Can you believe that we will be heading to India together at the end of this month?? Soon, your instructors will be heading to their own orientation in the Eastern Sierras in California, where we will continue to plan our summer together!
We wanted to post a tentative itinerary for you to get excited and for families and friends to be able to follow along a bit more closely. Stay tuned to the Yak board for more updates!
Alena, Hemant and Uttara
June 28 & 29: International Travel from US to India
The group will meet Alena to check in for the flight–look out for an email from the Dragons office with details on our meeting time and place. Uttara and Hemant will be leaving the US a few days early to get everything set up in Delhi and will meet the group at the airport.
June 30: International Travel, arrive in Delhi
We’ll welcome you to India and transfer to a hotel near the airport for the day. We’ll make sure everybody has food, water, and some rest before we head into the bustling city of Delhi for a little bit of exploration. Delhi will be quite hot and we want to be mindful of how far everyone would have travelled, so we will keep the activities engaging but brief so we can all get a bit of rest in as well.
July 1: Travel Day, Delhi to Leh
We will be waking up relatively early this morning to head back to the airport, this time the domestic terminal, to catch our flight up to Leh. We’ll get breakfast at the airport before our incredibly scenic flight north into the Himalayas. 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 acclimatise to the altitude.
July 1 – 2: Orientation in Phyang
It’s really important to rest during these first few days so that we can acclimatise to the altitude, so we’ll be staying somewhere beautiful 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.
July 3: Trekking Prep
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.
July 4 – 8: Trek #1 in the Sham Valley
Trekking in the Sham Valley is gorgeous and a great way to practice our skills for our second, more challenging trek later in the month. We’ll take a challenging route on this trek, crossing a few passes and getting our bodies and minds primed. We’ll be staying in small villages each night, enjoying the company of the generous and hospitable families who host visitors as a means of creating sustainable livelihoods for themselves.
July 9: Shower and Rest
Although our first trek doesn’t see us sleeping in tents, our bodies will be tired. We’ll head back to Leh to shower and rest and get ready for our next stop.
July 10 – 14: Rural Homestay
We’ll travel a few hours outside of Leh to the site of our homestays! The village we hope to stay in doesn’t have road access and we’ll have to hike a couple of hours to get to it. But believe us when we say, it is worth it. The families are incredibly welcoming in the small village of Taar. Like many Ladakhi villages, Taar’s residents are mainly older and you will have the opportunity to practice your Ladakhi (and acting skills) with the 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.
July 15 – 18:
As you may remember, we recently asked you to post your introductions to the yak board and answer the question, What does sustainability mean to you? We will spend a few days in and around Leh exploring what it means in the context of Ladakh. We will visit with local NGOs doing important work in the areas of education, sustainability and conservation. We’ll take a trip to the local landfill, have discussions about our impact on Ladakh and the Earth. We will meet local artists, business people, tour operators and guides, among others, and try and begin understanding this vast and complex region in the Himalayas.
We hope also to spend some of this time redefining what trekking means to each of us as we prepare for our next, longer trek. We might know now that trekking is about the outdoors and challenging our bodies and minds to do things we might not think possible. But what else is it about? Who makes it possible? How can we be more responsible while camping? Who benefits from our presence? Who doesn’t?
July 19 – 25: Trek #2
We’ll head off from a nearby trail head on our second, more challenging trek. We’ll be well-supported with a team of guides, cooks, horsemen, and their pack of ponies. 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 Zanskar mountain range in our sights. We’ll look for wildlife and admire the surrounding mountains during the day and enjoy starry skies in the evenings before tucking in to our tents. On the final day, we’ll drive from our ending point back to Leh, where we can celebrate what we’ve accomplished!
July 25 – 27: Leh
We’ll have a couple busy days in Leh and another scenic village near by. We’ll have time to shower and debrief our trek. We will also shift our focus back home, and begin preparing for the transition from India back home and everything that means.
July 27: Delhi
We have a mid-morning flight from Leh to Delhi. We’ll have a short time to eat mangoes and re-experience the heat of the Indian Plains before our international flight early the next morning. We’ll continue our conversations and sessions on what it means for this experience to come to an end. Alena will accompany students to the US on the flight back home.
July 28: Travel Day
We’ll head back to the International airport very early in the morning for your flights back home!
July 29: Arrive in the US
The group lands in the US mid-day and Alena will help students get on connecting flights or ensure pick ups from loved ones at the airport.