Come April and the world of adventure tourism goes into overdrive as Leh and Ladakh, more popularly referred to as the “roof of the world” unfreezes enough to allow adventure loving tourists a chance to partake of its awe inspiring beauty.
There is a lot of truth in the saying “Preparation is the key to success” especially if you are contemplating a trip to “one of the most beautiful yet unforgiving terrains in the world”. A trip to Leh Ladakh is not something you can undertake on a whim, especially since your life itself can be at stake. A thorough research and preparedness can help you avert a lot of unnecessary risky and unpleasant situations. Below is a list of some of the most important things to keep in mind before undertaking a trip to Leh Ladakh.
Best Time to Visit
June to October is typically regarded as the best time of the year to visit Leh. Winter travel to Leh becomes difficult with poor connectivity on account of roads being inaccessible due to the snow.
Physical preparedness and acclimatization
A trip to Leh Ladakh trip is not meant for the fainthearted. Your body should be physically and mentally conditioned to deal with tough weather conditions and unexpected situations. A rigorous workout regime that includes breathing exercises can help you better survive high altitude places with limited oxygen supply. Also AMS or acute mountain sickness is a phenomenon that hits almost every traveler. You can potentially reduce its severity by staying in Leh for a day or two to allow your body to get used to the high altitude mountain conditions before proceeding upwards
Being so close to Indo Pak as well as Indo Tibet border, Leh Ladakh is a highly sensitive areas with quite a few army checkpoints enroute. Ensure to carry multiple copies of vehicle insurance and registration certificate. Also keep a valid photo identification card handy. While Indian citizens are no longer required to obtain Inner Line permit for most places, some sensitive border places like Hanle, Chusul, Tsaga, beyond Loma bend, Chumur, Marsimik La and Batalik sectors may require permits .It is best to obtain permit in advance to save time during your trip
Must Carry items
- Medical Supplies- Carry plenty of medical supplies to deal with common ailments especially AMS. Diamox is typically recommended for AMS, however be sure to check with your doctor. Carrying an oxygen cylinder is also recommended; you can purchase it from a chemist.
- Clothing– A “snow desert” Ladakh can be warm during the day in summer months but temperature can drop drastically during the night. Winters of course are severe. Dressing in layers helps ward off cold, so include inners, gloves, cap, sweaters as well as a weather resistant jacket in your packing
- Water and Sun Lotion– Dehydration can prove to be dangerous at such high altitudes so pack in plenty of water and apply sunscreen to save your skin from direct exposure to sunlight.
- Money– Leh has a good number of ATMs so money will not be an issue while staying at Leh. But as you go further up, you will need plenty of cash at hand since there are virtually no ATM’ and credit cards are not accepted. Keep spare cash also to deal with unforeseen delays and road emergencies.
Once you leave Leh, communication with the outside world is extremely limited with virtually no access to wifi or even cellphone signals. Your safest bet might be to carry a BSNL connection as it will work in some areas.
In a bid to curb the waste caused by tourists, Leh and Ladakh have been promoting the concept of eco- tourism by declaring themselves as no plastic zone. Be mindful of local sensibilities and do not litter any waste around or use plastics.
A stunning landscape makes photography a must for every tourist but being a sensitive area there are many Buddhist temples etc where photography is prohibited. Be sure to read the signs before indulging in capturing the beautiful vista before you on film.
Knowing these facts before hand will help you prepare better for what can potentially turn out to be a life changing experience. As with any tourist destination, talking and greeting local people in their native language and eating the native food always helps in better understanding local traditions and customs.