Leh Ladakh in January – A Detailed Guide to Plan Leh Ladakh Trip in January
How is Ladakh in January? Will it be a good idea to visit this part of the country in January? Or how to plan a Ladakh trip in January? Well, if these are the questions gushing up in your mind, here is a detailed guide for you to know how is Ladakh in January, or whether or not to plan a Ladakh trip in January!
January – the peak time of the winter spell, is one of the most crucial months in Ladakh. It is the time when almost the entire of Ladakh freezes to an extent that life almost gets still and locals prefer moving out to other places or stay indoors for most of the times. As temperature starts dropping down, atmosphere starts turning harsh and life starts getting much complex than one can think of. Adding to the climatic challenges, Ladakh faces a high probability of frequent power-cuts, irregular supply of piped-drinking water, and lot more.
Thus, if you are planning for a trip to Ladakh in January, you may have to take a five and think on it over again. However, this shouldn’t mean that you cannot plan a trip to this paradise on earth in the month of January. Let’s have a detailed look at various aspects that would or could inspire the travel bug in you to visit Ladakh in January!
Well, the harsh weather conditions or challenges prevailing during the month of January may give tough times to usual globetrotters. However, for the fun and thrill seekers, this could be the befitting time to plan a Ladakh trip and face off the various challenges to pump in some adrenaline! Tough January month offers very basic amenities, facilities, and scope of exploration, thrill seekers would get served with an enthralling range of activities and other options to explore and discover the different corners of Ladakh.
Points to Note Before Planning Ladakh Trip in January:
Avoid Planning if You are a First-Time:
Do not plan your Ladakh trip in January if you are new to Leh-Ladakh region. Make a point that you have already been to Ladakh at least twice before planning a January trip as this would help you in getting familiar with the prevailing challenges and obstacles.
Get Acclimatised Beforehand:
Make sure you get properly acclimatised to higher altitudes before you start your journey to Ladakh in January. If required, you should (or must) spend a considerable period of time at the lower altitudes, and make slow and gradual move to the higher altitudes.
Maintain Fitness and Immunity Level:
Make sure to strengthen your body immunity and follow a strict fitness regime before you flag off your Ladakh trip in January. As you start advancing towards higher altitudes, there are high chances of suffering from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Thus, you need to physically fit with strong body immunity to avoid or sustain mountain sickness.
Carry Proper Documents to Get Proper Permission:
Inner Line Permit (ILP) is mandatory to visit some of the remote and farthest places in Ladakh; like Pangong Tso and Nubra Valley. Inner Line Permits can be acquired only from the DM Office in Leh. These areas include Pangong and Nubra. Please carry photocopies of your valid ID proofs to get these permissions, and also produce the photocopies whenever required.
Stay Cautious, Get Enough Photocopies:
Once you acquire the Inner Line Permit, do not forget to get enough photocopies of them as getting them printed or getting photocopies could become a challenging task while on the outskirts of Leh city or even away from the city limits.
Tips on Visiting Ladakh In January
Regardless of the explained difficulty in staying at Ladakh in January, planning a Ladakh trip during January could be an awesome experience! As already mentioned, this is one of the off-peak months, the region witnesses a reduced influx of tourist during this month. Thus, travellers during this month, gets to enjoy the untouched beauty of Ladakh with almost zero crowd around. For the adventure seekers, this could be the idyllic time to plan a trip to this part of the country. In addition to this, here are few aspects that one should know while planning a Ladakh trip in January:
Ladakh Roads in January:
It is quite a common believe that all the roads leading to Ladakh remains closed or shut during the peak winter or January. Well, the fact is that this is applicable only to certain parts of Ladakh, but definitely not to the entire of the region. Though pertaining to the heavy snowfall in the region, some regions undergo shutdown, roads to Ladakh remains accessible, and visitors can still make it to the region. In fact, if you are planning a trip during the month of January, you can still visit Leh, Nubra Valley, other attractions like Pangong Lake, and others.
However, some parts of the route to Leh city may undergo blockade due to heavy snowfall. But not to worry as air route to Leh remains open even during the harshest of winter. For those planning a trip to Ladakh in January, flight journeys would be the best recommended way to reach the region and explore its alluring charm and appeal.
