Ladakh is a place like no other. There are plenty of attractions in Leh Ladakh which are full of extreme untouched beauty. Ladakh with a unique characteristic that is a mixture of Indian, Tibetan and Buddhist inlays is a place worth visiting. You must choose the best timing to enjoy your Leh Ladakh tour.
1. Leh Ladakh in April to mid May
April is the month when tourists or travelers from all parts of the world start arriving in Ladakh. Restaurants are starting to either open or prepare for the upcoming season. Similarly, guesthouses and campsites are starting to emerge near the Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri lakes. By the second week of May, the Srinagar Leh highway usually opens and an influx of tourists starts reaching Ladakh. Supplies flow along with fresh vegetables and fruits. Life in Ladakh is thus getting back to normal.
By the end of April, all the lakes including Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri will begin to melt, and by mid-May they will melt completely and begin to radiate ever-beautiful shades of blue under the sunlight.
2. Leh Ladakh in May-June-July
As they say, you will most likely only have Srinagar – Leh open in May, so if you are interested in doing the full circuit, it is not the right time. In early June or late May, the Manali route opens with the opening of the Rohtang Pass. In the initial 7-10 days, the roads are quite unstable with regular snow drifts and there are also occasional road closures, but gradually it settles down. And mid-June to July just before the onset of the monsoon season is a very nice time to travel and indeed many people make the journey to Ladakh only in this particular window.
3. Leh Ladakh in August
In August, the monsoons are in full swing and the rivers and water crossings are furious when it rains. Landslides are also common during this period. However, there is a catch that the area beyond Zozi La pass towards Leh from Srinagar side and beyond Baralacha La pass towards Leh from Manali side as the rain shadow area is not much affected by rains.
But you will definitely face monsoon troubles till Baralacha La pass from Manali side and Zozila pass from Srinagar side. Of course, as has happened in the last few years, Rohtang Pass and Zojila will most likely be a nightmare during this period.
4. Leh Ladakh in September to October
Personally, this is the most popular season to travel to Ladakh with vibrant and blazing colors everywhere in full glory. After the monsoon, the rain disappears in the region and it starts to cool down with occasional light snowfall.
However, Autumn/Autumn colors are almost ablaze with beauty all over Srinagar Leh Road, Manali Leh Road and of course all over Ladakh including Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri & Nubra Valley. Road conditions have also improved significantly compared to the rest of the season. You will witness the best roads of the season as the maintenance will also settle in by then. The best time to drive to Ladakh is if you are driving a small car like a hatchback or a sedan to Ladakh.
5. Leh Ladakh in November
The period of late October and November is when the cold sets in completely in the Trans Himalayas with sub-zero temperatures almost everywhere above 14,000 feet, especially over the Manali Leh Highway and the high altitude lakes. However, the colors are still beautiful in the region, the tourists have almost left and only a few brave ones remain.
Most guest houses, hotels and restaurants are closed at this time, along with the campsites at Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri lakes, which are full during the last week of September. Dhabhas and camps on the Manali Leh Highway are also deserted and locals are going to their homes to prepare for hibernation in the cold winters.
6. Leh Ladakh during December to January to February to March
This season is the coldest in Ladakh where January is the coldest month of all seasons and Ladakh is cut off from the rest of the world by road. There are only a few brave and daring hikers around, although the roads to Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso Lake via Khardung La Pass and Chang La Pass are open all year round, except for a few days of heavy snowfall.
Late January to February is also the time when many adventure tourists come to Leh Ladakh to trek across the frozen Zanskar River from Padum in the Zanskar Valley to Leh, popularly known as the Chadar Trek.
During this period, you are at the mercy of extreme cold. Snowfall is also quite common and blends with the high altitude terrain; it makes life difficult for survival as well as acclimatization. The key is to rest, get enough rest in the first few days. Then gradually start to overcome other high mountain places. Food options are minimal and most of the restaurant’s lives are deserted because their chef is at home.