Join Global Family Travels and Collin and Djazia from the Heart Arts Academy on a 10-day Adventure to Ladakh to nurture the spirit and the environment. Through our Learn, Serve & Immerse travel pillars, we have designed a journey of culturally immersive experiences that dive deep into Ladakhi culture. We will learn human and landscape healing modalities and rituals through cultural-centric workshops and enjoy immersive experiences in sacred and healing spaces with monks, nuns, musicians, artists, Amchi-Tibetan doctors, shamans, yogis, and other important spiritual leaders. With Collin and Djazia from Heart Arts Academy, you will enjoy daily retreat activities, including a morning routine to uplift your spirit through intention, movement, and meditation aligned with yoga and qigong principles.
Custodians of their traditions, arts, and land, the people of Ladakh are honored and proud to invite us to immerse in their communal culture by participating in culinary experiences, heritage walks, agricultural rituals, and monastic life.
We will also support compassionate Ladakhi organizations engaged in supporting their communities and the natural environment.
Read our latest blog post about Ladakh : Immerse in Ladakh, India: Top 10 Travel Highlights filled with Culture and Community Experiences.
TRIP HIGHLIGHTS are below, click on ITINERARY to see all the details.
At Global Family Travels we believe that the most powerful way to learn is through the first-hand experience. We let the country and its people be your teachers and supplement your experiences with reading lists, informal discussions, and a pre-trip orientation which includes information on the culture and history of your host country, helpful words, and phrases, and cultural “do’s and don’ts”.
Learning themes unique to this tour include:
- Ladakhi cultural traditions
- Environmental and social issues affecting the Ladakh region
- Tibetan Buddhist culture and history
- Northern Indian culture and history
As part of the commitment to this trip, we encourage a donation to support the Siddhartha School Partnership, to help support the education of Ladakhi youth while preserving their culture and heritage.. A donation link can be found here.
We have designed a journey of culturally immersive experiences that dive deep into Ladakhi culture at centuries-old monasteries, heritage homes, traditional markets, and crafts workshops. Personal connections with Ladakhis are facilitated by the strong relationships with our community hosts, non-profit partners, and local we engage with. During your time in the Ladakh, you will become familiar with the rhythm of daily life in the peaceful village of Stok and with friends from the Siddhartha School community, and gain a deep understanding of the Buddhist culture and traditions of this stunning region.
About the Siddhartha School
The Siddhartha School was founded in 1995 by Khen Rinpoche Lobzang Tsetan, a Ladakhi Buddhist monk and educator, in his remote home village of Stok, Ladakh. What started in a one-room shed is now an exemplary private school with over 400 students from nursery age through Grade 10 and the school is one-of-a-kind in its efforts to preserve and enhance the local culture. Unique to Ladakh, it is the only private school in Ladakh that accepts students regardless of their ability to pay tuition and no child is denied admission to Siddhartha School on the basis of need.
The U.S. non-profit, the Siddhartha School Partnership is dedicated to providing the youth of Ladakh, India, with a modern, well-rounded education that recognizes the importance of culture and heritage.
About Tashi Morup, Your Ladakhi Guide & Historian
Tashi Morup is the Project Director of the Ladakh Arts & Media Organization (LAMO) and s a published author, journalist, editor, and heritage guide in Leh.
After graduating from Punjab University, Chandigarh, with a post-graduate degree in Mass Communication, Tashi joined The Pioneer National Newspaper in New Delhi as a staff reporter. Later he became the managing editor of Ladags Melong (Mirror of Ladakh) news magazine before starting a weekly newspaper called the Magpie, running it from 2005 to 2007. Now he works as a journalist writing for various national and state newspapers and journals.
As a heritage-walking guide, Tashi has been taking tourist groups and students to different historical sites within Leh, on which he has also written books. Passionate about the environment, culture, music, and folklore, Tashi has been writing research papers and making films on these topics, presenting both at national and international forums.
