Ladakh Photography Expedition with Robert van Koesveld and Behzad Larry

Robert van Koesveld

The Ladakh Photography Expedition with Robert van Koesveld and Behzad Larry is a fantastic opportunity to explore, alongside other photographers, the roof of the world, and the people who live there.

Discover ancient cultures, the historic Silk Route, and the fascinating landscapes of the Tibetan Plateau and the Trans-Himalayas.

Sep 29 – Oct 12, 2019
Ladakh, India
Group Size: 8

Duration: 14 Days
US $7,995 p.p.
Single Supplement : US $1,500

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Ladakh Photo ExpeditionRobert van koesveld

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Details

An expedition to the roof of the world to meet its people and landscape

As your plane approaches Leh, you will marvel at the beauty below – green oasis villages by the Indus River, nestled below the stark multi-colored mountains of the western edge of the Tibetan Plateau, and along the horizon, the snow-capped peaks reach into blue sky. We will be driving through these raw mountainous lands of the Himalayan region and meeting the friendly resilient people who have made it their home.

For the last seventy years they have officially been called ‘Indians,’ as residents of India’s most northern state: Jammu and Kashmir. Individually though, they may think of themselves as Ladakhi, from the major district within the state, or perhaps as a member of a particular village, nomadic tribe, ethnicity, culture, or religion. One nomad shepherd described himself as someone coping with ‘weather, wolves, and wars,’ as had his forbearers, for millennia. Now this marvelous mixture of people warmly greets ‘visitors’ and their cameras.

In Ladakh we are actually traveling across the extraordinary ongoing dance of one continent sliding under the other. Ancient ocean beds and rivers are being lifted, cracked, and turned sideways. Rivers of scree flow down from mountain ridges, some an astonishing two kilometers high, until countless small rocks eventually join the glacial rivers. These are awesome places, with a natural poetry and sacredness. We can begin to understand the original human settlers developing animist beliefs and practices in response to such power and beauty.

This meeting between continents has been the background for other meetings. Sporadic migrations of tribal groups pushed on by waves of newer and stronger groups establishing campsites and villages. Empires and invaders have left legacies, and modern versions of the Great Game continue to play out. The ant trails of Silk Road merchants and their caravans have criss-crossed this region for millennia.

This is an expedition for those who love to travel and interact with places, people, and cultures along the way. As photographers we will look for opportunities to make thoughtful images about this special place and about the people who live there. We will stay in comfortable hotels, sleep in comfortable tents, stay in village homes and have tea with nomads and monks. We travel in comfortable cars so that each guest has a window seat and each car has a guide/interpreter. There is usually flexibility to stop for something interesting. The roads are quite good in general, though there are stretches that are unpaved or off-road, so be prepared for some bumpy bits every now and then.

Robert and Behzad are experienced professional photographers who will support and assist you to make the images you seek. We will talk with you about your goals and coach individually as well as providing short presentations along the way. People photography is a special interest of both leaders and so we will work to create opportunities for portraits. Our aim is to work in small groups of 2-3 and there will be enough interpreters so that we can engage and collaborate with our subjects. There will also be plenty of opportunity to photograph the landscape and we will seek out dawn and dusk light where helpful to our image making. Ladakh offers us amazing experiences and opportunities for thoughtful and unusual images.

We go above and beyond to make your trip memorable. Read our 100% 5 Star Trip Advisor Reviews.

Voygr’s Expert Guides

Robert van Koesveld

Robert is a full-time photographer whose work reflects his life-time interest in cultural travel. Since retiring early from his psychotherapy practice in Perth, he has concentrated on photography, and travels extensively each year. Together with his wife, Libby Lloyd, he co-authored a photo book ‘Bhutan Heartland: Travels in the Land of the Thunder Dragon’, (Fremantle Press, 2010). His book ‘Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto’ was published in 2016 and, in advance form, won the Australian Professional Photography Awards category of best Photo Book for 2015. Robert is interested in capturing ‘spirit of place’ and ‘people with presence’ in a cultural context. He has led photo tours to Bhutan, India, China and Japan. He has travelled twice to Ladakh and has carefully designed and researched this trip together with Behzad and Rashid.

Behzad J. Larry

Behzad is a professional photographer, historian, and explorer. He specializes in documenting the remote reaches of the world. Through his travel photography he covers portraiture and landscapes in the high Himalayas, Central Asia, and the Tibetan Plateau. His favorite subjects are remote and difficult to get to, often requiring 4x4s, pack animals, and hiking.

