The Leh-Ladakh region may be the most picturesque in India.
It could prove to be one of the most inhabitable location especially if you go there unprepared.
Make a few important tips and precautions for traveling in the Leh-Ladakh region and you are ready to go. A land with a breath-taking natural beauty.
I traveled here by a self-driven road trip and think it is the best way to travel to the region if you don’t have car sickness.
Tip 1: Take the road to acclimatize
There are three main road transport modes to get to Leh: a roadways bus, a bike or by car. However, you make the journey, I would say stop over at Keylong, spend a day or two in the town to acclimatize. This may mean that you take a day extra to get to Leh but the probability of you coming down with High altitude sickness is remote. However, if you come in by air just get to your Hotel as quickly as possible and do not move out of there for a day at least.
Tip 2: It is a summer destination only
I have been to the Leh Ladakh during different months and my vote for the best month to travel to this region is June. While the night temperature during the month often falls to single digits, at times even touching zero. The days are sunny with temperatures hovering in the late 20’s. Sunny at times is too sunny for comfort! We will address that issue lower in the article.
That said, the area is open to tourists from mid-March right up to September. The monsoon here is from July and it is extended till late September. If you are motoring here during that time be careful of the roads, your vehicle tires tend to slip and skid in the loose gravel. Also, landslides and other obstructions along the way make the road to Ladakh a less traveled one during this season.
The winters in the Leh-Ladakh region begin in November and it is extended till early March. Winters are harsh here the maximum temperature being around 10 degrees Celsius whereas minimum being minus 20 degrees. This is not the ideal time to travel to the region as most of it is snow bound and the roads closed off.
Tip 3: Essentials in your travel kit:
Traveling to high altitude requires special preparations as the temperature is very different from elsewhere. Apart from its natural beauty, Ladakh is a popular trekking spot as well. Hence your travel kit has to include an ensemble of basic essentials plus some vital adventure gears. Let’s have a look:
A.Clothing & Accessories
In addition to the t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jeans as per your preference and duration of stay, there is some standard clothing and gear you must take with you to this high altitude destination. For instance, some must haves includes a wide brimmed hat and suntan lotion because in summer the sun is piercing and can tan you in minutes.
Thermal vest – long sleeve
Long johns – 2 set
Woolen Socks – 3
Woollen Inner Gloves – 1
Wide Brimmed hat or Baseball cap – 1
Lightweight Fleece Jacket – 1
Micro-fiber Quick-dry Towel – 1
Handkerchiefs – 2
Trekking boots or thick fully covered comfortable leather shoes with a firm grip (not sneakers)
This being a remote destination there are many day-to-day hygiene products we take for granted that may not be available here especially if you are traveling into the interiors on a high altitude trek.
Sunscreen Lotion SPF50 or higher
Washing Detergent soap or powder sachet
C.Food & Hydration
Maggi Noodles a must carry for that in between meals snack
Dates, Dry Fruits & Nuts
Small sachets of Sugar, and salt
Water Bottles and a Hydration Pack
D.First Aid Kit
As for medicines, it would be best to consult your personal physician on what medicines to carry to Ladakh. However, there are some medicines, applications, and balms that I consider necessary for a journey like this one.
Avomine or Stemetil
Crepe Bandages – 2
Relispray – Ayurvedic spray for sprains and aches
Dettol Antiseptic Liquid
Water purification tablets – mild concentration
Vaseline/Himalaya Lip Guard
One item that you just can’t travel without is cash, even after demonetization, debit cards, and credit cards are not always accepted. Also, there are not too many ATMs in this region as well so cash and carry are the mantra here.
E.AMS cause and effect
Finally, let’s deal with the biggest malady in this region. At an altitude of 10,000 feet and above, that is the peak of most other mountain ranges in the world Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS is a common occurrence. The most common symptoms are irregular breathing, nausea, breathlessness, weariness, and at times a headache. Do not self-medicate as you don’t really know how to treat AMS. It’s best to rest and consult a doctor. Everyone will advise you to use hydration. Yes drink water, but don’t overdo it.
If traveling by your own vehicle, make sure to carry some fuel and spare parts. The roads here are steep and tough to negotiate so safety first, should be the policy at all times.
Do’s and Dont’s apart, the region has some of the most beautiful views, natural and manmade in the world. Pangong Lake, Zanskar Valley, Khardung La Pass, Leh city, Pathar Sahib Gurudwara, Nubra Valley, Hemis National Park and Hemis Monastery all waiting to be explored. These along with the numerous trekking trails of the Cold Desert, make the Leh Ladakh region a must explore on your travel list.