How to Deal With Acute Mountain Sickness In Ladakh

by Vargis.Khan

A trip to Ladakh is often categorized as an adventure because of the challenges it presents. Apart from the wonderful vistas that you get to see; there is also the excitement of driving through inhospitable terrains and dangerous roads. There are several things that you must prepare yourself for before planning a trip here; of which one of the most important topics is of acute mountain sickness Ladakh. A trip here will take you to heights that you probably have never been to; be part of an atmosphere that you have never been in before. The overall change in the climate; the sudden gain in altitude; the low oxygen levels can sometimes cause our body to experience what is commonly known as altitude sickness.  In this article, I will share a few tips on how you can better prepare yourself for AMS in Ladakh to better enjoy your trip.

acute mountain sickness ladakh

Before I go any further in this article; I would like to mention that I am not a doctor or a medical professional. I have no knowledge of medicine or any illnesses and have no experience in the field at all. What I am adding here is purely my own research; based on my own personal experience or information that I gathered from the web. While the information below suffices for most travelers, I highly recommend a visit to a doctor if there is any medical condition involved. If you are an Asthma patient, a heart patient, have blood pressure issues or any other medical history; please just do not go by my word and consult a doctor.




The first time I visited Leh, I knew what AMS meant; and that I may feel symptoms of it but had no idea what those symptoms were. When I first suffered from AMS, which was during our night stay at Pang; It took me quite some time to realize what It actually was.

Also read: A List Things to Carry for Ladakh Trip

My body temperature shot up, letting me in to believe that I was suffering from fever. I had severe headache, could not get myself to eat or drink anything; and my chest felt as if it was being crushed from both sides. Entire night at Pang was spent tossing and tumbling and even next day was no better. Until we finally arrived in Leh, my entire body felt like it was hit by a train.

It was quite surprising for me because I visit hill stations quite often and have never felt AMS before. What I didn’t know back then that apart from the height, the reason I suffered from AMS that night was because of the sudden increase in altitude. In just a couple of days, we gained from 227 meters in Delhi to over 4000 meters at Pang; and it was for the first time in my life that I was at such high altitude. Add to it the fact that oxygen levels drop at heights; so there was no way that I was going to get away with it without suffering from AMS at all. An even more surprising fact is that I only felt AMS during my first trip to Ladakh. I have never felt any symptoms at all in any of my later trips.

Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh – A Complete Travel Guide

I will start this article explaining what AMS is, what its symptoms are, what causes it, where will you have the highest chance of suffering from it; followed by a few tips on how you can handle it better.

Acute Mountain Sickness Ladakh

Depending on the symptoms, Altitude sickness can be of three types.

  • Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS): AMS is the mildest, most common type of altitude sickness. caused by reduced air pressure and lower oxygen levels. Symptoms include difficulty in sleeping, dizziness, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath.
  • High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE): HAPE is a more serious condition of altitude sickness, symptoms include shortness of breath (even while resting), persistent coughing, exercise intolerance, coughing up pink, frothy spit (indication of fluid in the lungs).
  • High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE): HACE, another and even more serious condition of altitude sickness, causes difficulty when walking, severe lethargy and a loss of focus. HACE and HAPE are rare and if not treated on time can be even fatal.
Cause of Mountain Sickness in Ladakh

Acute Mountain Sickness is a direct result of exposure to lower percentage of oxygen at high altitudes. As altitude increases, level of Oxygen present in the air starts to get lower. In order to accommodate for low oxygen per breath, our body increases the breathing rate and this is the reason why we start to huff and puff so easily in mountains. The process of a human body getting accustomed to low oxygen and adapting to the new environment is called acclimatization. When there is ample time for this process and our body is not undergoing a stress, there will not be any symptoms at all. However, as it happens in case of a trip to Ladakh, the gain in altitude continues to happen over a period of 3-4 days and at a faster rate than our bodies can adapt to. This is what leads to altitude sickness in Ladakh.

Also read: What to See in Ladakh – A Comprehensive List

Symptoms of AMS in Ladakh

While AMS falls under the category of nonspecific symptoms, in most cases they are the same of that of high fever. Your body temperature will suddenly rise followed by severe headache, chest pain, vomiting, lack of sleep, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty in breathing. Most people will suffer AMS when the increase in altitude is in a matter of a few hours or a day; but some people may suffer it for first few days even if the process is gradual. At what height a person will suffer from mountain sickness; and for how long differs for every individual. But it is safe to assume that if you have never been to a high altitude place like Ladakh; you are bound to feel a few symptoms of AMS in first few days.

Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh with Children

These symptoms, ranging from mild to life-threatening, will also depend on the speed of your climb and how hard you exert yourself. If mild then they will gradually subside after a couple of days at high altitude but sometimes it can even lead to high altitude pulmonary edema, which is the worst condition of AMS and can be fatal. Some of the severe symptoms, affecting nervous system, lungs, muscles, and heart are blue color to the skin, gray or pale complexion, chest tightness or congestion, confusion, coughing up blood, decreased consciousness, withdrawal from social interaction, shortness of breath even while resting or unable to walk at all. Severe cases may result in death due to lung problems or brain swelling, called cerebral edema.

At what height will your suffer from Altitude sickness in Ladakh?

There is really no certain way of telling or predicting the altitude that will lead to AMS as it differs from person to person. I have known people who felt the symptoms even at Manali; and people who did not suffer from AMS at all anywhere during their trip to Ladakh. It can however be assumed that for most of the people, it is the height of 10,000 ft or above that can lead to altitude sickness.  Where will you suffer from AMS  in Ladakh can differ for each person; but chances are highest at Pang, Tanglang La, Tso Moriri, Pangong Tso and Changthang. Please be advised that these places are located at highest altitude in this region where most people feel the symptoms but you may suffer from AMS at other places too.

Also read: How to Plan a Journey on Manali Leh Highway

How to Handle AMS in Ladakh

Once it happens, only two things will help. The first is to give your body ample time to adapt and for the symptoms to subside. If this however doesn’t help, the only other way is to get to a lower altitude as fast as you can. Apart from these two, below are a few other tips that can help with altitude sickness in Ladakh.

