Help Regarding Leh in Winters

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vivekgupta's picture
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Hi Vishnu,
 
Im Vivek Gupta and a resident of Kolkata (West Bengal). Had the oppurtunity to read your blog, http://thinkingparticle.com/blog/wild-leh-winters and see the pristine snaps of ladakh in winter.
 
Was thinking of visiting ladakh anytime between 05/12/11 to 18/12/11, for a week. Request your help to below mentioned queries I have in mind.
  • Will it be wise to visit during the specified time?
  • Will it be ok to take my spouse alongwith me?
  • Can we get proper accomodation and food during that time?
  • What are the chances of the roads to Nubra valley, Khardungla pass and Pangong lake being open during that time?

Looking forward to your response. Thank you.

Regards
Vivek
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Hi Vivek,
            Thanks a lot for dropping at Thinking Particles. Please find my comments inline in BLUE
 

Hi Vishnu,
 
Im Vivek Gupta and a resident of Kolkata (West Bengal). Had the oppurtunity to read your blog, http://thinkingparticle.com/blog/wild-leh-winters and see the pristine snaps of ladakh in winter.
 
Was thinking of visiting ladakh anytime between 05/12/11 to 18/12/11, for a week. Request your help to below mentioned queries I have in mind.
  • Will it be wise to visit during the specified time?

             I would not say that It is challenging on physical front though high altitude can be an issue if you are going to such place for the first time. first few days would be the most challenging one after that everything would be normal. In December, generally it snows a lot in Ladakh region. Being Rational point of view, I wont say that its wise to go there in december but I always encourage people to try Ladakh in winters. I would say to overcome the apprehension and prepare well and go there. Carry medicines, food from the place you are flying from.

           
  • Will it be ok to take my spouse alongwith me?
     
              During my visits to Ladakh in winters, I have never encountered a couple. Cold and Thin air can be a problem but it does not mean that Girls can not travel Ladakh in winters. Again it will depend on the mental strength. For the first few days, you will certainly be not very comfortable. It gets very much cold in Winters. Temperature will always be in negative. Acute mountain sickness is another major challenge. The guy who traveled with me could not get any sleep for the entire stay in Ladakh region so you can rethink at this point. But again keep the mental strength
 
 
  •  
  • Can we get proper accomodation and food during that time?
             Accommodation would not be a problem but you will have to find it. there is one expensive hotel that opens around the year but you can get budget options as well. for Lunch there are many options but for Dinner there is just one restaurant in the street that also closes at 7'0 Clock. Whenever traveling to some remote place, you can get food from the locals, they serve amazing maggi.
          
  • What are the chances of the roads to Nubra valley, Khardungla pass and Pangong lake being open during that time?
     

    None can guarantee you the open route to Pangong at time because i had seen tourist strangled in that region. but for Nubra and Khardungal, you will always find route open ( at least once in a week time, you will be able to cross Khardungla pass).

    You can stay in Diskit while traveling to Nubra valley. Pangong can be a one day trip ( thought you can get homestay near pangong lake)

Regards
Vishnu

 

 

 

 

vivekgupta's picture
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Dear Vishnu,
 
Thanks a ton for your response. I must admit that it is of immense help.
 
Actually, I've shortlisted 3 places for my vacation in Dec and need to zero in on one. The places are Ladakh, Auli or Koh Tao - Thailand.
 
Koh Tao for the reason that Im a keen scuba diver and want to do my open water and advanced open water course there. Auli coz I want to learn Skiing. Ladakh for its mesmerising beauty in winter which I've heard and saw from your blog is unparalleled.
 
Thanks a ton again for your help. Shall keep you posted.
 
Regards
Vivek
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Hi Vivek,
              Sorry for the late response, I was stuck somewhere in western ghats. Leh in Winters is simply one of its kind experience. It was the best experience i had so far. I been Auli in winters but I could not see much snow which can allow you for skiing. It depends on your luck.

                If you are picking Leh then let me know, I may connect you with some locals who can be a great help.

Vishnu

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Hi Vishnu,
 
I read your blog at http://thinkingparticle.com/blog/wild-leh-winters and loved it. We (My wife and me) are planning to visit Leh on Jan 25th, 2012 by flight.
 
Please let us know about the options available in accomordation. Also, do we need to take any permissions to go to Nubra Valley.
 
Thanks,
Gautam
 
 
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Hi Suman,
                Thanks for dropping by at thinking particle. its good to see that you are planning to travel leh in winters.

there are not many accommodation available in winters. some of the hotels are open in winters. I had stayed in hotel Kangri, it was partially open where me and my friend was cleaning the snow every day. Its a decent hotel..not very expensive....In luxury class, there is one hotel that opens through out the year...

Yes, you would require permit to visit nubra valley, permit can easily be procured from DM office.

We are also planning to travel Leh this winters for Chadra Trek. be in touch, we might meet up there.

