Landscape Photography, Astrophotography, Travel Photography and People Photography, Festival Photography Tour Ladakh India
Why Photography Tour?
1. Almost guarantees great pictures. As we go to the right places at the right time, we get the right shots with great light and composition. Astrophotography, particularly involves some technical expertise, if you are not aware, you will not be able to capture. Saurabh will make you independent, so that next time you can do it yourself.
2. Photography is the art of seeing, and if you are not very good at it, you will fail to see and miss the opportunity. Most people go to places like Ladakh and still come back with mediocre pictures. Ssaurabh will help you identify great locations and light and you will come back with some great shots.
3. Get guidance and upskill yourself. The mentor for the tour is having an experience of more than 25 years of shooting and 15+ years travelling in these areas. If you need any help, you can always ask and get help. Especially,
4. Travel with like-minded people and make friends. Many people have an inhibition travelling with strangers. Actually, these strangers make some really good friends if you give them a chance. Some of the people on our tours got connected and now are friends for life.
Overview of Zanskar Photography Tour July 2023
The Zanskar Valley photo tour is one of the most scenic tours in India but one of the less visited. The Suru Valley and Zanskar Valley is not as popular due to bad roads and poor infrastructure but one of the best tours in terms of photographic opportunities.
These places are about to be hit by mass tourism, so visit these places before they become another Pangong Tso crowded by insensitive people. Zanskar is a part of Ladakh with no areas sharing the border with our neighbouring countries, hence no development. Hardly any Indian tourists. After travelling to these areas for more than a decade, in 2021 was a shock for me. New roads have opened up with new photographic opportunities. The amount of development I saw this year is unprecedented. It's good in a way for the local people, but will also bring a lot of insensitive people as well and spoil it. You should visit these places before they become another Pangong.
If you are interested in Landscape Photography (Mountains, Rivers), Milky Way and Star Trails - Astrophotography, Beautiful Villages, and People Photography, Ladakhi festivals, this tour is for you. This is less popular compared to our Ladakh tour but no less in terms of beauty and photographic opportunities. And you will not find many tourists around at least for a couple of years.
Why Join Us for the Photography Tour?
We will make your DREAM COME TRUE - your dream to witness the great play of light and shadows and the amazing night skies and MILKY WAY and to capture them. We will also take some great portraits of the locals.
We will be going the right places at the right time. I will suggest you the right settings for taking pictures and will personally assist you so that you go back with some great shots. We also do post-processing and feedback/review sessions whenever possible, during the tour.
Saurabh has been visiting these regions for almost a decade and has great knowledge about the place.
You will also be in the company of some great fellow travellers and will make friends for life.
A private 1:1 tour can be arranged on demand.
Itinerary and map of Zanskar Photography Tour 2023
Must read - my blog for more pictures and detailed descriptions.
Zanskar Photography Tour Itinerary
Day 1 Arrive in Leh (3,524 metres / 11,562 ft)
We arrive in Leh by the morning flight and take rest and acclamatize.
In the evening we go to Shanti Stupa and walk around the Leh market.
Day 2 Leh to Lamayuru
After breakfast, we travel to Lamayuru via Gurudwara, Indus Zanskar Sangam, Likir and Moonland.
We spend time in the Lamayuru Monastery.
We relax and get familiarized with our gear to prepare for the eventful nights ahead.
We also try to do long exposures. It's a great opportunity to get familiarised with settings and the equipment like the tripod and the intervalometer that we are going to use during the trip.
Day 3 Lamayuru to Padum
We get ready and pass by the plains leading to Padum.
We pass by three mountain passes - Sisir La, Singe La and Hanuma La. We also pass by Lingshed which is halfway.
Before approaching Padum, we pass by the Zangla fort and the Stonday monastery.
This was a very popular trek route from Lamayuru to Padum, but now there is a motorable road to these places.
Day 4 Drive to Gonbo Rangjon via Bardhan, Kurgiak
Early morning drive towards Gonbo Rangjon. On the way visit Bardan monastery and Lungnak valley. We pass by Shilla, Reru, Changpa, Purne, Kargyak. Watching the Milky Way and doing Astrophotography at the majestic Gonbo Rangjon is an experience you will remember for your lifetime.
Our stay will be in camps.
