The Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company is the kind of travel operator that should exist everywhere in India–it employs local women as guides and offers services solely for the female traveller (though men accompanying them are welcome). It may only offer sightseeing and treks in Ladakh, but sets an example for others in terms of local participation and well-researched itineraries. Basically, everything you want from a genuine-to-the-e responsible tourism initiative.
Thinlas Chorol had had enough of patriarchy. Unlike other women in Ladakh, who were forced to be homemakers while their husbands worked for an income, she became the region’s first professionally-trained female trekking guide, a professional she has practiced for the past 15 years. This came as a healthy boost to her self-esteem, and hoped it set an example for her fellow village women. The Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company was born as a result in 2009. It aimed to provide women with a source of income and give them a platform to express their talents and aspirations. This way, they did not have to move away from villages for better employment opportunities as well as be independent. For her efforts, Thinlas was recognised for awarded for her efforts by Ladies' Wing of the Indian Merchants' Chamber.
The operator chose to focus on two things–treks conducted by female guides and the promotion of homestays, which they defined as villager-run Ladakhi homes that offered authentic meals and an opportunity to experience the local culture. It also promotes eco-tourism and urges both tourists and villagers to protect the environment by relinquishing support for touristy activities that cause strain to the surrounding flora and fauna.
Take note of some of its best and well-researched treks: in the winter, its Zingchen to Rumbak trek at Hemis National Park is popular because it presents a chance to spot the elusive snow leopard. The year-round Sham trek is from Likir to Ang and Temisgang. It is recommended for experienced trekkers looking to acclimatise (and, of course, enjoy the breathtaking landscape) before they take on more challenging routes such as the 5D/4N Lamayuru to Zingchen journey that concludes at the scenic Dundunchen La. There are also sightseeing tours such as one-day trips to Shey, Thikse and Hemis monasteries, visits that are highly encouraged. Or one could just visit Nubra valley to spot the fascinating double-humped Bactrian camel, experience Buddhist gompas (which are fortifications of learning), and drive through the world’s highest motorable pass, Khardung La.
For more information, call +91-9469158137, email email@example.com or vkskt ladakhiwomenstravel.com. Address: Shop 22, Hemis Complex, Upper Tukcha Road, Zangsti, Leh, Ladakh, India.
Do note that their office is yet to open for the season, but they continue to take bookings.