Ladakh, the northern most part of India and now a Union Territory shares a border with China on one side and Pakistan on another. Over the past decade, Ladakh has become a major tourist destination and for the right reasons. It’s stunning landscapes, high passes, rich Buddhist history and of late the wildlife, has made Ladakh a must visit on every traveler’s bucket list. Visit and follow our Instagram page to see photos from Ladakh and other destinations we cover.
Ladakh roadtrip along the Indus River
In Ladakh one can stay in the home of a local Ladakhi family or resorts and hotels suiting all kinds of travelers. However, the personal attention, home cooked Ladakhi food and overall hospitality offered by a local family is spectacular and many choose that over a typical hotel. In some remote places like Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri where the weather is in-hospitable for more than six months in a year, most of the accommodation offered is in tented camps with attached bathrooms.
Ladakh has become extremely popular thanks to the blockbuster Bollywood movie – Three Idiots starring Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor. Since it’s release, tourists from all over India have begun to visit Ladakh especially Pangong Tso where parts of the movie were filmed with the background of the lake’s astonishing blue water.
Snow clad even in the Summer
If this is your first time in Ladakh and you plan to visit several destinations, I recommend planning a trip for at least 08 (eight) nights. If anyone says anything less than eight, then in my opinion they have not personally been to Ladakh and have no clue what they’re up against. Why? Because anyone who flies in to Leh MUST (no matter how fit you are) acclimatise to the reduced oxygen levels for at least 48 hours before they start their roadtrip in the region. During these 48 hours you are encouraged to lay low, catch up on sleep, watch movies or read. If you are suffering from respiratory or heart related ailments you should consult your doctor before traveling to Ladakh.
Unfortunately, many people ignore these warnings and their trip is cut short when they suffer from high altitude sickness. Visitors end up in a hospital in Leh and in some instances have to fly back to Delhi for emergency medical attention. So please, rest up for a couple days and then make your way in. Don’t rush it or else you will ruin it for everyone.
Ladakh’s colorful landscapes
Traditional Ladakhi attire with our Ladakhi hosts
Please note that most of the places you will be visiting in Ladakh other than Leh may not have wifi or television and your phones most likely will not get 4G data speed either.
Ideal time to visit Ladakh is May to September, if you can brave the cold and snow then you can visit earlier or later as well. People interested in visiting Ladakh for snow leopard expeditions ideally visit Ladakh in the winter when the elusive cat follows it’s prey to lower altitudes.
Suggested Itinerary (will be customized to your requirements)
• Fly in to Leh airport. There are several early morning flights from Delhi. Pick up from airport to your hotel in Leh or Shey.
• Rest up and refrain from strenuous activities for 48 hours at minimum.
• It is very important that you don’t exert yourself during the first couple of days, no push ups, attempted hikes or acts of machoism no matter how fit you may think you are. Your body needs a couple of days (at-least) to acclimatise to the oxygen levels at high altitudes of 10,000 feet ASL (above mean sea level).
• Breakfast and dinner (as per your package) at the homestay / hotel, over night in Leh.
Guided tour across Ladakh
• After breakfast, we visit the 17th century Hemis Monastery. Enroute we drive along the scenic Indus river.
• We also visit Shey Monastery which has stunning views of Shey village and surrounding mountains.
• Post lunch, visit the amazing Thiksey Monastery which is on top of a hill a few minutes drive from Shey.
• Meals (as per your meal plan) at the homestay / hotel, over night in Leh.
• After breakfast, we drive further away from Leh and visit the ancient monasteries of Alchi and Lamayuru. Lamayuru is also called Moonland due to the terain resembling the surface of the moon. Not only will ancient Tibetan architecture and wood work in Alchi monastery leave you speechless but so will the unbelievable landscape of Lamayuru.
• We also visit Sangam – the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers and Magnetic Hill. I will let our local driver explain to you what Magnetic Hill is really all about 🙂
• Breakfast and dinner (as per your meal plan) at the hotel, over night in Leh.
Lamayuru also known as Moonland
Our guests at Khardung La Pass with our Local Hosts
• After an early breakfast, check out of your hotel on a four day road-trip. First leg of the trip will be Turtuk village in Nubra district.
• On the way to Turtuk, we stop briefly at Khardung La which is one of the highest motorable mountain passes in the world (17,500 feet ASL). Have tea or coffee at one of the tea shops and witness the snowfall if you’re lucky.
