Vikander International Photography Expeditions Brian Vikander International Photography Expeditions

LADAKH: Little Tibet
Hemis Festival
June 30-July 19, 2014
20 Days

"Ladakh is far too kaleidoscopic to be dismissed with a string of platitudes. Its people, even the meanest peasant, are imbued with a culture handed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. Personally I am in no doubt at all that Ladakh is the most interesting country to visit that one could imagine. It fulfills almost all the expectations of the traveler who is prepared to see it through his own eyes, to experience it through his own emotions, to comprehend it through his own sensibility."Heinrich Harrer

The Hemis Festival is one of the most remarkable celebrations in all of Tibetan Buddhism.  Each year Hemis Gompa (Lone Place of the Compassionate Person) has a two-day festival where visitors and pilgrims alike are afforded the opportunity to witness uncommon ritual and prayer.  The momentous nature of this will bring Buddhist pilgrims from all over the mountain regions to observe the spectacular drama dances of Buddhism with monks ‘performing’ in splendidly colorful masks representing various figures from the Tibetan pantheon. The sounds of horns and drums blend with the mantras and gaiety to create a surrealistic scene.

Ladakh lies within the specter of the most massive mountain ranges on Earth ... the Karakoram ... the Ladakh ... the Zanskar ... and the Himalaya. This region is a high-altitude desert plateau that is of great interest to people who are fascinated by the world’s high places and the history of Tibet. As the cradle of Buddhism, the religion spread to Tibet. Today, it is only here that the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism is found as a living, thriving religion. And where, a visitor has the opportunity to witness times past, through the thronged festival at the Phiyang Gompa and accessible masterpieces of Buddhist art at Alchi Gompa.

While Ladakh is, today, far more Tibetan than Tibet (because of the manner in which China has changed Tibet) the topographical and cultural resemblances to Tibet are only part of her appeal. Here you will evidence an intermingling of cultures, an astounding array of mountain vistas, an uncompromising monastic tradition and a people who will strike a chord of consonance in your heart. There is something spiritually stirring about the silence and isolation of the place.

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View PDF of LADAKH Long Itinerary

June 30 - July 19, 2013
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat


6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19


DAY 1 June 30, 2014 Monday Departure from NEW YORK
This evening, we depart from JFK aboard Air India, on our flight to New Delhi.

DAY 2 July 1, 2014 Tuesday Enroute to INDIA
Late evening arrival in New Delhi, India. We will clear Customs formalities and be transferred to the LE MERIDIEN HOTEL.

DAY 3 July 2, 2014 Wednesday Sightseeing in DELHI
Visit all of the splendid historical sites of old and new Delhi, the capital of India.  Delhi has been continuously inhabited for over twenty-three centuries and is today a bustling metropolis.

 Day 4- Leh ValleyDAY 4 July 3, 2014 Thursday Fly to LEH
Fly through the Ladakh Range to Leh and transfer to our hotel to settle in to acclimatize. During the afternoon, we will walk through the old town. SPIC ‘n SPAN HOTEL


Day 5 -Shey MonasteryDAY 5 July 4, 2014 Friday Sightseeing in LEH
The morning will be at leisure then we will enjoy a walk to one of many stunning overlooks about town. During the afternoon we will visit Shanti Stupa and the Main Bazaar. SPIC n SPAN HOTEL

DAY 6 July 5, 2014 Saturday Visit Phiyang, Spituk & Sankar Gompas
Today, we will visit the Gompas at Phiyang, Spituk and Sankar. SPIC n SPAN HOTEL

Day 7 -Likir MonasteryDAY 7 July 6, 2014 Sunday STAKNA GOMPA
Today, we explore the Leh Palace (modeled after the Potola Palace in Lhasa, Tibet) and drive to Stakna Gompa where we witness the stunning views of the Indus Valley. SPIC n SPAN HOTEL

Day 8 -Lamayuru MonasteryDAY 8 July 7, 2014 Monday Attend the HEMIS FESTIVAL
Today, we will experience the remarkable FESTIVAL at Hemis Gompa, witnessing the special drama dances, which stir and intrigue the viewer. SPIC n SPAN HOTEL

DAY 9 July 8, 2014 Tuesday Visit HEMIS, SHEY, THIKSEY
Perhaps, revisit Hemis Gompa Festival, the largest and richest of the Ladakhi Gompas and visit two other major monasteries in the region, Shey and Thiksey. SPIC n SPAN HOTEL

DAY 10 July 9, 2014 Wednesday Drive to HUNDER
Leaving Leh before dawn, our travel north will take us over the highest motorable road in the world. Khardong-la Pass is 18,380 feet and offers a view of endless peaks and ridges of the Zanskar and Ladakh Ranges. We travel along the Shyok River toward Nubra which was along the major caravan route that connected Chinese Turkestan with Tibet. The Hunder camp is in a beautiful setting of the recently opened Nubra Valley. PERMANENT TENTED CAMP HUNDER

Day 11 -Spituk MonasteryDAY 11 July 10, 2014 Thursday Sightseeing in HUNDER area
A full day to explore the marvels of the region ... dunes, gompas and pastoral village life. In the village of Disket, we will pause for tea at Disket Monastery, an important center for Buddhist learning.PERMANENT TENTED CAMP HUNDER

