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Top Things-to-do in Ladakh
Adventure special in Ladakh
Sightseeing in Ladakh
Trekking in Ladakh
Biking in Ladakh
Attraction visit in Ladakh
Camping in Ladakh
07 March 2017
Such an amazing bike ride, challenging but with thrill till the end. Make sure that you are prepared to prevent the cold, the rough wind, the altitude sickness etc because even the symptoms of sickness will affect your trip. Khardung La Pass is quite a challenging one, also there are different shorter and longer passes throughout the journey. The service was also nice, not many complaints. The guides will know the place better because they are doing it for long. But still keep the track of the route before you start the trip. The guide was nice to us, keeping everything coordinated. The accommodation and food were also flawless to me.
02 August 2015
We started our tour by sightseeing of Manali. After the sight seeing, we rode our bikes on various high-altitude roads, including the Khardungla pass, the world’s highest motorable road which is more than 5600 m, above the sea level. I was all alone, feeling like the king of the road. We got to stopover at lovely lakes, some antic terrains, and peaceful out backs. We drove through there. It was awesome.
06 March 2017
It was one of the best and the most memorable trip I ever had. I always wanted to visit Ladakh and so this time I booked this package. Like they say the adventure begins it was indeed one hell of an adventure. Everything was very well organized for us. The pickup service was on time and so was the accommodation. Once we reached Leh, we could not stop ourselves staring at the serene roads and enjoy the peaceful environment. We visited some of the places like Hall of Fame and the famous Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill. The Deskit Monastery was one of the most beautiful sights at Nubra valley. Overall it was an amazing trip.
25 November 2013
The travel to Ladakh was good. This thing seems a little expensive, but it is highly worthy. To start with it covers a lot of places and two major motorable roads, so the whole package is worth it. This does not involve any physical exertion except of course driving along. That being said, the trip was well planned and nicely done. The co travellers were all too friendly too. I really liked this travel experience a lot. I learnt a lot from this trip. I wish more such trips are done across India.
25 March 2016
Colourful memory gets completed only if you visit Ladakh. Plan for a weeklong trip to this place and visit as many places as possible. Start with the local sightseeing and cover the various monasteries like the Alchi liker, Lamayuru, Thiksey, Deskit, sumur and more. You should also witness the Sham valley; Shanti Stupa, Leh palace and Gurudwara Patthar La. Don’t forget to relax at the various lakes like Pangong Tso Lake as this is one of the best lakes ever. I went on this tour with my boys’ gang last month, and I have no words to praise or state regarding it. Enjoyed speaking with the local people who had inspiring stories to tell us, got overwhelmed by the courtesy and reception that we got from these localities when we had taken the local sightseeing tour to the nearby villages. A great place on Earth.
16 March 2017
For long my husband and I have been deciding to visit Ladakh for a sightseeing tour. So, this was a great excitement for us when we cooked this tour from Thrillophilia. We are really glad that we went on this tour. The pickup was on time and we reached Leh on time. The whole surrounding was amazing and the cold weather made it all more exciting. Our accommodation and food was the best. The rooms were very clean and so were the services. But the main fun started when we visited the monasteries and forts. Likir , Alchi Monasteries, Pathar Sahib Gurudwara, Hall of Fame museum are few of the places that we covered. Then came our drive to Valley of flowers via Khardungla, the highest motorable road in the World, which was one great experience.
Rather, the most sought after tourist destination is Pangong Tso in Ladakh region. It is the highest among the high altitude lakes in India which is filled with saline water but provides some awe-struck moments to the visitors with the unbelievable phenomenon of changing colours quite a number of times a day.
The reflections of the towering Himalayan peaks in the water add more charm to the lake. Currently, Pangong Tso is the favorite location for tourists as the banks of the lake give soothing bed to relax and the nearby places are enhanced by the beauty of this particular lake. The quiet lake is 134 km in length and 5 km in width is situated at an altitude of 14270 meters. But the major share of the lake lies in the area of China. Now, its recognition is spread everywhere in the world because it is termed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
The highly saline water does not accommodate any water species not even micro-organisms. But the banks of the lake give space for several birds and animals very rarely seen in the other parts of India. It is an important breeding ground for many migratory birds as well.
Height: The lake is located at an altitude of 4250 meters above the sea level.
Location: Pangong Tso is easily accessible as it can be reached after a five hour drive from Leh and the travel would be on a rough and dramatic mountain road. You will cross the villages of Shey and Gya during the tour and go through Chang La as well.
