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Old 24th September 2011, 14:33   #136
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Default re: Humbleh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himacal Pradesh)

HVK Scorpio
Aug 12, Bombay-Behror, 1402 kms
Aug 13, Behror-Rampur, 692 kms


Aug 14, Rampur-Chitkul, 144 kms
Rampur-Jeori-Wangtoo-Tapri-Karchcham-Sangla-Chitkul


The numbers above say it all - 2,000 kms+ in the first 3 days, of which most coming in the first day itself. Reflects the pace that characterises such trips - the fast-paced non-stop no-break drive on the highways away from home to squeeze the maximum out of superfast highways was the strategy on Day 1, which worked to plan, then slowing down the next day as we start our climb up to the hills as a larger group of cars & people. By the third day, we had settled down to a relaxed drive as we enter the Himalayan zone.

Reaching Rampur that late the previous day was somewhat unexpected, but the delays on Aug 13 - primarily my Scorpio's problems in Panchkula and Jeep Captain's delayed departure from NCR - snowballed further. We had missed some spectacular scenery the previous night in the Chail-Narkhanda-Rampur sector and the last car came into Rampur at 3 am & thereabouts, so we made 2 changes in plan.

Firstly, we jettisoned our early departure plans and refixed ETD at 10 am. Secondly, we decided to drop Sarahan from our schedule. This was the first day many of us were meeting for the first time - although there were more of the team yet to come - but that morning we were 19 at the breakfast table (in 6 cars - 1 Scorpio, 2 Boleros, 1 Innova, 1 Swift, 1 Alto).

We quickly took stock of the position of the others who were to join us later:
- TK had quite a journey. On landing up in Delhi from Warsaw, he had to dart across to Recong Peo to procure his Inner Line Permit, which is a must for all foreigners going deep into Kinnaur & Spiti Valley
- BolBolero (in his Bolero, along with his 2 companions) was busy working at his construction sites in Bombay, and not started his car yet
- The Mumbai Roadsters (KSM-VTEC & his 3 pals) had already left Bombay and were somewhere in transit n RJ region, approximately 24 hours behind us
- Two more of our friends - let us call him RB & SC were also leaving Pune 1 week after us

We had been planning this trip for the last 6 months, but VB who we visited on the way at Panchkula took exactly 5 minutes to hop onto our car at the last moment! VB, Lalu and I had been to Ladakh together in 2009 and I guess he could not restrain himself from visiting it one more time!

As Lalu has mentioned already, I had to recheck my car for wheel disc problems and being a Sunday, most workshops were closed but we managed to find someone open - and having satisfied ourselves that the brake pads, calipers & wheel discs were OK, I decided to go on knowing well that there are no more workshops or spares shops till at least Kaza or worse, Leh.

Refuelling the cars itself was a laborious task. Henceforth, there are very few petrol pumps and every opportunity to top up fuel had to be used. Our day's drive target was not much, we had a short 5-7 hour journey to Chitkul only. We had already booked ourselves rooms in Panchali Resort at Chitkul, so we were not concerned about accommodaton.

The NH22 out of Rampur is excellent for some time, but once you cross Jhakri, successive dam/ hydel plant cobstruction sites mean messy roads. Moreover, the rains have not been kind this year and cursed the road with several landslides which also meant many muddy road sections and dirt roads too. Our drive plans do not budget for lunch halts when there is breakfast on the table, so we took just a short tea halt at Wangtoo at midday. Tea chair discussions centered around pie dogs, apple orchards - and even how to acquire a few acres!! - and some trepidation too about reaching Chtkul before the sun set!

Once the "surrogate" lunch of tea got over, we were on the move again, marvelling at the River Sutlej raging below and man's feeble attempts to build dams and hydel power stations at places like Jhakri, Wangtoo & Karchcham to tame it and harness the waters.

At Karchcham, we turned off NH22 - and the Kinnaur Valley - and started ascending some very steep and narrow roads into the Baspa Valley. After the muddy waters of the violent Sutlej, the Baspa River looked far more cleaner and peaceful fed as it was by countless mountain springs - many of them flowing off the road - and glacier snow melt. Sangla has nothing to offer altough many think that it is a pretty place - but the spectacular landscapes are on the road beyond Sangla, which also sees many landslides (during rainy season & snow melt) and snow blockades (during winter). Roads are fantastic all the way and after many photo stops, we reached Chitkul at 515 pm, just before the sun set and the fog and the cold came swirling down.

