Expert-Led Group Tour

India Group Tour - Photography Expedition to Ladakh with Jon Nicholson

Photograph the faces and landscapes of India's spellbinding mountain region

14 days

from £7,295pp
  • Visit the incredibly beautiful, high altitude destination of Ladakh
  • Develop and improve your digital and manual photographic skills with one to one expert tuition
  • Join an 'assignment' led trip with a maximum of four people
  • Produce a cohesive body of work that tells a story image by image
  • Receive outstanding 'on-location' support from our expert team in Ladakh

Led by professional photographer Jon Nicholson, our photography expedition to Ladakh is an "assignment" style trip, designed for photographers keen to produce a full and cohesive body of work. The focus will be on improving the photographer's technical and creative skill while travelling in a diverse and fascinating environment.

The Steppes Difference

Setting it apart from other photography tours, this tour is purposefully offering only four places, avoiding overcrowding the location and enabling the group to interact and build trust with the communities they encounter. 

The Aim of the Tour

The aim of the tour is for the photographer to return home, demonstrating a discernable progression in the standard of their images, illustrating a deep connection and understanding of the people and landscapes of Ladakh. 

Ladakh in August

Visiting Ladakh in August is a wonderful time of year to visit the region, coinciding with harvest time. There is plenty of activity and plenty to photograph, with clear mountain air and light offering the perfect illumination of the faces and landscapes around you.

The tour in more detail

This photography expedition travels into the high altitude, former Kingdom of Ladakh. Most of the region lies at an altitude of over 9,800 ft, with an array of mountains pressed relentlessly together, a result of the Indian plate folding upwards against the more stationary Eurasian plate. The Mighty Indus river is the backbone of the country.

The first few days of the trip will be spent gently acclimatising to the environment, with gentle excursions into the surrounding valleys. During these initial days, focus will be on technical skill. Jon will pass on as much of his experience and knowledge as he can of working in-the-field. Each day will end with a critique of the day’s work and discussion of what and how you have been photographing. Jon shoots with both film and digital cameras and will be covering; manual photography and how that will benefit shooting on digital; how to compose portraits; use backgrounds and get people to interact and trust you.

Once the group has settled and acclimatised, you continue on to higher terrain in search of the Changthang nomadic tribes. The nomads of this region live a very simple life travelling with their livestock, some of which produce the highly sort after Pashmina wool. This is an opportunity to move with the nomads, to document their life and working day and to work on portraits of unique faces and landscapes.

The essence of the trip is to learn and deliver a set of images as if on assignment. Jon will work hard with you to achieve great images that will stand out. Be prepared to shoot in colour or black and white. Be ready for any change in situation. Whether the light is poor or perfect, both situations create opporunity and Jon will show you how to adapt to this. Whilst there is a schedule of where you will be and for how long, there will be no strict plan each day as things can change very suddenly and the group need to nimble and react quickly, for example at short notice the Dalai Lama may be in town!

Gear and fitness

You will require a good level of fitness for this trip. Altitude can affect any of us however, so the first few days are a gentle start, based at Chamba Camp in the Leh Valley. You then continue into the nomad regions and spend five nights in a fully-supported wild camp. From the camp, excursions will be made to reach the nomadic communities. You will be on your feet for long periods with hill walking.

You will require a reasonable level of knowledge photographically and own a DSLR with a couple of lenses or a film camera. Both ideally. Jon uses the Leica M series of cameras with a 35mm, 28mm lens (a 50mm and 90mm in the bag) and a hasselblad with an 80mm lens.

Accommodation in ladakh

In general the hotel accommodation options in Ladakh are rather limited and basic, however Chamba Camp offers a wonderfully luxurious, fixed tent camp option in the Thikey valley, close to Leh. At the beginning of the trip you stay at the Chamba Camp where you can acclimatise in style. In contrast, travelling into the remote nomadic regions makes accommodation a challenge, however we have 'summoned' our best people to pitch a private tented camp just for you, close to Lake Tsomoriri. The location and service standards will be second to none however the tents themselves are very different to that which you would have experienced in Thiksey. These tents will include the following:

  • Camp Staff
  • Separate dining tent
  • Hot water in bucket (no running hot water as these are not fixed tents)
  • Attached Bathroom
  • Proper beds with duvet  
  • Electricity will be available daily from 6 – 11 PM only

If you are interested please register your interest by contacting us at inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 651010.

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Delhi

Day 2

Meet Jon Nicholson and the rest of the group


You will be staying at Claridges Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Fly Delhi to Leh

Drive from Leh to Thiksey (Road Journey)


Thiksey is home to one of the most attractive and famous Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh. Standing at an altitude of 3,600 metres in the Indus valley, Thiksey is reached easily from Leh.


Settle into Chamba camp. Take a short early evening walk around the camp.


