The need to take a break from the monotony of daily life, and indulge in some adventure can be fulfilled by going on the Leh Ladakh self drive trip. Whether with a bunch of friends or alone with your own self, the expedition will turn out to be an experience of a lifetime. Start the Ladakh self drive journey from Manali and passing through Jispa village, end it in Leh. Before leaving for the awe-inspiring Pangong Tso, embark on a sightseeing tour of the Leh city.
Overnight stays in Jispa and then one in Leh will make you well rested for the next leg of this Leh Ladakh self drive safari. Next on the list of destinations to be covered is the Nubra Valley. Go on a joyride on the back of a Bactrian camel, and visit the famous Diskit Gompa. Following an overnight stay in the valley, head back to Leh. The final stretch of the Ladakh self drive safari trip will lead you to Kargil and then finally to Srinagar. After 12 days of staying amidst the unparalleled beauty of these trans-Himalayan regions, the journey back to home will be full of memories of the time spent during the trip.
Day 01: Arrival in Manali
On this day of the Leh Ladakh self drive tour, arrive in Manali, get some rest and head out to explore the picturesque hill station. See a major tourist attraction of the area, the wooden Hadimba Devi Temple, dedicated to the mythological character from Mahabharata.
Also during the trip, visit the splendid Naggar Castle, which used to be the residence of the king of Kullu. Built around AD 1460, the castle is now being run as a heritage hotel. Try local cuisine, and revel in the spectacular surroundings of Jana Falls and the Beas River. Complete the day with a hearty dinner and by socialising with your group members. Later, travel to your lodging for an overnight stay.
Day 02: Manali to Jispa via Rohtang Pass (approx. 140 km)
Early in the morning, take packed breakfast from the hotel, and begin the drive to Jispa village, located in the Lahaul and Spiti district. Proceed towards the famous Rohtang Pass – an important stop and tourist attraction on the route. Located at an elevation of over 3900 metres, this high elevation mountain pass commands spectacular views of the Himalayas and the Pir Panjal Range. Take a break to have lunch, and thereafter carry on with the drive. Ahead on the journey, stop in Tandi to refuel your vehicle, and then reach Jispa for an overnight stay.
Day 03: Rest in Jispa
Spend this day at leisure, since you will need to channel your energy for the prospective climb, which is going to be challenging. A group of village children will present a cultural programme for your entertainment. Following the event, head to the bank of the Bhaga River to enjoy a relaxed lunch. Later, travel to your lodging for an overnight stay.
Day 04: Jispa to Leh (approx. 335 km)
In the morning, wake up refreshed after a restful sleep so that you can be fully prepared for the upcoming long drive. Resume the Ladakh self drive to reach Leh – the administrative centre of the Ladakh Plateau. The journey can prove a bit demanding as the roads are located at high altitudes.
Starting from Jispa, head towards the origin of the Bhaga River to reach the majestic Baralacha La. Located at an altitude of more than 16000 feet, the mountain pass is a part of the Zanskar Range. The path is rocky and uneven, but it will not appear bothersome as the unpolluted mountain air will keep you refreshed. Further ahead, cross Tanglang La – yet another high altitude mountain pass in the region. Stop in the Pang Valley for lunch, and later continue the drive towards Leh. Reach Leh late in the evening, and then transfer to your lodging for an overnight stay.
Day 05: Sightseeing in Leh
Loosen up your tired muscles and spend the day relaxing in your room. Later, head out to see some of the tourist attractions of the region. Visit the picturesque Shanti Stupa, a white-domed structure built by Indian and Japanese monks. The monument was constructed between 1983 and 1991 with the agenda of propagating world peace. You can enjoy panoramic views of Leh from here as the stupa lies at an elevation of around 4265 metres.
Also, pay a visit to the holy Sankar Monastery, which is around 3 km from Leh city. A subsidiary of the famous Spituk gompa, Sankar Monastery features delightful interiors. After sightseeing, head back to your lodging for an overnight stay.
Day 06: Leh – Pangong Lake – Leh (approx. 330 km)
In the morning, set out to visit the scenic Pangong Tso. Carry the packed breakfast, provide by the hotel, and en route stop at Thiksey Monastery to attend the morning prayers. As soon as Thiksey village is crossed, you will find that the landscape entails expanse of barren mountains. The second stop before reaching the lake is Chang La, which is named amongst the highest motor-able roads in the world. Rest here for a while as the drive will most likely have you out of breath by this point. Post relaxing and gathering your strength, resume the expedition and finally stop at the destination.
