Spectacularly jagged, arid mountains enfold this magical, Buddhist ex-kingdom. Picture-perfect gompas dramatically crown rocky outcrops amid whitewashed stupas and meditational mani walls topped with countless mantra-inscribed pebbles. Colourful fluttering prayer flags spread their spiritual messages metaphorically with the mountain breeze. Prayer wheels spun clockwise release more merit-making mantras.
Ladakh is hemmed in by walls of dramatic mountains. This makes for unforgettable landscapes and everyone wants to go when the season opens. Here are some tips n how to prepare for a trip to Ladakh:
1. Do your Homework & Research!
The first step is the most important one. There are 1000 different things that can go wrong and one has to be prepared to handle them. And the best way to be prepared is through research. Research about the routes, read as much as possible about the route and places you plan to visit.It is good to note down helpline numbers displayed on highways.
2. Be Physically Fit
The preparation for this ride is mostly mental as those conditions cannot be experienced in other plain areas. The key is to study what you are going to face and be mentally prepared for it.Due to the high altitude, there are chances of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). AMS affects our body due to low oxygen levels and makes our body difficult to adjust and adapt to the weather and height. Headache, vomiting, nose bleeding, nausea, breathlessness are common side effects. Various breathing exercises before you go helps strengthen your lungs.
3. Routes and Passes
Do not underestimate nature. Be prepared for delays due to excessive snow, landslide, accidents on the passes. Some roads are closed for civilians in evenings and night. Your best source for up-to-date information is to have tea at roadside stalls and talk to the shop owners and locals.
4. Buffer Days
Always keep a few buffer days, considering factors like AMS, landslides, unpredictable weather, snowfall or even rain. There could be mechanical failures with busses /cars or flat tires. All of these may force you to abandon the travel plan for that day.
5. Climate and Clothes
Research the temperatures before you go. Woolens will always do you well. Jackets and layers will help shield against the wind and snow and keep you warm
6. Keep Documents Handy
During this trip, you are expected to be in possession of multiple copies of the following documents: driving license, PUC, insurance, vehicle registration papers and PAN, voter id card or passport. You will find it is far easier to go through military checkpoints if you have everything ready. Also, for traveling to Pangong Tso and other interior parts, you may be asked to submit copies at checkpoints. It is advisable to keep laminated maps of all the places and highways you will encounter during your trip
Also read: 5 Unique experiences on our Ladakh trail
7. Electronic Items and Gadgets
If you love photography, you will be on an overdrive-mode. The quality of light is amazing. And if you shoot RAW, be prepared for massive amounts of data. Carry a netbook or laptop to back your data on.
8. Money and First Aid
Although there are ATMs in cities, it is preferable to carry extra cash on you. Ask for prices of food before you order to avoid being fleeced. A medical kit with tablets for headache, cold, fever, muscle and joint pains etc. I will recommend to carry glucose packets as well.
Stock up on all required medical supplies a week before you leave. If you are on prior medication, carry extra with you to compensate for any delays.
Also read: 5 Foods you must eat in Ladakh
9. People and Culture
When in Ladakh stick your hand out when passing school children – they will give you a hi-five. This was surprisingly consistent behaviour in most of Ladakh. Also, shout out “julley” (जुलै) – it is a common greeting in Ladakhi language – and the locals will cheer you on with a resounding julley in return.When dealing with Indian Army, remember that the soldiers are posted there for security. Do comply with identification checks.
Join us in July: http://bit.ly/mountainloveladakh
Check out the amazing itinerary route map: