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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.
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What You Should Know More About Tours in Ladakh
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.
Important Road Distances:
The best way to reach Ladakh is hiring your own vehicle, be it a two wheeler or a four wheeler. A road trip offers you the opportunity to experience the expansive Himalayan landscape at your own pace. Depending on the season you are planning to visit Ladakh, a road trip will bring new vistas of opportunities.
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. May 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.
Temperature extremes in night can go as low as minus fourteen degrees in Ladakh. Day time temperature in winter months can be a comfortable 20C while in the summers (months of May and June), temperature can peak to 210C.
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.
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 trip. The road conditions in this valley keep on changing and it is a highly rocky terrain out there. If you are taking a four wheeler, it is important that your vehicle offers a very high ground clearance. A SUV or Hatchback with a min 4x4 would be recommended. Here’s segregating the road according to the driving conditions:
Leh – Sham Valley: Most roads around the town of Leh are well maintained, barring a few sections that frequently get damaged from landslides and water. It would be easy to drive with a normal SUV or a RE Bullet. The places that you would be able to cover include Magnetic Hills, Basgo Palace, Alchi, Nimmu Confluence, Leh Palace, Namgyal Gompa, Shankar Gompa, Spituk Gompa, Hall of Fame and Main Market.
Leh – Khardung La – Nubra Valley: Be ready for a bit of stiffness, especially in the Pullu Section of the route. Once, you reach Nubra Valley, the road widens and clears out.
Leh – Karu – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso: The road will be a mix of bad, very bad and impossible! The section between Shakti to Changla La is especially challenging, even for pro riders. The same can be said about the decent from Durbuk to Changla La.
Leh – Upshi – Chumathang – Mahe – Sumdo – Kiagar Tso – Tso Moriri: This is mostly a mix of average road and dirt tracks. While the road cannot be said to be risky, it does involve a lot of challenge, especially after you have driven for so long.
Pangong Tso – Man – Chusul – Loma – Mahe – Kiagar Tso – Tso Moriri: This road goes from remote and beautiful Himalayan villages but you will come across certain very bad sections that will require high ground clearance vehicles.
Nubra Valley – Agham – Wari La – Chang La – Tangste – Pangong Tso: One of the most popular routes, this is a very tough road. The more challenging part is you will rarely spot any other tourist vehicle or villages that would be able to help in case of a breakdown.
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.
Bike rentals are one of the most preferred and popular ways to visit Ladakh. It’s every bikers dream. While bike rentals are available from most connecting cities, the most preferred ones include Srinagar and Manali. Depending on which bike you choose, the cost may vary between INR800 and INR1600 per day. There is also an option to rent a bike from Delhi or Chandigarh but also be prepared for a very long ride and more nights on the road.
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 same applied if you rent a bike from Srinagar. 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.
Traveling across Ladakh in a 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.
While biking 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. The risk of damage to you vehicle is always there and thus it is important that you have backup support in most cases. While assistance will be hard to find in most routes, things like extra petrol, spare parts, brake shoes, tires and the like should be carried along. It is consequently recommended that you plan a group tour. This will at least ensure that you aren’t stranded alone till help arrives.
There are several riders who travel along in their own bikes. Some of them come from as far as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. It can be done but you need to be very strong physically and mentally. It’s only the passion for riding and the natural landscape that will keep you going. Don’t look for a comfortable travel if you are driving on your own to Ladakh. This is also why many people go for packaged and group tours. At least, it takes care of your itinerary, food, lodging and the bare necessities.
Taking your own bike allows you the flexibility of travel. If you are planning to rent your vehicle from Chandigarh, you will be able to reach Manali on the same day. It is not recommended to drive overnight as the risks can be too huge. The number of days you spend travelling Ladakh depends on the stops you make and the places you would want to cover. Normally, a week long drive with night stops and sight halts can be a comfortable trip to witness Ladakh. It is also important to understand the road condition in the season you are traveling. In the monsoons or the winters, it could take days for some roads to clear up and you to move ahead.
