Pilgrimage to Ladakh

with Megan Mook & Tricycle

Two journeys! May 15–27 and June 1–13, 2024

 

Immerse yourself in Tibetan Buddhism on the rooftop of the world during this all-inclusive, small-group journey to Ladakh, India. We’ll use the Indus River Valley as our home base on this Himalayan pilgrimage in ‘Little Tibet’ with Tricycle and Buddhist teacher Megan Mook in May or June 2024.

Trip Highlights at a Glance

  • TWO departure dates: May 15-27 and June 1–13, 2024
  • Limited to 12 pilgrims
  • Daily meditation and teachings with Megan Mook
  • Escorted by BJ Graf and Lauren Rathvon, owners of RetreaTours
  • Accompanied by Tricycle: The Buddhist Review representative Frederick M. Ranallo-Higgins
  • Explore the ancient Kingdom of Ladakh, nestled high in the Tibetan Plateau of India
  • Explore monasteries from 4 different sects of Tibetan Buddhism
  • Stay at the base of Thiksey Monastery, often called the “Mini Potala Palace”
  • Meditation and morning puja with Tibetan Buddhist monks at Thiksey Monastery
  • Spend four nights directly along the Indus River in Uleytokpo
  • Experience the “Lunar Landscape” around Lamayuru Monastery
  • Pilgrimages to monasteries from all four Tibetan Buddhist sects
  • Experience a culture more Tibetan than current-day Tibet
  • Provides funding to The Tricycle Foundation
  • Includes donations to local nunnery, monastery & school
  • Optional trip extension to the Taj Mahal
  • $6499 (USD) per person (based on double occupancy; please see “Price & Inclusions” tab below for more details

These pilgrimages are currently sold out. You can place yourself on the waitlist below to get early access to our next Ladakh pilgrimages!

How to Register

  • Review this entire webpage for details
  • Complete the registration form below. Since we have TWO departure dates, please choose the form your intended dates.
  • Lauren will email you with options for the trip deposit
  • Welcome aboard!

Thiksey Monastery

Uleytokpo

Lamayuru Monastery

Itinerary at a Glance

Since we have two departure dates, both relevant dates are listed here, separated by a slash. 

Pre-trip:  May 14 / May 31ᅠ Arrive in New Delhi and stay at your hotel of choice before your flight to Ladakh tomorrow.

May 15 / June 1ᅠ Fly to Leh, Ladakh and drive to Uleytokpo; stay at Ule Ethnic Resort on the Indus River for 4 nights. We’ll have dedicated daily meditation and dharma talks with our teacher Megan Mook.

May 16-18 / June 2-4ᅠ Using Uleytokpo as a home base, we will explore the lunar landscape of Lamayuru and its 11th-century monastery, as well as Alchi Monastery and its iconic paintings.

May 19 / June 5ᅠ We’ll head east back to the city of Leh and enjoy an afternoon in town before heading to our guesthouse at the base of Thiksey Monastery.

May 20-26 / June 6-12ᅠ We’ll enjoy daily puja each morning at Thiksey and we’ll explore local monasteries belonging to different schools of Tibetan Buddhism. We’ll engage with the monks, enjoy a family dinner, and continue our practice with Megan Mook.

May 27 / June 13ᅠ ᅠThis morning you’ll enjoy the gorgeous flight over the Himalayas back to New Delhi.

Click here to read what some of our past Ladakh pilgrims have to say!

It was the perfect Buddhist meditation retreat, thank you to Tricycle, Lauren, and BJ for making this trip happen. Come to think of it, it was my favorite trip of the last 70 years! ~K.T.

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.

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! Every day was an immersion in history, culture, and being in a place that lives the Dharma—generosity, grace, compassion, wisdom. Prayer flags, prayer wheels, stupas, mani stones…..being surrounded by all of these sacred markers, enriched my life. 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.

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 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. Especially valuable are the friendships they have developed with local people, who will warmly welcome you as a friend of their friends. ~A.D.

