Horse riding holiday India
Horseback vacation India
Ladakh Trail horse riding holiday
Ladakh Trail horseback vacation
Horse riding pack trip in India
Horseback riding pack trip India
Camping horse riding trail
horse riding holiday Ladakh
Ladakh Trail pack trip
Incredible scenery and religious setting in Ladakh
Ladakh Trail pack trip
Cultural horse riding trek India
Remote monastery high in the mountains
Cultural horseback vacation India
Part of one of the many religious celebrations in the region
Riding in the Himilayas
The guides and ground crew
Horse riding holiday Himilayas
Part of the many religious ceremonies of the region

Ladakh is sometimes also known as little Tibet due to its location at the heart of the magnificent Himalayan mountain range. The trip starts in Leh and the Indus Valley for a few days, visiting the famous monastic festivals of Lamayuru, Hemis, Dak Thok or Phyang, depending on the date. These are not only unique cultural events,but also gives guests some time to acclimatise to the high altitude. The ride continues from the lush Markha Valley into the magnificent Himalayan scenery emerging on the Rupshu Plateau.

This is a camping expedition and riders are accompanied by pack horses to carry the gear. Riders need to be adventurous and fit, although technical ability is not a prerequisite as the pace is at a walk, mainly due to the terrain and altitude. This is an opportunity to visit some remote monasteries and enjoy the rugged contrasts of the Himalayas.

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from AH of St Helier, Jersey on 02/11/2022

Ride Summary
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Amazing! The scenery on the trek was spectacular and we were extremely well looked after by our guide and the sherpas who did everything for us. The food was very good and varied, and we never went hungry. Overall an unforgettable experience.
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Our guide could not have been more friendly and attentive. He was constantly checking on us and went out of his way to help us and make sure we had everything we needed.
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
The horses were small and easy-going. They are pack horses so not really responsive to the usual aids but coped extremely well on the difficult terrain.
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Everything was as described if not better!
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
3
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
As an experienced rider I found the horse riding to be the easiest part of the trek as the whole ride was at walk. My partner who had only ridden for 6 months prior also coped fine. However there was some challenging terrain (steep and narrow rocky paths) and a number of river crossings which is why I have rated it a 3.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your ride feedback and glad you had a memorable trip to India.
Day 1 
Arrival at Delhi in the evening or early on Day 2. 

Day 2: Delhi – Leh (3400m)                                                       
Guests will be met from international flights and transferred  straight to the national airport for the internal flight from Delhi to Leh which departs at around 6am. Reach Leh in the morning and transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure so as to aid acclimatisation. The hotel has a garden and terrace for guests to use. Meet your fellow travellers and the guides.

Day 3: Leh – Shey –Thiksey – Hemis - Leh (3400m)                                
Visit the 10th Century monasteries of Shey and Thiskey in the moring.  Afternoon free, again to aid acclimatisation.

Day 4: Leh-Phyang - Alchi (3500m)                                                   
Transfer to Lamayuru or Phyang depending on the date, an opportunity to visit the famous monastic festivals.

Day 5: Alchi - Lamayuru – Alchi (3500m)                                              
The morning is spent at the Festival. Travel to Alchi, visiting a monastery with stunning muralson the way . Overnight in Alchi.

Day 6: Alchi – Spituk – Zingchen (3400m)
Morning departure from Alchi to reach the monastery at Spituk, the starting point for the journey with the horses. Ride to the small village of Zingchen, a green oasis surrounded by poplar trees,for the obernight stop.

Day 7: Zingchen – Yurutse –Lartse (4500m)         
A narrow gorge involves crossing numerous small rivers before emerging onto the vast plains to reach base camp at Kanda La. 4hrs riding.

Day 8: Larksa – Skiu (3400m)                             
Cross the Shingo-la (4900m): the view from the Zanskar range is stunning. There is a long descent through a lunar landscape of lace rocks until the Markha. Visit a small temple (gompa) along the way. The overnight camp is on the banks of the river. 4.5hrs riding  

Day 9: Skiu – Markha (3700m)                        
Numerous river crossings today, sometimes by ford and others by bridge to reach the village of Markha, the largest in the valley. There is a stop at the monastery overlooking the valley. 5.5 hrs riding.

Day 10: Markha – Langhand Chu (6200m)   
Follow the river in the direction of the plains of Nimaling. There are excellent views from KangYatse. Head south towards the high plateau of Rapshu. 5hrs riding.   

Day 11: Langhand Chu – Zalung Karpo La (5200m)
Climb steadily over 2 days, starting at the bottom of the huge, wild valley, surrounded by jagged peaks. Cross the Karpo La, taking in the views from the summit. The night is spent in the alpine meadows of Tsokra. 5hrs riding.

Day 12: Zalung Karpo La - Tsorka (5200m)                 
Second part of the journey above. 5.5hrs riding.
 
Day 13: Tsokra – Dat                                                             
Today is the final part of the riding tour. Descend along the river, continuing through magnificent gorges to the village of Dat, the only inhabited place in this valley which is itself unoccupied for part of the year. Say goodbye to the horses.   
 
