Ladakh: Beyond Leh

June 1 – 13, 2019

Trip at a Glance

  • June 1–13, 2019
  • Guests must arrive in New Delhi on May 31st for an early morning flight to Ladakh on June 1st
  • Escorted by BJ & Lauren, owners of RetreaTours
  • Explore the ancient Kingdom of Ladakh, nestled high in the Tibetan Plateau
  • Discover the lunar landscape of Lamayuru, the iconic Indus River, the sand dunes of Nubra Valley, and the crystal clear waters of vast Pangong Lake on the Tibetan border
  • Witness the making of a sand mandala at Thiksey Monastery (only occurs twice a year!)
  • Limited to 12 guests
  • Early bird price of $3499 (USD) per person (based on double occupancy; please see Pricing & Inclusions tab below for details)

We’re so excited to be offering this comprehensive tour of Ladakh! We’ve exclusively led yoga and meditation tours of Leh, Ladakh for the past 5 years, but in 2019 we’re going back to our roots–want to come?

Journey Highlights

  • Experience morning puja (prayers) with Tibetan Buddhist monks at Thiksey Monastery
  • Spend 3 nights directly along the Indus River in Uleytokpo (optional river rafting)
  • Play in the sand dunes of remote Nubra Valley, complete with Bactrian camels
  • Dip your toes in the crystal clear waters of Pangong Lake on the border of Tibet
  • Watch monks expertly craft a ritual sand mandala at Thiksey Monastery
  • Spend time and share meals with monks in their homes
  • Pilgrimages to monasteries from various Tibetan Buddhism sects
  • Receive a blessing from Thiksey Rinpoche (contingent on his travel schedule)

LEARN MORE ABOUT LADAKH

BJ and Lauren of RetreaTours have a deep love and special relationship with Ladakh. Please click the button below to learn more about this magical region, including suggested pre-trip reading.

Ladakh: Beyond Leh Itinerary

Jullay! You’ll be met at the Kushok Bakula Rinpoche airport in Leh, Ladakh on June 1st. (We can advise you on where to spend the night of May 31st in Delhi for your early morning flight on June 1st.) Upon arrival, we’ll head straight to our home base directly on the Indus River in Uleytokpo (~90-minute drive). This is a relaxing place to recover from jet lag and to ease into the region’s altitude, as this is one of the lower areas of Ladakh at 10,000 feet. This will be an easy day; we’ll introduce you to the region, talk about our plans for your Ladakh journey, answer any questions, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

We’ll take it easy on our first full day, and you’ll have access to a spa on site. We’re including one 1-hour massage treatment for you! If you’re feeling up to it, you’ll have an opportunity to go rafting down the Indus River near our hotel. Tonight we can enjoy a bonfire and stargaze from our perch on top of the world.

On June 3rd we’ll drive to the famous lunar landscape of Ladakh around Lamayuru monastery (~90-minute drive). We’ll take our time exploring Lamayuru monastery, Ladakh’s oldest monastery. The next morning we’ll get an early start and visit Alchi Monastery further upriver, famous for its original paintings, some of the oldest in all of Ladakh. From Alchi we’ll head to Leh, the biggest town in Ladakh. We’ll spend the night here, allowing for an afternoon of shopping, wandering, and visiting local cafes in downtown Leh. Our central location sets us up perfectly for an early start the next morning on June 5th over Khardung La, one of the highest motorable passes in the world at 17,582 feet (5,359 m). (This is a ~4-hour drive.)

Our destination is Nubra Valley, rich with cultural and natural treasures. We’ll take in the sights of the sand dunes and fuzzy Bactrian camels, as well as majestic monasteries like Disket Gompa. Nubra Valley is a special place in Ladakh, having opened to outsiders only in 1994 (BJ’s first visit was in 1995!)

When we depart Nubra Valley, we’ll take the scenic route via Wari La (another of the world’ highest passes at 17,428 feet/5,312 m) back to our home base at Thiksey Monastery (~4 hours). We’ll enjoy morning puja (prayer) ceremonies at the monastery, as well as a thorough exploration of the temples of Thiksey. As a bonus, we timed this trip to coincide with the creation of a sacred sand mandala at Thiksey that only happens twice a year. (Please see the box about the movie Samsara below, which features Thiksey & its sand mandala heavily). 

