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Ladakh FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions - Ladakh

Planning a holiday or trek to Ladakh may seem daunting, but it’s not rocket science. Here are our experts’ answers to the most frequently asked questions while planning a trip to Ladakh. This is all the help you will need to put together a great itinerary.

Frequently Asked Questions - Ladakh

Planning a holiday or trek to Ladakh may seem daunting, but it’s not rocket science. Here are our experts’ answers to the most frequently asked questions while planning a trip to Ladakh. This is all the help you will need to put together a great itinerary.

What paperwork do you require for travelling to Ladakh?

Shanti Travel takes care of procuring these permits for you.

We will just file a "tourist" visa application at VFS, the body in charge of visas for India. It is necessary to have a special permit when visiting certain areas of Ladakh. Climbing Stok Kangri and Kang Yatse calls for a permit. So does visiting the valleys of Nubra and Dha-Hanu, lakes Tso Kar, Tso Pangong and Tso Moriri.

What time of the year is best for a trek in Ladakh?

The best time to go trekking in Ladakh is from early May to mid-November. But for the passes above a height of 4500 meters, late May to mid-October is the ideal time. Generally July and August are when Ladakh is most frequented. Winter can be rough but the scenery is beautiful. Winter trekking in Ladakh is thus reserved for seasoned trekkers the more adventurous. At the peak of winter, in January and February, it is also possible to embark on the Chadar Trek. It involves treading on the frozen Zanskar River called "Chadar". Many festivals are also held in the monasteries of the Indus valley during this time.

What’s the climate like in Ladakh?

The winter is extremely harsh. The temperatures can drop to as low as -35 ° C. Roads and mountain passes over 4000 meters get shut down due to snow. In summer, the temperature varies between 0°C at night and +35°C during the day. Droughts occur as the Himalayas block the monsoon from the south.

What food will I find in Ladakh?

Tibetans are generally vegetarians. Among the most popular specialties are Momos (fried or steamed fritters) and the local beer ’Chang’, which is made from barley. Surprisingly, there are also a variety of vegetables, usually difficult to find in such an arid desert environment. Very few people know that the Indus Valley also allows for agriculture. In terms of beverages, try their ’chai’ or tea made from milk, water and spices. Also do not miss the Tibetan salted butter tea.

How can I change money?

On your arrival in Delhi, you will find several exchange offices at the airport offering attractive rates. Feel free to compare the rates of different offices to get the best rate for your money.

Who will accompany me during my trek?

The core trekking team comprises a guide, a cook and of course mules! Depending on the difficulty of the trek, there may also be helpers to assist the guide and the cook. The guides speak fluent English.

Discover more about trekking in Ladakh on our blog: http://blog.shantitravel.com/en/cat...

Who takes care of meals during the trek?

The cooks accompanying a trekking group require some specific skills. Shanti Travel recruits chefs with good experience in the field and on special recommendation, so that nothing is left to fate during your trek in Ladakh. Our team endeavours to provide you with perfect services even if you are lost in the depths of a valley. Since all the walking, in addition to the unforgiving cold and fatigue, causes appetites to soar, we pay a lot of attention to the quantity & quality of food served. For breakfast, you will get porridge, cereals, muesli, rice pudding, toast with butter, jam or honey, pancakes, omelette, coffee and tea. Most of the time, lunch is organized like a picnic and we offer sandwiches with fries, boiled eggs, chocolate bars, biscuits and fruit juice. In the late afternoon, when you set up camp and settle into your tents for the night, you can enjoy a tea or coffee with biscuits and instant noodles. For dinner we prepare soup, rice, curry with lentils, cottage cheese or vegetables, pasta (chowmein and thukpa) or Momos. For dessert, there is usually ice cream or fruit salad. Note that the dishes mentioned above are prepared daily and it is possible for the menu to vary depending on the food available in the market. In a few villages, cooks might find meat and so non vegetarian dishes might also be prepared.

How to procure drinking water during the trek?

On the first day, it is essential to take a bottle of water with you. For the rest of the trek, the cooks will boil water for you every night. You can also use water filtration tablets if you feel the need, but the water boiled at the source poses absolutely no problem for consumption.

How will we cross a river if there is no bridge?

In Ladakh, there may be situations where a bridge doesn’t connect the river. It is important in such a case to follow the advice of the guide. Only he knows exactly where to put your feet so as not to fall. We also recommend that you wear Velcro sandals to avoid problems.

How much tip should I give and to whom?