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

Tariq Haque (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Hi Vivek,

I have booked my flight tickets to Leh on December 23, 2015; I have a return flight on January 3, 2015; I am going with my wife

I was planning to do Chadar Trek, which I have realized that is not possible in December; Can you suggest a few good places to see; I am particularly interested in Pangong Lake;

 

Also, please share a local contact who can provide my information and also whom I can contact during my visit; I might require him for Taxi and other travel related queries when I reach there.

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Hi Tariq,

Yes, you can not do chadar trek in December but you can visit Pangong lake, Nubra valley, Tso-moriri etc.
 

I will pass a number which can help.

+- Vishnu

Tariq Haque (not verified)
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Thank you very much Vishnu. I look forward to receiving the contact there. I am running tight on budget and hence planning everything on my own.

vishnu.kumar7's picture
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Always happy to help... Have a good one.

+- Vishnu

Sridevi (not verified)
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HI Vishnu,

 

I have some quick qustions :

I am planning to travel to leh on 28th feb and will be there on 1st of march and will be spending till 6th morning!

1. its just me and my friend travelling(Only 2 grils) is it safe ?

2. Can we do some part of chadar trek ?

3.can you please help us to connect with some locals?

4.do you have any good driver's contact who can take us all over ?

Let me know your suggetions and which all places can we cover .

 

Thanks A TON!

Sridevi

 

 

 

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1. its just me and my friend travelling(Only 2 grils) is it safe ?

Yes, it is safe.

2. Can we do some part of chadar trek ?

I doubt that. River might not be frozen in March.

3.can you please help us to connect with some locals?

Sorry, I do not have any number any longer.

4.do you have any good driver's contact who can take us all over ?

Unfortunately, I do not have any contact number any longer

Let me know your suggetions and which all places can we cover .

In your time frame, you can go to Pangong lake, Nubra Valley etc.

+- Vishnu

Konark (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

I m from ahmedabad , I want to go Leh in month of January 1st week , I have 2 kids . 1st is 4 years & 2nd is 8 years , so can U suggested me to going ? Is it possible with kids ? I booked the grand dragon hotel , it is 4 star hotel in Ladakh , hotels have completely heater system in lobby area & room . So plz give me ur opinion . I m waiting .

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Hi Konark,
                Ladakh will be extremely chilly in the month of January. Have you been to Ladakh before or any high altitude region ?, Acute mountain sickness is likely to hit and following document may answer most of your queries..

http://thinkingparticle.com/forum/frequently-asked-questions-acute-mountain-sickness

Grand Dragon is a good hotel so overnight stay won't be that challenging....Get yourself prepared for lot of snow and withering winters...

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

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Tariq Haque's picture

HI!!! I saw your blog and I wanna get some info. about Ladakh in winter time.
I'm planning to travel india in this winter. next year end of jan, I'll leave Korea and travel India.
so, I heard that Ladakh is soooooo cold in winter time. is it so hard to deal with temperture? I wanna see lake and travel. Also, How long is it good to stay there?
I'll stay in india for one month!
Please, Answer me Smile
Thank you!

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Hi,
             Thanks for dropping @ thinking particle. yaa you are right, it will be very cold in ladakh in winters. temperature varies from -5 to -25 degree.

              On the top of that its not blessed with high end tourist facilities, you wont find hot room even after spending much. but you can deal with the temperature...besides temperature the main problem would be thin air. you need to spend sometime to get acclimatize there...

               If you are planning this trip then at least spend 10 days in Leh and travel around. You can go to the lake in winters as roads will be open through-out the year.

               Carry warm clothing and get a room with a heating device that runs on domestic gas. carry dry fruits and ready to eat material. Not many restaurants are open during that time.

                anyway, i will also be traveling this winter so may be we can catch up.

              here is my number, you can call me up if you have more questions

             07676544724

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

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@ Cai :
Leh is undoubtly one of the best place you can travel in India... December is not the common time when people visit high Himalayas as you will witness heavy snowfall and inclement winters... the temperature is always below zero thought out the day and Leh is not blessed with the overwhelming tourist facilities like air conditioned hot room.. anyway I will recommend you to carry warm clothing, dry fruits, ready to eat stuff (as not many restaurants would be open at that time)... Spend initial 30-40 hours in the hotel room only to get your body acclimatize... Thin air would be another challenge that you need to deal with... You can consult a doctor and get some pills for acute mountain sickness...

 
Language would not a problem as many locals speak/understand English....
Avoid to follow any trail which you are not aware, you may get lost so if you are leaving Leh, go with the Driver + Guide

Nubra valley you can travel in December, you need to check about Pangong, If road is open you can travel pangong lake...

