With summer only a couple of months away, traveling season to Ladakh is about to begin and already there are a lot of people planning out itineraries and looking for partners to travel to travel to Ladakh with.
So here are 5 basic points you should know, if you are planning to travel to Ladakh:
1. Roads connecting Leh and Ladakh with rest of India are open from June to the middle of October. And while road opening is completely dependent on weather and at times roads do open up by the middle of May and stay open even till the middle of November, it is more of an exception than a norm and usually such extended periods are plagued by traffic disruptions due to landslides and avalanches.
Add to that, Srinagar – Leh highway not only opens up earlier than the Manali route, it also stays open for longer than the Manali route and usually has fewer disruptions and closures during the season.
2. Ladakh is situated at an extremely high altitude and thus those traveling to it (whether by road or air) are susceptible to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), which occurs due to lack of oxygen at high altitude and can at times be fatal!
So if you are planning to travel to Ladakh, then make sure to read about AMS, carry and take medicine like Diamox (check with your doctor first), keep yourself hydrated at all times and in case of severe discomfort, contact the nearest health center or army base (they usually have qualified doctors willing to help travelers in need).
Another thing to keep in mind is that Manali – Leh highway is at a higher altitude than Srinagar – Leh highway and thus traveling to Ladakh via the Srinagar route should ensure more gradual acclimatization than traveling via Manali route.
Those flying in to Leh should spend at least couple of nights in Leh, before heading out to high altitude passes and places like Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri etc..
3. Travelers need Inner Line Permit to travel to places like Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Marsimik La, Tso Moriri, Dah-Hanu Villages etc.. Inner Line Permit is issued by the DC office in Leh on working days and all Indians can obtain by filling out the necessary form and attaching photocopy of a government issued photo identity card. Inner Line Permit can also be arranged through guest house or travel agents in Leh.
Foreigners and NRIs need Restricted Area Permit, for which they need to go through a travel agent. Furthermore, they cannot travel to areas along the LAC eg. Chushul, Hanle, Chumur etc.
4. Due to security reasons, only postpaid connections from outside J&K work in Ladakh, with BSNL providing the widest connectivity.
5. Taxis from outside Leh aren’t allowed on the tourist circuit of Ladakh i.e. if you are taking a taxi from another state or even Srinagar, it won’t be able to take you to places like Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri etc. and you would need to hire a taxi from the Leh Taxi Union. Add to that, in order to travel to Zanskar Valley, one needs to hire a Kargil Taxi Union Taxi from Kargil and then hire a Padum Taxi Union taxi for local sightseeing and return to Kargil!
In case you are traveling in your own vehicle, then the above tip is redundant for you, hence here is point no. 5 for all those traveling in their own vehicles:
5. Fuel availability in Ladakh is sketchy at best and although you can find fuel in black in majority of the towns, it is best to tank up at Leh, since places like Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri do not have any fuel pumps and even the petrol pump at Diskit is often out of fuel!