Kashmir & Ladakh Photo Tour
21st July – 1st August 2019
India – but not as you know it…
This photography tour amalgamates two of the most exotic and exciting tourist destinations of India into one – Kashmir & Ladakh.
Kashmir is a fertile region enclosed by snow-capped mountains; the valley’s beauty has been praised for centuries. It has been likened to being India’s Switzerland, attracting local tourists seeking the cool summer air and the wonderful alpine scenery. Srinagar, the capital city of Kashmir, is famed as one of the most beautiful places on earth and it doesn’t disappoint. With your accommodation on one of the famed houseboats on Dal Lake, you will be able to relax in the tranquil waters, and explore the Mughal gardens and monuments of this great city.
Ladakh is a land like no other. It is India’s most remote region, but its beauty is incomparable. Bounded by two of the world’s mightiest mountain ranges, the Himalaya and the Karakoram, Ladakh is a high-altitude desert area located at the western edge of the Tibetan plateau. The locals have hard lives but are exceptionally friendly and are very willing to engage with you as you take their photograph. With the bluest sky in the world, and scenery that can look more like Star Wars than anywhere on Earth, it is really very difficult to take a bad photo in the high-altitude desert region of Ladakh. Every corner you turn around is just more stark and stunning beauty.
Imagine the scene… ancient monasteries set amongst arid canyons, high altitude passes and soaring snow-capped peaks, fluttering prayer flags, fertile green valley’s threading their way through the spectacular mountains, whilst tiny settlements nestle photogenically in highland deserts with Nomadic tribes crossing with their goats, yaks and camels, all set against cobalt blue skies.
Whatever you do here you can be sure of getting amazing images, learning new skills, having great fun with like-minded others, along with having an unforgettable experience in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
DELHI: Discover the long and fascinating history of the cosmopolitan capital city with its rich array of monuments.
SRINAGAR: Famous for Dal Lake and Mughal gardens.
SONAMARG: Sonamarg directly translates as Meadow of Gold. Surrounded by snowy mountains Sonamarg is rich with Alpine flowers and forests of Pine and Fir.
KARGIL: Famous for beautiful Peaks and situated on the ancient silk route; caravans often stop to rest here.
ALCHI: Beautiful village in Ladakh and famous for wall paintings and Alchi Monastery.
LEH: Enchanting trading centre with a market, ruined palace and stunning scenery.
NUBRA: Nubra Valley offer tremendous scenery on a grand scale and is known as the Orchard of Ladakh.
PANGONG: home to Pangong Lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350m.
STOK: Stok Palace was opened to the public in 1980 with the blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It has been home of the Namgyal dynasty, which dates back as early as the 10th Century.
|Day One||Arrive Delhi||(D)||21st July|
- Arrival at IGI Airport
- Transfer to hotel
- Overnight stay at the hotel near Airport
Arrive at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport… Welcome to India! Our representative will meet and welcome you in the arrival hall. You will be escorted to the awaiting vehicle and accompanied to the hotel where the rest of the group will be staying.
Delhi, the capital city of India is a perfect fusion of the ancient and the modern. It is a city of contrasts, rich in culture, architecture and human diversity, which are reflected in its monuments, museums, galleries and gardens. Comprising of two contrasting yet harmonious parts to Delhi- Old Delhi gives an insight into the city’s Mughal past and takes you through the tangled streets passing through formidable mosques, monuments and forts. The imperial city of New Delhi displays the finely curved architecture of British Raj. It generates a mesmerising charm reflecting well-composed and spacious streets under the shade of beautifully lined avenues of trees and tall and imposing government buildings.
|Day Two||Delhi – Srinagar||(B, D)||22nd July|
- AM Flight to Srinagar
- PM Boat Ride on Dal Lake
- Overnight stay at the houseboat
After breakfast at the hotel, check-out and transfer to the Airport for your flight to Srinagar.
Flight # AI-825. Departure from Delhi At 10:15 hrs. Arrival at Srinagar At 11:45 hrs.