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.

Visiting Ladakh with RetreaTours was an unbelievable and memorable experience. I’ve never been on a retreat or to India and thanks to Lauren’s and BJ’s organization, knowledge and guidance, the trip was more than a retreat or a tour. I returned home having experienced the excitement of meeting new people, learning about a new culture and personal growth. The activities went way beyond the traditional tourist activities allowing us to truly experience the culture and history. Yet, at the same time, I never felt overwhelmed or tired and was excited by each new activity and experience. ~M.O.

BJ and Lauren are the most supportive of companions, careful organisers, and inspired teachers we could possibly have had for this totally wonderful and unforgettable experience. BJ and Lauren are connected in every way in Ladakh – from Rinpoches and high lamas, to cultural academics and local experts, to monks and nuns – transforming our Pilgrimage into a time of great richness. As well as this, what RetreaTours does so brilliantly are the joyful and intimate surprises – that involved us in unforgettable behind-the-scenes glimpses of life in Ladakh. Warmly recommended – superb organisation, imagination and delivery. Bravo to RetreaTours!  ~D.B.

About Ladakh, “Little Tibet”

Ladakh is nestled in the Himalayas, high on the Tibetan Plateau that reaches into India’s borders. Ladakh established itself as an independent country beginning in the middle of the 10th century, and in the mid-1800s Ladakh was annexed into what ultimately became India. In late 2019, Ladakh’s status changed once again, as it was made a Union Territory of India, independent from its former state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Although Ladakh has had its own strong identity for centuries, it also shares much of its Himalayan culture, religion, history, landscape, and even language with its neighbor Tibet. You may hear it said that “Ladakh is more Tibetan than Tibet,” a sad reflection on China’s cultural genocide within Tibetan borders. We are grateful we still have a window into this beautiful heritage in Ladakh. 

Ladakh has a long and rich history of Buddhism, even predating Buddhism’s movement into Tibet. Emperor Ashoka sent Buddhist missionaries into present-day Ladakh in the 2nd century BCE, where it gained even more traction in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE.

Buddhism grew in the 8th century when Ladakh was briefly under Tibetan rule. In the 11th century, the region saw a renaissance in Buddhism when Rinchen Zangpo began the construction of monasteries in Ladakh, including Alchi and Lamayuru. The 15th century saw yet another peak in Ladakhi Buddhism with the construction of even more monasteries, including our home base, Thiksey Gompa.

RetreaTours owner BJ Graf has been visiting Ladakh since 1995 and has a strong connection to the land. In the role of official Thiksey Monastery event photographer, he has been blessed to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama numerous times in Ladakh. We had the good fortune to introduce one of our groups to His Holiness (on his birthday!) in 2017.

We invite you to visit the “About RetreaTours” section on this page to learn more about BJ and Lauren and their love of Ladakh; you can also click here to see some of BJ’s photographs from Ladakh over the decades.

Recommended Reading

Helena Norberg-Hodge was one of the first westerners to visit Ladakh when it opened to tourists in 1975. She spent much of the next three years in the region studying the language; she was the first outsider in modern times to become fluent in Ladakhi. She was a positive presence in Ladakh during this region’s time of sudden modernization and change. We don’t “require” reading for our Ladakh trips, but if we did, Ancient Futures would be it!

Perhaps the most important lesson of Ladakh has to do with happiness … In Ladakh I have known a people who regard peace of mind and joie de vivre as their unquestioned birthright.

Helena Norberg-Hodge, Ancient Futures

Recommended Reading

Helena Norberg-Hodge was one of the first westerners to visit Ladakh when it opened to tourists in 1975. She spent much of the next three years in the region studying the language; she was the first outsider in modern times to become fluent in Ladakhi. She was a positive presence in Ladakh during this region’s time of sudden modernization and change. We don’t “require” reading for our Ladakh trips, but if we did, Ancient Futures would be it!

