Many times readers at Devil On Wheels asks me, “What are the most important things to consider for a Ladakh trip?“. Well, mostly, it ends up being an open question with so many things to suggest and opens up a series of questions.
There are so many moving parts when you plan a Ladakh trip that one straight answer can never suffice. In remote parts of Himalayas, things can be very different from our day to day lives. Hence, it is always better not to make any assumptions or take things for granted, for example, assuming medical facilities will be around.
In this article today, I will share with you some of the most important things you should consider when you plan for a trip to Ladakh.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Things to consider when you plan a Ladakh Trip
In the recent past, I have already talked about the top 9 Mistakes People Commit on a trip to Ladakh and Top 12 Myths About Traveling to Ladakh. These articles pin pointedly talk about what you should care about and what you shouldn’t be caring about when you travel to Ladakh.
Today’s article is a simplified version of things everyone must consider when hopping on to this adventure deep into trans Himalayas.
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1. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
No matter how fit you are in your homeland, you must consider acclimatization as the most important factor for a successful trip to Ladakh. AMS does not matter concerning any age or sex or any fitness level. It can happen to anyone of any age or sex or fitness level, I shall say. I have personally seen the fittest of the fit kneel and cry like hell when AMS hits them.
So, do consider the principles as suggested by the acclimatization schedule and try to follow them to minimize the chances of getting hit with AMS which in result will spoil your Ladakh trip. You must read the article on tips about Acute Mountain Sickness.
2. Breakdown in the middle of nowhere
Most parts of the Manali Leh Highway, almost about 300+ km, run barren and desolate with no hint of civilization. You must be prepared for a breakdown in the middle of nowhere. You should expect it to happen and must have a contingency plan in place.
For example, puncture repair kits or puncture protections foams, especially for bikers, are life saviors. You must have enough food, drinking fluids/water, blankets/sleeping bags and maybe a backup tent in case possible, in order to survive for 2-3 days without any help.
When things go wrong, they do not knock the door, and hence, best is that you always prepare well in such remote regions. This situation is true for many desolate routes within Ladakh as well where it is difficult to spot a settlement and shelter for food and stay.
3. Lost connection with the world
Many parts of Ladakh and almost three-fourth of the Manali – Leh Highway does not have any phone connectivity or any means to connect with family or friends. You must consider that help will not be just a phone call away. Hence, you must be able to prepare yourself to survive for a few days on your own. Best is that you follow these 10 Tips about Mobile Phone Connectivity in Ladakh
4. Flash floods, landslides, snow slides or shooting stones
Landslides, snow slides, or shooting stones are part of a day to day lives of the Himalayas, including Ladakh. One must always expect to witness hardships or getting stuck for a few days due to any of these natural events. These events happen in the Himalayas, often enough.
Your trip can be delayed, canceled, or extended by any of these events. Hence, whenever you plan for a Ladakh trip, you must always plan to keep a day or two as buffer days.
5. Drive or Ride with Caution & Care
You must be a very good rider or driver in plains but the roads in Ladakh or other parts of trans-Himalayas are nothing like those roads. The faster you drive, the sicker the passenger feels. The margin of errors is minimal and lapse in concentration can cost you lives.
Due to loose gravel or ice, falling while riding is pretty common because people are so used to applying front brakes on bikes. It does not help at all as a minor injury could end up in a pretty ugly state because health care is not next to the corner in Ladakh. It may take a day or two to get the required medical attention or help in such cases. Hence, it is essential to ride or drive with very much caution and care, always !!
6. Availability of Medical Facilities
When traveling in Ladakh, medical help can be more than a day away. It is in your best interest to not to plan a trip to Ladakh if you already have any medical symptoms. Even untreated diarrhea can be fatal in Ladakh.
Hence, do not take any health symptoms lightly. You may be used to neglect it in your hometown where a Pharmacist or Doctor lives next door in most lanes of your city. However, it is not true when you travel to the remote corners of trans-Himalayas, including Ladakh. I always recommend carrying a basic medical kit with you and a consultation with your doctor before your Ladakh trip starts.
7. Losing Your Soul Forever
Last but not least, you might end up losing your soul forever in Ladakh. Like I said for myself, ever since I went to Ladakh about a decade back, it is the mere mortal body of mine that has just returned. My soul has been lost somewhere up in that heavenly place forever.
Every day when I close my eyes, my wandering soul in heaven transmits back the majestic vistas of Ladakh. Every day I wish I could go back to heaven in search of my soul and bring it back. However, I always overlook the fact that some things in this world are still impossible, and bringing back your soul from heaven is one of them.
Each time you visit Ladakh, you will fall more and more in love with the place, people and culture of Ladakh, no matter how harsh & tough the terrain is to survive. It is nothing but the MAGIC of the heaven named Ladakh. All my heart always says — There is no other place like Ladakh in this world…
I hope you will consider the things outlined above in the article while planning your Ladakh trip. I have tried to be simple and realistic, taking into accounts 10000s of people I communicate every season, which goes for the Ladakh trip. I am sure there are many more things which one must consider, but for the brevity of the article, I have tried to outline the most important ones.
Do you have any other suggestions which one must consider while traveling to Ladakh?? If yes, feel free to share them in the comments section of this article.
Also, do not forget to share this article with your friends/loved ones who are struggling with the things to consider for their first Ladakh trip.