Behzad has been featured frequently in travel magazines and has done travel features for both print and web.

Abdul Rashid

Voygr’s Head of Himalayan Operations, Rashid, is a Ladakhi who has organized photography and filming expeditions for National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and the BBC. Rashid’s deep connections across the region and two decades of experience as a professional guide make him a world expert on Ladakh.

Photography Matters:

The trip is designed for photographers, who will get good use of all photography gear from iPhone to DSLR and beyond. Non-photographers may enjoy the trip as well, especially if they have a plan for activities while others are photographing, eg meeting locals, writing, sketching or really looking. We can advise you more about options after you join the tour. We will offer individual photography coaching and some structured talks during the tour. Please bring some examples of your images and examples of other images you are interested in, so we can be clear about your goals. If you bring a laptop we can work on post-processing your images together, when time permits.

Physical requirements:

This is not a trek and we will be using our vehicles to get around for the most part. Still, sometimes there will be a little walking to get to some locations; you’ll need firm walking shoes rather than full-on trekking boots. There will be some early starts and late finishes as well. It won’t hurt if you get fitter before you come, given the altitude. It’s called an ‘expedition’, so expect to be outside in this wonderful environment a good deal and to be adaptable to the unexpected and to great opportunities.

Acclimatization is important for your safety and comfort. You arrive in Leh at the high altitude of 3400m. Most people certainly feel that, and a rest day is certainly needed on arrival. If you have the time, especially if jetlag is likely too, an extra day would help your body adjust. So you are encouraged to arrive a day earlier if possible. Please discuss your individual situation and how to manage the altitude with your own doctor.


US $7,995 p.p.

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Quick Itinerary for this Photography Expedition

Day 1. Arrive in Leh, India
Fly to Leh. Check in to the Grand Dragon Hotel and slowly acclimatize to the altitude.
Day 2. Lamayuru Leh to Lamayuru. Monasteries and landscapes today. Overnight Moonland hotel.
Day 3. Leh Return to Leh via Alchi and the confluence of the Indus. Portraits, landscapes, monasteries. Overnight Grand Dragon.
Day 4, 5, 6. Nubra Explore the historic silk route in Nubra Valley. Impressive landscapes, one of the world’s highest passes, and a lot of portraiture. Kesar Hotel.
Day 7. Tangyar Village Authentic village life in an impressive setting. Portraits, cultural learning, landscapes. Homestay.
 Day 8. Leh Return to Leh. Relaxed evening. Grand Dragon Hotel.
 Day 9-12. Changthang Explore the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau for four nights. Camp alongside Tso Moriri Lake and camp alongside nomads. Luxury camps.
Day 13. Leh Return to Leh via the high pass of Taglang La. Relaxed evening. Grand Dragon Hotel.
Day 14. Depart Depart from Leh, or extend your tour.

What’s Included in the Ladakh Photography Expedition

  • Robert van Koesveld and Behzad Larry as your expedition leaders
  • Abdul Rashid as your expert Ladakhi guide
  • Twin-sharing accommodation in Ladakh*
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • All journeys with a window seat for each traveler in our jeeps/ 4x4s or other cars.
  • All tips and gratuities while with the group
  • Pre-trip advice and briefing
  • Group medical kit and oxygen cylinder in the vehicle for emergencies

What’s NOT Included

  • International flights
  • Domestic flights
  • Visa for India
  • Evacuation Coverage and Travel insurance. (Required). Voygr recommends Global Rescue.
  • Personal expenses

Single accommodations are $1,500 per person.

*To book the twin share rate, you must book together with a friend or partner, as we cannot be responsible for pairing you with others.  

A non-refundable deposit of US$2,000 is required when booking this Ladakh Expedition.

The balance should be paid in two equal installments. The first is due 8 weeks after the deposit and the final payment by 120 days before departure.

Please read Voygr’s terms & conditions for further details.

US $7,995 p.p.

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Itinerary

Full Itinerary for the Ladakh Photography Expedition

Ladakh Photography Expedition with Robert van Koesveld and Behzad Larry

Day 1 (Sep 29): Fly to Leh
After the spectacular scenery from the plane, you will be further delighted by the multicultural friendliness of Leh. For centuries Leh was thronged with Silk Road traders and now it is the peaceful capital of the Ladakh district within India’s northern most state of Jammu-Kashmir.