Btw for how many days you guys a planning this trip ?
 

cai (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

We have set aside 8 days for the northern part of india. But i guess we will go leh,laduk another time:) would really like to see pangong lake, shall not take the risk of not being able to see it. is there any places where we can see similar sights, but not of such extreme temperature? how abt manali and spiti? oh and thanks alot for the advice, you are very experience:)

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Hi Cai,
          I do not think you will be able to visit Spiti, Lahual Valley in December as Rohtang pass gets closed due to heavy snowfall.

          You will not be able to reach there from Manali side.

          However you can easily reach Manali, Kullu, Dharmshala, Dalhuasi, Macleodgunj and some other towns in the same trail.

          Uttaranchal is also nice to travel in December but It is more of a pilgrimage destination. If you are planning late December then you can plan to travel Auli.. It is one of the few sites those offer Skiing in high Himalayas.

          So you need to decide whether you want to go to Himachal or Uttaranchal ?, Both are equally captivating in my opinion.

          let me know if i can help you some more.

Keep Traveling
Vishnu

Yeo (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Hi Vishnu,

Found your blog and this forum while searching for information on Leh for my upcoming visit to India. We are thinking of flying in to Leh from Delhi sometime next month. I do need some advice and tips from experienced person like you.

Would be a good idea to visit Leh in March? We are planning to allocate about 4 days only as our time is rather limited on this visit to India. Which part of the Leh town would you recommend us stay which is accessible to food and budget guesthouses? We do not mind not going to the popular tourist spots for treking, but can we take the bus and visit the some villages for a day trip without a tour guide? How safe is it for female travelers? Any recommendation? How much would it cost to hire a driver/tour guide to Nubra for a day trip?

If you have contact details to connect to the locals who you can trust, for accommodation or homestay outside Leh town or anything at all, I am open to suggestions. It would be a great help for us on planning our itineraries.

Please do reply Smile

Thank you in advance.

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Hi Yeo,
             I think Leh in March would be perfectly fine if you taking flights both ways but 4 days are too less for a trip to Leh as you need to include couple of days for acclimatization (Leh is at high altitude so your body would need at least 24 hours to get acclimatize)... In the month of March, you wont find many accommodation open but you get definitely get a hotel. Leh is not a very big town, there is just one lane where you will find many hotels. Please make sure that there is a room heater in the guest house you lodged into.. There are not many restaurants open during this time of the year so options are limited.. During day time, you can still find couple of restaurants in main street but during dinner there are just one or two remains open... All the restaurnats get closed around 8:00 PM so you need to have your dinner a bit early than usual...

Treks are around Leh are generally more than 5 days so i don't think you guys can really go for a trek. During Winters, it is not recommended as well... All the small villages in Ladakh are well connected with busses, you can catch busses to Karu and other near by villages... visit Monasteries etc at Thiksey.... you can visit all the villages near Leh without a tour guide... People at Ladakh are very welcoming and gentle. Annoyance, robbery are rarely heard so its perfectly fine for Female travelers... its quite safe indeed......

About Taxi fare around Ladakh, you can refer the link below

http://thinkingparticle.com/articles/leh-taxi-fare-ladakh-taxi-fare-rate-list-year-2010-2011

This list is one year old so Taxi fare would have been increased a bit....

Homestay options are available but in Winters, you need a nice room to survive freezing weather...
There is a driver who had been great help for us during our time in Ladakh... He can help you getting a homestay or planning your Nubra trip...but I am afraid that he can not understand/speak English....

patma durgesh ...09622922188

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

 

Haren Vithaldas (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Hi Vishnu,

I read with great awe, your visit to Ladakh in January 2009. Its my dream to visit Ladakh in winter, but i very much doubt if i can 'take it'. I am 60 years of age.

In September 2011, i did the Delhi/Manali/Leh trip, Manali to Leh in an Innova. It was an experience i'll never forget - my best!!. The weather was clear, blue skies, wonderful pics i could take. The weather initially was warm but as days passed by, it became colder, though bearable. I was there from 13th Sept to 21st September.

Did lot of sightseeing, incl day trips to Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake.

I am a photography buff and want to take pics of Ladakh in snow, though not in severe winters. In Sept i did get lot of snow on Khardung La and Chang La and it was lovely. September latter half had no crowds and i greatly enjoyed the solitude.

With your experience of Ladakh, could you guide me on:

a) Could i visit in Oct or Nov or March or April ? Which would be a less crowded time and i can experience the 'snow beauty' there?

Cool Would accomodation be available in these months in Leh/Ladakh ? In Sept 2011, i stayed in Grand Dragon Hotel in Leh.

c) Can one visit Leh to Nubra Valley and Leh to Pangong Lake in these months, for a day trip ? Would the Khardung La and Chang La passes be open during these months for tourists?

d) I plan to do Delhi/Leh/Delhi by air so flights would be operating in these months?

e) Any other useful input?

Your reply and advise would greatly help me.

Thanks,

Sincerely,
Haren Vithaldas

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Hi Haren,
                  I truly admire your determination and passion for photography which you are still following... Ladakh is a mesmerizing terrain and a delight to any photographer's eye... Here are my answers to most of your queries.

