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.