Upon arrival, you will be met by your Tour Leaders and transferred to your very pleasant hotel. You are on the mountainous western edge of the Tibetan Plateau, so at 3,400m, it is very important that you acclimatize by resting today (even if you arrived the previous day). The hotel library has many books about the region and its fascinating history as an important stopover on trade routes along the Indus Valley between Tibet and Kashmir and between India and China. The main goods carried were salt, grain, pashmina wool (aka cashmere), charas (aka hashish), indigo, silk yarn and Banaras brocade.

Overnight at the Grand Dragon Hotel.

Day 2 (Sep 30): Leh to Lamayuru
After an early breakfast, we gently drive south to Thiksey gompa (monastery) to attend morning prayers. This is a beautiful and calming experience steeped in the tradition of the Gelugpa (yellow hat) order of Tibetan Buddhism, headed by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. The monastery, begun in 1630, features Ladakh’s most gorgeous image, a huge (and surprisingly modern) gilded statue of the Maitreya (Future Buddha).  Afterwards we drive along the beautiful valley and admire Stakna gompa, towering above the meandering Indus River since 1580.

Following lunch, we drive west, still alongside the Indus, to Lamayuru gompa of the Drikung Kagyu (red hat) order. It’s an impressive cluster of buildings begun in the 11th century and housing over 150 monks and novices. Perched on a rocky outcrop amidst stunning landscape, it is surrounded by geological formations often compared to moonscapes. If the light cooperates at dusk, there might be some great opportunities to make some interesting images.

Overnight at the Moonland Hotel.

Day 3 (Oct 1): Lamayuru to Leh
Before breakfast we will either admire (and photograph) the sunrise or attend (and photograph) morning prayers, depending on prayer schedules.

Then after breakfast at our hotel, we’ll pack and drive back towards Leh. On the way, we’ll stop at Ladakh’s most treasured gompa, Alchi, to see the extraordinary images of Buddha’s life and teaching, exquisitely painted by Kashmiri artists on temple walls and statues around the 10th and 11th century. We have lunch in Nimo village at Nimmu House, now a stylish heritage hotel, built a century ago as the home of an aristocrat. By evening we will return to Leh.

Overnight at the Grand Dragon.

Day 4, 5, 6 (Oct 2, 3, 4): Nubra Valley
After driving north, we cross the Khardung La, at 5359m one of the highest motorable passes on earth. Then we descend into the famed Nubra Valley (around 3000m), overlooking the Ladakh Range, the Saltoro Range, and the high Karakorum Range.

Nubra is a melting pot of many cultures that infuse daily life in Ladakh: the Central Asian culture of Xinjiang (just across the mountains in China), the Muslim influences of Baltistan (now mostly in Pakistan), and the Buddhist history of Tibet (now in China). It is the perfect blend of landscapes and portraits for the photographer.

Using the village of Sumur as a base, we will explore Ladakhi culture, Silk Road history, and some of the impressive local monasteries. Over three days in Nubra valley, we will visit some remote villages, including Hunder and Diskit, explore the high-altitude sand dunes and the wooly Bactrian camels, and be in awe of the towering mountains around us.

We will make portraits in an old caravanserai, a remnant of the days of the Silk Road traders and their camels. Sumur and Teggar were the last major villages that Silk Road caravans encountered before crossing the Karakorum pass into the region known as Yarkand, south of Xinjiang in China. The area still has some fascinating traditional houses that we will visit. This is also a lesser frequented part of Nubra valley, so we will be off the beaten path and closer to the feel and look of the glorious history of the Silk Road.

Overnight at The Kesar

Day 7 (Oct 5): Tangyar Village
We set out westward along the Shyok River and ascend towards the Wari La. Before reaching that high pass, we’ll stop at the village of Tangyar, (3928m). Since visitors are rare in this village, there are no tourist facilities. So, we’ll stay in people’s homes and get memorable access to a traditional way of life and great portraits. The stunning village has about 42 households and is set into the side of the mountain below a fantastic monastery perched high above on the edge of a cliff.

Overnight with village families.

Day 8 (Oct 6): Leh
Crossing Wari La (5,200m) we return to Leh. Towards evening we head out to the Shanti Stupa to enjoy the commanding views of Leh and the Stok Range, and admire (and photograph) a glorious sunset. The huge stupa was completed in 1991 by Japanese and Ladakhi Buddhists to promote world peace.

Overnight at the Grand Dragon Hotel.

