Leh Ladakh Vacation Planning

This was one trip I always wanted to do. Having heard a lot about its majestic beauty it was always a dream for all of us who planned this journey in early July 2012. This part of the country is extremely beautiful and would urge everyone to plan this journey atleast once in a lifetime.

I would like to share my research and experience we gathered during the planning phase of this trip. Perfect planning is the key to an awesome vacation
– once in a lifetime for most of us.

  • Budget: Anything from 20-50 k INR depending on your duration and comfort opted
  • Planning Phase: Atleast 2-3 months of advance bookings to get the best rates
  • Best time of the year to visit: May – September

There are couple of ways to reach the city of Leh as compared to only road within the Ladakh district:

By Air: Leh has an airport, one of the highest airport at 3,256 meters and is heavily patrolled by the Indian Army. Most of the flights take off and land only during morning hours due to the presence of mountain winds in the afternoon. Flight tickets are a little expensive check them out on www.kayak.com

By Road: Two major national highways – Both of them are open only for about 4 months May to October/November

  • Leh – Manali (NH 21) and
    • This is more dangerous road and is opened (thrown open for vehicles) quite late into May every year, as the snow clearance takes some time. But at the same time, this is a more scenic route. Another challenge taking this road is reaching Manali, which takes more than 2 days off your iternarary right away!! You tend to take a lot of road already till you reach Manali. Flying options are limited and bumps up your budget.
  • Leh – Srinagar (NH 1 D)
    • This opens up much more earlier than the NH 21, mostly by week of April. Only dangerous section on this road is the Zojila pass and also drives close to the border line with the neighbouring country, Pakistan. This is a more preffered route as reaching Srinagar is few hours time of flight and you can enjoy the pristine Srinagar city too. Being a frequent route, cheaper and better options for flying are available to Srinagar

Remember to book your vehicle for transport in both the roads you intend to take as vehicles registered in Leh/Ladakh are the only vehicles which can take you there! A Xylo/Innova/Tavera are the major available options.

The best time for the vacation duration can be split as follows:

  • Option 1 – Manali – Leh by Road:
    • 1 day in Manali – local sight seeing
    • 2 days for travel to Leh – with a night halt midway
    • 4-5 days in Leh
      • Major sights in Leh are Pangong Lake, Nubra Valley, Leh City, Nearby locations
  • Option 2 – Srinagar – Leh
    • 1 day in Srinagar – Local sight seeing and boat ride in Dal Lake
    • 2 days for travel to Leh – night halt at Kargil
    • 4-5 days in Leh

Getting to Leh and Out from there are important aspects of your planning and once you get those right, you should have the perfect plan ready. If you are travelling by road to Leh, I would recommend to fly out from Leh as it would cost the same (2 days travel as compared to the high cost of flying out). Alternatively, if you have flown in to Leh directly, you can opt to take the road to Manali and then down to Delhi.

Once you get yours In and Out planned in the iternarary, getting a sight seeing scheduled for within city limits is not an issue. Follow the below guidelines for your reference and a good trip:

  • Primary reason why I would recommend a drive into Leh is to for acclitimisation. The road journey would ensure you are not exposed to sudden altitude increase in a day and you gradually move up to 3 k meters!
  • Keep the first day and the last day of the iternarary unplanned and just sit back and relax. This helps for your body to get used to the change on the first day and just relax on the last day before descending.
  • Carry a First aid kit box and dont forget to take a strip of Diamox for your entire family – to be administered only in cases of emergency. Read the wiki page on altitude sickness for quick reference. A normal healthy person will not face any issues but our bodies dont obey us.. do they??
  • Change your diet while on the trip: Keep your body well hydrated, increase intakes of butter/cheese. Juices will help further hydrate your body. Try Kava, salted tea etc the local favored drinks for a change in taste – I am not kidding they are worth a try!

With this I complete my first post in Getaway’s planning! Let me know your thoughts. I will be posting individual Getaways in Leh in seperate posts.. Hang on the blog for now!

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