Dear Dragons India fall semester students, family, and friends,
Our big adventure is nearly upon us and we hope you all are getting excited for our time together in India!! As we are in the final stages of preparation for the trip to India, we wanted to post a tentative itinerary for students to get even more excited and for families and friends to be able to follow along a bit more closely. Please note that we say “tentative” because it could very easily change. We appreciate your flexibility and openness in this, and we will work to keep everyone informed if changes do occur! Stay tuned to the Yak board for updates!
The India Instructor and Administrative Team: Jacky, Saurabh, Uttara, Bantu, & Christy
September 16: International Travel, arrive in Delhi
The I-team and Bantu ji will welcome you to India and you will transfer to a hotel for the evening. We’ll make sure everybody has food, water, and a good night of sleep.
September 17: Rest day in Delhi and an introduction to the course
September 18 – 21: Travel from Delhi to Leh, Orientation in Leh
We’ll get up early and head back to the airport, but this time to the domestic terminal, for the flight up to Leh. We’ll get breakfast at the airport before our incredibly scenic flight north into the Himalayas. We are due to land in Leh around 10 am.
Upon our arrival in Leh, we’ll take cars to our orientation site about a half hour away. We’ll get everyone settled, review health and safety information, and start getting to know each other on a deeper level, all while taking it easy to acclimatize to the altitude.
It’s really important to rest during these first few days, so we’ll be staying somewhere beautiful and relaxing where we can relax and get to know each other. Our orientation activities will be a mix of activities meant to help us get to know one another, important information on staying safe and healthy in this new environment/altitude/climate, and visiting some of the nearby sights, including an ice stupa and the local monastery.
September 22 – 25: Homestays
We’ll travel outside of Leh to the site of our homestays in a rural Ladakhi village. The families there are incredibly welcoming, and usually there’s some young people around who speak English. You’ll also have fun practicing a few words of Ladakhi with incredibly charismatic grandmothers and grandfathers who stay busy tending to the fields and taking care of livestock. We’ll be meeting as a group during the day for lessons, activities, and day trips. We may get to help in the fields or go for some day hikes to ready our legs for our trek.
September 26 – 30: Trek
We’ll say farewell to our homestays and travel to prepare to start our trek. We’ll go over all the essentials of how best to pack our bags, and instructors can help fit your packs in advance of our first trek. We’ll have thorough briefings on health and safety and will learn skills from instructors and guides as we navigate through this beautiful terrain with views of the high Himalayas in our sights. Trekking in Ladakh is an incredible way to experience the region’s unparalleled beauty and push our bodies’ physical limits.
While trekking, we’ll be well-supported with a team of guides, cooks, horsemen, and their pack of ponies. We’ll look for wildlife and admire the surrounding mountains during the day and enjoy starry skies in the evenings before tucking into our tents. On the final day, we’ll drive from our ending point back to Leh, where we can celebrate what we’ve accomplished!
October 1 – 6: SECMOL
For nearly 3 decades, the Students Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh has promoted sustainable living and bolstered education for Ladakhi students. The campus is an incredible place to exchange with Ladakhi teenage peers, and we’ll have an exchange with the students who love sharing about their lives and culture and practicing their English with foreign visitors.
October 7 – 9: Leh
We’ll have a couple busy days in Leh! There are many sights and possible guest speakers in Leh, and we’ll make our itinerary for these days according to the interests of the student group.
October 10: Travel Day
We’ll have a morning flight from Leh to Delhi, and then the group will travel from Delhi to Varanasi by train.
October 11: Arrival in Varanasi
Upon arrival in Varanasi, we will build new group expectations for this portion of our program and begin to immerse ourselves in the daily life in the new city. We will settle into our homestays in and around Assi Ghat, on the banks of the holy Ganges River.
October 11 – November 26: Varanasi (including side trips)
During our time in Varanasi, students will be living in homestays, practicing yoga, participating in group workshops, learning Hindi and studying with local artisans, musicians, and specialists in their Independent Study Projects. Varanasi is a wonderful city to explore by foot or by bicycle, and students will have opportunities to see all that the city has to offer as a group and on their own. The fall is festival and wedding season in northern India, and students will get to experience the holidays of Chhat Puja, Diwali, and Dev Diwali, among others, while in Varanasi.
We will break up our time in Varanasi with some trips outside of the city. Some options for these side trips could include a meditation retreat, a long weekend in Kolkata, West Bengal, a few days in Lucknow, visiting the Buddhist pilgrimage cities of Bodh Gaya and Sarnath, or other options that we can explore later.
We’ll end our time in Varanasi with a community celebration with our homestay families, mentors, teachers, and friends.
November 26th-December 1st: Expedition Phase
The students will pack up their lives in Varanasi and prepare to take off on an expedition that they plan themselves in another region of India. The x-Phase is an opportunity for students to flex their newly acquired traveling skills and take responsibility for planning and executing a trip for our group. The X-Phase will be explained in more detail later on in the course.
December 2 – 5: Transference
During transference, the group will settle into relaxed space, spend a few days preparing for the transition home and reflecting on our journey.
December 5: Departure from India