Upon arrival at Srinagar Airport you will be transferred to the houseboat on Dal Lake. Srinagar, on the edge of Dal Lake, is Kashmir’s most important town. Some houseboats on Dal Lake are regular residences, while others are quaint hotels for tourists. The exteriors of the houseboats are adorned with delicate arabesque patterns.
The houseboats used as hotels, have a wide living-room, dining-room & three or four bedrooms with bathrooms attached. The morning sunshine sparkles on the lake and the mountains make the landscape look like an exquisite painting.
There were nine wooden bridges over the Jhelum River but some were destroyed during the years of strife. Even mosques & houses are made of wood. Wooden houses four to five stories high are seen crowded together, a rare sight, even in the plains. In the afternoon, we take a Shikara Ride to get familiarised with the waters of the Dal and its scenic beauty that we are going to admire for the couple of days we are on it. Shikaras are long gondala type rowing boats which crowd the Srinagar lakes. They are used for getting back and forth from the houseboats or for longer tours. A Shikara ride is one of the most soothing, relaxing aspects of a holiday in Kashmir and is also a great way to capture a different perspective of this beautiful area.
|Day Three||Srinagar||(B, D)||23rd July|
- Early morning Boat Ride on the Lake
- Day to visit the Mughal Gardens
Early morning we enjoy a Boat Ride and explore floating vegetable market on the Dal Lake. The Dal is famous not only for its beauty, but for its vibrancy. It sustains within its periphery, a life that is unique. The houseboat and Shikara communities have lived there for centuries and so complete is their infrastructure on the lake that they never have to step on land! Doctors, tailors, and bakers – you’ll see them all in tiny wooden shops on the lake, near picturesque vegetable gardens and acres of lotus gardens.
Later in the day we proceed to visit the Mughal Gardens of Srinagar City, which have remained a great backdrop for many of the Bollywood Film songs. With terraced lawns, cascading fountains, paint-box-bright flowerbeds with the panorama of the Dal in front of them – the three Mughal Gardens of Chesmashahi, Nishat and Shalimar are the Mughal Emperors’ concept of paradise. With inspiration taken from the Italian Renaissance period as well as Islamic garden designs, these gardens will offer many opportunities for us to hone our photographic skills, whilst enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
|Day Four||Srinagar – Sonamarg||(B, D)||24th July|
- AM drive to Sonamarg
- PM walk to the Thajiwas Glacier
After breakfast on the houseboat we will check-out and transfer to Sonamarg (approx. 2 hours drive).
Sonamarg is famous for its meadows, mountains, alpine flowers and forests of Pine & Fir. Situated at an altitude of 2730m, this small town sits on the banks of the River Sind.
In the afternoon we trek to Thajiwas Glacier which serves as the temporary shelter of the Bakerwals – who are tribal shepherds who reside here during summer months (June till September). As the snow recedes during summer, it leaves green grassy slopes for the ponies and sheep to graze. This is a short trek (about 3-4 kms) from the main road. From here we will take our time capturing stunning images of the scenic mountain slopes and tribal settlements.
|Day Five||Sonamarg – Kargil||(B, D)||25th July|
- AM drive to Kargil
- PM Walk in Kargil Market
After Breakfast drive to Kargil (approx. 5 hours), en-route stopping at the Drass War Memorial.
Kargil town is situated on the ancient Silk Route where trading caravans used to stop to rest. Kargil is situated on the banks of River Suru at an altitude of 2675m. Being in the dry region, the days are quite warm in summer and the evenings are comfortable. The local population is predominantly Baltis (mixed of Dard and Tibetan descent).
In the afternoon we walk in the lanes of Kargil market and stroll along the Suru River. Even today, the bazaar has retained its old world charm and you will find shops built in archetypical mud and wood Ladakhi architecture.
|Day Six||Kargil – Nurla||(B, D)||26th July|
- AM drive to Nurla – en-route visiting Mulbekh and Lamayuru
After breakfast at the hotel check-out and drive to Nurla (approx. 4 hours drive)
En-route we stop and visit Mulbekh and Lamayuru.
