Traveling to Ladakh in August is mostly not considered to be the best of the ideas; especially after the Ladakh cloudburst of 2010. This is the time when monsoon wreaks havoc all over the Himalayan region; and if you were thinking that maybe this is not the right time to be heading in that direction, you are quite right in your thought.
With that being said, truth holds that tourism in Ladakh is just limited to 5 months a year. It begins in the month of May and then is over by the time October arrives. While the Srinagar Leh road may remain open for a little longer, the peak tourist season up here lasts only from June till September. Of these 4 months, July and August are the months of monsoon; and this is when everyone will tell you that you should either cancel or postpone your trip.
So then the question is can you visit Leh Ladakh in August? And the answer is a definite yes. It may not be the best time to go to Ladakh but definitely has its own advantages. Will it be raining up there? The answer again is a yes which is why, you must prepare well for your trip ahead. Visiting hills with water beating down on your helmet or windscreen may be a bad idea but only if you were not prepared for it. If you were then Ladakh in August will be as good as in any other month. How should you plan your trip to Ladakh in monsoon season is what I will talk about in this article.
The first thing that you need to know is that Ladakh (Lahaul & Spiti too for that matter) is in a rain shadow area; which means that it either gets very little rain or no rain at all. I know, next thought that comes to mind is of 2010 cloudburst tragedy; but except for such unfortunate events, rain in Ladakh is usually limited to just a drizzle at the most. Once you start getting closer to the city of Leh or visit nearby areas like Nubra or Pangong, chances of getting drenched are almost next to none.
This however still does not excuse you from the fact that you are traveling in the month of monsoon. All thanks to global warming, there is really no telling for sure that where will it rain now and when. Sometimes the top of passes like Khardung La and Chang La may get heavy showers which can cause landslides; which further results in a temporary road block.
Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Leh Ladakh?
If you were lucky, you may not encounter rain in Ladakh at all; but will definitely do so before you get there. Up until the town of Keylong or Jispa if you are traveling from Manali; and until Kargil if you were traveling on Srinagar Leh highway, it can rain any time and you must prepare accordingly. Once you cross places like Jispa and Kargil, your chances of facing rain are considerably less.
Is Ladakh Open in August?
This is one of the most common questions I have been asked of late so I will begin with this. Yes Ladakh remains all open in the months of August and in fact also experiences its peak tourist season at this time. Both the highways leading to Ladakh from Manali and Srinagar are open at this time; as well as all the internal roads leading to places like Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso. There could be a temporary roadblock if it rained too heavy anywhere on the route; but BRO clears the road and restores connectivity just as soon as they are able to.
Apart from the road, all hotels and guest houses too are open for business. Public transport is up and running in form of bus service and shared taxis. All tourism related activities like trekking, rafting, motorcycle rentals etc are fully available.
Also read: A Comprehensive Road Map of Leh Ladakh
Monsoon Season in Ladakh
As we discussed previously in the article, Ladakh is actually in a rain shadow area and it don’t rain here much. In the nearby regions of Himachal and Kashmir however, monsoon arrives in the month of July and remains throughout August. The intensity and frequency however is more towards second half of July and first half of August. So if the month of August is the only time when you can plan this trip; but at the same time also want to avoid the hassle that rains bring; then I would recommend that you plan your journey towards the later half of the month. If possible at all, then plan in the last week of August and monsoon by then would mostly be all gone.
Independence Day in Ladakh
This is a very important factor that you need to keep in mind. An ideal Ladakh itinerary would keep both Manali Leh and Srinagar Leh highway as part of the journey. While traveling from Manali will not matter much even around 15th August; it will however make a huge difference while traveling towards Kashmir. Security in Kashmir and nearby Ladakh goes up and the entire region remains on high alert until Independence day passes by peacefully. So if you were traveling in first half of the month; or in the same week of 15th August, then be prepared to feel the heavy army presence.
You will be stopped at several check posts for checking and can also get delayed in traffic. If there was any incident or violence in the valley, then Kashmir will go in lock-down and you will be stuck where you were. In August of 2016, I had to stay for 2 days at Sonamarg before we were finally allowed to travel towards Srinagar and cross it with Army escort.
A similar kind of situation can definitely occur around Independence day. Mobile and internet services getting shut down too is common. While traveling to Ladakh in August, my recommendation would be that you plan towards the later half of the month, after independence day or in the first week itself. If not then do not include Srinagar Leh route in your plan at all and travel from Manali side only. If you do however want to cover Srinagar route as well then keep at least 2 – 3 days as buffer in your itinerary.
