Ladakh Trip 2017: Sharing an update here regarding Ladakh trip that was sent by Puneet Bhai. He stumbled across my blog, I helped him plan his trip and he was kind enough to return and share a few tips. Though to share his update with everyone so copy pasting it here in order to help others. He completed his Ladakh trip in Nissan Terrano.
Just returned from my “first” Ladakh road trip! What an experience.
We did this in a Nissan Terrano, June 8th to June 17th.
Day #1: Gurgaon to Srinagar (stayed at a Houseboat on the Dal Lake), 847 KM, 16hours drive.
Day # 2: Srinagar
Exploring the local sights. Contrary to what news media reports, Srinagar is absolutely tourist friendly, and SAFE. We should promote tourism to Srinagar, as the locals are “suffering” due to the lack thereof. I plan to do so, at my level. We also did a quick trip to Gulmarg, just to see the place.
Day # 3: Srinagar to Kargil, via Sonamarg (and a climb to Thajiwas Glacier!)
10-12km before Zojila and till Drass, the road is bad, everything else, is beautiful road.
Thajiwas is a must stop for everyone. Go early (if self driving), as thereafter, the locals dont allow you take your own cars up to the glacier, and want you to take overpriced taxis.
Day #4: Kargil to Leh: Excellent road conditions, spectacular drive.
Day #5: Leh.
Leh Palace was a disappointment, recommend not to waste time visiting it. Actually, because Leh is all dug (for sewerage works), I recommend to make your stay in Leh to a maximum one day (to get the permits), and then get the hell outta there.
Permits can be obtained at the Tourist office (Opposite J&K Bank). Fill it up online, take print out, and pay according to your circuit. Opens at 9am, get there early. A representative can also go, with ID card copies.
Places to see these days in Leh: Shanti Stupa, Sankar Monastery, Shey, Thikse and Hemis Monastery. Everything else, is a waste of time.
I suggest everyone to stay in Alchi instead. Beautiful place, just before Leh.
Day # 6: Day trip to Nubra Valley and back.
(ideally one should stay there one night, but I could not change my bookings!).
To ascend Khardungla, one should leave by 530-6am, literally zero traffic and you get there in good time, and can spend peaceful time at Khardungla, and catch the flag hoisting at 7am. You have the pass to yourself, with the Army. Road 2km after South Pullu and 2 km before North Pullu is bad, rest is all smooth.
We drove until Hunder and then returned back to Leh, same day. 11 hours drive.
High altitude pass, to sand dunes and back to high altitude pass, we saw it all in a day.
Day #7: Leh to Pangong: Road from Hemis
(where Pangong road splits from the Leh Manali highway), is rough for about 15 km, and the diversion from Sakti (which should be open in a few days), is a nightmare. After the diversion, the road is more or less smooth till Pangong, only exception, 6km before and 6km after Changla, is a bit rough.
Quite an experience we had at Changla, snowfall when we reached there, which was amazing. We encountered Snowfall after crossing it too.
Pangong drive is mesmerizing, therefore, one should plan sufficient time, for frequent stopovers for photography. There is a section, just before Pangong, where one can spot ground hogs and wild horses.
Pangong was extremely windy (we reached around 6pm), but yet spectacular.
Temperatures, with wind chill, were around zero.
Light snowfall during the night, cloudy morning, therefore unlucky. Not able to take pictures.
Day #8: Pangong to Sarchu
Hemis to Pang, the road is ok. However, from Pang to few KM before Baralachla, the road is a disaster. I mean, the worst section of the road in our ENTIRE trip.
No-man’s land between the two Sarchu’s, J&K and HP, it was so bad, that I get nightmares!!
Drive took about 11 hours. 332km.
Day #9: Sarchu to Manali.
I wish, I had turned back from Baralachla. Everything else, thereafter, specially Manali, was a disaster, so much so, we cut short our stay in Manali, and returned to Gurgaon, a day earlier than planned. One should stay in Kasoal or Manikaran instead of Manali.
The 3 hour traffic jam, after passing a repulsive and overcrowded Rohtang pass, pretty much managed to crash land us back to civilization. I wish I had never driven towards Manali.
As mentioned, the road from Sarchu to just before Baralachla, was bad, in this section, the rest was smooth.
Honestly, if it helps, I would suggest people to RETURN from Baralachla, all the way to Gurgaon, via Srinagar!!
Day #10: Manali to Gurgaon, 580km, 10 hours.
And one more thing, we tanked up in Kharu, and drove until Ambala with that Tank full. So, at least for a Nissan Terrano, no spare fuel required, if doing the same route!!
Dear Vargis, thanks a million for your inputs.
Please let me know where I can upload some videos and photographs.
I hope the tips shared by Puneet Bhai were helpful. If you need any further information, feel free to ask him in his thread at our Community Forum; and I am sure he will be glad to answer.