Perhaps the most important lesson of Ladakh has to do with happiness … In Ladakh I have known a people who regard peace of mind and joie de vivre as their unquestioned birthright.

Helena Norberg-Hodge, Ancient Futures

Detailed Narrative Itinerary

About our Practice & Schedule

The following itinerary is intended to outline the sites of interest we’ll be visiting along our path. 

Throughout our time together, both at sites and at our hotels, Megan Mook will lead discussion, meditation, and weave an insightful narrative. You’ll be joined by the owners of RetreaTours, BJ Graf and Lauren Rathvon, as well as a representative from Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.

We’ll only be staying at two hotels on this journey in Ladakh, and we’ll take day trips from each home base. The relaxed pace of this trip allows downtime for synthesizing your experiences, personal practice, relaxation, and for discussion with your fellow pilgrims and Megan Mook.

Since we will have two pilgrimages, we are using both relevant dates below, separated with a slash. 

May 15–18 / June 1–4

You will arrive in New Delhi on or before May 31st to prepare for your June 1st flight over the Himalayas to Ladakh. Your hotel night on May 31st is not included on this journey in order to allow the most freedom and flexibility in your arrival date and hotel choice. We’ve created a guide to our recommended hotels in New Delhi and will be happy to discuss your options with you.  For those of you who wish to extend your journey to the Taj Mahal, before of after your trip, we can help with that!

Your pilgrimage officially begins upon arrival at the Kushok Bakula Rinpoche airport in Leh, Ladakh on the morning of June 1st. The flight from New Delhi to Leh is only an hour long, but it’s one of the most picturesque flights on the planet. It will take you directly over the Himalayas, allowing you a rare, lofty perspective on the rooftop of the world.

Upon arrival in Leh, we’ll immediately head west along the Indus River to our home base at Uleytokpo (~90-minute drive). We’ll spend this day acclimatizing to the altitude, resting, and leisurely exploring the resort grounds set directly on this majestic river. The spa here is simple but a guest favorite!

We’ll spend 4 nights at the Ule Ethnic Resort and use it as a jumping-off point for further exploration. We’ll visit the otherworldly lunar landscape of Lamayuru (~90-minute drive), as well as its iconic monastery. Lamayuru Monastery is Ladakh’s oldest monastery, affiliated with the Drikung Kagyu school of Buddhism; here you can view a meditation cave used by Naropa. We’ll also visit Alchi Monastery, a Gelug monastery set directly along the Indus River, housing some of the oldest surviving paintings in Ladakh.

Our home base along the Indus River is an inspiring backdrop for morning meditations, as well as dharma talks with our teacher Megan Mook.  In our downtime, we’ll have the opportunity for scenic walks and rafting along the river, and our nights will be filled with bonfires and stargazing. If the sky is clear, the stargazing here is out of this world (no pun intended!)

May 19–27 / June 5–13

On May 19th / June 5th we’ll head back toward Leh (~90 minutes), the largest town in Ladakh, and enjoy lunch in this darling downtown hub. From there we’ll continue on to Chamba Hotel, our home away from home at the base of Thiksey Monastery (~30-minute drive).

Thiksey Monastery is one of our favorite places on the planet and we cannot wait to share it with you! This picturesque Tibetan Buddhist monastery, first constructed in the 1400s, is often called “Little Potala” for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Tibet. Thiksey is rich with history and some of the most iconic art in all of Ladakh, including a breathtaking statue of the Maitreya Buddha that was consecrated by the Dalai Lama himself. Thiksey Monastery is an absolute treasure and a joy to explore, from the Tara temple and the powerful Protector Temple to the bustling Main Prayer hall and the 400-year-old Dhukang Karmo temple.

We’ll have the opportunity each morning to attend morning puja (chanting) inside the prayer hall and partake in the ritual of butter tea and tsampa (barley flour). We’ll meet and engage in dialogue with monks about Buddhism, philosophy, and Ladakhi culture. We’ll have the good fortune to have dinner with a local Ladakhi family in their home, as well! We’ll have dedicated daily dharma and meditation sessions with Megan Mook in sacred spaces around the monastery.