Chitkul is the dead end but eventually they will have a road going deeper into the Baspa Valley closer to the Tibet-China border. Great place for trekking, we initially had some ideas for doing that but we dropped that idea during the planning stage itself.

Baspa Valley has a few luxury tent camps like Banjara Camps at Bhatseri (on the Sangla-Chitkul road), but we were happy staying in the quaint Chitkul Village in the Panchali Hotel, which is a very good budget hotel there, hardly 10 minutes walk from the river bank on the valley below. We did not have much time to spend in Chitkul since we were already planning departure after breakfast the next day......
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Old 24th September 2011, 15:58   #137
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Default Mumbai Roadsters - 14th August 2011

Mumbai Roadsters - 14th August 2011

It was very clear that if we don’t start really early in the morning we will not be able to make it to Rampur and will have to stay in Narkhanda which would mean that instead of covering up on time we would actually be loosing time. So even after almost 22 hours of driving and only 4 hours of sleep we decide to leave from Delhi at 4AM.

Avoiding the Delhi traffic was just incidental the main goal was to give ourselves as much time as we could for the drive to Rampur. So we are all set and manage to get rolling at about 4:30AM. Navigating out of Delhi rather Dwarka in Delhi was not easy for us so we had to try using Google maps which did help much. We lost a few minutes but our early start was helping us so far.

We had decided to have breakfast in Zhil Mil Dhaba at Karnal which was not very close so we decide to take a quick Chai stop on the outskirts of Delhi and then move on. Zil Mil has been very close to my heart and I have eaten there each time I have passed that road right from 2007 when I did my first road trip to north India. The food there is just out of this world and this was going to be my first opportunity to have breakfast there. We reach Karnal at about 7:30 AM and we have the usual north Indian breakfast – Garam Garam Makkhan wala Aalu Paratha !!!

After a lip smacking heavy breakfast we head towards Chandigarh where we were to turn towards Pinjaur and then take the Kalka-Solan-Chail-Kufri route bypassing Shimla and joining back onto NH22 at Kufri. The roads in this section were amazing, the curvy climb up to Kufri was a real treat in the Swifts and we were zipping all the way. Few bottlenecks but overall it was great to be back in the hills.

We reached Kufri at about 3PM and it was a nightmare and we lost almost 2 hours due to a major traffic jam which was as long as the town itself. This also led to a further confusion on the right turn we had to take towards the Fagu-Theog-Sandhu-Narkhanda section.

By this time we were hungry again but we had decided not to take a lunch break before Narkhanda which was around 50Kms away and so we went on munching the stuff we had in the car. We reach Narkhanda but it was very late (6:30PM) in the day to get any lunch, so Maggie it was and we enjoyed our first doze of the noodles with some eggs not knowing that the perception towards the staple diet for tourist in the hills was going to change completely towards the end of the trip…lol.

Another 60 kms to go and we would reach Rampur our destination for the day. It was very cold (remember this was the first evening in the hills) and almost dark when we left from Narkhanda. On the first evening in the hills for most of the team, darkness coupled with curvy roads and dense fog slowed us down and presented a great display of how nature can prove human estimates completely wrong…..well this was only a trailer to lesson number 1…start early and reach safely.

It was about 9:15 PM when we drive into Rampur and notice that almost everything was shut other than the petrol pump. So we take the opportunity and top-up instantly.

Next was the hotel hunt which we succeeded in doing and found ourselves a room which could accommodate 4 people for just 600 bucks…to top it all the guy there was ready to take the last order for dinner and we dint have to sleep hungry that night.

So we did make it to Rampur on 14th Aug but, we were still not with our entire IPHE team.

Will we be able to meet them on the Independence day?? ...to be cont...



Few pictures of the day...
HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)-img2011081400142.jpg

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HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)-img2011081400626.jpg

Random Videos from the drive in the hills...




Last edited by KSM-Vtec : 24th September 2011 at 16:00.
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Old 24th September 2011, 21:01   #138
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Default re: Humbleh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himacal Pradesh)

Mumbai roadster 14 august
left Delhi in early morning 4am to reach our destination Rampur
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Last edited by anku : 24th September 2011 at 21:06.
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Old 26th September 2011, 13:25   #139
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Default re: Humbleh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himacal Pradesh)

What happened folks, 2 days and no updates on the log from any of the 19 plus folks
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Old 26th September 2011, 13:50   #140
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Maybe the reluctance to post further must be because of poor member response. I find apart from the tbhpians who went on the trip, no one seems to be posting in this thread anyway! I am not surprised at the tepid pace!
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Old 26th September 2011, 14:10   #141
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Default re: Humbleh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himacal Pradesh)

Very exiciting naration and awesome pictures. I am glued to this TL. I somehow came across this TL only yesterday and finsihed reading all the posts in just two sittings.