Day 5 Phuktal / Phugtal Monastery Trek (3,669m / 12,037 ft), Back to Padum
Gonbo Rangjon to Padum via Phuktal Monastery. This is one of the most scenic and secluded monasteries you might have ever seen.
This trek is not for everybody. Only those who are physically fit and have good trekking shoes (no sneakers or sandals) for this. and will proceed to the Phuktal Monastery. The road is narrow at places.
Trek to Phuktal from Purne takes about 5 hours (going and coming).
We travel back to Padum and take a rest today.
Day 6 Padum to Rangdum via Drung Drang
This is a lovely drive. We pass by some very beautiful villages. We later cross the Penzi La. The two lakes at the pass are beautiful. At night, we do astrophotography from near our homestay in Rangdum.
We spend the morning walking around Rangdum. Its a great place to shoot.
Then we cross the Drung Drang Glacier and finally reach Rangdum. Our accommodation is in camp.
Day 7 Rangum to Suru Valley
This is a beautiful drive with amazing landscapes. Suru valley is green and has some beautiful villages.
Day 8 Suru Valley to Leh
We drive from Suru Valley to Leh with a brief stop at Lamayuru.
Day 9 Fly off from Leh airport
Leave for the airport and fly off to our respective destinations.
Zanskar Photography Tour Accommodation
All the nights except one night at Gonbo Ronjyon base we will stay in hotels or cottages. In Gonbo Ronjyon and Rangdum, we will stay in Luxury camps. These camps have a bed with mattresses and blankets. These are not like alpine tents with sleeping bags. The toilet is attached with the tent. It's like any hotel room from inside.
This tour is for people who are okay to compromising with luxury to see something that not many have seen and be in places where not many have been. It is not for people who are looking for a relaxing and luxurious vacation. The roads are also bad, though getting better.
Must read - my blog for more pictures and detailed descriptions.
Zanskar Photography Tour Review from Recent Participants
I traveled to Ladakh, India, late July to early August 2023 to join a photo tour led by Saurabh Chatterjee of SIA Photography. Saurabh knows the region, its people and sights very well , having travelled to Ladakh for some 15 years, long before it became popularised for its diversity, beauty, and interest. The largest town in Ladakh is Leh where the tour commenced.
I was able to arrive a few days earlier and took the opportunity to travel with Saurabh to Diskit and the Nubra Valley sand dunes where we had a spectacularly clear and moonlit evening for astrophotography. The road from Leh to Diskit uses the Khardungla pass, known as the highest motorable road in the world, passing through 18,380 ft. We got out only for a few moments to take a picture at the peak.
Staying there for any length of time is uncomfortable. This was definitely not a glamorous trip. The Himalayas are a high-altitude and harsh desert range. The population lives mainly in scattered small villages. The roads are generally very poor, although at the moment there is significant investment into infrastructure projects and construction is occurring everywhere. While this is largely for the military needs to move convoys across the terrain, it does make the region more accessible for its locals and travelers. Given the isolation of this region, the largely Buddhist inhabitants tend towards self-sufficiency. Most of the villages are located in the valleys where the inhabitants plant trees and crops. The rest of the landscape is devoid of much other fauna and flora due to the desert conditions and hostile winters that can see temperatures in the -20's.
This was a most memorable trip because Saurabh took us places that really only local people know about. We stayed mainly in home-stays where we got to taste the authenticity of the region, its people and food. If you are interested in a true experience of the region and the opportunity to learn while taking photos in a remarkable setting then this is the trip for you.
The Phuktal Monastery (Gompa) was a highlight. It is located in the remote Lungnak Valley in south-eastern Zanskar and remains one of the only Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh that can still only be reached only by foot. We made a day trek to the monastery that pops out of the cliff like matchboxes. It owes its legacy to powerful and renowned scholars who resided in the cave, around which the monastery has been built, and has for long been a place for retreat, meditation, learning, and teaching. While unplanned, our trip coincided with the local lama's trip through villages that culminated in a visit to the Phuktal Gompa and witnessed the fan fair, trumpets and traditional finery that the locals put on for such special events. Murray Goldschmidt, Australia
Completed yet another wonderful photo tour to Zanskar with SIA Photography! With camping every other day, astrophotography in the middle of cold nights, braving near-zero temperatures, and treks/hikes at high altitudes, this wasn't a leisurely trip by any means, but the experiences were absolutely incredible! As always, having Ssaurabh as a lead made the trip - his years of experience of the terrain, people and culture prepared and motivated us to photograph the best moments. Him taking care of everything let us appreciate the beauty of the landscapes without worrying about the logistics. On-field photography knowledge sharing from him and the others helped me see and capture frames that I'd have missed otherwise!
