Ladakh Winter Trip – Essentials to Carry
This article is a continuation from my PREVIOUS ARTICLE covering various preparations that you must make before going to Ladakh on a winter trip. This article is a quick check list of items that you should consider carrying with you.
Ever heard of Murphy’s Law? There are several variations of it but the two most common versions are “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” or “things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance,”. You really need to keep this mind while preparing for a Ladakh winter trip. Things here can turn against you at any given point of time and when they do, there is a high chance that you may be in a situation where either help may not come at all or it may take a while to arrive. For example (and I am just quoting this as an example because it will apply to a summer trip when you are driving on your own and not a winter trip), if you think that you may have a flat tire in middle of nowhere, then prepare keeping in mind that it will happen and you will have to fix it at some point in your trip. Prepare your entire Ladakh winter trip keeping this in mind and you will enjoy your trip to the fullest and arrive back home safe and sound.
What I stated above about things going wrong multiplies tenfold during a winter trip to Ladakh. Due to extreme cold, even the locals in Ladakh move to another place, sometimes looking for a warmer climate or to earn their living elsewhere until the winter gets over. So there are even a fewer people in the city of Leh, a number that goes even further down while you are visiting the nearby areas. Preparing for a Ladakh winter trip means that you will need to practically carry everything along with assuming that you will not get anything over there. Below is a list of items that I put together, some basic amenities that will prove helpful. This is just what came in my mind and you may add or delete items from here as per your requirement.
Ladakh Winter Trip – Clothing:
You really need good ones for these. If you think that your winter clothes that you use in plains would suffice in Ladakh as well, you are wrong. You do not face temperatures below zero degrees at your home town but you will be in Ladakh. When you chose a jacket, find the one that seems heaviest in the market. Secondly, it is just not your torso but also your neck and face that you need to protect so find a one that has a hood attached to it, preferably a Parka or something like it. Along with your jacket, carry enough woolens to wear underneath it. If you cannot find a good enough jacket/parka in the market, you can easily order one online.
Get a warm enough Monkey cap as well. Your jacket hood will only cover your head and ears but you also need something to cover front of your face too. A muffler would come in handy too.
Buy a pair of shoes from the hiking and trekking category if you do not already have one. These shoes are usually ankle length high (do not buy unless it is so) and come handy when walking over ice. Carry an extra pair as well in case your shoes get wet.
Socks and Gloves:
Another essential if you do not want your fingers and toes going numb. Carry woolen socks to keep your feet warm. Do not however carry the woolen gloves as they do not really help that much in my experience. If you can shed a little money, buy a pair of warm waterproof gloves, the ones they use for skiing. Or else, buy one of those really thick gloves with fur inside.
I found these really useful for two reasons, you can easily wear them underneath your clothes and they really help keeping you warm inside. Second is you can also sleep wearing them at night.
Carry a kit comprising of some basic medicines for cold & cough, fever, headache, upset stomach, body ache etc. For acute mountain sickness, carry Diamox but know that Diamox is a precautionary medicine and not a cure. Take a dose a few hours before your flight because if you start feeling symptoms, then even Diamox will not help.
As I mentioned in the first part of this article, please do not travel to Ladakh in such harsh weather if you have any kind of medical condition. Consult your doctor first. I am not a medical person so please just do not take my advice for it.
Creams and Lotions:
Two things. Carry a sunscreen lotion of highest SPF that you can find. You will not just get tanned walking around with a sunscreen in Ladakh but you may get actually get sunburns so apply it before you step out in the sun and then reapply after some time. Second thing is to carry a cold cream and a lip balm. Carry a moisturizer as well if you can.
I do not want to get into details of why here but just carry it.
Ever heard that batteries get exhausted in cold weather rather quick? It is true so for your cameras and electronic gadgets, please make sure that you are carrying spare batteries. For you mobile phone, a power bank and car charger should do the job.
Not really a must but I recommend that you carry a good pair of sunglasses. When the sun shines on the snow, it gets pretty rough for the eyes.
To carry an identify proof is must and it should be government issued, like your driving license, PAN card, Aadhar card. You will also be needing these documents to obtain permits if you are planning to visit the restricted areas.
I am not saying that you withdraw enough cash right before starting from home but withdraw cash in Leh before you leave to visit nearby areas. There are no ATMs elsewhere in Ladakh so please carry enough cash. Also, chances of an ATM not working or running out of cash are quite high, especially in winter so while you are there at the ATM, do not just withdraw a couple thousand. Take out enough that you think will last next few days.
A few other things to carry, just putting it here as kind of checklist, would be Soap, toothpaste and brush, flask, torch, chargers for all your gadgets like phone and camera etc. It is also advised to carry eatables while you leave Leh as finding an eating joint/dhaba on the way in winter will be next to impossible. Another important tip would be to not plan your trip in a very tight schedule. As I mentioned above, whatever can go wrong will go wrong, so keep a buffer of couple of days. There can be unexpected snowfall that can leave you stranded, sometimes for a few hours and sometimes ever for a couple of days away from Leh so be prepared for that. Book your return flight a couple of days after your itinerary. If all goes well, relax and enjoy your stay in Leh. If you get stuck somewhere for a day or two, you won’t be missing your flight and booking another one.
Please CLICK HERE to take you to the next part of this article covering an ideal itinerary that you can follow for your trip. I hope this information was useful. If you think I missed something in the list above, please feel free to comment and add. You may also ask any questions if you have and I would be glad to answer.