Lahaul Spiti nearest airport details

Lahaul Spiti is the best place to visit if you want to witness Buddhist life, snow capped mountains, mesmerizing lakes and beautiful monasteries. The Tabo monastery here is declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site and the Spiti valley is rightly known as the Land of Lamas.

The most popular way to reach Lahaul Spiti is via road either from Shimla or Manali. But if you are trying to save time and want to catch a flight to Spiti valley directly, we got news for you. Lahaul Spiti got no commercial airport of its own! Thus it can’t be accessed directly via flights.

The nearest Airport to Spiti valley is the Kullu airport in Bhuntar which is more than 240 KMS away from the same and it will take about 10-15 hours of driving as road is bad from Manali side. Also, this airport is really small and has limited flight operations. You can rent a taxi from the airport and it would cost about Rs 6000-8000 one way drop.

Kullu is a very small airport with a single runway and the capacity to park only two small airplanes at the runway simultaneously. Considering the rise in tourism, the Kullu airport should be upgraded to meet the growing needs of the people. The nearest international airport from Spiti valley would be Chandigarh airport which is 520 KMS away from Spiti.

Even though there is no commercial airport in Spiti valley, the government does provide services via helicopters during medical or natural disasters emergencies. Also, Rohtang tunnel will be opening by the end of 2019 which will connect Manali with Lahaul and cut down the distance of travel by more than 40 KMS or 3-4 hours in peak season. This will provide big relief to the locals as well as the militarty. It will also be an all weather connectivity tunnel which means it will be operative in winters thus no loss in connectivity would happen which otherwise does for six months during winters due to excessive snowfall.

Rohtang tunnel opening date and details

Rohtang tunnel which is being built at 11000-13000 ft above the sea level and is going to connect Lahaul- Spiti with Manali other parts of the State will open for public by November 2019. The construction of this 8.8 km long tunnel is being carried out by the Border Roads Organization (BRO) which is a part of Defence Ministry in collaboration with Strabag AG company.

In the year 2010, The foundation stone of Rohtang tunnel was laid by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. The tunnel was supposed to be completed by February 2015 but failed to do so because of harsh weather conditions in the area which made excavation a tough job for the workers. And now torrential inflow called Seri rivulet is posing challenge for the engineers. The delay of these 5 years has led to incurring of extra cost of around 20 million rupees.
This tunnel will cut down the distance between Keylong, the district headquarters of Lahaul- and Manali by 48 KMS and by 3-4 hours in peak season and the tribals of Lahaul- will for the first time be connected to the outside world. They are currently connected via Rohtang Pass which closes for six months every year from November to May. This leads to Spiti and Lahaul being disconnected from rest of the country for those six months. Despite of the weather conditions, 3000 vehicle’s can play across the tunnel every day.

Right now the tunnel is not safe to enter and is open to be accessed only in case of medical or other emergencies. Still people have queued outside both ends of the tunnel, in fact last year few locals forcefully entered the tunnel after which they felt suffocated and had to be evacuated by the police. This led to sealing both ends of the tunnel by the company. A wall has also been built on the Manali side of the wall which will be opened this year.

Leh airport to Leh city taxi transport options

If you are planning to vacation in Leh this year, you’d be glad to know that Leh got its own airport. The airport is connected by direct flights from Srinagar, Mumbai and Delhi. Because of Leh being a popular tourist destination, the frequency of flights is also sufficient. But do note that only morning flights operate here.

Once you land at Leh Airport, you need to hire a taxi to reach the Leh city. It is very easy to rent any taxi and it takes about 10-20 minutes to reach your hotel depending on the location. There are three type of taxis available in Leh:
Class A taxis are the most expensive and include Aria, Innova and XUV.
Class B taxis are moderately priced and include Qualis, Scorpio and Safari.
Class C taxis are the cheapest and include Van, Sumo and Eco.

Generally you will be charged about Rs 600-800 for airport pick up and about Rs 400-600 for airport drop. During drop, they do not need to park and hence less charges. You might find the rate of taxis to be high but you can call the drivers directly and negotiate for some discount. Fare meters are not used by the taxis and hence you need to use your bargaining skills to ensure fair price is charged by the drivers.

For the year 2019 due to boom in tourism, there has been a hike of 8 to 10% in the rates of taxi fares. But even with such steep prices hiring a taxi is always advisable as the drivers got necessary experience in driving in rough conditions and on rocky terrains. Also if you take your in car, the maintenance cost would be too much after the trip as scratches are common due to narrow roads. With hired taxis, you don’t have to worry about the same. These drivers also know the best places to stay and can help you earn discount at the hotels.

Also outside taxis and rented cars are not permitted for the sightseeing purpose in Leh City. If you are driving your own car, it should be in your name or your parents or your spouse name and proper identification documents should be present. To prevent from such hassles, it is always better to hire taxis.

