The Epic Drive – Himalayan Jeep Safari
New Delhi – Himachal Pradesh – Tibetan Borders – Agra – New Delhi
Mid June – September
This rugged tour takes you off the tourist track to the high altitude regions of Spiti and Lahaul. We go by jeep from the lush green valleys of Himachal over stark mountain passes into the windswept plateaus of Spiti and Lahaul. We visit tiny Hindu temples as well as remote Buddhist monasteries. In order to really get off the beaten path, we bring our camp along, complete with cooks and staff! In some areas we also stay in small hotels and guesthouses. This tour brings you close to the local people of this high altitude terrain – it’s definitely for those who dream of experiencing the adventure of the real Himalayas!
- Experience Buddhist temples, traditions and Mt Kailash
- Incredible Mountain Scenery, local villages and temples
- Mix of jeep travel and hiking with train and flight links
- Alternate between tents, small guesthouses and hotels
Day 1 Delhi
You are met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The day includes sightseeing of New Delhi, the garden city designed in 1911 by Sir Edward Lutyens. We visit the Birla Mandir (Lakshminarayan Temple), the President’s House, Humayun’s Tomb (the forerunner of the Taj Mahal), Qutab Minar and India Gate.
Days 2 - 3 Shimla
We take the early morning train to Chandigarh where we are met by our private bus for the remainder of the journey to Shimla. In Shimla we transfer to our hotel. In the days before independence Shimla was the most important British hill station and in the hot season became the summer capital of India. The town is perched on a ridge along which runs the Mall. The Mall, a walking promenade, is lined with stately English looking houses bearing strangely displaced English names. As well as the Mall, our sightseeing in Shimla includes the Jakhu temple, dedicated to the monkey god Hanuman. The temple is at an altitude of 2455 meters, near the highest point of the Shimla ridge. It is a pleasant 45 minute walk from the Mall and it offers a fine view over the surrounding valleys. Appropriately there are many monkeys living around the temple.
Days 4 - 5 Sarahan
Today we hop into our jeeps for the journey to secluded Sarahan (1920 m) via Narkand (2690 m). Sarahan is a wonderful little village set high above the valley floor. The surrounding mountain vistas include the Shrikhand Mahadeve Peak looming at 5155 meters. In Sarahan we stay in a simple hotel and spend the day exploring the nearby villages on foot including Ranwin and Bashal. We also visit the exotic Bhima kali temple, a rare combination of Buddhist and Hindu architecture. Bhima Kali is the most majestic of the few early timber temples left in the Sutlej valley – an area famous for its unique tradition of placing holy shrines on raised wooden platforms. Some parts of the structure are thought to be over 800 years old.
Days 6 - 7 Sangla
Today it’s back in the jeeps for our continued journey to Sangla (2680 m). Here we camp on the bank of the river Baspa. Sangla village is the largest in the valley. Friendly people and beautiful mountains make it a great place to stop. One of the high peaks easily viewed from our camp is Kailash (6600 m). We explore the area on foot including a local wooden fort and temples. From our base in Sangla we also visit the nearby village of Chitkul where we explore the five hundred year old temples and small Buddhist Gompa (monastery).
Day 8 Puh
Back in the jeeps we make our way to Upper Kinnaur to the tiny hamlet of Puh (3200 m). As we continue along, elements of Buddhist culture start creeping in. By the time we arrive most of the people we see are Buddhist. As though mirroring the change in religion the terrain also shifts – the lush green becoming more rocky, rugged and dry as we climb. The prayer flags strung across hills and ridges and the Gompas mark our entry into Buddhist country. We spend the night in tents.
Day 9 Kaza
Our journey continues today to Kaza (3450 m). En-route we visit the Tabo Monastery (3200 m). From the outside it appears to be an ordinary mud structure but inside it has beautiful frescoes. In Kaza we stay in a hotel.
Day 10 Batal
In the morning we visit Kyi Monastery (4116 m). This Spiti monastery has rare paintings and scriptures. We continue on to Kibber village (4400 m) one of the highest villages in the world. There we interact with local people and visit one of the houses to observe the simple but systematic constructions. After lunch we drive to Batal (3960 m) via Kunzum Pass (4551 m). In Batal we stay in tents.
Day 11 - 12 Manali
We start the day early to reach Manali (3000 m). We stop just after Batal to photograph the fantastic Bara Shingri Glacier (3657 m). The drive continues to Keylong, a small town where we break for lunch. From here we continue to Rohtang Pass (3998m) where we begin our descent to Manali. In Manali we stay in a hotel. Manali is a perennial favorite of hippies and Indian newlyweds as well as a starting point for trekkers of all sorts. In Manali we have a day free to explore the new and old towns as well as just relax.
Days 13 - 14 Delhi - Agra
We drive on to Kullu where we catch the flight back to Delhi. This time we visit Old Delhi, the ancient city built by Emperor Shah Jahan. We visit the Red Fort, and then take a rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of old Delhi to the Jamia Masjid. Finally we visit the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi (Raj Ghat). Last but not least on our itinerary is a day trip to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra. We travel to Agra by Shatabdi train. In Agra we see the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world, as well as the magnificent Red Fort. The Taj Mahal was built in 1652 by Emperor Shah Jahan. It took 22 years and 20,000 skilled artisans to complete. The Agra Fort lies across the river Jamuna. It was here that Aurangzeb, the third son of Shah Jahan, kept his father under house arrest. One can get a fantastic view of the Taj from the little octagonal tower in the Fort.
Day 15 Delhi
Tour ends with breakfast and transfer to airport for international departure.
Our Jeep Safari Tour, The Epic Drive was recommended by National Geographic Adventure Magazine