Northern India 

My boyfriend and I originally wanted to go to India in December to skip the harsh Belgian winter. Visiting Northern India, with an average temperature of minus 10 degrees, wasn't the obvious choice. After a lot of thinking and rescheduling we decided to go there anyway. Five days of freezing-our-toes-off was no match for this breathtaking place.


LEH - LADAKH 

Leh's nature is incredible! And in winter, there's literally not a single tourist in the entire area. The cold, heavy rain- and snowfall cause serious transportation problems. Inbetween seasons the army does a great job keeping the roads clear, but in wintertime they just give up. The only way to get to Leh at that time is by plane. Once you reach the city, the roads are ok. Do leave some room in your schedule for a surprise or two.


As usual, we got lucky ;) Sunny days and little to no snowfall. If the weather is nice, the only thing you need to consider is 'mountain illness' (Leh is 3500 meters above sea level). I really recommend staying in Leh the first day! Originally, I didn't believe in mountain illness, but after this trip I (unfortunately) had to change my mind. Headache and nausea will kick in the first 24 to 48 hours. 

After a nap and a couple bottles of water, we went for a walk in town and calmly climbed the stairs to Leh's palace for a wonderful view over the city. Because the lack of tourists, there's only few restaurants open. The best restaurant we found was 'Summer harvest'. Food was delicious and crazy cheap! Certainly try the 'chilly honey babycorn'. You wont be disappointed!

 


AROUND LEH

The second day, still slightly dizzy, we fixed a taxi for some sightseeing around Leh. We stopped at the crossing of the Indus and Zanskar river. Definitely one of my favorite views in the area. After that spectacular break, the taxi driver drove us to magnetic hill. This is a 'gravity hill'. The scenery and surrounding slopes creates an optical illusion. For example, Cars or other objects may appear to be rolling uphill when they in fact aren't. Last but not least we visited the 'Thiksey Monastery'.  It's a gompa (Buddhist monastery) located on top of a hill in the Indus valley.



NUBRA VALLEY 

The next morning we woke up feeling much better. So we called our driver to take us a little further. I wanted to hire a car at first, but the roads are too dangerous to drive when unexperienced. We really needed an expert. Certainly for this particular road, one of the highest motorable roads in the world (Khardung La', 5.359m). 

When you want to visit Nubra valley you'll need a permit. Our hotel was kind enough to arrange all that for us. We left very early in the morning. It was only a 15O kilometer drive, however very mountainous and dangerous. It took us nearly 5 hours to get to our destination. 

On our way we enjoyed beautiful landscapes and visited a second monastery (Diskit monastry) with a massive Buddha on top of the hill. The views were absolutely stunning.

Finally arriving in Nubra Valley, we went for a walk through the desert of Hunder. This plateau is covered with white sand dunes formed by wind, time and erosion. To bad it didn't come with the desert heat :)  

Tip: during summer there are plenty of bactrian camels in the white desert. Rent one and go for a walk! The camels are a lot different then the ones you're familiar with. They have long hair which looks pretty funny. Surprisingly the camels disappear during winter.


PANGONG TSO LAKE

This lake is insane! The kind you can stare at forever. As a pleasant result of the off-season, we were the only ones there, which made it even more beautiful. There's only one restaurant open in winter. We had noodles and black tea for only 1 euro. Only one third of the lake is located in India. The rest belongs to China. There's a road around the lake which guides you all the way up there if you like. 


While driving, you'll be constantly surprised by the amazing scenery...


If you are a nature lover, do not hesitate and go visit this place. You will not be disappointed.  If you got any questions, you're always welcome to send me an email. Cheers!