Slow gain in altitude

Time is the key to altitude sickness, both before and after you start feeling the symptoms. As a rule of the thumb, stop for a day at every 2,000 feet (600 meters) of climb above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters). You really got to give your body ample time to acclimatize and need to plan your journey in a way that the altitude gain happens gradually. As compared to Manali Leh highway, Srinagar to Leh route is at a lower altitude and the ascent is gradual. You slowly get to high altitude as you travel across the highway and your body adapts better.

Also read: Clothes for Ladakh Trip – What to Pack

Highest point of Srinagar to Leh highway is at Fotu La Pass at a height of 13,479ft whereas Manali – Leh Highway’s highest point is 17,585ft at Tanglang La pass. Within a matter of 2 days, you reach from a height of 2000 meters at Manali to 5328 meters at Tanglang La, almost three times more. Hence, It is advised that you reach Leh from Srinagar and return via Manali. If you have to take the Manali – Leh highway, then it is best to spend a night in Jispa and then start really early the next day to continue all the way to Leh without breaking the journey anywhere.

Avoid Smoking & Alcohol consumption

I know, this is easier said than done but it definitely helps. Even at several of the high altitude passes, you will find boards put up by Indian Army advising people not to smoke at such heights. Also stay away from any sleeping pills or anti-depressant medicines.

Avoid turning the heater on

If traveling in a Car, you will be tempted to turn on the car heater in the cold atmosphere of Ladakh. Avoid doing so or even if you did turn on the heater, do not keep it at full blower or full heat. In the closed atmosphere of a Car, using a heater at its full capacity may trigger the symptoms of AMS.

Also read: How to Plan a Journey on Srinagar Leh Highway

Sleeping Habits

While you need to ensure that your body is getting proper sleep, there are several places that you need to avoid sleeping at. First and the foremost is to avoid spending a night at a place where you are already suffering from AMS. If you start feeling the symptoms, then break the journey immediately rather than continuing to an even higher place. Ensure that you are sleeping with your head on a pillow and not without it. Avoid sleeping during day at all. If you are feeling symptoms of AMS, try sleeping in an upright position, with your back against the wall.

Eating & Drinking Habits

Keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water and ensure that your diet has lot of carbohydrates in it. At the same time, you need to make sure that you are not over hydrating yourself. Do not force yourself or someone else to drink water if they are not thirsty. This can happen specially with children. Over hydrating or forced drinking can lead to vomit or worse; can trigger cerebral edema (symptoms being confusion, weakness, seizures or coma). Avoid drinking too much coffee or tea and eating heavy, fatty, junk foods.  Try having small meals rather than heavy ones; inclusive of food that is easily digestible.

Also read: Important Things that you must carry on Ladakh Trip

Do not exert yourself

Keep your body relaxed, try to walk slowly and do not exert yourself with any unnecessary activities that will leave you panting.

Medicines for AMS in Ladakh

There are several medicines available in the market for high altitude sickness. What they do is make your body breath faster than the usual rate and hence try to compensate for the low amount of oxygen. However even these medicine are a precautionary measure and not a cure. They become useless once you start feeling the symptoms and should be taken as a precaution to avoid symptoms.

Acetazolamide, also known as Diamox, is the preferred medicine. It helps your body get used to higher altitudes more quickly, and reduces minor symptoms. Take a dose of Diamox a day before you climb, and then for the next 1 to 2 days. It is highly advised to consult your doctor before taking Diamox as it has several side effects like nausea, drowsiness, tingling like sensation in the body and frequent urination. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING THE MEDICINE, specially if you are allergic to something.

Also read: How Safe is Ladakh for Tourists?

If you are experiencing symptoms of mild AMS, the first step is to rest at the same altitude. Usually symptoms resolve with rest and painkillers within 24 hours. If symptoms do not resolve or if symptoms become worse, move down (descend). It is common that even a short descent and rest will improve symptoms significantly. It may still be possible to climb up again (re-ascend) if you have recovered and your schedule allows for this.

If you are at risk for a low red blood cell count (anemia), ask your provider if an iron supplement is right for you. Anemia lowers the amount of oxygen in your blood. This makes you more likely to have mountain sickness.

Home Remedies for AMS in Leh Ladakh

Apart from Diamox, there are some natural home remedies known to help with mountain sickness. These are some general daily use things and I will recommend that you pack these a little as well.

Also read: When is the Best time to Visit Ladakh?

Ginger / Ginger Water

Ginger can prove to be one of the best remedies for altitude sickness. Chewing on some raw ginger can also combat nausea, dizziness, and vomiting at high altitudes. What you can also do is to consume it mixed with water. Peel the ginger, grind it to extract the juice and mix it (1 tbsp) in 1 glass of water. Consume it in the morning before you start climbing up and then again midway if you begin feeling dizzy or nauseous.

Garlic

Garlic is known for two things, both of which can be helpful while experiencing AMS. First is that it thins the blood and enhances the circulation. Second is that it helps the body use oxygen more efficiently; which reduces breathlessness at a high altitude place like Ladakh. All you need to do is to peel off 2-3 garlic cloves and start chewing on them.

Clove

Clove is another natural home remedy that helps the body to be more efficient while using oxygen.

Lavender Oil

Lavender Oil is known to contain sedative effects that can soothe the mind and decrease restlessness; help reduce headaches and stomach discomfort which are some of the symptoms of AMS. Just apply 2 to 4 drops of lavender oil on your head for a headache or inhale the lavender oil to reduce nausea and dizziness.

Also read: How to Calculate Minimum Budget for Ladakh Trip?

Acute Mountain Sickness in Leh – Ladakh

Last but not the least, I will list down a few places where you are most or least like to suffer from AMS.

AMS in Leh

The town of Leh is one of the places where you are least likely to suffer from AMS; unless you traveled by Air. By road, you already would have spent time at higher altitudes than Leh so by the time you get here; your body would already have acclimatized. If you came here by flight; best is to spend a day in Leh to let your body adjust and then travel to Nubra Valley or take a road trip towards Kargil.

AMS in Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley is actually at an even lower altitude than Leh city so very low chances of AMS here.