- March and April will be less crowded then Oct-Nov.. I had seen many travelers extending their summer trip to Ladakh for October and Weather is very unpredictable at that of the year. Heavy Snowfall sometimes blocks the roads and you may not be able to reach Pangong, Tso-moriri during that time. However October-November is the best time for witnessing snowfall in Ladakh.... March and April is pleasant weather and you won't have to face inclement winters of Ladakh...  There will be inches of snow every where in the surroundings so your love for "snow-beauty" will be materialized.... Nights will be colder when temperature will drop below zero drastically.

- Accommodation options are less in Winters but I believe that March-April & October-November are still lively then Dec-Jan... You will get couple of hotels in the main street of Leh... I stayed in Hotel Kangri which opens through-out the year... Accommodation won't be a problem.. make sure that you are getting enough quilts, blankets and a room heater (LPG based)....

- Nubra can not be done in one day trip... you should stay there overnight (Dikshit).. Khardungla gets open alternative days (One day for one direction) so you can not return back on the same day... Chan la pass would be open so you can visit Pangong on the same day and return back....

- Delhi-Leh flights operates through-out the year so that won't be a problem... however due to poor weather condition, you may not get any flight for a day or two so be flexible with your dates...

- As you already been to Leh in Summers, I do not have anything specific to suggest you... Leh is amazing in Winters and you will definitely enjoy it....

Please share your experience once you are back from Ladakh... Have an awesome trip...

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

Haren Vithaldas (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Hi Vishnu,

Thanks so much for your prompt and useful replies.

So, the big question is October/November 2012 or March/April 2013? What would you recommend, knowing what i want to do in this visit ?

No more monastery visits except Thiksey, which was beautiful. I could not do Tso Mori Ri, which i would like to do. Would this road be open?

I did do Nubra Valley as a day trip, in September. Khardung La was open for bothways trip on the same day. Even my Pangong Lake visit was a day trip.

The hotel Grand Dragon was lovely, though expensive and i believe it is open all the year round and has room heaters and all facilities which a 3/4 star hotel should provide. Would therefore like to stay there.

Thanks,
Haren

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Hi Haren...  As you want to reach Pangong and Nubra and also want to enjoy snow then March-April would be better pick because there will be bright chances of getting connectivity all the way till Pangong or Nubra... Thiksey can be done every time in the year and so as Tso moriri...

In summers, Khardungla is open both ways but in Winters, BRO has to clean the snow so they keep it open one way at a time...  I have not recommended you pre-winters because there are chances of getting stranded in the midst of snowfall...

All the best for your trip...

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

Haren Vithaldas (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Hi Vishnu,

Thanks.

Looks like March/April 2013 it will be and i would be one year older that time Sad and hopefully fit.

Any idea what the approx max and min temp would be in March & April ? Would it be snowing or the already snowed snow would be still there?

Regards,
Haren

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Dear Sir,
                 After one year, We will admire your endurance level even more....I wish you remain fit for your expedition...
                 March and April are generally very pleasant in day time... Days would be sunny but temperature won't rise more... it should be from 10-15.... After harsh winters, the transformation of himalayan valleys is really overwhelming when flora starts gaining leaves and birds start chirping around.... It will not be snowing in March and April but there would be plenty of snow on roadside and even in the street of Leh..... Khardungla and Changla pass would definitely be snow covered and your best chance to ful fill your snow-desires...

                  let us know if you need more information on anything about "Winters in Ladakh"... May be, I will travel to Ladakh in 2013 in the month of January...                 

Regards
Vishnu Kumar         

Haren Vithaldas (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Dear Vishnu,

Thanks very much.

I guess it will be March 2013 then.

Regards,

Haren Vithaldas

Bibaswan Chowdhury (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Hi Vishnu,

I am Indian Australian and reside in Canberra, Australia. I visit India almost every year as my parents live in Kolkata, West Bengal. I have always been fascinated by the Himalayas and traveled throughout North India quite extensively including Nepal barring Ladakh/J&K. This winter I'm going back with some of my friends from Australia and planning to visit Leh/Ladakh. We have also booked our flight tickets to and from Delhi. I'm in touch with a travel agent Karnitours to be on the safe side. As my friends are visiting India for the first time I would like to book accommodation and trips in advance. Wondering if you could recommend the must see places and what could be avoided. We'll be there for 5 nights from 18 Dec - 23 Dec. Hopefully, nature won't play spoilsport..fingers crossed. Your blog is quite intriguing and thought it would be best to get in touch with you as you have been up there a few times. Looking forward to your feedback.

