Itinerary and Checklist for Ladakh: By Air

Hello my lovely friends,

As I see many of my friends missing me ;), pinging me randomly almost every second day to inquire about Ladakh. Therefore to make things easy, I have decided to put down this blog, sharing the basic do’s and don’ts. Hope this will be of help. Not to add that Iam always at your disposal 😉

Road to Heaven :)

Road to Heaven 🙂

Ladakh: the land of high passes or should I say God’s own canvas, is a place that many of us are fascinated with. May be for various reasons best known to us but one thing is for sure, that the first look at this place, will surely take your breath away. Be it the mesmerizing beauty or the barren landscape, the first view of Ladakh will definitely challenge your imagination beyond belief.

Coming back to the agenda of the blog, friends seeking guidance for their tour to Ladakh by Air, Iam jotting down the basic itinerary, which includes all the major tourist destinations of Leh, which can be covered in a span of 7-8 days. Not to mention along with the necessary checklist 🙂

Shanti Stupa

Shanti Stupa

Major attractions & proposed itinerary:

Day 1: I would call Day 1 as the acclimatization day. So rest the whole day after checking in the hotel at Leh. I know the feeling of excitement and ‘can’t wait phase’ which we go through and especially after we land at our dream place. But no matter how peppy or energetic you feel, a day rest is a mandate, to help body acclimatize. Incase you miss out acclimatizing the body properly, after flying directly to the high altitude area, can cause serious issues, which at times can also lead to Acute Mountain sickness.

Infact I would suggest to give your body a chance to acclimatize a bit before flying to Leh. Acclimatization is also preciously the reason why you should prefer a road trip to Ladakh, because it allows your body to gradually get use to increase in altitude.

Keep the body hydrated. Hydrated body helps in better acclimatisation. Make sure to have good amount of water, fluids, energy drinks a week before flying to Leh. Please note if you suffer from any ailment like High BP/ asthma/Heart disease it’s always better to take doctor’s advice. Infact you can carry or take Diamox, if you aren’t allergic to sulfur drugs or Coca 30 (homeopathic, very effective) for acclimatisation

You can check out the local Leh market in the evening.

Day 2 & 3: Set out the foot to visit the local sight-seeing:

  • Alchi monastery-Likir-Sangam-Magnetic Hill-Pathar Sahib Gurudwara- Shanti Stupa-Hall of Fame- Leh Palace
  • Hemis-Thiksey-Stok Palace-Druk Lotus white school-Shey Palace

Day 4 &5: Leh-Khadungla-Pass- Deskit-Hunder

  • Head for Nubra Valley, passing over the highest motorable road in the world, Khadung-la pass. Overnight at Hunder
  • Deskit has a monastery with tallest lord Buddha statue
  • Enjoy the sand dunes at Hunder along with (two-humped) Bactrian camel safari.
  • 5-6 Hrs drive

Stay Options: Nubra: Hotel Karma inn, or Shangrila camp. You also have options of many small guest houses in Hundar

Day 6: Hunder / Diskit – Sumur – Panamik – Sumur – Khardung La – Leh

  • Check another monastery at Sumur and hot water springs at Panamik
  • Drive back to Leh. Approx. 8 Hrs drive

Day 7 & 8: Leh-Pangong

  • Pass through the third highest motorable road in the world, Chang-la Pass and stop for free hot tea served by Indian Army J
  • Enjoy the change in lake colours every minute. Overnight at Camp
  • Approx 5 hours drive

Day 8: Pangong-Manmerak-Leh

  • Get up early to catch the sun-rise at Pangong. I would say that it is indeed interesting to see how the lake changes colour to blue almost instantly when the sun comes out.
  • Spot Tibet Mountains from distance. India- China border is around 100 kms from Manmerak village- which is an extension of Pangong.
  • Drive back to Leh. Approx. 6-7 hrs drive

Please note incase you are short of time, Pangong Lake can be covered in one day. Though personally I would suggest splitting Pangong in 2 days because:

  • Some stretch towards Pangong is in bad condition
  • It sometimes become hard to cross the Hi Altitude pass in a single day, Too & Fro
  • Single day to enjoy the beauty of the lake is definitely not enough.
  • Off course how can you miss out on moments of camping and relaxing at the lake side, seeing the change in colour formation every single second 😉

Stay Option: Camp Shambhala

Day 9: Early morning return flight from Leh

6 AM View of Pangong Lake :)

6 AM View of Pangong Lake 🙂

Guest Houses/ Hotels: Leh has decent number of guest houses, home-stays and hotels. There is nothing to worry about. Though Iam listening down few options, which might be of help !