Hotels Bookings in January:
Most of the hotels remain closed during the month of January. Even if not entirely closed, they remain partially closed during this month. Anyone planning a trip during this month, it is advisable to make prior or early bookings to avoid any unwanted situations. Also, while making hotel bookings, one should always check with the services offered by the hotels.
If not hotels, one can also opt for local homestays in Ladakh. Though most of the locals also prefer to stay aloof from the harsh climate, you may get lucky and get to check-in into local homestays, and get to spend time with the local families.
Avoid Overnight Stays Outside Leh:
Talking about Ladakh, Leh is considered as one of most stable locations. Be it mobile connectivity or ATM services, this is probably the only location that one can count on. In fact, if you are planning Ladakh trip in January, you can expect proper accommodation options only around this city. Hence, if you plan to spend overnight anywhere other than this city, your stay might not be comfortable at all. Moreover, safety could also be an issue if you plan to stay overnight away from Leh.
Simple Itinerary is Highly Recommended:
Ladakh is undoubtedly one of the most enchanted regions in the world. However, if visiting this wonderland in the month of January, one must not include too many places to visit in Ladakh in January. As most of the region gets affected due to heavy snowfall, transportation or access to remote places might become the bigger challenge.
If planning for a trip in January, one should ideally opt for places and attractions like Leh, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Nubra Valley, and others. Also, the fact that most parts of Ladakh enters into hibernation mode during this month, getting help during any breakdown or availing any emergency services could give tough times to the travellers.
Pack Accordingly Before You Start:
With the above explanation, it must be known that you need heavy and warm clothes. For someone dwelling within the plains, it could be very uncomfortable in Leh Ladakh region without proper clothes; it is advised to pack heavily or accordingly while planning for a Leh-Ladakh trip.
Woollen clothes, good quality thermals, ponchos, jackets, hand gloves, wind cheaters or wind-proof jackets, and other similar clothing are mandatory while packing for a Ladakh trip in January. Also, while packing for the trip, you must not forget to keep sunglasses and other basic stuffs like skin moisturisers, lip balm, extreme quality shoes, slippers, thermos flasks, woollen socks, and other such accessories handy.
Be Flexible to Have Buffer Days in Your Itinerary:
As mentioned previously, there could be chances of mishaps taking places as January is considered as a harsh month. Keeping this in mind, it is always advisable to have extra or buffer days in your itinerary. In case there is a breakdown or unexpected blockage, you must have additional or buffer days to compensate your itinerary as planned.
Also, having buffer days would help you immensely in getting acclimatised to the higher altitudes. The more you get acclimatised to the reduced oxygen level or lower temperature level, it would be easier for you to sustain the drastic climate change while touring around Ladakh.
Rely on Certified Rental Services:
While you are in Ladakh in January, you should never rely on the regular transportation services or any other rental services. Keeping all the uncertainties in mind, going with the approved or certified transportation agencies would be best choice you can make while in here.
Also, as January is considered as a non-peak season, you may not readily get to avail rental vehicles. Early or prior bookings would be highly advisable to have comfortable and hassle-free commutation in Ladakh in January!
Plan as Smaller Groups:
While planning a trip, group size does matter a lot. At times, being in a larger group brings you some added benefits. For an instance, there are higher chances of getting additional discounts when you do a bulk booking.
However, while visiting Ladakh in January, smaller the group size, easy and convenient it becomes for you. Why? Well, being in a larger group has its own anecdotes. You need to book larger rooms that comes with an inflated price tag. Transportation also gets difficult as regular taxis won’t work for you. Adding to these, there are several other challenges that a large group would come across while in Ladakh in the month of January.
Be Mentally Prepared for Different Challenges:
Last, but not the least, you have to be mentally prepared for your trip to Ladakh in January. Once you have decided for the trip, you have to take care of so many things; to-do list, what and how to pack, places to visit, and lot more. And while doing all these, the most important thing that you should keep in mind is to maintain a healthy and sound mental state. Your mental stability and strength would take you high in the mountains, help you maintain your calmness and hold patience whenever required. If required, you should indulge in activities recommended to gain more mental strength and stability.
Why You Must Visit Ladakh in January?