Best time to visit: The months from May to September are the ideal time to visit the lake as the other seasons may cause challenges due to the heavy snowfall.
Something divine makes Nubra Valley close to heart and it is not an exaggeration but a fact that experienced and shared by the countless tourists visited the paradisiacal location in Jammu and Kashmir. Without touching the spectacular roads of Nubra Valley, a Ladakh tour will not be complete. The tri armed valley has Diskit Village as its capital. Ldumra, a magnificent name is the original name of the valley as the local scholars insist. Ldumra means Valley of Flowers. The large valley is formed after the merging of Shyok River with Nubra or Siachen River causing the separation of the Ladakh and the Karakoram Ranges. The valley is located 10000 feet that is 3048 meters above mean sea level and those who cross the Khardung La Pass can easily come to Nubra Valley from Leh.
Except the river beds, every other place in the valley shows scant vegetation and low precipitation levels. Most of the villages in the valley are occupied by Nubra skat speakers and in the villages, one can find lush greenery and farming which happen through the regular irrigation. Diskit is the place where native people are seen in abundance and Diskit Monastery is the entre of attraction as well. The Shyok River flowing on one side of Diskit has a captivating effect on the visitors. Nubra Valley unwinds a lot of surprising sights when you visit it and an unbelievable fact is that the valley was open to the public till Hunder until 2010. Beyond Hunder, it was the greener region in the lower altitude where the Turtuk village exists. Till 2010, the Government did not allow tourists to mesmerize themselves in the magnificent beauty of Turtuk where numerous apricot trees and other vegetation along with the tribal community were preserved as a virgin.
Height: 3048 meters above the sea level
Location: The paradisiacal Nubra Valley is located at a distance of 140 km from Leh and the main road access to the valley is through Khardung La pass where you have to show the photocopies of your travel permit to the soldiers camping.
Best time to visit: The months from June to September is the perfect period to visit Nubra Valley
Controversies regarding the proclamation that Khardung La is the highest motorable pass in the world is not yet diminished but Ladakh travelers still believe that it is the highest and most adventurous pass in the world. Despite the controversies, Khardung La keeps on attracting hundreds of adventure seekers every year, be it bikers, trekkers or visitors. Nestled amidst the most reverberating surrounding, the ‘Pass of Lower Castle’ is located at an altitude of 17582 feet. Near to the pass, the collection of awesome valleys will lure you and along with the natural extravaganzas, the Tibetan prayer flags are an additional charm.
The pass was constructed in the year of 1976 and later in 1988, it was opened to public and from then on, the pass was inviting uncountable bikers, trekkers and tourists. It is maintained by the Border roads Organization as the pass is highly significant and important to India because it was once used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier. Recently, Khardung La became the hot potato of the town with a happy news that a ten member team of visually impaired people is going to conquer the pass through cycling in 2017.
Height: Khardung La is located at an altitude of 5359 meters. But there is an incorrect proclamation on the signboards appear here saying that the height of the pass is 18379 feet.
Location: The highest motorable pass in Ladakh is lying about 39 kms away from Leh. By road, one can reach the pass. The first 24 kms of the road are paved and from there to the North Pullu check post, the 15 kms of the road are filled with loose rock, dirt and occasional rivulets formed after the melting of snow.
Best time to visit: The season between May to October is the best time to visit Khardung La.
It won’t be exceeding at all how much you describe the beauty of Tso Moriri in Ladakh, a highly protected lake in Changthang Region and a significant portion of Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve. It is the largest of all high altitude lakes in India especially in Ladakh and is located at an altitude of 4522 meters above the sea level. The length comes to 26 km north to south and 3 to 5 km is the width and the water is wholly brackish.
The water to feed the lake comes from the springs and melted snow from the nearby mountains. There are two major stream systems to lead the water to the lake. One in the north part of the lake and the other comes in the southwest part. Huge, extensive marshes are seen at both the entrances of the lake. Rupshu Valley, a breathtaking area is the guardian of Tso Moriri along with an array of the lofty Himalayan Mountains in the surrounding.
The number of people come to witness the beauty of this splendid lake is lesser when compared to that of Pangong Lake. It is because of the secluded location of the lake. Hence, it is a favorite home town for many migratory birds. They come to breed here especially birds like great- crested grebe, the brown-headed gull and the Brahmin duck. The rare Himalayan hares are also abundantly seen near the lake. Thus, the declaration of the lake as a reserved area is a right option to protect these species from extinction. Less human interference would keep their lives strong.
