Ladakh in August
Complete Guide to Visiting Ladakh in August
Visiting Ladakh in August is absolutely possible and even more enjoyable as there is less crowd during this part of the season. In fact, Ladakh happens to be one of the best monsoon holiday destinations in India. While most of India is covered in the thick canopy of clouds and constant showers, it hardly rains in Ladakh, the reason being the entire Leh Ladakh region falling in the rain shadow zone.
Wondering what the rain shadow zone means?
As per American Meteorological Society, rain shadow is “[A] region of sharply reduced precipitation on the lee side of an orographic barrier, as compared with regions upwind of the barrier.”[REF]
In simple words it means that the mountain ranges in Leh Ladakh block rainy weather or mostly all precipitation which means almost no rain in Ladakh during monsoon.
That said, these past few years, weather in Ladakh has become a bit unpredictable due to global warming and all so be prepared for and pack accordingly if you are planning a trip to Ladakh in August.
Why Ladakh is Less Crowded in August?
One of the reasons Ladakh is less crowded in August is that travelers who plan a road trip to Ladakh mostly avoid the monsoon season. During monsoon, especially August, the water crossing on the high mountain passes on the both routes connecting Leh to the rest of India vias road become quite vicious.
Rainy weather till Keylong on Manali -Leh Highway and till Sonamarg on Srinagar - Leh Highway also makes the routes very vulnerable to landslides. That is why people planning their road trip to Ladakh mostly avoid this season. The most convenient way to reach Ladakh in August is by flight. Hence, Ladakh is relatively less crowded at this time of the year.
Once you arrive in Ladakh though, the chances that you’ll witness rain is absolutely infinitesimal. You can explore all the tourist places in Ladakh comfortably. Both taxi rides and hired motorcycles from Leh are options available to you to explore destinations like Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Nubra Valley, Lamayuru, Shyok Valley etc.
The Good Thing About Traveling to Ladakh in August
Both the highways, Srinagar-Leh and Manali-Leh, remain open in August. Remember that Ladakh is a rain shadow region which means this high altitude cold desert in the Himalayas blocks the rain cloud, and thus, only drizzles to light rain are faced in Ladakh. In August, both the routes to reach Ladakh brims with lush greenery that will blow your mind for sure.
From a sightseeing point of view, there will hardly be any activity you can’t do in Ladakh in August, from river rafting to trekking to masked dances in monasteries. Even the internal roads connecting famous tourist attractions in Leh Ladakh like Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, and Tso Moriri Lake are also open. Accommodation in Ladakh in August is also not a problem. All the accommodation options, including homestays to hotels, remain open for tourists.
Usually, the monsoon in Ladakh lasts for two months - July and August. In the first half of August, rainfall starts in Kashmir and Himachal, connecting Ladakh via Srinagar-Leh, and Manali-Leh Highway! By the end of August, the monsoon would mostly be gone! You will find a clear sky, pleasant weather, and fresh mountain air to breathe in - Cold air starts showing its presence in Ladakh in August which can be felt by you if you don’t take your winter clothes.
The Tough Thing About Traveling to Leh Ladakh in August
The untold truth about traveling to Ladakh in August is that a road journey is a tough call. Both the highways to reach Leh Ladakh, Srinagar-Leh, and Manali-Leh become challenging to drive because of water streams and landslides. If you arrive at Leh from the Srinagar side, you will find downpour troubling up till Zojila Pass and from Manali up till Baralachala Pass.
There might be a temporary roadblock anywhere on the highway if rain showers often or more than 3-4 hours (approx.). But relax, the Border Road of Organization (BRO) clears the route as soon as they can for vehicular movement.
Why should you plan your trip towards the later half of August if you are planning to visit Ladakh by road?
Independence Day Checking
You need to keep additional days as a buffer in the Ladakh itinerary because if you go by the first week of August before Independence Day, you would need to take a halt at several check posts.
Indian Army Officials are on their duty with full alertness. They don't let any vehicle pass through both the highways, especially Srinagar Leh Highway, because of the curfews and disturbance in the Kashmir Valley! So if you are traveling to Leh via Kashmir, be prepared to cooperate with the Indian Armed Forces.
Whereas you will hardly find any patrolling by the Indian Army on Manali-Leh Highway in Ladakh in August 2021. This clearly signifies Manali to Leh Highway does not have many stopovers or halt points.
Also, the mobile connectivity may get affected during Independence weekend while traveling to Leh Ladakh in August 2021 via Srinagar-Leh Highway. So we would recommend you plan your Ladakh trip via bike or car in the second half of August (after Independence Day). If you still want to travel via the Srinagar-Leh route, keep 2-3 additional days in your itinerary.
