5 Reasons to Start Early & Sleep Early on a Ladakh Trip or Spiti Valley Trip

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In my last 10 years of traveling in the Himalayas including all my Ladakh trips or Spiti Valley trips, I have followed one key principle of mine “Start Early & Sleep Early”. It has not only helped me have numerous memorable trips to these remotest of the places in trans-Himalayas including Ladakh and Spiti Valley but it has ensured I had safe and sound travel in all those years.

Today I will like to share the reasons why I chose to start my day early and why I sleep early whenever I am traveling in the Himalayas. I am sure as it has helped me, these reasons will surely going to compel you too to follow it and are going to surely help you all too.

5 Reasons to Start Early & Sleep Early

Here, I will share the five reasons I start early and sleep early in a day while on a Ladakh trip or Spiti valley trip. I hope it will help you guys too and make your trips as memorable as it has made for mine.

Start Early & Sleep Early on a Ladakh Trip or Spiti Valley Trip
Start Early & Sleep Early on a Ladakh Trip or Spiti Valley Trip

Download your FREE high-resolution version pdf copy of this infographic guide detailing why you should follow Start Early & Sleep Early on a Ladakh Trip or Spiti Valley Trip. If, you liked it and found it helpful, please feel free to share it with your family and friends to help them too.

1. Workers come on the roads for road constructions especially on Spiti Valley Trip

The late you start in the day, the more delays you should expect. The workers on the roads come for repair/construction works and then there are scheduled road closures. Sometimes blasting of bi rocks triggers more landslides and hence, further delays are added to overall days. Overall it affects the time of travel in the day.

2. Sun comes up, snow melts causing landslides and ferocious water streams/nallas

As the sun comes up, the snow melts fast. This results in more landslides or snow slides later in the day. Also, the water level in the nallas or water crossings become high causing issues, especially to small cars. Sometimes the high water levels in the water crossings or a massive snow slide or landslide force you to halt your entire journey or trip at least for the day.

3. Sun comes up, the winds pick the pace too causing shooting stones

Shooting stones are one of the most dangerous of all concerns you should have while you are on a Ladakh trip of a Spiti valley trip as they are totally unpredictable and hard to locate/spot. The small stones come at a speed of a bullet and crash the windshields or side windows and sometimes triggers massive landslides too.

Shooting stones are common as you travel to Spiti Valley from Kinnaur side and when you travel to Nubra Valley from Leh. The later in the day you start, as the wind picks up speed the shooting stones become more common.

Sunset at Panchchuli Peaks from Munsiyari
Sunset at Panchchuli Peaks from Munsiyari

4. Adds contingency as you have more daylight, so more bargaining power too

If you start early in the day in the Himalayas, there is a high chance that you will reach with a good amount of daylight left in the day despite facing any unexpected delays too. In case, there are major delays you still have a contingency to reach your day’s place within safe time limits.

The early you reach your destination of the day in Ladakh or Spiti, the more stay options you will have for you to explore and hence, the better chance of getting a good, economic deal.

The hotel/stay guys do consider the fact that even if you DO NOT get a place to stay in one town, you have to option to travel further or explore more for better deals. Hence, mostly they do lend scope of bargaining as compared to someone who reaches the wee or odd late hours of a day.

5. Best colors to take pictures early in the morning, best colors in the evening when you settle down

The best part of following the principle of “Start Early & Sleep Early”, you wake up early giving you chance to capture early morning shots and the photo shots on the road in the early morning. And, when you reach your destination, you see the best of the colors again in the evening.

Most of us know that dusk and dawn are two most amazing time periods in a day to watch nature’s best colors painting themselves over vast landscapes of Ladakh or Spiti Valley or anywhere in the world. Hence, these are considered as the golden hours for photography too.

Furious water crossing on a Ladakh Trip
Furious water crossing on a Ladakh Trip

A Personal Account of Near-Death Experience

Let me share the story of my friend Rahul Bhutani (don’t forget to follow him on Instagram) who was kind enough to share his personal near-death experience from his bike ride to Spiti Valley.

After reading his story, you will realize the importance of why you should always leave early and call off your day early for safety reasons. Always remember that mountains may be calling you but they are the ones who will let you come back safely.

Here is what Rahul shares with us,

Entering the fear

So my first incident of “do or die” was on my bike ride to Spiti Valley. It was Day 2 for us as we started from Bhawa Nagar in Kinnaur Valley to Kaza. We were going slow and were only able to make it to Spello by 4 pm. The weather worsened and the locals asked as to not to go beyond Nako at any cost.

We thought we could do it. As we progressed towards Nako we entered the area of falling stones. The winds were so fast that my bike was being pushed on the side of the cliff by the force of the wind. Halfway was done and this was the view.