AMS at Pangong Tso or Tso Moriri

Both these lakes are at a high altitude and chances are that you will suffer some symptoms of AMS here if this is your first visit to Ladakh.

Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Tso Moriri from Leh

AMS on Srinagar Leh Highway

Very low chance of mountain sickness while traveling from Srinagar to Leh. Increase in altitude is gradual and your body gets plenty of time to adjust.

AMS on Manali Leh Highway

Very high chance of suffering from mountain sickness at Sarchu, Pang and Tanglang La. If you do not want to take the risk, then reach Keylong or Jispa from Manali on Day 1; start early on Day 2 and reach all the way to Leh by evening. Do not spend another night in between.

Traveling to Ladakh with children or Infants

Are you planning to take an infant or a young child to Ladakh? How an adult deals with Ladakh in an entirely different story than how a child will react or respond to it. Please take a look at the article below for more information on the precautions you must observe while traveling to Ladakh with children.

Also Read: Traveling to Ladakh with children

Conclusion:

Once again, the only sure-shot cure of AMS is to get to a lower altitude. An oxygen tank can help as well if you continue to have breathing problem. If your condition worsens, please rush to a hospital. In case of a heart patient, it is best to avoid this journey and not take the risk.

If you are flying to Leh, please spend a couple of days within the town before visiting Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake. Do not travel to Tso Moriri while on your way to Leh from Manali as the altitude gets even higher than Pang. Reach Leh, spend some time there, give your body time to adapt and then you can go to visit Tso Moriri.

I hope the information above regarding Acute mountain sickness Ladakh was helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.

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105 comments

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Amol March 4, 2020 - 2:25 pm

Hi,

We are planning to take a trip on the 15th of May and will be going through the Manali Leh route. After a full day in Manali, we will be leaving early morning to Jispa and have planned a stay there. The next day we will head towards leh and plan to reach on the same day. Are there any chances of AMS occuring?

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Vargis.Khan March 4, 2020 - 5:36 pm

No, not really. You may feel it a little as you drive through Pang but will be OK after you reach Leh.

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Himanshu Joshi February 24, 2020 - 7:10 am

Hi Vargis,

Thanks for detailed information. I am planning in June 2020 via Srinagar in Tata Tigor. I have some queries

I am resident of hill area of Uttarakhand having elevation of 1800 meters and have visited Kedarnath and spent one night there without any problem. Do I have any chance of hitting by AMS at Ladakh trip as planning to visit Nubra Valley and Pangong lake.

Will there be any problem in going to Pangong Tso by car.

Thanks

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Vargis.Khan February 25, 2020 - 1:35 am

No I highly doubt it. Since you are already from Uttarakhand and are driving to Ladakh, chance of AMS are very less.

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Himanshu joshi February 25, 2020 - 6:17 am

Thanks for your your reply.

One more thing- I am planning to visit Pangong lake by car from Leh. Is it doable by car?

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Vargis Khan February 25, 2020 - 6:50 am

Yes, you can do it easily

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Himanshu Joshi February 25, 2020 - 7:45 am

Thanks for prompt reply.

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Firoze Abbas Lohawala February 22, 2020 - 1:54 pm

Dear Mr Vargis,
We r a group of 20 going to Leh Ladakh on 13th April till 21st April.My wife and one of my daughter is asthmatic so I wanted to ask that is it ok for them to travel and secondly I wanted to know if Tso Moriri will be accessible during this time and I would like your suggestions regarding the two persons above.Thanking you in anticipation

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Vargis.Khan February 24, 2020 - 10:29 pm

Hello Mr. Lohawala – I will strongly recommend talking to a doctor first. A friend of mine died in Ladakh last year. He was asthmatic and could not get medical help in time. That trip cost him his life so please do not take a chance. Talk to a Doctor.

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Bhavna February 20, 2020 - 9:50 am

Hello Vargis,
This is a very helpful read. Thank you so much for your valuable suggestions.
I am flying to Leh in the month of April around 17th with my husband and two children (14 and 10 yrs).
Day 1 : Leh Arrival explore Leh town
Day 2 : Hall of Fame, Gurdurawa Pathar Sahib,
Magnetic Hill & Sangam View
Day 3 : Pangong Lake through Changla pass , Overnight at the Camp at
Pangong Lake
Day 4 : Drive back to Leh visiting Hemis, Shey and Thiksey monasteries
Day 5 : Khardongla Top – Nubra Valley , Overnight at the Camp at Nubra
Day 6 : drive back to Leh explore leh in evening
Day 7 : Fly back
Would you have any specific suggestions for our trip like , if any changes needed in iternary ? if we food lovers so what restaurants to explore? My kids would want to enjoy the snow where exactly can they? this is our first time, want to make it pleasant experience. Anything that you could suggest would be greatly appreciated.

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Vargis.Khan February 20, 2020 - 2:22 pm

Hi Bhavna,

Do Nubra and Khardung La first and then Pangong. That is the only change needed, rest is good. You will find snow at the top of Khardung La and Chang La passes.

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bhupendra December 8, 2019 - 6:18 am

hi vargis bhai ..
we two friend going leh on 25th of December . there loser festival will held on 27th December . we want to go very first day to pongong lake . is it good for us ? because we will stay there only four day .

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Vaibhav October 6, 2019 - 4:21 pm

Hi Vargis,

We’re planning to visit Leh (only the city) for 3 nights, flying from Delhi. What would the temperature range be? I’m unable to find it on weather websites online.

If we do face extreme AMS symptoms, what’s the nearest ‘low’ point which we can reach by road?

Regards,
Vaibhav

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Vargis.Khan October 7, 2019 - 4:16 am

Hi Vaibhav – It will remain under 10 during the day and close to 0 at night. In case AMS gets worse, Leh is where you should stay because that is where you will get medical help. Do not go anywhere. A friend of mine died there last month because of AMS and because he could not reach Leh in time.

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Vaibhav October 7, 2019 - 4:48 am

Hi Vargis,

Thanks for the reply. Somehow I missed mentioning that the time of visit is towards the end of April. Any chance that the weather is warmer than what you mentioned?

