Arrival in Manali
You’ll arrive in Manali either from Dharamsala or Shimla, ready for your journey over the second highest black-top road in the world. Tucked away between rich green hills, Manali is an easy-going town popular with Indian honeymooners and nature-loving hippies. The valley is a mountain Shangri-La filled with traditional farmer’s houses, orchards, fields, and refreshing waterfalls. In the afternoon, you can enjoy a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs at nearby Vashisht, next to a fast-flowing river and flower-filled meadows. Your welcoming hotel on is located in the Old Quarter, nestled amongst thick pine trees.
Manali to Jispa
Today, you’ll make an early start for the drive from Manali to Jispa. From Manali, you’ll climb higher and higher, leaving the green landscape behind you as you pass the tree line. On the way, you’ll climb over a mountain pass at 4,000 metres and you’ll really feel the altitude as the cool wind whips about your face. Soon, you’ll be surrounded by gigantic peaks towering at over 6,000 metres, stopping regularly to enjoy the jaw-dropping. Finally, you’ll descend a little into the small village of Jispa, where you’ll spend the night in a simple, but comfortable hotel.
Jispa to Leh
Today, you’ll set off on the journey to Leh, climbing even higher into the Himalayas. Already well above the tree line, you’ll find yourself amidst a stony desert sprinkled with snowy patches. You’ll cross high mountain passes and vast sandy plains with no signs of life. When you make rest stops, you can enjoy some steaming masala chai, spiced with cardamom and cloves. Finally, you’ll pull into the green Leh Valley, where you’ll settle into your cosy guesthouse.
There’s nothing planned for today, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore Leh at your own pace. The town lies at 3,500 metres (11,480 feet) above sea level and there’s a nine-storey palace in the historic town that looks very similar to the Potala in Lhasa. Visit the bazaar, overloaded with colourful jewellery and Tibetan textiles or find a bench in the crisp sunshine and settle down with a good book. It’s completely up to you.
Tibetan monastery visit by car
Today, your guide will collect you from the guesthouse and you’ll set off by car to explore the area. Your first stop will be Shey Monastery, standing on the far side of an grass plain lined with conifers and surrounded by steep bare walls of rock. Next, in Thikse Monastery, you’ll see monks praying, chanting, ringing bells and playing horns that echo around the valley. Surrounded by the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, it’s something that will send tingles down your spine. The last monastery you’ll visit today is Hemis Monastery, the largest and richest of the three. At the end of this remarkable afternoon, you’ll head back to your guesthouse, where you can sip a cup of chai and try some tasty local dishes.
Departure from Leh
Today, you’ll take your time to enjoy a tasty breakfast while the sun slowly warms the valley. Your trip ends after this and you’ll be free to continue with the rest of your adventure.
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