A view of Kinnaur Hills in bad weather
A view of Kinnaur Hills in bad weather

It was this moment when I realized that I and Nitish (my girlfriend’s brother) f**ked up. I had promised her that I am gonna keep her brother safe no matter what as he was riding on such roads of Kinnaur and Spiti for the first time. But at that moment I knew I gonna have to take nature’s wrath and stay strong so that he can stay calm. I acted like things are okay. It was already 5.50 PM 😯

Facing the fear

As we continued we reached the ever famous Khab bridge, the temperature just touched less than 5 degrees. And we took a small break there just to discuss our future course of action. And to message our loved ones that we are safe.

I was so scared that I had put my GoPro in the bag and to keep my focus only on him (Nitish) and his safety. This time I took the responsibility and kept him just behind me. We were elevating at a very high rate. Body shivering, fingers freezing, almost got frostbite, brain chocking.

We slowly made it to the top of that mountain of hairpin bends via Ka-zigs. And then snowfall started and it was almost dark by now. No signs of human, no signages, no signals. I did not know if I would be alive after 2 hrs or not.

This was it, that mountain looked more like a death mountain to me. And then we continued on the road. It all turned dark in a matter of minutes and I could only hear mine and Nitish’s bike’s engine sound and sound of the river flowing at the side. There were no roads, a very narrow patch just beside a very high cliff.

The mountain looked like the end in Kinnaur
The mountain looked like the end in Kinnaur

Overcoming the fear

We continued and continued and we reached a point where it was all fresh landslide and it took me 15-min to cross. It was already 7.40. then to our rescue, an angel came (definitely) he asked us about our route and told us that this route goes straight to Tibet you missed a turn 8 km back for Nako.

And then with no option left, we relied on him and continued. Nitish was disheartened to know and so was I. But I made him feel that’s it’s okay to miss a turn, its not the end of the world. We will reach soon. But trust me riding on narrow lanes in the pitch black condition really needed some balls. Even I was scared to death, even I thought of just staying there and leaving everything on the god’s mercy but my promise kept me moving.

Getting out of fear

We took the right turn this time and meanwhile the snowfall had intensified. It took us almost 1 hour to do that 20 km patch. It was so dark that even my headlights were useless. It was a high risk to ride in almost the absence of light. Whenever he tried to come at my level or to go ahead of me I shouted on him to stay behind me.

I was keeping an eye in the rearview mirror and one on the road. Then we crossed the nallah and I behaved like a cheerleader when he made it too. Just to keep him motivated. Because for all that period a small amount of pee was ready to dispense out of me. (No joke, I was scared to bits).

But then slowly and steadily we made it to Nako and found a homestay. The weather was horrendous and we were almost dead due to cold. We got into the room and informed everyone at home that we are both safe and sound. Then within the bed, I wiped the small number of tears in my eyes and told Nitish that “bhai meri h fati thi pure raste but bataya nahi” (I was scared to hell too but I did not tell you). 😂

That day I learned that in the Himalayas, it is always important to leave early and reach early. As the sun goes down you should find a shelter for yourself. Because one might not like to see the wrath of nature on mountains the way we did.

15 months have passed now and that night still sends chills through my body. That  near death adrenaline rush made me a better rider and a better person.

We woke up to this next morning 🙂

Bikes at Nako
Bikes at Nako

Conclusion

I hope the above reasons will compel you enough to follow my principle of “Start Early & Sleep Early” so as to enjoy your Ladakh trip or Spiti Valley trip at the fullest and watch some fabulous colors all around the trans-Himalayan range each day of your trip.

Special thanks to Rahul bhai for sharing his personal account on what can go wrong if you try to ignore this basic yet very important principle when traveling in the Himalayas.

Have a travel question?? You can follow me on Instagram and ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram too. I also conduct a weekly Q&A session every Saturday evening on Instagram, so see you there.

Do you have any other reason to “Start Early & Sleep Early” or have you experienced the same reasons while following such a principle? I would love to listen to them and learn from your stories. Of course, speaking out will help you help others fell travelers too. Feel free to share it with your friends too who are planning their next trip to Ladakh or Spiti Valley.

PS: These reasons are not just limited to a Ladakh trip or a Spiti Valley trip, rather I follow them at most places whenever I travel 😉

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Helping travelers, backpackers & tourists in planning memorable trips to the Himalayas - Smartly, Safely, Responsibly and Economically. I am in love with Spreading Smiles in the Himalayas through DoW Causes. You can read more about me in detail by checking out About Me section from the main menu.

23 Comments

  1. Comments section gets closed in 90 days. You can follow me on Instagram and ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram too. I also conduct a weekly Q&A session every Saturday evening on Instagram, so see you there !!

  2. Asheesh K Chopra on

    Hi Dheeraj!

