Travelling to Leh-Ladakh is one of the most cherished dreams for many. Experiencing the sights of vast and desolate expanse of hills and valleys combined with the thrilling experience of enduring the harsh climate is one of its kind adventure. While some people suggest summers to be the best time to visit the place when the weather is most exciting and amiable, when the snow has melted and there is a buzz of activity with the colorful and vibrant Hemis Festival taking place.
On the other hand, according to some, winters have their own charm when only a handful of travelers visit the place and the site is all covered with snow and the views are most breathtaking. This also the time when one of the most adventurous treks of the world, the Chadar-Trek, over the majestic and frozen Zanskar River is underway. But nevertheless, each time of the year has its own allure and deciding between the best times to visit the place often becomes confusing.
If this seems to be the case with you then the information underwritten would be a great help. Check out following info for the best time to visit Leh - Ladakh and plan your trip according to this majestic place.
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April marks the beginning of tourist season in Ladakh when the place begins to warm up with tourist activity. Restaurants open, hotels and guest houses start to welcome guest and various camps at sites such as Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri Lake commence to set up. Usually by the second week of May, the crucial Srinagar-Leh highway opens up leading to a flurry of tourism energy into Ladakh.
By late April, all the lakes including the Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri begin to melt, uncovering the beautiful colors and fabulous sights. In order to welcome more guests, hotels and guesthouses offer heavy discounts, benefitting all the travelers who happens to be present here around this time. However, both Khardung La and Chang La passes are still under the snow and it’s a memorable experience in itself to pass through them.
During this time, one will only find Srinagar-Leh highway opened and this is just not the right occasion to complete the circuit. But in June beginning, Manali road opens up along with Rohtang Pass, however, the starting 7-10 days are really not suitable for travel since area experiences snow slides and recurring blockages. In the time of this short window, just before the monsoons, it is really cool and alluring to travel to Ladakh due to the amazing weather.
The roads are flanked by high snow walls around Rohtang and sometimes Baralacha Pass too and there are many other incredible views of pervading snow to enjoy. However, due to rapid melting, the roads and paths are wet with gushing waters, so much so that sometimes it becomes really hard to cross them.
At this time, the monsoons are in full swing and rivers, puddle and water crossings are full with flow. Travelling during this period can be risky and dangerous as landslides are common. However, the area beyond Zoji La Pass, in the direction of Leh from Srinagar and further from Baralacha Pass, towards Leh from Manali side is a rain shadow area and do not receive much showers. But definitely the path won’t be easy up to Baralacha la from the side of Manali and Zojila Pass from the Srinagar side.
Nevertheless, even the climate of this rain-shadow area is changing with time and there have been rains in Ladakh too or intermittent overcast conditions but nothing drastic has happened till now.
This is one of the best seasons of all for visiting the amazing and picturesque locations of Leh and Ladakh as the place is imbued in wonderful colors in all their glory right up thorough the Srinagar-Leh as well as Manali-Leh roads. After monsoons, the flowing waters recedes too much extent and the weather is dry with a beginning chill and occasional snowfall.
Moreover, the road conditions are better and the maintenance work is also settled by this time. Various water bodies surrounding the locations turn aqua blue and the place is brimming with astonishing beauty. Raid-De Himalayas Rally open up and can prove to be disturbing for regular travelers. While some camps at the site have packed up and closed some are still running. Overall, to witness the real beauty of the place, this is just the right span to pay a visit.
By this time the cold has completely taken over the area with the place experiencing sub-zero temperatures at all locations above 14,000 ft. Almost all of the tourists have deserted the place with only few ones remaining to brave the chill. Most of the hotels, guesthouses, restaurants are closed while even locals have moved back, abandoning the place till winters.
Although Srinagar-Leh and Manali-Leh highways remain open, it is usually not advisable to travel through them due to extreme chill and also due to the presence of black-ice which begins to appear towards the end of October and continuing till early winters, usually vanishing during the winter season.
This is the coldest seasons of all in Ladakh when the region is completely cut-off from rest of the India by road, although roads to Pangong Tso Lake and Nubra Valley over KhardungLa Pass and Chang La Pass are kept open all round the year, leaving few days of snowfall. From Mid-January to Mid-March is also the time when many adventure tourists arrive in Ladakh for the famous Chadar Trek, involving walk over the frozen Zanskar River.
The conditions at this time are that of extreme cold and there is frequent snowfall which makes survival and acclimatization difficult. One of the major highlight of your visit during this time is the changing colors of Pangong Tso Lake and Tso Moriri which happens from November to December/mid-January. After this, the Lakes of Ladakh get completely frozen with solid ice and one can even easily walk on them.
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