Ladakh Trip - Some Experience I Would Like To Share

#1 Aug 6th, 2011, 22:04
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  • sankmik is offline
#1
Hello friends – this is my first post in this forum and this is largely driven by the gratitude towards you all. Recently I visited Ladakh and I gathered all the required information through various threads of Indiamike, so now it‘s my turn to pen down some of my experiences. This post is really to thank you all and share whatever little information I can add to this forum. This is not going to be a typical travelogue having detailed discussion on places we visited but I will concentrate more on different aspects of arrangements that we had to do for this trip as well as issues we experienced during the trip.
From 25th Jun’11 to 9th Jul’11 we experienced what you can call the experience of a lifetime – a trip to a paradise named Ladakh. We were a bunch of seven and we started planning for this trip from August’10 – yes you read it right!! ….a lot of research and plan ended up in a successful trip.
Our tour itinerary was as follows –
Day 01 - Kolkata - Train Journey starts (Saturday - 25th June, 2011)
Day 02 - Reach Delhi
Day 03 - Arrival at Leh (Monday - 27th June, 2011) – Full day rest
Day 04 - Excursion to Sham Valley (Achi, Lamayuru)
Day 05 - Leh – Khardungla - Nubra
Day 06 - Nubra - Leh
Day 07 - Local sightseeing - Shey, Thiksay, Hemis,
Day 08 - Leh - Pang Gong Tso
Day 09 – Pang Gong Tso - Leh
Day 10 - Leh - Tso Kiagar - Tsomoriri
Day 11 - Tsomoriri - Tsokar - Leh
Day 12 - Rafting
Day 13 – Free Day
Day 14 - Flight For Delhi (Friday - 8th July, 2011)
Day 15 – Return to Kolkata (Satday - 9th July, 2011)
As we started planning long back, we bought the flight tickets in Sep’10 and our Delhi to Leh roundtrip flight cost was only Rs. 5,600 per person. When we started planning for this trip, we had lots of discussion on how we should plan the trip – whether to go via some travel agent or do it by our own. Finally we decided to get in touch with ‘Make My Trip’ for this tour, as we wanted to enjoy the trip to the fullest and not take the hazards of arrangement while we are in Leh. When we finally reached Leh, then we realized that they have actually outsourced this trip to a local travel company named ‘Overland Escape’. This is one of the most famous travel house there in Leh run by a person named Mr. Tundup Dorjey and we should definitely say we had a very good experience with them. Later we came to know that ‘Make My Trip’ does arrange the fixed schedule departures with fixed itinerary but as our trip was customized by us, they decided to pass that to ‘Overland Escape’. I think for all future travelers, if you are planning for customized tour of your own, may be it will be a good idea to directly get in touch with local travel agents and then you will end up saving few bucks.

Now let’s move on to how we started taking preparations for the trip. As Leh is in an altitude of ~11500ft above sea level, people do face difficulties in acclimatizing. We were in a dilemma whether to start taking Diamox (medicine that helps you from AMS) before we reach Leh. Finally we decided to do some testing by taking one tablet each on the last weekend before we leave for the journey just to check if we are experiencing any side effects as this is a sulphur based drug and some of our members did experience some problem. So we decided to drop the idea of taking that medicine and after consulting a homeopath physician, we decided to depend on a medicine named ‘Coca 6’ during the journey.


After we reached Leh, we had a free day for acclimatization. All seven of us faced some minor issues, including indigestion, bleeding nose, mild headache on the first day, but after taking complete day’s rest, everyone was absolutely fine for the rest of the trip.
#2 Aug 7th, 2011, 11:43
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  • sankmik is offline
#2
First day, we started with the excursion to ‘Sham Valley’ and we visited Alchi, Lamayuru and Likir Monastery and returned back to Leh. Although we did not plan beforehand but we had unique experience of annual festival in Lamayuru Monastery – it is called ‘Yuru Kabgyat’. It might be a good option to check the festival dates in different monasteries and if you can align your travel date with the festival date then that would be rare experience. You can check the details of festival dates here - http://reachladakh.com/festival_dates.htm. One thing which we also realized during this trip was, if you are more than 4 people it is better to opt for a Toyota Qualis, otherwise, all the cars (in same budget range) have narrow leg space in the last row and it is very uncomfortable while in a long journey.

Next day we headed towards mighty Khardungla Top and Nubra Valley. In Khardungla, so called World’s highest motorable road (~18300), none of us experienced any breathing trouble. You will also have a ladies toilet there at the top which is very rare throughout the Nubra trip. You can buy souvenir from Army run shop at the top at a cheap rate as well. At Nubra, we stayed at Tirith Camp and it was really an awesome experience. We initially was little uncertain about the tent accommodation but I would recommend a stay there. In Tirith camp, toilets were very clean and food was also great, especially considering the remoteness of the location. There is no water purification system in the campsite so it’s better to carry water purification kit. Tirith camp also offers running hot water facility.

