Reaching Leh: Common Itinerary By Road

In continuation to my last blog on Itinerary and checklist of reaching Leh by air (Click to read) Iam also sharing a basic itinerary followed for a road trip to Ladakh.

Ideally there are two routes to reach Leh by Road…either from Manali or through Srinagar. But my personal opinion would be to start the road trip from Srinagar and end at Manali. Iam suggesting this specifically for three reasons:

  • First, the body gets better acclimatized following the route via Srinagar, due to gradual increase in altitude. Hence less chances of facing breathing/oxygen problem or getting stuck with Acute Mountain Sickness by the time you will reach Leh
  • If you start via Manali – Leh Highway, then most of the terrain runs over 12,000 feet of altitude, which means by the time you will reach Leh, the body might not get acclimatised properly. Hence more chances of falling to altitude sickness.
  • The advantage of following Srinagar-Leh-Manali route will also be that you will save one day as Tso Moriri and Tso Kar Lakes can be adjusted the same day, you start towards Manali from Leh. This way you will not be required to return to Leh from Tso Moriri to go towards Kargil or Srinagar.

Rest as they say, you are free to choose the route according to your preference and time

 Proposed Itinerary for Leh via Srinagar highway

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Day 1: Srinagar-Sonamarg-ZoziLa-Drass-Kargil

  • Reach Srinagar by an early morning flight
  • Proceed towards Kargil by Private/ taxis or the state bus, which leaves for Kargil by 8:30 AM from Srinagar
  • Enjoy the nature’s color on way. Don’t forget to note the change in beauty and landscape
  • Stop for Lunch at Drass, the second coldest inhabited village in the world
  • Overnight at Kargil
  • About 8-9 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks and traffic movement at Zozila Pass

Incase you have luxury of time; you can even opt to stay at Srinagar for a day and explore the local sight-seeing.

If you don’t want to take direct flight to Srinagar, the another option is to split the itinerary into two days: Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar

Stay Option: D Zojila @ Kargil

Lamayuru Monastery

Lamayuru Monastery

Day 2| Kargil – Lamayuru – Leh

  • Enjoy Mulbekh Maitrey, Lamayuru Monastery, Moonland’s viewpoint
  • Overnight at Leh
  • About 9-10 Hrs drive, , depending upon the breaks you take in between

Day 3&4 : 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 5&6 : 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 | Leh – Tso Moriri via Chumathang

  • Cover Karzok Monastery
  • Overnight at Karzok or Tso Moriri
  • About 7-8 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks you take in between

Day 10: Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Manali – Leh Highway – Pang / Sarchu

  • Try to start early in the day so that you reach Sarchu
  • Overnight at Sarchu or Pang
  • About 11-12 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks you take in between
  • Incase you reach Sarchu early, you can even consider to stay at Keylong, which has got better stay options

Day 13 | Pang / Sarchu – Baralacha La – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali

  • On the way cover Suraj Tal, Deepak Tal which are on the road sides only
  • Stop at Rohtang Pass for good clicks
  • Overnight at Manali
  • About 11-12 Hrs drive, depending upon the breaks you take in between. The time also depends on the jam/stoppage at Rohtang Pass

Day 14 | Manali – Delhi

  • Overnight Bus
  • About 14-15Hrs drive

Incase anyone is planning to take the other route starting from Manali, the proposed itinerary will be

  1. Delhi-Manali: Overnight at Manali
  2. Manali-Jispa: Overnight at Jispa: This is the most preferred choice for people who donot want to run the risk to fall for Acute Mountain sickness. However, a stay at Jispa would mean that you need to start early morning the next day, to reach Leh on time. Option 2 can also be traveling direct to Sarchu for an overnight stay, to reduce the traveling time the next day. However, I would suggest avoiding this option as Sarchu is at much higher altitude compared to Jispa, which sometimes can lead to headaches, vomiting or sleepless-ness nights.
  3. Jispa/Sarchu-Leh: Overnight in Leh

Do drop in queries incase you have one. All the best!!!

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