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Old 17th July 2006, 10:42   #1
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Default Trip to Ladakh

hi guys!

i have been planning a trip to ladakh for a long time & now the dates for the trip has been finalised.

should everything go ok, i will start my trip in early august & be back by mid august. i need suggestions from all u guys on what to do & what not to do, what to carry etc etc so pls be generous in giving ur valuable suggestions.

although this will be my second remote trip after visiting arunachal pradesh in 2003 but my first where i will b travelling with my wife by my car.

here are some details

occupants : 2
the car : baleno/02
the tyres : bridgestone 185/13R70
the mods : engine protecting skid plate
route : delhi-chandigarh-manali-keylong-pang camp-leh-khardungla pass-nubra valley-leh-pangong tso-saruchu-manali-delhi

now i wish 2 stay outdoor as much as possible therefore i m taking a tent with me. those of u who have been to this part of the world pls tell me how safe is it to camp in ladakh. i intended to camp in nubra valley & pangong tso. also if u know what kind of whether i should expect in august, is there a possibility of rain, what medicines to carry & much more what u have experienced first hand.

thanx in advance.
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Old 17th July 2006, 16:22   #2
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Do either of you suffer from asthma? If so, be very careful at those altitudes, in fact you should plan to spend some time getting used to the atmosphere.....there is a shortage of oxygen at that height which is why its recommended.
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Old 17th July 2006, 17:25   #3
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none of us suffer from asthama suman. thanx for the concern. but we do intend to take regular medicines as well as some AMS medicines. BTW ny of ur friends have been to that part of the world?
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Old 17th July 2006, 18:17   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naveendhyani
should everything go ok, i will start my trip in early august & be back by mid august.
If you find a bespectacled old man along the route holding what looks like a Rocket Launcher and shooting away, DONT worry.

That will be the old man of TBHP on his photographic mission in the same place at around the same time and the only thing he will be shooting are the scenic views. The rocket launcher is his very basic camera.

Just sniff around the air for traces of whiskey fumes and cigarette smoke before you approach the figure, though - we dont want you walking up to a real gun-wielding baddie.

I wouldve been there, if not for some health issues. Enjoy!
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Old 17th July 2006, 18:42   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steeroid
If you find a bespectacled old man along the route holding what looks like a Rocket Launcher and shooting away, DONT worry.
Yesterday at this time I was holding the same rocket launcher and launching some...

Ok, last October me and wife trekked to DZongri (in Sikkim) which is nearly 15,000ft and we trekked 52 Kms in 6 days. We didn't suffer from AMS for 3 reasons, (1) The trek was well designed by the travel company with ample rest days (2) Our cook fed us the right diet (with lots of garlic, even in drinking water) throughout the trek to prevent AMS. (3) We were damn lucky.

Don't rush it. Once you cross 9000ft, don't climb more than 4000ft in a day. These are all thumb rules, nothing hard and fast. Since we were trekking we had ample time to acclimatise. Since you are driving, the change in altitude will be much faster. The medicine you need to carry is the same one as for heart attack.
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Old 17th July 2006, 19:18   #6
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1stly, I havent done this stretch personally. But I have spoken to a couple of my friends earlier who have done it.

Carry along atleast 4-5 days of food supply as well. Leh - Manali highway is open only for a couple of months - trucks, tourists, army supplies, bikers - all fight for road space during this time.

During bad weather - or any landslides - many people report being stranded for a couple of days - as the traffic comes to a standstill.

I would still advise you to re-think on using the Baleno on this route - Suspension might take a severe beating on many streches of this route - u'll burn enough tyre rubber. U might have to bear the cost once u come back.

Also I hope - you & your wife both drive - 1 person driving might be too much of a stretch. A couple of my Office mates hired a Sumo - in 2002 - they did this route & more - all the upto Kargil & then back via Srinagar. They all took turns driving the Sumo. They mentioned that they most enjoyed the later part of the trip - all of them had problems with AMS & it took them 2-3 days to acclimatise.