Located at an altitude of nearly 4350 metres, Pangong Tso is one of the largest brackish lakes in Asia. Ever since this enchanting water body was featured in the movie 3 Idiots, it has been drawing globetrotters from faraway regions. The pristine blue waters of the lake, reflecting the clear azure and brown mountains, look surreal. Sit by the enchanting water body and enjoy lunch. Spend a few peaceful hours in the calm setting of the lake, and later drive back to Leh. Upon reaching here, travel to your lodging for an overnight stay.
Day 07: Leh to Nubra Valley (approx. 115 km)
The destination for today is the famous Nubra Valley, fondly known as the orchard of Ladakh. The approximately 4 hours drive will pass through the significant Khardung La, one of the highest motorable roads on earth. Enter Khardung village after crossing the mountain pass, and stop in Khalsar for lunch. Following the meal, resume the Leh Ladakh self drive safari, and cross Diskit village to reach the Nubra Valley. Once here, travel to your lodging for an overnight stay.
Day 08: Nubra Valley to Leh (approx. 120 km)
Following a filling breakfast, take your vehicles towards Hunder village. This faraway settlement in the cold desert of Nubra is home to the rare Bactrian camels. Enjoy an exciting ride on the back of this animal over sand dunes along the Nubra River.
Another highlight of the region is the 14th century Diskit gompa. Located in the town of Diskit, it is believed to be the oldest and largest of all monasteries in the region. Admire the breathtaking view of the area from the terrace of the monastery. On the way back to Leh, stop for lunch at North Pullu. Later, continue on the route, and upon reaching the city, travel to your lodging for an overnight stay.
Day 09: Leisure Day in Leh
Take some time off from driving, and spend the day solely for relaxation purposes. You can also explore nearby markets to purchase gifts and souvenirs for your loved ones.
Day 10: Leh to Kargil (approx. 210 km)
After breakfast, begin the drive to Kargil, which is located in the eponymous district. On the way stop to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Pathar Sahib. Revered by both Sikhs and Buddhists, the gurdwara was built in the year 1517 to celebrate the visit of Guru Nanak Dev to Ladakh.
Following a visit to the holy site, resume the drive towards Kargil. En route, stop at the mysterious Magnetic Hill to witness an astounding natural phenomenon, which makes your car move uphill even when it is not in automation. Further ahead on the way to Kargil; come across an other-worldly landscape, which may remind of the surface of the moon. Continue your journey and make a halt in Mulbekh village for lunch. Post lunch, continue on the route and upon reaching Kargil travel to your lodging for an overnight stay.
Day 11: Kargil to Srinagar (approx. 202 km)
Set out for Srinagar early in the morning, and pass through Zoji La and Dras. The Dras Valley is believed to be the second coldest inhabited place in the world. Take a break from continuous driving in Sonamarg, and enjoy a hearty lunch. Later, end the unforgettable Ladakh self drive safari by reaching Srinagar for an overnight stay.
Day 12: Departure from Srinagar
Take leave from the scenic city of Srinagar, and head to your next destination.
Duration: 11 Nights / 12 Days
Region: Leh, Ladakh
Places Covered: Manali, Rohtang Pass, Jispa, Leh, Pangong Lake, Nubra, Kargil, Srinagar
NOTE: Important facts about self drive cars to Ladakh
In Ladakh, tourist season is only 4 months. To support local taxi operators taxis from other states are not allowed to go in certain regions as the local taxi union wants tourists to give business to their local people. So for Nubra & Pangong Lake you may have to hire a local taxi in Ladakh at an additional cost. Driving self-drive car from Delhi to Leh and back to Delhi is not an issue. Alternatively, you can offer some donation at the taxi union, to self drive the hired car.
1. In the case of an unforeseen incident where the car meets with an accident for any reason what so ever i.e. either due to the fault of the guest or any other third person, all the payment to be made over and above the insurance claim, shall be the sole responsibility of the driver.
2. It should be agreed upon by the driver that in case the vehicle is stolen, then any amount which is payable over and above the insurance claim will be payable by the Guest. And it shall not be the responsibility of Adventure Nation to pay any sum of amount or any shortfall amount to the bank or the financial institution.
5th September, 2015