Also read: How Safe Ladakh is for Tourists?
You will find these in plenty all across the route. By August, all the water streams would be well fed by melting snow and rains; and some of these would have grown into large monsters. These will be present not only on Manali – Leh and Srinagar – Leh routes but also on internal roads in Ladakh. If you were on a motorcycle trip, then you need to keep this in mind while you pack your bags and decide which shoes to bring. Rubber Sandals that can cover your entire feet can be a good replacement to make sure that you do not end up wetting your shoes at every water crossing. If you were traveling by car, then make sure you are bringing the one with good ground clearance. Crossing these water streams and slush areas would be tough if your car did not have good GC.
Motorcycle Trip to Ladakh in August
If you are traveling on a motorcycle, it would be wise to carry clothes and all your belongings in water proof bags and even then, wrap those bags in plastic sheets or tarpaulin before you rope them on motorcycle. Always carry extra plastic bags and tarpaulin just in case the one you are using gets torn. Keep your electronics, wallet and important documents wrapped in a plastic sheet all the time. Carry a good quality rain suit because you definitely do not want to continue riding in such cold temperature while you are soaking wet.
Changing clothes every time you get wet is also practically not possible. Your shoes too must be water proof. Pack clothes that are light in weight and will dry fast enough. If you can, do carry an umbrella as well. Before you start on your trip, get your motorcycle serviced and the entire wiring checked to ensure there is no wear and tear that may cause short circuit in rain.
Check your tires before you start on the trip. If the tires are old and worn out, replace them. Ride in a lower gear very slowly through the slush. Ride through the tracks made by four wheeler and trucks as the slush is less there.
Traveling to Ladakh in August by Car
If you are traveling in a car, avoid putting any luggage on the roof as far as you can but if you must, then put stuff that is not at risk of getting ruined by the rain. For example your camping gear if you are carrying any or Jerry cans for fuel if you haven’t filled those up already. If you are roping any bags up there, then ensure that everything is tightly wrapped in plastic and there is a thick tarpaulin covering the roof. Take out all electronic items, papers, wallets etc before you mount the bags on the roof.
Protect your Camera
One electronic device that gets used the most on trips like this and is at risk of getting ruined is your camera. Buy a rain-sleeve for your camera if you can. If not, then ensure that you keep it protected from not only rain but also moisture. Do not carry your regular DSLR bag; rather buy a waterproof bag for your camera and accessories.
Driving Tips for going to Ladakh in August
One thing that you need to be ready for is driving through slush and water crossings in August. There are several areas on both the highways where rain plays havoc creating a lot of slush, like Rohtang on Manali Leh highway and Zoji La on Srinagar Leh highway. Heavy rains can wash away parts of narrow road leaving vehicles struggling through slushy bends. Taking your car across such stretches can be a challenge and you need to be extra careful while doing so.
While crossing a nallah in a car, please stop for a minute, step out, inspect the crossing and then take your car across very carefully. If you are still unsure then wait for a little while for another car to arrive and follow its lead. Stay in the first gear, do not half clutch and cross over in a single go while maintaining the momentum. If there is slush around, then ask your fellow travelers to step out of the car so that they can help push the vehicle if you get stuck.
Accelerate slowly to ensure that your car doesn’t skid. You really need to go easy on the gas to avoid your wheel spinning. Avoid any sudden movements on the steering, accelerator or brakes as this may send your car spinning. If you are highly doubtful of your driving skills and are not feeling too comfortable with the idea of driving on such roads, then I suggest you hire a driver who is a local from Manali.
Also read: How to Drive Safely to Ladakh?
Keep Buffer Days in your Itinerary
Next concern is of landslides due to rain; and to tackle that, you must keep a couple of days in buffer. There is a high possibility that certain part of the highway may close down for a few hours or even a couple of days because of landslide in which case you will have no choice but to go to the nearest town and wait it out. You also need to be careful while driving through areas that you see effected by rain or have a lot of dirt or mud around because it is not always a major landslide but smaller ones too. Some stones may just slide down from the top damaging your vehicle and injuring you. Good part however is that BRO has put up warnings in areas where this may happen. If you see a board that reads “shooting stones”, stay alert.
