As the winter settles in Leh Ladakh, the most common question that adventure travelers start to ask is “How to make a winter trip to Ladakh??”. A winter trip to Ladakh is something to be carefully planned because one wrong move can leave you in a life-threatening situation amidst harsh cold conditions.
I have already shared a detailed article that outlines the travel plan for a winter trip to Leh Ladakh, which you can refer to as the starting point for planning this adventurous journey. In this article today, I will try to provide some valuable tips to all of you so that you can smoothly plan your trip to Ladakh in winter.
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Let's quickly dive into the details:
Why Leh – Ladakh in Winters?
Most of the high mountain passes start getting snowfall by late October – November. Heavy snowfall closes both the roads to Ladakh, that is, Srinagar to Leh and Manali to Leh.
The journey over Srinagar – Leh Highway and especially the Manali – Leh Highway gets very risky to travel by October end due to snowfall at high mountain passes, the 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.
The only option to travel to Leh Ladakh in winters after October is to directly fly to Leh from Delhi.
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, 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 supercars 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 trip as locals have closed their eyes, and they don’t come forward to beat the shit out of such jack 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 the Himalayas.
Winter Trip to Ladakh – Important Tips
Given below are some special tips for making a winter trip to Ladakh in the 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 the importance of acclimatization and tips to better acclimatize before venturing to further high altitude in Ladakh. 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.
When traveling to Ladakh in winters, keeping your body hydrated is a challenge. 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 supports in fighting the cold.
You should go prepared to Ladakh in winter with the heavy woolens clothing, keep yourself covered all the time and do now expose body parts to cold especially the chest and next areas. Wrap muffler around your neck to keep warm or keep zippers of jackets closed to cover your neck. Remember that if you get hit by cold, then there could be issues in acclimatization as well.
2. Carry good sleeping gears
It is always good that you carry your sleeping bag, rated at least 0 to -10 degrees Celsius when making a winter trip to Ladakh. Otherwise, you can buy a fleece sleeping bag that 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 anyhow that can act as further layers over it. You can check this sleeping bag in case interested Quechua S5 Light Right Zip Adult Sleeping Bag
There will be guest houses or homestays offering quilts and blankets and at times heater if you are lucky with power availability, but your sleeping bag will surely provide you that mental satisfaction of survival in such cold conditions. 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 to visit this lake then better stay at Chumathang which is a much warmer place in comparison to other nearby places to Tso Moriri Lake.
3. Prepare your budget well, expect least from stays or food and carry enough cash
Do not expect many discounts as most of the hotels or accommodation options will be closed for winter in Ladakh. The stay options which will be open, may charge almost the same amount of tariff and sometimes more to include heating facilities these hotels provide during winters, of course, that 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. At these places, you will have to rely on basic guest houses or homestays which are run by the local families in winter.
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 want to walk down the lanes in Leh in bone freezing conditions.
So, check for sure about the availability of food before fixing the deal. You should also check how they are charging you, 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 😉 on your adventure trip to Ladakh in winter. Maybe just Lamayuru and Gesmo restaurants will be open in Leh’s main market among the other well-known restaurants in Leh.
Do not depend upon ATMs as they might not be functional due to lack of power or less cash. Hence, carry enough cash with you to complete the Ladakh trip.
4. Prepare a decent budget for transport too
Continuing from stays, taxis will mostly be available as personal taxis only on your winter Ladakh trip. Shared taxis will be rare to spot, and most buses also discontinue the services to tourist places in Ladakh. There will be fewer tourists and hence very less possibility to get shared tourist taxis to share such costs in winters.
Prepare your budget accordingly, keeping in mind that you might need to rent a private taxi and the taxi prices like we all know are quite hefty in Leh – Ladakh. You can check the latest Ladakh taxi union rates and get in touch with local drivers directly. You can get about 10-15% of discount by directly getting in touch with drivers and of course, talking in person rather on the phone always help in bargaining more.
As it will be winter in Ladakh, with the lack of tourists around there is no need to pre-book any taxis, what I feel personal.
5. Plan at least a 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 make sure that there are no signs of heavy snowfall for that very day or coming days. Otherwise, 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 calculated risks after seeing weather conditions even if the roads will open soon when snowfall resides but it is always best to keep the overall plan for winter Ladakh trip safe as well 🙂 🙂
It is always better to keep a couple of buffer days for such abrupt snowfall contingencies as many times it also snows in Leh resulting in the cancellation of flights. Hence, always good to have a couple of buffer days to be spent in Leh or making a day trip to 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 making a trip to Ladakh in winter in this article, do not forget to enjoy the magnificent shades of infinite landscapes and endless horizons covered with the 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 many tourists around, you can enjoy the places, monasteries along very very hospitable people of Ladakh in a calm, peaceful and relaxed manner.
Don’t have time to read the full article? Check this less than 3-minute video on DevilOnWheels YouTube Channel these six important tips about a winter Ladakh trip. If you like my video, please do not forget to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel.
Well, I hope the above tips for making a winter trip to Ladakh will help you with your upcoming trip. I will look forward to any questions or doubts in the comments section of the article. If you have any valuable suggestions or inputs which you would like to share with fellow travelers to help them, please leave them in comments, and I will update the article accordingly.
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LAST UPDATED: Jan 2020 This article has been updated with the latest information about making a winter trip to Ladakh. It is kept up to date every season to reflect the current status. Feel free to suggest any further updates you deem fit that I may have missed.