Winters have started to settle in the trans Himalayas including Leh – Ladakh and now the most common question “How to make a winter trip to Ladakh” will start coming up on the DoW Travel Platform, very soon. I thought to act proactively and try to provide some valuable tips for the fellow members so that they can smoothly plan a winter trip to Ladakh keeping them in mind. I have already documented a detailed article on planning a winter trip to Leh – Ladakh under Leh – Ladakh in Winters – Most Common Itinerary, which can be referred as the starting point on planning a winter trip to Ladakh by anyone of you looking for such details.
Most of the high mountain passes have started getting snowfall and they will start to close or shut down for coming winters closing both the roads to Leh – Ladakh from Srinagar – Leh or Manali – Leh highways. The journey over Srinagar – Leh Highway and especially the Manali – Leh Highway gets too risky to traverse as you enter the month of October owing to snowfall at passes, black ice on road that skids the vehicles making driving risky and above all extremely harsh cold conditions with not much shelter and food at disposal on these roads in winters. So, the only option to travel to Leh – Ladakh in Winters after October, is to directly fly to Leh from Delhi…
And if you say Why Leh – Ladakh in Winters?
Winter tourism in Ladakh is always special but lately it is rising like anything. Many senior travelers and lovers of Ladakh including me, who use to love this once upon a time remote place named Ladakh, now see much filth, garbage and litter in season time & hence, try to avoid visiting it in summers. Especially, owing to the rise of domestic tourists (forgive me on saying the bitter truth, but you know it is true, don’t you?? ?? ) who litter like anything on the shores of holy Pangong Tso or Tso Moriri, at remotest passes, in remote corners and where not they throw those shitty plastic bottles out of their moving cars or those wafer packets which such morons eat like asses, open the window and throw out… disturbs the ecological balance, flora and fauna just for the mere show off of the 4×4 capabilities their super cars posses, for few 100 likes, smileys, RTs in the age of this virtual Social Media???… Confronting them means getting into trouble, spoiling the mood, sometimes taking on punches and spoiling your own trip as locals have closed their eyes and they don’t come forward to beat the shit out of such jack a*** morons…. Aah, my heart bleeds as I write all this but anyways lets come back to topic 🙂 🙂 …
PS: You can help save this beautiful heaven from this filth & littering by learning, sharing, spreading and educating these Tips for Responsible Travel in Himalayas.
Here, are 6 special tips for making a winter trip to Ladakh in coming season for you…
1. It will be cold, read very cold, so go prepared well enough!!
Flying directly to a high altitude place like Leh (3500+ Mtr) can cause serious health issues sometimes if proper care is not taken for Acute Mountain Sickness. And when it is winters, there should be extra care that needs to be taken in order to help your body fight & cope with extreme cold plus high altitude together. Hence, one must always be at least aware of importance of Acclimatization and tips to better acclimatize to some extent before venturing to further high altitude. But, in winters the highways to heaven called Leh – Ladakh are closed and hence, flying to Leh in harsh cold conditions in the only option one has on disposal.
Since, it will be winters, keeping body hydrated is a challenge up there as you need to drink plenty of water and water must be warm or hot to drink. Keep sipping black tea, black coffee or hot honey lemon tea to combat cold and still keep your body hydrated. Carry Garlic & Black Pepper too as they provide warmth in the body and support it fight cold.
You should go prepared with the heavy woolens, keep yourself covered all the times and do now expose body parts to cold especially the chest and next areas. Wrap muffler around your neck so as to keep warm or keep zippers of jackets closed to cover neck. Remember that if you get hit by cold then there could be issues in acclimatization as well. You can read more details in the article: Tips for Carrying Clothes for Ladakh Trip
2. Carry good sleeping gears
It is always good that you carry your own Sleeping Bag, rated at least 0 to -10 degrees Celsius OR you can buy a fleece sleeping bag which can be inserted into your low temperature rated sleeping bag as a layer to increase the temperature beating. You will get some quilts or blankets any how that can act as further layers over it. You can check this sleeping bag in case interested: Quechua S0 Light Right Zip Adult Sleeping Bag
There will be guest houses or home stays offering quilts and blankets and at times heater if you lucky with power availability, but your own sleeping bag will surely provide you that mental satisfaction of survival in such cold. The layers of blankets or quilts can always act as layers of further warmth. Remember that Tso Moriri will be very harsh, don’t know why, but it will be and hence, in case you plan visiting it then stay at Chumathang which is much warmer place in comparison.
