Inside the shadows of the Indian Himalayas, lies a wildly glorious landscape of remote mountain ranges, soaring monasteries, desert drama, turquoise lakes and prayer flags dotting the skyline. This is Ladakh, referred to as Little Tibet.
The air is what you notice here first. Thin, crisp and cold even in the summers. The law of the air and atmosphere is different here at 3500 metres in the vibrant capital of Leh. The altitude here greets you as soon as you are off the plane.
Ladakh is an extraordinary spiritual destination with whitewashed stupas and monasteries clinging to the cliffs. It is one of the last quarters of the Mahayana Buddhism which has existed here for almost 1000 years. The capital city of Leh is where you first meet the vibe and soul of Ladakh. It is a hive of activity, with streets lined with shops selling mountain gears for those heading for higher ground and also charming souvenirs, monks in red robes shuffling along the lanes and markets selling the famed apricots.
There is lots to explore in the summer months from blue skies to perfect conditions for trekking, cycling and traversing the otherwise rugged terrain.
Now, what can you explore here?
Top of the list is the Khardung la Pass, one of the highest motorable roads in the world at 17,580 feet. The stunning vistas of this mountain pass takes you to Nubra Valley once a stop on the historic Silk Route. Here you can sight the Bactrian camels that were used for the trade route.
Step inside the many monasteries like Hemis, Thikse, Diskit, Alchi and many more with the highlight being the enchanting Ladakh festival where one can witness the Ladakhi culture and traditions come alive with dance, music, sporting events and festivities.
When here head to the azure blue lakes of Pangong and Tso Moriri flanked by the lofty mountain ranges. Pangong is the world’s highest saltwater lake in shades of blue and green extending from India to China.
Sip coffees at the cafes, meet the local people, taste their cuisine or just pick a spot to be enamoured by the views. Ladakh takes your breath away at each turn.
So, wondering when to head to Ladakh?
Being an extremely dry and arid region, late May is when the brutal winter months end and spring brings with it clear skies and average temperatures tend to be around 20˚C.
May to September is the ideal time to visit this gorgeous land as roads are open and monastic festivals take place during this time. The sunlight at such altitude can be a little intense so packing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen would be great.
As you explore this magnificent destination, here are a few things to remember.
Gradual acclimatisation is very important to adjust to the high altitude of Ladakh. Hydrating well throughout the journey and taking good rest for the first 24 hours helps travellers sink into the new air. Do build up your stamina a little before embarking here to ensure you can enjoy all the places in store for you. You can also consult a doctor before going out and take any preventive medicine before the trip.
Ladakh is cold most time of the year. Though the summer time days can be nice and warm, carrying adequate warm clothes never hurts, as you may not know when you would need them.
We would recommend avoiding alcohol consumption in Ladakh. Our bodies are adjusting to keep up with the high altitude and alcohol consumption further drains out water from our body and makes us dehydrated. Let us not fall ill and miss all the fun.
Experience Ladakh in a slow and steady manner. Our trip leader will be there to help you before and during the trip with all the details needed to make this journey a special one.
Ladakh is truly an inspiring and memorable place with its phenomenal scenery, warm people, majestic monasteries, and rich spirituality that is sure to to charm and captivate your senses.