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Ladakh Trips

We recommend

You probably already known our preference for homestays over hotels after having read this. We are budget travellers who don’t mind spending a little extra once in a while for special food&drink, adventure sports or a unique experience. If your outlook towards similar to ours, the is post might interest you.

Places to stay:

Manali

Manali is really crowded, right round the year and the traffic is a mess. We suggest you go couple of kms ahead into Vashist instead. Vashist has a variety of options for accommodation.  The cheapest can be found near the main temple/hot spring area. Places like Kalpataru Guesthouse & Om Guesthouse are hot favourites with students and firang budget travelers, so it could be tough to find a room in peak season.

 

As you travel through the Manali -Leh Highway you will find numerous dhabas that let you rest there, you can even get a warm bed for Rs.100 a night.

 

Keylong

Keylong is the last major town on the route. Here you can find ATMs, mechanics,bars,rooms with hot showers etc.

We stayed at one of the hotels spelt Geyspa/Jispa. You have your New Geypsa, Old Geyspa, Geysspa Deluxe and so on. Now I don’t remember which of these it was but it was at Subhash chowk, right in front of the statue. The hotel has decent rooms, hot water and a restaurant.

Leh

Leh ha everything from luxurious villas, to cheap hostels. Our first choice was Palace view guesthouse, but  they were fully booked the night we landed in Leh so we chose to stay in a guesthouse that lent out a bed for Rs.100 a night. The only problem though was the lack of hot water.

We recommend you stay Palace View Guesthouse. They have both rooms and dorms, so it won’t be too heavy on your pocket, is a nice clean place and has hot water.

Panamik

The hot spring guesthouse at Panamik is run by a nice little family and more importantly is barely a few meters from the hot springs. The rooms are spacious and clean, bathrooms are tiled and airy & the food is tasty. Enough said.

Pangong Tso

You’ll find many  luxury tents and camps all round  Pangong, with tariff going up to Rs.5000 per night. The homestays in comparison offer you a roof for anywhere between Rs.100-500 depending on the size of the room.

We stayed at the Padma Guest house & Homestay at Spangmik. They were constructing a large tented structure while we were there. That could be a nice camping option if you are traveling in a large group.

 

Tso Moriri

Just like Pangong, Tso Moriri has many luxury camping options and quite a few budget homestay/guesthouses as well.

The Mentok guesthouse in Korzok is a good option. They have a western toilet but it is a common toilet, so you have to wait your turn. Tso Moriri receives very little electricity so the lights go off pretty early, but you can always borrow a candle.

 

 

We spent the night in a car at Turtuk, so we really can’t recommend any accommodation at Turtuk.

-Akshay

 

 

Categories
Ladakh Trips

Chandratal-Part 2

Thankfully, our decision to spend the night at the mouth of the glacier didn’t backfire, the next morning the snow had hardened up enough for the car to pass through .

We drove on for a couple of miles, before hitting Bhatal, a tiny settlement comprising a grand total of two dhabas and five permanent residents. This junction hamlet is the only rest-stop enroute Kaza and Chandratal.

We stepped in to one of the dhabas, stretched our legs, shared our story, ingested some much needed and completely cooked food.

This is where the real story starts. We had mentioned that we were passing through and were headed to Kaza, to the gentleman who runs the dhaba, but he had recommended that way stay the night, get some rest, check out Chandratal and then head to Kaza. As soon as he said Chandratal and talked about its beauty, something happened and the wheels in all our heads started churning. For some strange reason, we decided we’d head to Chandratal right away, he told us the road was tough, it was a long walk etc. A bunch of healthy and physically superior looking foreigners who had done the trek, the previous day also shared their experience, they said we had to walk for roughly 5 hrs one way.

 

All this however  didn’t seem to matter to us, we were setting a trap for ourselves through our sheer stupidity. I guess in my head I was thinking, if they walked for so long, we could drive there in much lesser time(despite being told that the road was closed). Anyway the long and short of it is, we took off.

We barely went 3kms up the road from Bhatal, when we hit an ice-wall and that was it, we had to go on foot from there on. That should have shocked us out of trance but it didn’t. We were in awe of the surroundings, it was looking wonderful and we had dreams of a wonderful afternoon. Slowly as started walking further down the road, we quiet naturally started feeling hungry, it was only then that we realised, that being the fools that we were we didn’t get anything packed and all we had were two packs of glucose biscuits. Nevertheless, we kept walking, thinking there’d be a tea stall or something at the lake and we’d get by.

 

As we kept going higher, the air was getting thinner, the climb tougher, we slowed down, Soumik was almost dying, his back was acting up. We walked on, and the hills and streams kept teasing us, before every turn it seemed like this was it, every few meters a stream flowed, suggesting that the lake would be behind this hill, but no, there were series of such turns for us to negotiate.

Our spirits finally did break, we had been walking for close to 5 hrs now and the lake was nowhere to be seen. It was around 3 in the afternoon and we had to make a choice, do we walk on until we find the lake or do we turned around and reach the car before its dark. We did neither, we took a power nap.

 

When we woke up a few minutes later, it was warm and sunny, but we decided that it was best we turn around, we were anyway going to come back a few weeks later, we’d be better prepared then and hopefully the road would be cleared by then.

A few minutes into our return, the weather took a turn for the worse, first it was the howling mountain wind, it ways making it difficult to breathe and the strong head wind wasn’t making walking easier either. Then came the clouds, bringing the temperature down and finally rain and snow.

 

We had to make a run for it, else we could’ve been stranded. We were even looking for shelter, a cave, an over hanging, something that would protect us in the worst case scenario, but nothing, zilch, we were out there battling the forces of nature, equipped only with our woolens and some biscuit crumbs.

 

All of us set our own pace, and kept walking, we didn’t talk to each other much, we’d on occasion look up or look behind to see that the rest of us were still alive. Kashan, was in the front and he seemed to keep increasing the lead on Soumik and I, every time I looked up.

I was in the middle, I didn’t sit down to take a rest on the way back, for I knew that if I sat down, I would probably give up. If I had to rest, I did it standing up or leaning against a rock.

Soumik was bringing up the rear and was zombie like, a couple of times it looked like, his legs would buckle under him any minute. Thankfully he kept walking, I could see he was struggling, I stopped and handed him an extra pair of woolens and gloves, he gleefully accepted them and seemed to be doing better. I decided to walk with him, even if it meant slowing down, because I was afraid he’d collapse.

It wasn’t so much that I was concerned about him, it was more to avoid the double effort of walking back if he actually did.

I was reminded of a quote/motto of an army battalion back home (the bisons they were called) in Hyderabad “Bash on regardless” . Guess that was kept me going.

We eventually made it back to the car safely, we were very lucky though, had the weather been worse, who knows what could’ve happened.

While its true that “Darr ke agey jeet hai”, it is no excuse for faux bravery and pure stupidity. Overcoming your fears is good but disregarding common sense and sound advice is not. Always plan well.

 

-Akshay