How to deal with acute mountain sickness or AMS in Leh Ladakh

While a trip to Leh Ladakh sounds fun and adventurous, there are some things you need to be careful of. Because there would be a huge altitude as well as climate change and the oxygen level would be very low, your body might not handle it as well as you expect it to. And this means you might get acute mountain sickness or AMS and that’s never fun.
Ladakh is situated at an altitude higher than 10000 feet. And even if you have never suffered altitude sickness before, high chances are you’d feel dizzy, pukish, tired or get headaches. Hence it is important that you plan to acclimatize to this condition before you plan a trip to Leh Ladakh.
The main cause of people getting acute mountain sickness in Leh Ladakh is due to low level of oxygen. To compensate for this, our body starts working hard and the breathing rate is increased giving rise to the above symptoms. That’s why acclimatization is important which means getting our body used to the high altitude an slow oxygen level. And how do we do that?
Stop frequently – stopping at frequent heights, help your body to get used to the altitude. If you are flying into Leh, take complete rest for min 36 hours and remain hydrated. For this, after every 2400 meters, you should stop for a day at every next 600 meters – these may be figures but very useful when you are driving or riding to Ladakh from Delhi. That is why we say halt at Manali, then Keylong, then Sarchu and then Leh. Likewise, a reason why Srinagar-Leh route is better for AMS issues as elevation changes are far less than Manali-Leh route.
Do not turn the heater on- Yes we know, at this cold temperature, you’d be tempted to switch on the heater of the car. But this would only trigger your acute mountain sickness’s symptoms. Even if you turn on the heater of your car, do it at low temperature.
Carry medicines– There are few medicines available at the chemist shop which might help ease your symptoms. However remember always to take physician’s recommendations before buying any such medicine or you might suffer its side effects.
Drink water– Drink water. Lots of it. There is also a chance that what feels like mountain sickness to you is actually you getting dehydrated. Avoid alcohol or caffeine as they make you more dehydrated. Symptoms of acute mountain sickness are very similar to that of dehydration and hence precaution is the key here.
Eat food high in carbs- even if you are not hungry, eat light but food which is high in carbohydrates. This is because At low oxygen, carb storage of our body is used up at faster rate. When that is used up, we feel fatigued and get headaches.
Happy travelling!

Pangong lake in winter months of December, January, February

If you are planning a trip to Ladakh in winters, you should know that it’s not going to be your another run-of-the-mill vacation. Winter here can be tough but nevertheless very mesmerizing and beautiful.
And if you are visiting Ladakh, you have to visit the Pangong lake. The temperature in Ladakh varies from -5 to -25 degree Celsius during winters and the Pangong lake freezes solid. This lake flows from India to Tibet and while it’s pretty in summers, it gets breathtakingly beautiful in winters. Images below via TravelShoeBum

When the lake freezes, the ice gets so solid you can walk over it. Infact, some local drivers will take their SUVs on it too! The Pangong lake is accessible all over the year from Leh but in case of heavy snowfall, the roads are closed partially – basically the mighty Chang la pass is the culprit here. Do note that in winters, the Srinagar Leh highway and the Manali Leh Highway are closed by October/ November, so road travel to reach Leh Ladakh isn’t possible. The only option is to fly. There are a lot of flights that you can take from Delhi or Jammu to Leh and the prices aren’t that expensive.

During winters, travelling by motorcycles is not advised due to harsh weather conditions. The best way to travel is by hiring taxis. The fares might be little steep but it’s safe and drivers know their way. Hiring a cab would cost you anywhere between 7000 to 9000 RS for a day trip from Leh to Pangong and back. There is no accommodation option available near the Pangong lake in winters but these drivers will help you contact the local families there who will provide you accommodation and food for a small price. This can in fact cost you around RS. 400-600 per person. Do note these will be very basic.

You can either just sit and enjoy the beauty of the lake or cross the lake with shepherds of the Mann village who do that to reach to the pastures. They’d be happy to take you along at a nominal price. It’s said that all the postpaid networks work in Leh but we’d ask you to get BSNL postpaid as it is more consistent even though weaker than usual. Be prepared for windchill here.

Which mobile network is best in Leh Ladakh?

Mobile phones are a vital part of our lives now. People like to be connected with their families and loved ones even when they are on vacation, even if its remote Lew-Ladakh! Due to the sensitivity of the region Leh Ladakh is in ( sharing border with China), there are quite a few restrictions regarding to mobile phone connectivity. And before planning a trip here, you need to know some things about the operation of mobile phones in this area.

