2018 Registration & Trip Details
Please complete these registration questions and submit your deposit if you wish to join this experience. We will confirm your registration by email within 72 hours.
The Ladakh Experience Itinerary
Welcome to India! You’ll be met in New Delhi on the evening of May 28th and you’ll spend the night at the iconic 5-star luxury hotel The Imperial in New Delhi. We’ll share a welcome dinner together, after which you’ll get a good night’s rest before your gorgeous flight to Leh on the morning of the 29th.
The flight from Delhi to Leh is only an hour long, but it’s one of the most picturesque flights on the planet. It will take you directly over the Himalayas, allowing you a rare, lofty perspective on one of the Earth’s most precious gems. Upon arrival, you’ll take a short but beautiful drive to Thiksey Monastery to get settled. We’ll spend this day acclimating to the altitude and leisurely exploring some of the magnificent grounds.
Some of our activities over the next few days will include:
- Daily practice and meditation with Nikki Costello.
- Morning puja (prayers) with the Thiksey monks in the main prayer hall or in the Protector Temple.
- Exploration of Thiksey Monastery, one of the most beautiful and influential monasteries in Ladakh, including its iconic statue of the Maitreya Buddha.
- A private audience with the head lama, Rinpoche Kushok Nawang Chamba Stanzin, his schedule permitting.
- Dialogue with the monks about Tibetan Buddhism & Philosophy.
- Fun, informal cooking and cultural lessons with the families of the monks.
- A visit to Stakna Monastery, situated on a hill overlooking the Indus river.
- An informative photo tour around Thiksey monastery with BJ Graf.
On the morning of June 7th, you’ll fly from Leh to Delhi (one more opportunity for that gorgeous view!) where we’ll say our goodbyes for now.
As an added value for guests of this retreat, RetreaTours offers their personalized travel consulting services for free (a $300 value). If you plan to extend your trip before or after the retreat, we can help you make the most of your time in the area. Possible trip extensions include Bhutan, Nepal, or other sites within India.
The Ladakh Experience retreat fee is $5350.
- A $1000 deposit holds your space.
- Your second installment of $2500 is due on January 28, 2018
- Final installment is due on March 28, 2018.
- The retreat fee includes:
- Roundtrip airfare from Delhi to Leh
- All transportation within Ladakh
- All accommodation, including one night at The Imperial
- All meals
- All site fees
- Donation to Thiksey Monastery
- Daily classes with Nikki Costello
How to Pay
- You retreat fee is payable by check or credit card
- Checks can be made out to RetreaTours and mailed to 8821 NW 14 St, Pembroke Pines, FL 33024.
- Credit card payments are processed via PayPal
- INTERNATIONAL GUESTS: If you will be using a bank account outside the U.S., please write to [email protected] for easy transfer options that will save you money.
Please use the button below to pay the non-refundable $1000 deposit via credit card. Please note that you do not have to have a PayPal account, simply choose the option that says “Pay with Debit or Credit” card. Click here if you need further instructions.
Please complete these registration questions and submit your deposit if you wish to join this experience. We will confirm your registration by email within 72 hours.
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Registration Questions & Contract
Please click here or the green button below to complete the registration questions and contract. Your spot is considered reserved when you have submitted your deposit and completed these questions.
Getting your Indian Visa (required)
First and foremost, your passport MUST be valid at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip, and you’ll need two empty pages in the Visas section of your passport (make sure they are in the Visa section, not the Amendment or Endorsement section). You will need to arrange an Indian visa before you arrive.
Please read this section carefully! On this itinerary, you will only be entering India once, making you eligible for a Visa on Arrival. (Please click here to make sure your country is eligible for a Visa on Arrival). You can apply for a Visa on Arrival 4 to 120 days in advance of your arrival on this website.
If you plan on staying in India longer than 60 days, you can apply through Cox & Kings Global Services, but you must allow more time for this process (start at least 3 to 4 months before the start of the trip).
FAQs and Resources
- How to Stay Healthy While Traveling…Naturally! (blog by Lauren)
- How to Navigate out of the Delhi airport (blog by Lauren)
- Ladakhi Language Primer (blog by BJ)
- Tips on Lessening Jet Lag (blog by BJ)
- I have special dietary needs—can I be accommodated?
Vegetarians should have no problem anywhere on our travels. In fact, please note that the Thiksey guest house ONLY serves vegetarian food! The only thing that might prove difficult is veganism in India. Although meat is entirely avoidable, India is the world’s largest consumer of butter, and it is almost unavoidable in most of their curries, stews, and even breads. Many vegans that I have known to travel through India adopt what is locally referred to as a “pure veg” diet: no meat, no eggs, but it allows for dairy consumption. (It is worth nothing that some of the reasons for avoiding dairy consumption in the west is slightly mitigated here, as there is less factory farming and antibiotic use in livestock.) Milk can be avoided by not consuming creamy dishes or milk tea.