Regards,
Vaibhav

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Vargis.Khan October 7, 2019 - 4:57 am

Hi Vaibhav – Yes it will be much warmer than what I mentioned. I thought you were planning a trip now, in November. It will be around 15-20 degrees at that time.

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Jaideep September 4, 2019 - 7:01 pm

Hi vargis,

Thanks a lot for this beautifully and very thoughtfully developed web information.
I am visiting ladakh for the first time by flight from 20th September -25th September. Planning to go to leh, then to nubra valley, then from nubra to pangong . I see weather being colder as compared to earlier times. What do you suggest on clothing and also if any routes to be avoided at this time.
Also, for AMS , how early one should start taking diamox before the date of travel , as I have heard a lot of my friends who suffered AMS and some got admitted to the army hospital also.

Regards
Jaideep

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Vargis.Khan September 5, 2019 - 8:47 am

Hi Jaideep = Please pack woolens and a heavy windproof jacket for a trip in late September. Take a dose of Diamox a day before the trip then on the morning before you board the flight.

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Priti Patil April 30, 2019 - 4:56 am

Hi Vargis,

Thank you so much for your valuable information. I am planning to visit Leh with my husband and two kids (7yrs and 2yrs). I was little bit confused for my journey but still want to go there. Your detailed research cleared many of my doubts.

Thank you so much again.
Priti

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Vargis.Khan May 1, 2019 - 11:49 pm

Hi Priti – Thank you so much for taking the time to drop a note.

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Tanushri September 24, 2019 - 1:47 pm

Hi thank you so much for this detailed note, very helpful for first time travellers. I’m visiting on 3rd October to Leh, followed by Nubra valley and Hundar via Khardung La (stay at Diksit), Pangong Tso (stay at Spangmik) return via Changla pass to Leh. Is there anything I am missing out on in this route? How cold is it expected to be between 3rd and 11th October’19
Thanks,
Tanushri

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Vargis.Khan September 24, 2019 - 4:36 pm

If you have time then you can actually add Hanle andd Moriri as well in your trip. It is going to be very cold at this time so please pack accordingly.

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Pranav December 31, 2018 - 11:42 am

Hi Vargis,

I am flying to Leh on 5th May from Delhi with my Wife.

After spending 2 nights (On 5th and 6th May) in Leh we will be spending a night in Nubra (on 7th May) and a night in Pangong (on 8th May) as well.

Do we need to carry a small Oxygen Kit with us.

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Vargis.Khan December 31, 2018 - 4:18 pm

Hi Pranav, It is not necessary unless there is a previous medical condition involved.

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Pranav January 1, 2019 - 1:48 am

Thank you for such a wonderful and really helpful blog.
Please give a comment on below:-
1) As a precaution Is it ok to take a Diamox once we start flight from Delhi.
2) Which kind of cloths do you recommend if we are visiting to Leh, Nubra and Pangong in early May.
3) Night camp stay in Pangong is advisable or not?

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Aditya Lodha September 17, 2018 - 5:29 pm

I have plans of going to Leh, the Secmol school as a volunteer for a month in June,2019. I’m 21 years old. Is it safe for me to go there ? And what should i carry or intake to avoid the sickness?

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Vargis.Khan September 17, 2018 - 5:49 pm

It should be safe unless you have any medical history. Consult a doctor as well though for some medicine suggestions and other tips

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thomas mathew September 15, 2018 - 2:06 pm

Hi Vargis,
good to see you have become the definitive blog for Ladakh. Congrats.
Though a doctor myself, i am planning to fly down to Leh (sep 17th) and stay at leh for a day and then bike to pangong the next day. will be on full diamox . should it be ok? i have done Leh before but not planned it this way. then it is pangong, chusul, two moriri and back to leh.

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Vargis.Khan September 16, 2018 - 2:45 am

Hello Dr. Matthew – If you have stayed at Leh for a day then you should be OK for Pangong as well. You may feel slight discomfort at night but nothing that will bother much.

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thomas September 16, 2018 - 3:09 am

thank you!!!!

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Vargis.Khan September 16, 2018 - 2:44 pm

You are welcome !!!

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ABHIJAT SHARMA September 12, 2018 - 7:36 pm

Hi Vargis,

Have a few queries, we are a group of 9 individuals aging from 23-32 yrs of age. We have a trip planned to Leh Ladakh from 30 Sep 18 – 04 Oct 18. The itinerary we have thought of is as below :

Day 1 30 Sep – fly in to Leh and take rest for acclimatization as many of us have not been to high altitudes before. May cover Magnetic Hill if everyone feels ok with no symptoms of AMS (highly unlikely) approx 80kms ride to and fro.

Day 2 1 Oct – Leave for Hunder via Khardung La with stay at Hunder. Approx 130 kms ride

Day 3 2 Oct – Hunder to Pangong Tso via Agham Shyok route. Approx 180 kms ride. Stay at Spangmik.

Day 4 3 Oct – Pangong to Leh via Chang La. Approx 185 kms. Stay at Leh

Day 5 4 Oct Dept from Leh Airport.

Also, I have been to Nathula at around 14500 ft last year Dec 17. Did not feel much en route the climb. A little bit of head ache at the top, that too mostly because of the chilly wind blowing in my face. Was fine once I got back into the cab. Nothing like AMS that I felt. Is it likely I could experience anything in Ladakh region.

Although we will be taking medication after consultation and oxygen cylinders as back up.

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Vargis.Khan September 12, 2018 - 7:43 pm

Hi Abhijat,

1. AMS – Yes because this time your gain in altitude is sudden you may still suffer from AMS
2. Itinerari is OK. You will also have to arrange your permits for Ladakh on Day 1. See https://vargiskhan.com/log/obtaining-ilp-for-ladakh/
3. You may not get a place at all at Pangong so be prepared for that. See https://vargiskhan.com/log/camping-at-pangong/

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ABHIJAT SHARMA September 13, 2018 - 1:10 am

Thank You so much for a prompt reply. Permits, we have already applied and paid for online. Will try to keep in mind precautions suggested to keep minimal effect of AMS. Rest depends on our will and body reaction I believe!!! Fingers Crossed.

About Pangong, I already went through the article you shared about discontinuation of camping after 15th of Sep.

