Thanks to the growing popularity of travel bloggers, social media influencers, and the movie ‘Three Idiots’, Leh Ladakh has become a must-visit place on every idiot’s…errr I meant traveller’s itinerary. Come Summers, and people go berserk about making their already difficult life even more difficult by flying to Ladakh and gasping for breath at high altitudes. After all, who has the patience for acclimatisation?!
Or may be, the need for acclimatisation is a myth just like climate change. 😝😝
My friends from Ladakh tell me that Leh, Ladakh is bursting with people this season. People have migrated to Ladakh as if the secrets to ‘corporate nirvaana’ are buried there at Khardungla and can only be uncovered by clicking topless pics at the top of the Khardungla pass. This year, there are more outsiders in Ladakh than the natives.
Get the right attitude to adjust with Ladakh’s altitude
Leh Ladakh is gorgeous, surreal and out of this world. And every extraordinary experience exacts a cost! Ladakh is lenient that way and demands the decency of paying respects to mountains and heights. How, you may ask. By staying a day or two in Leh & adjusting your body with altitude. That’s all. Nothing much! This is specially true if you have flown to Ladakh from ‘plains’.
If staying put or resting sounds unnecessary to you like getting in a queue at public places, how about reserving the first two days for Leh local sightseeing?! Go to the monasteries, visit Rancho’s school from ‘Three Idiots’ movie during the day & explore the Leh market at night. Buy prayer flags, eat local food & pay respects at Hall of Fame, army museum.
Unlike extempore and office presentations, you can’t just wing a Ladakh trip, you need to prepare for it. And here are 12 must-have things for your next/ upcoming trip to Ladakh:
- Get winter clothes and pack many layers
Temperature shifts drastically as you travel from one place to another in Ladakh. While it can be 6-7 degrees or 12 degrees celsius in Leh, it becomes even colder at Khardungla and continues to drop till you reach Nubra. At night, it becomes the coldest and you might have to wear a few extra layers to stay warm. At Pangong, you end up discovering a new meaning of the word, ‘coldest’. And if you are planning to stay in a tent, do not trust the fashionable jackets that you wear back in Delhi/ Bombay/ Bengaluru. Pack warmer clothes that can help you survive below zero degrees celsius.
Recommendation- pack warmers, half jackets, full jackets, shawls, many pairs of socks and gloves.
- Pack a hat
Have you seen the pictures of bikers who come back from the Ladakh trip, high on memories and beaten in spirit? Often, their nose is red with burns. People also get tanned. Why? Because they forget that the UV rays are stronger at altitude, and one must wear a hat as a protection at all times!
- A pair of sun shades/ goggles
If you wear a spex, get the goggles with the lenses adjusted for your shortsightedness or longsightedness even if you believe in wearing contact lenses.
A pair of goggles is a necessity in Ladakh and not just style.
- Get an oxymeter
Don’t be scared pls. In 2018, two years before pandemic, when I went to Ladakh for the first time, I had an oxymeter with me to keep a track of my Oxygen levels.
You might get altitude sickness and if you do, it’s better to check what it is than to take a chance on your health.
I don’t personally recommend taking the tablet but then personal preferences can’t be the base to make medical choices.
Diamox is quite helpful to combat altitude sickness. So pack a few tablets before flying to Ladakh.
Word of caution: this might have side-effects. If you have any trouble such as BP, Thyroid, better to consult with your doctor.
- Battery back-ups/ Extra batteries
Back in 2018, when we did camping in Nubra and Pangong, we faced power cuts during night. It’s largely a function of where you stay but you must still carry a battery back-up with you that can help you charge your phones, ipad. And carry extra battery for your camera. You don’t want to miss a shot because of no battery 🙂
Hat and Goggles are good. In addition, using a sunscreen would give you an extra layer of protection against the UV rays. If you can bear the feel of a sunscreen, pls do use one.
Recommended Sunscreen Lotions: Bioderma, Neutrogena and La Shield
- A good pair of Boots
I am a fan of heels and fancy shoes. Also, I love adding a few inches when I meet people socially. Well, who doesn’t?! But Ladakh is not the place to add extra inches. Wear a good, solid pair of boots (shoes) when you travel in Ladakh. You might end up walking a lot…climb stairs, jump over some boulders & jump off a cliff :D. Okay, not the last part. But you would have to manage a rough terrain, and trekking boots are the best bet in that case.
- Carry light, healthy snacks
The first few days in Ladakh, as you are adjusting with the climate, you don’t get hungry. It’s also advisable to eat light in the first few days.
You may carry light, healthier snacks with you to Ladakh like fox nuts, dark chocolates. Always help! :
- Carry a Jio connection
Not everyplace will be Vodafone or Airtel friendly. But Jio will work everywhere. And you don’t want to lose signals in this day and time. Or may be you do. In fact, I am on the fence with this one. May be, stay off the grid with no phone connection. Just you, the mountains and the crazy thoughts inside your head.
If you are a wee bit crazier (like me), carry a Jio connection just to have the flexibility to connect with other crazy-minded friends of yours.
- ORS packets
Travel can be gruelling. Sitting inside the SUV for 8-9 hours can be taxing on some people. If you are the kind of person whose energy dies down like the battery of iPhone, pls carry ORS packets with yourself. All you need to do is to mix one with water, and drink it. And you will be revitalised like a raging bull. Okay, not a raging bull. But like a mad dog. 🤓🤓🤓
Hey, you can’t take offence. Dogs are cute. Team Animals!
Word of caution: drinking ORS makes you thirsty. Just keep enough water on you all the time. Keep sipping water at regular intervals too.
- Trekking Pants
This one is more like a suggestion, not a must-have. But ‘trekking pants’ has a lot of pockets. And that’s just crazy. Plus it’s loose. You can fold your legs, put the feet up or just lie down in a travelling pants. It’s supremely comfortable. Since you would have to sit for long inside the cab while travelling from one place to another, I recommend buying at least one trekking pants.
Ladakh is beautiful and natives are kind, smart and intelligent people. Please stay respectful and considerate when you travel to Ladakh. Talk to your cabbies properly. Address them by their names. Offer them food/ water. Do not litter. Just don’t. There can never be a valid explanation behind leaving trash in public places. And follow the signs/ messages.
This is a personal suggestion; you can discount it if you like. But don’t wear ultra short clothes in a monastery. Those are places of worship, and there’s a certain decorum that they follow. Like we cover our heads in Gurudwaras & temples, it won’t hurt us to cover our legs in monasteries. Rest is your call, really!
And most importantly, remember to have fun, loads of it.