‘Glamping’ in Ladakh: The Ultimate Travelling Camp
Glamping or glam camping (luxury camping) has lately become more popular than ever, with various safari tents and mountain camps sprouting across the world. Ladakh’s alpine beauty has beckoned many a traveller.
But no hotel experience can match the thrill of camping in its picturesque terrain, surrounded by the mighty Himalayas. If roughing it out is not your style, you can experience glamping at The Ultimate Travelling Camp’s (TUTC) Chamba Camps – two nomadic luxury camps at Thiksey and Diskit.
Tent with a view
We flew from Mumbai directly to Leh. Chamba Camp Thiksey is located just 20 km from the airport, sandwiched between the Ladakh Range and the Stok Range (a part of the Zanskaar Range).
Our pristine white luxury suite tent was set on a wooden deck with a large patio opening out into an alfalfa field and to a mesmerising view of the Stok Mountains. Inside, a king-size four-poster bed with memory foam mattress, a pillow menu, and cool sheets beckoned us to rest and get acclimatised to the rare mountain air.
The colonial-era furniture, an elaborate chandelier above our bed, vintage trunks, a gleaming copper washbasin in the en-suite bathroom, all transported us back in time.
We had a personal butler a phone call away, a talented chef in the kitchen who whipped out five-course meals, and an entourage of warm, hospitable staff. Our meals were in the common dining tent with a choice of Indian and Western dishes, good wines and a superlative bakery selection.
The camp is located practically at the foot of Thiksey Monastery with several chorten or memorial stupa lining one of the boundary walls of the camp.
One evening, we walked up to the monastery for a spartan yet delightful dinner with the monks. The monastery’s terrace gives a panoramic sunset view of the Leh valley.
On another day, we drove 15 km across the Indus River to the Matho monastery lodged high up in the Stok Mountains. Here, a team of art restorers and locals is working hard to preserve Ladakh’s history and culture in a dedicated museum.
We were in Ladakh in early July, luckily in time for the Hemis Festival at the Hemis Monastery, a 25 km drive from the camp. The folks at TUTC had kindly arranged VIP seats for us in the viewing gallery, giving us an excellent vantage point to watch the colourful musical performances of the monks.
After three relaxed days at the Thiksey camp, we left for Chamba Camp Diskit in the Nubra Valley. We woke up bright and early to avoid the ‘traffic jam’ at Khardung-La, the highest motorable road in the world. The view from the top was a stunning vista of chocolate mountains streaked with vanilla snow.
The road was rough and we arrived at the Diskit camp to a refreshing mint drink that we slowly savoured in the reception tent. Done up in earthy brown and orange tones, the Diskit camp has a more rustic feel compared to the Thiksey camp.
Our triple-layered tent was well-insulated and comfortably appointed with a large four-poster bed, a generous wardrobe designed like an upright vintage leather trunk, and a spacious bathroom with round-the-clock hot and cold water.
All the tents faced the Diskit monastery, perched dramatically in a gorge of a snow-capped mountain. After a brief spot of rest, a 10-minute drive from the camp brought us to the Hunder Desert, one of the most spectacular sights in Nubra Valley.
We rode Bactrian (two-humped) camels on the tall sand dunes that stretched as far as we could see, hemmed in on all sides by the Himalayas.
We spent a couple of days in the valley, visiting the Diskit monastery, driving to nearby villages and experiencing local food before returning to Thiksey camp. Instead of traversing Khardung-La again, we took the alternate route of Wari-La, a scenic though lesser-used road.
The Himalayan flora and fauna was out in full force and we saw yaks, Himalayan marmots darting amongst the yellow buttercups, and soaring golden eagles.
Returning to Thiksey camp felt like coming home, more so because we had the same tent and our ever-smiling butler to welcome us back.