Day 9, 10, 11, 12 (Oct 7, 8, 9, 10): Tso Moriri Lake and Nomads
After a relaxed breakfast, we drive to the village of Korzok, at 4500m, perhaps the village at the highest altitude in the world that is inhabited year-round. Korzok is nestled beside the stunning Tso Moriri and is one of the regional headquarters of the Changpa nomads.

The glorious landscape is home to families of pastoral nomadic Changpa who have reared pashmina goats and livestock in the region for millennia. Pastoral nomadism has played an important role in shaping world history. The periodic interaction, cooperation, and conflict between Central Asian nomadic tribes and the sedentary peoples who shared their borders, has played a critical role in the development of trade routes, the transfer of ideas between East and West, and the spread of technology across the world.

The Changthang is a high-altitude plateau that stretches 1600 km from southeastern Ladakh in India to northwestern Tibet in China, with altitudes averaging 4500m. The nomadic peoples who call this harsh land their home are called the Changpa (northern people). Their name comes from the region, which itself actually means the ‘western plains’, a name referring to the area’s location from the perspective of the former rulers living in Lhasa. The snow-melt and spring-fed meadows of the Changthang are delicate ecosystems that rely on winters with heavy snow to provide the moisture to grow grass in the spring.

Nomadic life is often romanticized, usually with images and words that imply freedom, wanderlust, and being beyond society’s obligations. In reality, their lives are harsh, difficult and dangerous. They follow migration routes that are centuries old, moving in between pastures and meadows that have been divided and assigned to different families. They walk the paths of their ancestors, moving herds of pashmina goats, sheep, yaks, and horses in cyclical journeys, season after season. Losing animals to predators like snow leopards, wolves and lynxes is a sobering reality. They camp in stone-walled structures called rebos and spend cold winter nights in canvas tents.

We camp besides the lake for two nights in Voygr’s comfortable mobile camps: canvas bell tents furnished with carpets, cots, great food and a mobile bar. Then we’ll move camp to be near the nomads for two more nights, aiming to engage with more than one nomad group.

Overnight in comfortable mobile camps by the lake.

Day 13 (Oct 11): Return to Leh
Crossing Taglangla La, at 5328m, one of the highest passes in Ladakh open to civilian traffic, we descend into the Indus valley. It’s about a five-hour drive to Leh if road conditions are good.

You can spend a free afternoon in Leh. Maybe you’ll visit the Central Asian Museum, wander the lanes of the bread-makers with their Tandoori ovens, or buy the perfect pashmina scarf or shawl, perhaps to wear at our final group dinner tonight.

Overnight at the Grand Dragon Hotel.

Day 14 (Oct 12): Flights to Delhi or as organised privately

Note: This is an ‘expedition’, so this itinerary is the plan. The actual tour may vary slightly due to weather, road conditions or other things beyond our control, or if new opportunities present themselves.  Either way, we will ensure you get the best photographic tour that we can provide, and you will come away with fantastic images and memories that will last a lifetime.

US $7,995 p.p.

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Accommodation

Accommodation on your Ladakh Photography Expedition

The Grand Dragon Hotel
Leh
The Grand Dragon is a luxurious hotel located a few minutes walk from the main market of Leh. The warm hospitality and traditional Ladakhi friendliness of the staff keep you warm and comfortable in the cold Trans Himalayan winter.

 

 

 

 

 

The Voygr Camps
Changthang
Voygr has custom canvas tents with interior insulation that are much more spacious and much warmer than standard expedition tents and allow our guests to sleep on cots instead of on the ground. The added bit of warmth and comfort allows for a much more relaxing night when on expedition. Tents can comfortably house two guests with space in between the cots. The camps will have kitchen tents, dining tents, and toilet tents. Hot water will be available in the mornings and evenings, or whenever you require.

Snow Leopard

 

 

 

 

 

The Kesar Hotel
Nubra
Located amidst rolling farmland in beautiful Nubra valley, the Kesar is a small boutique farm-stay in the heart of Sumur village with 360º views of the surrounding mountains. The Kesar is a family home upgraded to provide a comfortable setting for photographers. Set on a one acre organic farm, it has the best restaurant in Nubra, with authentic silk-route experiences.

The Kesar HotelThe Kesar Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

US $7,995 p.p.

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Map

Map

This Google map will give you a rough idea of the route we will take around Ladakh.

US $7,995 p.p.

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Contact

Contact Us

Ready to book? Send us a message through the form below, or call us in the USA at +1 646 905 0550 or in the UK at +44 1316 080 049

Ladakh by Robert van Koesveld & Behzad Larry