ABOUT COLLIN, ONE OF YOUR RETREAT FACILITATORS!
Collin grew up on the island of Hawaii and enjoys sharing his island vibes of easiness and heart-centered living. After pursuing the corporate life as an engineer and suffering from mental and physical illness, he had a profound calling to explore healing by traveling the world, learning new perspectives, and creating conscious connections with others.
As an international Yoga and Tai Chi instructor, Collin enjoys guiding individuals through a wide range of ancient eastern practices of movement, breath, and meditation in-order to manifest intentions and awaken the superhuman treasures that lie within us all. His practice continues to evolve after 15 years in the eastern healing arts. He enjoys blending these arts into a fun, unique, and transformative practice that is accessible to all, while honoring the roots of each culture and lineage.
"Since movement is such a personal practice, it was crucial for me to learn these practices by receiving personal training with eastern arts masters. It allowed me to understand how to become conscious of my unique body and energy system and how it should properly be directed to benefit me the most in each changing moment. It'd be an honor to share this with you."
ABOUT DJAZIA, ONE OF YOUR RETREAT FACILITATORS!
Djazia originates from the Amazigh indigenous tribe of North Africa, and is a natural intuitive guide through various healing modalities with certifications in Life Coaching, Yoga, Reiki, Hypnosis, Tai Chi, and Master Esthetics.
Djazia had an adverse upbringing in the middle east and believes that the challenges we all encounter are our greatest gifts. It is our mission to embrace it, do the inner work, and transmute it into our greatest power. She is fluent in English, French, and Arabic, and has worked internationally with royal families, ambassadors, celebrities, and corporate executives.
She has held positions as a spa owner, business development manager, and account executive manager, but her true calling is being of service.
For the past 20 years of coaching internationally, she has specialized in getting to the root of the problem and sharing authentically how to live fully from our heart space. Her passion is to light the path for self-discovery that activates creativity, authentic connection, healing, and full life expression.
"Because of the many trauma and death experiences in my life, it has given me the capacity to connect heart to heart with anyone. It is my purpose to share with you an approach for healing and transcending darkness into light."
About Ladakh, India
Once an independent Buddhist kingdom at the crossroads of vital trade routes between China and the Middle East, Ladakh, often called “Little Tibet” or “Land of the Broken Moon,” is one of the last places in the world where the Buddhist way of life is unrepressed. Its unique geographical location in one of the northernmost regions in India makes Ladakh rich with extraordinary trekking trails for all expertise levels. Ladakh became a new territory state of India in 2019.
About Jennifer Spatz,, Trip Leader
A cultural anthropologist at heart, Jennifer Spatz is Founder and CEO of Seattle-area Global Family Travels, a global tour operator whose mission is to “Learn, Serve and Immerse,” offering community-based travel experiences as a means to foster cross-cultural understanding. Since she launched Global Family Travels in 2010, Jennifer’s vision has been to unite humanity and inspire travelers to take responsibility for the challenges and opportunities facing our increasingly inter-connected planet through sustainable tourism experiences that support destination stewardship and local communities.
Since 20210, Jennifer has led several group trips to Ladakh and has helped facilitate cross-cultural school exchanges for SSP and Seattle area schools. She serves on the advisory council of the SSP board, and she and her family have been long time supporters of the Siddhartha School Partnership, sponsoring the education of several SSP students.
About the Ngari Insitute
The main goal of the Ngari Institute is to empower and enrich monks and lay persons, especially the youth, by providing a balanced learning experience of both modern scientific knowledge and ancient Buddhist wisdom, thus helping them to become efficient and productive citizens.
Under the leadership of its current President, Geshe Tsewang Dorje, an eminent Buddhist scholar, and practitioner, the Institute has experienced fast-paced growth in the enrollment of underprivileged children from the surrounding Ladakh region.