Height: The lake is situated at an altitude of 4522 meters.
Location: You can reach Tso Moriri via road from Leh. It is 150 kms away from Leh Airport. Kalka Railway station is the nearest one to the lake. You will get buses and taxis from the station as well.
Best time to visit: May, June, July and August are the peak season when tourists come to Tso Moriri in large numbers and other months will be filled with snow and have extreme cold conditions.
The white dome of Shanti Stupa is clearly visible from a far distance when you are on a tour of Leh. Peace Pagoda got its name like that because of many reasons mainly the silence persists in and around the pagoda always. This Buddhist prayer center is the most beloved attraction in Jammu and Kashmir. At a height of 4267 meters, the two storied stupa stands holding its head high and overlooks the bustling Leh town. The uneven mountain terrains in the surrounding gives the pagoda a remarkable shining. It is at a location which is 5 km away from Leh town and one who visits the stupa has to climb five hundred steps. The exotic view of the Himalayan peaks turns the beauty of the stupa also, a peace lover would dedicate his life to have such overjoying moments.
The stupa was constructed by both Japanese and Ladakh Buddhists. The construction was started in 1983, many Buddhists and Indian Government officials have supervised the procedures throughout.
Structure of the stupa
Among the two structures of the pagoda, the first level depicts the central relief of Dharmachakra which has deer on each side and the turning wheel of Dharma also has a golden image of Buddha at the center. The second level displays images which show the birth of Budhha and the death as well. In addition, both the level have smaller images of Buddha meditating. The stupa came into existence in order to spread the word of peace and harmony among people and it came into establishment as a commemoration of the valuable 2500 years of Buddhism.
Location: Any one can reach the stupa via road from Leh, only 5 kms from the town, a walk of fifteen minutes would require.
Timings: 05:00 am to 09:00 pm
Highlights: The sunset and sunrise views from the stupa are inevitably beautiful
Magnetic Hill is still a mystery yet a famed attraction that pulls the adventure lovers on a large scale toward it. A mystifying phenomenon which stunts the science and fiction together and exists as a magic to the normal people visiting here. Magnetic Hill is a trump card of every Ladakh tour because of the awe-struck moments it would promise the travelers. There is a sign board placed which says that the hill defies gravity completely and inviting everyone to experience the magical phenomenon.
If you keep your vehicle in neutral at a position marked on the road and wait, you will be surprised to see the vehicle starts moving uphill at 10-20 km per hour. And this is the unexplainable feature of Magnetic Hill that confuses the world of science. It is located on Leh-Kargil-Baltic Highway and on the east, the beautiful Sindhu River is flowing calmly. Near the hill there is a Sikh Gurudwara maintained by the Indian Army. Due to the natural attraction as well as the human architectural brilliance, the hill has gained popularity in a short term.
Not just the vehicles hitting the road but the aircrafts and helicopters crossing the radius which Magnetic Hill comes in would feel the same magnetic effect. If the aircrafts are going on a slow pace, then it starts jerking while they are in the circumference of the hill. So the only solution to escape from the clutches of this phenomenon is that the crafts should move at a greater speed.
Height: Magnetic Hill is located at an elevation of 14000 feet above the sea level.
Location: To reach the hill, you can hit the Leh-Kargil-Baltic National Highway and it is situated at a distance of just 30 kms from Leh town.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit the Magnetic Hill is from June to October.
For some years, adventure seekers all around the world have been talking about Chadar Trek in the Zanskar Region. Until this year, hundreds of people have experienced the thrill hidden and the mind blowing sights around Chadar frozen river. In fact, Chadar Trek is the most sought after and one of the breathtaking treks in the Himalayas. The winter trek is so special for those who are ready to have adventure at the maximum level.
The river trek starts from Chilling where the river begins to freeze and mostly, travelers choose February as the best time to cross the frozen river as the ice sheets will be comparatively stable. The precarious snow-flakes would pose severe threats during the trek but in some other time, the challenges would be kind to the trekker. The surrounding of the river are completely vertical cliffs tall up to 600 meters. The Zanskar River is a tributary of the Indus and is 5 meters long.
