Ladakh, one of India’s top adventure destinations,is known for its dramatic landscape of arid deserts, barren brown mountains and colourful lakes, along with the remote villages bustling with rich cultural heritage.
It is a perfect escape into the lap of the Himalayas, offering a marvellous blend of majestic beauty and adrenaline-inducing adventure. And no Ladakh trip is complete without at least a night spent in cosy tents at remote locations under the starry skies of Ladakh!
While camping at Ladakh, you are treated to the breathtaking Ladakhi landscape of sprawling deserts flanked by lofty Himalayan peaks, serenely sitting in stark contrast to the deep blue sky. And that’s not all, there are the ancient bubbling rivers originating from the snowy glaciers of the Upper Himalayas along with many lakes, some small,some massive, that change their colour with the moving sun.>
And along with this magnificent beauty, there are quaint and remote villages known for their hospitality and culture. You can visit these villages and spend some time with the locals, experience their remote lifestyle and friendly humour while also exploring the rich culture and heritage that is a gorgeous mix of Indo-Tibetan cultures. Don’t forget to visit the historic monasteries that sit silently, overlooking the vast vistas of Ladakh.
Ladakh has many locations where you can go camping, some are located in remote valleys, some on the banks of lakes and some along the high-altitude roads. Depending on your preference and what you want to experience while camping in Ladakh, you can go to one of these campsites - or to all of them! Here are some of the top camping sites in Ladakh:
Located at an altitude of 14,270 feet, Pangong Lake is one of the most famous campsites in Ladakh. With one-third of it being in India and the rest in China, the lake is massive, offering grand panoramic views. You get to see the lake change its colour as the sun crosses over to the other side, and along with this are the imposing Himalayan mountains and barren Ladakhi desert all around you. This serene stillness is a truly breathtaking experience. And as soon as the sun descends behind the Himalayas, you get to see thousands of stars gracing the sky with their shimmer.
While camping at Pangong Lake, you will also get to see some rare birds like the bar-headed goose and the Brahmini duck. To make you camping at Pangong Lake trip more exciting, you can head to Tangste Gompa that is known for its splendid views, or you can head to the monasteries of Thiksey, Hemis and Stakna. And if you are feeling adventurous, then you can head to the high-altitude pass of Chang La, one the world’s highest motorable roads.
NOTE: For camping at Pangong Lake you need the Inner Line Permit if you are an Indian citizen and the Protected Area Permit if you are a foreign citizen.
Incredible views of the Ladakhi vistas is what the campsites at Nubra Valley are known for. You get to see the lofty Himalayan mountains, barren deserts of Ladakh along with the lushness of Nubra, and the swift rivers of Nubra and Shyok. All of this makes camping in Nubra an idyllic experience full of delightful ambience, making for an unforgettable trip.
One of the highlights of camping in Nubra is that you cross Khardung La, one of the world’s highest motorable roads, just before arriving in the valley. While camping, you can head to Hunder to see the terrific sand dunes or to Panamik to bathe in the hot springs. You should also visit the shimmering Yarab Lake along with the historic monasteries of Esna and Diskit.
NOTE: For camping in Nubra Valley, you need the Inner Line Permit if you are an Indian citizen and the Protected Area Permit if you are a foreign citizen.
Sarchu, located at an altitude of 14,070, is nestled deep within the Himalayas between Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh on the Manali-Leh highway. It is flanked by two high altitude passes, Baralacha La to the south and Lachulung La to the north. Though there aren’t many activities at Sarchu, camping here is an experience in itself. While camping in Sarchu, you are treated to the incredible view of Ladakh dotted here and there with oasis-like lakes and the sparkling river of Tsarap Chu, along with the towering Himalayan peaks on all sides. This is a perfect campsite to spend the night in if you are going to Leh from Manali by road.
