Leh in July-August. Things you must know

Trip to Leh can be planned best by deciding the number of days you have at hand. It will be crucial to determine whether you have an option of a road trip or not.
Anything below 10 days will make your road trip experience quite hectic. The two routes that bikers generally take for the road trip to Leh are either via Manali (490 kms) or via Srinagar (440 kms).
Via Manali
June to mid-October is the time when the highway between Manali and Leh is open and advisable for commuting. The distance in Himachal Pradesh between Manali and Sarchu is 230 km and the distance in Leh region from Sarchu to Leh is 260 km. The journey will take two days and the first timers can take a pit stop at Keylong. On the journey to Leh, you will cross Rohtang Pass, Jispa, Baralacha La, Lachulung La and Karu.
Manali to Leh
Via Srinagar (National Highway 1D)
While talking to our driver in Leh, he told us about a bridge on the Manali route getting damaged. As a result of which, riders and other commuters were stuck for more than 2 days while the army came in to rescue and restored the route. He also advised that one should also consider the road trip from Srinagar as the road is much better.
The route is generally open for commuting between May and late October (depending on the weather). It’s a 2 day journey with a pit stop at Kargil, where there are enough and more hotels and guest houses to stay. Petrol availability on the Srinagar – Leh highway is way better than on the Manali – Leh highway. On the journey to Leh, you will cross Sonmarg, Drass, Kargil and Lamayuru.
Srinagar to Leh – ignore the estimated time for the journey in the image above
Petrol availability on the Srinagar – Leh highway is much better compared to Manali – Leh highway. However, advisable to keep a backup and carry enough petrol for the road. Mobile network on the highways is not that great. The reception would be better around Srinagar and Manali, but will seldom be weak on other spots, but some of the places will have pay phone available. Before embarking on the journey, if you are riding your motorbike, ensure you check on the availability of mechanics in case of a breakdown.
If you are taking a flight to Leh, ensure that you book early to get a good deal. The only operators flying to Leh as of now are Jet Airways, Jet Konnect, Go Air and Air India. Be it a direct or hop-over, you will land at Kushok Bakula Rimpochhe Airport in Leh before lunchtime. Ensure you are carrying your passport ID with you. No flights ply to and from the airport in Leh post lunchtime.
The areal view of the snow clad peaks is mesmerizing and you can get a good view if you have pre-booked a window seat or if you want to take your chances, reach the Airport early for check in. If your window seat is between 10 and 22, you might have to make some adjustments to exclude the wings from your frame. Once your flight is about to land, you will not be permitted to take any pictures owing to security reasons (it is an army base). The airport has a pre-paid taxi counter from where you can take a ride to your hotel. It would cost you anywhere between INR 250 to INR 350 if you are living near the Leh market.
Arial View of the Mountain ranges
Leh has a cold desert climate with long and harsh winters from October to early March. Average temperate in Leh:
JUNE – 27 to 30 degrees
JULY – 30 to 33 degrees
AUG – 33 to 28 degrees
SEP – around 28 degree towards the beginning, but starts dropping to single digits by end of the month
We traveled to Leh between August 11th to 19th and based on the temperatures then, you can pretty much pack for a summer destination and throw in a sweatshirt for the evenings / night. The only time we required something really warm was Khardunga La pass for few minutes and then at Pangong Lake (you definitely need a warm jacket here). Carry some sunscreen and a cream to moisturize your skin if it is sensitive.
You would be moving to an altitude over 10,000 feet (Leh is at 11,562 feet) within a span of few hours and if this is your first trip to a high altitude, you do not know how your body will react to the lack of oxygen. AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) is common at high altitudes over 10,000 feet as Oxygen in the air reduces by roughly 40% at such heights. Some of the early symptoms of AMS are headache, breathlessness and you will feel dizzy.
Hence it is strictly advised that you do not exert your body on the day you land in Leh and rest through the day. It is also good to consumer enough water to stay hydrated and liquor is an absolute no.
As we gain elevation we may not initially realize that we have less oxygen around us, but our bodies do. Source: www.yourhikeguide.com
There are some medicines which we are listing down, based on the various health issues our group experienced during the journey. And some of the medicines were prescribed by our doctor just in case we face any such issue. But of course, consult your doctor before carrying these along in case you have certain allergies.
  1. AMS – It is advisable to start taking the dose of Tab Diamox (1-1) for a week before you travel. It does not show the desired results if taken after you start showing symptoms of AMS. If you haven’t consumed Diamox and have an acute case of AMS, you might be required to take an injection of Dexamethasone 3 amp
  2. For loose motions – Tab Dependal M. If this does not help, you can take Cap. Imodium 2mg
  3. Asthama attack owing to acute cold – Inhaler Levolin
  4. For acidity or nausea – Cap. Razo D
  5. For allergy / reactions – Tab. Allegra 180 mg
  6. For motion sickness – Have a tab of Avomin 45-60 mins before you begin your journey
  7. For food poisoning – Tab. Norflox TZ. Some people are allergic to it and you can look at Tab. Norflox 400 as an alternate
  8. Carry some good old orange candies that you picked from the local kirana store as a kid. These really help in fighting the weird taste in your mouth when you feel like throwing up during the road trips
  9. Carry a bottle of Dettol sanitiser and few band aids
Flavoured candies that you can pick from a local kirana store
Leh was earlier the capital of the Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh and now is a district of Jammu and Kashmir. With an area of 45,110 sqkm, Leh is the second largest district in India after Kutch in Gujarat.  In the ancient times, Leh was an important stopover on trade routes along the Indus Valley between Tibet to the east, Kashmir to the west and also between India and China for centuries. The main goods carried were salt, grain, pashm or cashmere wool, charas or cannabis resin from the Tarim Basin, indigo, silk yarn and Banaras brocade.
