Apr 24, 2006

The Leh manual 1

Ladakhi Man circa 2005Sunrise, sunrise... at Bharatpur City

I wrote this letter for a friend, and then thought the information might help anyone heading to Ladakh, so I posted it here. I will add tips and comments as needed, so click the comments link to add to the information in the post.

The information below is gleaned from my research and subsequent trip to Leh in summer last year on a motorcycle. The Bullet 500 I was riding performed well, and I'm raring to go back this summer, should I have the opportunity...
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Sorry for the huge delay in replying to your email about the Leh trip. I can think of at least three dozen excuses, but the fact remains, I'm remiss on this count. Apologies.

The first view of the mountains after you get through Rohtang
The 'Trip to Leh' [the trip prospect document I was given to comment on] was quite a nice read, actually, purely from a language perspective. It certainly sounds like a lot of fun, although I think there is a fair bit of hyperbole in there, but it's more or less accurate.

Clarifications on the trip note:

The Chandigarh-Manali road: heavenlyHard driving Actually, driving to Leh is remarkable easy if you keep your wits about you and use healthy doses of common sense. Perhaps the hardest driving you will do, in the real (speed-oriented) sense of the word is between Delhi and Manali. The road gets so good about 50 km after Chandigarh, that it would be a waste to not enjoy it fresh and early. In my opinion, this is one of the best mountain roads in the country, if not the continent, today. And the chaps keep it in astonishingly good shape.

Yes, this is a road. And there's lots like it up there[The authors of 'Trip to Leh'] are right. The road quality heads waay south moments after you cross the top of Rohtang. But in a big 4x4, it's more a case of driving carefully, than really sweating it out. Perhaps the only thing I'd say, is take it easy. I'd plan for shorter daily distances, instead of the hard driving. Nothing can prepare you for the grandeur of those mountains, so you should ideally, prepare a bunch of lazy days, so you can stop, gawk, click and sigh at will.

Also, prepare to be stuck behind slow, smoky trucks. It isn't their fault, they're polite to a fault, but finding a pass-worthy space on those roads can be a task. Solution? Er… good music in the car?

Tents, type 1, just before ManaliAccommodation I concur mostly with [The authors of 'Trip to Leh'] about the acco. But the tents are quite comfortable really. Even the el cheapo roadside ones. And no matter what anyone says, there is enough acco/tea shops along the road. Why? Because the passes close with the regularity of a heart beat thanks to bad weather, landslides and what have you. People (tourists, trucks etc) who want to get across always end up using these tents for acco. Food's pretty good too: you'll always get hot chapattis and aloo subzi or hot Maggi. The Horizons Unlimited tents should be even better. ([From my experience, check and recheck that they will give you proper alpine grade sleeping bags or cupboard sized razais. This is crucial. The camps are cold without exception and being cold in bed after a day of driving sucks big time. If you do have mild mountain sickness (more on that later), being cold will make it worse.

Sarchu tourist camp
Pang tents, accomodation available

Off the beaten track Given the utter and complete desolation and lack of communication, I'd say take a long look at the risk of any excursion off-track. The army is known to be extremely helpful about rescuing tourists from their own devices. However, even they will not operate beyond certain times of the day and being stuck in Ladakh without any way to reach for help does cause a few life-threatening situations every year. Again, neither of you two are short on common sense, so always employ it. And don't cave in to peer pressure if you don't think the risk is worth it.

Tandi, the last fuel station before LehFuel It is not as easy as getting it in the city, but you can get it, no question. Tandi is a well-stocked fuel station. It is quite literally the life line of the life line of trucks that go into Ladakh, so it is rarely non-functional. Fuel in Leh is also not known to be an issue. The army does help stuck tourists with fuel, you need to be persuasive. Or helpless. And need diesel.

Continued here

1 comment:

Yogesh Sarkar said...

hmm... nice info, was there last year and hoping to do another trip this year as well.