Last but not least, a fun-filled photo tour such as this was possible because of the group with 4 other highly motivated and energetic individuals. Can't thank everyone enough for making it such a memorable trip!
Aranya Sen, Entrepreneur, Hyderabad
I just returned from the 2022 Zanskar Valley Photography Tour with SIA Photography. Ever since I heard about the beautiful Zanskar Valley couple of years ago, I had always wanted to visit the place. But then I was a bit apprehensive about the tour due to the high altitude, cold conditions, and rough roads. However, after reading the reviews of the previous year’s participants and after talking with Saurabh, I decided to do the trip.
For me, this trip was once in a lifetime set of experiences. Traveling through the wild and beautiful valleys, snow-capped mountains, the high mountain passes, massive glaciers, village visits and interacting with the locals, visiting monasteries and monks, and viewing the milky way.. I had a great time shooting a variety of images. Saurabh is an award-winning photographer and has travelled this route for years and shot images extensively in this region. But then the excitement with which he shoots the images at each location is as if he is seeing them for the first time. The intensity and focus with which he shoots images is a pleasure to watch. He is a great mentor and teacher and a very humble and great human being.
I would highly recommend this tour to anyone who wants to visit the Zanskar Valley, especially for photography due to the following reasons.
1. Carefully selected locations, optimized for photography based on research and years of experience in traveling in these regions.
2. Small compact groups resulting in great interaction, bonding, and one-to-one attention.
3. High amount of flexibility to stop the van anywhere to shoot an image rather than pre-defined locations.
4. Opportunity to shoot Landscapes, Mountain Scapes, Large Glaciers, High Mountain Passes, Great Green Lush Valleys, Monasteries and Monks, Villages and People, Milky way and Star Trails.
5. Individual attention and on-the-spot feedback on your photos.
6. Excellent logistics and arrangements for stay and food at various locations.
Thank you Saurabh for a great tour. I really had a wonderful time. And most important of all, experiences that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Rajendran Valappil, Cochin.
I just completed an amazing trip to Zanskar valley organized by Saurabh. Feel totally privileged to be in the company of Saurabh with the experiences/learnings and of course enjoying the trip at the same time. Though it was a program that lasted for a week, not a single day we faced any hassles. Thanks to the well planned/managed itinerary. Each day seemed to be a new experience altogether capturing amazing pictures all along. Enjoyed the camping experience something that was a first for me along with Astro-photography shoots (cannot forget the late-night Milkyway captures). Enjoyed the trek toward Phuktal Monastery.
Saurabh's detailed documentation ensured we were all equipped with the right clothing, camera accessories, and medicines (if at all needed).
Thanks a ton Saurabh, for being a great inspiring mentor throughout this wonderful journey. Truly an amazing trip with a group of inspiring and like-minded friends. Would be more than happy to recommend this well-planned tour to aspiring friends.
I might even repeat this tour next time around :-)
Looking forward for more trips in the future.
Sunil AK, IT Consultant, Bengaluru
Zanskar Valley - A hidden gem, no more
A valley at an altitude of 13154ft, hidden from the world, covered in snow for 7 months a year and only way to commute are the frozen rivers. Some called it a hidden gem. I was introduced to Zanskar by Saurabh Chatterjee of SIA photography, and I can not thank him enough.
This is a mesmerizing place with beautifully coloured rivers, lush landscapes and centuries-old monasteries. Among all I still can not forget trek to Phugtal monastery besides the sparkling Tsarap river, the blue sky at Drang Drung glacier, and the incredible Mt. Gonbo Rangjon. The place is no more remote, beautiful roads are now stretching and welcoming many tourists. A must-see place like no other.
Saurabh is an incredible guide who not only guide but push you to take incredible pictures, shooting milky way and star trails with him is an experience everyone should have.