View from the room
Leh is an extremely safe place for tourists, especially women. The residents in general are warm, honest and helpful. You will have stay options ranging from dormitories to hotels and guest houses, depending on your budget. Throughout our stay in Leh we stayed at Oriental Hotel, which is right next to Shanti Stupa and merely 15-20 mins walk from the market. Operating since 1987, it is now run by the second generation of the family. Their hotel is divided into three blocks based on the category of rooms and tariff. Building “A” has economic accommodations with shared bathrooms for budget travellers. For medium price-range budget, you have Building “B” with private bathrooms. Finally there recently constructed Building “C” has deluxe accommodations, in which each room has its own en-suite bathroom with shower and toilet. They have a small garden where they grow fresh vegetables, also used for cooking and serving at their dining area. They have tables set-up even in the garden for people who prefer outdoors. The menu here is vegetarian but they also serve egg in breakfast. You can choose your meal from Ladhaki, Chinese, Western and Indian cuisines – right from baked beans and chole bhature to Ladakhi roti. Heating and water are run by our eco-friendly solar systems in the premise.
Each room is provided with heater, except block C, where heating is centralised.  Laundry service and landline STD/ISD calling facility is also available. They also have a small library next to the reception and offer paid access to wi-fi at a very nominal price of only INR 20 (valid for 24hrs). The location is extremely peaceful, staff very warm and helpful and our friends have always preferred to stay here on their previous 5 trips to Leh.
Dining Area
Outdoor seating
The hotel also runs additional service, Oriental Treks and Tours, offering several tour trekking packages as well as custom treks, to places of scenic, cultural and natural beauty. They take care of permits and paperwork as well. Oriental Hotel is located 2 kms from the airport and roughly takes 10 mins on wheel. A 10-15 min walk will lead you to the market and give you access to café’s, restaurants, utility shops, travel agents, vehicle rentals etc.
One of the blocks of Oriental Hotel with Shanti Stupa in the backdrop
We ventured into the market late evening to explore the place and also figure out a few travel agents to organise our travel for the next few days. After a relaxed dinner around bon-fire, we retired to bed for the day.
To read more about our itinery for 8-9 days in Leh click HERE
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to mail us at info.nameplaceanimalthing@gmail.com 

Exploring Ladakh in 8-9 days

While growing up, there were numerous images that I came across of snow clad peaks as a reference point for mountains. But only when I got my hands on “Tintin in Tibet” that I grew fond of the Himalayas. Away from conventional villains and car chases, this adventure takes Tintin into the heart of Himalayas on a wild goose chase of his friend Chang. Characters like Sherpa, Monks and adaptations of the Buddhist culture through the Monasteries, Prayer Flags and Stupas added another degree of fascination.
Ever since I learnt about Royal Enfield groups heading to Ladakh on road trips, I became extremely excited to put this destination on my bucket list. However, there was no way that I could convince my folks back in school to let me do this. For the last 4 years, me and my wife have been planning a trip to Ladakh between June and August. But this year, thanks to our friends, we finally managed to make this trip. Since we dint have the liberty to take a longer break, we decided not to look at a road trip and rather take a flight straight to Leh. Leh was once a capital of kingdom of Ladakh, but now it is a district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
One thing you must have heard from everyone is acclimatisation to higher altitude. Especially when you are taking a flight to Leh, within a span of few hours your system moves to an altitude of approx. 11,500 feet and is susceptible to altitude sickness; also known as acute mountain sickness (ams). You can refer to the list of medicines you must carry in your medical kit during a trip to Ladakh. Here is our itinerary panned out during the 9 day vacation and what I have covered is a basic overview of activities day-wise. More details about what you must bear in mind are covered in separate articles which will eventually be hyperlinked to relevant sections. Stay tuned for more
Ariel view of mountain peaks
Day 1 – Take an early morning flight to Leh. Ensure you pre-book a window seat to enjoy the view of the mountain peaks and valleys before the flight lands. Kushok Bakula Rimpochhe Airport is a pretty small airport and is just 10 mins away from Leh market. You can take a pre-paid taxi from a counter at the airport which is readily available. It costed us INR 250 for a ride to Oriental Hotel. Spend the day resting and avoid any physically stressful activity. There is a strong chance that you can easily get dehydrated and it is advisable to regularly have sufficient amount of water to stay hydrated. If you have plans of having a liquor party, please put it at bay for Day 1 and 2 atleast. In evening, you can take an easy walk down to the market to explore some of the eateries and also speak to a few travel agents for planning your trips ahead.
