Leh was on the bucket list since a long long time. So finally this year I planned Leh trip around month of August. After a lot of research I came up with this itinerary. This is that kind of place where road is equally or sometimes more beautiful than the destination. I enjoyed every bit of this trip. Leh has got most memorable landscapes, welcoming people and culture shaped by the neighboring regions like Tibet, China, Pakistan.
- Trip : Booked trip for first week of august via http://traveltriangle.com/
- Best time to visit : May to Sep
- Duration : 11 days, 10 nights
- Cost : Approximately 35K per person + flights
- Travel : Booked return flights from Pune and Innova from day 3 for rest of the trip.
- Route – Leh-nubra-leh-pangong-leh-tso moriri-sarchu-manali-chandigarh
- Hotels : Leh (Ladakh palace), Nubra (Sand dunes camp), Pangong (Yak Camp), Tso moriri(Pangong delight), Sarchu (Dorje Camp), Manali(Hotel Marble), Chandigarh(Hotel Diamond)
- Important things to carry : Basic medicines for cold cough, Anti mountain sickness & motion sickness pills, Govt Id proof for permit to visit places, winter wear.(There is separate list for bikers and trekkers)
- Prepaid sim cards are not supported in Leh, better to carry postpaid. But there is zero network as well as electricity cuts at most of the places.
- Food : Hotels and camps do provide typical basic Indian meal. There are small food stops serving local food near village areas.
Day 1 : Arrive in Leh
Arrived in this beautiful town. It was a small army airport surrounded by bare mountains with clean and cold air. Took a cab to our hotel. Leh has a completely different landscape than rest of the Kashmir. First day in Leh is a mandatory rest day. You have to give body the rest and time to adjust to high altitude. We explored hotel, had some food and slept for couple of hours.
By the evening it started getting colder but still manageable with a thin jacket. Shanti stupa was at walking distance from our hotel. Its a white domed shaped stupa built in 1991.
Day 2 : Leh Sightseeing (biking and rafting)
Yayy its a bike day… We rented Royal Enfield for the day. Riding bikes through mighty himalayan mountains with such a breathtaking view is just awesome. Before starting our adventure, we went to Tourist permit office in Leh market area. Everybody needs to fill out the form and submit it along with identity proof and photo. Once we got the permit we made some photocopies from nearby place as these copies needs to be submitted at the check posts while entering villages. We went to Hall of fame, magnetic hill, Gurudwara Pattharsahib, Indus and zanskar confluence. Honestly speaking, I did not notice any difference or some phenomenon at magnetic hill but location is picturesque. Hall of fame is a museum of weapons and history exhibits run by Indian army. It gives glimpse of our army efforts and the place humbles you.
We decided to go for rafting at the confluence. Charges are 1200 per person for 14 kms, that includes everything along with the wet suit. I just cant explain that experience in words. I took a dip in bloody cold glaciers water to freeze the moment literally 😛
We wanted to visit Leh palace the same day but it was closed by the time we reached. Closing time is 5 pm
Day 3 : Leh -> Nubra (160 Kms, 5 Hrs)
Yesterday’s hectic day was taking a toll on our bodies. So we popped up anti mountain sickness pills because we did not want to ruin this day. But one can survive without pill. Not all roads are in good conditions plus it gets really dusty. Everywhere roads are hilly & narrow. So better to carry motion sickness pills if allergic.
Khardung la pass : The road journey to Nubra valley leads through Khardung La pass (The highest Motorable road in the world) 18,390 ft. around 39 Kms. Mountains tops are covered with snow caps and colorful prayer flags. Cant stay here for more than 20 mins, its a sufficient time to enjoy the view & capture mandatory pics like these 🤣.
Hunder : Its a beautiful village to stay with lot of trees. Ladakh as a region has very less trees as these mountains are covered with snow for more than 7 months a year. Our tent was surrounded by apricot trees😍 Hunder has river, trees, mountains & desert, all at one place. The Camel Safari on double dump bacterian camels through sand dunes is wonderful. Camels are short in height and they have double hump on their back. There is a small place where local dancers perform in the evening in a traditional ladakhi attire. It got really windy and cold at the night.
Day 4 : Nubra -> Leh
Its time to say bbye to nubra and leave for our base location, Leh. We did not want to rush our trip and exhaust ourselves by travelling from one destination to another. So we decided to add leh as a halt after alternate day/destination.
On our way back, we spent some time at diskit gompa & many beautiful picturesque locations on the road like khalsa village. Diskit gompa has big colorful statue of Budhha facing down river. The view from here overlooking Nubra valley is mesmerising
Leh Market : Reached early than expected so decided to explore leh local market. Its full of small and unique cafes, restaurants, antiques, jewellery, cloths, pashmina shops and tourists.