The Institute currently provides free education, food, and shelter for 58 children, with the promise to keep educating them until graduation from the high school level. In addition to providing education and shelter to underprivileged children of Ladakh, the Institute also sponsors programs in Buddhist philosophy for university-level students, who visit Ladakh for summer vacation. Looking toward the future, the Institute is planning on providing higher Buddhist philosophical studies to monks and lay practitioners comprised of both local and foreign students.
About Venerable Tenzin Dasel, Monastic Specialist
Tenzin Dasel has vast experience traveling throughout Ladakh, from Leh, to Nubra Valley and the remote region of Zanskar. She has visited, studied, taught and volunteered extensively since 2005 as a trip leader, guest lecturer, environmental project leader and Buddhist teacher. Over the past six years, she has been primarily based in India since 2016 and has travelled extensively though out the country, having deep knowledge of its culture and rich heritage. Tenzin Dasel has spent the most of this time in Ladakh, and is well versed in the people and cultures there. As an ordained Buddhist monastic, she has unique knowledge and of the Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist practices, artistic iconography and monastery systems. It is her pleasure to introduce and share this extraordinary land, culture, spiritual traditions and the essence of “Jullay” with visitors and locals alike!
Global Family Travels
Much more than a traditional tour operator, Global Family Travels’ mission is to “Learn, Serve and Immerse” through community-based travel programs. In partnership with non-profit organizations and schools, we offer family-friendly and sustainable travel experiences in support of education, gender equality, access to clean water, preservation of local cultures, conservation and economic growth, all of which foster cross-cultural understanding and global citizens.
Our trips include a unique mix of cultural and educational activities, homestays and participation in local service projects aimed at improving the lives of people in the communities we visit.
Expect to expand your family circle when you embark on a Global Family Travels trip! Visit our website for more information: Global Family Travels
About the Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation (LAMO)
About the Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation (LAMO) is a public charitable trust established to articulate an alternative vision for the arts and media in Ladakh. The organization set up the LAMO Centre in Leh, the main town of the region, to provide a space for the understanding and development of the arts. The complex on which the Centre is located comprises two historical houses below the 17th century Lechen Pelkhar (Leh Palace). The houses were restored by LAMO and converted to an arts space with galleries, offices, a library and reading room, screening room, conference room, and open-air performance site. The Centre is designed to conduct outreach programs, lectures, film screenings, research and documentation projects, workshops and exhibitions that showcase Ladakh’s material and visual culture, performing arts and literature.
Before the festivities, we are offering an opportunity to visit Hemis Monastery,. one the largest Monastery in Ladakh. Positioned inside a gorge, the monastery was built in the 17th century under the patronage of King Singey Namgyal and it holds the distinction of being the biggest and wealthiest monastery of Ladakh. Belonging to the Drukpa Order (sometimes called either Drugpa or "Red Hat sect”), it stands on the western bank of the Indus River. The monastery also boasts of a very rich collection of ancient relics.
DAILY RETREAT ACTIVITIES WITH HEART ARTS ACADAMEY
Daily Retreat Activities with Collin and Djazia from Heart Arts Academy include:
Each day you will rise in the majestic island of Bali. You will begin with a morning routine to uplift your spirit through intention, movement, and meditation aligned with yoga and qigong principles.
We will explore our 7 primary energy centers (chakras) and set intentions each day that focus on the 7 chakras:
1) Root – Safety and letting go of fear
2) Lower Abdomen – Creativity, sexuality, and courage for individual expression
3) Upper Abdomen – Self-respect and emotional integrity
4) Heart – Compassion and love, forgiveness and empathy
5) Throat – Communication and expressing your truth
6) Third Eye – Intuition, insight and foresight
7) Crown – Connection to the divine
These activities will prepare us for your curated community-inspired experiences involving different forms of wellness, medicine, nature, culture, customs, and traditions that are interwoven with spiritual philosophy and artistry lessons. Throughout our culturally immersed activities, we'll reconnect with a mindfulness practice based on the energy and flow of our day and end most nights with reflection and ceremony.