Luxury Deluxe Standard Budgeted
Leh Grand Dragon/ Zen Ladakh Spic n Span/ Glacier View Hilltown/Nature’s Land Jimmy Guesthouse/Nathula Guesthouse

Basic Checklist:

Listing below the necessary basic checklist, which will be of help while planning a trip to Ladakh.

Permits:

No permits are needed for Indian nationals. Foreigners might need permits at Pangong & Tsomoriri Lake

Transportation: Private and shared taxis are available in Ladakh. For Taxi rates you can refer to the website www.leh.nic.in.

Refer to the link for the last year Taxi rates: http://leh.nic.in/pages/Taxi-list.pdf

Food & Beverage: There are good number of restaurants and eatery joints in Ladakh. My personal favourite is Tibetan Kitchen and yes who can beat the local flavoured meals served in home stays with love 😉

Best season: Though the season starts from April but July-September are the best months to visit the place, when the beauty is at its best in Ladakh. If you are planning to go to Ladakh via road, plan to take the trip after May.

Mobile phone connectivity: Incase you don’t want to be dependent on STD booths, carry a post-paid mobile connection which works in Leh. Pre-paid numbers doesn’t work. I would suggest carrying a BSNL connection, as it has best connectivity in Leh and beyond.

Money: While it’s no harm to carry enough cash but sometime this option is not feasible for everyone. Now Leh has few ATM’s, so no need to worry about the money, honey 😉

Essential Things to carry

Water and Energy drinks: Liquid is the most essential thing while traveling in Leh, as it will keep the body hydrated, which help in better acclimatisation. Make sure to carry enough water and liquid and drink it on regular basis

Medicines: Carry necessary medicines for headache, fever, stomach ache, cold and cough syrup.

Sunscreen lotion and UV sun-glasses: Owing to high altitude, carry a good quality sunscreen lotion which provides fair SPF. Apply this in regular intervals to avoid damage to skin. Buy a decent quality of UV protected sunglasses.

Lip balm & Cream: Dry and cold weather of Ladakh can make your skin dry. Make sure keep it moisturised all the time. Dryness of the skin can result in cracking and skin coming off, so make sure to carry a lip balm or Vaseline and good creams. You can even keep mustard or almond oil to keep the skin moisturised.

Chocolates, energy bars, biscuits, chips and nuts: Though snacks are easily available in Leh market, but it’s not a bad idea to keep yourself handy with quick snacks as roads outside Leh don’t have shops. Those who love to munch while traveling, I would suggest keep your handy with couple of things to avoid inconvenience.

Clothing: Apart from the normal clothing, carry a sweater, gloves, cap (protect head and ears from cold winds), warm inners, a jacket if possible, air/water resistant jacket. You would need them while crossing the high passes.

Other personal essentials: Paper soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb and toilet paper. You can also carry your shaving kit and face wash if you have the space and need for these and any other toiletries.

Documents and IDs: It is essential to carry at least one government issued identity card and couple of photocopies of it, since it is needed while applying for inner line permit and at certain places, to register at the check post.

Extra batteries for Camera, PowerBank, Memory cards: You never know when you need it :D. And yes don’t forget to carry extra memory cards, though you can get these in Leh market as well.

Torch: Not really needed if your mobile phone has one, but if in case it doesn’t, it’s always safe to keep one especially at night when street lights go off

Please note, this list is only applicable for summers. Winters we need lot of precautious…

I would like to share that when I visited Ladakh for the first time in 2011, I actually had a lot of mis-guided info, which at once made me think to cancel the trip. What’s more to say when I actually carried three-bags full of food, only to find out that Leh market was full of options that time as well. Thank god that something in me still kicked me to go, otherwise would have regretted the ‘Traveler’ in me, which was born in Ladakh. Since then I have always believed in Self-experiencing the things. But at the same time, it’s not a bad idea to be prepared beforehand, especially when you are stepping out of your comfort zone, for the first time. All Iam saying is to keep the eyes and ears open and take it as a challenge, because everyone has a perception and we too are free to make one.

Whoever has been to Leh-Ladakh comes back with a changed perspective of the place and yes not to mention changed heart. It’s definitely not for the faint hearted. It’s a photographer’s paradise and a nature lover’s haven.

Go explore all the best 🙂

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