Snow-ic Views all Around:
January is the time when most of Ladakh gets adorned with an enchanting layer snow. This is the time when the region turns into a celestial piece of land. Visiting Ladakh in January would take you amidst the mighty Himalayan peaks all clad in pearly-white snow. Adding more to this breath-taking experience, as these mighty snow-capped peaks kisses the clear blue sky, it creates a magical spell on the spectators. This on a whole, is no less than a magical experience; don’t ever miss it!
It Would be You and Only You:
As January is not at all close to the peak season, Ladakh witness lower influx of tourists during this month. If by any chance, you are planning for a trip in this month, you will be promised with all the beauty and splendour of Ladakh without much of the crowd. Just imagine, the majestic Himalayas, the magical views, the untouched beauty of Ladakh, and it’s just you with your group; truly divine experience!
Even Time Would Freeze Down for You:
Come January, the much sought-after Zanskar Lake along with other natural water bodies in Ladakh freezes down. During this month, no matter which part of Ladakh you are in, you would surely get to witness something or the other that has frozen down. Visit this piece of paradise in January to delve into a frozen world just like the one you get to see in movies or read in fairy tales.
Pump in Some Adrenalines:
While in Ladakh, you would never run out of options to pump in the much-needed adrenaline rush! Be it trekking over the frozen Zanskar River; popularly called as the ‘Chadar Trek’, manoeuvring through the serpentine trails, ascending up or hiking through the snowy terrains, or even descending through the steep slopes; you will surely feel the adrenaline rush that you have been waiting for till now.
What’s Not-so-Good About Visiting Ladakh in January?
Extreme Weather Conditions:
Owing to the extreme snowfall in Ladakh in the month of January, there are always a possibility of life coming to a halt. While some of the routes and passes get closed, local life usually get stagnant at times. Furthermore, due to harsh weather, electricity usually gets disrupted and makes it more complex for outsiders to handle situations. At times, as the water pipeline also freezes down, the entire town or locality might run out of fresh water supply. Mobile connectivity could also become a serious issue amidst such extreme weather conditions.
Things May Go Out of Budget:
As the prevailing conditions could take unexpected turns, the cost of commodities, transportation charges, hotel booking, and other required elements may suddenly spike up. Sustaining or overcoming such situations usually make things a bit more expensive for the outsiders.
Challenging Living Conditions:
The locals in Ladakh are used to all the harshness of the climate. However, being outsiders, you may not be prepared to sustain such changes or challenges. Considering there is not regular water supply, even completing basic routines of life might get difficult, or impossible at times. In such situations, you may have to think twice about whether to take a shower or not. Or even at times, you may have to depend entirely on instant noodles or other such fast-food options for days after days. Thus, if you plan a trip to Ladakh in January, you may have to face situations that you may have never thought of or heard about.
Suggested Route to Reach Ladakh in January: Manali to Ladakh
Simplified Ladakh Tour Itinerary for January:
Consider a tour of 9-10 days if you are planning for a Ladakh trip in January. This would also include few days to get acclimatised to high altitudes.
Day 01: Arrive in Leh and spend the entire day at total leisure.
Day 02-03: Try to stay low within your hotel room and take a stroll around the nearby places. This would help you get acclimatised to the existing climatic conditions as well as higher altitudes. If you are physically fit, one day should be enough for you to get acclimatised. However, keeping an extra buffer day would help you a lot.
Day 04: You can utilise this day to explore the nearby and distant attraction points like Magnetic Hill, Maitreya Buddha, Shanti Stupa, Lamayuru, and others.
Day 05: Join the convoy for a visit to Nubra Valley and spend overnight there to get further acclimatised.
Day 06: Utilise this day for a return journey to Leh.
Day 07: Visit Pangong Lake on this day and spend overnight there.
Day 08: Drive back to Leh.
Day 09: Try to visit Tso Moriri Lake and return back to Leh before by evening.
Day 10: You can depart Leh.
Planning a trip to Ladakh is always possible while keeping all the above-mentioned points in your mind. For some, a January trip may sound challenging, but if you a thrill seeker at heart, a trip to Ladakh in January is a must for you. However, before embarking on this trip, you must ensure you have high immunity, adaptation capabilities, both mental and physical strength, and know what to pack and what to avoid.
Also, do ensure that you make early bookings when it comes to hotel rooms, transportation options, tour guides, and other required services and facilities. Also, carry valid ID proofs, and don’t forget to show them whenever needed. Having all these covered, you will surely enjoy your Ladakh trip in January!
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