• Turtuk village and a few other villages were once in Pakistan but India took over control after Pakistan lost the war in 1971. Turtuk is a small village with criss-crossing streams, pedestrian-only friendly tracks, fruit orchards, walnut trees and the mighty Shyok river flowing through the valley. In Turtuk pay attention to the locals, some are very shy and not camera friendly. You will notice that they have different features, some even have blue eyes. That’s because they belong to the Baltistan region and are known as Baltis, an ancient tribe originating from Tibet.
• Over-night stay in Nubra or Turtuk (dinner and breakfast included at the homestay/tented camp).
Nubra Valley Hundar Sand Dunes
• After breakfast, explore Nubra Valley, visit Diskit Monastery and or Turtuk Village
• Nubra valley is famous for it’s sand dunes, desert like landscape and the Bactrian camel. Bactrian camels are double-humped camels found in India, only in the region of Ladakh. They were once wild but now all you see are tamed domesticated camels. Back in the day these camels were used for carrying merchandise on the Silk Route. Today, with faster modes of transportation the poor species has been reduced to providing joy rides and entertainment to tourists. I personally do not like to ride captive animals but I leave it to you to decide if you want to partake in this activity.
• If the camel ride is not your thing, then you can spend more time visiting the Diskit Gompa, one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh. It has amazing views of the entire Nubra valley.
• Over-night stay in Nubra Valley (dinner and breakfast as per your meal plan).
Bactrian Camel on highway to Leh
Pangong Tso Salt Lake at the border with China
• After breakfast, drive to Pangong Tso (Tso = Lake). It’s a long bumpy ride so brace yourselves. Pangong Tso is the same lake which was made famous in the movie Three Idiots. India shares the lake with China who controls approximately 60% to 70% of it. This lake is at an elevation of over 14,000 feet ASL. Please wear warm clothes including inners as the temperature in Pangong Lake is known to fluctuate without prior notice. Drink lots of water at regular intervals to keep yourself hydrated and to prevent high altitude sickness.
• Explore the lakeside, (never) get tired of taking pictures.
• If you’re in to birdwatching you might get to see some birds at the Lake.
• Over-night stay in a tented campsite near Pangong Lake (dinner and breakfast as per your meal plan).
• Time to say goodbye to Pangong Lake, make your way back to Leh.
• This too is a long bumpy journey but the views are spell-bounding and completely worth it.
• Breakfast and dinner (as per your meal plan) in Leh.
• Check out and drop off to Leh airport.
• Please call +919717148483 or email email@example.com for a customized quotation.
• Your quotation will typically include room and board for two people for 08 (eight) nights, two meals (breakfast and dinner) daily, transportation in an Innova or an SUV with an experienced local driver, Ladakh inner line permits and taxes.
• Your quotation will not include airfare, lunch, personal expenses, medical or travel insurance, emergency evacuation and entry tickets to historical places and museums.
Three Idiots – Pangong Lake
• If you are a diplomat living in India, please check with your embassy / consulate for obtaining Restricted Area Permits prior to visiting Ladakh.
• Indian currency (including bills in 100 & 500 denominations) for personal expenses. ATMs are mostly in Leh and sometimes out of cash. Payment by cards is possible in Leh only
• Carry warm clothing, gloves, scarf, warm hat (it will be below zero or below degrees Celcius in Pangong Lake and some other places) and a sturdy pair of walking shoes.
• Backpack or a strolley (optional) for the four day road-trip to Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake. We can arrange for the rest of your belongings to be stored in a luggage room in the hotel while you’re on this four day trip.
• Valid photo ID and copies of it along with a few passport size photos. You will need these for getting inner line permits to visit places close to the border with China and Pakistan. If you’re not an Indian citizen, you need to carry your passport and/or resident Indian permits and clear copies of it.
• Caps, hats or vizors, sun block, sun glasses and lip balm.
• Cameras, battery charger and memory cards and binoculars (recommended)
• Books or magazines, download movies / videos on your Ipad or other gadgets.
• Toilet paper, hand soap, hand sanitizer and face masks
• Munchies, nuts, chocolates and other ‘fancy’ food items.
• Medication for common ailments and a valid medical insurance policy.
• High altitude sickness medication (consult with your GP / doctor before purchasing any medication that is used for treating high altitude sickness).
• If you have any respiratory issues or are known to suffer from high altitude sickness, then please consult with your doctor before traveling to Ladakh.
• Please do not throw trash on the floor when don’t see a trash can. You may dispose off your trash when you reach your hotel.
• Lastly, please do not swim in the lakes and feed local wildlife in Ladakh.