Only postpaid mobile phone connections works in entire Jammu and Kashmir which means this applies to Ladakh too. So your prepaid mobile numbers are useless here. If we talk about network coverage, BSNL (or MTNL in Delhi) works the best followed by Airtel. These two also have the widest coverage. In fact, if we talk about remote places of Ladakh, we’d advise you to get BSNL connection as it works the best in these places. But as the case is with BSNL connection, you’d often experience bad quality calls or call drops. Reliance recently built its towers in Ladakh but people have been praising its network and the internet speed. Aircel and Vodafone connections mostly don’t work in Ladakh and have very limited coverage. Ditto for Idea – no connection!

All the postpaid numbers work fine in Leh but as you move away from it to places like Pangong lake or Nubra valley, your network is mostly gone. BSNL got good coverage there so you will probably get its connection alive in the valley. The same holds true for Pangong as well. Tip: if your calls are not going thru, try sending a normal message. It will eventually go. If all goes well, you can use BSNL at Nubra, Pangong, Hanle and even Tso Moriri. 

We would advise you to buy BSNL postpaid connection if you are planning to travel to remote places in Leh ladakh but if you are going to stay in and around the main City, Airtel and Jio postpaid connection are the best choice. If you are thinking of purchasing a new sim connection in Ladakh, it’s not going to be an easy task as people from outside Ladakh are not issued sim generally so it’s better to bring your own postpaid number. Also, it is advisable to explain your family and friends that you will not be in touch as networks can go down in remote places if weather is bad. All the best!

 

How to reach Chandratal lake from Delhi : DETAILS

Chandratal or the moon lake is situated in Spiti Valley at an altitude of about 14000 feet above mean sea level. It is hard to reach (by road, then a long walk) but worth the effort. How to get here? Read on…

Route options

There are two main route options from New Delhi.
1) Via Shimla route : 875km.
From Delhi, it takes about a total of 20-25 hours of driving that needs to be broken down into days. For example, you can do Narkanda (10-11 hours) on Day 1, then Kaza (10-11 hours) in Day 2 and finally the lake on Day 3 (5-7 hours). Do note that till Kaza, roads are 80-90% good but the last 30-40 km to the lake are bad. You need a car with high clearance. The last 6-7km to the lake are narrow and needs caution. Also, the road ends well before the lake
2) Via Manali route : 690km.
From Delhi, it takes a total of about 18-20 hours via this route. You can do Manali on day 1 (11-13 hours) and next day reach the lake. The trouble is in two parts : Rohang Pass is a mess to climb due to the tourist rush and time is wasted. Next, the road to lake from this side is in a mess. Bad mess. Traffic jams and landslides are common and it takes about 4-5 hours to cover the last 50-60km to the lake. Hence we always advise the first route option.

Transport options 

There are multiple ways in reaching the lake.
1) Your own car: Make sure you have 2 drivers. And a car with good ground clearance
2) Self drive: Yes, possible. No issues unlike Ladakh
3) Motorcycle: Yes, possible. Carry rain gear
4) Public Transport: For this, again you have two options. First is to take an overnight bus to Manali (luxury options available) and then take a shared Sumo cab to the cut off on the Manali-Spiti road (near Batal). The last 5-6km you can walk or take a lift. Second option is to take a bus to Shimla (luxury options available) and then take a normal govt bus to Kaza. From Kaza, you will get shared options to lake (less frequent) or to drop off point (more frequent).

When is it open? 

From Manali side, once Rohtang opens. From Shimla side, once Kunzum pass is open. Roughly, from June to October.

Overnight options and seeing the lake?

You have camps, both with shared and private bathrooms. Prices range from Rs 1000 without meals to 3000 with meals and private bathrooms. Camps are not allowed to operate near lake. So you have to drive / ride / take a lift to the parking near lake. From parking, it is a good walk of 10-15 mins easily.

Leh Ladakh Motorcycle Package from Delhi : costing and details

Leh Ladakh opens by road from May end or early June each year. This is one road trip that is as epic as it can get. The journey is as beautiful as the destination and we understand, planning the perfect one can take months. If you are looking for a motorcycle road trip package that starts from Delhi, look no further. Do note that the below mentioned can be edited and altered as per your needs. Also, traveling to Ladakh on a motorcycle is NOT easy, but NOT impossible either. It needs time, patience and exercise 😀

Leh Ladakh Motorcycle Package from Delhi : Best Plan

Day 1 : Delhi to Manali
Day 2 : Manali to Jispa
Day 3 : Jispa to Sarchu
Day 4 : Sarchu to Leh
Day 5 : Rest day in Leh
Day 6 : Leh sightseeing
Day 7 : Leh to Nubra valley via Khardung la pass
Day 8 : Nubra to Pangong Tso Lake
Day 9 : Pangong Tso Lake to Leh
Day 10 : Buffer / back-up / pending sightseeing
Day 11 : Leh to Jispa
Day 12 : Jispa to Kullu
Day 13 : Kullu to Delhi

Leh Ladakh Motorcycle Package from Delhi : Add-ons

1: You can add one day for Tso Moriri lake after visiting Pangong Tso Lake
2: Likewise, one day can be added for a visit to Hanle (do Google for Hanle!)