Cheers,
Bibo

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Hi Bibaswan,
                    Thanks for visiting our website. Winters are generally not recommended to visit Ladakh... It will be very harsh with temperature touching down -20....anyway, there are some routes those are open through out the year. You can try to visit Nubra Valley (Stay in Dikshit) and Pangong Lake from Leh... I don't think you can make to Tso-Moriri during this time of the year.... Roads get block due to heavy snow-fall so you may have to wait....I will suggest you to include more days... However you can visit these places in 5 days time but having more days are good in case you get stuck with snow-fall...

                     If you have any particular query, feel free to ask me.

Regards

Vishnu Kumar
Bibaswan Chowdhury (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Hi Vishnu,

Really appreciate your feedback. The travel agent I got in touch with seemed to have excluded both Nubra valley and Pangong Tso from the itinerary. It mainly comprises visits to monasteries which I'm not too interested in. If you could please have a look at the following email from the agent that would be great:

Hi BIbo,
How are you?

The recent weather update is there is already signs of heavy snow and there will only a few points accessible in Leh and surroundings.
May be you have across a lot of responses from different people(travel agents).

I can say to you that its all a lie.

This is the best that can be done and it has all accessible areas in that time of the year.

Let us know the best response from you.

Out Line Program :

18 Dec : Arrival Leh : Upon arrival at Leh meet to our representative and transfer to hotel. Rest of the time free, for acclimatization.

19 Dec : Leh : Full day sightseeing of Shey Palace, Thiksey and Hemis Monasteries

20 Dec : Leh-Lamayur-Alchi : Morning drive to Lamayuru visit the richest monastery in the indus valley, later drive back to Alchi, en route visit Rizong. On arrival check in hotel.

21 Dec : Alchi-Likir-Nimmu-Phyang-Leh : After breakfast visit Alchi Choskoer & drive to Leh en arrival en route visit Likir, Phayang and Nummu. On arrival check in hotel.

22 Dec : Full day sightseeing of Shanti Stupa, Sankar Gompa, Spituk, Hall of Fame and local market.

23 Dec : Leh-Delhi : In time dep. transfer to Delhi.

Price Sheet in INR :
Minimum Paying 06 Pax Price Per Person on Twin Sharing Basis
(A) Deluxe Hotel Rs. 23,300/-
(Cool Luxury Hotel Rs. 32,900/-

Price Includes :
Hotel mentioned below or SIMILAR on Half Board Basis
(A) Hotel Meridian
(Cool Hotel Ladakh Regency
All land transportation by non ac Xylo Car
Inner line permit and toll tax
All transport related services
All local sightseeing and sector drive

Price Excludes :
Any airfare
Any travel insurance
Any meal apart mentioned above
Any Govt tax (3.09%)
Any entrance fee or camera fee

Price Valid Oct - March 2013 Only.

Hope you will find it due in order..

--------end of email ----------------

Looking forward to your feedback. I don't mind paying as long as we have a good time up there. If you think it's value for money I'll go ahead as I understand that we can't really be choosy considering the weather. But are so many monasteries worth visiting instead of Nubra Valley/Pangong Tso or Khardung La Top?

Thanks again.

Cheers,
Bibo

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Hi Bibaswan,
                    Your tour agent is right to a large extent because entire Ladakh is snow covered during winters. None can give your assurity to take till Nubra or Pangong. I will recommend you to plan everything after reaching Leh. You can book your hotel in advance but you can book the tour after reaching Leh. Your itinerary will entirely depend on the weather condition.

I am giving you the number of the driver which took us to Nubra and Pangong during January. I don't endorse anyone but this guy is the best driver i have ever seen in Himalayas. You can contact him. If he can not take you to Nubra than none can. Speak in Hindi if you call him.

his number is: 09622922188

Regards

Haren Vithaldas (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Hi Vijay,

I have just joined as a Member in Thinking Particle and am a part of the 'Leh - Ladakh' group. I live in Bangalore.

I am planning to go to Ladakh, with a friend, from 28th March 2013 to 6th April 2013 ie a total of 10 days/nights stay. My last visit was in September 2011, for 8 days. I am 60 years old and of good health. In my last visit in September 2011, i did not face any 'altitude sickness' problems. I had driven from Manali to Leh and then did extensive sightseeing in Leh, incl Pangong & Nubra Valley.

I will be staying in Hotel Grand Dragon, Leh, making the hotel as my base, and making trips for the day, even to Pangong Lake & Nubra Valley.

Only at Tsomori Ri Lake, i will be staying overnight as its not possible to return to Leh, the same night, due to distance.

I have a few queries, which your extensive experiences will be able to answer.

1) Is the above period a good time to visit Ladakh ?

2) What will be the max temp & min temp in Leh?

3) Any snow, on ground, in Leh, as such and at other places?

4) I plan to visit Tsemo Gompa, Shanti Stupa, Sindhu Ghat, Shey Palace, Thiksey Monastery, Hemis Palace Museum, Pangong Lake(day trip), Alchi, Likir, Lamayuru, Pather Sahib, Magnetic Hill, Confluence of Zanskar, Basgo, Moon Landscapes, Lamayuru Monastery, Tsomori Ri Lake(overnight stay), Nubra Valley(day trip).