When we visited Panamik hot spring, we had to give some fee there, later we realized most likely that fee was for those who wanted to take bath at the spring. You may be little disappointed by the Hot Spring itself, as there was nothing specific to see but the view was absolutely stunning. (Picture of Panamik)
One of the points I want to bring up here and that is regarding the monastery entry fee. Before our trip, we asked in this forum whether there is any entry fee in any monasteries. Someone said there is no such fee, but our experience was completely different. We had to pay entry fee in many places, including Alchi Gompha, Hemis Monastery etc. and all of these ranged between Rs. 30 to Rs. 50 per person.
We did have the opportunity to experience Camel Safari at Hunder Desart and it was again mind boggling. The rate we had to pay (no option, you almost have to pay what they ask) was Rs. 150 for a 15 minutes ride. (Picture Of Camel Safari)
While returning from Nubra, if time permits ideally one should visit Spituk Gompha as it is on the way back towards Leh.

Next excursion was scheduled for Hemis-Thiksey-Shey-Sindhu Ghat trip. We also had the opportunity to visit Rancho’s school – the place where ‘3 Idiots’ shooting was done. They have now arranged a guided tour in the school against a fee of Rs. 30 per person but I would urge you not to go for that as this tour generally takes place in the school hours which is very disturbing for the students. Enroute there is one monastery which is little less popular – the ‘Stakna Monastery’. We missed this one as our driver misguided us a bit . One should also try to club Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa and Leh Mosque on the same day.
#3 Aug 7th, 2011, 13:47
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Next we started for the much awaited trip to Pang Gong Tso. We wanted to stay beside the lake but had some doubts as in how far it would be from the lake, security etc. When we reached at the bank of Pang gong Tso, we could not see any tent and our driver was also not sure where the Pang Gong resort is . After some effort, we figured out that the place where we were at that time is called ‘Lukung’ and that was the place where people remains when they go for a day trip to Pang Gong Tso. You have some food stalls there and Army camp too. But our resort was at Spangmik and it was around 10 kilometers from Lukung. There is a road (well, difficult to say a road, rather a stretch with uncountable potholes) alongside the bank of the lake which takes you all the way to Chushul at India-China border. Spangmik comes on the way to Chushul and as par our resort manager, this is the last place where civilians (except local) can go. When we reached Spangmik, we found that the arrangement was made not for the camp but for resort. We were little unhappy about that but later came to know resort has higher demand than camps, specially due to the fact that at night, it becomes very cold even at the month of June/July. Overall, we were satisfied with the arrangements of Pang Gong Resort.
The resort did not have running hot water. It becomes really windy in the evening and you must carry cap/muffler to cover your head from the cold wind, else you will get a severe headache. Again, water purifier is essential if you want to avoid buying mineral water all the time.
Pang Gong resort and Camp Watermark both has same tariff. I have the contact number of the owner. If anyone interested, I can provide you that. I would suggest you to stay a night at Pang Gong if possible rather than doing a day trip. Sunrise at Pang Gong Tso was an experience that can’t be expressed in words.
Again, only at Chang La you will get decent ladies toilet which is rare throughout the trip. You will also have a souvenir shop maintained by Army at Chang La.


Our last major trip was to Tsomoriri. I personally think this lake is the most beautiful one yet mostly people do not go there due to distance and travel time. There are two main roads through which you can reach Tso Moriri from Leh. The popular one being via Mahe Bridge and there is another road via Tso Kar lake. As Tso kar was in our itinerary, we decided to go Tso Moriri via Mahe Bridge and return via Tso Kar. The journey to Tso Moriri was the longest that we travelled during the trip but I must say the road via Mahe Bridge is much better than what we anticipated. You will not get packaged water bottles beyond Karu till Chumathang Hotspring and it may be a good option to carry packed lunch as we found restaurants in Chumathang very unhygenic and had to take lunch after reaching Tso Moriri Camp after 3PM

We stayed there at Tso Moriri camp. It has 6 rooms and 10 tents. Unlike Nubra, here tents had attached bathroom and no hot water would be available (other than specially requested from Kitchen). It is advisable to have the dinner little early otherwise you might face some indigestion issues. You almost can’t plan for a day trip to this place as it is around 260kms from Leh (Picture of sunrise)
While going to Tso Moriri, we were supposed to visit a small but very beautiful lake (saw pictures in different albums ) and we expected it to be named ‘Tso Kiagar’. But when we asked about this lake, no one seemed to recognize this lake and we could not see this in the map as well. While going there, we saw one lake in the left hand side of the road before reaching Tso Moriri and it looked very similar to the one which we have seen as Tso Kiagar. We found it is named as ‘Thaksang Karu’. Still not sure if we actually visited Tso Kiagar or not.

While we were returning from Tso Moriri on the next day, we were supposed to take a diversion before Mahe Bridge which would take us towards Tso Kar. But our driver was not aware of the route (this was his first tour to Tso Moriri ). We had to depend on the map and finally we reached there by taking a diversion from a place called ‘Sumdo’. This is again a place travelers do not go often but I would definitely suggest clubbing this together Tso Moriri tour.