There are plenty of beautiful monasteries to visit in addition to Thiksey. Time permitting, we may visit:

  • Takthok Monastery, a Nyingma monastery that is home to a meditation cave used by Padmasambhava
  • Stakna Monastery, situated on a hill overlooking the Indus river. Stakna, a Druk monastery, is renowned for its beautiful, vivid murals.
  • The tiny bit mighty Stakmo Monastery, including Lhakhang Serpo, the very first Gelug temple in all of Ladakh.
  • Mathos Monastery, a beautiful Sakya monastery renowned for its two oracles

If his schedule allows, we’ll have a private audience with the abbot of Thiksey Monastery, Rinpoche Kushok Nawang Chamba Stanzin, who has been a progressive spiritual and political leader in Ladakh for decades.

On the morning of May 27th / June 13th, you’ll fly from Leh to Delhi (one more chance to see that gorgeous vista!)  We can help arrange further travels in the region or you can head back home to reflect, process, and put into practice all you’ve experienced.

Click here to read what some of our past Ladakh pilgrims have to say!

It was the perfect Buddhist meditation retreat, thank you to Tricycle, Lauren, and BJ for making this trip happen. Come to think of it, it was my favorite trip of the last 70 years! ~K.T.

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.

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! Every day was an immersion in history, culture, and being in a place that lives the Dharma—generosity, grace, compassion, wisdom. Prayer flags, prayer wheels, stupas, mani stones…..being surrounded by all of these sacred markers, enriched my life. 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.

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 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. Especially valuable are the friendships they have developed with local people, who will warmly welcome you as a friend of their friends. ~A.D.

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.

Visiting Ladakh with RetreaTours was an unbelievable and memorable experience. I’ve never been on a retreat or to India and thanks to Lauren’s and BJ’s organization, knowledge and guidance, the trip was more than a retreat or a tour. I returned home having experienced the excitement of meeting new people, learning about a new culture and personal growth. The activities went way beyond the traditional tourist activities allowing us to truly experience the culture and history. Yet, at the same time, I never felt overwhelmed or tired and was excited by each new activity and experience. ~M.O.

BJ and Lauren are the most supportive of companions, careful organisers, and inspired teachers we could possibly have had for this totally wonderful and unforgettable experience. BJ and Lauren are connected in every way in Ladakh – from Rinpoches and high lamas, to cultural academics and local experts, to monks and nuns – transforming our Pilgrimage into a time of great richness. As well as this, what RetreaTours does so brilliantly are the joyful and intimate surprises – that involved us in unforgettable behind-the-scenes glimpses of life in Ladakh. Warmly recommended – superb organisation, imagination and delivery. Bravo to RetreaTours!  ~D.B.

Please click each section to open it.

Price & What is Included

There is a minimum of 7 guests required for this journey and a maximum of 12. When we have reached our minimum, we will let you know, at which time you can buy airfare and your travel insurance.

  • This journey is$6499 USD per person.
  • The non-refundable deposit is$1000and holds your space
  • The 2nd installment of $3000 is due on January 1, 2024
  • The balance is due March 1, 2024
  • The private room supplement is $499; please note that we cannot guarantee a rooommate.

Your Price Includes

  • Daily sessions with Megan Mook
  • Roundtrip flight from New Delhi to Leh, Ladakh
  • All accommodations from May 15 – May 27 /  June 1 to June 12
  • All ground transportation within Ladakh
  • All meals from lunch on May 15 / June 1 until breakfast on May 27 / June 13
  • All tips to restaurant and hotel staff
  • An online photo album of the experience for you to download and share
  • $1000 in funding to The Tricycle Foundation

Price doesᅠnot include

  • International airfare
  • Hotel night in New Delhi on May 14 / May 31 or airport pick-up in Delhi
  • India visa fee (currently $25 for 30-day eTourist visa for most nationalities)
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Rafting experience in Uleytokpo
Payment Details

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

The non-refundable $1000 deposit guarantees your space. The 2nd installment of $3000 is due on January 1, 2024 and the balance on March 1, 2024.