3. Prepare you budget well, expect least from stays or food and carry enough cash
Do not expect much discounts as most of the hotels or accommodation options will be closed and the ones which will be open, will charge almost the same amount of tariff and sometimes far more in order to include heating facilities these hotels provides that of course comes with a cost. This is barely limited to Leh only and I am not talking of Nubra Valley or Pangong Tso or Tso Moriri. There you have to rely on basic guest house or home stays which are run by local families.
Some hotels even provide rates with meals as it is mostly hard to find food nearby and especially at night I am not sure that you will actually want to walk down the lanes in bone freezing conditions. So, check for sure about the availability of food before fixing the deal and how charges are being offered, that is inclusive of meals or not. Be ready to satisfy your hunger with basic food of rice, dal and if at all lucky, chapati 😉 … May be just Lamayuru and Gesmo restaurants will be open in Leh main market among well known names.
Do not depend upon ATMs as they might not be functional due to no power or less cash.
4. Prepare decent budget for transport too
Continuing from stays, taxis will mostly be available as personal taxis only. Shared taxis will be rare to spot and most buses also discontinue the services to tourist places in Ladakh. There will be less number of tourists and hence rare possibility to get shared taxis to share such costs. Prepare your budget accordingly that you might need to own a private taxi and taxi prices like we all know are quite hefty in Leh – Ladakh. For the leh – ladakh taxi union rate list 2015-16 including the contacts of some reliable taxi drivers within Leh – Ladakh, check the link here. You can get about 10-15% of discount by directly getting in touch with drivers and of course, talking in person rather on phone always help in bargaining more. As it will be winters, there is no need to pre-book taxis what I feel personally.
5. Plan at least couple of buffer days in hand avoid hassles from an abrupt snowfall
Check weather forecasts before venturing over Khardung La pass or Chang La pass and see there is no signs of heavy snowfall for that very day or coming days, else you can easily get caught for 2-3 days in Nubra Valley or Tangste in case it snows heavily on Khardung La Pass or Chang La Pass respectively. So, take calculative risk after seeing weather conditions even if the roads will open soon when snowfall resides but it is always best to keep the overall plan safe as well 🙂 🙂
It is always better to keep couple of buffer days for such abrupt snowfall contingencies as many a times it also snows in Leh resulting in cancellation of flights. Hence, always good to have couple of buffer days to be spent in Leh or around Sham Valley for all such contingency cases.
6. Enjoy the frozen vistas & book a window seat of your flight
Well apart from everything we talked about above, do not forget to enjoy the magnificent shades of infinite landscapes and endless horizons covered with abundance of snow like an ocean of snow till the point eyes can see them 😉
Do book a window seat of the flight, if possible on the left hand side to enjoy some of the magnificent white gold covered aerial views of Himalayas from the window. Since, there will be not much tourists around, you can enjoy the places, monasteries along with very very hospitable people of Ladakh in a calm, peaceful and relaxed manner.
Well, I hope the above tips for making a winter trip to Ladakh will help you in your upcoming trip. I will look forward for any queries or doubts or valuable suggestions and inputs you have to share with me…
Request everyone that instead of putting up the your travel queries below as comments, please start an itinerary advice thread in the forums so that it can be replied in more structured manner as well as more people can get benefit from the replies by reading existing threads.
Here is the link: DoW – Himalayan Travel Community | Ladakh Itinerary Advice