Thursday, July 8, 2010

Little Tibet: Inner Journeys...Outdoors

My relentless hunt for earth and health friendly vacation rentals led me to Ladakh, India--long on the map for backpackers who stay in and around Leh--but yet to hit the radar of the adventurous, comfort-seeking travelers. The high altitude desert is dominated by rugged snow capped mountains, deep turquoise lakes, and traversed by strands of green, fast-flowing rivers making this my kind of destination. 

Often referred to as 'little Tibet,' Ladakh is geographically, anthropologically and culturally part of Tibet. However, its remoteness and sheer inaccessibility have meant that it was to have a very different history to the rest of the high plateau. Once part of British India, it was subsequently absorbed into independent India in 1947. Ladakh's geography protected it from the ravages of the Chinese cultural revolution that sadly changed the rest of Tibet beyond recognition. Today it contains one of the most intact Tantric Buddhist societies left on earth.

Responsible tourism outfitter, Shakti Himalaya offers a 'village house' experience that avoids the over commercialization of Leh and takes you out, off the beaten track to three unspoilt villages in the Indus valley.  And instead of driving into the Nubra valley like everyone else, they offer a Shayok River journey along the old Silk Route into the remote Nubra valley--an area rarely visited by any foreign travelers.
The Shakti Himalaya website describes their earth friendly practices this way, "[We're] committed to sharing the rejuvenating effects of remote surroundings – to provide privileged access to places far removed from the noise and clutter of the modern world, where space, peace and epic landscapes provoke the imagination and nourish the soul."
India: In Word and Image
Shakti claims the trips make no environmental impact on the villages or trails. Village holiday homes/vacation rentals have been minimally and authentically refurbished, using traditional materials and crafts, and food and supplies are sourced locally. There is no electricity and ablutions are by bucket shower. The guides and porters are from the local villages and so act as conduits for conversations between travellers and the local people along the trail, as well as interpreting customs, history and folklore. Visitors bring in much-needed income and contribute to the maintenance of the traditional farmhouses. Monies spent along the trail go directly to local businesses.

1 comment:

villa begur said...

Lovely destination for every one..........Really..???????? This place is so beautiful,so natural....Full touch of total natural beauty.....Perfect destination for the new wedding couple for there honeymoon days...!!! I really want to visit this place its lovely and Romantic destination for the people who want to spent some time in the far away from the whole world in the palm of the nature...!!!!!!!!!!!