Ladakh Range Warnings and Dangers
The Ladakh Range dangers in India include hazardous roads and extreme weather. Use these tips to stay safe.
Acute Mountain Sickness
Acute Mountain Sickness, or altitude sickness, is a very real possibility because of the high altitude in the Ladakhi Range. Leh itself stands at 3500 meters. Early symptoms include listlessness, headaches, and nausea. The last sign is death. Take this seriously. People die every year because they don’t.
The only therapy is to acclimatize yourself. Have very low ambitions of what you want to do the first days. Spend at least three days in the town to acclimatize before venturing out on any trek (many use this time to tour the monasteries/palaces). Don’t be goaded into a rushed itinerary.
Drink a lot of water. A good rule of thumb is to drink three liters of water a day and an additional liter for every 1000 meters you elevate. So, your first day in Leh, five liters is the minimum you should drink. Avoid smoking and don’t even think of consuming alcohol.
Dangerous Roads and Signs
Whether you’re driving or riding illegally on top of a crowded bus, navigating the steep mountain roads of the Ladakh Range is dangerous. Kardung La is the highest motorable road in the world; at the top it reaches 5602 meters above sea level. The eight kilometers before and after the Taglang La Pass are a gravel strip next to an abyss. You’ll need four-wheel-drive. In summer, rain or bad weather can wash cars off the road, so pay attention. Attempting to drive this pass in winter is equal to suicide. Blow your horn when approaching curves. You will often only have an inch or two to spare when passing a truck or bus. If you travel on a bus roof, beware of falling rocks and stones! Notices affixed to rocks warn of the danger with phrases like: “speed thrills but kills,” “fast won’t last” and, “mountains are a pleasure if you drive with leisure.” Heed their sage warnings.
Extreme Sunshine and Cold
It may be cold, but the sunshine is still very strong…so do as the Ladakhis do and wear a cap! The altitude ensures that sunrays are much stronger than on the Indian plains. Add sun protection cream to your nose, neck, and ears in particular. Places like Drass are among the coldest spots in Asia. Temperatures are capable of dipping to minus 50 degrees Celcius. Dress and plan accordingly for extreme conditions.
Watch out for the guard dogs in farm yards. They are there to protect the property from intruders. They do the job well. At night, ferocious dogs roam Leh’s streets.
Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about warnings and dangers in the Ladakh Range.