For our American guests, we accept payments via check, credit, or debit card (via PayPal), Zelle, or Venmo. Lauren will send you these details after receiving your application has been accepted.

For our guests outside the U.S., Lauren will connect with you about the best ways to transfer money.

    Cancellation Policy

    We do everything in our power to do right by our guests. We are proud to say that in the wake of our COVID-related trip cancellations through 2020 and 2021, we were able to offer each of our guests the choice of a 100% credit, if not a full refund.

    We’ve re-examined each trip and done our best to reduce the deposit amounts as much as possible. Upon your registration, your deposit immediately goes toward reserving your space for flights, hotels, and excursions that must be booked months in advance and are often non-refundable.

    Cancellation by our guests

    The cancellation charges are as follows unless otherwise indicated on the detailed itinerary for each trip. All cancellations must be received via e-mail or US mail.

    • Cancellations prior to 120 days to departure, money will be refunded minus the non-refundable deposit. Please note that deposits for any pre-trip or post-trip extensions are not transferable to another portion of the trip should you decide to cancel that module of the journey.
    • Cancellations received 61 to 119 days prior to departure are subject to a penalty of 50% of the total cost of the trip.
    • Cancellations received 60 days or less prior to trip departure will forfeit the entire cost of the trip.

    If a trip is cancelled by RetreaTours

    When a tour is cancelled in the case of force majeure, the Tour Participant will receive a refund minus any funds that we are unable to recover from any supplier.

    You can see the full cancellation policy in our contract here. 

    Our Carbon Offset Commitment

    RetreaTours is Climate Positive!

    We purchase double carbon offsets for your travels with us—that’s from your home, through the entire tour, and back to your home again, times two

    RetreaTours is officially a Carbonfree® Partner with Carbonfund.org, as well as a partner with Cool Effect.

    You may have heard the term “carbon neutral,” which means that a company offsets as much carbon as it produces. With this 200% offset, RetreaTours is actually offsetting more carbon than we produce each year, making us “carbon negative” (or “climate positive,” which has a nicer ring to it!)

    Since 2012 we’ve focused on making travel safe and easy for our guests; with our triple carbon offset tours, we’re pleased to make our trips as sustainable as they are memorable.

    Please see more at RetreaTours.com/CarbonNegative

    Passport & Visa Requirement

    Your passport must have at least 2 blank pages and be valid for at least 6 months beyond the end of the trip.

    You can apply for a 30-day Indian eTourist visa 4 to 30 days before your trip. You can apply for a 1-year eTourist visa up to 4 months before the journey.

    We will provide detailed instructions and all information you will need for this visa. Currently, 30-day India eTourist visas are $25 USD plus processing fees.

    Suggested Fitness Requirements

    We want to paint a realistic picture of what to expect on this journey. If you have any questions at all about whether or not this is the right trip for you, please email us!

    Stairs

    Stairs are a big part of this experience, particularly in the latter half, at Thiksey Monastery. 

    One of our primary teaching and meditation spaces at Thiksey Monastery is in a centuries-old temple up ~200 steps from our guest house. Participants should be able to comfortably climb and descend stairs, often without handrails.

    The main prayer hall at Thiksey is also up ~130 stairs from the entrance of the monastery that is accessible by road.

    It is normal to feel winded climbing stairs at altitude–slow and steady wins the race and you can allow yourself ample time to get to your destination.

    Sitting

    You will often have to sit on or close to the floor in our prayer halls, although cushions are available and we recommend bringing inflatable meditation cushions, as well. (Note: If you have traveled with us before, you know that we typically can make all kind of accommodations, but we cannot bring chairs into the prayer halls for you.)

