Spread across high-altitude hamlets in northern India, Shakti Ladakh Village Experience offers a nomadic adventure in the Himalayas. Days are devoted to partaking in local life, watching metalsmiths at work or trekking from monastery to mountain lake. The area is blessed, both holistically and topographically, taking in orchards, mountains, canyons, rivers and ridges – though humans have left their touch, too, in the form of gompas (Buddhist temples), giant gold statues and 16th-century forts.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 8am.
Double rooms from £1264.86 ($1,650), including tax at 4.5 per cent.
Rates include all meals, activities, transfers and a private guide.
Various classes are included in the rate: learn how to make momos (dumplings) in a cookery class, fine tune your archery aim, stretch towards the sun in a yoga session, or go white-water-rafting past areas of astonishing natural beauty.
Shakti’s lodges are closed from 1 October to 31 April each year.
At the hotel
Each house has a terrace, kitchen, library, dining area, free bottled water, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and SOS Organic bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Each three-bedroom house across the assemblage of villages (Nimoo, Stok, Shey, Indus, Likir and Igu) has its own charm, each dining area was chosen for its prime view-admiring perch. Most bedrooms have a colourful lick of paint, a smattering of handmade furniture and bright Himalayan fabrics; some have an ensuite bathroom, but all are well-plumbed, and guaranteed against frigid showers.
One can’t live the Ladakh Experience when the snow falls thick and fast (Shakti takes a break in the frostier months), but summer temperatures can still be brisk – thermals, fur trims and goose-down jackets will all come in handy.
This experience doesn’t require Everest-ready levels of preparation – most of the walks are gentle and the biggest distances will be tackled from a chauffeur-driven seat – but it’s worth allowing some time to overcome any altitude sickness.
Over-eights are welcome. Each house has three bedrooms, which can accommodate twin beds, if needed.
Where you eat changes at each stage of your experience: breakfast could be on your patio; lunch might be a mid-hike picnic on a mountain pass; dinner could be overlooking an orchard.
Animal hides and bright woven blankets won’t look out of place.
Guests dine in the lodges; a private chef is on hand to whisk up what you fancy (they’re well informed in Tibetan, Indian and European cuisine). We recommend requesting the samosas, biryani, khow suey (a Burmese noodle dish) and Parsi apricot chicken. For breakfast, expect a spread of freshly baked bread, home-made granola, fruit, juice and eggs – or an Indian take if you prefer.
Chase the meal your chef’s rustled up with a freshly squeezed juice.
Dine when and where you want. Breakfast is usually at 8am or 9am; lunch at 1pm; and dinner at 8pm.
The Shakti Ladakh Village Experience lets guests journey the lesser-trodden paths of the Indian Himalayas. Lodges lie close to the town of Leh and are set in various villages within the region, including Nimoo, Stok and Igu.
International travellers should fly to New Delhi before hopping on an Air India or Jet Airways flight to Leh’s domestic hub, Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport (just over an hour’s journey). From Leh, Shakti’s Nimoo lodge (the first stop on your adventure) is are an hour-long drive. All transfers are included.
You’d have to journey for several days over rocky terrain to reach the closest train station. We highly recommend taking to the skies.
Your own private guide and chauffeur in one will pick you up – sit back and let them navigate the on-high hairpin turns.
Worth getting out of bed for
Leave your spiritual and cultural awakening in the hands of your knowledgeable guide; a bespoke itinerary will be created for you in each village you journey to. Visits to the market in Leh, hikes with picturesque picnic stops, cooking lessons, white-water rafting and trips to the temples, monasteries and schools of Ladakh will leave you almost as knowledgeable as the Dalai Lama. Archery, camping, cycling, yoga and meditation can also be arranged, just say the word.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this mountain lodge in the Himalayas and unpacked their yaks’ wool blankets and colourful prayer wheels, a full account of their remote village stay will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's an insider guide to the Shakti Ladakh Village Experience in India…
Flying into one of the highest commercial airports in the world, over the rugged expanse of the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, your breath will be taken away by more than just the altitude. Located more than 3,200 metres above sea level, Leh – once the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh – is an enchanting mountain-flanked town of mud houses and Buddhist stupas, with snowy peaks and dazzling lakes in the distance.
While all the enlightenment seekers congregate here, Shakti Ladakh Village Experience whisks guests onwards to Nimoo, the first village you’ll encounter, where local houses have been converted into cosy havens far removed from the backpacker bustle. Each lodge has three double rooms with ensuite bathrooms, but is hired exclusively, complete with a chef, porters and a private guide. Away from the crowds at Leh, Shakti pilgrims will have an unmatchable insight into local life. For much of the year, the mountain passes are closed and the villages are snowed in. It’s a short window of opportunity, but this journey to the top of the world is one you won’t forget in a hurry.
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