Day 14: Dat - Leh
Return by bus to Leh, using the impressive road from Manali, with a pass reaching more than 5300m.
 
Day 15: Leh – Delhi
Fly from Leh to Delhi in the early morning, usually around 05:00am. Leh has the highest airport in the world and so flights are often subject to climatic conditions which can cause delays. Depending on flights, there might be some free time to spend in Delhi (no hotel is included tonight).
 
Day 16: Delhi
Departure day, guests will be dropped off at the aiport in the evening.
 
Please follow this link for a map of the start point of this itinerary: Ladakh Trail

Festivals:
Phyang Festival:

Phyang is one of the ancient monastery's in Ladakh. Dringumpa Monastic Dynasty's founder, Skyabje Jigten Gombo, was devoutly religious and a Thangka was erected in his memory on the site of the Phyang Festival. A Thangka is a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton or silk applique and usually depicts a Buddhist deity or scene. Special prayers are performed with the masked monks giving scared dances in beautiful silk costumes. There is also a pilgrimage to the Thangka of Skyabje Gombo and an exhibition of paintings is held inside the monastery.

Toktok Tsechu Festival:
Takthok (Toktok) (or “rock roof” in Ladakhi as the roof and walls are made of rock) gompa is the lone Nyingmapa (the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism) monastery in Ladakh. The monastery is built around a cave believed to have been used by Guru Rinpoche for meditation in the eighth century. This monastery that houses around 60 monks suddenly comes alive at the time of Takthok Tsechu festival to celebrate an auspicious day commemorating Guru Rinpoche. Takthok Tsechu (the 10th day of the Tibetan lunar calendar) is celebrated in summer. Cham or sacred mask dances are performed depicting the early journeys of Guru Rinpoche.

Lamayuru Festival:
Lamayuru monastery is the largest and oldest religious building in Ladakh - there are more than 50 monasteries under the leadership of Lamayuru with around 300 monks registered there. The monastery holds an impressive position on a hilltop with panorami views of the valley below. The masked festivals bring monks from the surrounding area to come to pray with the fanfare, colourful costumes and traditional music that these festivals bring to the celebration.

Hemis Festival:
This is the biggest and most popular of the festivals and participants celebrate the birth of Guru Padmasambhava. According to legend he fought with demons to protect the people of Ladakh. The main attraction of the festival sees Cham dancers and masked performers depict tales of war between good and evil through dazzling dance moves and traditional musical instruments. Visitors can buy unique artifacts, antique objects, Buddhist dolls, Tibetan gems and hand-woven dresses during the festival from the numurous stalls.

Dak Thok Tse-Chu:
The word Dak Thok means 'black rock' in Laddakhi and it is a cave chapel which forms part of the Dak Thok monastery. The members of this Buddist sect are followers of Padma Sambhava or Guru Rimpoche who are thought to be considered the founders of Tibetan Buddhism and this festival celebrates the works of Guru Rimpoche's life. The Tsechu festivals are celebrated by cham dancers where both the monks and local people dance and it is also a well known social gathering where local people adorn themselves with fine clothes and jewellery.

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

The horses are native Tibetan horses; small and calm, very strong, hardy and sure-footed, ideally adapted to the terrain and altitude. The escort team take great pride in their horses and prefer to look after the horses themselves, although riders may be allowed to help if desired. The pace of the ride is not fast, due to the altitude and the walking pace, this gives ample opportunity to take in the stunning scenery as well as a chance to stretch your legs.


Rider requirements

Riders should have a good sense of balance and no fear of heights to participate in this trek as this ride involves long ascents and steep descents. Riders must be fit and healthy as the ride is at an altitude between 3400 and 5200m (11000 - 16000ft), although acclimatisation is progressive. There are stretches where you will need to lead your horse e.g. across bridges and steep descents.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The hotel at Leh is comfortable in double rooms and 4 days are spent here to aid acclimatisation. Excursions are arranged each day. Camping is very comfortable, in two person tents equipped with foam mattrasses. There is a kitchen tent, a dining tent and a toilet tent. A warm sleeping bag is required as nights can get very cold. All the equipment is carried on pack horses. The camp is full serviced with staff setting up each night and preparing full meals.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling.

You’ll need to get a visa before travelling to India. This can be applied for online at the following website, www.indianvisaonline.gov.in

Make sure you get the right visa for your travel and that it’s valid for the purpose and duration of your stay. If you enter India on the wrong visa, you could be detained on arrival and you may be deported and blacklisted, meaning that you cannot enter India again. Make sure you meet entry requirements. You can find further information on the Indian High Commission website or the Indian Immigration Bureau website.

To avoid possible problems at immigration, make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of entry into India.

