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 inroads 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 a 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. You must account for about 65-70% mileage that you are used to getting in normal conditions. 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 Diskit, Nubra Valley town as well. As of 2016, Diskit petrol pump is fully functional now and also work in winters. Availability in Leh is tremendously improved as well now for last few years.
Pro Tip: If you are doing a self drive to Umling Las Pass and Leh – Ladakh, then make sure to read my article on 40 Must Have Things to Carry on a Self Drive Trip to the Himalayas
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 or relying upon the black fuel availability in remote villages.
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 = 650 – 700 KMs
- Leh – Nubra Valley – Pangong Tso – Tso Moriri – Leh = 900 – 950 KMs
- Leh – Nubra Valley – Pangong Tso – Hanle – Tso Moriri – Leh = 1025 – 1075 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
- Leh – Pangong Tso – Hanle – Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Sarchu – Keylong – Tandi – Manali = 1025 – 1075 KMs
- Leh – Hanle – Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Sarchu – Keylong – Manali = 700 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. In case you may run out of fuel on any of these routes, 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.
As an example, from Leh to Hanle to Umling La to Tso Moriri to Leh, you are looking for about 800 KMs. Now considering 13 ltrs of fuel capacity of a Royal Enfield 500cc bike, on a mileage of 25 KMPL in mountains, it will do 325 KMs but you need about 32 Ltrs. So, you will need to carry extra 20 ltr at least. You can do the math depending upon how you got the mileage in initial days of the trip while doing circuits from Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso etc.. I have just taken a tentative number which I believe should be but tweak the math accordingly. You can carry it in a spare backup vehicle/car or use two 10 ltr jerry cans, travel light and having the carrier on the bike.
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 🙂 …
And by the way for any questions you may still have about your Leh – Ladakh trip, feel free to post them under Ask A Question section of our website or using the ASK YOUR TRAVEL QUESTION form available below in the article. You can also post questions and connect with other fellow travelers in our community forums. In the end, if you have been to self drive trip to Ladakh before, kindly share your thoughts and other information you might feel is worth sharing with other fellow travelers and help them.
LAST UPDATED: 1st April 2018
This article has been updated with the latest information about fuel availability in Leh – Ladakh and is kept up to date every season to reflect the current status. Feel free to suggest any further updates you deem fit.