The scenic beauty that Ladakh offers during winters and summers are at two jolts of a spectrum, and they are uncomparable without a doubt. The mud-brown mountains, blue lakes, rivers and the colorful vegetation that one might savor during summer are buried beneath a thick white blanket of snow during winter. All activities reduce to a bare minimum at this time of the year and a strange sense of solitude and silence takes over the entire region, as people spend most of their time indoors to keep warm from the vicious cold outside.
#1 Trek on the Frozen Zanskar River – The Famous Chadar Trek
The Chadar trek is one such route, connecting villages in the Zanskar valley (deep in the mountains) with Chilling (on the road to Leh) along the frozen Zanskar River. This route has been used for centuries for trade and transportation and is most reliable in February when the ice is most stable.
This trek is considered as one of the most exciting and unique treks – a very special and an extraordinary trek on shiny ice on the bank of Tsarap River. Nestled deep within the whirly passages of the snow-clad mountains, this frozen river also entices thousand of trekkers from different corners of the world. Popularly known as the ‘Chadar Trek’ due to the formation of the thick blanket of the snow, it is considered as one of the challenging as well as tricky treks in the world.
When this happens, the only way to continue with the trek is to hike through the snowy rocks and boulders beside the river.
Traveldglobe Tip – Hire an experienced local trek guide or you can do all things by yourself if you wanna make your trip more adventurous and full of life changing experiences.
#2 Feel like travel to an Ice Age Timeline
A Walk on BongBong La Snow Valley presents straightforward ice age setup in winters. Everything will be frozen – mountains, valleys, waterfalls, river shores, and vegetation. Temperature dropping to less than -35 degrees and chilly breeze adding another -10 degrees, it is nothing less than a dream. If you are suitably covered with at least four layers of warm clothing then there is no better sight than being in Frozen Ladakh in winter. The Khaltse to Lamayuru way is incredulously beautiful where you’ll come across moon land, frozen waterfalls and frozen Indus Shores.
Traveldglobe Tip – Get a good local guide to explore the place more knowingly. Must capture the top view of Lamayuru town from the Lamayuru Gompa.
#3 Get the best and warmest hospitality from the Locals in Ladakh
Ladakh isn’t famous for offering luxuries to have comfortable neither in winters nor in summers. But it is the time when you get to see the genuine beauty of the roof of the world. The only way to enjoy this beauty is to swiftly acclimatize to the local culture and habits. Most of the hotels in Leh are closed during winters, therefore, you have to stay frugally in modest Homestays ( traditional Ladakhi houses) which we recommend as well.
These Homestays are basic and you’ll be sleeping in a sleeping bag on a mattress on the floor. The water pipes freeze and water (hot and cold) is provided by a bucket. Bathing is a luxury, which no one dares to dream. Food is cooked by the local family and is mostly traditional Ladakhi meal – butter tea, kahwa, thukpa, noodles and soup served in common dining room with Bukhari.
Traveldglobe Tip – You can sleep in a kitchen instead of a room for a warm and cozy night. Although staying in a chilling room is altogether a different experience. Also, If you love Choley Bhature then Neha snacks in Leh is a must visit place.
#4 Chance to be high on Life – Feel the Adrenaline Pumping
In winters Ladakh is no ordinary destination, it tests and redefines your mental and physical toughness. Besides doing the world famous Chadar Trek, one can also do other fairly lesser known but more challenging treks like Stok base camp trek, Markha Valley Trek, Sham valley trek at a very cheap price like 10K. It does give you another reason to visit Ladakh in winter.
They are not at all monotonous and every day presents a different kind of an experience. When in Leh, don’t forget to watch the Leh Ice Skating rink.
Traveldglobe Tip – Trekking in Ladakh in winter is no kids play, you’ve got to train hard, acclimatize well and stay away from heated rooms. FORCLAZ 500 High Trekking Shoes is the best trekking shoes available in the Indian market right now.