Couple of my MAITES in Australia..have done this stretch on local buses & have enjoyed it..But then they were hard core backpackers..the one's who hang "bartans" out of their backpacks

I still somehow feel that a hired vehicle should be much more convenient. I would (personally) prefer taking along a guide/locals - remember they are the experts.

U mentioned carrying a tent.Hope you have some stove for cooking/heating water .

Carry chocolates - best energy boosters at high altitudes.

Maps - carry detailed maps, lots of water, magnetic compass.

Though I might be sounding too cautious - I have had couple of scary experiences backpacking in Tibet & Australia.

PLAN , PLAN & PLAN...that's the key...

& yes..go through the Section on Essentials of a Long Drive in this site as well for the preparation.
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Old 17th July 2006, 20:22   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paharino1
I would still advise you to re-think on using the Baleno on this route - Suspension might take a severe beating on many streches of this route - u'll burn enough tyre rubber. U might have to bear the cost once u come back.
I suspect the same. It's far too low to handle few stretches. Naveen please think about it.

Getting stuck in a place like that is not what you're looking for...I guess.

Better even..keep the car in Manali and hire a Qualis/Sumo/or if any Gypsy...It will cost you more for sure, but..
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Old 17th July 2006, 23:56   #8
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baleno to ladakh very daring but not practical. this is stretch best for sumos and mahindras.
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Old 18th July 2006, 12:36   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naveendhyani
BTW ny of ur friends have been to that part of the world?
Surprisingly, a couple of elderly acquaintances did the trip last year. In hired vehicles, not their own. Lived hale & hearty to tell the tale but they did keep time in hand for the acclimatization bit.

I didn't want to disillusion you earlier but I'm not sure about flogging the Baleno on this one....you'll be scraping the bottom on many a stretch from what I've heard.
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Old 18th July 2006, 14:57   #10
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A couple of points bro....

Carry AND DRINK lots of water. keep sipping water ever 15 to 20 mins esp once u cross manali. One very real danger is quick dehydration at these altitudes (went there on a bullet during my college days).

Also, carry a jerry can with at least 15 L of petrol in ur boot. Cause feul availability is scarce at best. Also, quality may be suspect so carry injector cleaner/fuel additive with u.

As regards the Baleno, while the car will take a lot of beating, people have done the Laddakh run even in altos and M800s and lived to tell teh tale. also, I feel taht the baleno, except for ground clearance, would be a far better option than a Sumo. Petrols are infinitely better at those altitudes than diesels. Turbo diesels help of course, but are no match for petrols. That is y the gypsy is the ultimate Indian vehicle for this trip.

You also need to carry a good wind breaker to wear above all ur clothes and a good pair or sun glasses- the glare can be blinding at times here
Do take pics (and post them) and above all, respect the terrain. Long desolate streches in Laddakh tend to play havoc with your sight and imagination. whatever u do, please dont be over confident and always keep a huge margin for error.

Lastly, keep one thing in mind- the Indian Army rules here! Literally!!!!. In any situation (landslides, narrow mountain pass etc.) the army ALWAYS has the first right of way. but having said that, these guys are really friendly and helpful, and if u befriend one, u will have access to some free (or real cheap) rum (a boon in these parts)
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Old 18th July 2006, 15:14   #11
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@ steeroid : surely i will keep distance from the "bespectacled old man along the route holding what looks like a Rocket Launcher and shooting away". u take care of ue health, i will get some good pics for u too


@ samurai : we will surely try 2 eat (or rather swallow) lots of garlic thruout the journey. surely we wont rush it as we have some days at our disposal & first 48-60 hrs will b spent in leh. also the climb to the passess wil b during the day to come back to more suitable altitudes for the night. still to buy the medicines but definitely will buy them. pls suggest the right medicines so that i can tally from the list i have prepared.