    First of all, let me thank you for DoW …its an amazing place to all things connected to Ladakh travel.
    I am starting my first Ladakh trip next week. I have already planned one night each at Pangong and Tsomoriri, and plan to return to Leh via Tsokar. I have one more night at my disposal, and am wondering where to use that?…to add a second night at Pangong, or Tsomoriri Or to plan one night in Tsokar. Pls advise.
    Looking forward to a quick revert.
    Thanks in advance!

  3. puneet mangla on

    Hello Mr. Dheeraj
    You have always provided the valuable information. After reading your blogs last year i have visited Leh ladakh on a my personal car and your itinerary has helped me a lot.

    This year in 1st week of august i am planning to cover kaza, kunzum pass and chandratallake.

    I will start my trip on 31st July 2016 from Chandigarh and i want to travel via shimla as there will not be any problem of permits.

    1.Kindly suggest the itinerary I want to go via shimla, narkanda,rampur, kalpa, tabo,kaza, kunzum pass ,chnadrataal and then back to chandigarh via manali.
    2, no of days required
    3. Can i cover this with elite i20 /Scorpio.which one will be better???

  4. In the group of 6 people we are planning to go leh ladakh.. but we are so confused about how to reach famous places of leh. Without wasting time by general transportation available there.
    Har jagah ghumne k bd wapas leh jana pdega or fir waha se jao koi new place dekhne. B’coz sari bus services to leh se milegi. Kuch suggest kro please

    • Yes, you have to come back to Leh and then take buses to different places. There is no direct connectivity between places by public transport.

  5. Arihant Jain on

    Hi
    How early is it practical and safe to start the next day of the trip when in Kargil and Leh?
    Waiting for your reply

  6. Hi Dhiraj,

    Really liked your post and got a lot of information. Appreciated.

    I am also planning to visit lahaul spiti valley from 25 th june by my own SUV. Could you plz suggest what things I need to care about. Also what are the road difficulty ? Will I be able to drive there? Coz I never been to that place. Though I am from himachal itself (dharamshala) and driving since 2012. But any advice is appreciated.
    Thanks

  7. Dr Deepti Arya on

    Hi Dheeraj
    I m going for Leh Ladakh road trip nxt week…what will b d best option in footwears..As sports shoes will easily becum wet in water/waterfalls and doesn’t dry easily..don’t want to increase weight by taking 2/3 pairs..

    • Well, if you have or afford to buy a waterproof hiking pair of shoes nothing beats them. Else, if you will be on bike best is to carry fully covered floaters/sandals that protects your feet from all around.

    • Brijesh, it is not that easy as you have mentioned. All these rides and back breaking rides with only one petrol pump so fuel needs to be considered. Tso Moriri to Jispa and Jispa to Chandratal splitting needs to be done anyhow. So, one day is required for sure. Now, I am not sure if you ride for 6 Hrs, 11 Hrs, 12 Hrs, 12 Hrs, 9 Hrs, each of these 5 days, are you sure it will be worth the trip?

  8. Dheeraj Bhatnagar on

    Hi,
    I am planning gurgaon to leh on 15th june in my carolla Altis via srinagar and came back via manali. I am going alone.
    Need to know how will be weather at that time & kind of clothing I need to carry and what other things i have to taken care.
    Regards

    • Dheeraj, you should carry one heavy woollen jacket and rest light woollens shall be fine. The weather in general is OK during that time. For hatchback/sedan taking on Manali – Leh Highway Or Spiti Valley via Manali Or Ladakh, please refer the link: FAQ | Can I do Leh – Ladakh / Spiti / Manali – Leh trip in Hatchback or Sedan? for more details.

    • Dheeraj Bhatnagar on

      Hi,
      I am planning gurgaon to leh on 15th june in my carolla Altis via srinagar and came back via manali. I am going alone.

      Can i have to take permit for Nubra, Pangong etc. or where i can get it.
      Regards

  9. DR NARESH SHARMA on

    Hello Dheeraj, I’m reaching Leh on 31st May by flight. I’m planning to stay for one week. Need to know how will be weather at that time & kind of clothing I need to carry.I will be visiting siachen base camp( permission taken) & local sight seeing too.
    Regards

  10. Rahul Yadav on

    We are planning to take bike on rent from manali and visit spiti valley &chandratal lake.
    Also can lahaul be visited .
    We have 5 days to start and come back to manali.
    Estimateed costing.
    Can you help with the route to follow with maximum sightseeing.
    PS:-5 bikes and 10 people in all.
    Also if you can tell the danger involved.
    Thanks and Regards.

  11. Manav Chawla on

    Please post an article on how to make a duet bike trip more comfortable or some tips for a duet bike trip (like how to carry luggage, etc.)


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