#5 Photographer’s Paradise on Earth
Travel to the highlands of Ladakh in Winter. When Ladakh is at its pristine best – with its snow-clad mountain landscapes, frozen lakes, resilient nomads, their herds of sheep and yaks, star-filled skies and endless fields of snow. Explore photography on the roof of India on this mentored photography tour.
The highlands of Ladakh go through an amazing transformation in Winter. The usually brown mountain slopes are now adorned with white blankets of snow. The earth appears bridal white, with an endless expanse of soft snow dominating the landscape. Only the sound of the wind (and your own breath) gives you company in the vast wildernesses, allowing you to soak in the peace of these extraordinary mountain landscapes.
Traveldglobe Tip – With almost no electricity and temperature getting below -25-degree, batteries drain out too quickly, therefore carry a lot of extra batteries and a good power bank around 10K mAH. Don’t forget to keep them in your jackets or sleeping bags so that they last long.
#6 Remarkable Wildlife waiting for you – Roaring Snow Leopard
As the harsh winters set in, most Himalayan animals tend to come down to lower altitudes, making it easier to spot them. Winters is the best time to spot the elusive “Ghost of the Mountains”, the Snow Leopard in Ladakh. While spotting a snow leopard is not easy, you will definitely spot a lot of mountain fauna like Blue sheep, mountain wolf, wild hares, magpies etc.
Traveldglobe Tip – Apart from Snow Leopard, you can also look for the flora fauna map in outskirts.
#7 Spend time with locals and be their friend who are free in winters only
Ladakh has very short but busy summers when most locals earn their yearly living from tourism. During summers, they are extremely busy making money out of tourism. Nobody has the time to have laid back conversations. Winter is a time when they are looking for a company to talk.
Soft-spoken and polite, a smile is there to greet you no matter which part of Ladakh you travel. Kids have school holidays, therefore, are always on the lookout of playmates. Also, you get to meet very interesting and diverse variety of like-minded fellow travelers (not tourists) from across the world that inspire you in more ways than you can ever imagine.
Traveldglobe Tip – You just need to say the magical word Julley (hi, hello, namaste or equivalent) and then the conversation automatically get started with any friendly strangers and you will get to know more about their local culture.
#8 Winter Festivals in Ladakh
In Ladakh, every occasion marriage, birth, harvesting, a commemoration of head Lamas founding of the monastery, Losar (new year) and flowering is marked by feasting, dancing and the singing of folk songs that forms a part of its living heritage. Most of the festivals are held in winter but some popular festival takes place in summer too.
The monastic festivals are the heart of all the festivals. They are performed by Monks wearing colorful silk garments and different facial mask. Some of the other festivals which are not to be missed Thiksey, Karsha and Spituk Gustor, Dosmochey and Stok Guru Tsechu.
Traveldglobe Tip – Have a meal with the lamas in a monastery. You’ll be blown away not just by the simplicity of the tasty food but also how tech savvy and well aware those monks are.
#9 Fairly Cheap Flight Tickets, Accommodation and Shopping
In winter flight to Ladakh is dirt cheap as compared to a flocked touristy summers. Flight rates are at rock bottom – you can get a Delhi-Leh return flight for as little as INR 4000 if you book well in advance. Almost Same flight costs as high as INR 35,000 in the summer season.
You will get a heated home stay for INR 500 per bed per night. Shopping is super cheap. Fake brands that you will get in new market, moti market are as good as real brands.
Traveldglobe Tip – Plan at least 4-5 months back and do your winter shopping in Leh local market. To get the best of souvenirs and fabrics for your loved ones.
Visiting Ladakh in winter is like freezing time or existence itself. Discovering the undying spirit of Ladakh and relishing every bit of the indescribable beauty of the coldest desert. No words or pictures can do justice to what you will get to see and experience.
Still thinking to visit Ladakh in winter or wondering for a comfortable summer trip?
All We can say is – let go of the fear of cold and immerse yourself in the insurmountable beauty of God’s favorite masterpiece.