Your passport must be machine readable, with 2 blank pages for your visa and valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of your visa application.
Always keep a copy of your passport and your Indian visa separate from your passport, in case of loss

Airport tax
User Development Fees (UDF) apply at many airports. The fees are around Rs.1,000 per international passenger and Rs.150 to 260 per domestic passenger. This should already be included in the cost of airline tickets. If for any reason the fee is not included in your ticket it will be collected at the airport check-in counter in Indian rupees.
Passport and Visa requirements can change regularly depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.
Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india

In the USA: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/India.html

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/india

Climate Summary

Temperatures in Ladakh, range from -3 to 30 degrees Celsius in the summer. Mainly sunny in the daytime the temperatures can plummet at night. The sun's effect is multiplied many times at altitudes of this magnitude. You could therefore suffer from conditions as diverse as frostbite and sunburn at the same time, if you're not well protected.

Climate Chart

Health

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

Mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever occur all year round. There’s been an increase in the number of cases of dengue fever, including in New Delhi.

Health authorities have classified India as having a risk of Zika virus transmission.

Cases of Chikungunya Virus have been confirmed in India, including in New Delhi. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in India and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

You should make sure you have sufficient medical supplies (including prescription medicines) for the duration of your stay and any unforeseen delays, adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.


Health (ride specific)

The pace of the ride is deliberately slow to minimise the chances of altitude sickness. Riders should be generally fit and healthy.

Sunscreen and insect repellent is advised.

As with all countries where the bacteria present in water and around food are not those to which we are accustomed you are advised to exercise a degree of care. Bottled water is widely available, but check that bottle seals are intact and water levels reach the top. Fruit and raw vegetables which can be peeled are fine. Avoid ice cubes, diluted fruit juices and any unpasteurized/unboiled milk.

Electricity

In India the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.

Film and Camera Equipment

It will be possible for electrical equipment to be charged while on the hotel portion of the holiday, but not while camping so extra batteries are a must or a solar charger. Mobile phone coverage is limited to the big cities.

Packing List

Clothing should be comfortable and well-tested. Boots should be low-heeled and suitable for both riding and walking, worn with half-chaps for riding. Clothing that can be layered is useful, as the temperature can fluctuate quickly. Luggage should be kept to a minimum and in soft holdalls or duffelbag as it is transported by packhorse. Sleeping bags are required and you may wish to bring a sleeping bag liner.

Essentials that you should carry with you to cope with the climate in Ladakh are:
sunscreen of at least 50+
lip balm & moisturizer
UV protected sungasses/goggles
torch
plenty of batteries for camera equipment or a solar charger
water bottle
water purifying tablets
light towel
wet wipes
T-shirts & long sleeved shirts
walking/riding trousers
thermal underwear
change of shoes for evenings
windcheater or light waterproof
warm woollen or fleece clothing
thick socks
gloves and scarf
riding hat
a hat or woollen cap
personal toiletries / medications

Programmes

This is a set departure trail ride comprising 16 days / 15 nights / 8 riding days. Departures can be tailormade for groups of 8 or more in the summer months of July and August.

Departure Dates

2023: 12 July (Phyang Festival); 25 July (Toktok Festival)

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
202316d/15n8double pp2,959
202316d/15n8single supplement365
202316d/15n8supplement for group of 2-31,025
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
202316d/15n8double pp3,375
202316d/15n8single supplement419
202316d/15n8supplement for group of 2-31,165
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
202316d/15n8double pp3,839
202316d/15n8single supplement475
202316d/15n8supplement for group of 2-31,329
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
202316d/15n8double pp39,795
202316d/15n8single supplement4,915
202316d/15n8supplement for group of 2-313,749
Recommended Reading

For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com


Other Activities

Very fit non-riders may wish to accompany the ride hiking, while their packs are carried on the horses. The pace allows this to be done with ease.

Wildlife

Ladakh and the surrounding area is a haven for wildlife. There are herds of Bhoral (Blue sheep), ibex, Tibetan gazelle and yak. The elusive snow leopard and lynx have also been sighted. It is a bird-watchers paradise, with golden eagles, lammergeiers, bar-headed geese, brahminy ducks and the rare black-knecked crane all found in the area

Other Information

Due to the nature of the terrain, and the altitude, the trip may be modified for reasons of security, the weather or unforeseen events, and events outside the organisers control. The organisers, the guides and the local guides will make every effort to find the best option even if means changing the itinerary or route.

Other Country Information

India forms a natural sub-continent with the Himalayas to the north. The Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, which are sections of the Indian Ocean, lie to the west and east respectively.

The official language of India is Hindi written in the Devanagari script and spoken by some 30% of the population as a first language. Since 1965 English has been recognised as an 'associated language'. In addition there are 18 main and regional languages recognised for adoption as official state languages. There are another 24 languages, 720 dialects and 23 tribal languages.

India will sideswipe you with its size, clamour and diversity - especially if you enjoy delving into convoluted cosmologies and thrive on sensual overload. Nothing in the country is ever quite predictable; the only thing to expect is the unexpected, which comes in many forms and will always want to sit next to you.

The time difference for India is GMT/UTC +5.5hrs and the dialling code is +91. India has adopted metric weights and measures.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Delhi airport (DEL)
Transfer:
Included from meeting point. Transfer time is approximately 15 minutes.
Flight Guide:
London - Delhi from £460 return pp
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