Ladakh, the place needs no introduction. Some call it ‘a paradise’ while some call it ‘heaven on earth’. Well, according to some it is the only place which gives you mental peace and tranquility. Whatever the reason, if a trip to Ladakh is in your list of places to travel, then be sure to tick it off your checklist sooner than later.
Ladakh, which literally means the “land of high passes” is the highest plateau in the state of Jammu and Kashmir situated at an altitude of 3,000 meters above sea level. The fact that is unknown to many is that Ladakh is actually a high altitude desert region created by the rain shadow area due to the presence of the Himalayas. The region experiences extreme winters and is frozen for most months in a year.
Ladakh is a land like no other with a plethora of natural beauty and surreal landscapes. Amazing people and culture add to the virgin beauty. From stupas to monasteries to cozy little cafes to virgin valleys to crystal clear lakes; it is a perfect destination and gives you every reason to make that trip to Ladakh. A trip to Ladakh is an escape for almost every Indian from the hustle bustle of city life. However, due to extreme weather conditions, howling & freezing winds and temperatures dipping almost below the freezing point may cause some concerns for every traveler. Acclimatization is extremely important and if ignored may cause serious health concerns.
But what’s life without some adventures, eh? But, yes let us all try and stay safe with this 11 point packing checklist when curated specially for you when you visit Ladakh:
The Ultimate Packing Checklist
Water can become the biggest concern when traveling to an off-beat place like Ladakh. Yes, there are tiny shops selling water and other essentials at regular intervals. But nature is mighty powerful and can change colors drastically even before you have had time to bat your eyelid. Landslides and being stranded in the middle of nowhere is a common thing to happen to any traveler high up in the mountains.
Hence, you should always be prepared for such emergencies. It is advisable to carry at least 2 liters of water per person at all times. At the same time, it is very important to keep drinking water at regular intervals. Dehydration at such high altitudes is common and will further aggravate other health concerns. So stay hydrated and enjoy the serenity around you when you make that trip to Ladakh.
Acclimatization can be a cause of concern for even the toughest of souls. You are bound to feel some amount of uneasiness. This uneasiness is attributable to the dropping temperatures, thinning oxygen levels and high velocity of winds. You might experience altitude sickness or just a general feeling of nausea and dizziness. Precaution is better than cure and it is always advisable to speak to your doctor before you make that trip to Ladakh.
General medicines to combat these minor health concerns are a must and must be a priority item in your checklist of items to carry while making your travel plans. Medicines for headache, fever, minor stomach ailments, cold and cough syrups are highly advisable. It is also advisable to carry a pump if you have trouble breathing in high altitudes.
3. Sunscreen lotion and UV sunglasses
Sun rays at high altitudes can be extremely harsh. The UV rays too damage the skin and can also affect eyesight. Sunscreen and sunglasses are a must even during the winter season. Contrary to the common belief, the sun rays reflected off the snow is even harsher! So be sure to bottle of SPF 30 or above sunscreen along with a decent pair of UV protected sunglasses when you make that trip to Ladakh.
4. Lip balm and moisturizer
The freezing winds from the Himalayas can be a nuisance when it cracks your skin and leaves you bleeding and all hurting. Not at all a pleasing sight when compared to the backdrop of Ladakh. On a serious note, the dry winds of the Himalayas can crack your skin leading to peeling off of the skin. Make sure to keep your lips, face and all exposed parts of the body properly hydrated with a lip balm or good moisturizer. Keep these items handy and make sure to include them in your checklist while planning for the trip.
5. Food and drinks
Chocolates, biscuits, nuts and other snacks along with glucose and other energy drinks are a must when you make a trip to Ladakh. The sugar content in these foods is a source of instant energy and will be required for that energy boost. On the bright side, these snacks do not take much space and hence are easy to pack. They even make a perfect snack for those small hunger pangs which hit you while traveling.
Layers are definitely the new comfort. Yes, you heard us right! The winds can penetrate single layers and leave you feeling really chilly. The chill will hinder you from enjoying the place and the moment. So always dress in layers. Layers have an added advantage giving you the flexibility to add on or remove a particular piece of garment depending on the temperature at a particular place and time of the day.
While making that checklist, make sure to include gloves, caps, inners and, air resistant jackets, warm inners(thermal), raincoat/poncho depending on the season to name a few. If possible carry spares for gloves, caps and, inners as they may get wet and need to be changed. Travel is fun and being equipped with all the necessary gears will surely make your trip to Ladakh the most memorable one.
7. Documents and other ID’s
Ladakh needs special inner line permits at certain places and you also need to present your identification documents at certain checkpoints. Hence, it is always advisable to carry at least one government-issued identity card along with photocopies.
Make sure your checklist reminds you to carry printed copies of all your air and road travel along with the detailed hotel itinerary and reservations. Also, it is advisable to carry a diary or a list of all important and emergency contacts.
8. Torch, batteries and other electronic products
These days all mobile phones are equipped with torches but it is always advisable to carry a torch when you make that trip to Ladakh. Remote places like the Pangong generally do not have a power supply after 10 P.M., hence the torch. Mobile batteries are highly sensitive to extreme weather and might run dry due to extreme cold. Also be sure to include power banks, extra batteries, multipoint extension box, battery pack and back up for all your electronic products in your travel checklist. Remember to carry a couple of extra memory cards for the beauty of Ladakh will leave you snapping every few seconds. All those gigabytes will be filled in soon enough!
ATM’s in the region are limited to Kargil and Leh. Few ATM’s with a long queue could be a lethal combination. Enough cash to cover the entire cost of the trip along with an emergency fund should definitely be a top priority item in the checklist. Remote locations like Ladakh mostly accept cash payments only. So make sure that you correctly estimate your fund requirements to keep you covered for the entire trip. Lack of cash at such locations can prove to be a slight cause of worry and spoil the fun of your travel.
10. Plastic zip lock bags and packets
“Cleanliness is the only favor you can return to Mother Earth”. Do your bit and keep the surroundings clean by not littering. Carry all the trash that you have in a plastic bag and dispose of it when you spot a garbage bin. Make sure not to litter the area with disposable drinking water bottles. Imagine your discontentment when you take that trip to Ladakh and find the ‘paradise’ littered. So be sure to leave it just like you would like to find it.
Additionally, the plastic zip bags help carry wet clothes and other accessories. It also helps protect to preserve your electronics and other valuables from getting wet. So be sure to make a note to carry a couple of plastic zip lock bags in your checklist.
11. Other knick knacks
Make sure your checklist also includes items like sanitizer, sanitary napkins, wet wipes, bandages and antiseptic. Additionally, be sure to carry a mosquito and other insect repellents. Carrying a small glass, bowl, and plate along with a couple of spoons also comes in handy sometimes.
If you are taking a road trip make sure to include reserve petrol or diesel. There are long stretches on the entire journey that do not have a servicing petrol pump. Also, make sure to carry a pair of spare tires. The terrain has a lot of loose stones and gravel and you are likely to end up with a flat tire. Make sure you are carrying all the necessary equipment too.
In the words of Helen Keller, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all“. So let’s get our travel shoes on and get going. If you need help with planning a trip to any of these places, feel free to reach out to us on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram. We will surely help you with all we can and take you #AageSeRight.