When you talk about the tourist season in Ladakh, I believe it is the month of April that marks the beginning of it. As winter beings to fade away in April, locals prepare for the upcoming tourist season; and thousands of people from all over the country get ready for the trip they had been planning on for so long. With the changing weather, all the snow that has been blocking the roads at high altitude passes starts to melt; and BRO works rigorously to open them all as early as possible. The month of April may not be called as the best time to visit but there are certain charms and benefits that only this month can offer you. What those are and how you can plan your trip to Ladakh in April is what I will provide details on further in this article.
The first and the most important thing here to know is that a road trip to Ladakh in April highly depends upon the weather conditions. For example, this year the Srinagar Leh highway was declared open in last week of March itself because it did not snow much anywhere. On the other hand, in 2017, it had snowed so heavy that even the Srinagar route remained closed until early May. So before you finalize your plan, wait until at least mid of March to get an update on road opening.
The route from Srinagar usually opens towards Mid-April so if the reports are of a timely or early opening, you may travel by road. If there is any chance that it may get delayed; then at least keep your plan flexible enough to be pushed towards early May.
Another important thing to know is the requirement of getting an inner line permit. Ladakh, due to its close proximity to china border is considered a part of Inner line; and hence getting a permit from DM office Leh is mandatory in order travel towards areas like Nubra valley, Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri. This permit can either be obtained in person or applied for online. To know the complete procedure of getting this permit and related charges, please take a look at the article below.
When it comes to mobile and data connectivity in Ladakh, it is pretty much limited to Leh city only. BSNL here has the widest coverage; but it is only Leh where you will get a stable connection with good voice clarity. All other networks will be dead the moment you leave Leh; but you will get intermittent BSNL connection in Nubra and Pangong as well. Voice clarity will be extremely bad but you will at least be able to send text messages if needed. For more information on this topic, please read Mobile Services in Leh and Other areas of Ladakh.
Is Ladakh Open in April
The answer to this question is a definite yes but can also be broken down further with a few conditions applied. If you mean in terms of road connectivity to Manali and Srinagar, then yes it may be open towards end of April. All internal roads however in Ladakh are completely open in April including the ones towards Nubra valley and Pangong Tso from Leh city. In terms of accommodation as well, Ladakh remains open in April and you will have no problem in finding a place to stay.
Ladakh Weather in April
Leh Ladakh in the month of April will still be cold. It will not be on the extreme side like in the months of peak winters but temperature at nights will still fall below zero. Days will be pleasant with moderate temperature accompanied by cold wind but nights will still be quite harsh.
Road Trip Vs By Air
If a road trip is on your mind then you must keep your plan towards later part of April, possibly in 3rd or 4th week; and this too will depend on whether or not the road is open. If you must travel in initial part of the month, then your trip would have to be planned by Air only. In first two weeks of April, chances of reaching Ladakh by road are extremely rare unless it did not snow much anywhere like it happened this year.
If you reached Ladakh by Air, then acute mountain sickness will be one of your biggest worries. Your gain in altitude will be huge in a matter of couple of hours and you are bound to suffer from Mountain sickness, at least on first day of your arrival. To know more in details on AMS and what its symptoms are, please read How to Handle Acute Mountain Sickness in Ladakh.
Road Conditions in Ladakh in April
Manali Leh highway of course would be closed in April and since the Srinagar route has just opened, it will be in its worst ever shape. Melting snow would have created numerous water streams and slush all across. Bad sections of the road will majorly be between Srinagar and Sonamarg. Worst section however will be between Sonamarg and Drass in form of Zojila. You will have to tackle a lot of mud and slush while crossing over Zojila at this time. Between Drass and Leh however, roads will be average with a few bad patches in between.
After you have reached Leh, roads towards Nubra, Pangong and Tso Moriri will be a mix of good and average. Bad sections will be limited to the top of Khardung La and Chang La. Presence of snow and water streams creating by melting of it will however be in plenty on these routes as well.
Availability of Public Transport Services
Public transport at this time will still be scarce since the region has just started to open up. You may not find any bus at all going towards inner areas of Ladakh from Leh city. Even if there is one available, the frequency of it will not be so great. Your only chance of public transport will pretty much be limited to shared taxis which you can find from Leh bus stand. Motorcycles however will be available for rent which can be a great alternative if you are unable to find a bus or shared cab at a desired time. You can rent a motorcycle from Leh city and travel as per your convenience.
