-a-half-hours)

This morning we drive to  the airport in time for onward flights to Delhi (15kg checked bag allowance and 7kg hand baggage). The Ladakh Festival tour ends on arrival in Delhi. (B)

Please note: To extend your stay in Delhi or make additional arrangements in a different part of India please contact us for details.

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

Please note that tour dates for 2024are still provisional and may change by a day or so.

This Ladakh Festival group tour operates subject to a minimum group size of 2 travellers.

Single Supplement from £335

To join up with the Ladakh Festival, return flights to Delhi start from £400 from London. Please contact us for a quotation

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

Ladakh Hemis Festival

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Transport throughout as listed
  • Accommodation
  • Services of English speaking guide/ tour leader
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
  • Domestic flight Delhi-Leh-Delhi (15kg checked bag allowance and 7kg hand baggage).

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Meals not included in the itinerary
  • Visa
  • Drinks
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips (discretionary)

A trip that exceeded expectations. Well supported in India and excellent heritage hotels and comfortable vehicle.

Julia Killick, UK