Lamayuru Monastery
Day 2 – You can look at planning an easy trip to places around Leh. We had headed out to visit Lamayuru Monastery in Kargil district at approx. the same altitude as Leh. The 11th century monastery is known to most for their annual masked dance festival. It takes approx. 3 hours to cover the distance of 74km. On the way, you can also stopover to view the sangam point of Indus and Zanskar river, moon land and also at the magnetic hill where you can witness your vehicle tread uphill without even stepping the accelerator. At the monastery, you can ideally spend 45 mins to an hour. On the way back you can also take a detour and visit Alchi Monastey, which is almost a century older than Lamayuru. You can add another 1.5 to 2 hours to your journey if you plan to visit Alchi.
Day 3 – We were extremely excited for this day as we had planned for a rafting trip in Zanskar. It is the same river, which forms the frozen base for the gruelling Chaddar Trek during winters. The tour operator picked us up at 8:00 am from our hotel and we began our 66 km trip to Chilling, the starting point of the rafting stretch. The stretch of 30 kms between Chilling and Nimu (meeting point of Indus and Zanskar) comprises of grade 3/4 rapids and takes almost 3 hours to complete. This leg of the adventure trip will surely require you to be attentive and dispel a lot of energy to cruise past through some tough rapids. On the way back, we visited Hall of Fame Museum at Leh which briefly gives you a view into the cultural heritage of Ladakh and largely pays a tribute to the brave soldiers who displayed true valour on duty.
Day 4 – This was the day we aimed to head to Nubra Valley. However, owing the food poisoning the previous night, we had to take a tough call. We couldn’t let the plan of the entire group dampen and we decided to stay back for medical help and recovering. Again, some medical advise helped in recovery and we were set to leave early morning the next day.
Nubra Valley
Day 5 – In order to beat the traffic and stay clear of the military convoy, we left early morning to cover the long journey to Nubra Valley. Almost 150 kms from Leh, Nubra is a high altitude desert at 10,000 ft. On the way, you cross the high mountain pass Khardung La which claims to be the world’s highest motorable pass at 18,379 feet. The way beyond the pass is beautiful but takes a lot of steep turns to get your motion sickness meter up. It took us 4.5 hours to reach Nubra. We decided to meet the group at Hundar for the Camel Safari, however, owing to silly confusion and zero network connectivity we missed each other by a whisker. There was a strong sand storm brewing up and we barely managed to get a camel ride with our eyes closed and consuming almost a few grams of sand. Diskit is the capital of Nubra and is also the home of the oldest and largest Buddhist Monastery. We skipped this, and headed straight to our camp Mystic Meadows in Sumur. On the way we also reunited with our group in the most unexpected locations. We had the option of going for the hot springs, which our friends had covered the previous evening, but after a long day we decided to spend the remaining time at ease over dinner, card games and conversations.
Day 6 – Today we head back to Leh and since we left early, we managed to beat the traffic. This time around as we were approaching Khardung La pass, we experienced snowfall for the first time in our lives. The view got prettier with every rising feet. This time around we stopped over for some mint tea before proceeding ahead. Checked in back into our hotel and then in the evening ventured out to explore the local market. Sealed the day with dinner at Il Forno on Zangsti road with some thin crust pizzas.
Spotting Marmots on the way to Pangon Tso Lake
Day 7 – Finally we are heading towards the last leg of our journey. Considering the number of beautiful pictures we had seen of Pangong Lake, we were super excited to finally see it for real. The first view of the deep blue water between the hills was breath-taking.  Pangong Tso is at an altitude of 14, 270 feet and around 170 kms from Leh. Extending upto 134 kms between India and China, 60% of the lake lies in Tibet. On the way we crossed Chang La pass, but decided not to stop over as we were stuck in a convoy of trucks. We stopped over at the point where Marmots are spotted. But with a lot of people around us who unnecessary stressed them out, the Marmots were not too comfortable staying out of their burrows for too long. After relishing the beauty of the lake and meeting the cute rodents, we headed over to our camp. There are quite a number of operators who have their camps adjacent to each other. The temperature here was definitely freezing and the cold winds made it more severe.
Panoramic View of Pangong Tso Lake
Day 8 – The plan was to wake up early morning to witness the sunrise. However, since the hills obstruct the view of the horizon, what we could witness was the changing colour of the peaks around Pangong Tso lake. After grabbing our breakfast, we headed back to Leh. This time we managed to spend some quality time with the Marmots as they also seemed to be in a relaxed state. Later in the journey, we decided to stop over at Chang La pass (17,590 feet) to pay a visit to the Changa La baba temple and relish some Maggie with mint tea. Though this was the 4th consecutive day we were traveling on road for atleast 4 hours, we also knew that this was the end of our journey to Ladakh. In the evening, we explored the market, grabbed our dinner and retired to bed.
Day 9 – With a heavy heart, we headed to the airport for our flight back to Delhi tucked in with memories to cherish for a lifetime. Until we return for more…

If you have any questions, dont hesitate to mail us at info.nameplaceanimalthing@gmail.com