Offered by: Lopamudra Talukdar
It’s commonly said that every traveler becomes a photographer at ease during their journey through Ladakh. Otherworldly pink deserts, maroon- and orange-tinted mountains, cobalt blue skies, lush greens scattered in pockets, white-washed houses with brightly colored windows and wind-beaten fluttering prayer flags will push your camera battery and memory cards to keep up. Landscape photography is obvious territory here, but human interest, architectural and street photography (although streets are really high mountain passes here) opportunities abound. It’s going back to the basics of light and shadow in Ladakh, and the light at this altitude’s thin and dry air is something else.
At the very north lies Nubra valley, a jewel of untouched beauty in Ladakh’s crown. Where else on earth can you see shifting white sand dunes, double-humped Bactrian camels that once transported goods along the Silk Route, the warmest people with the coolest blue eyes (a cocktail of Indo, Aryan and Tibetan genetics) in their centuries-old monastic dwellings, at an average altitude of 12,000 feet? Add to this, poplar trees and fields of barley that tease you all the way up to the 14th century Diskit Gompa, seemingly a passageway to heaven itself.
Ladakh’s beauty is surreal and timeless, unscathed by technology, media and industry. In the age of so called digital nomads, Ladakh shows you a truly nomadic lifestyle with guaranteed adrenaline rushes. Its people have very little and live in tough conditions but are warm and welcoming. Agriculture fueled by snow melts provides only so much but everybody in Ladakh has basic shelter and food, a stark contrast compared to some parts of India. Tourism and man made structures like solar panels and phone towers add imperfections to Ladakh’s composition, but no canvas or photograph can seize its colorful sterility and contrast. Kashmir is tagged as “Paradise on Earth,” Ladakh then, arguably is the sun-kissed, moonlit, open and elevated terrace of that paradise.
Rudy has often asked the Cuban people what makes them so passionate and happy despite the daily hardships. The common response with a simple shrug, wink, and always a smile is, “Why be unhappy?” Despite Communist rule and 60-plus years of “el bloqueo,” Cubans continue to remain resilient and vibrant. A friend says to him, “There are no problems here, only possibilities.”
Cuba offers so many photo opportunities that it’s best not to rush around with a checklist. This journey offers you the opportunity to see, immerse, and take in the subtle moments from both the past and present. Explore the streets, local hangouts, markets, villages, and countryside and interact with the people in Havana and Trinidad as you shoot side-by-side with a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, benefiting from his unique insights, storytelling approach, and a keen visual eye.
Day 0 | June 17, 2020
Morning arrival at Leh airport, check-in at your hotel and rest to acclimatize your body. No physical activity is recommmended for 24 hours. Nightstay at Leh.
Day 1 | June 18, 2020
Visits to the Shey Palace, Thiksey Monastery, and Hemis Monastery in the first half. Return to Leh for a late lunch and choose between Shanti Stupa or Leh Palace for sunset. Nightstay at Leh.
Day 2 | June 19, 2020
Morning drive to the Aryan village of Dah-Hanu. This is a long drive and we will reach the Aryan village late in the afternoon. After a quick lunch, we will take an evening walk through the village, interact with locals and make some candid photos. Nightstay at Dah.
Day 3 | June 20, 2020
Morning shoot at Dah-Hanu in the village, farms, and inside some of the traditional shelters with villagers dressed in their traditional attire. We will depart for Lamayuru Monastery at around 11am. Nightstay at Lamayuru.
Day 4 | June 21, 2020
Morning shoot at Lamayuru Monastery. Depart for Leh with stops at Alchi and Basgo Monasteries. Late evening arrival at Leh
Day 5 | June 22, 2020
Depart for Nubra via the Khardungla Pass. Late afternoon shoot in the 12,000 ft high dry desert sands, including the double-humped Bactrian camels. Night stay at Nubra.
Day 6 | June 23, 2020
Early morning departure for the pristine village of Turtuk (India’s last frontier). Evening exploration of the village and photoshoot
Day 7 | June 24, 2020
Morning exploration and photoshoot at Turtuk. Depart for Nubra, with a late afternoon stop at Diskit Monastery. Night stay at Nubra.
Day 8 | June 25, 2020
1. Due to the associated logistics, planning, and paperwork involved, this trip must be booked at least 90 days prior to the listed dates. Upon booking, a copy of your passport will be required to obtain inline permits necessary to visit Ladakh. These will be taken care of for you.
2. Ladakh is located in a remote corner of India on the Tibetan plateau. The average altitude of most places you will be visiting on this trip is over 12,000 feet and requires driving over the Khardungla pass at over 18,000 feet. You will be given adequate time to acclimatize and your vehicle will have emergency oxygen tanks. But, you are responsible for your own health and body. Medical emergencies are not easy to deal with in Ladakh, so please take extra steps to ensure that you are in the necessary physcial condition for such a trip. This trip does not entail vigorous physical activity or hiking, yet high-altitudes can pose challenges. If you have any prior breathing or heart conditions, you must consult with your physician and seek medical approval.
3. Please also bring sufficient warm clothing – jackets, socks, gloves and caps, and sun protection – lotions, sun glasses etc. Air fare from Delhi to Leh is not included and you must make arrangements for those air tickets in advance.
Pick up and drop off will be provided from Leh airport
Shooting and light condition change dramatically so fast lenses f/2.8 or faster are ideal for all lighting scenarios (including low light and interiors). Depending on your personal style or choice prime or zoom lenses that offer coverage of 24mm – 200mm is a very good range.
Medium to High — While there are no strenuous hikes or climbs, this is a high-altitude journey. Even a low intensity activity like walking can cause exhaustion quickly.
– Hotel and/or Casa accommodations (clean, very comfortable and safe) for all nights
– A local guide throughout the trip to handle all local logistics
– All local transportation within Cuba
– Breakfast and 2 bottles of water every day
– Local tips (several places and people will expect donations)
– Local cultural exchange fees through agency and administrative work (as needed, depending on your nationality)
What’s not included:
– Flights to and back from Havana
– Lunch, dinner and other snacks or beverages are not included. We may dine together or separately throughout the trip (there is complete flexibility) but these costs are not included
– Any personal health, travel or gear insurance (you are responsible to obtain these ahead of your trip)
– Any local shopping such as gifts and souvenirs