Travel Tips

Before you pack your bags to travel to Leh Ladakh India, here are a few travel tips that help you on your tour to Leh and Ladakh.

You need to be physically fit to undertake a tour to Leh Ladakh. It is advisable to take at least 12-24 hours of rest after reaching Leh to fully acclimatize to the high altitude. If you feel shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, or fatigue, immediately take some rest. Always carry drinking water, chocolates or energy bars while traveling.

Medicines, moisturizers and sun-screen lotion, torch are a must when traveling to Leh Ladakh.

Most STD booths close by 10 pm, so it is better to get in touch with your near and dear ones by evening.

Be prepared for power-cuts in the region. Dim light due to power shortages is a common phenomenon. A torch is an essential item on your trip to Ladakh
The region offers wonderful scenic views, so carry as many film rolls as you can. Some monasteries however may not allow photography within their premises.

Useful Tips
In order to make your visit to Ladakh more pleasant; both for yourself and for the people who live here and whose guest you are, there are some general guidelines that may be helpful.

DO dress modestly both in town and at gompas, as Ladakhis are very modest in appearance, take their religious beliefs seriously and can be offended by skimpy Western dress.

DO take off your shoes when entering any room in a gompa. It is not necessary to remove shoes in the open sections of a gompa, such as courtyards.

DO pass chortens and prayer flag poles on the left, in a clockwise direction, always keeping your right side to the chorten or prayer flag pole.

DO take a flashlight to the gompas. This is helpful in seeing murals and statues in dimly lit gompa rooms.

DON'T give money, sweets or other gifts to children. Begging by children and child lamas in the gompas has only begun since tourism arrived in Ladakh and is unacceptable behaviour that should not be encouraged. If you really want to give something, donate pencils, pens, paper or note books to a village or gompa school. There is a school in every village which would be grateful to receive these donations. If a gompa has a school, it will also gratefully receive donations of school supplies.

DON'T take pictures in gompa rooms where photography is prohibited, either by posted signs or a lama telling you.

DON'T point at statues of the Buddha as it is considered highly disrespectful.

DON'T stand on the base of chortens or on mani walls. These are sacred objects and to do so is desecration that is offensive to Ladakhis.

Trekking Tips
The easiest way to go on a trek is through a travel agency, which will take care of all arrangements including equipment, food provisions, ponies & porters, staff, etc. But if the intention is to make your own arrangements, it is advisable to carry as much of the provision and fuel from Leh or even Kargil as possible. It must be remembered that Ladakh is a harsh land where most villagers cannot part with their food stocks. In some villages fresh yoghurt and some tsampa can be procured, but these sources cannot be relied upon. Kerosene or gas for cooking stoves must be carried in sufficient quantity to last the duration of the trek, as fuel is not likely to be available on most routes.

For trekking in Ladakh to be a rewarding experience, it is not enough to be physically fit. Trekkers must also be prepared to face the rigours of backcountry travel. Ladakh experiences considerable fluctuations in the day and night temperatures, even during the height of summer. While the days are pretty warm, even hot, due to the desert effect of the landscape, the evenings can become quite chilly, requiring additional clothing. It is, therefore, advisable to keep a pullover and/ or an anorak or jacket handy. A sturdy pair of walking shoes with strong rubber or synthetic soles for grip, thick cotton socks (woollen for late autumn treks or glacier walks) and a good sleeping bag along with an insulated ground pad are essential gear for going on a trek. In case of trekking across mountain passes or trans-mountain traverses, a waterproof tent will have to be carried along, besides provisions and cooking equipment, all back- packed in a good quality rucksack. Such treks should, however, be undertaken in groups and accompanied with a good trekking guide. Additional requirements could include a woollen balaclava, woollen undergarments, wind parkas etc. Toiletries and first-aid kits should include lip salve, moisturisers and sun cream, water purifying tablets, medicines for high altitude sickness, etc. A good quality water canteen is a must to carry drinking water so essential during high altitude trekking in arid conditions. And lastly, do not forget to carry a flashlight with sufficient spare batteries, a sun-hat and a pair of good quality sunglasses with sufficient filter-factor to check the sun's brightness and ultraviolet rays.

Environment Protection
The Ladakh environment is ecologically fragile and the survival of the inhabitants depends upon the land. As such, it is absolutely important that trekkers and mountaineers keep the routes and campsites clean and avoid disturbing the region's delicate environment. Before striking camp, trekkers and tour operators should ensure that no garbage is left behind at the campsites. Plastic containers and wrappers must be incinerated, while other types of garbage should be properly buried. In this context, it is advisable to follow the instructions regarding preservation of environment contained in the Indian Mountaineering Foundation's publication, "While in the Himalayas -Do's and Don'ts".
Evacuation of Casualties
The Tourism Department initiates and co-ordinates evacuation of casualties by IAF helicopters in case of accidents or sickness during trekking, mountaineering or river rafting in the remote parts of the State. Evacuation is subject to payment of the operational cost of the aircraft. The type of helicopter normally used for the purpose costs around Rs. 75,000/- per flying hour. Evacuation from anywhere in the Zanskar mountains, the Nun-Kun massif or the Changthang area may take 4 to 5 flying hours from take off to landing back at the air base. Besides the high operational cost, such missions also involve great risk and call for a high degree of skill on the part of the pilots. It is, therefore, essential that request for aerial rescue is made under compelling circumstances, only as a life saving measure. Also, helicopters cannot be requisitioned for lifting bodies of deceased persons from accident sites.

Permission for removal of the deceased is rarely granted and the procedure to obtain such permissions is very tedious. Evacuation of genuine casualties with guaranteed payment upon billing could be initiated through the nearest Administration or Tourist Office.

Inner-Line Restrictions
Entry of foreign tourists beyond one mile north of the Zoji-la-Dras-Bodhkarbu- Khalatse road is restricted. But on the Khalatse-Leh road, the monasteries of Tia-Tingmosgang, Rizong, Likir and Phyang can be visited even though these are situated north of the road. Similarly, foreign tourists are allowed to visit Shey, Thikse, Chemrey and Tak-thok monasteries lying north of the Leh-Upshi road. The Leh-Manali road is also open upto one mile east of its general alignment. The north eastern and northern regions of Ladakh are now partially open for foreign visitors, but they are required to obtain the prescribed permission from the Deputy Commissioner, Leh. This is issued only subject to several conditions, including the condition of travelling along certain identified tour circuits in groups of 4 or more. Permission to enter the other restricted areas can be sought from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, Lok Nayak Bhawan, Khan Market, New Delhi.


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