During your trek you will be accompanied by a guide, a cook, mule, porters, boatmen or drivers. Tips will therefore vary depending on the number of participants. It is important to take into account a certain hierarchy: the guide will receive 50% of the total amount, the cook 30% and the mule keeper the remaining. For a group of 1 to 4 people, keep aside more than 250 INR per day per person. For a group of 5 to 8 people, keep around INR 200 per day per person. For a group of more than 9 people, you should plan INR 150 per day per person. Remember to hand deliver the sum to each member of the team. The information above is an estimate of the average practice, but each participant is free to give any amount of money they want, because tipping is not mandatory. It is just a way of thanking the team for their support during your trek and displaying your satisfaction.

What should I pack in my bag for a trek in the summer/winter?

To be comfortable throughout your trek, having the right equipment is one of the essential prerequisites. Do not clutter your bag with unnecessary things: try not to take more than 15 kilos because porting might become a real challenge.

A large duffel bag or hiking bag without an external metal frame would be ideal. Do not hesitate to carry a lock if you’d like to keep your bag extra safe. Do not forget to hang a label on it with your and Shanti Travel’s details. You could also carry a trash bag. A small backpack of 30 litres could be used during the day to carry your picnic lunch or camera for example.

Be careful and take a warm sleeping bag designed for stays at high altitude (Comfort 10). For more comfort you could also take with you a small foam mattress that could complement the mattress provided on site. Remember to take along a blanket as well.

You must know that you will not have the opportunity to wash your clothes every day. So take sweat pants or canvas trousers, hiking shoes and a pair of sneakers, a warm jacket, warm sweaters, fleece, a hat, a cap and a scarf. In terms of equipment, we recommend that you take sunglasses, a water bottle, a flashlight with spare batteries, a penknife or a small knife, telescopic ski poles and some energy boosters like cereal bars, cookies and sweets.

Why should I travel with a light pack?

You will leave with two bags: a big bag of 60 to 120 litres and a smaller one of 20 to 30 litres. During the trek, you will carry only the smaller one while the mules will carry the bigger one. The small bag will contain water and a picnic lunch but we suggest you also take along a waterproof jacket, a sweater and a hat so that you have warm clothes when the night begins to fall. The big bags carried by mules contain the necessary equipment for the entire group. Keep in mind that crossing fords and passes will be difficult for mules so very heavy bags may slow down the whole group. Your big bag should not exceed 15 kilos for a trek of 3 weeks.

Is it possible to leave some belongings at the hotel in Leh?

You can leave your belongings in Leh and even in Delhi if you wish to. We advise you to leave at the hotel anything that may seem superfluous to you for the trek. Your items will remain safe.

What should my first aid kit contain?

For altitude sickness we advise you to carry Acetazolamide (Diamox), aspirin, Imodium and Intetrix. For minor injuries and blisters, take with you a skin disinfectant, bandages and gauze. Finally, to protect you from the sun and wind, we recommend taking a sun block and a lip cream.

Can we buy trekking equipment in Leh?

It is possible to buy trekking and hiking equipment in Leh. Shanti Travel can recommend partner shops that will offer reasonable rates.

What materials are provided by Shanti Travel?

Shanti Travel provides individual tents with space for two, with a mattress 3 to 5 cm thick. This leaves enough space for sleeping and keeping the bags in the tent. A medium-sized tent is provided for cooks and helpers. For dinner, a large tent will be erected each evening for everyone to come together. Sometimes there will be a camping table and if not, you can eat sitting on mattresses. Kitchen utensils are of course provided: plates, glasses, forks and stoves. Finally, we also provide a toilet tent.

How can I charge my electronics in Ladakh?

In most places in India, the voltage is 220 volts. Electrical outlets are the same as in Europe but it is advisable to bring an adapter for the less modern hotels. Do not forget that there may be frequent power cuts. Once out of Leh, it will no doubt be complicated to recharge your batteries. We advise you to take along enough batteries or else bring a solar charger.

Why do we suffer from acute mountain sickness?

At high altitudes, the air is rarer and therefore the body can suffer from a lack of oxygen. The first symptom that occurs during your initial days is accelerated breathing and heart rate as the body tries to absorb more oxygen from the air and to pass it quickly to the organs. This is more demanding for the body and thus requires more energy expenditure as the heart and respiratory muscles are forced to work more.

Acute mountain sickness: What are the symptoms?

Acute mountain sickness (AMS) occurs at very high altitudes. If it were to happen to you, you might suffer from generalized fatigue, headache (found in 96% of the cases), sleep disorders (in 35% of cases), loss of appetite, nausea, dizziness and mild irritability. Some more serious complications can occur and be fatal too: cerebral oedema if headaches are not relieved or pulmonary oedema causing lung failure if the cough, sputum and vomiting become too intense. Psychiatric disorders can also start appearing in some cases.

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