Tourism in Ladakh has risen in the last few years and many people prefer to self drive to Leh – Ladakh for satisfying their hunger for adventure 🙂 … There are many tourist places in Leh – Ladakh like Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Sham Valley etc and most of them are connected via Leh town except the adventurous connecting routes which exist between them. However, it always a good idea to plan your Ladakh journey well enough so that you do not come with a nightmare experience from heaven, which I found many people had this time when I was present in Ladakh. And, one of the key areas or things is to know about road conditions that you might expect along with the fuel stations or availability of fuel within Ladakh or in roads to Ladakh like Manali – Leh Highway and Srinagar – Leh Highway, once you reach Ladakh and drive on your own. I know there are many great articles or maps available over the Internet and even in Ladakh section of my blog but I will just try to add two more OK types article in the list :)…
In the first article of this series “Ladakh Self Drive Tips“, we will talk about the petrol/diesel or fuel availability within Leh – Ladakh and in the second article we will talk about the standard road conditions within Leh – Ladakh.
Petrol/Diesel Pumps or Fuel Availability in Ladakh
Without fuel (petrol or diesel) one cannot drive or ride and we all have limited capacity fuel tank in our vehicles. The mileage of the vehicles also decrease in harsh terrain like Ladakh where hills are not the only thing that results low fuel efficiency but rough or non-existent roads, rarefied oxygen (just guessing on this one) also joins the party. Hence, one thing that you should always keep in mind when self riding or driving within Leh – Ladakh is that petrol or diesel is available only in Leh town (guess 2 petrol pumps are in/around Leh) and one petrol pump is present in Karu town which is about 45 KMs from Leh on Manali – Leh Highway. There is one petrol pump available in Nubra Valley’s Deskit town as well
but that rarely is functional and cannot be relied upon. Sometimes, even the fuel is not available at Leh petrol pumps as well for first half of the day. Now, what is the problem that lies behind it?Update 2016: Deskit Petrol pump is fully functional now and also work in winters. Availability in Leh is tremendously improved as well now for last few years.
The biggest problem is that, most of the tourist destinations within Ladakh are not near to Leh rather about ~150+ KMs away from Leh and a return journey will make them about ~300 KMs. You will be able to easily get away with it, if you are coming back to Leh every time you go to one or other destinations because you can get your vehicle refuelled and ~300 KMs trips can be managed in most bikes and car very easily. The problem is when some of us do not want to come back to Leh rather do circuits like, Leh – Nubra Valley – Pangong Tso – Leh or Leh – Pangong Tso – Tso Moriri – Leh or Leh – Nubra Valley – Pangong Tso – Tso Moriri – Leh etc. Such routes are not possible to be done without carrying spare fuel (petrol/diesel) along with tankful of fuel in the vehicle.
Listed below are some of the common long routes in Ladakh along with the approximate distances that you will be covering on them without any fuel (petrol/diesel) pumps:
- Leh – Nubra Valley – Pangong Tso – Leh via Wari La = 600 – 650 KMs
- Leh – Pangong Tso – Tso Moriri – Leh via Hanle = 650 – 700 KMs
- Leh – Nubra Valley – Pangong Tso – Tso Moriri – Leh = 900 – 950 KMs
- Leh – Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Sarchu – Keylong – Manali = 550 KMs
- Leh – Karu – Rumtse – Taglang La – Sarchu – Keylong – Tandi – Manali = 350 – 400 KMs
- Leh – Pangong Tso – Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Sarchu – Keylong – Tandi – Manali = 900 – 950 KMs
Hence, you can keep these routes in mind and plan to carry spare fuel with you based on the distance you will be traveling, if required. [highlight]In case you may run out of fuel on any of these routes,[/highlight] you can also try villages on these routes (especially Tangste, Chumathang, Khalsar, Deskit, Hanle, Pang etc.) where you may find the black diesel/petrol sold by the villagers, (of course, highly likely, with quality compromised) which can be handy in such odd circumstances.
I hope the above article will be useful in planning your trip to Leh – Ladakh by giving you a better idea when you might need to carry spare fuel (petrol/diesel) and how much based on the mileage your vehicle offers. In the next article, we will talk about the other important factor when self – driving in Leh – Ladakh, that is, the road conditions within Leh – Ladakh. If you have ever self-driven to Leh – Ladakh and have some valuable tips to share, please share it with us too, so that it could be helpful to other self-drive enthusiasts and fellow travellers planning their upcoming trip to Leh – Ladakh 🙂 …
P.S-> One good place to find some real helpful self-drive tips is respected Indian Highways encyclopaedic – HV Kumar’s Facebook Page linked here.