Flying into Leh the Capital of Ladakh in the northern region of India is so spectacular and breath taking with terrific aerial views of the mountainous landscape. One of the main reasons to fly is that many of the roads are closed in the winter, also saving you a couple of days of driving, therefore more time to enjoy in the surrounds of Ladakh.
There’s a plethora of airlines in India which fly to Leh from Delhi and it’s approximately 90 minutes. When the weather is not ideal you can expect delays and disruptions, ensure you go prepared and check your onward schedules/connections as they may be affected.
Ideally, include a side trip with the same carrier as your international ticket – this usually includes the same luggage allowance as a through fare and any delays should be re-accommodated by the ticketing airline.
Coming from Sydney, Air India with a stopover/transit in Delhi was ideal as this airline has the accessibility to fly into India’s International Terminals, even when travelling domestically within India – making a transfer onto other destinations seamless.
After an early breakfast, we headed towards the Nubra Valley. The 140 kilometres trip takes approximately 4 to 5 hrs in a small tourist bus. Via Khardungla (18,380 feet), it’s known as the Highest Motorable road in the World – perhaps not for the faint-hearted tourist, but it’s an experience you won’t regret… or forget.
We traversed the winding passage ways and it was comforting to come across an Oxygen Cafe-cum-Medical Centre which was opened by the Ladakh Rescue Centre in recent times. It’s definitely a recommended stop en-route to recharge your batteries, toilet and cafe break where you can exchange stories with other excited travellers.
The Nubra Valley which is not too far by distance from the Rescue Centre, but is still some time away before our arrival there considering it’s an unsealed roadway. It’s obvious the roads are somewhat ‘one way’ and difficult to negotiate when passing oncoming vehicles – or worse – taking over!
Nubra is a tri-armed valley located to the north east of Ladakh Valley and Diskit is the capital which is about 150 kilometres north from Leh town. It’s a high-altitude cold desert with rare precipitation and scant vegetation. Needless to say, it’s quite a display of parched fascination.
Happy to have stayed at The Grand Dragon Ladakh, which is the only five-star property in this area boasting fabulous views of the mountains from almost every room. A relaxed outdoor setting finished off each day of sightseeing with a few well-earned bevvies in hand.
The impressive complex has 12 stories and is built at an altitude of 3,600 metres (11,800 ft). A spiritual retreat with amazing natural surrounds and traditional Buddhist architecture.
- Someone to show you the way and given an in-depth commentary
- Instant friends (well hopefully)
- Safety if anything should go wrong
- Combine a trip with friends/family and share costs
- Reassurance for your family when away
- Group discounts
- See things you wouldn’t be able to usually
At the end of the day, it was rewarding to have had the opportunity to visit one of the most interesting and humble destinations I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing – not just in India but on an international scale. And yes, I’d return to Ladakh in a heartbeat!