Day 5 : Leh – > Pangong (222 Km, 5 Hrs 30 mins)
Pangong, Most awaited destination of this trip. Pangong is in opposite direction than that of nubra from leh. We skipped other checkpoints on the route so that we can reach Pangong asap and cover them on our way back to leh.
Changla pass : Road to pangong lake passes through changla pass. Another beautiful higher road through mountains. Local drivers are very skilled and they can easily drive through valleys and hilly roads. Every journey was accompanied by biker/cycle groups. There are isolated villages in Leh and Indian army base camps are located everywhere. Brave guardians of our nation have worlds highest battlefield camp in Siachen where temperature goes upto -50 degrees.
Pangong Lake : This is a unbelievably beautiful creation of nature. So tranquil.. so pleasing.. The name Pangong is derived from Tibetan word Banggong meaning long, narrow, enchanted lake. Because of the saltiness in the water of the lake, there is very less micro-vegetation. There are no fish or other aquatic life in the lake, except for some small crustaceans. They say lake changes its color 4 to 5 times a day, its probably because of the reflections. Its approximately 130 kms in length and shared between China and India. We stayed at lakeside camps. These locations are famous for stargazing too. After playing cards till midnight, I came out of the tent to the best cold starry mountain night view. Camera could hardly capture it but it will stay in memory forever.
Day 6 : Pangong to Leh
Wanted to witness Pangong sunrise.. but whom am I kidding.. I am not a morning person. So we went after breakfast to click more pics. We have seen this place in many movies like Jab tak hai jan, 3 idiots, Lakshya etc.
On our way back to Leh, we visited shey & Thiksey monastery, 3 idiots school, Shey palace, sindhu ghat(Indus river). Thiksey monastery is located on top of a hill in Thiksey village and has a 15 meters high statue of Maitreya inside the temple. Place feels very peaceful, try to attend morning prayer. Sindhu ghat is beautifully made with red ghumats alongside mighty sindhu river.
Day 7 : Leh -> Tso Moriri (220Kms, 5Hrs 20 mins)
Now its time to say final bbye to base location. Whole trip I was looking out for yaks, I got to see them finally on the way to Tso moriri along with healthy mountain horses peacefully eating in wild. Almost entire road is accompanied by Indus river flowing wildly through mountains. Tso moriri is a beautiful mountain bounded expanse of water & probably the highest lake, located at 14,000 ft. It’s equally beautiful. For a short trip, Tso moriri can
Hot water springs : On the way to tso moriri, near some village there are hot water springs, along the river. The water is supposed to cure many chronic diseases but its not well maintained and felt dirty.
Day 8 : Tso moriri -> Sarchu (228 kms)
This day turned out to be more adventurous than imagined. This a long story about how driver abandoned us in a village where there are no phones, no cars and how we managed to cross mountains and meet new driver at sarchu manali highway. Total adventure 😂 Finally by 3pm we got into our designated Innova and left for sarchu through Nakeela and Lachangla Pass 16,617 ft. Tso moriri to Sarchu route is yet another beautiful route.
Day 9 : Sarchu -> Manali (222 kms)
What a fresh morning after a pretty cold night at Sarchu camp! Group of bikers was leaving for leh with full of excitement. Sarchu is major halt point at Lah-Manali highway for all travelers, bikers, cyclists. Jispa is another option but its far. Better to stay at Sarchu on the journey back to manali.
Rohtang pass : The famous rohtang pass…Here we enter Himachal Pradesh. Have seen snow version of rohtang pass in bollywood movies 😛 This was a non snowy, green version of it. Very beautiful and scenic. It starts getting greener and greener as we move towards Manali. This was completely different landscape than what we had seen in leh. Road passes through beautiful spiti valley.
Spent our evening in Manali markets. Bought shawls, blankets, handmade souvenirs. Manali is beautiful small hilly town. Though crowded with tourists. Manali has a lot to offer but we had little time to explore.
Day 10 : Manali -> Chandigarh (310 kms)
Left for our 10 hour long journey to Chandigarh. Had lunch on the way. Bought shimla special fresh apples. Our route was accompanied by beas and sutlej river. River was covered with such a dense fog because of rains and cold weather. I witnessed this for the first time. Reached our hotel by 9pm. Chandigardh is a very well planned city, divided into sectors. We went to Sector 17 for dinner and some street shopping.
Day 11 : Early morning flight and back to the base 🙂
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If you have been to Leh, please share your experience in comment box, if no then plan asap and let me know if you need any help, I will be more than happy to help 😎