You will be staying at Chamba Camp Thiksey, Full board

Day 4

Acclimatisation and Photographic Techniques
The first day of the tour will consist of gentle excursions in the surrounding area, taking images and acclimatising to the environment, culture and people of Ladakh.


You will be staying at Chamba Camp Thiksey, Full board

Day 5

Excursions into surrounding area
In these first few days of the tour, focus will be on taking images that put the country into context. A more 'street photography' approach will be applied, quick thinking and looking for the unusual. This will help create a platform for the main body of work to come.


You will be staying at Chamba Camp Thiksey, Full board

Day 6

Excursion into surrounding area
The key to success in terms of images is not to rush, to get settled in and let it all come to you. Once in a potential picture situation, the group will work to get the maximum out of it. Walking through the streets not as a group on the hunt but more as individuals will also allow Jon to spend time with each person. Due to the small size of this nimble group you avoid intimidating the subject and having a great deal more fun!


You will be staying at Chamba Camp Thiksey, Full board

Day 7

Drive from Thiksey to Tsomoriri (Road Journey)


Tsomoriri is a High-Altitude Lake, officially named as Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation Reserve, located in the Changthang (meaning northern plains) area with an altitude of 4,595 metres (15,075 feet). The lake measures about 28 kilometres in length from north to south and about six kilometres in breadth with an average depth of 100 feet, with a maximum depth of 248 feet. The lake is surrounded by barren hills, with a backdrop of beautiful snow-covered mountains - a calm and sacred lake for Ladakhis. Being slightly higher than Pangong Tso, the water is far less brackish thus supporting more birdlife. Tsomoriri Lake is situated in the middle of the elevated district of Rupshu, lying south east of Ladakh on the road from Manali to Leh at altitude ranging from 16,500 feet.


You will be staying at Private Campsite, Full board

Day 8

Excursion to visit nomadic community
The following days will be spent visiting the nomadic community, interacting with them, building a rapport and trust which will put them at ease while you photograph them.

The high altitude plains of Changthang, Eastern Ladakh, are home to a nomadic tribe called the Changpas. For generations, they have lived in harmoy with the land. Their intricate multi-dimensional pastoral system is centred around livestock. The Changpas rear yaks, horses and sheep, in addition to their famous changra 'pashima' goats. The region produces around 40,000 kgs of pashmina every year. It also supplies butter, meat and wool for the Ladakh region.


You will be staying at Private Campsite, Full board

Day 9

Excursions to and from the nomadic communities. Daily photographic critique and seminars.


You will be staying at Private Campsite, Full board

Day 10

Excursion to and from the nomadic communities. Daily photographic critique and seminars.


You will be staying at Private Campsite, Full board

Day 11

Excursions to and from the nomadic communities. Daily photographic critique and seminars.


You will be staying at Private Campsite, Full board

Day 12

Drive from Tsomoriri to Stok (Road Journey)


Located 14 km from Leh, Stok was the seat of the rulers of Lakadh. Also renowned for the 14th century Buddhist monastery, Stok is gateway to several high altitude trekking trails. Situated in a beautiful locale surrounded by Stok Kangri range, Markha and Indus valleys, Stok is utterly beautiful. The Stok palace is an interesting place to visit with descendents of the royal family still residing in the palace.


You will be staying at Stok Palace, Full board

Day 13

Drive from Stok to Leh (Road Journey)

Fly Leh to Delhi


You will be staying at JW Marriott Hotel Aerocity, Bed & Breakfast

Day 14

Fly Delhi to London

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

The Claridges

The Claridges

Built in 1952, The Claridges remains one of New Delhi’s most iconic hotels....

View Accommodation

Chamba Camp Thiksey

Chamba Camp Thiksey

Open between June and September, re-create the magic of old world charm with canvas luxury at quite another level....

View Accommodation

Stok Palace

Stok Palace

Now you can stay in the residence of the Royal Family....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of India

Charlotte Lawton, Sales Consultant

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Joe Parkes, Travel Expert

"It was extremely helpful to work in conjunction with Joe and his much more up to date knowledge of India and arrive at an itinerary which we were happy with. We enjoyed the whole trip and probably what made it special for us was the fact that all the arrangements worked so well and we really didn’t have to worry about anything at all. Even when we decided to make a small change it was dealt with efficiently and promptly. We can't think of anything that would have made our trip more enjoyable."

"The service from start to finish has been excellent. Joe was very quick to respond to any queries and put together an excellent itinerary at short notice."

"A pleasure to deal with Joe. Efficient, helpful, knowledgeable and fun!"

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Enquire about this holiday:

Group Size:

Min 3 / Max 4

  1. Active – The tour may involve daily walks and will have a faster pace in certain areas. Walks will be no longer than 6 hours. The pace of this tour will be quite busy, expect long travel days and very little time at leisure.

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