A trekker would have to cover 16 kms per day to complete the Chadar Trek. Usually, people opt for 10-15 days of trek depending on the climatic conditions persisting here. The temperature at Chadar will come to the lowest at -35 degree Celsius during winter and thus Chadar Trek becomes more intimidating. Approximate trekking distance one would have to cover in total is 75 kms.
Maximum altitude: 11123 feet is the height at which Chadar Trek would lead you to.
Location: To take part in Chadar Trek, one should arrive in Leh and from Leh, the journey starts and goes to Chilling, the beginning of the Zanskar River in the frozen state. From Leh it would take about 65-70 kms to reach Tilad via Chilling, the base camp of the trek.
Best time to visit: January end to February is the best time suitable for trekking in the frozen river of Chadar. Quality and safe trekking gears and highly warm clothes are required.
Adventure lovers always had an affection to Markha Valley and still it fulfills the dreams of a trekker or adventure seeker with the unrivalled collection of natural spectacle. Long day trekking tours are offered by a lot of tour providers all over India which promise a journey through the most scenic locations and villages. The awesomely exciting feature of this trek is that it will let the trekker cross two high altitude passes in Ladakh; Gandala La at 4980 meters and Kongmaru La at 5276 meters.
Being one of the diverse treks in Ladakh region, Markha Valley trek offers a lot of adventurous moments throughout. The barren land of Ladakh and the Buddhist temples found throughout the journey make the trek special. The route winds past the Ladakhi villages and it goes to Hemis National Park where the chances to spot some rare wildlife species are comparably high. The nomadic groups of people will be a unique picture to keep in heart. The symbols of Buddhism like ‘chortens’, stupas, multi colored prayer flags and numerous monasteries narrate the story of Buddhist culture embraced Markha centuries ago. Another interesting fact heard about Markha Valley trek is that it is also called ‘tea house trek’ due to the accommodation provided in parachute tents in most of the villages during the tour.
Maximum altitude: 15000 feet is the maximum altitude the trek will cover.
Location: In most of the cases, the trek starts from Leh. The trail usually goes through Chilling, Skyu and then to Markha. From Markha it would take the trekker to reach Hankar and Nimaling and finally return to Leh. The ideal trekking distance is 75 kms and it would be graded as difficult.
Best time to visit: The months of June, July, August, September and October are recommended as the best time to do Markha Valley trek.
What You Should Know More About Things-to-dos in Ladakh
The second largest district in India, Ladakh covers almost 45,110 sq kilometers. It is significant both geographically and politically for the country. The region of mountain passes, it’s a piece of the moon lying between 320 North Latitude and 800 East Longitude. The region is bifurcated by Leh and Kargil districts. The district is bordered by Pakistan occupied Kashmir in the west, China in the North and north east and the Lahaul-Spiti Valley in the South-East. Geographically, it spans across the Great Himalayan Range and the Karakoram Mountain Range and the Upper Indus Valley Basin. It’s a part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Ladakh is one of the most popular destinations among adventure tourists, riders, photographers, and all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. It can be reached by rail road and train networks. However, be prepared for a lot of off roading to reach your destination.
There are a couple of routes you can take to reach the valley:
Srinagar to Leh: This road will take you to Ladakh via the Kashmir Valley ad Kargil and it would be about 434 kilometers of journey. The route is opened between early June and mid November. You will need to cross the Zoji-La Pass at about 11,500 feet to reach Ladakh.
Manali to Leh: Another popular route to enter Ladakh is the Manali – Leh route. More than 473 kilometers, this route opens up from mid June and till early October. You will need to cross the Rupsho Plateau at 3,600 meters above sea level.
There are several high passes including Taglang La – the second highest motorable road in the world.
By road: Himachal Pradesh Tourism and J & K State Road Transport Corporation regularly runs deluxe and ordinary buses in both the routes and the journey takes about two days including the several stops it makes. However, many hire jeeps and gypsy taxis to be free from the timing of the bus routes. Another popular and recommended way to reach Ladakh, regardless of the route your take is to hire your own bike. Ladakh is particularly famous among riders and people hire two wheelers from Delhi to make the journey. If you are travelling by road, it is recommended that you use the services of a registered travel agency to make the transports and camping arrangements. Driving your own vehicle is fun but at the same time it can be quite tasking and risky.
By Air: The nearest airport to Ladakh is the Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport that connects flights from Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar. Popular air carriers for this route include Jet Airways, Air India and GoAir. While the schedules of these flights are fixed, there could be changes depending on the weather conditions for the day. It is thus advised that you have a flexible itinerary if you are taking a flight.