Gluten is also avoidable in India and Nepal by choosing rice over chapatis and other local breads. Celiactravel.com has GREAT printable cards in local language to present to restaurants and hotels about your intolerance of gluten. Click here for the Hindi version. If you have multiple dietary needs, it may be worth your while to check out these specialty cards, available in 60 different languages.When you register for a trip, you will answer a set of questions, including a question about food allergies. We’ll take a look at your answers and let you know if we have any suggestions or concerns!
- Can I drink the water?
In a word, No. Although many cities around the world are getting more advanced public water systems, we don’t recommend it. Not only from a pathogen standpoint, but it’s a different set of bacteria than your body is used to. Why risk an upset stomach if you don’t have to? We recommend drinking only bottled water, and you will want to rinse your toothbrush off in bottled water.
- What vaccines do I need?
None are required to enter India, but we suggest you work with your physician or your area’s travel health expert to decide what options are best for you. You can read the CDC’s recommendations here and the Scottish NHS recommendations here.
- What about malaria?
Malaria is not a risk in Ladakh, but again, we request that you work with your physician or travel doctor when making these choices. Please see our blog about this topic for more information.
- Do I need travel insurance?
We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense. It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind! When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We also recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or unforeseen circumstances.
We like World Nomads, but ultimately you have to choose the one that is right for you. If you’re 70 years old or older, you’ll have to use a different company; we like Travel Guard. We’ll be asking for confirmation of your travel insurance 60 days before your departure. Please click here to get a quote. We love the services of these companies so much that we became affiliates, so we would ask that if you do choose to purchase these policies, you do it through our links.
- How much money should I bring?
That is entirely up to you and how much shopping you want to do in Leh. All of your meals and transportation is covered, so you just have to gauge how much you want to spend on extras!
- How do I get the local currency?
You can either exchange cash in India (although not at the airport, the rate is terrible!) or use a local ATM (which we prefer). Just make sure you call your bank and credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling in India, so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used halfway across the world. We recommend using the AIRPORT ATM upon arrival in Delhi (just after customs, before you leave the airport).
- What kind of hotels will we be staying at?
We will be staying at the Monastery’s guesthouse, and although it is simple, it is clean and has hot water. Most importantly, we stay an extremely short walk to the monastery, which is beneficial for early morning pujas and classtime.
Please note that wifi is notoriously spotty, and can go down in the entire region for days at a time. For emergency check-ins, you will able to use our Ladakhi phones to call home.
- Will I be able to charge my electronics (phone, iPad, etc)?
Yes, just be sure to bring along a 2-pin European style converter. Better yet, grab a Universal Travel Adaptor that can go with you anywhere in the world!
- How can my family get ahold of me in an emergency?
Even if you have an international plan, chances are you will not get cell coverage in remote Ladakh. Before the trip begins we will give you a contact for our hotel; in addition, we will give you our Ladakhi phone numbers ahead of time, as well as an American number good for text messages and voicemails.
Even if you have an international plan, chances are you will not get cell coverage in remote Ladakh. This is a very isolated part of the world, up high in the Himalayas, but we will do our best to ensure you are as connected as you want to be. If you choose to bring your cell phone or tablet, you can use VoIP services such as Skype, WhatsApp, and FaceTime to connect with your loved ones at home, as well.
About the Altitude
Our home base at Thiksey Monastery rests at a lofty 10,500 ft (3200 m). We plan our first few days in Leh very lightly, to allow you to acclimatize.
Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to worsen at high altitude, so it is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your physician. Certain medications are utilized to aid acclimatizing to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor or a local travel physician.
Click here to read BJ’s take on how to prevent altitude sickness, as someone who has traveled extensively at high altitudes and never had ill effect, and is an avid reader on the subject.
Click here to read Lauren’s suggestions to natural therapies to begin before your trip. Lauren is a Board-certified Acupuncture Physician and Doctor of Oriental Medicine with a specialty in the world of dietary supplements.
*All of the information here is for reference purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice from a licensed health care professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition or disease. If you are experiencing medical issues, you should contact your medical healthcare provider.
Packing List & Weather Info
The historical temperature averages while we are in Leh will be 55 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and although rain is not likely, it is possible. It can feel quite hot in the sun and chilly in the shade, so layers are going to be your best friend on this trip!
Although more and more Indians are adopting Western wear, traditional clothing is very prevalent and modesty is the name of the game (particularly around the monastery!) Please do not wear clothes that are tight, transparent or show too much skin or underarms. This means no tank tops or mid-riff baring tops (even for your yoga gear). We also discourage wearing form-fitting “skinny” jeans and shorts/skirts above the knee. Instead, we recommend wear loose fitting clothing such as long skirts, pants, capri-length pants, and blouses, button down or T-shirts, or even Indian kurtas if you choose. Any t-shirts, tunics, or blouses you have are going to work as long as they are not exceptionally low-cut.
