1. Over-confidence is your biggest enemy, so keep it away!!
Never be overconfident that you are master of driving, you have done Rohtang Pass ‘x’ number of times, you are a champ driver in plains etc. because driving to Ladakh especially via Manali – Leh Highway could be one of the strangest and adventurous drive you will ever undertake in life. Never think that any overlying stone will not hit the underbelly, never think that the road ahead is straight as an arrow like runway and you can cruise through it etc. Such a thinking can get you/your vehicle stranded in the middle of nowhere for hours to up to days.
Even the smoothest and straightest of the roads, which look like super fine, newly laid tarmac are washed in between or have sudden bumps in them which can badly hurt your vehicle. If you see a big rock lying in between on-road especially at sections with loose gravel then it is always you better step out and throw it away to make your way instead of taking any chance and getting your car’s underbelly hurt with it.
2. Never rush through any tricky section of the road:
Whenever, you are in doubt about some rough section of the road, maybe landslide section or pathetically rough road or a water crossing etc. then never, ever rush through it. Rather, carefully analyze that section by parking your vehicle aside and judging the situation. Try to see how other vehicles are crossing that section. And, if required, check/inspect the trouble section on your foot to prepare an exit route through it in your mind. Then finally go for it.
3. Know Your Vehicle Well:
It is very important to know about your vehicle because you might find some of the stretches or sections of the road which are not possible to cross without a hit or scratches under-belly, especially with hatchbacks and sedans.
In such, situations you need to know which parts of the underbelly of your car you might need to protect especially oil sump (which you need to protect all around the trip) and which parts you can let get hit from below or have some scratches.
4. Do Not Use Heaters:
Use of heaters should be avoided at any cost especially at the places like Manali – Leh Highway and Ladakh because the warm air by heater destroys the levels of oxygen content present inside and can make breathing very difficult and aggravate the AMS Symptoms.
5. Do Not Drink & Drive:
Should be first and foremost, but still, PLEASE do not take booze/drink at all while you are driving in the Himalayas, especially the Manali – Leh Highway which runs above 14000 feet at the major portion of it. Drinking means you will have some real trouble in getting acclimatized with alcohol in your belly 🙂 and of course, will create the lapse in concentration while driving. You already know the other perils of drunk driving apart from being a legal offense.
6. Always Help Others:
While traveling in the mighty Himalayas, you must always help other people stuck on their way with whatever you can offer, be it a lift, push, pull, fuel, spares, rope etc. because the help is always hard to find especially at places like Manali – Leh Highway, Changthang or other remote routes of Ladakh.
Do not forget, this can happen to you at the very next turn and it does not feel much good when someone comes after hours and passes by without offering any help. So, please always help others who are in need. It actually defines the spirit of Traveller inside you.
A. Essentials and other Spare Parts:
On a self-drive to Ladakh/ SPITI trip, one should always try to carry:
B. Certain important Points for Leh Ladakh Road Trip:
All these routes can be covered in a lesser time than mentioned, but we suggest stopping and taking the enthralling views.
There is neither hurry to rush and reach anywhere in the valley, so drive slowly.Listen to the locals for advice as they know the valleys better than a traveler. Don’t drive at night as first you will miss the views and it is really risky. And if your vehicle breaks down there is nobody to help around for miles.
Spend a day or two at Leh, to get acclimatized for the higher altitudes. Prepare yourself for AMS (Acute mountain sickness) which can vary just from a mild headache to breathlessness. If one is feeling severe restlessness, look for the immediate help at the nearest shack or with BRO. For certain areas in the valley, you need to take the Inner Line Permit. Always have a day or two buffers in Leh Ladakh road trip, as one never knows neither can predict about the present and future situation of roads and landslides here.
Get your vehicles fuelled up at Leh as the next fuel station is available at Tandi, 365 km from Keylong. For covering Tso Moriri and Tso Kar on the way from Pangong Lake, do carry extra fuel; at least 20 liters or even more. If you are planning to go Tso Kar directly from Pangong lake (which is 7-8 hrs journey), on the way you will cross Taglang La which is the world’s second highest pass at an altitude 17,582 feet. Drink lots of water and say complete no to drinks while driving and during your whole Leh Ladakh road trip. This is for the safety as well as helps to get acclimatized Don’t litter around in the valley.
The idea of Leh Ladakh road trip itself means being in the lap of nature; away from the daily hustle bustle and social media. We simply mean that here there is no network. If you want to be in continuous touch with your family and friends do carry a BSNL sim. ATM services are available at Srinagar, Leh and then at Keylong. So carry enough cash during your Leh Ladakh road trip and keep some as a buffer. There are a lot of options for accommodations. Luckily, we got the nice accommodation everywhere without booking but we recommend to have pre-bookings for Leh Ladakh road trip.
In between, there are multiple shacks to enjoy maggi, tea, coffee, paranthas, omelet etc. These shacks do provide homestays too at very reasonable rates. There are washrooms at the shacks for nature’s call and one needs to shell 5 -10 Rs each time.