Important Information before visiting Ladakh
Q1. How can we travel to Ladakh ?
A1 . There are three way to reach Ladakh,
A1. There are few frequent flights as below
Air Vistara will soon operate to Ladakh please check their site https://www.airvistara.com
b) The other option is to take the road journey either from Manali or from Srinagar. From Manali to Leh which goes via Keylong takes two days 474 kms with a night halt in Sarchu, and from Srinagar to Leh takes again two days 434 kms with a night halt in Kargil.
There is also a bus services from Delhi to Leh during the summer month
The Himachal Pradesh Tourism Dev. Corp. Ltd., also operate their coach and you can check the detail from their site http://hptdc.nic.in/leh.htm
Srinagar-Leh 434 Km
Manali-Leh 473 Km
Delhi-Leh 1047 Kms
Q2. Is there lack of Oxygen in Ladakh?
A2 . Anyone travelling above 10000 Ft will find little difficult to breath normally or do any kind of physical exertion immediately. Its is mainly because of low level of atmospheric oxygen. But low atmospheric oxygen is absolutely not a cause to avoid Ladakh. Within first two days of complete rest you will acclimatize yourself to this low oxygen level and do things normally.
Q3. Do we get High Altitude Sickness in Ladakh? what are the symptoms and how we get acclimatize?
A3. As said above anyone travelling above 10000 ft is liable to get high altitude sickness or commonly known as Acute Mountain Sickness AMS. The most common symptoms of AMS are lack of sleep, loss of appetite, dizziness, irregular breathing, etc. The best way to acclimatize is natural rest for at least first 36-40 hrs.Spend your first day sleeping, resting and relaxing before you even think of exploring the place. Drink a lot of water
Before going out protect yourself and your family from the suns ultraviolet rays. Apply a sunscreen SPF 15-30 to your skin before beginning outdoor activities and every two hours while outside. To prevent sun injury to the eyes, wear sunglasses or goggles with (UV) protection.
Acclimatization is the process of the body adjusting to the decreased availability of oxygen at high altitudes. It is a slow process, taking place over a period of days to weeks.
High altitude is defined as:
– High Altitude: 1500 – 3500 m (5000 – 11500 ft)
– Very High Altitude: 3500 – 5500 m (11500 – 18000 ft)
– Extreme Altitude: above 5500 m
Practically speaking, however, we generally don’t worry much about elevations below about 2500 m (8000 ft) since altitude illness rarely occurs lower than this.
Certain normal physiologic changes occur in every person who goes to altitude:
– Hyperventilation (breathing faster, deeper, or both)
– Shortness of breath during exertion
– Changed breathing pattern at night
– Awakening frequently at night
– Increased urination
The key to avoiding AMS is a gradual ascent that gives your body time to acclimatize. People acclimatize at different rates, so no absolute statements are possible, but in general, the following recommendations will keep most people from getting AMS:
– If possible, you should spend at least one night at an intermediate elevation below 3000 meters.
– At altitudes above 3000 meters (10,000 feet), your sleeping elevation should not increase more than 300-500 meters (1000-1500 feet) per night.
– Every 1000 meters (3000 feet) you should spend a second night at the same elevation.
Remember, it’s how high you sleep each night that really counts; climbers have understood this for years, and have a maxim “climb high, sleep low”. The day hikes to higher elevations that you take on your “rest days” (when you spend a second night at the same altitude) help your acclimatization by exposing you to higher elevations, then you return to a lower (safer) elevation to sleep. This second night also ensures that you are fully acclimatized and ready for further ascent.
Things to Avoid
Respiratory depression (the slowing down of breathing) can be caused by various medications, and may be a problem at altitude. The following medications can do this, and should never be used by someone who has symptoms of altitude illness (these may be safe in persons who are not ill, although this remains controversial):
– Sleeping pills (acetazolamide is the sleeping tablet of choice at altitude)
– Narcotic pain medications in more than modest doses
Prevention of Altitude Illnesses
Prevention of altitude illnesses falls into two categories, proper acclimatization and preventive medications. Below are a few basic guidelines for proper acclimatization.
■If possible, don’t fly or drive to high altitude. Start below 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) and walk up.
■If you do fly or drive, do not over-exert yourself or move higher for the first 24 hours.Just light walks around the market in the evening on the first day.
■If you begin to show symptoms of moderate altitude illness, don’t go higher until symptoms decrease (“Don’t go up until symptoms go down”).
■Ibuprofen can be used to relieve altitude induced headaches.
■Keep in mind that different people will acclimatize at different rates. Make sure all of your party is properly acclimatized before going higher.
■Stay properly hydrated (drink a lot of water) . Acclimatization is often accompanied by fluid loss, so you need to drink lots of fluids to remain properly hydrated (at least 3-4 quarts per day). Urine output should be copious and clear.
■Take it easy; don’t over-exert yourself when you first get up to altitude. Light activity during the day is better than sleeping because respiration decreases during sleep, exacerbating the symptoms.
■Avoid tobacco and alcohol and other depressant drugs including, barbiturates, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills. These depressants further decrease the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in a worsening of the symptoms.