If one takes the road via Tso Kar, you will also need to cross ‘Tanglang La’ – so called second highest motorable road in the region. This is very different from Khardung La or Chang La as we could not see any army presence there and this road is even more challenging as you will not get anything to eat or drink before you reach Leh- Manali highway. Again, no decent toilet will be available throughout the road.
#4 Aug 7th, 2011, 14:07
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We wanted to go for rafting as well at the end of the tour but we decided not to book it before hand as we were not sure how tired we would be towards the end. But all of us were fit and fine and we really wanted to go for the rafting. After some bargain in Leh Market, we finally decided to go for the Chilling to Nimu stretch ~ 35KM and of rapid grade 3. It was a great experience and if you are enthusiastic for this, you should definitely go for this. This does not need any prior experience and one can opt for shorter stretch as well. There would be ‘Safety Kayak’ and ideally 2 people from agency with a group of 6-8 people in a raft. You will get the opportunity to change dress (including ladies) – so do carry extra set of clothes and towel.

That almost concludes our trip. Some additional points I would like to mention are as follows –

• You can get some souvenir like T-Shirts in the Leh Market. Ideally it should cost you around Rs. 200 and you need to bargain hard for this. You can also get the design you want at some additional price.
• Overall, things are very costly at Leh Market – which I guess mainly driven by high volume of foreign tourists throughout the season.
• Our Vodafone postpaid mobile connection did not work at all since we reached Leh airport on day 1. One of our member was carrying a BSNL postpaid connection and it worked almost everywhere.
• Somewhere we read that army does not allow more than 6 people in a car. It is not correct and we traveled everywhere having 7+1 people without any trouble.
• Withdrawing money from ATM there is a big challenge. You will always find long queue and if you are little unlucky, you may see cash exhausted till you get your chance. I experience this thrice in 12 days, so I think this is not very uncommon there. If you hold State Bank Savings A/C, you can carry you cheque book there as I found it is easier to do rather than wasting hours in ATM.

Please feel free to ask me any questions that you might have. If I know the answer, I would be more than just happy to answer those. Wishing all the future Ladakh travelers all the best!!
#5 Aug 7th, 2011, 14:59
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  • traveller_dep is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sankmik View Post We wanted to go for rafting as well at the end of the tour but we decided not to book it before hand as we were not sure how tired we would be towards the end. But all of us were fit and fine and we really wanted to go for the rafting. After some bargain in Leh Market, we finally decided to go for the Chilling to Nimu stretch ~ 35KM and of rapid grade 3. It was a great experience and if you are enthusiastic for this, you should definitely go for this. This does not need any prior experience and one can opt for shorter stretch as well. There would be ‘Safety Kayak’ and ideally 2 people from agency with a group of 6-8 people in a raft. You will get the opportunity to change dress (including ladies) – so do carry extra set of clothes and towel.

That almost concludes our trip. Some additional points I would like to mention are as follows –

• You can get some souvenir like T-Shirts in the Leh Market. Ideally it should cost you around Rs. 200 and you need to bargain hard for this. You can also get the design you want at some additional price.
• Overall, things are very costly at Leh Market – which I guess mainly driven by high volume of foreign tourists throughout the season.
• Our Vodafone postpaid mobile connection did not work at all since we reached Leh airport on day 1. One of our member was carrying a BSNL postpaid connection and it worked almost everywhere.
• Somewhere we read that army does not allow more than 6 people in a car. It is not correct and we traveled everywhere having 7+1 people without any trouble.
• Withdrawing money from ATM there is a big challenge. You will always find long queue and if you are little unlucky, you may see cash exhausted till you get your chance. I experience this thrice in 12 days, so I think this is not very uncommon there. If you hold State Bank Savings A/C, you can carry you cheque book there as I found it is easier to do rather than wasting hours in ATM.

Please feel free to ask me any questions that you might have. If I know the answer, I would be more than just happy to answer those. Wishing all the future Ladakh travelers all the best!!
Hi sankmik...nice travelogue....could you please share taxi charges in the leh...i am also planning to go to leh with my family (8-9 people).....what do you think one qualis would be good enough...or i should look for force traveller....any ideas how much more the 9 seater force traveller cost us...
#6 Aug 7th, 2011, 19:39
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  • sankmik is offline
#6
As we booked our entire travel through MakeMy Trip, not sure about Point to Point or even daily car charges. Sorry about that. But please do not plan for more than 7 people even in Qualis, you will not be able to travel for long. If the idea is to travel together in a single car, may be you should opt for Force traveler. I have also seen Tata Winger there which probably will cost you lower than traveler.
#7 Aug 7th, 2011, 22:45
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  • traveller_dep is offline
#7
yes...sanamik...i was also thinking more than 7 in qualis will be too much...will see other options
#8 Aug 21st, 2013, 13:39
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  • tapashpal is offline
#8

Want Camp Watermark contact details

I want to book Camp Watermark in Pangong. Can anyone can give the contact details of Camp Watermark.

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