Mulbekh is the first major Buddhist village after Kargil (approx. 1 hour) having a large statue of Buddha (Maitreya – Future Buddha) which was carved in the Rock in the 8th Century. Lamayuru is one of the largest and the most ancient monastery of Ladakh, housing nearly 150 monks. There are a number of shrines, Thangkas (ancient Buddhist art used as tools and guides for meditation for aspiring monks) and some superb wall paintings displayed in this monastery.
In the afternoon we drive to Nurla, where we stay overnight, taking in the sights along the way.
|Day Seven||Nurla – Alchi – Nimmu||(B, D)||27th July|
- AM drive to Alchi and visit
- PM Continue drive to Nimmu
After breakfast we drive to Alchi (approx. 1 hour) and visit Alchi Monastery. Alchi monastery is unusually located in the plains rather than on a hill. It is a perfect example of a Buddhist temple and remains protected from invasions.
Later we continue drive to Nimmu, en-route visiting Basgo Ruins (approx. 2 hours). Basco ruins are what remain of Basco Palace. Made of mud and rocks, the surreal ruins perched on a steep hill give an impression of huge anthills emerging from the ground. This is a fascinating ruin and situated in a breath taking location. After taking as much time as we need to photograph this location we continue our journey to Nimmu.
|Day Eight||Nimmu – Leh||(B, D)||28th July|
- AM drive to Leh
- PM visit Leh Market & Palace
After a leisurely breakfast at Nimmu House, we drive to Leh (approx. 1 hour). En-route we stop at Sangam – the confluence of Rivers Indus and Zanskar.
In the afternoon we visit Leh – a prominent trading centre connecting Kashmir, Tibet & China. We will visit the Leh Market and Leh Palace – a nine-storey structure, which was built during the 17th century lies now mostly in ruins. The landscape around, dotted with houses with interior courtyards & almost no greenery looks like a desert.
The town of Leh is sprawled on a slope and receives around 10cm of precipitation a year and most of this falls as snow. As a result, all the houses have flat roofs.
|Day Nine||Leh||(B, D)||29th July|
- Day to excursion to Thiksey & Hemis Monasteries
After Breakfast we proceed on a tour to explore some of the important Monasteries of Ladakh.
First we visit Hemis monastery, established in 1672, which is a monastery of the Drukpa school of Tibetan
Buddhism. This monastery has an excellent library, particularly well preserved wall paintings and large statues of Buddha and Padmasambhava.
We continue to Thiksey Monastery, which is an outstanding specimen of Ladakhi architecture and is a mammoth 12 storey building complex painted in red, ochre and white. It encloses numerous stupas, Thangkas, statues, swords, wall paintings and a large pillar carved with Buddha’s ideas and preaching. The monastery is very picturesque and located on a hilltop offering superb views of the surrounding Indus Valley plains.
|Day Ten||Leh – Nubra||(B, D)||30th July|
- AM drive to Nubra
- PM visit Sumur Village and Dunes
After breakfast we drive to Nubra (approx. 5 hours) on the highest road in the world open to motor vehicles – Khardung La (Alt. 5602m). Khardung La is historically important as it lies on the major caravan route from Leh to Kashgar in Central Asia. This is also the only road link to world’s highest battlefield – Siachin Glacier.
In the afternoon we visit Sumur Village and Dunes, before heading to our overnight accommodation in Nubra.
|Day Eleven||Nubra||(B, D)||31st July|
- Full day to visit Diskit Monastery and Hundar Dunes
After breakfast we visit Diskit and Hundar Sand Dunes.
Diskit monastery was given to the Rimpoche of Thiksey monastery during 18th century and to date it is considered a sub-gompa of Thiksey. The monastery is of a Tibetan style construction and boasts murals and frescos. The Monastery stands on a hill above the flood plains of Shyok River and offers panoramic views of Nubra Valley and plantations around Diskit, which have earned the title of ‘Orchard of Ladakh’. This offers numerous photographic opportunities.
Diskit is situated at an altitude of 3142m at the edge of the desert in Shyok valley.
|Day Twelve||Nubra – Pangong||(B, D)||1st August|
- AM drive to Pangong
After breakfast we check-out from the Resort and drive to Pangong (approx. 6 hours).
