blue water of lake near mountain

Things no one told you about Leh, Ladakh trip

Here is an exhaustive list of things you need to do and carry while planning and before starting your trip. This article covers everything, right from flights, cabs, medicines, clothes, gadgets, dos and don’ts, etc. Bookmark this article?

SUV

We were 7 people for this trip and hence booked a Xylo which was comfortable for all of us and our backpacks.

We booked it through Himalayan Tours Studio  – +91 9419441522 / +91 8494038049. For Srinagar, Mr. Sajad – +91 8803310924 and for Leh onwards, Mr. Naamgyal.

It cost us a total of INR 54,000 for the vehicle, permits and driver costs.

You can contact the drivers directly too by checking https://devilonwheels.com/

Alternatively, you can contact Riyaz Travels (similar cost) on +91 9419019325.

SUV is the smallest car available and hence it is better to have 5-7 people to reduce the cost and carbon footprints.

For more than 7 people, a maximum of 13 people, there is an option of the minibus – INR 70,000.

Our bookings for the vehicle were done 2 days prior to the trip since we were on the verge of canceling the trip because of unrest in Srinagar. We took a leap of faith by talking to friend’s relatives in Srinagar and left from Mumbai.

The cost of the same vehicles was INR 10,000 to INR 20,000 lesser, 2 months prior to our departure (booking dates).

Keep in mind you need an extremely experienced driver to maneuver these treacherous roads. So make your bookings through a renowned agency. We were lucky to have expert drivers on our trip.

Flights

Four of us booked our flights in February. Mumbai to Srinagar was ~INR 7-8000.  Leh to Mumbai was approximately INR13,000.

Keep a gap of 2-4 hours for any layover, in case the previous one gets delayed, you have buffer time with you.

Two of our friends had a layover in Delhi. The timings on their tickets were different from the actual timings of the flight and they missed their flight! They then booked another flight to Srinagar.

Road Routes

There are 2 routes to reach Leh

Manali to Leh.

Srinagar to Leh- Many blogs suggest this route because of a gradual increase in the altitude compared to Manali Leh road. Hence, there’s no / less problem in getting acclimatized.

Read my Srinagar to Leh itinerary here.

Dos and Don’ts

Rate of acclimatization is different for different people. Take complete bed rest for 24 hours once you arrive in Leh. DO this even if it is your 10th trip to Leh. Rest is mandatory.

No smoking and alcohol for the first 24 hours.

Take sufficient oral fluids (water/juice)

Take diet rich in carbohydrates. Do not skip meals.

Avoid physical exertion in the first 24 hours.

Do not disregard any symptoms of illness

Do not be out of your vehicle for a long time at Khardung La, Chang La or any place with high wind velocity.

Things to carry

Sport shoes or hiking boots (wear only this every day – do not experiment with flipflops outside your hotel/homestays)

Boots (I wore them in Sri Nagar, Kargil. I stuck to sport shoes in Leh, Turtuk, and Pangong)

Down Jacket

Skull cap

Flipflops (to wear them inside your hotel/homestay)

Cotton (for ears) or earplugs

Jacket

2-4 pairs of thermal wear

Caps and Hats

Warm tees and pants

Undergarments

Hoodies (Yes, plural)

Toilet roll (Keep them handy even if you are in a fancy hotel. Leh airport did not have water in the loo and these rolls were our savior in our times of ‘pressure’)

Antifungal powder (In case you miss a bath due to the climate, sprinkle some on yourself to be away from sickness and be fresh)

Sunglasses

Hand gloves

Backpack/s

Daypack

Sunscreen

Moisturizer

A bag to collect all your plastic waste to dispose of when you leave JnK. They do not have any system and hence end up burning the waste – this is more harmful to the environment.

Airplane pillow (For flights and long road trips. Most of the places are at least 5-6 hours away from each other)

5-6 extra pair of socks (They might get wet with sweat/water/ reasons unknown. We had our socks wet at Pangong Lake, God knows how that happened. It was a good thing we carried extra pairs of socks which helped our feet not get frozen)

Medicines

What is AMS?

AMS – Acute Mountain Sickness is a common issue with tourists up there.

Many people experience mild AMS during the acclimatization process (the first 1 to 3 days at a given altitude)

It occurs if one doesn’t let their body get acclimatized to less oxygen (high altitudes)

It can hit ANYONE! I know a lot of people, who are physically fit and strong were hit by AMS.

The occurrence of AMS depends on the altitude, the rate of ascent, and individual susceptibility.

How to treat/avoid AMS?

Run and walk less on day 1 in Leh. Rest on your bed on day 1 EVEN if you ARE NOT TIRED.

Symptoms usually start 12-24 hours after arrival at altitude and include headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea, disturbed sleep, and a general feeling of malaise.

You can take a medicine DAIMOX which helps fight AMS. The result of this medicine is a little slow hence it is advisable to take this medicine 24 hours before you reach Ladakh and continue it for your entire trip. Of course, do consult your family physician once before consuming these medicines.

But, this is not how you have to let your body adjust to altitude gain. These symptoms are a way that your body exhibits to tell you that its getting adjusted to the altitude gain.

A natural way to treat or avoid AMS is to consume a lot of water, butter and/or onions during the trip. Start consuming at least 4 liters of water at least 2 weeks before your trip to any high altitude place. AMS occurs due to shortage of oxygen and water helps provide that (H2O)

So here is a list of medicines that I carried on my trip. You can purchase these medicines in medical shops in Leh market too.

I did not want to take any risk since we had a mountain road trip before Leh as well.

Please keep them handy even if you do not have any sickness. These are new terrains and is not your next-door vacay.

Sanitizer

Diamox

Medicines for cold, cough, fever etc

Motion sickness tablets

O2 tablet – for loose motions

Band-aids

Crepe bandage

Oxygen can (You can get this at the airport or any local medical shop in Leh)

Balm / Vicks

Any other medicines that you need.

In case you hit AMS, consult the local doctor immediately like how did, in Leh market (my other friends were fine).

Contact numbers in case of medical emergency:

Sonum Norbu Hospital 01982-252014 / 253629

Chief Medical Officer – Leh 01982 – 252012

 3 of us needed to pump in oxygen in us from the can while reaching Khardung La. Keep it handy for a ‘just-in-case’ scenario.

Gadgets

Torch / Head torch (in case your phone battery dies)

Portable charger (Keep it wrapped in your clothes since lesser temperature tends to drain the batteries faster)

3 pin plug point (since more of the hotels/guest houses have only 1-3 plug points, you can use your 3 pin plug point to charge more gadgets at a single time while sharing the same with your family/friends)

Camera

Extra camera/GoPro batteries (in case the one inside drains out during the day)

Last few tips

If you have any winter clothes/shoes etc. to give it away. Please give it away to the not-so-fortunate- locals before or after your usage. It will make them immensely happy.

Be mentally prepared. Whatever happened (sickness) to me, didn’t happen to my friends. I am letting everyone know just a tiny bad side to this trip. Let these worries not hamper your excitement and happiness of the trip by taking these precautions beforehand.

Last but not least, I would request you to watch these 30 seconds videos before you plan your trip on how you can make your travel non-polluting if not sustainable. Video credits – AbhiandNiyu

The original school from 3 idiots – Watch here

Meet the Ice Man of Ladakh who is helping its environment – Watch here

Combat plastic pollution by earning money – Watch here.

The history behind our gorgeous Pangong Lake. We ahve it in India because of our soldier’s sacrifice. Watch here

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