Nubra Valley is one of the MUST VISIT places in Ladakh especially if you are visiting for the first time. It is among the sub-districts in Ladakh, located in the North East side having Diskit Village as its main headquarters.
Diskit is situated about 120 odd KMs from Leh town which is the main capital of Ladakh district. The Shyok river, a tributary of Indus river, meets the Nubra or Siachen river to form a large valley that separates the Ladakh and Karakorum Ranges. The ultra-wide landscapes, humongous mountain faces, lovely trails, a wide variety of colors and musical Shyok river flowing midst the valley will take your breath away at first sight.
Since it is near to the Line of Actual Control, you need to get Inner Line Permit to visit Nubra Valley, both as an Indian and foreigner.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Nubra Valley in Ladakh
The major attraction of a trip to Nubra is traveling over the so-called or hyped, falsely claimed highest motorable road, Khardung La Pass. Nubra Valley is an ideal place to fit into the acclimatization schedule of your Ladakh trip once you reach Leh because it is at a lower altitude than Leh, at an average altitude of 10000 Feet or 3048 Mtrs
Please note that climbing to a very high altitude of Khardung La from Leh and then sleeping at a low altitude of Nubra Valley DOES HELP tremendously in acclimatization.
Thus, apart from the magnificent vistas on offer, Nubra Valley has a hidden advantage a acclimatization as well which will eventually help your trip be more successful.
No wonder, if you are missing on this part of Ladakh on your trip, you are almost missing out on the heart of your Ladakh trip.
Diskit, the main headquarters in Nubra Valley is located about 120 KMs from Leh town of Ladakh district.
Nubra Valley has an average altitude of about 10000 Feet or 3048 Mtrs.
Best Time to Travel
Similar to what we learned about the best time to travel to Leh Ladakh, in the months of January to March, Nubra Valley remains shut down in cold snow conditions. Only a few options are available to stay and open to welcome guests.
In April, some guest houses start to open up but the food does remain an issue in most places. You have to mostly rely on homestays or guest houses and home cooked food only. You can see apricot flowers blooming all over Nubra Valley in April.
Then comes the months of May, June, July, and August which is the peak tourist season in Ladakh. You can find all accommodation options open with full staff and support even in Nubra Valley during these months of the year.
Come September and early October, the tourists start to reside as the cold starts to set in and accommodation starts to pack up too. According to me, this is by far the best time to visit Nubra Valley to see the full glory of the burning colors of Ladakh with clouds hovering like candies in the blue sky.
The colors are purely magical at this time of the year and with less number of tourist comparatively, you get better deals at hotels and you enjoy more. So, you kill two birds at once.
After the third week of October up to December, mostly all the accommodation options packs up except the small guest houses or home stays and very few hotels. However, the situation of accommodation options in Nubra Valley in winters as well is not that bad as compared to Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri lakes, where only a few homestays run with very basic facilities.
How to Reach Nubra Valley – Ladakh
Route from Leh to Nubra
Below is the most general route to Nubra from Leh that most people usually follow. You can reach in about 5 – 6 Hrs depending upon the number of breaks you take in between and of course at Khardung La.
Do try to ensure you do not stay more than 15 minutes at Khardung La as you will start to get hit with AMS because the body cannot cope up with that high altitude, so quickly in the trip, for that long.
The route to Nubra Valley from Leh along with the distance between the subsequent places is as follows:
Leh – Khardung La Pass (40 KMs) – Khardung Village (34 KMs) – Khalsar (23 KMs) – Diskit (19 KMs) = 116 KMs
You can cover Diskit & Hunder on the first day, irrespective of the fact where you are staying between these two places. Then, you can plan to cover Sumur & Panamik while you are returning from Nubra Valley. So, if you are one of those who prefer relaxing vacation and does not want to rush through places then, I will suggest you make a three day trip to Nubra Valley and include Turtuk in the plan too.
Of course, I assume your body has been acclimatized properly by staying for a couple of nights in Leh before attempting to climb Khardung La pass and come over to Nubra Valley. If you are short on time then you can just make a two-day trip covering Diskit, Hunder, Sumur, and Panamik on the flow of travel to and from Leh.
There is a direct route between Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso as well and people have started using that route to travel directly to Pangong Tso from Nubra Valley nowadays.
As of 2016, the fuel pump at Diskit is mostly operational even in winters.
There are several bus services that run within Nubra Valley and multiple buses are present running between Leh and Nubra Valley. You can always refer to the detailed Leh to Nubra Valley Bus Services schedule and timetable.
