Below, the churning waters of the Shayok River; above, a cloudless Himalayan sky, and all around, the soaring snow-capped peaks of the rugged Karakoram mountain range. I’m river rafting at 11,000 feet above sea level in the Nubra Valley in Ladakh; India’s northernmost state, and the scenery is as breathtaking as the shock of icy glacier-melt water that slaps me back to the moment. We paddle hard and then we’re through the rapids. Drifting on a calmer stretch of the broad, chocolate-coloured river, I take stock. Today is the second-last day of my week in Ladakh with Shakti, the first and only luxury tour operator in this isolated plateau state, and I don’t want to go home.