The 2019 Ladakh Travel Season is almost upon us and some of you must have started planning your trip to Ladakh. Therefore, here are 5 tips to help you make the most of your upcoming trip to Ladakh.
1. Travel on the Tangste – Erath route to Chushul. The Tangste – Erath route to Chushul is now officially open for tourists and even though it does not run along the Pangong Tso like the Lukung – Merak – Chushul route, it is still quite scenic and more importantly, in very good condition. Considering that vast majority of people will prefer to take the usual route to Chushul, this route is likely to see sparse tourist traffic this year, making it all the more special.
2. Explore the beautiful Mitpal Tso and Yeye Tso Lakes. Another route to open this year is the Chushul – Kaksang La –Mahe route and it should make for a far more interesting drive than the usual route through Chushul – Nyoma – Mahe. Of course, this route is more useful if you are planning to skip Hanle and travel to Tso Moriri from Pangong Tso. The road, of course, is not going to be as good as the one via Nyoma and tourist infrastructure is almost entirely lacking. So make sure you are prepared to travel through a desolate route.
3. This year, take the Agham-Shyok Route. There used to be a time when Agham-Shyok route (smaller and direct route from Nubra Valley to Pangong) used to be full of treacherous water crossings and bad road. However, things have changed drastically over the years and with the government officially declaring this route open for civilians; tourist traffic, as well as amenities along the route, are likely to increase this year. So if you are planning to travel to Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso, then make sure to take the Agham-Shyok route to save time and in order to drive along the beautiful yet deadly, Shyok River.
4. Skip Spangmik and stay at Merak instead. Spangmik and Merak Villages are situated on the banks of Pangong Tso. Even though Spangmik is easier to reach, thanks to less distance to cover from Leh and the good road up to it. Spangmik has become quite commercial and with the recent crackdown by Government on the camps located near the lake, staying at Spangmik is no longer as fun as it used to be. Add to this, tourist infrastructure at Merak has come a long way and there are now numerous guesthouses and homestays available. Yet, it is nowhere near as commercial as Spangmik. So if you are planning to stay near Pangong Tso and do not mind traveling a few kilometers on a bad road, then head to Merak, I am sure you will love it.
5. Avoid buying mineral water and refill your water bottles for free in Leh. The newly elected municipal corporation of Leh is planning to set up free water kiosks throughout Leh, in order to reduce the dependence of tourists on mineral water. Plastic mineral water bottles are a huge environmental threat for Ladakh and it is heartening to see the municipal corporation trying to reduce this hazardous waste. If all goes according to the plan, then these kiosks should be up and running by the beginning of this tourist season.
I have also made a few suggestions to help cut down dependence of mineral water usage to my friend and elected councilor, Mr. Deldan Gawa Otsal. Hopefully, these and more will be implemented in Ladakh soon and travelers will no longer have any reason to buy mineral water bottles, thereby reducing at least some of the negative impact of tourism on the environment.
In case you have any query about traveling to Ladakh, then make sure to write it in the comment section.