Non-stop road trip to Ladakh may be adventurous but also perilous

Road to Leh

Image credit X Ladakh Tourism

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Road trip to Ladakh non-stop may turn perilous

By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, May 26: The plains are scorched with searing heat wave. The weather department has issued red alert for several parts of the northern areas.

There is also a heavy rush of the people to go to the hills to beat the heat. With sports cars selling like hot cakes, the people ae heading to Ladakh non-stop from Delhi and adjoining areas.

But there are risks. The swift change of altitude brings mountain sickness. There could even be extreme body reactions.

Experts warn that the people should shun ideas to rush to Ladakh non-stop through road trips. For those why fly to Leh, they state that the first two days should be reserved for extreme rest to allow body to acclimatize.

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Bunny Puniya, Editor of 91 Wheels, posted a long advisory on the people travelling to Ladakh to beat the summer heat in the plains. He advised the people to take breaks during their road journeys.

“I am getting such calls multiple times a week these days. Thanks to social media and better roads, an increasing number of people want to drive nonstop to Ladakh, especially Pangong,” wrote Puniya on X, formerly Twitter.

He shared the often-repeated queries of the road travellers. “As the calls keep coming, I often hear the same concerns – We’re currently on our way from Manali and plan to reach your place by night. Could you guide us in booking your rooms? We’re also travelling with children,” added Puniya to share the common trends among the road travellers.

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He stressed that the “issue is that they only see the distance (500km) and don’t have any idea about the road, crazy elevation, and dangers involved in a non-stop run from 5,500 feet to 14,000 feet, including 18,000-foot passes”.

“The key reasons are the lack of homework and research. Such families end up getting stuck in remote places, and in most cases, AMS (acute mountain sickness) hits them hard as well,” Puniya stated.

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He advised basic research before the people plan a road trip to Ladakh. He suggested that Kashmir route is better to come to Ladakh due to better roads, mobile signal and less elevation changes. “Still, break your trip at Kargil, if coming from Srinagar to Leh,” advised Puniya.

He noted that Manali route is adventurous but comes with its own set of challenges. “Post Manali, stay at Jispa or Keylong. Most don’t want to as they say it’s just a 3-hour drive. They don’t understand that the body has moved from 5500 feet to 11000 feet, and post Jispa (Darcha), there are no proper night halts,” warned Puniya.

He also argued that staying at Sarchu (14000 feet) post Manali will be bad for the body. “Next night after Jispa/Keylong can be Sarchu, driving straight to Leh via Tanglang la pass (17000 feet) will invite AMS,” he warned.

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He also stressed that Pangong doesn’t have night markets, cafes, or rooftop restaurants, or even Wi-Fi and 24×7 electricity, for that matter. “It’s a remote place with basic amenities. If you want a Smart TV-equipped room with heated beds and multi-cuisine meals, you are NOT meant for this place,” Puniya warned.

On a follower asking for suggestions for people flying directly to Leh and then make a bike trip, Puniya said: “AMS or acute mountain sickness is the biggest issue is here. Human body needs 48 hours to adjust to high altitude.”

He advised that “Day 1 should be rest, with only mild walks”. “Water is your best friend and smoke/alcohol enemies. Day 2 onwards you can ride around (not towards passes) and whatever you do, don’t exert much. Day 3, in most cases, you are fit enough to ride to Nubra (Khardungla stop should be brief),” he added.

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