The backlog of photo uploads from my Ladakh trip means I haven’t yet shared the basic details of a trip to Ladakh for make benefit of all and sundry. I am just being a lazy bum when it comes to processing all the photos and uploading them with my travel stories. I would clear the backlog soon, but meanwhile here are a few tips on local travel options particularly for solo travelers in winters.
‘LOCAL TRAVEL IN LADAKH’
Your entry to Ladakh is via Leh. You can either fly there or take a government bus from Srinagar or Manali. Keeping your base at Leh, you would want to go to places of interests like Pangong Lake, Nubra Valley (many villages inside it namely Diskit, Hundur, Shumor, Turtuk), Tsomoriri Lake etc. Question is what are the various options to reach to these places?
- LOCAL CABS – These can be hired at 10-12k for a trip to each common place like Pangong / Nubra Valley (2-3 village) / Tsomoriri. There are plenty of local tour operators in Leh who would guide you on the places to visit and provide you the cab (6 seater) with driver. If you are going with a family or as a group of 5-6 people this suits well as the cost comes to 2-3k per head.
- SHARED CABS – If you are a solo traveler or couple you probably won’t hire the entire cab for yourself, so you would have to share it with other solo travelers or groups where you would pay approximately 2-2.5k per trip. There is the option of mini bus or Temp traveler as well which also cost around the same.
- NO SHARED CABS IN OFF SEASON – This is a bit of a bummer. In off season there are no shared cabs. For the simple reason that there are not many tourists. No shared cabs means you either pay for the whole cab or hire a vehicle and self drive. You would easily find bikes for hire, but cars for hire are not very common because the local cab drivers do not appreciate outside cars, whether commercial or private, plying on these roads affecting their share of business.
- YOUR OWN CAR OR HIRED CAB FROM CITIES OUTSIDE LADAKH – This can be done but there are couple of risks in it. Firstly, a commercial vehicle with non Ladakhi number plate is at the risk of inviting trouble from cab mafia. Secondly, although they are less likely to harm private cars, particularly carrying family, women, elderly, and children, self driving is still risky if not impossible because as a tourist you may not be fully aware of the road conditions, unpredictable weather and availability of fuel stations.
- LOCAL BUSES – Is there any other public transport apart from private taxis? The answer is both YES and NO. Technically there are buses that leave from Leh city bus stop to various places in Ladakh including places like Pangong, various villages in Nubra Valley. But they are not at all a feasible option for the following reasons.
- Firstly, there are hardly any information about what time the buses leave, how much time it takes, and when it reaches the destination.
- Unlike major inter city bus stations in other states, at Leh bus stop you won’t find any information board / bus chart which could inform you on platform numbers and bus numbers.
- There are no platforms to begin with, no information desk, and the buses do not have any destination or route number written on them. You have to ask each bus driver or passenger already siting inside the bus as to where is it going.
- You must reach the bus stop early morning like 7 and then ask around. The buses are small, local people board them to carry important items like fruits, vegetables, gas cylinders, wooden items etc. back to the villages.
- Covering all the places of interest by bus would mean you would have to double your stay in Leh and it would be very uncomfortable.
To conclude, if you are traveling solo to Ladakh in the off season to see the beauty of the place when it is snow clad, you should be ready to pay a heavy price to hire a full cab for yourself. Alternatively, find at least 4 more crazy traveler like you who is willing to go to Ladakh in the winters.
Let me know how does that go.
Photos of Local bus stop and buses:
A bus going to a village in Nubra Valley
People carrying woods, gas cylinders