Matador Ambassador Kitt Doucette on his trek through the northern Indian region of Ladakh.

HIGH ON THE NORTHERN PLATEAU in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, Ladakh — located in far northwestern India between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Chinese-Occupied Tibet — has sat quietly for centuries behind a shield of nearly impenetrable mountains. Famous among visitors for its high-altitude trekking and traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture, Ladakh is incredibly open and accepting to the open-minded traveler.

1

Ladakh from above

Flying in over the Himalayas from Delhi to the city of Leh, you get the immediate sense that Ladakh is a special place.

2

Life in the valleys

The lush river valleys, most above 11,000ft, are covered with small plots of terraced farmland, gardens, and traditional homes.

3

The bike

Royal Enfield bikes are everywhere, and are the go-to type of transportation for locals and travelers alike.

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4

Ladakhi market

The Ladakhi and Tibetan people are some of the warmest and friendliest I’ve ever met. Their sense of Karma means you’ll never have to haggle -- they simply tell you a fair price and you decide whether you’re willing to pay it.

5

The Shanti Stupa

Make time to watch the sunrise from the top of the Shanti Stupa above the city of Leh, while listening to the resident caretaker monks chant their morning prayers.

6

Geshe Lobsang at the Jamyang School

The West can learn a lot from Tibetan and Ladakhi culture. The people, from carpenters to highly educated monks, emanate this incredible sense of peace and well-being -- and man you should hear them laugh!

7

Dalai Lama’s birthday celebration

The Dalai Lama has a summer retreat in Ladakh, and even though he wasn’t there for his 77th birthday, a large group of Ladakhis and Tibetan refugees got together for a three-day party, camping in the large field next to His Holiness's humble house, which was opened to the public.

8

Confluence of the Indus and Zanskar Rivers

The Zanskar river valley is one of the most remote and beautiful places I’ve ever been.

9

Monks at the Likir Monastery during a summer puja

Coming from all over the region, monks gathered at the Likir Monastery for three days of prayer and mediation. You could feel the immense wisdom and knowledge present as they all sat together.

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10

From the top

The view from the top of Likir Monastery.

11

Recycled greenhouse

Working with the Jamyang School, I helped build this greenhouse using discarded water bottles, the first of its kind in India! It was an amazing project to be a part of, and the kids were psyched on the results.

12

Distance

A moment of quiet reflection high in the mountains at the Rizong Monastery, which means "Mountain Haven" in the local dialect.

13

Teatime in Ladakh

After a long day of trekking, a cup of delicious mint tea -- or, if you’re feeling up for it, yak butter tea -- is just what you need.

14

Passage

The roads in Ladakh are sketchy at best, and fall victim to landslides, avalanches, and floods often.

15

Lamayuru

Lamayuru Monastery, the oldest in Ladakh. Yogis were meditating and preforming miracles in the caves on the cliff face where the monastery now stands over 1,000 years ago.