It’s that time of the year when not taking a vacation is not an option! For the sun bathin’, margarita sippin’ individuals, usually South-East Asia or Europe is their first choice. For those who seek adventure, a Ladakh road trip is always on their bucket list. Who doesn’t want to experience driving through snow-clad mountains, rugged roads and get lost in a world so different from any other spot in the world, right?
When my husband and I started planning the trip, we were subjected to a lot of discouragement from our friends and family. From low oxygen levels to no roads and blinding turns, we heard it all. I was a bit sceptical at first but decided to give it a go. The journey, like they said, was exhausting, excruciating and enchanting. What we came back with was a heart and a camera full of memories and some amazing tips to share with others planning the trip.
Planning to experience the world's most thrilling, scenic and adventurous road trip to Ladakh? Here's a list of 14 things you must know before planning a trip to Leh Ladakh.
1. Rohtang Pass, the gateway to Leh Valley is open only from June to October. You need to plan your trip within these five months.
2. Be prepared to stay in camps. You will not find hotels anywhere except for Leh. Be open to no electricity after 7, little to no water and basic dal for dinner every single day of your trip.
3. Drink lots of water. At least 5-6 litres every day. Soak garlic in a bottle overnight and drink this water in the morning. It’ll help with the low oxygen levels and altitude sickness.
4. Nature can be unpredictable. A landslide could hold you up for hours. Be spontaneous and open to last-minute changes in the plan.
5. It also goes without saying, but keep your car/bike stocked with water, chocolates and other eatables at all times. You need the energy and in case you’re held up in the middle of nowhere, you should have basic supplies with you.
6. When driving to the Leh valley, layer up. One moment there is harsh sunlight, the next moment it’s snowing. The weather changes continuously and quickly. Keep your mufflers and caps handy and dress in layers so you can be comfortable at all times.
7. Buy yourself a pee buddy. Don’t expect to find a lot of (hygienic) washrooms on the way. Considering you need to drink a lot of water to keep yourself hydrated, you will end up needing to pee frequently.
8. Make sure your car/bike is well stocked with everything you need in case of a breakdown. A spare tire, rope for towing and other necessary tools.
9. We’ve all seen this famous signboard - Fuel up here and don’t forget to carry a jerry can, just in case.
10. Take long walks outside your camp. It helps your body acclimatize.
11. Delete any unnecessary apps and photos from your phone. You’ll want to capture every single moment and the ever-changing scenery. No amount of memory space is enough, trust me!
12. You can’t laze around on a road trip to Leh Ladakh. Journeys start early so you can reach your next destination before sundown. In fact, if you don’t want to be stuck at Rohtang Pass on your way in, be there by 4 am.
13. Whether you have Vodafone, Airtel or Jio, you will be disconnected from the rest of the world. Don’t expect 4G or Wifi too. I suggest you make your calls when you’re leaving from Manali. It’s only when you reach Leh - after 2-3 days, that you will get some reception on your phone.
14. Even Indian nationals need inner line permits to visit certain places in the Leh Ladakh region. Get your permits and vehicle papers in place before you embark on the journey.
If you found these tips useful, then you definitely need to read this detailed piece that I wrote about my road trip to Leh Ladakh. Bon voyage!
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