We’ll say goodbye to Thiksey for a night and make our way over Chang La (you guessed it–another one of the world’s highest passes at 17,586 feet/5,360 m) and we’ll spend the night at beautiful Pangong Lake. This lake, on the border of Tibet, rests at 13,900 feet (4,230 m) and will provide a nice getaway within a getaway. Although we’ll be staying in simple tents, far from 5-star luxury, this has the opportunity to be a one million-star accommodation (give or take a galaxy or two) as far as stargazing potential goes. However, these tents do have beds and their own toilets–now that is called ‘glamping’ in Ladakh!

On June 11th, we’ll head back for more time at Thiksey Monastery in order to spend time with the monks and their families, learning more about Ladakh culture and Tibetan Buddhism. Time permitting, we can also visit different monasteries in the Indus River valley around Leh.

On the morning of June 13th you’ll head back to the airport in Leh to return to Delhi and on to home (or perhaps another adventure!)

We are big fans of the films Baraka and Samsara by Ron Fricke, but even more so since Thiksey Monastery is featured heavily in the latter! BJ first saw Baraka in 1996 and waited well over a decade for the rumored follow-up film. When the poster and trailer finally came out for Samsara, you can imagine our surprise when our friend Chamba & many of the monks at Thiksey Monastery were front and center! You can watch the trailer on YouTube to see snippets of the mandala-making; you can watch the movie to see longer glimpses; and you can come with us to experience it firsthand!

Extend your stay–let us help!

If you’d like to extend your journey before or after this RetreaTour, we would be more than happy to help you plan your stay!  We can advise you on hotels, flights, and itineraries, whether you want to arrive in India early or stay on afterwards (or both!) We can also set you up for a tour of beautiful Bhutan, Nepal, or anywhere else in South or Southeast Asia. We offer our RetreaTour™ guests free travel consulting, a $300 value.

Please click the title of the desired tab to open it.

Price & What is Included

The early bird price for this journey is $3499 USD per person (double occupancy).  This price only covers the actual trip in Ladakh, not international airfare (for a full list of inclusions, please see below).   After February 1, 2019, the price increases to $3699.

A $1000 deposit holds your space.  The second installment of $1000 is due by January 2, 2019  and the balance is due by March 3, 2019.  Single supplement ($499) is due along with the last installment. We will email you an invoice (via PayPal) about a week before each due date. 

If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $499 USD and will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you will be responsible for the single supplement.

Price Includes:

  • Roundtrip airfare from Delhi to Leh
  • All accommodation
  • All transportation within Ladakh
  • All meals
  • All site fees
  • All tips at hotels and restaurants in Ladakh
  • One 1-hour massage in Uleytokpo
  • Donation to Thiksey Monastery

Price does not include:

  • International airfare (although we can and will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
  • First night (May 31st) hotel in New Delhi
  • Indian visa fee ($100 for US citizens)
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Alcohol
  • Additional activities, such as rafting
Payments

Please refer to the Price tab for specific information about price & what is included on your journey.

We accept payments via check and credit or debit card (via PayPal). For our guests outside the U.S., please write [email protected] for the best transfer details, to save you from PayPal’s 2.5% currency conversion charge.

  • Paying by Check: Checks can be made out to RetreaTours and sent to 8821 NW 14 Street, Pembroke Pines, FL 33024.
  • Paying by Credit Card or PayPal balance: You can pay with credit card or PayPal balance through the following the green buttons below.  Please click the appropriate amount to be taken to PayPal’s homepage to complete your transaction. Note that you do not have to pay with your PayPal balance; please click here if you’d like further instruction.

We will email you an invoice (via PayPal) about a week before each due date.

Click here to pay the $1000 deposit by credit card (via PayPal)

Registration Questions & Contract

Please click here to go to this Google Form (https://goo.gl/forms/Rzv3qR7yeor5V6Zx2) to complete this journey’s Registration. You will be asked for your passport number; if you will need to renew your passport before this trip, simply fill in your old information and update us when you receive your new passport.

At the end of the form, please press “submit” to finalize your answers. Your spot is not considered reserved until you have completed these questions.

Please click here to download to view and download PDF of the contract for your records. 