The afternoon is at leisure. If the group is interested, time can be spent with Simon teaching post processing techniques and reviewing and critiquing your tour shots so far.
We will be free to go out and photograph Pangong Lake, which is a closed drainage basin whose waters do not flow into any river or ocean, situated at a height of about 4,350m.
|Day Thirteen||Pangong – Stok||(B, D)||2nd August|
- AM drive to Stok
After breakfast we check-out and drive to Stok (approx. 6 hours).
Stok is a village located in the Indus Valley. The village is home to the 14th century Stok Monastery, with its 71 feet high seated Gautama Buddha statue. Stok boasts the Indus and Markha Valleys and well as the Kangri Mountain range, which makes for some very spectacular scenery.
|Day Fourteen||Stok – Delhi||(B,D)||3rd August|
- AM transfer to Leh Airport
- PM arrive at Delhi and transfer to hotel
In the morning you will be transferred to Leh Airport in time for your return flight to Delhi.
Flight # Departure from Leh At: TBC hrs Arrival at Delhi At: TBC hrs
The afternoon will be for relaxing or shopping and is a time to get everything in order in readiness for departure tomorrow. There will be a fair well dinner for the group in the evening.
|Day Fifteen||Leave Delhi||(B)||4th August|
- Breakfast at the Hotel
- Departure from Delhi
- Tour Ends
After a leisurely farewell breakfast at the Hotel, you will be transferred to Delhi’s IGI Airport for your flight to your home country.
End of the Tour.
The day-to-day schedule should be taken only as a general guide. A variety of factors, including adverse weather conditions, difficulty with transportation and politics can lead to enforced changes. Because of this it is not possible to guarantee that any of our tours will run exactly according to the planned itinerary. The trip leader will make any changes, which are necessary.
Single Supplement: £825
Single Supplements: If you are a single person booking this holiday you do not have to pay single supplements, if you are happy to share. If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired with another single client of the same gender. However your booking is accepted only on the understanding that if no roommate is available then you accept a single supplement will be levied. Single supplements are payable if you specifically request to have a room to yourself. If you have requested single accommodation we will do our best to secure this although this may not always be possible.
Included in the Cost
- Hotel accommodation on a twin share basis (unless single has been requested) for the nights listed in the itinerary
- All meals as specified in the itinerary
- Airport Transfers
- All internal transport as per the itinerary
- Delhi – Srinager and Leh – Delhi domestic flights
- Sightseeing tours where specified and entrance to tourist sites
- Photographic tuition and tutoring throughout the trip
- Tour Leader & local Indian guide
Not Included in the Cost
- International airfares
- Airport taxes
- Visa fees
- Medical examination (if required) & vaccination costs
- Personal expenditure. Bar bills, laundry, telephone calls, etc…
- Porters, guides & other tips
- Meals not specified
- Personal clothing & equipment
- Travel insurance
- Optional trips
- Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond World In Focus’ control
- Anything not specified in the Cost Includes section
During the tour you can expect to stay in the following Hotels. If for some reason these are not available on the tour, accommodation will be of this standard, although every effort will be made not to deviate from the list below.
If using mobile you can scroll across the table below for full details
|Hotel and City||Nights||Category||Meal Plan|
|Delhi Grand New Delhi / Vasant Continental||1||5*||B&B|
|Srinagar Deluxe House Boat||2||–||Half Board|
|Sonamarg Rah Villas||1||3*||Half Board|
|Kargil The Kargil||1||4*||Half Board|
|Nurla The Apricot Tree||1||Resort 3*||Half Board|
|Nimmu Nimmu House||1||Boutique||Half Board|
|Leh Grand Dragon||2||4*||B&B|
|Nubra Lchang Nang||2||Boutique||Half Board|
|Pangong Pangong Sarai||1||3*||Half Board|
|Stok Heritage Chulli Bagh Villas||1||Boutique||Half Board|
|Delhi Grand New Delhi / Vasant Continental||1||5*||B&B|
Your Photographic Tutor – Simon Watkinson
Internationally renowned photographer Simon Watkinson has over 30 years of experience in professional Photography. Simon gained his Associateship with The British Institute of Professional Photography and has won numerous awards for his Photography.