Suggested Itinerary for visiting Leh Ladakh in April
With the above being said, let me suggest a sample itinerary that you can follow for this trip. Your final plan will of course depend on how many days you have in hand but it should at least give you an idea on how to plan your journey. I will suggest the plan for a road trip as well as an Air trip.
If reaching Ladakh by Air, below is the itinerary you can follow.
- Arrive in Leh. Rest and arrange Permits – Day 1
- Leh to Lamayuru to Leh – Day 2
- Leh to Diskit – Day 3
- Diskit to Leh – Day 4
- Leh to Pangong – Day 5
- Pangong to Leh – Day 6
- Leh to Tso Moriri – Day 7
- Tso Moriri to Leh – Day 8
- Fly Out – Day 9
This of course is just a sample itinerary but it is one plan that you can follow irrespective of your time and mode of travel. The connecting roads between Nubra, Pangong and Moriri may not be open in April in which case you will have to come back to Leh from each of these destinations. If you hired a motorcycle in Leh or a private cab, you can follow this itinerary but in case the connecting roads are open as well, then you can travel directly between Nubra and Pangong via Shyok road; and Pangong and Moriri via Chushul route.
If however you were looking for a bus or shared taxi, then you will have no other choice but to return to Leh city every time. There is still no public transport available on Shyok road, across Wari La or Chushul / Hanle route.
Srinagar to Leh in April
If you were planning a complete road trip to Ladakh, below is a sample itinerary that you can follow. For the sake of this article, I will assume Delhi as the starting point. You will of course have to reach Ladakh via Srinagar and come back the same way because Manali Leh route will not be open in April.
- 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 Pangong – Day 7
- Pangong to Leh – Day 8
- Leh to Batalik / Kargil – Day 9
- Batalik / Kargil to Srinagar – Day 10
- Srinagar to Jammu – Day 11
- Jammu to Delhi – Day 12
Following this itinerary, when you reach Leh from Kargil on Day 4, you will do so via Lamayuru. But on your way back on Day 9, you can chose an alternate route via Batalik. However, please note though that a permit is needed to travel on Batalik route; so ensure to add this name on your ILP application form.
In case Shyok road is closed at your time of arrival then you will have to return to Leh from Diskit on Day 7; and go to Pangong on next day. If you have more time in your hand, then you can plan a trip to Tso Moriri as well; either from Leh via Chumathang or from Pangong via Chushul.
Srinagar to Leh bus in April
The bus service from Srinagar to Leh starts sometime in May after BRO declares the road as safe enough for a bus to ply. This service remains unavailable in the month of April. If you want to travel by public transport, then your only option is to find a shared taxi or rent a motorcycle from Srinagar.
Leh To Nubra Valley in April
For a brief overview, Leh to Nubra valley road will remain open in April; and so will be the road from Leh to Pangong Tso. The connecting road via Agham Shyok villages may or may not be open. The road across Wari La will definitely be closed. Chushul route will remain open in April but for Indian citizens only. The direct road from Leh to Tso Moriri via Chumathang will be open; but the one via Tanglang La and Tso Kar may remain closed throughout April.
Majority of the hotels and guest houses will remain closed in early April; both in Leh city and other areas of Ladakh. If you were planning a trip in first week or 10 days of April; the I will suggest that you call and book in advance. Towards second half of April however; a lot of hotels are already functional and you will have no trouble finding a hotel and negotiating an on the spot deal. The same logic applies to other places like Srinagar, Kargil, Sonamarg and Drass as well.
Ladakh Temperature in April
Due to initial part of the month, temperature at night will go below zero; but days will be around 10 degrees Celsius. As the month will progress; day temperature will hover around 10 to 15 degrees Celsius; but nights will still remain close to zero.
Also read: Clothes for Ladakh Trip – What to Pack
Challenges you will face while traveling to Leh Ladakh in April
Visiting Ladakh in April means that you are traveling early in the season. If traveling by road from Srinagar, then bad road conditions and unpredictability will be your biggest challenge. You are bound to face some really bad sections of the road, Water crossings, slush. BRO continues to work on the road in April and temporary closures are not surprising at this time. If that happens, then you will be stuck or stranded unless the road is opened again.
If flying by Air, then Acute Mountain Sickness will be your biggest challenge as I described previously in the article. Limited accommodation choices will remain to be a challenge in both the cases.
Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh with Children
I hope the information above on planning a trip to Ladakh in April was of help. If you have any further questions; or have any doubts about your trip that you would like to clarify; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to assist.