It is heaven for a nature lover, an obsession for a photographer, inspiration for an artist and an unsolved mystery for a traveller. It is the highest valley in India, nested in the Himalayas makes you wonder if it is real or just a giant painting, which only God himself could have painted. The magnificent Leh, capital of Ladakh.
Now it is that time of the year when Ladakh opens up to welcome lovers of nature to witness its surreal beauty. But as a traveller there are many doubts that come to your mind, below are some of the common doubts which I have answered.
Do all travellers get Acute Mountain Sickness and how to avoid it?
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can happen to anyone it is not dependent upon age, sex or fitness levels. AMS occurs due to a sudden rise in the altitude and the rate at which you reach on top. This happens typically at altitudes above 8000 ft. Most of the travellers when they reach Leh get this but it is so mild that they do not realise it. But care needs to be taken if you start ascending to higher altitudes without acclimatising then AMS can become severe.
There are some simple things to keep in mind to avoid it:
When you reach Leh stay there for a day or two. Get yourself acclimatised to the environment
Drink plenty of water, since the region is cold you might not feel like drinking water, so ensure that you make an effort to drink water
Whenever you want to sleep drop the altitude. What I mean is if you were climbing you would have reached a particular height and decided to call it a day, so for sleeping come down a few altitudes and pitch tents
Always keep your body warm, carry good inners and woollens
This is the place where you need to load on carbohydrates
Carry DIAMOX which you can get at any chemist since the medicine takes a while to have its effect, it is advisable to start taking it 24 hours before going to altitude and continue it for at least 5 days at higher altitude
At any point do not overexert yourself, remember you are not used to those terrains, so take it slow and easy
If possible carry a small Oxygen Kit will be helpful
The symptoms of AMS are dizziness, headache, muscle aches, nausea.
Now if you feel that you have any of these in that region please inform your guide or someone around you. I know some people think they are superhuman or they feel embarrassed that they are having such symptoms and don’t tell anyone. And very soon they get into trouble. If AMS is not addressed immediately, it leads to the build-up of fluid in the lungs that can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Remember prevention is better than cure
Clothes that a traveller should carry during the Leh Ladakh trip
If you are travelling during the tourist season from June – August then you can consider light woollens, gloves, a winter jacket in case if you are the types gets too cold. During your trip in Ladakh, you will witness fluctuating temperatures sometime you will be in the sun and then in the cold so carry clothes, which can be worn in layers. You can keep adding and removing according to the temperature.
A quick checklist would consist of the following:
A heavy woollen jacket which can come on and off immediately, which will also be handy with you
A couple of inner thermal suits
Carry a Balaclava or monkey cap
Sunglasses to protect your eyes
Vegetarian food in Leh Ladakh
Finding veg food in Leh is very easy, however finding 100% pure veg restaurants can be a challenge. Besides that when you move for sightseeing in various terrains you have to carry packed food. Another way is to bring your own ingredients and stove that you can set up where you camp and cook it yourself
Camping in Ladakh
I never had problem-pitching tents in Ladakh during my biking trips. You can almost pitch your tent anywhere, but I would suggest that you pitch it closer to some civilisation or a local eating-place. You can also walk up to a house and ask permission to set up your tent in their lawn. Most of them are very helpful and readily agree for it. Ensure that you do not spoil their lawn so that they have faith in travellers and continue doing that. Besides this will also give you an immense sense of security from the loneliness as well as from wild animals
Another point to remember while pitching tents is to avoid army areas and wetlands. Also, pitch at least 500 meters away from the lakes. And remember in the end all you should leave is your footprints and good vibes. In short, do not dirt the place
Permits required for Leh Ladakh trip
You need to have Inner Line Permits (ILP) to travel to certain regions of Leh Ladakh which includes Khardung La Pass, Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso Lake, Turtuk, , Digger La, Tyakshi, Tangyar, Tso Moriri Lake and Chang La Pass.
You visit Warshi village which is ahead of Panamik on the way to Siachen Base Camp. However, to visit the Siachen base camp, you need special permissions from the army. The permits from the Leh DC office itself is not sufficient enough to attend Siachen base camp.
On the Hunder side in Nubra Valley, you can travel all the way up to Tyakshi village ahead of Turtuk from where you can see India – Pakistan border. Apart from these places, if you are going travel to Hanle or on Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri direct route from Chusul, then you need the inner line permit from Leh DC office which will provide you with a unique stamp on your permit copy to travel to Hanle and Chusul route.
You can apply for inner line permit at Leh DC office or Tourist Information Center (TRC) at Leh. If you are using a travel agent, then they would do the needful. You can just chill
Can kids go there to Ladakh
It depends upon the parents but according to me if the child is below 5 years then definitely don’t take them. It is not that parents cannot handle them but why take the risk, AMS can hit them, and they might find it difficult to communicate. Kids above 5 can talk and express better, so it is fine. As a parent, you have to be watchful and brief them well in advance of the dangers of the symptoms. Remember you are there to enjoy so do it responsibly.