Ladakh is the perfect haven for adventure lovers and thrill-seeker. While camping in Ladakh, you can book many adventure activities in Ladakh that let you experience the stark beauty of the landscape through a unique perspective that only a few get to see. Here are some of the top adventure activities that you can do while camping in Ladakh:
Ladakh has some of India’s best rafting routes that give you an exciting experience along with showcasing the stark Ladakhi landscape from a different perspective. Rafting in Ladakh is unlike anything else as you get to conquer massive rapids and brace against the freezing waters while enjoying the dramatic scenery of towering mountains, sprawling deserts and quaint villages.
The two major rafting rivers in Ladakh are the Zanskar and Indus rivers that flow across Ladakh and meet at Nimmo. There are various sub-sections of routes on both the rivers offering a variety of rafting options, from easy sections with Grade I to II rapids, perfect for beginners to some of the most challenging rafting routes of Asia that include Grade IV and V rapids that should only be attempted by experienced rafters. These wild rivers along with the magnificent landscape make Ladakh river rafting an unparalleled experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
What better way to explore a place than on two wheels? If you think the same, then motorbiking tours in Ladakh are for you! These tours take you across the arid landscape of Ladakh, over some of the highest motorable roads in the world, to some of the remotest villages of the country. All of this on two wheels!
Ladakh is also where your motorbiking skills are tested, with many off-road routes, river crossings, high-altitude roads with sheer drops on the side and the piercing cold wind. There are three major Ladakh biking routes, one that starts from Manali and takes you to Leh, the other that starts from Srinagar and takes you across Ladakh to Manali, or the shortest one that begins and ends in Leh. Depending on your preference, you can book Ladakh motorbiking packages to suit your plans or itinerary.
Ladakh is home some of India’s top trekking routes that cut across the desolate desert and take you deep into the Himalayas to some of the highest passes and mountains of India, and into heavenly valleys of lush orchids. In Ladakh, there are treks for everyone from beginners to experienced.
If you are a beginner, you can go for the Sham Valley trek that takes you to the apricot orchards of the valley and across quaint Ladakhi villages like Lamayuru, Spituk and Likir. For the more experienced trekkers who want to summit mountains, there are the Stok Kangri and Kang Yatse II treks that take you to high summits of towering mountains. On these trails, you follow the challenging and steep trails while catching the most mind-blowing views of Ladakh and the Himalayas.
And if you are someone who wants a totally unique trek, then the Chadar trek is perfect for you. This challenging trek takes place during peak winters and takes you over the frozen Zanskar river to deep valleys and gorges of Ladakh. On the wild Chadar trek, you get to experience the harsh Ladakhi winters, walk over sheets of ice with the bubbling river flowing underneath and visit remote villages cut off by the world, along with frozen waterfalls and ancient caves!
Ladakh is a high-altitude desert located at an average height of 9,800 feet above sea level, and some of the campsites are located upwards of 14,000 feet. At these altitudes, the concentration of oxygen in the air is thin which can have adverse effects on the human body. These effects are called altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness. This usually sets in at over 8,000 feet and the symptoms include nausea, headache, shortness of breath, etc. and if this is not taken seriously, it can be fatal.
To avoid altitude sickness, you need to properly acclimatize once you arrive in Leh. To do so, you need to spend at least one day in Leh where you don’t exert your body at all. You can go on short walks around your hotel and spend the rest of the day resting in your room. This is so that your body gets used to the low levels of oxygen. Once you are acclimatized, you can head to your campsites or for other adventure activities.
The best time to go camping in Ladakh is from the months of May to October. During these months, the weather is stable, unlike the harsh winter season of Ladakh. Most of the high-altitude roads from Srinagar and Manali are also open, making the campsites accessible.
Ladakh is dotted here and there by various campsites, some in deep valleys and some on the banks of lakes, and some along the highways. So to reach these campsites, you first need to arrive in Leh. There are two ways to reach Leh, either by flight or by road. And the most convenient of the two is by flight where you have to book your tickets to the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh which is connected to most major cities of the country by regular flights.