Simon always had a keen interest in photography and was given his first SLR camera as an eight year old. Photography is something that is in the family genes, as Simon’s grandfather was a professional photographer, back as far as the turn of the 20th Century!
Simon’s professional career as a photographer began in 1987 when he was appointed by British Food Manufacturing Industries Research Association (B.F.M.I.R.A.), where Simon undertook the photography of promotional material, product launches, and the photography (documenting) of scientific experiments. Simon was also involved in the whole process of developing the images. It was apparent that Simon had such an in depth knowledge of photography, that already he was being called upon to train others within the company in photography and photographic technique.
Simon left this position to complete not one, but two worldwide tours, armed with a camera! After this Simon interspersed his career with employment in photographic labs and self-employment as a photographer, completing weddings, portraits and commercial work, whilst living in central London. However his love of the countryside drove him to live ever further north – until he finally settled at his current home in the Peak District National Park. It is here that he has become ever more involved in his passion of Landscape Photography and also set up the very first digital photography training centre (The Peak District Photography Centre) back in 2003.
Simon now specialises in Travel and Landscape Photography and attracts clients internationally both to his workshops at home in the Peak District and around the World.
All our photography workshops are focused on improving your understanding of your equipment, composition and achieving stunning images, not just on our workshop, but for the rest of your life. Simon will work alongside the group to help you understand particular technical challenges, to give you artistic inspiration and most importantly, to lead by example – i.e. in approaching local people.
We only take small groups away with us, to ensure that you get dedicated attention. Shooting assignments are set and post process tuition is given en-route too. Not only will you have a memorable, enjoyable photography tour, but also your confidence and skill as a photographer will increase immeasurably due to the intensive and dedicated tuition you will receive during your time with us. You can expect to go home with a portfolio of images that you will feel proud of. In fact, many of our past participants have gone on to win awards or competitions.
The key difference between a photography tour and a regular holiday is that we stop at beautiful locations for as long as needed to capture those stunning images; on top of this your tutor, Simon Watkinson will be on hand, ensuring you capture a stunning collection of images. We coincide our timings to be at the best locations at the right time of day for each particular location- you won’t get this with a regular tour.
You can rest assured that everything will be taken care of, leaving you to enjoy your photography in the most outstanding locations on earth!
DIFFICULT: This photography tour is one of our most adventurous, entailing some long drives along mountain roads. You will have to be relatively fit to do this tour due the effects of traveling at high altitude. There is no trekking involved but there will be some short walks. This itinerary is designed to appeal to all travel photographers with a great mix of landscape, architecture, people and culture.
Most of this tour involves overland travel in comfortable vehicles. Some of the roads in India are poorly maintained and sections will have potholes. Early starts are normal. Some of the sightseeing involves walking at altitude.
Health and Fitness Requirements
The pace is considered easy and should enable anyone in good health to participate. We do say this tour is difficult because of the effects of altitude. There are long drives and some of the roads can be poorly maintained. While there are no specific physical requirements, it is important that travellers are in good health as this tour is sustained at altitude. It is important to have a positive attitude, a sense of humour and a spirit of adventure. Tours can consist of early starts, some long days or climbing into vehicles. The transport provided is the best available for the area and type of terrain being visited but be prepared for some lengthy journeys, bumpy dirt roads or the occasional delay. The amount of walking involved in this trip varies.
Most of the sightseeing and exploring will be on foot in order to take photographs. We carry a basic first aid kit but recommend that each person carry their own personal first aid kit including any prescription medication they require; a suggested contents list will be provided on booking in the country information dossier. We also provide details of the recommended vaccinations needed.
Minimum 4, Maximum 8
This photography tour will operate once the minimum group size has been reached.
All meals included as specified.
Most hotel restaurants usually provide both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, continental, Indian and traditional cuisine. Please ask the staff if you have any specific request, especially regarding flavours and spices, as they will do their best to adjust menus accordingly and cater for your tastes.