Apart from being just a guide he is a wonderful friend and great organizer who makes sure everyone is comfortable during the trip. We had wonderful food during the trip even when we were in camps.
Saurabh's trip usually consists of small groups of highly enthusiastic photographers, this group of ours was no different. It was a joy to be with ever enthusiastic Vinaya Mathews, super cool Rajendran Sir, man who knows his stuff Aranya Sen, and humble and eager Sunil AK. The trip was a memory I will cherish for ever.
Kishore Parhi, IT Consultant, Bangalore
Zanskar Tour 03 – 10th Jun 2022 By Vinaya Mathews
Actually, speaking I was very nervous to join the tour because of several reasons like a new rule of carrying only one check-in baggage of 15 kg (how to accommodate warm clothes & tripod in that was a big issue), high altitude issues, no experience of camping, only lady in a group, new camera….etc. But still I took a decision of joining only on the basis of one factor i.e., full confidence in Saurabhda & my decision is proved right, the tour went on so smooth & so successful from photography point of view. Y’day, I participated in one salon & in that, out of 16 photos, 12 were selected from Zanskar tour.
In 2019, I had covered Pangong-Handle belt of Ladakh, again with Saurabhda. In the comparison with that belt, Zanskar valley was tough to travel & less picturesque. Mainly because of huge infrastructure work in progress in the region. Up to 2021, almost all places of Zanskar was connected only with trekking routes. No motorable roads were available. But from 2021, road connectivity is undergoing on large scale. Because of that, the roads were very bad, and dusty.
2nd I found Zanskar valley is more famous for shapes, patterns, and textures of the mountains & one needs the eye & expertly to capture that. Not so easy. But with the same time, Zanskar is an unexposed region for tourists/ photographers & so one can capture very unique landscapes. Similarly, the tour covers the three fantastic places, visiting them is a lifetime experience & memory treasure.
Those are Drang-Drung Glacier & that too during evening blue hour, a stand-alone lofty rocky, Gonbo Rangjon mountain & the very famous Phuktal Monastery. Visiting & photographing these three places makes the tour memorable & lifetime experience.
Very friendly tour participants were the major factor to make all eight days enjoyable. Journeys uses to be of long distances but during travel, whoever used to feel the scene capturable, we used to get down. Of course, full credit goes to Saurabhda to give us that liberty rather to encourage us for that & the most important, our very patient young tempo driver.
We got hundreds of unique, candid moments to capture, during road journeys.
Not only hotel stay arrangements were very good, the tent arrangements at camping sight were quite comfortable.
The last but the most important factor of Saurabhda’s all tours was the great opportunity to learn photography. Saurabhda not only is one of the great travellers & equally passionate photographers of India but a superb teacher too. One can learn so many aspects of day as well as night photography in one tour. The Zanskar tour was not an exception to it. The tour itinerary itself consists full day, blue hour & night photography. We tried our hands on all genres of photography under guidance of Saurabhda.
The moral of the story, I would like to join Saurabhda’s any tour, any time & will blindly recommend to others too. All the best Saurabhda!
Vinaya Mathews, ex Banker.
MFIP, MFIP- Nature, EFIAP, GAPU, PPSA, BEAPF, Hon APF
Zanskar has always been a part of the list of places I wanted to visit. It is a Shangri La of sorts, an elusive land of mystery, out of reach of the ordinary traveller. I had been to Spiti with Saurabh earlier and having enjoyed that particular trip I immediately joined in when I heard that Saurabh was leading a trip to Zangskar. The itinerary was hand-picked by him and there were experiences built in that one would find hard to replicate even on the most expensive, curated trips.
The colorful Suru valley with its array of wildflowers and the magnificent Suru made the perfect start to the trip. We had a magical time crossing Rangdum and Pensi La and camping under the stars next to Drang Drung glacier. Hopping ancient monasteries, after a brief halt in Padum, we landed up on the foot of the Holy Ganbo Rangjon. It is peak unlike any other and we camped in a site that can match the best camp-sites anywhere, by a free-running river, amidst blue poppies. We stayed the night in awe of the peak and dazzled by the brilliance of the stars and the milky way. An experience to savor for all our lives! The next day we trekked from Purne to Phugtal Monastery, walking next to the azure waters of Tsarap. Over the course of the next few days we crossed other uniquely lovely ruins and monasteries, traversed the Zangskar’s path, followed our way through newly opened paths past dizzying passes, meeting happy people, seeing new traditions, and culture.
