Leh-Ladakh in February
Open valleys hills perfect for trekking, clean lakes, and natural beauty with sceneries’ that one can imagine in dreams. If you thought we are talking about Switzerland or an expensive international destination, you just have gone wrong!
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Here, we are talking about none other than, India’s very own paradise called Ladakh. One of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the country, Ladakh has been one of the most sought-after destinations, not just in India, but all across the globe now. Though years before, Ladakh’s tough terrains and rugged settings mostly attracted adventure or thrill seekers, things have changed now. These days, Ladakh is known mostly as a holiday destination for visitors from all the walks of life. Whether for a leisure or a honeymoon trip, adventure journey or a fun trip, nature or a photography tour, biking trip or jeep safaris, Ladakh can easily put most of the destinations to shame!
Well, while Ladakh is mostly known for its miraculous beauty and appeal, one should also know about the climatic conditions as climate as well as weather could become a challenge at greater heights. And in case, if you are planning for a trip to Ladakh in February, there are certain things that you should always keep in mind. There is no doubt that this region is steeped with all the marvels of Mother Nature, however, maintaining cautions or the instructions & guidelines would offer you a clear view about Ladakh in February.
Points to Note Before Planning Ladakh Trip in February:
Roads to Ladakh in February:
The month of February is the time when winter usually gets to the peak. This is the time of the year when most of the routes leading to Ladakh remain closed. Be it the Manali-Leh Highway or the Srinagar-Leh Highway, communicated gets highly affected due to heavy snowfall. The might Rohtang Pass on the Manali-Leh Highway comes down to zero, and usually resume communication only by April. Hence, if you are planning for a Ladakh trip in February, it would not be possible to reach your destination by Manali-Leh Highway.
On the other hand, the much-acclaimed Srinagar-Leh Highway also gets highly affected, and Srinagar including Sonmarg regions gets inaccessible in February. Though from Leh, one can travel till Kargil, but while approaching towards Leh, visitors could probably get stuck in Srinagar and Sonmarg itself.
Accommodation in Ladakh in February:
When it comes to hosting visitors from across the globe, Leh has always been the epicentre of Ladakh. However, due to the extreme weather conditions in February, most of the hotels, lodges, guest houses, and other accommodation options prefer to stay closed. But then, if you are planning a Ladakh trip February, you may find some or a handful of the hotels or other stay options welcoming guests during this month.
Having said this, it is always advisable to opt for early or prior bookings if you are determined for a trip in February. Also, as the month is mostly known as an off-month for tourism in Ladakh, you may not be able to utilise most of the facilities, services, or amenities while staying in the hotels or other accommodation options in Leh-Ladakh in February.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS):
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) or Altitude Sickness is one of the most important things to keep in mind while planning a Ladakh trip in February. It is a type of sickness that is caused by the reduced level of oxygen as one reaches higher altitudes. Oxygen level reduces drastically with height; for people living in the plains or valleys, getting acclimatised to the reduced level usually gets difficult.
Thus, before planning a Ladakh trip in February, one must take out time to get acclimatised to higher altitudes. And the most preferable way to get acclimatised would be planning the trip with some buffer days in hand to spend some leisure time once you reach Ladakh. Once here, do not get indulged into hardcore activities; rather try your best to spend a day or two in Leh itself while exploring the local attractions and other tourist places.
Stay Fit to Stay Immune:
Anyone planning or even thinking about a Ladakh trip in February, are already aware about the challenges and obstacles on the way. Even while being in Ladakh, the tough terrains, rugged settings, the snowy trails, and uneven courses might offer ample of challenges to the visitors.
In order to overcome these challenges, one has to be physically fit to a certain level. If you are an ardent follower of fitness regime, you can easily go ahead in planning a trip. However, talking about other classes of visitors, they can start preparing themselves from before planning a trip to achieve all the fitness goal beforehand. In addition to fitness level, boosting immunity level is also extremely important while embarking on a Ladakh trip; especially in February when the climatic conditions could go extremely rough. Higher immunity not only helps you fight Altitude Sickness, it would also help you get going even in the harshest of weather.