About the Altitude

We’ll experience a range of altitudes on this journey; our hotels are located at 10,000 feet in Uleytokpo; ~10,000 in Nubra Valley; 11,000 at Thiksey; 11,400 in Leh; to 13,940 at Pangong Lake (just one night). We will be driving over a few 17,000+ foot passes. We plan our first few days in Uleytokpo very lightly, to allow you to acclimatize.

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to worsen at high altitude, so it is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your physician.

Certain medications are utilized to aid acclimatizing to high altitude, such as Diamox (generic: Acetazolamide); please discuss these options with your doctor or a local travel physician.

Here are some resources for you to read about altitude sickness, its symptoms, prevention, and treatment:

The following is taken from traveldoctor.co.uk/altitude.htm:

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

AMS is very common at high altitude. At over 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) 75% of people will have mild symptoms. The occurrence of AMS is dependent upon the elevation, the rate of ascent, and individual susceptibility. Many people will experience mild AMS during the acclimatisation process. The symptoms usually start 12 to 24 hours after arrival at altitude and begin to decrease in severity around the third day.

The symptoms of Mild AMS include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea & Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Disturbed sleep
  • General feeling of malaise

Symptoms tend to be worse at night and when respiratory drive is decreased. Mild AMS does not interfere with normal activity and symptoms generally subside within two to four days as the body acclimatises. As long as symptoms are mild, and only a nuisance, ascent can continue at a moderate rate. When hiking, it is essential that you communicate any symptoms of illness immediately to others on your trip.

You may consider using ibuprofen as a preventative (if this is something that is safe for you and you have discussed with your physician). “Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory medication often used as a painkiller, was found to significantly reduce the incidence of altitude sickness in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 86 men and women, according to the study, published online March 20 in Annals of Emergency Medicine.”  [Source: https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2012/03/ibuprofen-decreases-likelihood-of-altitude-sickness-researchers-find.html]

We recommend that, if it is safe for you, you start taking ibuprofen 24 hours before your arrival to Ladakh (take as often as instructed on the bottle).

It is important to keep us informed about how you feel and we will be checking in with you regularly.

Sleeping pills are respiratory depressants and should be avoided, as they slow down the acclimatization process.

Click here to read Lauren’s suggestions to natural therapies to begin before your trip. Lauren is a Board-certified Acupuncture Physician and Doctor of Oriental Medicine with a specialty in the world of dietary supplements.

 *All of the information here is for reference purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice from a licensed health care professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition or disease. If you are experiencing medical issues, you should contact your medical healthcare provider.

FAQ (aka, Everything You're Wondering Right About Now!) Visas, Health, Hotels, Food, Money & more.

PASSPORT/VISA

  • What do I need to know about the visa?    

First and foremost, your passport MUST be valid at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip, and you’ll need two empty pages in the Visas section of your passport (make sure they are in the Visa section, not the Amendment or Endorsement section).  You will need to arrange an Indian visa before you arrive; we will provide you more detailed information before you apply for your visa.

You can apply for a Visa on Arrival 4 to 120 days in advance of your arrival on this website. Please click here to read our blog about how to apply for this visa.  (Please click here to make sure your country is eligible for a Visa on Arrival).

If you plan on staying in India longer than 60 days, you can apply through Cox & Kings Global Services, but you must allow more time for this process (start at least 3 to 4 months before the start of the trip). Please let us know if you prefer this option.

FOOD

  • I have special dietary needs—can I be accommodated?

Vegetarians should have no problem anywhere on our travels (in fact, our hotel in Uleytokpo and Thiksey are exclusively vegetarian). The only thing that might prove difficult is veganism in India. Although meat is entirely avoidable, India is the world’s largest consumer of butter, and it is almost unavoidable in most of their curries, stews, and even breads. Many vegans that we have known to travel through India adopt what is locally referred to as a “pure veg” diet: no meat, no eggs, but it allows for dairy consumption.  (It is worth nothing that some of the reasons for avoiding dairy consumption in the west is slightly mitigated here, as there is less factory farming and antibiotic use in livestock.) Milk can be avoided by not consuming creamy dishes or milk tea.

Gluten is also avoidable in India by choosing rice over chapatis and other local breads. Celiactravel.com has GREAT printable cards in local languages to present to restaurants and hotels about your intolerance of gluten. Click here for the Hindi version.  If you have multiple dietary needs, it may be worth your while to check out these specialty cards, available in 60 different languages.