Are these all worth visiting? Some of them i visited in my last trip.

5) Any other places you would recommend?

6) What is Changthang Cold Desert? How far from Leh? Worth a visit?

7) Clothing to carry? Warm clothing?

Cool Will the Khardung La Pass & Chang La Pass be open?

I am basically a photography buff and the visit is for that and to see more of snow, than i saw in September 2011.

I would be really grateful for your valuable suggestions/advise/inputs.

Thanks and with Regards,

Sincerely,
Haren Vithaldas

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Hello Haren

 
let me try answering your queries 
 
1) Is the above period a good time to visit Ladakh ?
 
End of March is a good time to visit Leh. Almost every high mountain pass and towns are  open by mid of March. But be advised that you may not be able to drive from Manali to Leh during this time of the year. BRO (border road organization ) opens this road for traffic around 15th April every year. You will have to take flight to Leh ( Warning :: this may lead to AMS )
 
2) What will be the max temp & min temp in Leh?
 
During daytime sun will burn your skin...take good quantity and good quality of sunscreen lotion with you. Minimum temperature will be subzero...so also take good woolen clothing. 
 
3) Any snow, on ground, in Leh, as such and at other places?
 
You will not get snow in Leh town. but you will certainly get truck loads of snow all around Leh. specially on passes like Khardung La and Chang La
 
4) I plan to visit Tsemo Gompa, Shanti Stupa, Sindhu Ghat, Shey Palace, Thiksey Monastery, Hemis Palace Museum, Pangong Lake(day trip), Alchi, Likir, Lamayuru, Pather Sahib, Magnetic Hill, Confluence of Zanskar, Basgo, Moon Landscapes, Lamayuru Monastery, Tsomori Ri Lake(overnight stay), Nubra Valley(day trip).
 
 
Are these all worth visiting? Some of them i visited in my last trip.
 
This will depend upon your physical condition, If you are good with AMS then why not ? many of the places you mentioned are either in Leh town or very near to Leh. So should be able to cover most of these places. I highly recommend you to visit Nubra Valley and Tso moriri
 
 
5) Any other places you would recommend?
 
Your list of places is already extensive for a 9-10 days visit. 
 
6) What is Changthang Cold Desert? How far from Leh? Worth a visit?
 
Tso Moriri and Pangong are in Changthang only. Changthang region is mostly in Tibet. Only small part of it is in India. If you reach Tsomoriri , you are already in Changthang
 
7) Clothing to carry? Warm clothing?
 
carry very good warm inner clothing. be prepared for subzero temprature during nights. Specially in Tsomoriri.  
 
8) Will the Khardung La Pass & Chang La Pass be open?
 
Both passes will be open. I along with Vishnu have been to these passes on second week of January. 
 
Let me know if you have any other question. 
 
Regards 

Administrator account of thinkingparticle.com

Haren Vithaldas (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Hi Vijay,

Thank you so much for your prompt response to all my queries.

1) I will be flying into Leh from Delhi and would therefore be taking it easy on the first day, with complete rest, so as to get acclamatised to the high altitude.

2) What would be the approx day temperature like? Around 10 to 15 degrees C ?

3) The hotel in Leh, is arranging a 'Homestay' at Tsomori Ri, for my overnight stay. Are such accomodation good? Comfortable? Vegetarian food?

4) I presume that Tsomori Ri will be extremely cold, especially in the night, as i have to spend a night there. Temp could be?

Where are you based? In case i need to talk to you, for any further advise,

Thanks very much once again,

Regards,

Haren

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Hi Haren,
              I think Vijay already answered most of your queries. Please find my comments inlined below.

2) Day temperature in March and april would range from 10 to 15 but it can go down till 5 easily. Entire region will be snow-covered during March-April but its unlikely to find snow-fall.

3) Homestays are generally good. They will cook food for you and won't be problem getting  vegetarian food..

4) Temperature will drop drastically during nights in Changthang region so you need to have a room with heating facility. I believe they provide a room heater which runs on Domestic gas.

Regards

Vishnu Kumar
Raja (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Vishnu,
Before I start, truly appreciate your initiative and willingness to help/guide people for LEH trip. Hats off to you.

We have planned for a trip to LEH exactly during the last week of December' 2012. We'd be staying there for 8 nights (4 nights in Grand Dragon and 4 nights in Thongsal resort). reason for 4 nights: we can have different views and experience.

Few questions I have.

1. Practically what places can be covered during December last week. I need this, to make sure we set the expectations clear before coming there.
Based on your previous posts, I see traveling to Nubra valley, Khardungla pass should not be an issue. Is one day each not sufficient to cover? Do we need to stay there (one day in Nubra and one day in Khardungla) to cover them? If so, can you please let us know Hotels/cottages that are open during that time. In case we take Taxi's one way (to drop alone) can we get a return Taxi from there?