Pack Well Before Leaving:
While in Ladakh or across any regions in Ladakh in February, you can expect the temperature to go below -20 degrees. Though temperature during the day could be in the tolerable range, temperature during the night would surely make you do a double take.
While packing for your Ladakh trip in February, you must focus more on what and how to pack. Always ensure to carry enough of warm or woollen clothes. Woollen jackets, overcoats, thick air-proof jackets, ponchos, warm hand gloves, thick layered socks, premium or certified quality shoes, etc. would keep you warm and safe from the harsh weather of Ladakh. Also, while packing, make sure to carry energy snacks, enough bottled water (or water bottles), ready-to-eat meals, basic medications, skin moisturisers, lip balm, mosquito repellent, and other such needed stuffs.
Avail Services from Certified Agencies Only:
Once your itinerary is planned, hotel bookings and packing is done, you must concentrate on how and from where to avail other services like transportation, tour guides, and other required services. Since you would be touring during an off-peak month, chances are there that you would not get things at hand’s reach.
Even while planning for transportation options or tour guides, you need to ensure that you book them only through verified and certified agencies only. Booking certified agencies comes with multiple benefits. With them, you need not to worry about the quality of services or commitment. Else, the harsh weather and the off-season could provide you enough challenged to ruin your Ladakh trip in February.
Lesser the Expectations, Better Would be the Trip:
Yes, you heard right! While planning for such an exhilarating trip, and that too during the harshest of the months, you should not be setting higher expectations. February is the month when snowfall reaches the peaking along with bringing down the temperature much below the freezing point. During this time, you may not be able to get regular water supply and the supply pipes freezes down at places.
Alongside this, electricity could be a greater challenge. Owing to the heavy snowfall, almost the entire of Ladakh experiences frequent power cuts and non-availability of electricity. And this can go days after days. Thus, you need to take extra precaution measure to sustain lack and of water as well as electricity supply during your stay in Ladakh in February.
A Simple Itinerary Would do Magic:
Since you would be visiting in the February, you should not attempt to visit all the tourist places in Ladakh. Transportation would be greater challenge as most of the routes to reach the major tourist places gets highly affected due to the heavy snowfall. Thus, having a simple itinerary would help you explore the pristine beauty of Ladakh without much hindrances and worries.
You can include these major places in your itinerary to keep it simple, yet appealing:
This valley usually is accessible throughout the year. There might be the closure of the route for a few days only if the way receives a lot of heavy snowfall, but it is usually made clear as soon as possible by the Indian Army. The route to Siachen is through this valley, and so it needs to be removed fast to keep the connectivity. Hence, you have a great chance to explore the scenic beauty of valley without much challenges.
Pangong Tso can also be accessed during January- February session. The roads might be blocked for specific days, but once the weather clears out, you can visit the lake. You won’t be seeing the deep blue lake during this time, but will get to see a pure white spread over the area as the lake would be frozen with thick ice on the surface. While visiting Pangong Tso, you should not be expecting a luxurious or ultra-comfy stay. Also, as the nearest village from the lakeside is around 30km, it is advisable to visit the lake with daytime, and return back to Leh city by evening for overnight stay.
This could also be an ideal place to have in your itinerary. Though, the route to this beautiful lake remains closed at times, you can still include a visit to Tso Moriri as the route gets often cleared. However, you should always maintain proper precautions while visiting this lake as this region is known to experience the wildest of snowfall in February month.
Why You Should Visit Ladakh in February:
Yes, if you happen to visit Ladakh during the month of February, you will get rewarded with enchanting views and vistas. This is the time, when most of the regions gets shrouded with a thick layer of snow, making the vicinity just like any wonderland.