When you register for a trip, you will answer a set of questions, including a question about food allergies. We’ll take a look at your answers and let you know if we have any suggestions or concerns.

Click here for our very own Indian Food Primer!

  • Can I drink the water?

In a word, No. Although many cities around the world are getting more advanced public water systems, we don’t recommend it.  Not only from a pathogen standpoint, but it’s a different set of bacteria than your body is used to. Why risk an upset stomach if you don’t have to? We recommend drinking only bottled water, and you will want to rinse your toothbrush off in bottled water. If you’d like to bring a reusable bottle and a means of sterilization to save on plastic water bottle consumption, you are more than welcome. Otherwise, we will have access to bottled water at all times.

HEALTH

  • What vaccines do I need?

None are required to enter India, but we suggest you work with your physician or your area’s travel health expert to decide what options are best for you.  You can read the American CDC’s recommendations here and the UK’s NHS recommendations here.

  • What about the altitude?

Please see our separate toggle on this web page about the altitude.

  • What about malaria? 

Malaria is not a risk in Ladakh, but again, we request that you work with your physician or travel doctor when making these choices. Please see our blog about this topic for more information.

  • What are the physical requirements for this trip?

Please see the separate section on this page titled “Suggested Fitness Requirements.”

  • Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance is required on this trip; please see the separate “Travel Insurance” toggle on this page.

MONEY

  • How much money should I bring?

That is entirely up to you and how much shopping you want to do in Leh and the monastery gift shops.  All of your meals and transportation is covered, so you just have to gauge how much you want to spend on extras.

  • How do I get the local currency?

You can either exchange cash in India or use a local ATM (which we prefer). Just make sure you call your bank and credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling in India so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used halfway across the world.

HOTELS

  • What kind of hotels will we be staying at?

Please see the separate “About our Hotels” toggle on this page.

  • Will I be able to charge my electronics (phone, iPad, etc)?

Yes, just be sure to bring along a Universal Travel Adaptor that can go with you anywhere in the world!

COMMUNICATION

  • How can my family get ahold of me in an emergency?

Before the trip begins we will give you a contact for our hotels; in addition, we will give you our Ladakhi phone numbers ahead of time, as well as an American number good for text messages and voicemails (when we have internet access).

  • About the Wifi

Please understand that you may not be connected to the internet on most of this trip. WiFi connectivity is sparse in Ladakh due to its remote location and harsh terrain, particularly in our destinations. Ladakh uses a different phone system than the rest of India (and most of the world). Because of this, your international phone/data plans will not work in Ladakh (although they should work upon your arrival in Delhi). We will have no access to wifi in Uleytokpo, most of Nubra Valley, or Pangong. Wifi will be available in Leh and Thiksey, given that it is working in the region. When it is working, it is still much slower than you are used to and is not conducive to video chats, streaming, or downloads. We will have a local Ladakhi SIM card so that you can call home in case of emergencies or occasional check-ins, but please make peace with the possibility of having little to no internet for the entire time you are in Ladakh.

About our Hotels

All of our hotels will have an ensuite bathroom (even our tent in Pangong) with a western toilet (not a squat toilet). Most of our hotels do not have heat, but can provide extra blankets on request. We’ll provide you with specific hotel names before the start of the trip.

 

Uleytokpo

For three nights we’ll make stay along the Indus River in Uleytokpo, in order to explore the monasteries of Lamayuru, Alchi & more. This quaint riverside resort even has a spa, if you want to get a massage on the Rooftop of the World! We can even enjoy a bonfire and stargazing. This location also has a bar onsite, a rarity in this part of the world (with some decent Indian wines in stock!) The restaurant at this hotel is strictly vegetarian. There is no wifi available at this hotel.

 

Leh

Our hotel in Leh is centrally located and comfortable, each room having its own private bathroom. WiFi is available but it is not uncommon for connectivity in the entire region to go down for days at a time. This hotel does have central heating.

 

Nubra Valley

Our hotel in Nubra Valley is in an area called Hunder, and this particular hotel is owned by Thiksey Monastery. It is removed from the more touristed areas of Nubra Valley and gives us an opportunity to explore local temples and wildlife undisturbed. The rooms are simple and clean, and all rooms have their own bathroom. Please note there is no wifi at this hotel.