■Eat a high carbohydrate diet (more than 70% of your calories from carbohydrates) while at altitude.
■The acclimatization process is inhibited (slowed) by dehydration, over-exertion, and alcohol and other depressant drugs.
Q4. What kind of Hotels are there? Is there any 5 start / 4 start hotels?
A4 . Hotels in Ladakh are categorized into A, B, C, & D class hotels. A – class hotels are the best ones which is comparable to a 3 start hotel. Hotels in Ladakh are based on full traditional architecture, have decently spacious rooms with modern attached rest rooms with facility of running cold & hot water. Rooms are well furnished with Ladakhi & Tibetan interiors.
Q5. How is the road journey to Ladakh?
A5. Those who love the adventure of a Himalayan drive, road journey is the best way to experience it.
Q6. What we see in Ladakh?
A6. Ladakh is popular for two main reasons. One is that it is a home for a freely flourishing Mahayana Buddhism so there are great Monasteries to visit and secondly Ladakh is an adventure paradise with lot trekking, mountaineering and Rafting opportunities. The amazing landscapes, tiny green villages, folk & mask dances. Cultural & monastic festivals are other attractions.
Q7. How many minimum days should we have in Ladakh?
A7. If you are less exploratory in nature and want to just feel what ladakh is then you can have 5-6 days, but if you really want to explore the region as many of it villages of interest are scattered far & wide or you want to try some of its best treks, then all-together you should have minimum 15 days time. The average stay of a foreign tourist is 15 – 20 days.
Q8. Do we require any special permit to visit Ladakh?
A8. Foreigner tourists visiting the restricted tourist areas within ladakh like the Pangong lake, Tso-moriri lake area, Nubra Valley, and Dha-Hanu region. But to enter Ladakh no permits are required. However it is advisable that all foreign tourist must carry their passport with a valid visa & domestic tourist from India must carry any identity proof like driving license, election card or passport. Domestic troirist may require protected area permit to enter beyong pangong to Tsomoriri via Tsagala, it can be obtain from the District Magistrate LAHDC Leh.
Q9. What kind of people should avoid Ladakh?
A9. People with high smoking intake, emphysema, asthma, anaemia, diabetes and high blood pressure should avoid visiting. Please consult your medical doctor before booking your trip.
Q10. Are there good restaurants & Fast Foods?
A10. Leh town has variety of exotic restaurants where you can find some of the finest Tibetan, kashmiri, Ladakhi Foods. There are restaurants serving Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Italian & Israeli cuisines. Do not expect fast foods corners like McDonald or Pizza Hut type. But there are surprisingly amazing variety of Cakes & bakeries.
Q11. What kind of tourist vehicles are available? Are there Auto Rickshaws?
A11. Leh has fortunately good quality tourist vehicles. Mainly Toyota Qualis & Mahindra Scorpio vehicles are used. No Auto Rickshaws.
Q12. Are there any budget hotels?
A12. Yes, there are family run guest houses which are simple and may or may not come with attached utilities. Food is not served so you have to use local restaurants except breakfast, which they mostly serve at the guest home.
Q13. What kind of clothing should we bring?
A13. Cotton & light woollens in summer and heavy woollens including down-filled wind proof upper garments in winter.
Q14. What is the average temperatures during Summer & Winter ?
A13. Summer is maximum 25 degree Celsius to minimum 5-8 Celsius and winter maximum is around -5 (minus) and minimum – 20 degree Celsius.
Q15. Which is the best period to visit Ladakh ?
A15. Anytime after Mid May until Mid October. Winter has a different charm all together, if you want to see real Ladakh with less tourist around then Winter is the best time to visit (From Nov – March).
Q16. Are there ATM’s in Leh ?
A16. Leh has few bank branches with ATM facilities.
State Bank of India (Leh)
Punjub National Bank (Leh)
Central Bank (Leh)
Jammu and Kashmir Bank (Leh)
HDFC Main market Leh
IDBI Kank Leh
ATMs machines are also available on Leh Srinagar high ways
ATM at Khaltse and Nimmo
Leh Manali high way
ATM machines are available at Kharu and Choklamsar
Beside you ATMS machines are available at Disket Nubra and Tangtsey
Q17. Can we use Credit Cards in Hotels & Restaurants ?
A17. Only few places use credit cards so its advisable use carry cash.
Q18. Can we use our Mobiles ?
A18. Leh has now Airtel & BSNL Cellone and Aircel mobile services so if your Mobile service provider has tie up with BSNL Cellone or Airtel. Please confirm with your service provider before you carry your mobile. BSNL has more coverage to Nubra, Pangong, Tsomoriori and Zanskar Padum.
Q19. Are there internet cafes ?
A19. Yes there are many. Connection may not be very fast as internet connection is via dial-up system and there are no internet service providers ISP in Leh. The normal charge is Rs.2/- per minute.
Q20. Are there Foreign Exchange centres?
A20. Yes,J&K Bannk, HDFCSBI has dedicated Foreign Exchange Facility. There is also an authorized Western Union Money Transfer branch which does foreign exchange and besides there are private authorized forex counters as well.