A corner of Tibet in India, Ladakh is an other-worldly escape, which in culture, scenery, and history bears almost no relation to the rest of the country. Tibetan influence in the region dates back to the 9th century, Buddhist influences farther back still, and in such a remote and inaccessible area this culture remains completely untouched to this day. Ladakh is way up on the Tibetan Plateau - the roof of the world – hemmed in on all sides by the mighty Himalaya. Scenery here is sparse and stark: lunar hues, barren landscapes, icy blue glacial lakes. Overland access, via dramatic mountain passes, is torturous and more often than not impossible: borders with Tibet and Kashmir usually off-limits to foreign travellers, or completely impassable outside of the summer months.
Getting in and out of Ladakh therefore will nearly always mean a flight into provincial capital Leh, an enchanting Tibetan town (population just over 30,000) which is extremely welcoming to tourists. A few days in Leh is always recommended – allowing your body to adjust to an elevation of over 3,500m – and deeply pleasant, with several excellent accommodation options on offer. Outside of Leh, travelling through an array of sumptuous valleys and marvellously untouched villages, accommodation options are either more spartan or – if using the stupendous Ultimate Travelling Camps – unparalleled luxury.
Ladakh’s climate is inhospitable for much of the year, but glorious between June and August, making this India’s outstanding summer destination. During these months the weather is clear, dry, and cool, leaving the magical landscapes wide open for outdoor exploration. Trekking, some of the finest on the planet, is an essential component of any trip to Ladakh; horse-riding, camel safaris, thrilling photography, and cultural insight are also key experiences.