Ladakh is a perfect challenge for passionate riders. However, safety always comes first and here are the gears you will need to tag along:
Map is a must, even if you are using mobile GPS and digital maps. Maps are particularly essential if you suddenly look to or have to change your route plans. A map for Ladakh can be obtained from tourism centers, spread across the route.
It is particularly essential that you ride a perfectly fine vehicle. Servicing your bike, whether you are hiring a vehicle or taking your own is important to ensure a smooth drive. The Ladakh terrain can be very tasking on your bike and you cannot do with anything less than perfect vehicle.
Depending on the season you are planning to travel, you need to be prepared with the right kind of clothes. Apart from riding jacket, pants, boots and gloves, you should be carrying jeans, t-shirts, jackets, caps, warm inners (a lot of spares), socks (a dozen of them), towels and slippers.
Since it is a highly mountainous terrain, the maximum you can comfortably ride on a bike is between 150-200 kilometers. Night ride isn’t advisable and you will also need to take several halts along the way. Ride slow but ensure that you keep on enjoying the Himalayas.
To be able to ride across Ladakh, it is necessary that you are completely comfortable with the vehicle. The rule of thumb should be to take a vehicle that you regularly drive.
Tubeless tires are highly recommended on your trip to Ladakh. Even if your tire gets punctured, tubeless tires will ensue that you can still make it to some distance by just pumping in air. Unlike normal tires, tubeless tires will lose air slowly, giving you’re an advantage of time. Also, tubeless tires are easier to fix.
An air pump rightly goes with your tubeless tire. Without an air pump, you will not be able to make the maximum of your tubeless tire. So, even if you could have reached the garage a few miles ahead, you will be stranded without an air pump. It is not only recommended that you carry an air pump but also a puncture kit for your tubeless tires. You can easily buy a puncture kit from a local shop or from websites like eBay.
Finding a mechanic can be a problem as most roads don’t even have proper settlements. It is necessary that you got your vehicle checked whenever you get the opportunity and feel that an expert look will be helpful. It will also be a lot of help if you have the basic knowledge of bike repairs.
The harsh terrain of Ladakh is not just physically tasking but also sucks out the mileage from your vehicle. Consequently, you will need regular refueling of your tank. Petrol pumps are however few and the last ones you would see are at Leh. There’s another one at Nubra Valley but availability can also become an issue here. So, apart from a full tank, it is mandatory that you carry extra fuel.
It is highly advisable to travel in a group in Ladakh, regardless of the means of transport. Being in a group is always safer than traveling alone, though there have been many who do solo trips.
Advantages of traveling solo:
Male or female, a trip to Ladakh can be quite revealing. There is no direct safety threat for female travelers. If at all, male and female travelers share the same kind of challenges.
No! It is recommended that you start your bike at the first light and turn of the engine and fine a safe place to park the moment it gets dark. Night time is freezing cold and driving a bike is impossible. Further, if you get stuck somewhere (you have a higher chance of it at night), there won’t be anyone passing through to help.
Some of the spots you would want to reach by the end of the day include Drass, Kargil, Mulbek, Lamayuru, Alchi and Likir. These spots have quite a few hotels where you can freshen up. Other than that, most monasteries could be emergency shelters for tourists.
Toilet facilities along the road are few but you can always freshen up at any petrol pump. Popular stops include Leh, Kahltsi, Wakha, Mulbek, Kargil, Sonmarg, Mangan and Srinagar. Otherwise it’s the call of nature!
Fitness is not as crucial an issue for visiting Ladakh as it your health. People with heart conditions, asthma, breathlessness and such can face problems when visiting Ladakh. There have been many who have cancelled their trips midway and saved themselves from the verge of dying. It is important that you get yourself thoroughly checked and know the chances of getting ill at Ladakh. Along with the air pressure, the cold of the night too can be extreme, even in the summer season.
Ladakh is home to natural calamities. This also ensures that most parts of Ladakh are closed to tourists during the winters and monsoons. Landslides, heavy snowfall, and avalanches are common in this Himalayan terrain.
Never underestimate nature, especially when you are at the mercy of the Himalayas. There is quite a good chance of getting stuck somewhere on the road along Ladakh. The best you can do is call up an emergency contact, your hotel ahead and hope for a passerby. BSNL postpaid works well across Ladakh and is a must carry on your trip.