By August, you will come across water streams taking a toll on your journey as the streams are well fed by melted snow and rain showers. You will find such water streams on both the highways, including the internal roads within Leh, where vehicular movement is observed.
Those who plan their Ladakh journey via bike should wear rubber sandals instead of shoes to avoid wetting their feet at water crossings. Someone coming via car should bring a good ground clearance car to easily cross the challenging water streams.
Ladakh by Bike in August?
You can plan a road trip to Ladakh in August by bike but follow the following guidelines to overcome the monsoon hassle. You must carry a waterproof bag so that you can carry all your clothes. If not, then make sure that you wrap your bags in plastic cover carefully to avoid your clothes and stuff getting wet.
In fact, when packing your clothes, wrap your clothes in plastic bags and then put them in bags for extra precaution. This is helpful even if you are traveling to Ladakh on motorcycle at any time of the year as water crossings and unexpected rains are a given on such long routes.
Also, you need to wrap your electric items and motorbike documents nicely in a plastic sheet all the time if you're on a bike. As you know, Ladakh is a rainshadow region, but the roads that you will take are prone to heavy rains on both routes.
It is absolutely necessary that you carry a good quality full covering raincoat if you are traveling to Ladakh by Bike to prevent yourself from getting wet. Waterproof shoes and gloves are also a must.
Last but not the least, if you are taking the Manali route for your Ladakh trip by motorcycle, make sure that you carry spare fuel with you. The last fuel station on this highway is located in Tandi which is at a distance of approx. 367 kilometers away from Leh town.
Srinagar Leh Highway or Manali Leh Highway. Which is Better?
In every sense, be it acute mountain sickness, road conditions, and petrol pump availability, Srinagar-Leh Highway beats the Manali Leh Highway. But keep in mind that the Srinagar route due to Kashmir Valley is heavily occupied with the Indian Armed Forces.
It can go under lockdown at any time if the Army officials feel there is something suspicious going on in the valley.
If you are planning a road trip to Ladakh either by bike or a 4 wheeler in the month of August, it is better that you avoid this route or keep at least 2-3 days spare with you. As mentioned previously, the level of security, random checkings, additional checkposts etc. are set up keeping in mind the Independence Day celebrations.
That said, Srinagar to Leh Highway still makes more sense to those who haven’t been to high altitude regions before as this route is best for acclimatization.
A Complete Guide to Planning a Trip via Manali - Leh Highway
A Complete Guide to Planning a Trip via Srinagar - Leh Highway
Will Hotels and Homestays in Ladakh Be Operational in August?
Yes. All the hotels and homestays in Ladakh remain operational in August.
Hotels and homestays in Leh town remain operational throughout the year and the holestays, camaps, chadar tents and resorts etc. start opening in Nubra Valley, Tso Mosriri and Pangong Tso from mid June itself. It is only in early/mid November that the locals start packing their stuff and descend to lower altitude places during the winter.
If you are planning a trip to Ladakh in August, keep in mind that it is quite a busy season from a tourism point of view. You may need to book your accommodation in advance as most of the camps, hotels may get pre-booked. Homestays don’t usually get booked in advance but then they are available on a first come first served basis so it's a risky proposition. You can’t take the risk of going directly and finding accommodation. So you should choose your accommodation in advance.
However, if you still want to book your accommodation on the spot, don’t worry as even if you run out of all these options, Chadar Tents are still a cheap option for you to spend the night. But do mind that these tents offer no privacy as they accommodate 5-10 guests.
What Will Be the Weather and Temperature in Ladakh in August?
The weather and temperature of Ladakh in August will allow you to lose yourself in the serene and tranquil ambiance of mighty mountains. You will feel cold at night, so carry warm clothes. Expect light rain showers on both Manali to Leh and Srinagar to Leh Highway. As you will reach close to Leh, downpour chances reduce gradually. In August, the average temperature of Ladakh will fluctuate between 15°C - 20°C (approx.) in day hours and drop by 5°C after dusk.
Visiting Ladakh in August? Follow These Travel Tips
- Take Srinagar-Leh Highway after 15th August
- Spend 2-3 days (approx.) to acclimatize yourself
- Carry sufficient sunscreen and take hats
- Nights would be cold so carry warm clothes
- Drive safely on Khardung La or Chang La Pass due to the probability of snowfall in August
- Heavy rainfall might hamper the road journey at Baralacha La, Khardung La, and Zoji La
- Which of the two routes, Srinagar-Leh and Manali-Leh, will you take to reach Leh Ladakh in August?
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