By Train: There is no train connectivity to Ladakh. The nearest you can get is Jammu Tawi station and from then you might wait to hire a vehicle or take the bus route to reach Ladakh.
While there are several routes to visit Ladakh, one of the most highly recommended one is the Srinagar – Kargil – Leh route. However, you can take the Leh – Manali route for your return trip from Ladakh. This ensures that you won’t have to deal with a lot of altitude sickness in the return. Be ready for a highly mountainous journey.
The most popular time to visit Ladakh is during the summer months between May and August. It is important to know that most of the highways leading to and around Ladakh open up in April or May. June would be the month when all the action would start. Though its summer, the breeze here will still carry a comforting chill and you won’t be able to do without a blanket at nighttime. The summer months are the season when most local festivals and events happen. However, trekkers also make it to Ladakh during the extreme cold of the winters. This however would be the time when most of the roads and passes are closed due to snow and gaining a permit to places too can be a problem.
While riding through Ladakh is awesome, it is also one of the most difficult terrains to ride through. You would be crossing some of the highest passes in the globe, making way through particularly slippery terrains, use your legs along with the accelerator for go ahead through rubbles, cross streams, push your vehicle in some roads and the same. You won’t be able to go beyond 100-150 kilometer a day. With sundown, it would be no more show. Consequently, an ideal holiday in Ladakh should stretch beyond a week. The more you stay the easier it is. This is a terrain where you just can’t afford to push yourself. So, get those leave you have pending and put everything into your Ladakh trip!
A range of hotels and accommodations are offered in Ladakh. If you have been looking for a decent, clean and pocket friendly accommodation, there would be several economical options that comprise of guest houses and hotels. Most of these places even allow for long term stays, even months. However, the amenities are quite basic.
On the other hand, if you are looking forward to exceptional room service, internet, satellite TVs, and high quality linen, you will have to shell out more.
Budget hotels in Ladakh start from INR400 per day and depending on the amenities, the price can go up to INR 1000.
You might be able to find cheap hotels in Farka, Changspa Road, Karzoo, Malpak, Old Leh Road and Shanti Stupa Road. Among them, Farka is the most sought after point to find cheap accommodation. If you are traveling with a family have more sophisticated needs, you might want to check out pricier accommodations that start at around INR2000 per night and can go up to INR 8000 per night.
Irrespective of your mode of transportation or the place you choose to stop over, Ladakh requires a special packing. While there is certainly no exhaustive way to define a packing list for this place, here is a list that we think would be essential to your survival!
Apart from a lot of photography, self-preservation and thinking, you can participate in:
Leh is all about the majestic Himalayas. The blue lakes, perfectly lush landscape, snow laden peaks, deep gorges and brown/red rocks can put you into a spell. Some of the must see places include:
Pangong Tso is a disputed territory. One third part of the Lake is inside the Indian boundary while the rest lies in Tibet. A section of the lake is actually just 20 kilometers east of the Line of Control, India shares with China. A delicate border area, but nevertheless, Pangong Tso is still one of the most visited destinations in Ladakh.
Located in the Changthang Region of Ladakh, Pangong Tso is mesmerizing.
To reach the lake from Leh, follow this route: Leh – Karu – Sakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Lukung – Spangmik (Total journey of 171 kilometers).
To reach Pangong from Nubra Valley, proceed via: Diskit – Khalsar – Agham – Tangyar – Wari La – Takthok – Sakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Lukung – Spangmik (Total distance of 243 kilometers)
The Nubra Valley lies 150 kilometers north of Leh, at the meeting point of rivers Siachen and Shyok, forming a large valley. Nubra separates Ladakh from the humongous Karakoram Range and is also the entry point to the famous Siachen Glacier. The best way to reach Nubra is to organize a group trip or hire a travel agent in Leh. The tourist season will run between mid June and let September, peaking around mid July.
Leh will be the nearest airport to reach Nubra Valley. From there, you can hire a taxi or board a public bus to reach Nubra.
If you are traveling by train, Jammu would be the rail head. Again, a bus or private taxi would take you to Nubra.
150 kilometers from Leh, Nubra can be reached via a pretty adventurous road that also passes through Khardung La.
You will need a permit and it is best to get yours from the Leh district commissioner.