@HVK sir, were there any earlier symptoms of the problems you encountered with your scorpio when you left Mumbai or they satarted cropping up suddenly.
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Old 26th September 2011, 15:11   #142
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Night_Hawk View Post
@HVK sir, were there any earlier symptoms of the problems you encountered with your scorpio when you left Mumbai or they satarted cropping up suddenly.
My brake systems were fine when I left Bombay. I think an episode en route may have contributed to the problem. Approaching Kishangarh in Rajasthan, I had to do an emergency braking to avoid a car which suddenly darted into my path and that braking action was very severe with the Scorpio skidding badly. I suspect that the brake calipers or pads may have got dislodged or mis-aligned at that point and must have started wearing out the brake pads and wheel discs. Brakes worked fine but by the time I reached Panchkula, I started hearing the squeaks/ abrasive noise from the wheel disc which prompted me to investigate.

Here is how the brake pad looked after it was removed - the entire lining shaved off and the metal beneath also badly worn out (I don;t have a photo of the wheel disc, but that was a terrible sight too, one side totally scored beyond use)
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Old 26th September 2011, 15:15   #143
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Default re: Humbleh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himacal Pradesh)

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Maybe the reluctance to post further must be because of poor member response. I find apart from the tbhpians who went on the trip, no one seems to be posting in this thread anyway! I am not surprised at the tepid pace!
HVK sir, this is not the case atleast for me, I am checking for updates on this thread more than 10 times a day (in weekends as well ), I am not posting here in between just to keep the flow uninterrupted however I am posting Thanks to every post.

Please keep posting guys, I am early waiting for full trip details.

Thanks,
Vishal
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Old 26th September 2011, 15:23   #144
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Let me share with you some of the detailed planning that we did for the trip. We used both a special google group and a special Facebook group to exchange messages and info on trip preparation, which worked very well and we were exchanging at peak nearly 100 messages a day! The FB group itself had around 80 members, those who were intending to come with us, some of our friends who were planning Ladakh trips around the same time and some of our friends just for the heck of it. Since most of us did not know each other, the FB group also helped us break ice!

Let me reproduce some of the things that were discussed: The first of those tips/hints, etc are reproduced below:

Car & Cold Climate

1. It can be extremely cold out there, and in some places night temperature can be sub-zero, down to (-)5/(-1)10 (places like Sarchu, Tso Moriri, Pangong, Padum, Pang, Hanle).

2. Petrol/Diesel sold in these parts already has anti-freezants added to it, so don't bother to add anything yourself.

3. water inside your windscreen washer tank will freeze, but engine coolant will not.

4. Parking for the night, observe the following precautions:
- Park it in an enclosed space (if possible), but in any case, away from the open (towards the building or tent, for instance)
- Cover the bonnet area with gunny bags (good heat insulation), such that no area around the engine or oil sump can take the cold directly. You can also use old newspapers for this purpose.
- park it in a slope if possible

5. Turn off all accessories when starting the engine in the morning, ideally after the sun is up, and is bathing the engine area.

6. Cranking up, give ignition in short bursts and avoid long cranking sessions. I have cranked the Scorpio upto 15 times to start up at 630 am in Tso Moriri and 5-10 times in Padum.

7. You will rarely have to light a fire under the engine, but you may try pouring hotel water over the engine area in case the car stubbornly refuses to start.

8. Spread out shawls on the seats for increasing the warmth inside the car.

9. Keep the windows up all the time, the cold can be killing.

10. Use the heater liberally.
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Old 26th September 2011, 15:56   #145
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Mountain Driving


1. Army movements are very high on all roads leading to Ladakh. Army convoys can be 30-50 trucks long and they may take upto 15 minutes or so to cross a point. The protocol to be observed on the narrow roads of Ladakh are to pull over to the side, then let them go by. Please do not come in their path. If they are going ahead of you, wait for an opportunity to overtake them after having flashed headlights and honked. They will themsleves see you beforehand and wait for an appropriate opportunity to let you overtake them. Do not be impatient.

2. You will encounter heavy truck movements. Please respect them, their vehicles are struggling up the toughest roads in the world, and the drivers are also patient, cheerful and conscious of other cars and good driving protocols.