2. What is the probability that Pangong lake would be open. 20%-80% or 50%-50%? In case, it is open can we cover up in one day? Please let me know.

3. What about Tso Moriri. I see it is 250 kms away from LEH. Is it worth visiting? Will this be Open? If so, I believe we need to stay there? Please assist with some hotels that are open.

4. Will there be waters in the LAKES mentioned above? or will they be snow covered.

5. What other places are worth visiting; rather we need to visit? Please list down.

6. Please mention the adventure activities that we can carry out? and where?

7. How do we know that certain route is OPEN/CLOSED? Is there a place where we can refer before starting from the hotel?

8. Once we hire a cab and then half way through we find the road closed, does the taxi wala take us to other location if we demand? I heard the rates are fixed for places.

Thanks,
Raja

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Hi Raja,
               Thanks for your acknowledgment... Here are my inputs on your queries....

1) Nubra trip would be 1 night 2 days from Leh. You will have to stay overnight in Dikshit. It would not be possible to do Nubra in one day trip. Accommodation will be available in Dikshit. You will not get a one side drop to Nubra but have to hire a private vehicle for entire journey.

2) Accessibility to Pangong will depend on the snow-fall situation as Chang la pass... Probability of finding Chang La open during December should be around 60 %..

3) Although there is no pass on the way to Tso-Moriri yet it will not be possible to reach Tso-Moriri during December. You should definitely inquire with locals after reaching Leh...Accommodation will also be a problem because most of the locals at Korzok village recede back to Leh during Winters...

4) Pangong will be partially frozen on the bank.

5) Try to visit Thiksey and Hemis monasteries.

6) Visiting Ladakh in December is a adventure in itself... you can not ask more...

7) Drivers and locals know about the status. I think army officials keep them updated about the route.

8) They will charge even if roads are closed. You may get slight discount but they will charge definitely.... During Winters, None can Guarantee to take you to some destination... All they can help you reaching there.. believe me, outsiders can't dare to drive on those roads... simply impossible for others...

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

Raja (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Vishnu,
Thanks for the valuable information.

Can we get bike on rents in LEH? If so, what all places we can drive safely in Bikes? Please let me know.
Also regarding the Inline permit, can we get in one single day? We'll reach LEH by Dec 24, can we get the passes on the same day itself.

1. Also I heard that travel to NUBRA is one way. i.e. if LEH - NUBRA is Monday then the return will be next day. Is this true? also are there any maintenance days that we need to be aware of?
2. Its really good to hear that almost 60% of the time it would be open.
3. So you don't recommend traveling to Tso-Moriri during December?

For taxis, will there be time limit on driving? Say in case, we hire one @ 5 in the morning, is it just 8 hrs duration that he takes as one day? or how is that calculated? Do we need to pay extra if we cross 8 hrs?
Please let me know.

Again, thanks for ur information.

vishnu.kumar7's picture
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Hi Raja,
               During Summers, its easy to find bikes in Rent but during Winters, it wont be possible and won't be of any use. You can drive biked over black-ice.  If you still want to try bikes then drive till Thiksey only...

Getting inner line permit won't be an issue... You can get it from DC office in 1-2 hours. Carry proper identity cards etc..

1- Khardung la only gets open alternatively to pass each side of vehicles so if you should try to return the next day itself. Days are specified however heavy snow-fall may not allow you to cross the Khardungal the day you want... you may have to wait for some days...

2- About Tso-Moriri, you should check with the local drivers if they can take you there and come back on the same day...Finding accommodation near Tso-Moriri would be a problem and you can not spend night in the car or tent during December.

3- Charges are as per routes. Charges do not depend on kilometers or hours like our modern towns... Taxi fare is well defined for each route... We have a chart with old fare so you can get an idea about current charges...

http://www.thinkingparticle.com/articles/leh-taxi-fare-ladakh-taxi-fare-rate-list-year-2010-2011

Off Topic: If you are planning a lot of sight-seeing than Winters are not appropriate time to visit Ladakh.... Accessibility highly depend on your luck... Getting stuck in snow-fall is so very common...

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

pankaj (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Can be get on frozen lakes or rivers in mid of feb? i mean like is there any skating available?

vishnu.kumar7's picture
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Posts: 12045

Hi Pankaj,
                   Pangong Lake and Indus River will be partially frozen during February. Most of the thin water streams will be completely frozen and suitable for Skating or Ice Hockey. There is indeed a Ice-hockey ground in Leh which is the hosting site for Winter Games in Ladakh.... You will find handful of frozen water bodies for trying your hand on skating.

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

Saurabh Vashist (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Hello Vishnu

I read your travel account on winters in Leh and found it highly intriguing. It's the only experience I found on the net till date.