Our group had people aged between 18 and 70 and we did not feel any age difference. The hosting was impeccable and the photography exquisite. We made friends and had life-enriching experiences. If I could recommend this, I would exhort all people who love what I have described to make this trip. It will change soon, and this experience will never come again!
Diptesh Ghosh, Traveller.
As always, it was wonderful travelling with you. And of course, Zanskar is an absolute delight. For the adventure seeker and the photographer like me there can be no better place to visit in India. The itinerary you had planned was amazing. I got the opportunity to shoot the night sky at a place where hardly anybody would have shot earlier. I also thank you for the excellent planning and logistics during the trip. I am sure that if and when I travel to Zanskar again, I'll travel with you. Thank you and all the best.
Santanu Majumder, ace Astrophotographer
I had always dreamt of visiting Zanskar, but was not sure how to go about it as it is quite off the beaten track. When I came across Saurabh Chatterjee's website - SIA photography - I found that he arranges photo tours in this region of Ladakh. Saurabh is a very well-known travel and portrait photographer. He arranges this tour in some of the least travelled and remote areas of Ladakh. It was a meticulously arranged tour. There were loads of photographic opportunities all along the route, be it landscapes, flowers, monasteries, people, Milky Way and star trails. I learned a lot from Saurabh. He is always ready to teach you and clear your doubts. I look forward to travelling with him to capture more such less travelled places in the future.
Neeta Taskar, Secretary, FOTO CIRCLE SOCIETY (FCS), Thane
There are no words to express my appreciation for your efforts to plan that wonderful trip to Ladakh.
The breathtaking landscapes, unpolluted crystal clear skies, the highest mountain passes and Buddhist Monasteries.
As I mentioned it earlier, two eyes are not enough to enjoy so much of BEAUTY.
I enjoyed the trip thoroughly in the company of stalwarts like Santanu and Diptesh who spent so many years capturing beautiful and extraordinary pictures. Singing session of Amit, Diptesh, Santanu and Smita was jolly good. Neeta and Aditi were good travel companions.
Regret could not join you on that trek to Phuktal. Great presentation by Smita.
Thank you from bottom of my heart and wish you many more such glorious tours.Regards,
Amarnath, Retired, full time traveller.
My photo trip to Zanskar with Saurabh was very beautiful. It was really well organised. Photo tour like this gives you lot of opportunity to learn and sharpen your photography skills. Entire region of Zanskar is most scenic with lot of diversity in culture, it was wonderful to experience all this with SIA Photography. Looking forward to many such photo trips. Amit Senegar, Financial Consultant
I had an amazing experience in Zanskar Photo-tour 2021. As this was my first trip I was a bit nervous but the moment trip started I was feeling good. I got to learn so much whether it be staying in a tent or settings for shooting Astrophotography. Now I'm looking forward to join more such tours and see the inner beauty of India. Thank you so much Saurabh Sir for this excursion trip.
Aditi Jha 18 years, youngest participant. Photography Student.
This is fantastic tour including adventure, tracking, camping, star gazing and above all photography for which we all United. I would love to join many more tour like this in future.
Dr.Nirmal Jain, Indore
Thanks Saurabh for organizing such a superb photo tour,we all were engaged only in shooting no worries about stay and meals arrangements.
Zanskar valley is a hidden gem every photo lover must visit, I recommend to go with Saurabh.
Ravindra Puntambekar, Indore
Ticked off a bucket list item... Fortunate enough to experience Zanskar this intimately, before it gets popularized... Very well planned and executed! Thanks again ✌️
Rajarshi Mitra, Mumbai
I just concluded once in a life time trip to Zanskar Valley with Saurabh. He is synonymous to photography trips to Ladakh and Zanskar valley. The choice of locations, internary and planning is immaculate. Some of the locations have been unexplored and breadth taking. He is passionate mentor and provides an excellent support to participants. We covered Astro, landscape , culture and people photography in same breadth.
