When to Visit: The best season is summer (May-Sep), after which the cold sets in. Hikers head to Ladakh in June-Aug, when the Manali–Leh and Srinagar-Leh highways are open to vehicles. The best snow leopard sightings, however, happen between Jan–Mar. Contact SLC-IT for snow leopard spotting trips and winter treks led by trained naturalists.
Temperature: Summer temperatures can go up to 28–32 degrees Celsius. The average temperature range during the day is 20–30°C, but even in summer, temperatures can drop sharply to 5°C at night. In winter, temperatures can dip down to –16 and – 25 degrees Celsius.
Altitude: Leh lies at 3,524m (11,562ft) above sea level. The average altitude of villages in the Rong Valley is 4,000m (13,000ft). In the Sham Valley, trekking trails range between 3,474m (11,398ft) and 4,110m (13,484ft), while in Zanskar the highest reaches soar up to 5,900m (19,356ft).
Day and night time temperatures vary, so both cotton and warm clothes are necessary. You should carry:
Full-sleeved cotton shirts
Gloves & Muffler
Good Hiking Boots or Walking Shoes
Sleeping liner or sheet (optional)
Wide-brimmed Sun Hat
All personal medications
Water Bottle to refill water
Snacks like dried apricots & nuts
Acclimatization: If you’re flying into Leh, two days of proper rest and acclimatization is essential before setting off on treks or monastery visits. Rest is vital if you wish to avoid developing acute mountain sickness. If you do experience disturbed sleep, shortness of breath, lethargy, coughing, loss of appetite or nausea, seek medical assistance at once.
Emergency: If you experience any of the symptoms of altitude sickness, return immediately to the excellent Sonam Norbu Memorial Hospital (01982-252360, 252014) in Leh. Every Homestay provides a first-aid kit, but telephones are often not available.
Rong Valley: There are medical facilities at Tukla, Liktsey, Hemya, Kesar and Chumathang. Digital satellite phones are available in the villages.
Sham Valley: Only basic medical facilities are available.Telephones are available at Tarutse, Saspotsey, Yangthang, Hemis-shukpachan, Tia and Ang. Digital satellite phone is available in the Ulley village.
Zanskar: Basic health facilities are available at Primary Health Centers in most of the homestay villages. Satellite phones are available in Zangla, Chaa and Ichar.
Permits: Foreign nationals require protected area permits to visit certain 'restricted/protected areas' including Nyoma,Tsokar, Tso Moriri and all areas east of Upshi. Any registered travel agent can help you obtain a permit, usually within a day; hotel staff in Leh can also guide you. Protected area permits are only issued to groups of two people or more. To apply, you require valid ID/passport. Or, apply directly to the Deputy Commissioner/Magistrate in Leh (+91-1982-252010). Carry your ID/passport at all times, as permits are examined and copies are to be submitted at various check posts en route.
Code of Conduct: Developed by Ladakhi women who run homestays, we ask that you make every effort to follow these requests while staying with Ladakhi families. Please:
Refrain from smoking or making public displays of affection
Do not wear revealing clothes like short skirts and sleeveless tops
Do not urinate or defecate near water/rivers/streams or in the fields
Do not taste from serving spoons
Do not stick your finger or spoon in cooking or serving pots
Do not interfere with the cooking
Do not sit on the choktse (low Ladakhi table mistaken for a stool)
Do not bargain over the homestay rates
Take permission before photographing people and cultural features
Take home happy memories, and leave only footprints behind