ChöD Healing is the sacred Buddhist chant and drum healing Mystical healing that cuts through problems, hopelessness, and barriers between you and your True Self by connecting to the feminine wisdom energy. The sacred Buddhist chanting and the ritualistic beating of the drum purify the five elements of the body and mind, harmonizing matter with soul. The healing transforms by taking you beyond identification with the egoic self, bringing you in touch with your clear light. Come and experience this extraordinary power of the time-honored Tibetan Buddhist Healing and flow with the rhythm of divinity in and out of you.
Chöd (gcod), “severance” or “cutting,” is a Tibetan term referring to a cycle of Tibetan Buddhist practice and to the lineage initiated by the Tibetan woman Machik Lapdrön sometime in the 11th or 12th century. It is primarily based on the teachings of the perfection of wisdom (prajñāpāramitā) that represent the second phase of Buddhist texts that developed in India.
More about Chod: on Wiklipedia
Listen to Chod on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/4eBpfX1ILeg03H8tPjfscs
Amchis and Tibetan Medicine
Encounter some of the most knowledgeable Amchis (Doctors) at Ladakh Nuns Association and get a real insight into the theory of Sowa-Rigpa, i.e., the Science of healing.
Sowa Rigpa is the Tibetan language word for the traditional medical system of Tibet, with roots dating back more than 2000 years. One of the oldest healing traditions in the world, it remains fully alive and intact today, having preserved its authenticity through the pure lineage of transmission.
A centuries-old Traditional system of Medicine, based on the teachings of Buddha. While western medicine treats only symptoms with drugs and works on solitary parts of the body, traditional Tibetan Medicine takes on a holistic approach by focusing on the whole, harmonizing the body, energy and mind through balancing the five elements.
Ladakh Nuns Association & History of Nuns in Ladakh
Oracles / Astrologers in Ladakh
Shamanic Healing (oracle or spiritual guide)
Connect with a spiritual guide Get divine guidance for your life through the ancient practice of shamanic healing.
SHAMANIC Healing Connect with a spiritual guide Get divine guidance for your life through the ancient practice of shamanic healing. Allow this timeless wisdom to heal your body, mind, and spirit. The session might help you find an answer to your questions or problems, using divination to clear your doubts through communication with the higher powers. After entering into an altered state of consciousness or trance, the spirit guide speaks prophetically through the Shaman as a medium, giving personal insight and healing energy (or blessings), leaving us to feel protected in the warmth and compassion of the beings of higher dimensions through communication with the higher powers.
COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS
With the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), the health and safety of Global Family Travels’ travelers, community partners, colleagues and guides are of paramount importance to us. Our COVID-19 Safety Protocols, which can be found under Tasks section, outlines our commitment to mitigate and manage the risks associated with COVID-19 when you travel with us. You can find more detailed information on our website COVID-19 and Travel, and please also refer to the tasks which has specific details for your activity and destination.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about these protocols or your tour. Thank you for helping to keep yourself and fellow travelers and guides safe!
DAY 10-11: Nubra Valley Travel Day & Diskit Monastery
After an early breakfast, we begin a spectacular drive over Khardongla, the world’s highest motorable pass and enter into the northern frontier of beautiful Nubra Valley with high mountains, great monasteries, white sand dunes, and double-humped camels.
We will enjoy a packed lunch en route.
Upon arrival, visit Disket monastery. Diskit Monastery also known as Deskit Gompa or Diskit Gompa, is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh, Northern India. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism and was founded by Changzem Tserab Zangpo, a disciple of Tsong Khapa, the founder of Gelugpa, in the 14th century.
Travel time: Uley to Nubra valley (Uley to Leh 70km/1.5 hr and Leh to Nubra 130 km/5-6 hrs)
Accommodation: Lchangnang Nang / Meals: B, L & D
Visit Saspol Caves & Alchi in Apricot Valley (0ptional)
After breakfast, we bid a fond farewell to Stok and we are off to Nurla, stopping at confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers for photos and a rest stop.
