Himachal Pradesh to Ladakh
Ladakh is a wild and beautiful land and it offers breathtaking scenery and amazing opportunities for watching Nature at her purest and most majestic form. However Ladakh is also a land of harsh terrain and unforgiving climate so planning a trip to Ladakh will require you to have a brave soul. You will be rewarded with many natural splendors if you take a road trip to Ladakh. Here are a few pointers which will help make your trip easy.
Road Map for Himachal –Ladakh Road Trip
The most obvious option for a road trip to Ladakh will be to take the Manali-Leh highway. This is the best and the smoothest route to Ladakh and has already replaced the Kargil-Srinagar-Ladakh route in popularity. This highway is open for only 4 months a year between April to July and then again in Mid October. Following this highway you can enter the beautiful Zanskar Valley in Ladakh from the Manali Valley.
There are some bad road stretches, water crossings and snow crossings along with glacial melts that dot the Leh Manali NH2 highway. If you encounter bad weather on the way then it’s safer to halt in some spot that offers decent accommodation.
If you want to opt for travel outside the designated months described above then there are only two routes available to you. One is the Zoji La Pass and the other is through the Kargil Route from Srinagar.
When travelling to Ladakh its absolutely imperative to stock up on food and mineral water and fill up your tank whenever you reach a hospitable town. Ladakh (apart from its towns) has huge stretches of beautiful barren land where there are no ATM’s, Petrol Pumps, Drug Stores or Restaurants.
Plan for Road Trip from Manali to Leh
We have tried and planned a road trip keeping in mind the safety and the comfort of the travelers. Hope you find it worthy.
Plan for Day 1
The agenda for the first day of your road trip is the Drive from Manali to Sarchu. You need to get up in the morning and leave by 8. A.M as it’s recommended to reach Sarchu latest by 5.30 P.M in the evening. The road which you will be travelling by is rocky and rough so make sure that that there is enough fuel in the tank and the car is in good working condition.
From Manali you have to travel through Rohtang Pass which is at an altitude of 13050 feet to Lahaul and Spiti Valley. The next stops will be at Tandi, Jispa and then a relaxed lunch break can be taken at Darcha. The Hozer Café which is right near the Manali Leh highway is perfect for enjoying delicious Tibetan and Chinese food. Post lunch you can drive to Sarchu through the beautiful Balaracha Pass which is at a total elevation of 16020 feet.
There are many good hotels like Dorje Camp and Goldrop Camp in Sarchu which offer decent accommodation and delicious food. You will notice that most hotels are named after some camp as Sarchu s an important spot in Himachal for adventure tourism.
Manali to Sarchu is 222 km and it will take you approximately 8 hours of driving time including the lunch break. The road is rough but the breathtaking sights make it worthwhile. You can expect to reach Sarchu by evening 5 P.M
Plan for Day 02
The agenda for your second day will be to travel from Sarchu to Leh which is a total of 255 km. You have to leave for Leh by early morning through the Nakeela Pass which is at a total elevation of 16,617 feet. There is ample scope for photography as almost every minute will provide you with a breathtaking vision of craggy mountains and amazing flora. You will also pass quaint places like Whiskey Bridge and Gata Loops (a succession of 21 loops).
It’s best that you have your lunch at one of the many small eateries near Lachung La as the serve excellent momos, thupka and gurgur (butter tea). Your next stretch of travel will take you to Skyangchu Thang which is the highest plateau in the world. There is nothing but eerily beautiful white stretches of land covered by arctic shrubs.
You will also pass the Tanglang La Pass which is at a total elevation of 17,585 feet. About 20 km from the Tanglang La Pass will take you to the haunting ruins of the greatest civilization in the world; Indus Valley. It’s recommended that you spend at least two hours exploring the beautiful splendor and archeological ruins of this place as it will take you back in time.
It’s expected that you will arrive at Leh by late evening and then you can check in into any one of the comfortable hotels there. Leh is a big city with ample opportunities for shopping and sightseeing and you are sure to have a gala time there.
Non Governmental enterprises like Snow Leopard Conservancy and Home stay Himalaya Program have introduced ecological home stay programs where tourists can come and stay in the homes of locals and get an authentic feel of life in Ladakh. Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company is one such organization which offers eco tourism accommodation options. Their official website has to be contacted to make a proper booking.
What to see in Ladakh
As mentioned earlier Ladakh is a land of exotic beauty so you will have a lot of choice when it comes to selecting tourist spots which you can cover on your road trip.
Some un-missable ones are Drass Valley, Zanskar Valley
, Salt Valley, Suru Valley, Rangdum, Sankoo and Zangla.
There are many beautiful monasteries in Ladakh like the Lamyaru and the Alchi Monastery
. There are specific monastery tours which are organized by travel guides who arrange road plans for tourists.
Permits and Paperwork
Ladakh is a restricted area and you will need written permission from the tourism department’s office before you can visit any of the beautiful spots in the inner circle of Ladakh like Nubra Valley
, Tso Moriri Lake
, Dha Hanu Lake and Tsokar Lake etc. If you are an Indian National then you will not need extra permits to visit Leh and Kargil towns.
Make sure that you carry your passport and valid ID proof like Aaadhar card along as almost every 10 km there will be a check post which will require you to show your papers.