- 8+ pairs undergarments; you can always have them washed or wash them yourself in your bathroom.
- 3-5 pair pants or long skirts. You may want to bring leggings (2 or 3 pair) to wear under your long kurtas, tunics, skirts or pants on chilly mornings or evenings (again—it’s all about the layers!) Fleece pants might be nice, and good to sleep in (remember, the nights are going to be in the 40’s to 50’s)
- 4-5 cotton t-shirts, blouses, or long sleeve shirts. You can always have laundry done at the hotel, but bring as many as will make you feel comfortable.
- A sweater or jacket for chilly Ladakh mornings and evenings. A windbreaker or shell might prove useful if your jacket doesn’t protect you from the wind or rain.
- A warm hat and scarf for chilly mornings and evenings.
- 2-3 pairs of socks. Light wool (like SmartWool) or tech socks work very well, but whatever socks you have will be just fine.
- Sleeping attire
- Comfortable walking shoes. Boots aren’t necessary and can be cumbersome when going in and out of monasteries and temples. Sneakers or comfortable slip-ons will suffice.
- A pair of sandals or flip-flops, if you wish. Walking sandals (such as Teva’s, Chaco’s, or Merrell’s) also work very well here.
- A hat with a brim is a very good idea for our daytime adventures.
- Yoga Clothing: stretchy, loose & comfortable. If you wear sleeveless and tight yoga gear, you can simply wear a shawl or cover-up on the way to and from class!
- Yoga Mat. Because of the unique nature of this RetreaTour™ in a location where yoga is not common, you will need to bring your own mat. Lauren likes these Khataland mats because of their unique folding pattern (that way, the bottom of your mat never has to touch the top of your mat); if you use this link or the promo code “MATT,” you’ll get 5% off at checkout.
- Any other yoga accessory you think you may need; Nikki recommends a belt. A blanket will be provided for you.
- Ear plugs and eye shades to help you sleep better and recover from jet lag more quickly. BJ swears by this—click here to read an article he wrote on the topic.
- Good sunscreen. Lauren prefers mineral-based ones: good for you, good for the environment. How do you know if it’s mineral based? If the active ingredient is either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide—that’s it. MyChelle and Devita make good ones.
- Daypack or camera bag. (If you need a recommendation on a camera, BJ would be happy to help, depending on what type of photography you like, how much you want to spend, and how much you want to carry around.)
- If you do bring your camera, don’t forget extra batteries or your charging cord. You may want to think about an extra memory card, too.
- Toiletries (including shampoo and conditioner, if required)
- People tend to think they need to bring toilet paper to India—not true! However, bringing a few packs of travel tissues is a good idea, to keep on you for public restrooms.
- Wet wipes or hand sanitizer.
- Any necessary feminine hygiene products.
- Plug adaptor for electronics: you’ll need a 2 pin adaptor common across Europe. Here’s a nice example of a great universal adapter and here’s one with USB ports, as well.
- VERY IMPORTANT! A print out of your RETURN airline ticket itinerary; you’ll need this to enter the airport to get home. You can also have a copy (we recommend a screenshot) on your phone.
- Photocopy of your passport and your visa, just in case you need them.
- A small travel umbrella is a must. It can work for rain OR as a parasol
- A light rain jacket/shell.
- Notebook and pen for journaling purposes
- Enough of any prescription drugs you need, as well as over-the-counter needs. We recommend Imodium (anti-diarrheal), a probiotic (Lauren is a BIG fan of Jarrodophilus EPS), as well as melatonin and Benadryl for jet lag purposes.
- The guesthouse at the monastery in Ladakh has Internet, but outages are not uncommon (all over Ladakh). Nevertheless, we encourage you to bring your smartphone or tablet, and please don’t forget your chargers! We recommend setting up Skype, FaceTime, or another wifi-based calling service before leaving home, and familiarizing your loved ones with it before you leave.
Travel Insurance (required)
If you are traveling with RetreaTours, we require that each guest carries travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment and emergency evacuation and repatriation.
We suggest trip cancellation insurance, as well, as you never know what obstacles life can toss at you leading up to a trip. However, we do not require this coverage, we only suggest it highly.
Below you will find some options to look into, if this is a new world to you. However, we ask that you carefully consider your choice in travel insurance. What works for some people may not work for others, particularly if you have any pre-existing conditions. Please do take the time to consider the best policy for your individual needs.
World Nomads provides medical coverage for guests under 70 that includes trip cancellation, as well. You can use the box on this page to get a quote and see coverage.
InsureMyTrip.com is a good place to see and compare many policies at once, and you can refine the options by what coverage you would like.
It may also be a good idea to check with your credit card companies, especially American Express, to see if they offer any medical coverage for travel.
Learn more about Ladakh
Want to learn more about this magical region high on the Tibetan Plateau?
Click below to head over to our very own About Ladakh page!