Have an alternate Itinerary too. Thinking of doing Pang on Day 2 ( to and fro). Have heard from a friend who visited this season that the route to Pang from Leh is quite a sight and roads are wonderful too. Any suggestions?

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Vargis.Khan September 13, 2018 - 1:31 am

You are welcome Abhijat and yes, you are right. The route to Pang takes you across More plains and is quite scenic.

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ABHIJAT SHARMA September 16, 2018 - 3:52 pm

Hi Vargis,

Forgot to mention the most important thing, we will be doing the circuit on bikes. 4 bikes and a cab.

Have already heard about first snowfall last week from a friend who just returned.

Any advise for the bike trip?

We are planning quite extensively for the bike ride to be successful and as comfortable as possible.

Regards
Abhijat

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Vargis.Khan September 16, 2018 - 6:31 pm

Just take a test run of the bikes before you rent them. Go slow and carefully but most importantly, pack your clothes keeping in mind that it has already gotten cold over there in Ladakh. Riding around in this weather will definitely require you to windproof yourself properly.

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sourav shaw August 10, 2018 - 3:40 pm

Hey Vargis,

Really helpful blog. I planning to go to Leh on 22nd September from blore by air and come back via road to Delhi via Manali by 1st of Oct. Please could you let me know, what are the must visit places which I can cover in the span of 8-9 days. It will be of great help . We are a group of 4 ppl. Is it worth driving from Leh to Delhi or direct flights will be better.

Thanks
Sourav

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Vargis.Khan August 10, 2018 - 5:06 pm

Hi Sourav – How will you be traveling locally in Ladakh and then to Delhi?

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Sonal Aparajita September 3, 2018 - 7:07 pm

Hi Vargis,
Even I am having similar plan. Dates are 7th to 15th September.For coming back to Delhi, we are bit confused whether to take route from Leh to Manali to Delhi or directly from Leh to Delhi. Will it be very tiring if we travel from bus ?

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Vargis.Khan September 5, 2018 - 12:37 am

Hi Sonal,

If you only have a week for the trip, I will highly recommend that you spend this time exploring Ladakh and fly back home. Leh to Manali to Delhi by road is better when you have at least 4 days in hand and your vehicle.

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RanaBros. July 24, 2018 - 2:23 am

Hello Vargis bhai….. We are a group of 16 planning to travel to Ladakh in September…. Total 11 days including travel time… We can travel by road from Manali but heard that outside taxis cannot ply in Ladakh… Is that true?… In that case can we fly in to Leh from Chandigarh and then cover Ladakh and exit by road to Manali…. What would be the best itinerary?… Please suggest… Is it possible to cover Tsomoriri on the return journey to Manali… Please guide

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Vargis.Khan July 24, 2018 - 12:24 pm

Hi Rana Bhai,

Yes outside taxis are not allowed in Ladakh. Yes you can fly into Leh, rent a taxi there and then reach Manali by road, that would be better but you must know that taxi rates are skyhigh in Ladakh. If you are renting a taxi from Leh itself then yes, covering Moriri too is possible. you will have 11 days from the date you land in Leh to the date you arrive back at Chandigarh?

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Manuel Fernandes July 15, 2018 - 7:30 am

Hi Vargis
Thanks a lot for your very helpful information. I am 68 and my wife and i have booked a trip to Ladakh, including Pangong and Nubra, Sept 9-16. We will be arriving by air. I have diabetes but it is under control. My doctor says i could travel but not to exert much. I have booked the trip through Thomas Cook. What would you suggest?

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Vargis.Khan July 15, 2018 - 8:14 am

Hello Mr. Fernandes, If your doctor says you are OK to go then I guess you are Sir. And he is right, best would be to book a private cab for the entire trip and not exert too much. Since you are reaching there by flight, I would recommend that you rest in Leh city itself for a couple of days till you acclimatize. Then go to Nubra first and then to Pangong.

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Manuel Fernandes July 17, 2018 - 4:59 pm

Thanks for your prompt reply. Yes what you have suggested is what we have planned. What do you think the temperature would be at Pangong around 13-14 Sept?

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Arpita Gandhi June 24, 2018 - 6:42 pm

Hi Vargis,

I am going to Leh Ladakh in July with my friends, but we haven’t done hotel bookings. Will we be able to get stay in leh and Pangong on the spot?

Can you suggest the must visit monastery, as we won’t have time to visit all of them.

Thanks in advance

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Vargis.Khan June 25, 2018 - 2:33 pm

Hi Arpita – You do not have to book accommodation in Leh city but may want to do that for Pangong. I have heard there is a lot of rush there this year and camps are hard to get.

Shey and Thiksey monasteries are good.

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Praveen June 24, 2018 - 8:48 am

Hi vargis,
I am planning a trip to leh along with my 2 friends in the 3rd week of September from kolkata to leh via delhi and returning through leh manali highway. Is it possible to hire a vehichle from leh then and there or we have to make pre booking. As kolkata is situated at very low attitude wolud we face more severe AMS condition, or the chances of getting hit by AMS is more in our case.Is there anything which we can do 2,3 week prior to our trip, some diet or yoga or something else to make us less vulnerable to AMS

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Vargis.Khan June 24, 2018 - 5:04 pm

Hi Praveen – You will feel a bit of symptoms of AMS but it will be the same as everyone does. Take rest, do not rush through the journey and you will be OK. There is a huge tourist rush in Ladakh this year and private taxis are scarce so I will recommend that you book in advance. Talk to Nasir in Leh @ 9906229203. He runs his own taxi there. Book him if he is available.

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Rahil June 9, 2018 - 1:33 am

Hey vargis your blog helped me alot we are planning our tour in july 1st week and second week i want to know can i get th leh permits in manali ?

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Vargis.Khan June 9, 2018 - 1:57 pm

Hi Rahil – No you cannot get Leh permits from Manali

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swheta June 8, 2018 - 9:22 am

Hi Vargis,

Your inputs are so useful to plan our travel. Im travelling with a group of 6 people to Leh on 1st September.Could you please advice as to which clothes should we carry an about the weather condition. An can we see snow in any part of leh we are travelling from Mumbai to Srinagar then to kargil an then Leh.