Leh Ladakh Motorcycle Package from Delhi : Transport

We can get you a variety of motorcycles for this trip. From the good old Royal Enfield 350 to the Himalayan, we even have the BMW 310, Royal Enfield 650s and a lot more. Do drop in an email to escape2lifeindia@gmail.com or a call to 9717644102

Leh Ladakh Motorcycle Package from Delhi : Personalised Plan

We can also source you a private MPV / SUV from Delhi to Leh with an experienced, English speaking driver who will remain with you for the entire journey. This of course comes at a higher cost! The vehicle can be used to put your luggage or even pillion riders / females. So basically you have the comfort and safety of a car following you at all times!

Leh Ladakh Motorcycle Package from Delhi : Accomodation

We usually work with budget and mid-level accommodation partners for this route. Again, depending on the customer’s preferences, we can even pick luxury night stays. For reference sake, we will stick to budget properties for this article:
Manali: 4+ rated budget hotel in heart of town, 2 min walk to Mall road
Jispa: 4+ rated newly constructed campsite
Sarchu: 4+ rated and one of the oldest campsites
Leh: 4+ rated guest house, 1 min walk to market.
Nubra: 4+ rated homestay in Hunder with huge garden. Run by locals
Pangong Tso: 4+ rated campsite, facing the lake.
Hanle: Best in town home stay – with a complimentary tour of observatory
Tso Moriri: 4+ rated campsite or budget hotel, as per guest

Leh Ladakh Motorcycle Package from Delhi : Price for couple

The cost various depending on the bike you pick and the number of people.

Leh Ladakh Package from Delhi : How to proceed

If you have any questions or queries regarding, shoot a mail to escape2lifeindia@gmail.com or WhatsApp to 9654244102.

Cheap Budget hotel in Leh near main market

Most tourists visiting Leh are on the look out for an affordable, cheap and budget hotel that is near to the main market. This is essential as talking a long walk to the market can be a task at this altitude. Thankfully we run a cute little guest house in the heart of Leh town.

Less than 60 seconds walk to the main heart of town of Leh, our guest house is located perfectly and the reason why it enjoys a 4+ rating on most social platforms. There is ample parking for cars and bikes and we even have a little garden area for you to pull your chair and enjoy the sunshine in. Yes, morning hours is when the sun shines into most rooms and the ground floor area.

We also understand that our guests want to be connected to the outside world and hence we do have free wi-fi here for guests. Apart from this, every room has an attached washroom and a television with satellite channels. The place is owned by an ex-Army local and he is well connected incase you need any special assistance.

The tariff for our rooms here starts at INR 1500 for two for accommodation only. We don’t sell the meals as there are ample places within 60-120 seconds walk that serve meals at all times. For more information and booking do drop us a mail at escape2lifeindia@gmail.com or a whatsapp at 9654244102

Taking a self drive car rental to Leh – Ladakh : Details here

We all like to drive to our destination and Ladakh is no different. For those flying into Delhi and then undertaking their 10-14 day road trip to Lew-Ladakh, the only option is to hire a self drive car. However, do you know there are complications involved?

A self drive car can be taken anywhere in India – this is on paper. But, the taxi union of Leh does not like this as it hampers their earnings. This is why, for the past few years, self drive cars are allowed to REACH Leh, but not drive around the area of Ladakh. You are ‘required’ to hire a local taxi so that local drivers continue to earn.

But fret not as the journey to Leh is equally beautiful and adventurous. You will take 3-4 days to reach Leh and this will give you enough chances to enjoy your part of driving. Once in Leh, its wise to park the self-drive car and use local transportation like a rented bike or a rented taxi. Once your local sightseeing to Nubra / Pangong is over, take the self-drive car and drive back to Delhi.

Is there a way out: Yes

But we don’t recommend this as locals can get angry. When you reach Leh, get your inner line permits sorted. With permits ready, hit back the Manali highway and drive towards More Plains. Note that you are NOT stopped when driving on the Manali – Leh or Srinagar – Leh highway but WILL be stopped when driving on sightseeing routes. After you cross Tanglang la and before you hit More Plains, there is a left going to Tso Moriri lake. No checking by taxi unions is done on this route. Take this route to Tso Moriri and then you can go to Hanle, to Pangong (reverse route) and so on. BUT, we are warning you – local taxis on the route could stop and challenge you.

I dont want to be taxi passenger 

In that case, experience best of both the worlds. Drive a self drive car to Leh, park it there and hire local motorcycles. Use these to explore Ladakh, return them, pick your self drive car and head back to Delhi. Do note that motorcycles will cost between Rs 1100-2000 depending on the model you pick.