BSNL and Airtel postpaid connections are your only hope in Ladakh. Do ensure that you are carrying a SIM.
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:
For most, the basic acclimatization takes about 2–3 days.
It is recommended to not push you too much at Ladakh. When planning for a higher altitude, make sure that the accent is slow. Start with a maximum of 80-100 kilometers of ride and gradually touch the 150 kilometers mark every day.
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.
The best route for a jeep safari to Ladakh would be the 472 kilometer stretch from Manali to Leh. This safari can be extended to Nubra Valley. Another popular option is to drive to Leh through the Tso Moriri and Tso Kar Lakes. You will however need to arrange a permit to enter the Tso Moriri area with a local taxi. A good tour operator should be able to take care of the particulars.
The common language spoken across Ladakh is Hindi, but English too is fairly understood and spoken. With little enquiry, you should be able to get an English speaking guide.
The most common problem when traveling by jeep in Ladakh is a road blockage. The need for repairs might erupt but since you have a bigger vehicle and a driver along, you might as well be taking a mechanic with his tools!
Ladakh by bike is itself challenging enough. Bicycling through the terrain can be even more treacherous. However, there have been adrenaline freaks that have made a bicycle trip through the valleys. It does require a lot of practice and training.
Needless to say, you need to be very tough to be able to make it across Ladakh on a bicycle. It is necessary that you have trained well and have experience in mountain bicycling in the past.
A broken bicycle will be easy to repair. However, there could be a lot of other problems. Firstly, bicycles have a lot less carrying capacity than bikes and you would be limited by the amount of gears, clothes and other necessary things that needs to be carried. Next would be the problem of getting across. It would certainly be a more stretching itinerary. Lastly, if you are looking to be at a certain place before sundown, things can get hard. While you can always take a lift from an army truck, you need to be fortunate enough to find one accommodating enough.
A bike tour is always a better way to see Ladakh as it gives you the flexibility of travel. Jeep safaris on the other hand are safer and are recommended if you are traveling with large group (some of whom are non bikers) or family or are looking for a comfortable, romantic but exciting vacation.
Summers are the most recommended time to go as the day temperature would be comfortable to travel. Even during summers, winters are chilly, with temperature reaching minus figures. Summers are also the time when most of the valley opens up to tourists. Winters in Ladakh can be very challenging and most parts are covered in snow. While, it can be a great opportunity to witness the Himalayan winters, there’s not a lot of places you can go or a lot of things you can do.
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:
Ladakh is a magic. The landscape presents a lot many opportunities to make your trip unique and a one in a lifetime memory. Here are some things you should try, when at Ladakh:
While there are several monasteries spread across Ladakh, the ones you should pay a visit to include:
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:
The recommended time for trekking in Ladakh is between the months of July and August, when the day temperature is warm and comfortable. September onwards, the chances of snow storms increase. However, an important trek is the month of February is the Chadar Trek. All trekkers across Ladakh are required to have a local guide along.
The Chadar Trek commences in the winter months when the River Zanskar gets completely frozen and strong enough for trekkers to cross it. The trail has become quite of popularity among adventure tourists but the challenge goes to minus 35 degrees. The distance of the trek is about 105 kilometers wherein, the trekker has to cover about 16 kilometers every day. The trek is recommended for experienced trekkers and not something that can be tried by beginners. The worst thing about the trek is the freezing temperatures.
A popular attraction among adventure lovers, wildlife enthusiasts and photographers, the Snow Leopard Trek across the Hemis National Park 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. Apart from the freezing temperature, the trek is completely safe and something that any wildlife lover should embark upon.
They say, whatever frame you click in Ladakh, it will be a beauty! Well, it’s a paradise for photographers. Its nature at its best and a culture that is from the heavenly Himalayas. However, ensure that you seek permission before clicking any person or monastery. In some cases, photographing monasteries are forbidden.
If you are carrying a camera, don’t miss out:
There are two important wildlife sanctuaries in Ladakh and include the Hemis National Park and the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary.
