The season of visiting Ladakh has just begun with peak season ahead in July and August. Any one who is planning to visit this year should have started their homework by this time. Ladakh is not a place where you should just land up without much preparation, especially when you have limited number of days in hand. If you haven’t planned yet and willing to visit this year, then you must start thinking about it now. My intention is not to make you nervous but to make sure you have a wonderful trip. As I had done a lot of research when I planned, so I just thought of coming up with a crash course for the same :). Based on my own learning and experience here are few gentle reminders from my end which may be useful for your planning.
1. Ladakh is no longer a place visited by few tourists. The count of visitors to Ladakh have been increasing every year. The number of queries about Ladakh have increased on online forums which is a strong indication that more people are planning to visit Ladakh than few years back. The problem is aerial connectivity to Leh is still limited which leads to hiked air lines ticket rates. Check the prices now and you will get some idea.
2. Plan your itinerary properly keeping ample time for taking rest. You need to properly acclimatize to avoid risk of AMS. In every post I write on Ladakh, I will mention about AMS.; and so will other bloggers who have visited Ladakh. I understood the importance of it before my trip and would like you to understand the importance as well. If someone mentions you that you are worrying too much about it, trust me you can safely ignore them.
3. Once you have read about AMS, you will automatically understand the order in which places should be visited in Ladakh region. If you are flying into Leh then you should at least rest for a day without exerting yourself. Plan to visit Nubra Valley first and then Pangong Lake as later is at higher altitude.
4. Do not plan a day trip to Nubra valley for multiple reasons. It will be very rushed and beauty of Nubra valley deserves a longer admiration. Secondly the trip to Nubra valley passes through World’s highest motorable pass named ‘Khardungla’ and thus at very high altitude of 18000 Feet. If you make a day trip and weather turns bad in evening during your return, it may turn out to be quite risky.
5. Ladakh is a cold desert and is a region of extremes. You can feel heat and cold at the same time. So you need to be prepared with clothing for both conditions. Pack warm clothes as well as protection against sun light. Because of high altitude of this region, sun rays are quite harsh. Day time can be hot with morning and evening quite cold.
6. Carry your photo ID proofs with you. As per latest update(Still unconfirmed) inner line permits for visiting Nubra Valley and Pangong are not required May onward but you will need to show your ID card at army check points. So don’t forget to carry one government issued ID card like driving license, PAN card or passport.
7. A trip to Ladakh should be of at least 7 days duration. I know there are many people who have done a 4 days tour of region but I can guarantee you will not be doing justice to both yourself and the place by 4 days trip. If you are not able to take out 7 days, then wait for a year and only visit when you have sufficient days in your hand.
8. Most of your expenses would be on transportation. Cab fare to different places from Leh are fixed by taxi union and you have choice either to hire your own vehicle or find people to share along with you. If you are in a group then better hire a private vehicle as the routes are equally beautiful as destinations. Moreover long travel hours would be better spent in your own vehicle with breaks as per you needs.
9. Ladakh is not a place for relaxed holiday. If you have seen the breathtaking pictures of Ladakh and hoping to enjoy them through your hotel room windows as it happens in many hill stations then you have set wrong expectations. Sightseeing in Ladakh involves longer duration of travels and requires getting up early in the morning :).
10. Finally walk through my Ladakh Travelogue . You may find some more additional information in it. Ladakh is one of the best place I have ever been and in terms of natural beauty of a region, I would rank it above Cappadocia. Although sometimes I question myself about comparing these two different regions :).
Hope these pointers can help in planning. Do you find such article useful ? Would you like to read such articles in future about any other place I have visited ? Your inputs are always important and welcome.