    Your hotel rooms have Western sit toilets (the kind you are used to at home), but we may encounter squat toilets when we are on our day trips.

    Altitude

    It is very important that you read the separate “About the Altitude” tab below!

    Vaccines & Staying Healthy on Tour

    Vaccines

    RetreaTours requires proof of a COVID-19 vaccine and booster for this journey.

    No vaccines 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. It’s always best to stay up to date on routine vaccines before you travel.

    You can read the CDC’s recommendations here and the UK NHS recommendations here.

    Altitude

    Please visit our comprehensive blog about staying well at high altitude. 

    Staying Healthy on Tour

    Please visit our comprehensive article, “How to Stay Healthy While Traveling…Naturally,” which addresses all of the most common travel ailments.

    About the Altitude

    Ladakh is set on the Tibetan Plateau and we will experience high altitude on this trip.

    In order to easy you into it, we start at Uleytokpo, which is at 10,000 feet. After a four days we will continue on to Thiksey Monastery atᅠ10,600 ft (3200 m).

    We plan our first few days very lightly, to allow you to acclimatize to this altitude. However, it is crucial to understand how altitude affects the body and what you can do to minimize any symptoms.ᅠ

    Please click here and read our comprehensive blog about staying well at high altitude.ᅠ

    Travel Insurance

    Required Coverage

    RetreaTours requires that each guest carries travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment and emergency evacuation and repatriation. The minimum coverage should be $100,000 emergency medical treatment and $250,000 emergency evacuation and repatriation.

    Please send Lauren your policy information as soon as you have it.

    Suggested Coverage

    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.

    Please familiarize yourself with RetreaTours’ guest cancellation policy in your journey’s contract. Please read this article to understand a bit more about trip cancellation insurance and what it may or may not cover. “Cancel For Any Reason” policies do exist, as well, although do check to see what percentage of the trip cost they actually reimburse.

    When to purchase your policy

    Please purchase this insurance as soon as we tell you the trip has reached its minimum. Please do not wait until the last minute, should you need to use your (optional) cancellation coverage before then.

    Where to search for policies

    Below you will find some options to start your search for trip insurance. 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.

    Squaremouth.com and InsureMyTrip.com are two sites where you can see and compare many policies at once, and you can refine the options by what coverage you would like. Squaremouth’s interface is very easy and intuitive to use, and you can easily opt out of trip cancellation coverage.

    World Nomads provides policies for guests under 70 that includes trip cancellation options. Use the link above and pop in your info to get an immediate quote.

    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.

    Expected Temperatures & Suggested Packing List

    Ladakh sits on the Tibetan Plateau, a high-altitude desert. Expect the temperature to range from 40° to 70°F (4.5° to 21°C) with very little humidity. Because of the low humidity, it can be chilly in the shade and warm in the direct sun.

    For your arrival in New Delhi, expect temperatures from 85° to 95°F (30° to 35°C) with high humidity and a fair chance of rain.

    We’ll provide a suggested packing list several months before this journey.

    About our Accommodations

    Our Resort in Uleytokpo

    For four nights we’ll make Uletokpo’s Ule Ethnic Resort our home. We’ll perch directly above the Indus River in our cottages, and we can even enjoy a bonfire and stargazing with a telescope. This quaint riverside resort even has a spa, if you want to get a massage on the Rooftop of the World. Perhaps you dare to go rafting in the Indus, as well! From here we’ll explore the monasteries of Lamayuru and Alchi.

    Each room has an attached bathroom and shower with hot water, and there is electricity 24/7. This hotel’s restaurant is entirely vegetarian, and their specialty is their homemade apricot juice and jam!

    There is NO wifi connectivity at Uleytokpo, so you will be completely out of touch from May 27 – 19 / June 1 until June 5*. Please do not expect your international phone plan to work in Ladakh, nor a SIM card that works in the rest of India, since this region uses a different system than the rest of India. It is difficult to obtain a SIM card in Ladakh so any connectivity will come from the Wifi.