There is no better way to experience the culture of Ladakh than its festivals. As opposed to the festivals celebrated in the rest of the country, the culture here is highly unique and can be quite enchanting for someone interested. The festivals you should be planning to attend include:
Drass and Kargil have been the frontiers of Indian Army, long before the Kargil War. A disturbed zone all throughout the year, a visit to this place will renew your faith in the Indian Army and thus is something that you must experience. If you have through those men in uniform look good, check out the men in duty! It’s a new level of respect you will gain. Drass is 284 kilometers from Leh while Kargil is 216 kilometers.
Nubra Valley offers a host of activities and is consequently a stop that you might want to extend beyond a day. Popular things to do in Nubra Valley include:
Ladakh is popularly known as the “Land of High Passes”. In fact, the word Ladakh is about ‘La’ or passes and ‘Dhak’ meaning many. Some of the most important passes include:
Ladakh can be a fun family holiday, if you are okay with a little bit of challenge for the ultimate outdoor experience. Kids can be taken to a Ladakh trip but it is recommended that they don’t tag along to high altitude area like Nubra and Khardugla Pass. With low air pressure and lack of oxygen, it can be a problem to find medical help.
The world renowned Pangong Tso Lake offers night stay near the shores in tented accommodation. This is something that anyone would like to experience. The price range extends between INR 1000/night to INR 7000/night, depending on the amenities and number of sleepers.
Several tour operators organize women – only tours across Ladakh and it can be an amazing experience if you are an outdoor kind of girl. The trips range from jeep safaris to riding trips and trekking adventures. There’s no limit to the amount of fun you can have with your women only trip companions.
Ladakh can be a perfect place for honeymooners! After all, what can be a better backdrop for romance than the Himalayas, its crystal blue lakes and the alpine landscape!
Himachal Pradesh Tourism and J & K State Road Transport Corporation regularly run deluxe and ordinary buses.
Leh can surprise you with its food. It is highly recommended that you stop at one or more of these cafes and pick up something from their menu!
Night life in Ladakh is completely different from the city. Even in the summers, it’s chilly cold outside. If you are not inside your blanket, the best you can do is put up a campfire and dance and sing around it!
While it is not illegal to smoke or drink in Ladakh, it is recommended that you don’t. Drinking dehydrates your body and even if you do, drink lots of water and fluids, so as not to have a hangover. Similarly, smoking can be tasking on your lungs and you would want on with full power and capacity! Smoking can be disastrous in Ladakh.
There are pretty good number of restaurants at important locations like Leh, Kahltsi, Wakha, Mulbek, Kargil, Sonmarg, Mangan and Srinagar. However, you might also come across solitary dhabas serving good food. Instant noodles like Maggi are a popular food among riders in Ladakh.
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.
Two of the most renowned Hospitals in the Leh-Ladakh route are SNM Hospitals and Dr. P Wanchuk Clinic. Apart from that, pharmacy and medical facilities aren’t too usual. However, you can always approach the army camps in any kind of medical situation.
Whether you are stranded on the road or are having a medical emergency, the Indian Army is your only hope. Army jawans will readily take you to their camps and help you with medical and other emergencies. They will even give you essentials like food, warm water and bedding for the night, before you are ready to go again.
Traveller Tales From 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.
11 May 2014
There is some magic in leh that drives many visitors. i loved to discover the ever flowing rivers and straight mountains.The elegant Tsarap River , Rupshu plateau and the Baralacha Pass was worth visiting.
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.
14 April 2014
The panaromic views of leh catches our attention. We were not only the single group who had gone for the adventure, there were many other groups too. We had started our journey from manali but i realized this location has some more beautiful points than manali.
20 June 2014
we explored all beautiful places and the credit goes to our super guide. i strongly suggest you to explore all nearby places. and going in a group will be very exciting.
09 July 2014
Wao it was so much fun!!!Our tsarap chu trekking camp as a part of Ldakh tour was very memorable experience. The site has a rich heritage of flaura and fauna.
12 July 2014
i just loved the trek between spituk to stok. The snowcapped mountains is impressive. This place is so rich in flora and fauna that should not be missed out .
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