Every year me and my friends plan a trip to Northern parts of India, we try to explore a new place every time and this time we decided to go to Ladakh — The land of high passes. And it turned out way better than I imagined it to be, It was mystical place. Infinite snow capped mountains, treacherous ghats, beautiful monasteries, dramatic landscapes, sub zero temperatures, starry nights, mighty rivers, lakes so blue as if someone has painted them, amazing people. Where else can you get all these things at once? Its truly a heaven on earth.
To plan this kind of trip you need to be updated on the dates of when the high passes are opening. Check online for the opening dates of Rohtang pass, it will never be sure that the pass will open on that day or not so plan for a trip a few days after those passes open. You can always go at the peak season time, but if you are someone like me who doesn’t like crowded places I’ll suggest go early. Rohtang pass usually opens in the last week of may.
Once you know the opening dates, book your flight for Delhi/Chandigarh, remember to keep a couple days as buffer, better be safe in case something happens and you have to extend your stay at someplace. Starting the trip in the first week of June would be the best time according to me. There is also a flight directly to Leh but I won’t recommend that because it will get difficult for the body to acclimatize.
You will need permits to go to places like Nubra valley and Pangong lake which you can get from this link http://lahdclehpermit.in/ . You will need to get these permits verified and grt stamps for those from the Leh permit office which is near Leh market. So make sure you get 2 printouts for each circuit you get the permit for. One copy is taken by the checkpoints for the regions you want to go to. You can also get the permits directly from the permit office but that’s too much of a hassle. Also if you are crossing Rohtang pass on your own vehicle then you need to get a permit for that from the Manali police station.
Now that you have booked your flights and you have your permits ready next thing you need to think of is how are you going to travel on the trip, If it’s a big group it’s better to do vehicle bookings and hotel bookings in advance, there are tons of links on the internet. If you want to book places to stay, the possible places to book your stay are in Manali, Leh, Hunder, Pangong, Srinagar and of course the bike or car which you are going to rent, other places are very remote and has to be done on the fly. If you can’t find a good one then contact me, I’ll provide contacts of locals I met there. If you are only 3–4 people I’ll suggest to just wing it like we did.
After these bookings the next most important thing you need to do is shopping. You need winter clothes. According to me the best place for travel shopping is Decathlon, I visit decathlon before every trip of mine, i find all things needed here. So obviously in over excitement we did a lot of shopping and spent a lot on things, here is a list of things which might help you keep your budget in check.
1. You need body warmers, 3–4 layers on your body is recommended. So 1 layer of thermal suit, fleece layer and a jacket on top will keep you warm enough.
2. Woollen socks.
3. Hand gloves, The reason our hands and feet get cold in the winter is because our body prioritizes keeping our vital organs like our heart and lungs warm.
4. Polarized sunglasses or any sunglasses is a must there because the sun is very harsh and it is reflected from the snow.
5. Extra pair of shoes, I added this because one time we left late in the morning and the snow started to melt, the crossings on road get difficult as the water starts flowing, and wet shoes in cold conditions are invitation to frostbite. I had extra pair of shoes which helped me save my feet.
8. You’ll also need to buy sunscreen as the sun can be pretty harsh there.
9. Lip balm.
10. Chocolates for glucose.
11. Medicines like diamox for high altitude sickness. And other medicines for headache, fever, stomach ache, loose motion, vomit, cough and cold. And if someone with heart condition is travelling with you then do visit the doctor and get a prescription.
12. Water is very important as you get dehydrated pretty quickly there, so have at least 2 litres of water with you and keep drinking it on regular intervals.
13. ORS powder.
14. It is difficult to get meals on the right time when you are travelling, so what I do is carry protein bars with me on my trip, they give good energy. You can also carry dry fruits and chikki (which is essentially a protein bar).
15. Oxygen levels get pretty low there and breathing can get a bit difficult so carry an oxygen can with you, can be ordered from any online store, and also keep some camphor with you, it helps in breathing. I have seen people feeling dizzy and almost passed out on Khardung la pass, so its better to have it with out just in case you or someone else needs it.
16. Carry cash with you as ATM’s are not available in all the place.
17. You can carry a sleeping bag with you if you want.
18. On each of my trip I carry a compass, torch, hunting knife, swiss knife and a SOS whistle with me. You wont need these but it good to have.
19. For bikers, the helmets which you get at the tourism companies in ladakh or manali are not very good, so carry your own helmets, saddle bags and tank bags. Hydration bags are very import.
If you like photography I’d recommend carrying extra batteries with you as batteries drain quickly in cold temperatures and electricity is a bit unpredictable in those areas. Also carry extra memory cards, the places are so beautiful that you will want to take a picture every few minutes.
For phones, carry power banks with you.
Network will be available only for BSNL postpaid, people say now we get jio network too but i’m not sure about that. In any case both of them will be a bit dodgy there, you will get network for them only in a few places, Hotels do provide wifi in Leh but it will be good if one person in your group has a BSNL postpaid card.
The most import thing is do not forget your identification cards and your permits, make sure you have extra copies of your ID’s and permits.
I hope this post has helped you.