The other way is by road which is an adventure in itself. You can either ride a bike to Leh, hire a taxi or board a local bus to Leh. There are two ways to reach Leh by road, one from Manali and the other from Srinagar. The Manali to Leh route is 490 km long and covers the high altitude passes of Rohtang La, Baralacha LA, Lachulung La, Tanglang La and the thrilling Gata Loops. And the Srinagar to Leh is 434 km long and covers Sonmarg, Zoji La, Kargil and Lamayuru before reaching Leh.
For camping in Ladakh, you need to wear basic clothes along with fleece or down jackets, with a cap, gloves and sunglasses. If you are going at the beginning of May or end of October, then you need to carry thermal inners as well.
For camping in Ladakh, you need to carry a backpack that will hold your personal essentials like clothes, sunglasses, sunscreen, toiletries, etc. along with a personal first aid kit.
Camping in Ladakh is not a strenuous activity and can be done by anyone, so no preparation or fitness is required. Although, do be wary of altitude sickness when you arrive in Ladakh. Make sure you follow through the acclimatization process before heading to the high-altitude campsites like the one at Pangong Lake.
A typical camping package in Ladakh includes accommodation in deluxe/swiss tents along with in-tent amenities like mattresses, beds, attached washroom and access to the common dining tent and parking facilities. As for meals, the package includes dinner on Day 1 and breakfast on Day 2; some campsites also offer lunch. There is also a dedicated staff present all the time at the campsite. All the campsites also have a first aid kit including oxygen cylinders. Lastly, the camping in Ladakh package includes all applicable taxes.
Read the inclusions of the trip you are booking to know more about the package.
NOTE: Most campsites do not provide Inner Line Permit or Protected Area Permit. These, you have to get on your own.
For camping in Ladakh, you will spend the night in water and weather-proof swiss tents. These tents have an attached washroom, beds, mattresses, etc. Some campsites also have electricity while others don’t, depending on the availability of electricity. Do note that the in-tent amenities vary from campsite to campsite.
No, the campsites do not provide any kind of transport. You have to get there on your own. To do so, you can either use local transport like a bus or shared jeep/taxi, or you can rent a private car. You can even drive your own car but do remember that these campsites are located in remote locations of Ladakh and the roads leading to them aren’t always well-paved.
There are a few ways to reach your campsites, you can either take a local bus to the campsite or you can hire a private taxi. You can even drive your car/motorcycle which is an adventure itself. If you are going to Pangong Lake or Nubra Valley, then you first need to reach Leh, acclimatize there and then head to the campsites. If your campsite is at Sarchu, then you can either go from Leh, or from Manali since it is located on the Manali to Leh highway.
Hot water and electricity availability depends on the campsite, some do and some don’t. Usually, most campsites in Sarchu and Nubra Valley have electricity and hot water. The remote campsites like the one at Pangong Lake rely solely on solar energy, so they don’t provide in-room electricity and hot water. Remember to check the inclusions of the trip you are planning to book to know more about the campsite and its amenities.
Some of the campsites in Ladakh are located in restricted areas near the international borders, requiring you to get an Inner Line Permit to get there. Since most campsites do not arrange for these permits, you have to get it on your own once you reach Leh. These permits are required if you are going for camping either in the Nubra Valley or at Pangong Lake.
If you are an Indian citizen, then you only need the Inner Line Permit that you can get from the Tourist Information Centre at Jammu Kashmir Bank in Leh’s main market. You can also get the permit online at Lahdclehpermit.in, but the site does not have any payment option so you have to get to Leh, get the form stamped and pay the fee in Leh itself.
However, if you are a foreign citizen, you need to get the Protected Area Permit (PAP) which is available at any of the registered travel agents in Leh. Do note that a minimum of two is required to get the PAP; if you are a solo traveller, the agent will pair with another group to get you your PAP. If you are a citizen of Burma, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China or Pakistan, then you have to get your PAP from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi only.
Yes, camping in Ladakh is very safe. All the campsites are located in safe locations and have high-quality first aid kits with oxygen cylinders along with emergency services just a dial away. The only risk that you will face is altitude sickness, but as long as you acclimatize properly in Leh, you are good to go.