    *Uleytokpo is upgrading their systems, so wifi may actually be possible on these dayes–stay tuned!

     

     

    Our Hotel at Thiksey

    We will be staying at Thiksey Monastery’s guesthouse, Chamba Hotel, 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 with western toilets, showers, and hot water, and there is electricity 24/7.

    Our hotel’s restaurant is entirely vegetarian, featuring northern Indian classics. We’ll eat nourishing meals together that highlight local produce and classical Indian flavors. We’ll enjoy the hotel’s well-manicured courtyard and its comfortable lounge for discussions and catching up with each other. Most importantly, we are an extremely short walk to the monastery, which is beneficial for early morning pujas and exploration.  

    Wifi can be a challenge high in the Himalayas. Wifi is typically available at Thiksey but inconsistent and at a slower speed than you are accustomed to. We encourage pilgrims to be mindful of other guests and rely mostly on text and voice calls and not video chat which can make it difficult for other people to use the wifi.

    About Your Arrival and First Night in New Delhi

    Arrival

    You will need to arrive in New Delhi, India by May 14th OR May 31st in order to prepare for your flight to Ladakh on the morning of May 15th / June 1st. Your hotel night on May 14th / May 31st is not included in order to allow you the most flexibility in terms of schedule and hotel category. We’ve created a webpage here that will give you hotel suggestions in New Delhi.

    You will arrange airport pick-up with your hotel, as well as airport drop-off on the morning of May 15th / June 1st. You will be provided with your ticket for your May 15th / June 1st flight to Ladakh.

     

    Departure

    Your flight from Leh, Ladakh back to New Delhi is included on this journey. Expect to reach New Delhi by 2 PM on May 27th / June 13th at the latest (barring any unexpected flight cancellations or long delays) and you can plan your flight home accordingly. Any flight time after 6 PM on May 27th / June 13th should be fine, allowing you time to collect your luggage and check back in for your international flight.

    Contact RetreaTours

    Please email Lauren with any questions you may have about this journey.

    Meet BJ & Lauren of RetreaTours

    You’ll be joined on this journey by Lauren & BJ, owners of RetreaTours.

    Husband-and-wife team BJ Graf and Lauren Rathvon have traveled the globe year-round since January 2013, researching, designing, and leading impactful journeys. We are deeply grateful for the trust that our guests place in us to save them time and resources while they enjoy a memorable journey.

    We are committed not only to our guests but to our host destinations and the planet at large. We engage with local businesses and guides to keep money within the community, and we triple-carbon offset each of our tours.

    We invite you to visit our Testimonials page to see what other people have to say about us!  You can head to our About Us page to learn more about our story.

    RetreaTours has a very special relationship with Thiksey Monastery. BJ Graf has been visiting this region since 1995 and has fostered close relationships with Ladakhi lamas (monks) and laypeople alike. This intimate personal connection allows us to reach deeper and more meaningfully into the culture and community.

    BJ has been bringing guests to Ladakh since 2006. With our unprecedented access to ancient prayer halls and intimate friendships with Thiksey’s monks and their families in the village, our Ladakh guests always come away inspired and uplifted.

    BJ was invited to serve as Thiksey Monastery’s official photographer in 2010, 2016, and 2017 for three very special Thiksey-sponsored events with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In addition to capturing these events in photos, BJ enjoyed conversation, some good-natured ribbing, and a good luck head rub by the Dalai Lama himself. In 2017, we were blessed to create an opportunity for one of our groups to have an audience with His Holiness on his birthday.

    Over the years, BJ has had the good fortune to spend time with and photograph the 20th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, as well as the 102nd Ganden Tripa, Ling Rinpoche, Khen Rinpoche (former abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery), KelKhang Rinpoche, Kachen Lobzang Zotpa, and HHDL’s sister and humanitarian, Jetsun Pema. We are eternally grateful to Thiksey Rinpoche, KelKhang Rinpoche, Khenrap-la, and countless others for their endless support in crafting transformative experiences in Thiksey, Leh, and beyond.