Sitting at an elevation of 5,359 meters, Khardung La is the highest motorable road in the world. Though the credibility is questioned, you certainly can’t ride higher than this! It’s a mountain pass in the Ladakh district inside the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Just 39 kilometers from Leh, it is a pivotal tourist point and seekers of outdoor adventures. The narrow dirt road to reach Khardung La was laid back in 1976 and it has been recently paved for saver travels.
While there are several monasteries spread across Ladakh, the ones you should pay a visit to include:
Lamayuru is located in the western edge of Ladakh, amidst mountain badlands and is a popular stopover in the Kargil – Leh route. The Lamayuru Monastery is about 127 kilometers from the town of Leh and is a must visit place. Even if you aren’t too keen on history, the Lamayuru Monastery would be an 11th century AD structure and the seat of Red-Hat sect of Buddhism. The monastery is also a perfect shopping destination if you are trying to bring back something from Ladakh. The monks hand make wall paintings, statues, thangas, artifacts, carpets and much more. One of the most precious buys however is the 11 headed and 1000 eyed Chenzing. To reach the monastery, you can also take the bypass from Leh near the Srinagar-Leh road or the trail to the Prikiti La Pass – your gateway to the Zanskar River.
The Shey monastery and palace is located just 15 kilometers from the town of Leh. Also called the Shey Gompa, it is a sixteenth century AD construction and enshrines a 10 meter high copper statue of Lord Buddha. To reach Shey Gompa, you will need to start from Leh and just about 15 kilometers; you will see the signs to a solitary hillock hosting an elaborate monastery!
The most famous trek in Ladakh is the Chadar Trek, wherein you get to trek across the frozen Zanskar River. Temperature goes as low as minus 35 degree Celsius but it is one of the most beautiful experiences you would ever have.
Other important treks across Ladakh include:
Depending on the trek you choose, it will be advisable to:
? Be accompanied by a guide. Treks like Markha Valley are pretty straightforward and won’t need a guide but if you are going for something complicated like Chadar Trek, a guide will be essential for your survival.
Ladakh is made for bikers and is the most preferable way to get around this part of the Himalayas. Ladakh on a bike is a completely different kind of challenge. However, the road trip also demands that you are a responsible rider, don’t get excited too easily and are looking for fun instead of speed. It is always recommended that you ride in a group since the road is quite long can be very tasking and you never know when you would need help. However, there are many who also bike to Ladakh alone.
A bike trip to Ladakh offers the flexibility of your own itinerary and you will always be free to head on to the unbeaten paths while taking the roads that have been less traveled. It’s a life altering experience altogether. You would be making new friends on the way – friends that share the same passion and approach towards live and travel it! However, if it is your first time or you aren’t in full confidence of making a trip alone, it is best to go for a package or group tour that offers you the same kind of flexibility but with added safety.
In the past few years, tourism across Ladakh has peaked and several visitors prefer to take their own vehicle or go on a packaged road trip. The road conditions are one of the most crucial things to understand before planning a bike trip. The road conditions in this valley keep on changing and it is a highly rocky terrain out there.
Further, you need to carry a lot of safety gear as the mountains can be unforgiving. Here are the things you need to carry:
If you are going with your family and/or elders, a jeep safari would be a great way to cover Ladakh. You will get several options in jeep safaris that extend from 2 person trips (tailored for couples) to 12 person safaris (catered to group tourists). Jeep safaris should be booked online prior to your visit.
Traveling across Ladakh in a jeep/bike is safe as long as you stick to being a responsible driver. It is always recommended that you go in a group or pick up a packaged tour, if you are travelling alone. Being around people helps in this part of the world as the problems you can face can be multi-faceted. Before renting a bike, it is also essential that you understand the permits and regulations attached to the same.
If you are renting a bike from Manali, you might not be able to take your bike beyond Leh.
For the number of days that your bike had been parked, most rental agencies will charge about 50% of the bill. You will however need to rent another local vehicle at Leh to go around. The most economical way to bike through Ladakh is to rent your vehicle at Leh itself. Since no outside vehicles are allowed in Leh, this makes sense. There are several rental service providers in the fort Road.
Riding a bicycle through Ladakh is an overwhelming feat and requires a lot of physical and mental stamina. You won’t be able to go more than 50 kilometers a day (even that is the best you can put into the pedals). Though the cost of riding will be less (no need of fuel), you will have to look for more halts and consequently frequent accommodations. The best thing you can do is reach a point and put your luggage to cover all neighboring area in the 25 kilometer radius. Again, you will need to think if you will be able to gear up for the challenge. For a 1 week bicycle trip across Ladakh the cost will come down to around INR 10,000 (inclusive of cheap budget hotels and food).