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Vargis.Khan June 8, 2018 - 11:42 am

There will not be any snow in lower areas in 1st week of September but you may find some at top of the passes en route. Just carry plenty of cottons, enough light woolens, a couple of heavy windproof jackets and you will be OK. Take a look at this article please.

https://vargiskhan.com/log/clothes-for-ladakh-trip-pack/

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Sohit Agrawal June 7, 2018 - 11:00 am

Hello vargis,
I am a follower of all of your blogs and articles.
Me and my wife planned a trip for ladakh..want some suggestions and expert advice from you.
My itinerary is:
19th June Delhi to Leh by flight (8:00 am arrival)…Day for rest and acclimatization.
20th June Leh to sham valley and stay in likir
21st likir to leh (In between all the places exploration)
22nd Leh to hunder (Nubra valley)
23rd hunder to leh
24 th leh local (Hemis monastery)
25th leh to pangong and stay
26th pangong to tso moriri and stay
27th tso moriri to leh
28th departure (Direct flight to delhi)

It this itinerary is good as acclimatization point of view as we both are going first time to ladakh.
Please suggest.

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Vargis.Khan June 7, 2018 - 11:15 pm

Hi Sohit,

Permits for direct route between Pangong and Tso Moriri are not being issued this year so that is the only thing you would have to change in your itinerary. You would need to come back to Leh from Pangong and then go to Tso Moriri the next day. You can do Leh to Moriri via Chumathang and Moriri to Leh via Tso Kar.

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Sohit Agrawal June 8, 2018 - 9:42 am

Thanks for your reply vargis..We talked to our driver and he told us that the route is still open and on the date of our journey (i.e. 26th june) the chances are still be open…whats your opinion..is driver is not sure about it?

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Vargis.Khan June 8, 2018 - 11:46 am

Hi Sohit – If you find the route open on your date of arrival then yes, follow the itinerary you laid out. If you do not get the permit then return to Leh.

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Arpita Gandhi June 23, 2018 - 5:10 pm

Varghis/ Sohit are you aware if the Pangong to Tso Moriri route is open on 14th July?

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Vargis.Khan June 23, 2018 - 7:27 pm

Arpita – Yes it is open

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Surinder Kapoor June 1, 2018 - 2:34 pm

Hi
Vargis Khan

We a family of 3 are planning to visit Ladakh in the middle of June 2018 by our Ritz car..is it safe ti travel by Ritz..
Thanks in advance.

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Vargis.Khan June 5, 2018 - 9:20 pm

Hi Surinder, Yes a lot of people bring their Sedans and hatchbacks to Ladakh these days. Just be careful and take the journey slow.

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heena bhati May 27, 2018 - 5:53 pm

Traveling in July to leh with my two yr old kid. No option of cancellation as tickets are already done. Pl give some suggestions, what precautions should I take and what all should be carried to prevent my kiddo from AMS. REALLY WORRIED

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G.Raghuraman May 25, 2018 - 9:02 am

Male, indian 55 years here; no health issues.
I plan to travel from chennai to Katra and trek on the vaishno devi temple route: done that last year.

I am reaching Leh from jammu by flight on 30 July, 2018. I intend travelling to Dha/Kargil.
Then, I intend to travel to Pangong on 3rd Aug and return to Leh on the 4th Aug.2018.
Will AMS strike me on my visit to Pangong, looking to the fact that i would have done Vaishno devi walking for 17 hours (like last year) and and will have travelled on leh kargil dha route by road in the intervening days. Are the days from 30th July to 2nd Aug. enough for getting acclimatized. Still any problems are likely at pangong on the 3rd Aug? Please advise. Thanks in advance.

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How to Plan a Trip to Leh Ladakh in June? - Vargis Khan May 25, 2018 - 3:47 am

[…] Slow gain in altitude is the best prevention against AMS which doesn’t really happen in this case. One moment you are in plains and then a couple of hours later, you bring your body to a height of 3,500 meters in Leh. This is bound to trigger the symptoms of altitude sickness until your body acclimatizes. You will then have to resort to second best prevention; which is to rest in plenty and allow your body some time to adjust. Do not run around and stress yourself on Day 1. For more details on what AMS is, what its symptoms are and how you can handle it better; please read How to Deal With Acute Mountain Sickness in Ladakh. […]

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Arvind May 21, 2018 - 3:37 pm

Hi virgis
I ve planed a juorney to leh in mid june
Day 1 Srinagar
Day 2 kargil
Day 3 arival at leh
Day 4 leh
Day 5 leh
Day 6 pangog lake
Day 7 return back to leh
Day 8 leh to sarchu
Day 9 sarchu to manali
Day 10 manali to home
Suggest some some edits if needed
And also suggest some places to visit in leh on day 3,4,5,7

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Vargis.Khan May 21, 2018 - 6:27 pm

How are you traveling Arvind?

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riddhi May 7, 2018 - 7:22 am

Hi Vargis

we are planning a trip on 7th july. this year can you let me know we are travelling from srinagar to kargil and then leh.
but while coming back from leh we are not going to stay back at kargil- we will travel from leh to srinagar and halt at srinagar?

is this good to plan?

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Vargis.Khan May 7, 2018 - 4:55 pm

It depends on how you are traveling Ridhi. Leh to Srinagar non-stop is at least 18 hours of journey by a car.

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Dharmesh Ranparia April 12, 2018 - 6:27 am

Hi i am dharmesh
Thank u very much for your all information. I would like to know whether I will be able to return from leh to mmanali in a single day by my ertiga car after completing 5-6 days trip in leh. ?? Please reply my question.

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Vargis.Khan April 12, 2018 - 12:25 pm

You cannot do this journey in a day unless you are ready to drive for 18-20 hours non-stop and in the dark.