I have been to Ladakh once, this summers actaully and was planning to go there during December too. I wish to enquire your help on the condition of roads leading to Tso- Moriri and Pangong.

Also this year, Khardung La witnessed heavy snowfall during June end too. Are the internal BRO roads open during december. Also did you hire bikes/taxi or just went there with locals or took a bus?

With warm regards,
Saurabh Vashist
3rd Undergraduate
IIT Bombay

vishnu.kumar7's picture
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Posts: 12045

Hi Saurabh.
                   Glad to hear that you liked my travel stories about Ladakh in Winters.

                   Accessibility to Pangong and Tso-Moriri entirely depends on your luck. There are bright chances to make till Pangong because BRO maintains that road and try to keep it motorable through-out the year. However after heavy snow-fall, clearing the road may take couple of days so you need to very flexible with your schedule.

                    Same goes with the road to Khardungla which is strategically very important for India. BRO try to keep it open and allow the traffic in one side each day during winters. Luckily we found it open after 2-3 failed attempts and were able to cross over Khardung la during January.

                     Bike won't be any help on these roads during winters.... It will be black-ice (Due to sub zero temperature) so driving bike will be very risky. Only few drivers in Ladakh will be ready to drive their 4*4 vehicle during January. We found a really good driver who has immense experience on driving on snow-covered roads.

                     Public transport is only available for the villages around Leh but you won't get those for visiting pangong or Nubra valley. You will have to hire private taxi for the same.

                     Good luck...

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

Jajit (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Hi Vishnu

Great job!. It just so happened that i stumbled on your forum right after i booked my flight ticket to leh (17-21 jan).Just wanted to ask you 2 things.

1:- Is tso moriri possible tat time?
2:- Hows the post paid connectivity during that season (vodafone mobile number)

Regards
Jasjit

vishnu.kumar7's picture
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Posts: 12045

Hi Jasjit,
                 Route to Tso-Moriri may be a problem because its not strategically as important as Pangong route. It may not be motorable still you can check once you reach Leh...

Airtel and BSNL worked fine few years back so I think Vodafone should be available by now. Connectivity is like Summers but you may not be getting signals while commuting to Nubra or Pangong side...

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

Jasjit (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Thx mate. Will surely find that out first hand.

John Feely (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Hi Vishnu,

Your blog post is fantastic so first of all thankyou very much.

I am an Australian photographer and I will be flying into Leh in late December.

I was hoping to ask you a few questions as your experience would be very useful:

1) How thin is the air? I have not been at this altitude. I am very fit and strong though.

2) What did you bring to sleep in?

3) Are most of the landscapes completely snowed in. Or are there some partially snowed in ones like your picture of Pangong Lake? I am interested in shooting partially snowy mountains like this image.

http://thinkingparticle.com/image/frozen-lake-pangong-winters-7

Many thanks for your help Vishnu,

vishnu.kumar7's picture
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Posts: 12045

Hi John,
            Thanks for visiting Thinking Particle... Here is my take on your queries.

1) Leh is at relatively higher altitude so Thin Air would be the first challenge to deal with. As you are directly flying so you won't get much time to acclimatize. Everyone feels symptoms of AMS (Acute mountain sickness) after arriving at Leh but no need to panic. After spending a day or two, your body will acclimatize and you will start enjoying the terrain.

2) There are couple of hotels open during december/January in Leh so you need to lodge yourself in one of those hotels and make sure they offer you a room heating equipment. I will also recommend you to carry your own sleeping bag (Something which is made for subzero temperature).

3) It does not snow a lot in this part of Himalayas. Its a dry terrain so its not entirely snow covered. There would be ice everywhere because water gets frozen due to the temperature. Only high passes would be completely snow covered else you may get to see mountains and trees as well.

Pangong would be your best pick to experience an exotic terrain.

All the best for your trip.

Regards
Vishnu Kumar

Sukhvindra Dhami (not verified)
Tariq Haque's picture

Hi Vishnu:
Nice to go through your blog. I am from Pune.

I alongwith my cousin have already booked for the Chadar trek from 3-11 Feb. We arrive Leh on 3rd morning. The trek gets over on 10th. We have booked our return on the 14th Feb. Being winter time; what do you recommend as a must-see during this winter time at Leh or around Leh. Nubra, Pangong, Tso Morori.... I am confused as it is winter time and access by roads maybe restricted.

Your suggestions will be helpful to plan our trip better.

Thanks for your help and attention.

Regards,
Sukhvindra

vishnu.kumar7's picture
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Posts: 12045

Hi Sukhvindra,
                          Glad to know about your plan to do Chadra Trek. If you are lucky then Nubra valley and Pangong lake should be accessible during Winters However chances to reach Tso moriri will be very bleak due to its remote geographical location.

                          During you time in Leh,  you can also take local busses to nearby Monasteries like Thiksey etc.

                          Have an awesome winters...
 
Regards
Vishnu Kumar

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