To be able to ride a bicycle through one of the highest mountain ranges on planet earth requires a very high level of fitness. It is necessary that you have practiced for long to prepare for this trip. There would be all elements against you. The lack of oxygen, constant dehydration, high altitude, low pressure will take a toll.
There are a lot of opportunities for river rafting in Ladakh but these are also one of the most dangerous rapids to put yourself into. However, with risk comes the fun! Here, we have rapids ranging from Grade 1 to Grade 4.
For river rafting, there are mainly two rivers – the Indus flowing southeast and then into Pakistan and the Zanskar River, the north flowing tributary of the Indus. Adding to the swift flowing rapids is the undulating terrain, criss crosses by ancient monasteries, beautiful valleys and remote villages.
The most prominent river rafting location is from Phey to Nimmo in Ladakh. If you are a beginner, the ideal stretch would be between Phey and Saspol and again between Kharu and Spituk. If you are looking for a more adventurous day, go for the stretch between Chilling and Nimmo on the Zanskar River! Be prepared to combat Grade 4 rapids!
The important stops for shopping in Ladakh include:
While your trip in Ladakh is a memory of a lifetime, it also sounds delightful to be able to bring some kind of souvenir from the country of passes. Well, Ladakh is famous for it’s:
The flora and fauna of Ladakh is unique in itself. Depending on the time of the year you are visiting the mountains, you will be able to witness: Birds: Finches, Robins, Redstarts, Brown headed gull, Brahminy Duck, Ruddy Shelldrake, Bar Headed Goose, Black Necked Crane, Raven, Red Bellied Chough, Tibetan Snowcock, Chukar, Golden Eagle, Lemmergeier and more Mammals: Ibex, Bharal (Blue Sheep), Tibetan Urial Sheep, Tibetan Argali Sheep, Tibetan Gazelle, Tibetan Antelope (very rare), Tibetan Wild Ass, Snow Leopard, Palla’s Cat, Brown Bear, Red Fox, Marmots, Pika, Voles, Tibetan Sand Fox and more. The flora will mostly be alpine species.
To be able to spot a snow leopard, you will have to go on the snow leopard trek across the Hemis National Park. It is a must if you are trying to see and click the highly elusive snow leopard cat. The trek stretches across the entire Markha and Rumbak Valley at an elevation of more than 4100 meters. The snow leopard trek is organized in the winter month, between January and March.
The unique Donkey Sanctuary in Ladakh is located close to the town of Leh and is a must visit if you are willing to take some time off the road trips. You will have to take the road leading to the Khardung La Pass. The animals here are mainly those that aren’t able to work anymore, are injured or have been rendered out of human use. Inspite of leaving the animals to their state, the locals, headed by Stany Wagchuk cares for them. This is would be a very inspirational stop on your journey – an example of caring and affection.
If you are traveling to Ladakh, there are some traditional dishes that you must try out. They will include:
There are a few places to stargaze in Ladakh but even so, the terrain offers the most suitable conditions on summer nights without any clouds. To see the Milky Way, stop for a night at:
Ladakh is a pretty good option as a honeymoon destination if your partner too enjoys the outdoors. However, it won’t be a place where you can get cozy. The temperature and the elevation can be quite tasking physically, leaving little time for romance! However, if you are looking to just have each other’s company and the best of nature, Ladakh is THE place to be!
Kids can be taken to Ladakh, but there would be several essentials that you need to carry. Also, it is recommended not to take small kids to high pass regions like Khardung La.
There will be several ATM stops on your Srinagar to Leh route and important stops include Ganderbal, Kargil and Drass. Next to this, you will find an ATM at Keylong and the next one at Leh. Finding an ATM after that is hard.
The basic mode of payment across Ladakh is hard cash. There would be certain hotels and restaurants that would accept card payments.
AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness is a common problem tourist’s face in Ladakh. It happens when the amount of oxygen available falls below the normal standard. In high altitude areas like Ladakh, AMS is accompanied by light headedness, headache, nausea, and a general lack of energy.
The main cause of AMS is dehydration. It is advisable that you keep on drinking a lot of water and other fluids. Here are the recommended ways to beat AMS:
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