    About Megan Mook

    A long-term student of both Tibetan Buddhism and yoga, Megan Mook holds a Master’s Degree in Buddhist Studies, and has traveled extensively pursuing Dharma, yoga, and herbalism. A member of the Tibetan Translators Guild of New York, Megan has worked on Tibetan scriptural translations with Dr. Robert Thurman and Dr. Lozang Jamspal, an 87-year-old Tibetan Lama with whom Megan studied and traveled for several years. Megan regularly offers Buddhist philosophy classes and meditation retreats, and leads international Buddhist pilgrimages for Tricycle Buddhist Review.

    Learn more at MeganMook.com.

    About Tricycle: The Buddhist Review

    Established in 1990 as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization, The Tricycle Foundation is dedicated to making Buddhist teachings and practices broadly available. In 1991 the Foundation launched Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, the first magazine intended to present Buddhist perspectives to a Western readership. Tricycle soon became the leading independent journal of Buddhism in the West, where it continues to be the most inclusive and widely read vehicle for the dissemination of Buddhist views and values.

    Our readership includes longtime practitioners, those who are curious about Buddhism or meditation, and those who do not identify as Buddhist but value the teachings of wisdom and compassion that Buddhism has to offer. By remaining unaffiliated with any particular teacher, sect or lineage, Tricycle provides a unique and independent public forum for exploring Buddhism, establishing a dialogue between Buddhism and the broader culture, and introducing Buddhist thinking to Western disciplines. This approach has enabled Tricycle to successfully attract readers from all walks of life, many of whom desire to enrich their lives through a deeper knowledge of Buddhist traditions.

    Tricycle has been recognized with the prestigious Folio Award for Best Spiritual Magazine three times, and has twice garnered the Utne Media Award, most recently in 2013. As part of our commitment to our readers who are seeking to implement or sustain Buddhist values and practices, Tricycle accepts advertising only from teachers, programs, centers, and businesses whose offerings we believe will support those aims. Because of this selective policy, we depend on donations to support ever-rising printing and production costs, content updates to our website, and life-enriching programs. The Foundation also hosts occasional pilgrimages that provide opportunities for new and experienced practitioners to explore sites of importance to Buddhist history and practice.

    Mission Statement

    The mission of The Tricycle Foundation is to create forums for exploring contemporary and historic Buddhist activity, examine the impact of its new context in the democratic traditions of the West, and introduce fresh views and attainable methods for enlightened living to the culture at large. At the core of the Foundation’s mission is the alleviation of suffering that Buddhist teachings are meant bring about. Tricycle is an independent foundation unaffiliated with any one lineage or sect.

    Why “Tricycle?”

    A three-wheeled vehicle aptly evokes the fundamental components of Buddhist philosophy. Buddhism itself is often referred to as the “vehicle to enlightenment,” and the tricycle’s three wheels allude to the three treasures: The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, or the enlightened teacher, the teachings, and the community. The wheels also relate to the turning of the wheel of dharma, or skillfully using the teachings of the Buddha to face the challenges that the circle of life presents.

    About Frederick M. Ranallo-Higgins

    Frederick M. Ranallo-Higgins is Associate Editor and the Robert H N Ho Family Foundation Buddhism Public Scholar at Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. He received a Ph.D. in Asian Languages and Cultures from UCLA, where he focused on Korean history and Buddhism and specialized in new Buddhist movements. He was a novice monk in Korea for five years and has studied Buddhist history, culture, and the dharma for over thirty-five years.

    Frederick currently writes for Tricycle and leads efforts to update its “Buddhism for Beginners” subsite. He lives in Philadelphia, USA.

    Photo Album

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    Want to see our other Pilgrimages with Tricycle?

    We love traveling with Tricycle & we know that you will enjoy these transformative journeys, too! Click below to see all of our current Tricycle Pilgrimages at a glance.

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