The higher ground clearance vehicles are preferable and 4×4 ones generally not required. However, quite a few people do it in hatchbacks and sedans as well. But, it depends upon your skills to drive and road conditions at the time of travel when you take a hatchback or a sedan.
Suggested Itinerary for Nubra Valley
Generally, at least one night stay is preferable to truly witness the mesmerizing beauty of Nubra Valley. Of course, one night stay will help you ride the Bacterian Camels over Sand Dunes of Hunder around sunrise and sunset (ie cooler conditions) that increase the charm of your vacation to further extent. Most people, generally do:
Day 1 | Leh – Khardung La – Diskit – Hunder
- Head for Nubra Valley and stay overnight at Hunder / Diskit
- On the way enjoy a cup of soup at Highest Motorable Pass (as claimed) Khardung La
- Diskit has monasteries with tallest lord Buddha statue and Hunder has sand dunes and bacterian camel safari
Day 2 | Hunder / Diskit – Sumur – Panamik – Sumur – Khardung La – Leh
- Sumur has a Samstanling monastery to check out nearby
- Panamik has hot water springs and a sacred Yarab Tso lake
- Overnight at Leh
You MUST add a day to your schedule and go ahead to visit Turtuk, about 95 KMs from Diskit. Turtuk was opened in 2010 for domestic tourists and in 2013 for foreign tourists. It is an amazing place, quite different from the rest of the landscape in Nubra Valley and houses a different affinity for culture too.
Accommodation Options at Nubra Valley – Ladakh
I will not go into the details of them as you can always refer my comprehensive list of Good Hotels or Accommodation in Nubra Valley.
Places to Visit in Nubra Valley
You can visit the following places in Nubra Valley for your 2-3 day trip from Leh. I will try to explain these places in detail in some other article just to maintain the brevity of this article.
- Diskit: Diskit has a monastery which is largest and oldest Buddhist monastery in Nubra Valley and houses a 106 feet tall Maitreya Buddha statue. There is Lachung Temple as well which is quite close to the monastery.
- Hunder: It is famous for its sand dunes and double-humped bacterian camel safari.
- Sumur: Somewhere between Sumur and Kyagar, you can visit Samstanling monastery.
- Panamik: It has hot water springs and a sacred Yarab Tso lake nearby the entrance of the village.
- Turtuk: Opened for tourists in 2010, Turtuk offers a much different landscape and cultural orientation than the rest of the Nubra Valley. You can see apricot trees loaded around the entire village with views closer to Karakorum range. If you have time, a MUST VISIT place in Nubra Valley.
Warshi – Tyakshi Villages
Now we as Indian tourists can also travel up to Warshi village in Nubra Valley which is ahead of Panamik on the way towards Siachen Base Camp.
You can hence cover Yarma Gompa & Yarma Gonboo monasteries if you like to visit them which falls upon this route. The route goes like Panamik – Taksha – Sasoma – Warshi, which is about 39 KMs ahead of Panamik. As per Nubra Valley permits, you do not need any special permits for this route as well. Siachen base camp is still out of sights for permissions to civilians.
From Hunder side in Nubra Valley, you can travel all the way up to Tyakshi village ahead of Turtuk from where you can see the Indo-Pak borderline.
Diskit Village has a hospital where you will be able to get basic medical aid and treatment.
Food Joints in Nubra Valley
Most of the time you will be eating out in Hotels or Camps or Guest Houses or Homestays you will be staying. However, there are dhabhas or eating joints at Khalsar and Khardung villages where people generally stop for lunch while on the way to or from Leh.
Phone Signals in Nubra Valley
BSNL Postpaid Connection does work like a charm in most parts of Nubra Valley with some loss of signal at few places though.
Do not forget to refill petrol/diesel at Leh petrol pump. Update 2016: Things have improved and the petrol pump at Deskit, Nubra is mostly found in working condition nowadays even in winters.
You will not find any ATMs in Nubra Valley and hence, it is always better to carry cash from Leh (the only place where you find ATM in Ladakh) itself.
Nubra is a must have a place to visit and I am sure when you visit Leh Ladakh, this one surely is not the place you would like to exclude from itinerary of Leh Ladakh trip. I hope the above information will be useful for your upcoming trip to Ladakh.
Please feel free to post any questions or doubts you might have in planning your trip to Ladakh in the comments section below. If you have been to Nubra Valley, do you agree to the points shared in this article?
Do share your thoughts and other information you might feel will be worth sharing with other fellow travelers and help them.