 

Thiksey

We will be staying at Thiksey Monastery’s guesthouse, with a gorgeous view of the monastery itself.  In fact, this guesthouse is where the His Holiness the Dalai Lama stayed during his August 2016 visit to Thiksey. Although the monastery’s guesthouse is simple, it is clean, and each room has ensuite bathrooms and hot water. Wifi can be very sporadic, due to our very remote location, and the best wifi reception is in the common areas.

Our guesthouse has an on-site vegetarian restaurant, featuring Tibetan specialties & northern Indian classics. Most importantly, we are an extremely short walk to the monastery, which is beneficial for early morning pujas and exploration.

 

Pangong

Our camp in Pangong is simple and clean, and all rooms have their own private toilet. Please note there is no wifi in Pangong.

Suggested Fitness Requirements

Participants should be able to comfortably climb and descend stairs, slowly but in a stable fashion, sometimes without handrails. In Thiksey, our guesthouse is at the bottom of the hill Thiksey Monastery is built on, and the prayer hall and upper temples are still about ~100 stairs from the highest place we can get dropped off by a vehicle. From the guesthouse, it is 400 feet to the top of the monastery (or about ~475 stairs). It is normal to feel winded climbing stairs at altitude–slow and steady wins the race.

We will be driving for several multi-hour stretches several times on this trip, so guests should be able to sit in a vehicle for up to 5 hours at a time (although we can stop for bathroom breaks and leg-stretching along the way).

At many of the places we visit, we will be sitting on the floor (or on very low mats); guests should feel comfortable sitting on the floor for 20-30 minutes at a time (although you are certainly able to get up and stretch your legs at any time).

Please see the “About the Altitude” section on this web page for more important information.

Travel Insurance

If you are traveling with RetreaTours, we require that each guest carries travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment and emergency evacuation and repatriation. 

We suggest trip cancellation insurance, as well, as you never know what obstacles life can toss at you leading up to a trip. However, we do not require this coverage, we only suggest it highly.

Below you will find some options to look into, if this is a new world to you. However, we ask that you carefully consider your choice in travel insurance. What works for some people may not work for others, particularly if you have any pre-existing conditions. Please do take the time to consider the best policy for your individual needs.

World Nomads provides medical coverage for guests under 70 that includes trip cancellation, as well. You can use the box on this page to get a quote and see coverage.

InsureMyTrip.com is a good place to see and compare many policies at once, and you can refine the options by what coverage you would like.

It may also be a good idea to check with your credit card companies, especially American Express, to see if they offer any medical coverage for travel.

Travel Insurance. Simple & Flexible.

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    About your International Flights

    We are more than happy to recommend international flights, but ultimately you will make the purchase yourself. Here is some important information if you would like to research flights yourself:

    When must I arrive in Delhi / where will I stay in Delhi?

    Your flight to Leh is early in the morning on June 1st, so we recommend arriving in Delhi the evening of May 31st at the latest, so that you do not miss your flight on June 1st if your international flight is delayed. We will provide you a list of recommended hotels in New Delhi, some extremely close to the airport, and all of them comfortable and safe. You can make these bookings yourself online, in addition to airport pick up and drop off arrangements through the hotel.

    What time should I book my departing flight from India?

    You will be leaving Ladakh the morning of June 13th, and although it’s usually clear this time of year, delays are always possible. We would recommend making your return flight home no earlier than 6 PM on June 13th—perhaps even later to account for any potential delays. 

    Temperature & Suggested Packing List

    Based on historical averages and 2016’s temperatures, the typical temperature while we are in Leh will be 50° to 85° F (10° to 29° C), and although rain is not likely, it is possible. It can feel quite hot in the sun and chilly in the shade, so layers are going to be your best friend on this trip!

    Unfortunately, there are no accurate weather forecasts we’ve found for Ladakh; your best bet is to visit Accuweather and look at June 2018’s actual temperatures. Even that doesn’t feel entirely accurate to us, but it is a good starting place.

    Note: The weight limit on your internal flights (from Delhi to Leh and return) will be 44 lbs (20 kg), not the 50 lbs that you may be used to domestically in the USA.  If you prefer to only bring a carry-on, you’re welcome to do that, as well.

    One more tip: Using packing cubes may make your life easier.BJ and Lauren swear by them, and they’ve been living out of their suitcases since the beginning of 2013!

