This is the timeline of my planned Leh Ladakh Road Trip 2016 which is still in the planning phase. Most Probably the trip will be in the Month of May-June. This page will be updated regularly as things progress. (Cover Photo Credit: Venus Holidays)
Prologue – Leh Ladakh Road Trip
[Time stamp: 29 April 2016 02:15 AM]
There are some things that one must do in his/her lifetime. A trip to Leh region of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir is one of such things. Snow-clad mountain peaks of the mighty Himalayas, barren rocky hills, sand dunes, clear sky and serene lakes – what else can a nature lover ask for?
A trip to Ladakh has been in my bucket list for a long time but due to various reasons I have not been able to turn it into reality. But I am determined to make this trip in 2016. I have a 2.5 month summer vacation starting from 2nd week of May and there can’t be a better period to visit The Roof of the World. The snow and gravel covered roads open in April-May when snow starts to melt and remains open till September-October. Though roads are better and safer in the later period, people say the beauty of Ladakh is at its peak in months of May-June.
One can easily go to Leh by flight and do local sightseeing in hired or shared taxis. But Leh is one of the places for what people say that journey is more important than the destination. The sheer adrenaline rush that you get going to this beautiful cold desert via Manali Leh highway or Srinagar highway is one in a lifetime experience. The treacherous and challenging but beautiful roads going through high altitude passes have been attracting adventurers year-after-year.
The big hurdle – How to go to Leh
[Time stamp: 30 April 2016 11:40 AM]
I bought my first car (Maruti Suzuki Baleno Zeta Petrol) in December 2015 and travelling around our beautiful country in my own car was one of the purposes behind that. But I am still a new driver and have never driven in hilly roads. So, driving my car to Ladakh myself is out of question. I can hire a driver but it will cost too much if I travel alone. Finding like-minded people to join on the trip is a real pain and you always have the uncertainty that people will cancel the plan at the last minute and your whole trip may get jeopardized. Another option is to join any other group traveling to Leh but that comes with a little loss of freedom and the chances of boredom/irritation if people are not very good or like minded. Flying to and from Leh is not something that I am considering for the reasons mentioned above. Buses are not the option for me as I get sick in 2-3 hours of bus journey. Another thing I can do is to find some people going to Leh in their own vehicles on sites like BlaBlaCar, Couchsurfing, Devil on Wheels etc. and tag along with them. After reaching Leh I can just try to find some travel mates and hire a taxi with them or just use shared taxies. The negative of this way of travelling would be that I won’t be able to carry a lot of necessary things. Traveling light is the key when you are backpacking. For the time being, I have kept all the options open and have been talking to people as well as doing my own research. Let’s see how things turn out.
Taxi and driver Expenses – Updates
[Time stamp: 05 May 2016 11:40 PM]
I got the phone number of a taxi driver in Ladakh from my Facebook friend Pooja Singh ji. I talked to him to get a quote and he told that he would charge 60000 Rupees for 15 days. He will pick me from Srinagar, will drive me to all the sightseeing places during the Leh trip and will drop me at Manali at the end. He said he can also arrange hotel accommodation and meals during the trip and the complete expenses for that would be 1 Lakh 10 Thousand Rupees. Now, the 60000 Rupees for 15 day trip is good if you are a group of 4-5 but for someone travelling alone it is too expensive. So I dropped this idea.
I have also been exploring the option of hiring a hiring a driver for 20 days of the Ladakh trip. I talked to 2-3 drivers and also to an agency and the common quote was Rs. 1000 per day + Meals + Accommodation for the driver. I don’t know how the accommodation arrangement work. Most of the big hotels have dormitories or other staying arrangements for drivers but I don’t know if small budget hotels have this facility. In that scenario accommodating the driver can be a problem as he can’t sleep in the car for 15 days, that too in such cold temperatures.
Now I am considering the option of finding a driving partner – someone who is driving not for money but for enjoying the trip. For being driven I can bear the fuel and food expenses. This way the driving partner will be able to do the trip at very low expense and I will also be able to save some money as well as have a travel partner friend to enjoy the trip with.
May 10 – Leh Road Trip Finalized
So, I was considering the option of either hiring a driving and taking my own car to Ladakh or finding a driving travel partner. I had posted about this in 2-3 travel forums. A few days back I was contacted by Mr. Naveen from Delhi who was planning to go to Ladakh in his Mahindra Xylo and was looking for travel partners to share cost. He already had 2 people confirmed and wanted one more aboard. I compared it with all the other options I had and it sounded better than all of them. If I go with these guys, I won’t have to worry about the vehicle and driver (Naveen is an experienced driver himself and his car is also an SUV which is the best for Ladakh terrain). I will also have 3 travel mates which is always better than going alone. And last but not the least, the costs quoted by Mr. Naveen seemed very reasonable (I will share the cost details of the whole trip later). So I decoded to go with this option and confirmed.
Photo Credit: http://www.holidify.com/
Leh Ladakh Road Trip – Itinerary
This is the tentative itinerary that we are planing to follow but nothing is fixed. We will change the plan as and when needed. That’s the reason we haven’t booked any hotels in advance. Booking hotels in advance takes away the flexibility of changing routes, stay time etc. and there is no adventure left.
|Date||Location||Distance to Cover||Driving Time (Hrs.)||Night Stay||Additional Details|
|May 18||Delhi||0||0||Departure||Departure from Home|
|May 18||Patnitop/Sansar Lake||700 Km||14||Hotel||Two beautiful lakes in Jammu & Kashmir|
|May 19||Gulmarg||250 Km||8||Hotel||A popular skiing destination|
|May 20||Srinagar/Sonmarg||130 Km||4||Camping/Hotel||Beauty of Kashmir|
|May 21||Kargil/Mulbekh||165 Km||5||Camping/Hotel||Kargil war memorial & Mulbekh Buddhist village|
|May 22||Leh||180 Km||5||Hotel||The land of mystic Lamas|
|May 23||Khardungla/Hunder/Nubra valley||175 Km||5||Camping/Hotel||Highest mountain pass in the world|
|May 24||Pangong Lake||220 Km||8||Camping/Hotel||The famous lake in ‘3 Idiots’ movie|
|May 25||Hanle||235 Km||6||Camping/Hotel||One of the highest astronomical observatories|
|May 26||Tso Kar||150 Km||5||Camping/Hotel||A small lake in Himalayas|
|May 27||Sarchu/Jispa/Chandratal||240 Km||9||Camping/Hotel||Beauty of Himachal|
|May 28||Manali/Kullu||180 Km||6||Hotel||Popular hill stations|
|May 29||Chandigarh||270 Km||7||Camping/Hotel||Capital of beautiful Punjab|
|May 29||Delhi||260 Km||5||Home||Back to Home|
Preparations for Ladakh Trip (Things to Carry)
16th May 2016
I have less than 48 hours now to leave for Ladakh and there are so many things to prepare. Earlier we were planning to leave at 4 AM on 18th May from Delhi but now we are thinking of leaving at 9 PM on 17th May. We won’t be able to sleep in anticipation and excitement that night anyway.