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How to Plan your Trip to Hanle- Ladakh - Vargis Khan April 11, 2018 - 7:32 pm

[…] Chances of anyone suffering from AMS at Hanle are actually quite rare. This assumption is based on the fact that in order to reach here, you would already have stayed or crossed through Pangong Tso or Tso Moriri which are at almost the same altitude as Hanle. So after spending time there, your body would already have adjusted and thus reducing the chances of AMS at Hanle. However, if you had trouble while you were at Pangong or Tso Moriri, or your AMS symptoms were quite serious, then I would strongly advise continuing to Hanle. If your situation worsens, medical facilities here are severely limited and the nearest hospital at Leh is 2 days away. For more details on acute mountain sickness, read How to Handle Acute Mountain Sickness in Ladakh. […]

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Hina Shaikh March 15, 2018 - 5:17 pm

Hello mr.vargis khan
Me and my husband along with 2 kids aged 11 and 15 are planning to visit leh laddak in the first week of may.
Your write up has given me a vvery clear picture of what to expect in d trip. Thanks alot…ur write up has indeed helped travellers and families a lot …the descriptions are way BETTER THAN GOOGLE SEARCH AND REVIEWS.
PLEASE can u suggest a travel agent or a good tour company that can take care of our trip .
Thanks a lot.
Waiting for your reply.
Hina

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Vargis.Khan March 19, 2018 - 6:28 pm

Hello Mrs. Shaikh – Thank your for your kind words. I really appreciate it and glad that the information posted was of help.

Unfortunately, I do not have any contacts or tie ups with any travel agents as I rather discourage people from traveling with agents. I always suggest everyone to go on their own and as per their own itinerary.

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Narayanan March 11, 2018 - 3:47 pm

Hello Vargis,

Thank you very much for your details. I am an scientist and developed an gadget to take care of AMS at High Altitude. I am eagerly waiting for May 1st week to travel to Leh by Air and test it. Can you suggest me a place where I may get AMS so that I can go that place from Leh Airport and try that. What about Hotel facility in that place particularly electricity as I may be have charge Batteries of that Gadget.

Thanks in advance

Narayanan

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Vargis.Khan March 12, 2018 - 8:17 pm

Hello Narayanan – Chances of facing AMS are highest at Pangong Tso or even Tso Moriri. Camp sites and guest houses here will have arrangements to charge batteries.

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Bhushan June 28, 2017 - 12:57 pm

Hi Vargis,
Portable oxygen cylinders like Oxy99 are very much available on Amazon. I am not sure if these cylinders will be allowed in flight. Do such portable cylinders are available in Leh and Pangong Tso?

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Vargis.Khan June 28, 2017 - 3:11 pm

Hello Bhushan – Carry oxygen cylinders is not allowed in flights. You can however get these in Leh.

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Jayashree. May 9, 2017 - 6:44 am

Thank you so much for putting up lucidly immense amount of practical experience. It is so very valuable..Want to know about the food availability in the srinagar to Leh route particularly on heights.. Do you suggest particular kinds of food (carbs) to be taken along. do write.We will be travelling with 2 kids with us and I believe if we are prepared better, we can enjoy the journey.

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Vargis.Khan May 9, 2017 - 3:27 pm

Hi Jayashree – Thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate it. Srinagar to Leh is a well populated road and there are several major towns like Sonamarg, Drass and Kargil on the way. You will be easily able to find all kind of food heres. For high carb diet, carry some fruits for your children and keep feeding them at regular intervals. A Banana is high on carb. Keep them hydrated and do not spend much time at Zoji La pass.

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AMIT SHARMA May 28, 2017 - 4:29 am

Sir i want to know is garlic and kappor useful in ladakh road trip? because last year i suffered to AMS in area of pang to Leh and i took oxygen 2 hour in Leh govt hospital, then i recovered so from 1 June i am again planning to travelling , or can i carry small oxygen cylinder in my car, we are 5 friends travelling

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Vargis.Khan May 28, 2017 - 5:24 am

Hello Garlic – Bhai I do not know about Garlic and Kapoor but if you had to take Oxygen during your last trip, then I will strongly suggest that you carry an oxygen cylinder. Please also consult a doctor before you go.

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Vikas March 2, 2020 - 5:28 pm

Hi Vargis,

I am planning a 4Day trip to Leh Ladakh. I will be coming by flight to Leh. Is 1 day enough to get acclimatized with the temperature there or I should take more time for it?

2. In my travel plan a visit to Nubra Valley is missing. Shall I add it to make my trip a memorable one.

3.Is a 4Day trip good enough to explore Leh Ladakh?

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Rashmme May 7, 2017 - 4:23 am

Hello cargos
Thanks for blogging they are super useful
We are a group of 5 flying in to Leh in mid may , we are really worried about AMS
We have been recommended diamond and we will take it , I have a few follow up questions
1. Which is the nearest hospital in Leh which can treat AmS ?
2. Any diet restrictions / recommendations
3. Thenhitel we are staying at has organised surface transport, would you know if such operators are prepared for any emergency ? First aid esp when travelling to nubra / pangong ?
4. Is it safe enough just for women to travel by themselves ?
5. Does the lower air pressure cause ear pain ?

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Rashmme May 7, 2017 - 4:26 am

Sorry for the typo in your name Vargis

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Vargis.Khan May 8, 2017 - 1:55 am

Hi Rashmme – Since you are flying to Leh, your first day will be difficult where you may suffer symptoms of AMS. You won’t feel a thing after that at Nubra valley but the symptoms may again occur if you are planning a night at Pangong Tso.

As long as there is no medical history involved, there is nothing you really need to be worried about. If you are a healthy individual, your body would have adjusted on 2nd day and its smooth sailing then.

All hospitals and clinics in Leh are equipped to handle situations like AMS if needed.

Drink a lot of fluids is what I will recommend, rest you can eat anything you want.

It is perfectly safe for women to travel. You will find a lot of ladies traveling to Ladakh, either in groups or solo as well.

Ear pain I do not believe will happen, been to Ladakh numerous times and have never heard anyone complaining of this.

Take Diamox a few hours before your flight. It is a precaution, not a cure. When you go to Pangong, again take a dose in the morning.

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trupti April 11, 2017 - 10:21 am

Hi vargis
Mi and my husband with his friends planning for ladhak in July but question is I done my angioplasty in 10 yrs before so is it advisable to mi to join the trip.at presently I have no health issue pls rply with precautions

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Vargis.Khan April 12, 2017 - 2:53 am

Hi Trupti – I am sorry but I do not want to give a false advice here that may cause problems for you. Honestly, I do not feel qualified to answer to this question. Best thing to do would be to consult a doctor and do as they say.