During the months of July and August, the weather in Ladakh remains pleasant ranging between 20 – 35c. The sky also remains clear, which of course contributes immensely in making the scenic vistas of Ladakh even more gorgeous.
Though, intermittent rains are always a possibility and there has been an incident or two of cloudburst as well!
You will need a Digital SLR with lenses offering a focal length from wide (24mm or wider) to telephoto (70 – 200mm or longer) and a laptop computer loaded with Adobe Lightroom. Additionally we strongly recommend a back-up device such as an external hard drive.
Simon advises all group members to take the following photography equipment. If you would like to discuss equipment or have any photography related queries, please do not hesitate to contact Simon during office hours (9am to 5pm) on: 07511 075739.
• Suggested Camera Body: A 35mm SLR camera system with interchangeable lens will allow you to get the best shots in most conditions.
• Suggested Lenses: A wide angle (16 – 35 mm or 24 – 105 mm or similar) and a telephoto (70 – 200mm or 100-300mm or similar) are very useful. Skylight / UV filters protect your lens.
• Filters: A polarising filter is useful for landscapes. Optional ND filters x 4 and x 8.
• Batteries, Memory & Storage: Bring spare batteries (2 or 3), battery charger, travel adapter, sufficient memory cards and digital storage device.
• Camera bag: Preferably a backpack type.
• Lightweight tripod: of a professional quality.
• Miscellaneous: A brush for cleaning your lens and air blower is important and your camera and lens need to be in a protective case. Shutter release cable.
• Laptop Computer loaded with Adobe Lightroom
Casual clothing is the order of the day. Hard wearing, easy to wash travel clothes are ideal. You may wish to pack one set of slightly smarter clothes to wear at the hotels. Laundry service will be available at all the places we stay. During the day you will need a wide brimmed sun hat and sunglasses. Lightweight, comfortable walking shoes are advised for throughout the holiday and for sightseeing.
Passport and Visa Requirements
You will require a passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into India; British Nationals also require an Indian entry visa, which should be obtained prior to departure. In June 2008, the India High Commission outsourced their visa processing to a third party agency called VFS. For up-to-date information on how to apply for your India visa, please visit the VFS website: http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk. You may also want to check the High Commission of India’s website at www.hcilondon.net.
Insurance is essential and is a condition of booking with World In Focus that you have adequate travel insurance cover. It is very important that you obtain insurance cover against the usual risks associated with travel, from the time of booking your holiday until the time you return home. Please ensure that your insurance provides adequate protection against the two major concerns: medical/repatriation expenses while abroad and cancellation/curtailment charges in the event that you, a travelling companion or a close relative fall ill either before or during the tour. For trekking holidays your travel insurance must contain evidence of satisfactory cover for repatriation and helicopter rescue.
World In Focus recommends Campbell Irvine Ltd. who is Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Campbell Irvine is a specialist travel insurance broker. The comprehensive policy they issue provides 24-hour medical emergency assistance and covers altitude and all adventurous activities undertaken on our holidays. For single-trip policies, the insurance provides cover for both UK and worldwide residents at very competitive rates. In addition an annual policy is available to United Kingdom residents. World In Focus is in no way associated with Campbell Irvine.
To obtain insurance cover visit the Campbell Irvine Ltd. Website at campbellirvinedirect.com
We require confirmation of your insurance, the policy number and 24-hour emergency telephone number of who ever you take insurance with.
All bookings require a World In Focus Booking Form to be completed and either the deposit to be paid or the full amount, with single supplement if applicable. All bookings are only accepted once we have a copy of your insurance document for the trip. It is essential to have insurance in place when you pay your deposit, then if you are unable to fulfill your booking your insurance will cover you for any loss of money.
To book a place on this tour email us >> in the office.
All World In Focus clients will be required to complete a Booking Form and booking will be subject to acceptance of the Booking Conditions, which will be provided, and supersedes any information presented on the World In Focus website or other World In Focus promotional literature. In addition, in the unlikely event that Simon Watkinson is unable to escort the tour, we reserve the right to send a suitable replacement if available. In such circumstances, the tour will not be cancelled and no compensation will be paid.
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