As already mentioned, February is one among the off-season months to visit Ladakh. Owing to this, there would be lesser crowd in the region during this time. Thus, you would be getting ample time and opportunities to explore, discover, and enjoy the enchanted beauty and charm of Ladakh in February.
As winter approaches in Ladakh, most of the region goes into a hibernation mode as snowfall begins in the region. With time, as January and February makes their mark, the Zanskar River also starts freezing down while forming a thick layer of snow at its surface.
This is the time, when adventure junkies fly down to Ladakh and participate in the enthralling ‘Chadar Trek’ that requires trekking over the frozen Zanskar River. This trek has been rated as one of the most challenging treks in the entire world, and it stands righteous to its fame!
What’s Not-so-Good About Visiting Ladakh in February?
Let’s make it very clear that when temperature falls down to -20 degrees, it becomes quite impossible to expect running water in Leh or any other places in Ladakh. Though most of the hotels have provisions or arrangements for hot water, but finding such a hotel or stay options could become a Herculean task at times.
Also, as discussed above, expecting regular power supply also becomes a challenge due to the heavy snowfall and regular breezes. And to overcome these adverse situations, you may have to carry power banks to keep your gadgets alive. But then, recharging power banks or devices could itself become a challenging task.
Mornings Could be Umpleasant
Morning is the time we carry out some of our primary natural duties. Keeping in mind about the scarcity of running water, carrying out these duties could be a matter to think on. And as you know, until these duties are answered on proper time, things may turn extremely unpleasant for you.
Average Cost of Services May Spike Up
Since that you would be visiting Ladakh in February in an off-peak month, the average cost of basic commodities and services might spike up a bit. Hence, you should ensure you are all prepared to pay higher or elevated cost at places. However, when it comes to hotel bookings, you can always expect lower costs as not much bookings are made during this month.
How to Reach Ladakh in February?
As the region experiences heavy snowfall, roadway journey is not possible to reach Ladakh in February. Hence, airway travel is the only option to reach this piece of heaven during the month of February.
Late Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport or simply the Leh Airport is the only airport in Ladakh. The airport has a decent flight connectivity with most of the major airports in India. Also, most of the major air-carriers offers regular flights to Leh Airport.
Simplified Itinerary to Visit Ladakh in February:
Day 01: Arrive in Leh, check-in into the hotel, and spend the day at total leisure.
Day 02: Spend the first half of the day at leisure followed by evening local marketplace visit to get acclimatised.
Day 03: Plan a visit to Kargil; spend overnight in Kargil.
Day 04: Drive back to Leh; overnight stay in Leh hotel.
Day 05: Half-day tour to Nubra Valley; return to Leh hotel for overnight stay.
Day 06: Half-day sightseeing tour to Pangong Tso; return to Leh by evening for your overnight stay.
Day 07: Day trip to Tso Moriri; return back to Leh hotel for your overnight stay.
Day 08: Buffer day.
Day 09: Depart Leh.
Key Points to Remember:
1.It would be wise to pre-book your flight as February is the season for the adventure mongers.
2.Make sure to pre-book hotels as well as other services.
3.Pack well before you start your Ladakh trip in February.
4.Check with your local tour guides if you are planning for camping; if possible, try and avoid camping.
5.Do not plan any overnight stays rather than Leh city.
6.Carry enough cash while touring around Ladakh as there is a scarcity of ATM booths.
7.Keep buffer days in your itinerary to get acclimatised with higher altitudes.
If you are a leisure seeker, you may not consider a trip to Ladakh in February as sightseeing options are very less in this month. Also, since communication becomes a challenge, transfer from your current destination to the next one could get enough challenging.
However, if you are a shutterbug or a thrill seeker, February could be the best month for you to plan a trip to Ladakh. This is the month that will introduce you with the raw and untouched beauty of Ladakh while offering you enough opportunities to pump in some adrenalines. For shutterbugs, they would be rewarded with breath-taking views and scenic beauties all around to capture some of the most memorable clicks of Ladakh!
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