3. Do not go too close behind another vehicle on slopes, especially a truck. They can slide back easily. And you may not have enough room to manouevre.

4. There are places where there could be snow or ice on the road. Please watch out for such sections - they may suddenly come on you - skirt such sections.

5. If you are driving on ice or snow, remember there will be little or no traction. Do not stop, do not brake, stick to the side farthest from the edge of the road. And be extra careful on curves. Stick to first gear driving.

6. If you fail to climb up a steep slope, do the following:
- offload your passengers
- reverse back to a level ground, even if it means going back half a km. Then try again
- do not over-exert and burn up your clutch plate. The damage can be done in under 2 minutes

7. If you have to cross stony paths or water, ensure that someone reccees (ideally you, the driver) the entire stretch before driivng on it

8. Snow melt on hot days causes overflowing streams and water bodies after noon. Hence, many spots have to be ideally taken before noon. You may find it impossible to cross them after 3 pm. Examples: at Khoksar, Stingri, Kangla jal, Pagal Nullah. This can be different during different months. Normally, Sep-Oct is the safest month, insulated from all such hydro activity.

9. Do not cross high passes after 4 pm, weather deteriorates and there could be snowfall, water crossings, poor visbility and even landlsides. Besides, if you break down, you can freeze to death in your car.

10. If you do break down, sit tight inside your car with windows closed with some inlet for ventilation. Pull over to the side away from oncoming path of other vehicles. Use chocks/stones to prevent car from sliding back even if you have hand brakes/gears on.

11. Follow the universal principle of allowing the vehicle climbing up to go past first. If you are coming down the slope, pull over and wait.

12. Refrain from abusive behaviour and calling names of other vehicles - remember, everyone is as stressed out as you are, and most probably as careful as you are.

13. Jeep taxis can be dangeorus drivers. Watch out for them and let them past. After all, they earn only 3-4 months a year on this circuit and are in a hurry to drop off their passengers and start off on the next trip, so let them be and do not try to dare them or pontificate to them.

14. Keep your headlights on all the time in case of low visibility.

15. Most of the roads in Ladakh are narrow, have steep falls on one side and ditches on the other. Keep an eye out for vehciles coming round the curve. Look out in advance for vehicles coming afar wherever you get a good sighting of the road topography (this is the most valuable job a co-pax can do for the driver).

16. I turn off the music system on hilly roads, no distractions and also to listen to honking from other vehicles round corners.

17. DO NOT distract the driver, his is a very stressful job.

18. Carry chocks/boulders inside your car, and one co-pax should always be ready to get out at second's notice to restrain the car from sliding back.

19. Co-pax should always be ready for any eventuality and be the listening and watching posts for the driver.

20. I carry along rock salt to spread over and melt black ice.

21. Do not think snow is harmless. Do not let snow go into the underbody, I have ruptured the engine oil sump by going over patches with snow heaped up and abrasing the car's undersides.

22. Check underbody every now and then for damages, leaks and any loose wires. Especially the suspension.

23. The car brakes are going to take a beating. If possible, have the brakes checked and cleaned out of dust and grime on arrival at Leh.

24. Mountain passes are closed during certain days and times on the Ladakh route. I will brief you also - in case you do not already know - in subsequent mails.

25. Keep sedate speeds of 40-60 kmph at all times.

26. You will find loss of power because of the rarefied atmosphere, don't be worried.

27. Diesel vehicles will emit huge clouds of black smoke, don't worry, that is because of inefficient combustion thanks to the rarefied atmosphere.

28. mpfi engines automatically adjust to the change in altitude and inputs (air/fuel), but their programming may not be equipped for such high altitudes. My mpfi Matiz adjusted beautifully to the higher altitudes. When I took my non-crde (non-ECU) Scorpio to Ladakh in 2009, mine surprisingly was the best performer, unlike the crde (and ECU-controlled) newer Scorpios which faced considerable difficulties. I later ascertained from M&M that Scorpio ECUs are calibrated to recognise altitudes upto 4000 metres only and hence, the vehicles were finding it difficult to cope up with sudden drop in air intake.