Day 12 -Phyang FestivalDAY 12 July 11, 2014 Friday Return to LEH
Our return drive to Leh will again provide stellar mountain vistas, as we again cross the Khardong-la Pass. Late afternoon in Leh will be at leisure. SPIC n SPAN HOTEL

Day 13 -Nubra ValleyDAY 13 July 12, 2014 Saturday Drive to ULETOPKO
Traveling to the northwest through Ladakh Range we visit Likir Monastery, before contuing to Uletopko for lunch. During the afternoon we plan a pleasant walk to the little seen Ridzong Monastery/Chomolling (nunnery). PERMANENT TENTED CAMP ULETOPKO

DAY 14 July 13, 2014 Sunday Drive to LAMAYURU
The oldest religious site in Ladakh is Lamayuru Gompa, dating from the 10th century. The setting of this Gompa, among the tiers of mountains is unforgettable. PERMANENT TENTED CAMP ULETOPKO

DAY 15 July 14, 2014 Monday Return to LEH via ALCHI
Our return drive to Leh has us stopping at Alchi, a Buddhist site of global importance. Alchi is a religious complex of five temples and associated chortens, essentially unknown to the outside world before 1974. This ancient complex houses some of the finest examples of 11th century Indian Buddhist art found anywhere in the world. In the late afternoon, we will hike to top of Namgyal Peak, to view the splendid expanse of the Leh Valley, at sunset. SPIC n SPAN HOTEL

DAY 16 July 15, 2014 Tuesday Majestic PANGONG TSO LAKE
Driving to the east, we travel the only recently opened area of Pangong Tso Lake. This majestic lake has seemingly iridescent blue water in a setting of unrivaled Himalayan beauty. PERMANENT TENTED CAMP near SHAKTI

DAY 17 July 16, 2014 Wednesday Return to LEH
Our return drive always the leisure of enjoying the wonderous Himalayan landscape. The afternoon will to free explore the Leh area before we enjoy a traditional Ladakhi farewell dinner. SPIC n SPAN HOTEL

Day 18 July 17, 2014 Thursday Fly to DELHI
The early morning is ours for a final exploration of Leh. In the late morning we board our flight to Delhi, where we arrive in the early afternoon. This evening (early evening) we will enjoy a special Indian meal and classical dance show. LE MERIDIEN HOTEL

DAY 19 July 18, 2014 Friday In DELHI
Today is at leisure to explore the fascinating city of Delhi. LE MERIDIEN HOTEL

DAY 20 July 19, 2014 Saturday Return USA
Our flight back to the USA departs Delhi very early in the morning. As a result, we leave the hotel shortly before midnight to clear airport formalities. We board our return flight and arrive back in USA, mid-afternoon.

TRIP PRICE: $7,900.00 for Ladakh land portion only (based on 6 participants)

INTERNATIONAL AIRFARE via Air India round trip NYC-New Delhi approx.:
$1,800.00 + tax Economy approximately Air India
$4,800.00 + tax Business
approximately Air India

DEPOSIT $1,000.00 PER PERSON due by 2/01/14
Fill out Application and Make a Deposit on Trip
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This price includes: all accommodations based on double occupancy; all meals; tea or coffee, ie. beverages presented as part of or taken with the daily meals; all land transportation; sightseeing and tours; all internal flights and domestic airport taxes (flights within the India); all model fees including the private models and private performances; all domestic transfers and ground transportation; all porterage in hotels and airports within India; and all entrance fees, service charges and taxes. This price covers all gratuities to guides and drivers throughout the trip. We will travel in private 4WD Tata-Sumos or jeeps. Each photographer will have 2 seats and ample room for their equipment. Our professional, hand-selected, national guide will travel with us throughout the trip to enhance our daily photographic opportunities and our appreciation and understanding of the country.

Please note: Occasionally the ground operator passes along an increased charge. Generally, VIP Expeditions absorbs these costs. However, sometimes they must be passed along to our clients. While we do not expect this, you must be aware of the possibility.

TRIP PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE: Passport fees; India visa fees; U.S. airfare, round trip airfare from the East Coast; vaccinations; inoculations; international departure taxes; items of a personal nature, eg. laundry, telephone, alcoholic or personal beverages, etc.; personal tips; trip cancellation, travel delay or baggage insurance; charges incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of VIP Expeditions; and excess baggage.

CAMPING: Our camping arrangements will be the best available for this part of the world. We will be in a permanent-tented camp for a total of five nights. These facilities have beds, mattresses, quilts (you will need your own sleeping bag), common toilets and dining tent. There is a complete staff to handle everything in camp. A true diversity of cuisine is not available in this part of the world. However, we will have the best possible meals prepared for us three times per day.

Brian Vikander will lead this once-in-a-lifetime experience. He is an internationally recognized photographer whose work has appeared in virtually every publication that deals with the world of exotic travel, including: 1) National Geographic publications; 2) New York Times Travel; 3) the Getty Conservation Trust; and 4) Smithsonian, among others. Brian has conducted more than 60 photographic trips, on six continents, over the years and has an excellent feel for the destination, as well as the requirements of trip participants. His goal is to have you better understand the manner in which you can capture your impressions.


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