@ paharino1 : i have taken 20 portions of "ready meal" so they will last 5 days for both of us. on top of that there will b atleast another 2-3 days worth of instant noodles, couple of boxes of processed cheese, chocolate bars, tobasco, bread (although it will b bought at the last civilization) etc.

as for using baleno, brother thats my only mode of transport as of now & i will try to b as smooth as possible on the roads. i surely might have to bear the cost of suspension beating but thats how it will go this time. mayb next time i will use a more rugged vehicle. pls dont take this as my arrogance.

my wife surely drives but off and on. i guess thats not gonna b an issue since i have done some very long streatches myself before, but just in case its an emergency she surely can handle.

i surely can pay a guide for directions & other stuff but have never likes the idea of goin with a guide. we wish to wander there for some time again dont take this as my arrogance, just the way i have been.

yes i will have a 5 litre gas stove with me.

pls give ur suggestions as to which are the most detailed maps available for that route. i have one for himachal but not for j&k.

carrying 2 20 l jerrycanes, one for fuel & 1 for water. will have a 5 litre water dispenser. as for compass my watch has an electronic compass, barometer, altimeter & thermometer, guess that will keep me in the right direction.

& yes we have been planning everynight for 1-2 hours for the last month or so putting down each detail of our trip.


@ rudra sen : i do agree sir that baleno is far too low to handle a few stretches but i guess either i will try to b very cautious or leave out those trails. BTW i have fixed an engine protection cover below the car, that might help to some extent.

i surely wud have to b stuck in a place like that. have a friend in army posted in the region who is trying to arrange a liason for me.


@ 2fast4u : "baleno to ladakh very daring but not practical" cud not have agreed more on this with u, but as stated earlier have some limitations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by himanshugoswami
whatever u do, please dont be over confident and always keep a huge margin for error.
i have really learnt this lesson over the years that i have been driving. u can count me on this, no matter how brave i m, in the nature i m just another meagre animal who will not b spared of ny mistakes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by himanshugoswami
Lastly, keep one thing in mind- the Indian Army rules here! Literally!!!!. In any situation (landslides, narrow mountain pass etc.) the army ALWAYS has the first right of way. but having said that, these guys are really friendly and helpful, and if u befriend one, u will have access to some free (or real cheap) rum (a boon in these parts)
i surely know this. having done last couple of trips with my friend who's an army officer. they surely r helpful provided u give them the respect they have earned over the borders they have been protecting. rum is no issue since i m a very social drinker


i am overwhelmed with ur suggestions & feedback, pls try to give even more suggestions to me. i will soon post the stuff i will b carrying with me on this trip so pls watch out this space.

Last edited by naveendhyani : 18th July 2006 at 15:23.
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Old 18th July 2006, 15:20   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naveendhyani

pls give ur suggestions as to which are the most detailed maps available for that route. i have one for himachal but not for j&k.
Well, I've always carried the big foldable one that Himachal Tourism has, find that pretty useful, sounds like you have it already? Get it from Chanderlok building in case you don't have that one.
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Old 18th July 2006, 15:36   #13
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@ rudra sen : i do agree sir that baleno is far too low to handle a few stretches but i guess either i will try to b very cautious or leave out those trails. BTW i have fixed an engine protection cover below the car, that might help to some extent.

How about the exhaust pipe (below the rear wheel suspension) that tends to scrape the smallest bumps?

I know that only 2 people are travelling and there would be less load behind for it to scrape, but believe me I have scraped it with just me driving on a slightly inclined surface near a manned railway bridge crossing where I had to take a turn. I'm talking about almost normal driving conditions here.
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Old 18th July 2006, 15:53   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pradkumar
How about the exhaust pipe (below the rear wheel suspension) that tends to scrape the smallest bumps?
thanx for the observation but i have been told by a lot of people that the max damage can b a cracked exhaust that 1 can always get welded. i know people who have driven baleno for 7-8 years with the exhaust scraping everything & so far they did not need an exhaust change.

also u must see the speed breakers in delhi, they r no less than the terrain one can ever encounter.
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Old 18th July 2006, 16:49   #15
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i have one more query. is it safe to camp at riverbeds, lakesides in ladakh? u know its different when u r all boys & its different when u have a lady with u.
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