Here is a sneak peak into my Leh Ladakh vacation from June 2018.
Day 1 (Arrival in Leh)
We reached Leh at around 8.30 am after taking an early morning short flight from Delhi. The view of the mountains looked so amazing the very moment we get out of the plane and looked around. Bright sunlight, less oxygen and strong winds made a deadly combo for a headache soon after we landed. We were advised to spent the rest of the day relaxing and acclimatising at our hotel, Yarab Tso. In the evening we visited Shanti Stupa (around 5 km from our hotel). It looked pretty amazing with sun starting to set in the background. Also the view of the entire Leh area from the top was quite pleasant. I was feeling bit of breathlessness there. It is recommended to walk slow and keep the pulse low by not indulging in much physical activity at least for 24 to 36 hrs to acclimatise.
After Shanti Stupa, we visited the main Leh Market. It was a small market with a few handicrafts shops, art galleries, dry fruits shops, local coffee houses etc. We particularly liked the Neha snacks corner and Leh cafe. We bought almonds and apricots from Sonu dry fruits shop which seemed to us of great quality there. One can also find basic opticians, medical, hosiery and artificial jewellery shops in this market. The day ended with the dinner at our hotel with mild headaches but nothing severe.
Day 2 (Sightseeing near Leh)
Second day started with leaving from our hotel at around 9 am after breakfast. First we visited the Hall of fame. This was near the military area and set against a picturesque background. There was an entry ticket of Rs.100 per person to visit inside the museum. It showcased our national heroes achievements during the major wars India had with its enemies.
Then we made our next stop at Sangam which is the confluence of Zanskar and Indus Rivers. Merging brown and blue colours of both the rivers was visible here. There was rafting activity in the river costing at Rs.700 per person for 6kms. The view was superb but the harsh sun made it impossible for me to stay out for long time.
Next we halted at Patharsahib gurudwara on our way back to Leh. It was maintained and managed by the army. Prasad served at this gurudwara was hard to be missed. It was already afternoon then. We then made a quick stop at the Magnetic Hill which was again on the way. The anti gravity experience of car moving in the opposite direction of the slope on the hill on account of the magnetic force at this place was one of its kind.
We were back to our hotel by 3.30pm. After taking some rest we went in the evening to visit Moti market. It was around 2 kms from our hotel but the local taxi charged us 200/- for this one way. Our package taxi left soon after dropping us so we had to rely on local transport.
Day 3 (Leh to Nubra Valley Via Khardungla Pass: 140 km/ 5 -6 hours)
Started from Leh to Nubra valley. On the way passed through Khardungla pass, the highest motorable road in the world at 18000 feet approx. oxygen level was on lower side at such great altitude So we were advised to not spent much time here. There was snow covered peaks to be seen around with sun shining on them with its full might. Also not much space was there for the traffic to flow smoothly. We started to feel bit dizzy and our heads began to pain after sometime. So we continued our journey further. The whole route further down the pass was beautiful. Since it was avalanche prone area, our driver didn’t make much stop there. There were few people to be seen around, not much plants or vegetation, just sand dunes and mountains with barren land. After making a lunch stop we made a quick stop at the Diskit Monastery which is one of the largest monastery situated on a hilltop.
Finally we reached Hunder in Nubra valley. We checked into our accommodation for that day at Lotus Eco resort in Hunder. At around 6pm we went to visit the sand dunes. I witnessed another nature’s miracle at this place, the cold desert and double humped camels. The white sand dunes covered one part of the valley and on the other side was a stream of water gushing low on the grass covered ground. Closely there were dozens of short furry double humped camels strolling with people waiting to ride them for camel safari around the valley. The sun began to set behind the mountains in a while but the mountain casted its shadow only over one part of the valley. The other part was still shining bright with the sun rays. The whole sight was truly a wonder to experience. Such nature’s diversity coexisting at the very same place.
Day 4 (Nubra – Pangong via Shayok Valley: 165 km 6-7 Hrs)
It was the most awaited day of the whole trip. Destination for this day was Pangong Lake – world’s highest salt water lake stretching for more than 150 kms at India China border. It was a good 6-7 hrs drive from Hunder for about 165 kms. On the way we made a quick stop at Shayok valley where one can enjoy AV ride. After reaching Pangong at about 3 pm, we made our first stop at the famous shooting point where the iconic movie 3 Idiots climax scene was shot. Driving along the lake and looking at that never ending lake with mighty deserted mountains with snow covered peaks, the whole scene was just so picture perfect.
After witnessing the changing colors of the Pangong Tso lake ranging from sea green to turquoise blue to muddy brown, we proceed to checkin at our camps by the river side just before sunset. It got really cold there in the evening as the sun started to set with strong winds gushing through us. We spent the night in our camps by the river side under the stars with no mobile signals, limited electricity source, enjoying nature’s true wilderness. The pressure of the cold winds caused some sickness and headaches so couldn’t enjoy much of star gazing at night. But I tried to capture a couple of long exposure shots of the trillion gleaming stars in the sky. It was surreal. I could just not get enough of this place.
Day 5 (Leh Calling: 150 Km 5-6 Hrs)
Ladakh trip for me was redeemed after I witnessed the surreal beauty of Pangong lake. This day was not reserved to cover any sightseeing point but to just drive back to Leh and relax. On the way back to Leh we passed through Chang La Pass, the second highest motorable road that lies at the height of 5486 meters. There was snow to be seen all around and we stopped on the way to play in the snow for a while. We reached Leh and checked in at our hotel at around 3 pm. There were a couple of sightseeing points on the way but these were to be covered the next day as per our itinerary. However we felt that we had enough time to cover those the same day.
Day 6 (Monasteries in Leh)
We left in the morning to first visit the Hemis monastery. There was a small museum inside along with a souvenir shop. Then we reached the Thiksey monastery next which was located at a high point on the hills. The aura of this monastery was so colourful and divine. As these monasteries were located at the top, we had to climb several stairs to reach the top which was bit exhausting given the low oxygen level in the air. Next we visited Shey palace. The palace was closed for maintenance and only the Buddha temple was open at Shey. We didn’t spent much time there and quickly reached the last stop of the day at Rancho’s school.
Druk White Lotus school also known as Rancho’s school of 3 Idiots movie fame was spread over 28 acres on a hilltop. This school had won accolades for its unique and eco friendly architecture. The staff of the school walked the group of tourists for a small tour briefing about the school. And there comes the end of our Ladakh tour. We spent the evening hanging out at the Leh market and headed back to Delhi taking the early morning flight the next day. This was by far the most unique travel experience where I witnessed nature’s true untouched beauty.
I have already posted my recommended itinerary with places that are a must visit, what to expect in Leh, when to visit, what to pack etc. in my other post linked here. Do check it out and post in the comments below if any more travel tips are required for you to plan your trip to the majestic Leh Ladakh.