    Clothing

    Although more and more Indians are adopting Western wear, traditional clothing is very prevalent and modesty is the name of the game (particularly around the monastery!)  Please do not wear clothes that are tight, transparent or show too much skin or underarms. This means no tank tops or mid-riff baring tops (even for your yoga gear). We also discourage wearing form-fitting “skinny” jeans and shorts/skirts above the knee. Instead, we recommend wear loose fitting clothing such as long skirts, pants, capri-length pants, and t-shirts, collared shirts, blouses or tunics.

    • 8+ pairs undergarments; you can always have them washed or wash them yourself in your bathroom.
    • 3-5 pair pants or long skirts.  You may want to bring leggings or long johns (2 or 3 pair) to wear under your long kurtas, tunics, skirts or pants on chilly mornings or evenings (again—it’s all about the layers!) Fleece pants might be nice, and good to sleep in (remember, the nights are going to be in the 40’s to 50’s)
    • 4-5 cotton t-shirts, blouses, or long sleeve shirts.
    • A thicker sweater or jacket for cold Ladakh mornings and evenings.
    • A windbreaker or shell might prove useful if your jacket doesn’t protect you from the wind or rain.
    • A warm hat and scarf for chilly mornings and evenings.
    • 2-3 pairs of socks. Wool (like SmartWool) or tech socks work very well, but whatever socks you have will be just fine.
    • Warm sleeping attire
    • Comfortable walking shoes. Boots aren’t necessary and can be cumbersome when going in and out of monasteries and temples. Sneakers or comfortable slip-ons will suffice.
    • Walking sandals (such as Teva’s, Chaco’s, or Merrell’s) also work very well here.
    • A hat with a brim is a very good idea for our daytime adventures.

    Accessories

    • Ear plugs and eye shades to help you sleep better and recover from jet lag more quickly. BJ swears by thisclick here to read an article he wrote on the topic.
    • Good sunscreen is CRITICAL at this altitude.  Lauren prefers mineral-based ones: good for you, good for the environment. How do you know if it’s mineral based? If the active ingredient is either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide—that’s it. MyChelle and Devita make good ones.
    • Daypack or camera bag. (If you need a recommendation on a camera, BJ would be happy to help, depending on what type of photography you like, how much you want to spend, and how much you want to carry around.)
    • If you do bring your camera, don’t forget extra batteries or your charging cord. You may want to think about an extra memory card, too.
    • Toiletries (including shampoo and conditioner)
    • A few packs of travel tissues is a good idea, to keep on you for public restrooms.
    • Wet wipes or hand sanitizer.
    • Any necessary feminine hygiene products.
    • Plug adaptor for electronics: you’ll need a 2 pin adaptor common across Europe. Here’s a nice example of a great universal adapter and here’s one with USB ports, as well.
    • An external battery charger, such as this one, may be useful for USB-powered objects. Given the remote location of this retreat, electricity can be finicky, so it is best to have a secondary way to charge your phone or camera.
    • VERY IMPORTANT!  A print out of your RETURN airline ticket itinerary; you’ll need this to enter the airport to get home. You can also have a copy (we recommend a screenshot) on your phone.
    • Photocopy of your passport and your visa, just in case you need them.
    • A small travel umbrella is a must. It can work for rain OR as a parasol
    • Notebook and pen for journaling purposes
    • Enough of any prescription drugs you need, as well as over-the-counter needs.  We recommend Imodium (anti-diarrheal), a probiotic (Lauren is a BIG fan of Jarrodophilus EPS), as well as melatonin and Benadryl for jet lag purposes.
    • Our hotels in Leh and Thiksey technically have wifi access, but outages are not uncommon (all over Ladakh). Nevertheless, we encourage you to bring your smartphone or tablet, and please don’t forget your chargers! We recommend setting up Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, or another wifi-based calling service before leaving home, and familiarizing your loved ones with it before you leave.

    Contact RetreaTours

    Please write [email protected] for any questions you may have about this journey.  If you have not received a reply within 48 hours, please do check your spam folder.

    About BJ and Lauren of RetreaTours

    Lauren & BJ with their dear friends Chamba (L) and Stanzin (R).

    RetreaTours is perfectly suited to facilitate your time in Ladakh. BJ Graf has been traveling to Ladakh and Thiksey Monastery since 1995. He was invited as Thiksey Monastery’s official photographer for the Dalai Lama’s Summer 2010 visit to Nubra Valley and again for HHDL’s August 2016 Thiksey Monastery visit and his 2017 teachings at Disket Monastery. In addition, one of BJ’s portraits of Thiksey Rinpoche graces the cover of his recent biography.

    Having developed deep and personal connections to many lamas (monks) at Thiksey, BJ and Lauren have secured access to sacred prayer halls otherwise inaccessible to the public.  In addition, you’ll experience a warm welcome into the homes of the monks and their families in the village for tea, dinner, and thought-provoking discussions about Tibetan Buddhism.

    BJ & Lauren created RetreaTours in 2010 with one goal in mind: to make world travel accessible, authentic, and astounding.  In order to focus fully on this passion, they moved out of the U.S. in January 2013 to reside full-time overseas. Each day is spent exploring new destinations, strengthening local ties & relationships, and creating memorable and transformative retreats and tours (aka, RetreaTours™!)

    BJ and HHDL 2

    HHDL & BJ at Thiksey, July 2016

    BJ & Lauren take great pride in the itineraries they plan, as they can personally vouch for every hotel, every restaurant, and every activity that you will experience. They craft each element of the trip with intention, and they understand that it is this careful attention to detail that sets them apart.  Fueled by their passion, armed with know-how, and supported by knowledgeable local professionals in all of their destinations, BJ & Lauren set the scene for the vacation of a lifetime. The dynamic duo are available to answer any and all questions before the trip begins. From giving advice on the best flights and travel insurance to providing a packing list, FAQ, and even a tiny “phrasebook,” BJ & Lauren pride themselves on these ‘nuts & bolts’ of personalized service.

    In addition, as a guest, you receive free travel consulting services (normally a $300 value) should you choose to extend your travels. As one of their most ‘frequent fliers’ put it recently, BJ & Lauren make everything easy for you. Once you arrive in your destination city, your trip is all-inclusive—your meals, transportation, lodging, site fees, donations, and tips are all taken care of.  The research has been done, the itinerary carefully laid out, the reservations made, the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. All you have to do is show up and take in all your destination has to show you!  So….let’s get going!

    Lauren & BJ with His Holiness in Ladakh on his birthday in 2017. 

    Photo Album

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    Check out this stunning music video shot in Ladakh–we’ll be visiting ALL of these places!

    Here’s what a few of our recent Ladakh guests have to say…

    BJ and Lauren are excellent, knowledgeable, and highly attentive tour leaders. They clearly love what they do, which makes all the difference. Their passion for the culture and people of Ladakh is infectious. This was the trip of a lifetime, thanks to the talent and dedication of BJ and Lauren.

    L.D.

    Lauren and BJ are the best tour guides possible. They are totally on top of the areas we visit, have developed and cultivated marvelous local relationships, and rise to any individual need with aplomb and sensitivity. A trip with them is a gift to any traveler seeking insight, fun, and adventure.

    J.P.

    I don’t know if it is possible to find a tour company that is more interested in your trip being the best one of your life. I usually don’t travel with tour companies and I have traveled a lot but I decided to try this tour. The reason for my choice was the list of activities that I would not be able to do without their vast connections. It was the best trip of my life and that is really saying something. The attention to detail and always striving for the maximum experience was way over the top as far as I was concerned. The ability to provide the opportunity for spiritual experiences that allow one to reach new levels of knowledge, expansion, and awareness is indeed a great gift to the world. Thank you BJ and Lauren.

    D.E.

    As an inexperienced traveler, I cannot say enough about RetreaTours, BJ and Lauren! Their extensive knowledge, experience, and compassion gave me complete confidence in my own capacity for adventure…and they exceeded all of my expectations!  BJ and Lauren’s wise guidance and planning for all events provided an experience that deepened my practice and gave me renewed vitality for adventure!

    E.G.

    I would recommend RetreaTours to anyone looking for a very well organized, off the beaten path adventure. BJ and Lauren attend to every detail and go above and beyond in their helpfulness. The itineraries are excellent, and their connections to hotels and local travel businesses make everything easy. Especially valuable are the friendships they have developed with local people, who will warmly welcome you as a friend of their friends.

    A.D.

     

     

     

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