A Himalayan Desert: The negative 6 degrees Celsius temperature may have numbed our hands, but not our hopes.
Leh, March 2021
If you’re interested in knowing more about getting around Leh, you can bookmark the following post for reference.
Traveling inside Leh is relatively simple- you can walk around to visit the Main Bazaar and the small local markets around town. You can also walk down to Leh Palace (through the Old Town Market) If you’re planning to visit the Shanti Stupa, Tsemo Castle, or even the Hemis-Thikse-Shay Monasteries, you can either rent a bike, or a taxi, depending upon your budget. If you wish to visit Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, the Magnetic Hill, Sangam or even Alchi Monastery, you would need a bike/taxi.
For bike rentals, I’d highly recommend Miracle Ladakh Adventure, a tour company run by Tsering, and managed by Gonbo (who happens to be Ladakh’s first professional coffee brewer, and is the MD at Miracle Ladakh Adventure) Bo’s a lovely human who will be happy to exchange stories with you- and if you’re looking to plan overnight trips, he’s a good guy to connect with!
For taxis, we got in touch with Tsering Yangjor through a friend. You can contact him on 0-60056 26196. Not only does he provide you with excellent taxis, but is himself an expert driver who can navigate through snowstorms even (true story!) He also knows the landscape well enough to introduce you to things you might otherwise miss out on your road trip (like knowing where to stop to get close to the river, where to stop for a toilet break, or where to enjoy the best parathas in Nubra valley!)
For traveling to visit Khardungla Pass, Nubra Valley, Hunder, and Turtuk, you’ll need a permit (Sonam at Raku Guesthouse can help you with for a fee of 800INR, or you can speak with Bo if in case you’re hiring his services, or maybe even check with your local taxi driver) You need a permit to visit Tso Moriri too, as well as Pangong Lake. The permit can be got only after submitting a negative COVID report, so I recommend you get a test done before traveling to Leh so that you do not waste any time waiting for the permit.
A bike (Royal Enfield, 350cc) should cost you 1000INR (minimum) while the Himalayan starts at 1500INR. Non-geared bikes are available for 800INR.
A taxi to Turtuk will cost around 13,000INR (which is why it is easier to split the cost by sharing it with other travelers)
A taxi to Tso Moriri will cost around 12,000INR
Please note- it’s expensive to travel to places around Leh, so do factor in this budget before coming.
Note: Since it’s the winters, most of the toilets on the highway, as well as in the cafes in Leh, are frozen. While it’s absolutely imperative to drink water, you will also need to accommodate a new feeling of vulnerability that comes in when you answer Mother Nature’s call in the open. There are a lot of makeshift toilets that have a hole dug into the mud, with a plank that serves as a door. If you’re up for this smelly adventure, go for it! Most of us (by the end of it, I got used to this too!) preferred squatting behind a huge rock in the side of the empty highways.