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Divya Sinha March 26, 2017 - 2:53 pm

Hi vargis
Can you please tell me as to shall we go to leh in April second week ? Will the roads to nubra and Pangong be open at that time??

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Vargis.Khan March 26, 2017 - 3:15 pm

The only way you can go to Leh in April is by a flight. Both the highways will be closed at that time. The roads to Pangong and Nubra should be open unless there has been a recent snowfall closing down the passes at Khardung and Chang La, but it will be temporarily. If you are planning a trip by road then you must plan towards end of May or early June.

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Divya Sinha March 26, 2017 - 2:50 pm

Hi vargis
Can you please tell me as to shall we go to leh in April second week? Will the roads to nubra and Pangong be open at that time?

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Vargis.Khan March 26, 2017 - 3:15 pm

The only way you can go to Leh in April is by a flight. Both the highways will be closed at that time. The roads to Pangong and Nubra should be open unless there has been a recent snowfall closing down the passes at Khardung and Chang La, but it will be temporarily. If you are planning a trip by road then you must plan towards end of May or early June.

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Al Yaseer November 16, 2016 - 4:41 am

How about carrying an oxygen kit?

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Vargis.Khan November 17, 2016 - 12:58 am

Not really needed unless there is a previous medical history or if you are travelling with elders

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Payal sarawgi June 27, 2016 - 12:10 pm

Hi vargis, we r planning leh trip in Aug ..nd we r going via manali- stay at jispa and pang. Third day reaching leh. I am taking my son who is 9.5yrs old and aftr reading your safty measures..vry much worried now…what do u suggest, is it ok to take him for this trip nd stayng at pang? Secondly does a child need to take diamox or not necessary. Plz guide me

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Vargis.Khan June 28, 2016 - 4:30 am

Hello Payal – I would advise that you stay to Sarchu, just to be on the safer side. As for your child taking a dose of Diamox, I really feel that I am not qualified enough to answer that question. Please do consult a doctor. I do not want to give a false advice that may risk the safety of your kid.

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Vargis.Khan June 28, 2016 - 4:32 am

I would also suggest that you please take a look at the following article

https://vargiskhan.com/log/traveling-to-ladakh-with-children/

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Rav June 12, 2016 - 5:22 pm

Pang doesn’t seem to be a good place for night stay.for a 3 day trip from manali what are the spots for night stay for day 1 and day 2.please advice.

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Vargis.Khan June 12, 2016 - 5:42 pm

I agree on the AMS part but then the only other option is to stay at Sarchu and staying there will prolong the duration of your third day travel. If you stay at Jispa, you will reach Sarchu within 4-5 hours. Staying at Pang will reduce your 3rd day journey to merely 6-7 hours which will give you ample time to reach Leh and search for a good hotel.

AMS will hit you at Pang but it will also prepare you for the journey ahead. Your night her may be a little troublesome but then the night at Pangong will be a little easier.

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Basant Soni May 18, 2016 - 9:03 am

Hi Vargis, You have given the excellent guidance and briefed about the area. Now please let me know as I want to go to Ladakh by Car.
As per your experience I want to know about the suitability of climate means when I should plan the trip and want my wife to accompany me.
Which of the Car means small car will be suitable for this journey and in which season I must go, also how much cash I should carry and what should be the time frame as I want to start from Delhi- Srinagar-leh- manali-shimla and back to Delhi.

I only will be the driver so time and money is required and my age is also 50 years but surly I want to go as I am a retired Fauji, what other preparation and precautions i Must follow?

Please explain slightly in details by sparing some time for me. I shall be thankful to you. Also please mail me the same details on my ID which is [email protected].

Waiting for your reply.

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Vargis.Khan May 18, 2016 - 5:46 pm

Hello Mr. Soni –

1. Small cars are not really advisable for this trip but you can chose one depending on the ground clearance. Which car are you planning to take?

2. You do not have to carry a lot of cash, ,there are several ATMs in Ladakh and you can easily fine one.

3. Cost of the trip depends on a lot of things, number of days, areas you want to cover, where are you traveling from, your spending habits etc etc but at an average, for 2 people in a small car within a moderate budget should be somewhere between around 25k for 10 days journey.

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Prashant May 17, 2016 - 10:15 am

Hi Vargis,
My friends and I are planning a road trip from Chandigarh to Leh on our motorcycles and we are scheduled to start the journey on 23 May, 2016. We are 4 guys on 3 bikes (2 Bullets and 1 Karizma).
I have few questions :-
1) We wanted to take the Manali route for climbing up to Leh, just because of the challenges involved. The question is, has the road From Manali to Leh will be pen for tourists like us on or before 23.05.2016 ?
2) Do we need permit to cross Rohtang Pass for our bikes from Manali ?
3) If yes, what’s the procedure ?

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Vargis.Khan May 18, 2016 - 2:37 am

Hi Prashant,

1. I doubt the road will be open at this time. Current forecast is that it will be declared open in early June.
2. Yes you need permits
3. For this you will have to go to the DM office in Manali

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Brijendra April 15, 2016 - 8:04 am

Hi Vargis,

Thanks for the valuable point for the Leh travel that you have shared with your experience, really appreciate it. It has given a good idea how this trip can be.
Just had two questions,

1. As I am planning to travel to Leh by end of May via Srinagar, should I do the hotel booking in advance or can I get the hotels at good price once I reach there? Why I am asking this question is I don’t want to block myself from the beautiful nature just because I have a booking on next day, want to enjoy each and every moment.

2. I am traveling to Leh in my own car Vento. Will there be any challenge in visiting Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake in my own car.

Regards

Brij

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Vargis.Khan April 15, 2016 - 6:23 pm

Hello Brij,

1. No need to book, plenty of options available. Just go there, see which one you like the best and check in. Even I do not like the idea of booking and then not check into a hotel that I really like just because I have booking in another.

2. Vento could become a little tricky specially at water crossings because of ground clearance. Just drive carefully and you should be OK.

Thanks,
Vargis

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