Proceed to visit Saspol Caves to view cave paintings of Buddhist pantheon from the 13th – 15th century.
Lunch at Alchi Kitchen with traditional Ladakhi food (paid for on your own), and after we visit Alchi Monastery, built-in 10th century AD by the Guru Rinchen Zangpo.
Check into our hotel and rest before dinner in Nurla, known for apricot growing.
Nubra Valley 3 Day Visit
OPTIONAL VISITS to Nurla or Nubra Valley (waiting on His Holiness Dalia Lama’s teaching schedule which may be in Nubra Valley)
Rong Valley Excursion
Today, we enjoy a visit to the mystical beautiful gorge called Rong Valley. It is alleged this region has the highest density of snow leopards in Ladakh.
We will visit the village of Tarchit, which is known for its hidden “beyuls,” and there is evidence of rock art dating 3000 years before Christ was born. See video about Tarchit village, Ladakh’s best-kept secret. We will also learn about the UNDP project Sidd is working on.
Enjoy a Ladakhi lunch and homestay visit, and if we are lucky, we may still be able to visit the famous Ice Stupa (see recent article In Science Focus) and meet its inventor, Sonam Wangchuk, Founding Director of SECMOL.
Explore Nubra Valley, visiting the following:
Charasa village - once the winter palace of the King Nyima Namgyal of Ladakh and rich in iron ore so the village was an important source iron in olden times to be supplied to the whole of Ladakh. Castle ruin and monastery could be visited.
Murgi village - the village was originally named mHul-re (The Silver Mountain) and over the years the name transformed into the modern village of Murgi. The main attraction is the largest petroglyph site (a rock art site) found to date, in Ladakh dating back more than 1500 years. The villagers have named the petroglyph site as ‘rdo nag’, literally meaning ‘black rocks’, as it is formed out of boulders covered with a red-brown crust.
A small tomb wherein you can find a footprint of Guru Dachompa Nyima Gungpa. According to the local tradition, the monk was able to fly by using his garments and wanted to construct the “Lhasa Gonpa” at Ensa (A famous 600-year-old gompa near Murgi village) but was denied by the locals. In anger, he left towards Tibet and left his footmark at Murgi village. As per the historians, no tool or instrument was used to carve the footprint.
Yarma monastery (optional depending on time in hand) – It is a 13th century monastery mainly known for its self-originated Yeshi Gonbo (Mahakala) on the hillock next adjoining the monastery.
Panamik – The village is famous for its sulphur hot springs. Considered to have medicinal values.
Yarab Tso - it is one of the holiest high-altitude lakes in the valley. The lake consists of crystal-clear water, and perfectly reflects its surroundings.
Return to hotel to relax and have dinner.
Accommodation: Lchangnang Nang
Meals: B, L & D
Nubra Valley Day of Exploration!
Today, we continue to explore Nubra Valley with following activities:
Morning village walk – nice leisurely walk in and around the village and to understand how a Ladakhi village life, houses, fields, irrigation, plantation, etc.
Samstanling monastery - founded 140 years back in 1841 by Lama Tsultim Nima (also head of Rizong monastery in Sham valley).
Zimskhang House – was built around seven generations before. It is good example of typical Ladakhi vernacular architecture. How the Ladakhi’s built there houses facing southwards to entrap maximum sunlight (to keep house/rooms warm) especially for the long cold winter.
Return to hotel to relax and have dinner.
Accommodations: Lchangnang Nang
Meals: B, L & D
Return to Leh/Stok via Warila Pass
Pack up to travel back to Leh/Stok via a different route over Warila pass.
Tangyar monastery – built in 15th century, central feature of the monastery is the preserved of the body of Tibetan yogi called Panchen Nubrapa in one of the stupa inside the monastery.
After Tangyar travel via Warila pass towards Leh/Stok. It is a beautiful drive and less touristy, on the ride, one can see herds of hundred’s of Yak’s grazing around the mountains. Picnic lunch en route
Meals: B, L & D
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