Why Visit Ladakh in August
OK enough with the scares. So what is the good part about a Ladakh trip in August or Monsoon? The answer is the lush green vistas that you will witness throughout the journey. No matter which road you travel from, you will be treated with greenery all around until you enter Ladakh. The entire drive is so scenic that it will leave you in awe. If you have even slightest of interest in photography, you will be reaching out for your camera at every turn.
The drive from Manali till Jispa will be a memorable one. The entire Kashmir valley, Sonamarg and Drass will be the heaven that it is famous for being. Except for the areas affected by water crossings and landslides, BRO would have restored the roads by August which means that you will be riding/driving on freshly laid tarmac. Since it is the peak tourist season, all hotels and accommodation places are open in the entire region so you will have no trouble to find a place to stay anywhere.
Clothing to wear in Leh Ladakh in August
When you are packing clothes for Ladakh trip in August, you should be packing clothes that will dry fast; polyester for example. There are necessarily two thing that you should keep in mind. First is that you should pack clothes that you can wear in layers. What it means is clothes that you can wear on top of one another; in layers.
Also read: Clothes for Ladakh Trip – What to Pack?
Weather in Ladakh is a bit tricky and will fluctuate highly depending on the time of the day and place you are at. One moment you will be cold standing in the shade and then will start to feel hot when you step in the sun. So carrying heavy woolens will really not work and either will all light cottons. Carry a couple of thermals, your regular T-Shirts and shirts, few light woolens; and then a thick windproof and waterproof jacket with a hood to protect your head, neck and face.
Second thing is to bring clothes that will not take long to dry. This is even important if you were on a motorcycle trip; because then you are running a high risk of getting drenched in the rain. Benefit with fast drying clothes will be that you won’t even have to spread them out somewhere. Even if you got wet somewhere, they will dry out in a few minutes while you continue riding.
Hotels in Ladakh in August
All the hotels and guest houses in Ladakh will be operational by the month of August. Usually I do not advise people to do any sort of advance booking but a lot has changed in Ladakh in recent years. After the recent boost in tourism, you may run into a situation where you may not find a place to stay at all or at least not a good one. This year, a lot of people had to return from Pangong to Leh on the same day because there was just no camp site available anywhere at all. So yes, these days I will recommend that you book your stay in advance while going to Ladakh in tourist season.
Snow in Ladakh in August
Chances of finding snow are very less in the month of August. Whatever little snow you will find will only be at top of the passes. Catching a live snowfall will be rare and your probably won’t get one unless you were extremely lucky. Snowfall too however in August may happen atop Khardung La or Chang La or any pass but definitely not in the lower areas.
Also read: When is the Best time to Visit Leh Ladakh?
Ladakh Weather in August
So in the end and in order to summarize, weather in Ladakh in August will actually be warm and pleasant. You may face light or heavy showers while on your way around Manali and Srinagar. In Ladakh, chances of encountering rain are a bit less but you may at top of the passes. For rest of the time, days will be quite warm and you can actually walk around just wearing regular summer clothes. Nights however will definitely be cold and you will need to put on heavy woolens.
Ladakh Temperature in August
Day temperature will be between 20 to 30 degrees Celsius but night temperature will drop below 10 degrees Celsius.
Road Trip to Ladakh in August
Your final itinerary will depend on several things like how you are traveling; where are you traveling from, how many days you have in hand; but as an example, I will suggest an itinerary that you can follow. For the sake of this article, I will assume Delhi as your starting point. If you were however coming from a different place, then only the journey for first and last day will be different. Rest of the plan will still remain the same.
- Delhi to Jammu – Day 1
- Jammu to Srinagar – Day 2
- Srinagar to Kargil – Day 3
- Kargil to Leh – Day 4
- Leh – Day 5
- Leh to Diskit – Day 6
- Diskit to Turtuk to Panamik – Day 7
- Panamik to Pangong via Shyok – Day 8
- Pangong to Hanle – Day 9
- Hanle to Karzok – Day 10
- Karzok to Pang – Day 11
- Pang to Jispa – Day 12
- Jispa to Manali – Day 13
- Manali to Delhi – Day 14
For more itineraries for a different number of days, please take a look at the Itinerary Section for Leh Ladakh.
Can we Visit Ladakh in August
Yes you can definitely plan a trip to Ladakh in August. Rains can be a bit of a problem but just keep the above factors in mind and you will be OK. I hope the information above on visiting Ladakh in August was of help. If you have any further questions; or need any further details; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.