Stories From The Camp: Of Pleasant Surprises & Beautiful Campsites
It’s not just the place that is magical, even the journey to Ladakh is one that stays with you for a lifetime. When Rupert Winchester boarded the flight from Delhi, he chalked it down as just another flight, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. Read on to know more…
The flight from Delhi begins like most Indian domestic flights, the plane lumbering up into the air, already late. The flight crew bustle around dishing out uniquely tasteless sandwiches, and then take away the rubbish, and before you know it the captain is calling for cabin crew to cross-check please.
Outside the window, we’re in thick cloud. You wonder why, in passing, the crew are already sitting in their jump seat. Then the plane passes out of the clouds, and you forget all about that. Instead of fields of agriculture and tiny roads and houses far below, your window is suddenly filled with a huge, jarring zig-zag of blue and white, and it takes you a second to realise that it’s snow-capped mountain tops in front of a sky of the purest periwinkle blue, just beyond the wingtips. Further below, the snow gives way to sloping sheets of treeless fields of boulders, in softly undulating tones of gray and brown.
The plane banks left, and then right, surprisingly hard, and before you know it kisses the runway and shudders to a halt. You still can’t take it all in, the vast trackless scale of the country, the miles of roughly textured land sweeping up to the high peaks, ridged and striated, the tops covered with the purest, whitest snow ever.
Leh itself isn’t, at first sight, much to write home about. Heavy traffic, potholed roads. But it ends quickly, and then you’re sweeping along well-maintained minor highways, out of the shallow bowl that Leh is in the centre of, and down the valley of the Indus. The high peaks rear up against the sky, the highest in the vicinity being Stok Kangri, at 6,250 metres, or 20,500 ft, which, while it isn’t Mount Everest, is still pretty high.
The camp at Thiksey is at 3,600 metres: high enough that you need to be careful about altitude sickness, but not so high that you really need to worry about it too much. The camp medic checks you out on arrival, and you’re advised to spend the first day taking it fairly easy, which, to be honest, isn’t a hardship.
The camp is astonishingly beautiful. The sand-coloured tents nestled in amongst groves of poplar trees, the ground thick with wild irises. Small ponds full of meltwater off the mountains gurgle quietly to themselves, and as the sun begins to set and the shadows lengthen across the ground, new patterns emerge on the dry boulder fields, new ridges and geological folds show themselves as the sky pearlesces behind Thiksey Monastery, the high clouds turning an otherworldly pink, then fading into greys, above the pure white snow. More on the camp to come.
Follow this section to perfect the #ArtOfGlapming with Rupert Winchester and TUTC.
Interested in a luxury experience beyond par? BOOK NOW
While you are here, take a look at some other experiences we offer