I had an amazing trip with Saurabh to Zanskar. Saurabh is not just a great photographer - he is also a great mentor and deeply knowledgeable about getting the best out of the places we were visiting. As such the itinerary was a very well planned one and I wouldn't change anything. Overall, a fantastic trip- Saurabh is highly recommended and I would certainly like to repeat and go for more trips with him.
It was a great trip we had. I made many memorable moments with all my mates. Everybody was very helping towards each other and the accommodation, transportation, camping, hiking was also very good. Overall it was an amazing trip. Special thanks to mentors. I recommend to go with Saurabh Chatterjee.
Ranvijay Kumar, Zanskar valley trip, 1 August to 12 August
I can’t thank you & SIA Photography enough for giving me this once in a lifetime experience! For this young at heart travel & photography enthusiast, those 7 nights in Zanskar valley wasn’t just a photo tour, it was an adventure, especially those 3 nights at the moving camps. The entire route planning as well as alternate night hotel stays was well thought out. In spite of the wide age & background difference of the members our group was well knit , easy going & well managed.
For those of you who are reading this post & still thinking if you should go to the Zanskar tour or not - just contact Saurabh & book your place for the next tour. One item from my “bucket list” is ticked off 😊
I have prepared a small photo album of this unforgettable trip which I have shared with all my friends & family. Am attaching the same for your perusal & comments.
My love & best wishes to you & Smita – keep discovering new places & share the experience with all of us. Good luck
Any Questions - Contact us on Whatsapp
Only 7 participants on first come first serve basis.
Cost includesTwin sharing accommodation and All Vegetarian Meals. Inner Liner Permits, Monastery Fees And Taxes, Surface Transfers for the Entire Journey Leh to Leh.
Single rooms can be arranged on request.
Note: Females will share rooms only with females.Expert Photography Mentorship by Ssaurabh A Chatterjee.
Cost does not include1) Travel from your city to Leh and back. 2) Mineral water, any additional beverage ordered.
Rs.20000/- booking amount.
Rest 45 days before the date of the tour.
30 days prior to departure of the tour, advance amount is non-refundable.
30 days to 15 days prior to departure of the tour 50% of total tour cost.
14 days to 07 days prior to departure of the tour 75% of total tour cost.
07 days to 01 days prior to departure of the tour 100% of total tour cost.
There will be no refund for NO SHOWS.
Any Questions - Contact us on Whatsapp
PICTURES FROM Photo tour to Ladakh - Zanskar Valley Aug 2024
1. Do I need to be physically fit to join this trip?
We will be traveling by SUVs with hardly any physically intensive activity except the Phugtal Monastery trek. If you think you are not fit for the trek, you can skip it. However, we will be traveling at high altitudes. Please consult your doctor first.
2. Is this trip only for Photographers?
No, anyone can join. We will spend a lot of time taking some great pictures though. I'm sure everyone loves doing that. We have had non-photographers on our previous trips and they enjoy as much.
3. I have no knowledge of Photography. Will I get some help? Yes, absolutely. Saurabh will be assisting you all the time. He will help you with how to take some great pictures. So, you will learn while having fun on the go.
4. I don't have a camera. Can I get a camera or lenses for rent? Yes, Cameras / Lenses can be arranged. Subject to availability.
5. Why is the tour expensive?
Zanskar is a very remote part of Ladakh with very few facilities. The roads are bad and hence the maintenance of the vehicles are more
Also, we are staying in moving camps for many nights. We will have a separate vehicle for carrying our cooks and camps so that they go ahead and keep the camps and our food ready when we reach after taking pictures on the way.
Exclusivity - Zanskar is still a place not many have been to. Be a part of the tour to enjoy the exclusivity that not have experienced.
How much cash should I carry?
From the time you land at the airport to the time our tour finishes, you don't need to take out your wallet. There is no hidden expense. At the end of the tour, we collect money and tip our driver/cooks.
If you do any shopping in Leh, then you will need cash. There are SBI, ICICI, HDFC ATMs in the Leh market, but please don't depend on them. Sometimes they get dry very soon because of tourists. Bring cash, whatever you require. To be on the safe side 10k is more than enough.
PLEASE READ Travelling to Ladakh - Tips and Tricks.
6. How cold will it be?
It will be cold, really cold especially during the camping nights. The minimum temperatures might drop to around Zero degrees celcius. Please carry your warm jackets and wind proofs to survive the weather.