29. Carburated engines may have to adjust their air screws once they get into higher altitudes.

30. Use of K&N Filters may help.

31. Never follow the routes taken by the army trucks.. Especially at Gata loops,Pang, Khardung la and all. They take short cuts in between, Which might look good to see but difficult ascend/ decend for a normal vehicles. Army trucks manage it well because of their large whell base,chained tyres etc.
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Old 26th September 2011, 16:20   #146
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Very well put HVK and this should be the bible to drive on our hill roads. It is most important to respect the truck drivers on mountain roads. They are indeed having a hard time pulling up the inclines and yet patiently wave on the cars each time they see a clear road ahead for an overtake. I make sure I wave and thank them. They deserve it after all. Imagine driving a truck and how difficult it can be. While I have noticed most private cars respect this fact, it is the idiots who drive taxis , the innovas and the sumos that form the most impatient lot risking others and their own lives. I had some irritating episodes on the Jammu Srinagar NH and indeed all over the Kashmir Valley. These guys are most unruly and impatient. They cause the biggest jams trying to squeeze through every inch of space they can find. If all of us drove responsibly and patiently, we would all get there faster while enjoying the drive.
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Old 26th September 2011, 16:26   #147
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Preparing Batteries & Electricals

1. Check the batteries for water levels and load test it before you leave for Ladakh. Clean the terminals. Even if there is drop in discharge during load tests, consider replacing the battery.

2. Starting the car in extreme cold weather- possible in Pangong, Padum & Tso Moriri - is going to take a lot of cranking and the best battery wins.

3. Avoid overloading your batteries during the trip with fancy music systems and any other devices that may soak up power from the batteries.

4. Check and clean all fuses and relays.

5. Carry along spare fuses and relays. And don't forget to carry a master fuse also.

6. There is no EXide or Amaron helpline in Ladakh. So if your battery dies en route, only your companion-cars can help you tow it out. You may not even get distilled water!

7. Push-starting a car in high altitudes is virtually impossible. Consider that you are also either up a slope or down a slope most of the time. And also that our brakes do not work unless the engine is started.

8. Also clean terminals in your starter motor, and ensure that your alternator is working well.

9. It may be a good idea to turn off your auto cop systems or immobilise your immobiliser for the time you are in Ladakh to avoid the risk of it malfunctioning.

10. Check if your car heater is working, you will need it extensively in Ladakh.
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Old 26th September 2011, 16:30   #148
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zipperone View Post
It is most important to respect the truck drivers on mountain roads. They are indeed having a hard time pulling up the inclines and yet patiently wave on the cars each time they see a clear road ahead for an overtake. I make sure I wave and thank them. They deserve it after all. Imagine driving a truck and how difficult it can be. While I have noticed most private cars respect this fact, it is the idiots who drive taxis , the innovas and the sumos that form the most impatient lot risking others and their own lives. I had some irritating episodes on the Jammu Srinagar NH and indeed all over the Kashmir Valley. These guys are most unruly and impatient. They cause the biggest jams trying to squeeze through every inch of space they can find. If all of us drove responsibly and patiently, we would all get there faster while enjoying the drive.
My driving style is to wait for them to give way whenever they can slow down at a shoulder, never force them. I do stick to their tail so that they can see me and look out for a suitable opportunity. You must remember that if they lose their momentum in a steep slope, they are in deep trouble since they may not be able to climb up without reversing.

Public taxis (the ones which carry locals or tourists on share-a-seat basis - are always hard-pressed for time and in places like Ladakh their season is short-lived so they are driving breakneck pace to pack in as many schedules/ trips as possible. Not an excuse for them to drive rash though.
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Old 26th September 2011, 16:44   #149
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My observations are in bold.

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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
The FB group itself had around 80 members, those who were intending to come with us, some of our friends who were planning Ladakh trips around the same time and some of our friends just for the heck of it. Since most of us did not know each other, the FB group also helped us break ice!

Sir, waiting for next round of such ice-breaking exercise, and be a part of it!

Let me reproduce some of the things that were discussed: The first of those tips/hints, etc are reproduced below:

I have already copied and printed!! all three sets of those tips for 2012, and my system also has got a new folder named as Ladhak 2012. Anything and everything related to Leh drive will go into it for next 8 months till it materializes.
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Old 26th September 2011, 16:57   #150
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Default re: Humbleh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himacal Pradesh)

Accessories in the Car


1. Carry an inverter in your car. Your mobile phone will not work (keep it switched off), but your cameras will have to be charged.

2. There is power only in Leh and Kargil. Smaller towns like Tangtse and Tso Moriri get power on gensets which run between 7-11 pm only

3. Most places outside Leh may not have power points to charge, or the charge points may not working.

4. Carry spare batteries for all devices that you have.

5. An electric flask will be an useful accessory to heat up water.

6. Extension Cord
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