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Solo Trip to Ladakh

The sacred land of the lofty Himalayas, with its crystal-clear waters, crisp, fresh air, and jagged edges, Ladakh strums a guitar beat in one’s mind, at the mere mention of its name. The high-altitude desert in the northernmost part of India is also famously monikered as the ‘Land of High Passes.’ Its astounding views tripled with serene surroundings, and a vibrant cultural heritage has earned it a top spot for solo travellers. 

How to Reach Ladakh

By Road: 

A classic old-fashioned road trip via the Manali-Leh or Srinagar-Leh Highways from May to October, holds a rustic romantic charm for many a traveller. Chock-full of adventure peppered with the rustic appeal of ice-tipped peaks, rugged grounds, and the thrill of zipping through hairpin bends and mountain passes on bikes or cars, with breathtaking backdrops, add a bonus thrill. 

By Air: 

The Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh is connected through direct flights to major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Srinagar. This is a preferred method of travel if one is short on time. 

By Rail: 

The nearest railway station to Ladakh is the Jammu Tawi Railway Station, 700 kilometres from Ladakh. Tourists can avail of buses or taxis from Jammu to Ladakh. Ideally this is not an advisable mode of transportation to get to Ladakh.

There’s no one-rule method or option to reach Ladakh. Ultimately, factors centred around time constraints, finances, and distinct needs and preferences rule when choosing a mode of transport. 

Best Time to Visit Ladakh

Accessible year-round, different seasons in Ladakh hold their own appeal, whether one is travelling in a group or embarking on a solo trip. 

Summer – June to September:

The summer months are the most popular time to visit the region, with moderate temperatures hovering between 10 degrees at night to 20 degrees Celsius during the day, and clear skies. The weather is pleasant and ideal for hikers and adventure fanatics. 

Monsoon – July and August:

Contrary to popular belief, the monsoon season brings magical moments to Ladakh’s landscape transforming it from a forlorn barren beauty into a graceful green goddess. The small amount of rainfall and raindrops pattering on the rocks enliven the arid allure of the province. Although some roads become briefly inaccessible due to landslides, several gems glitter on the highways waiting to be explored. Cascading waterfalls, stone cliffs, renewed rivers, and flamboyant flowers bloom in surprising nooks and crannies. 

Winter – October to May:

Snowy terrains with frigid temperatures and the mercury dipping well below zero, mark the onset of the season of winter in Ladakh. Several roads and high-altitude passes remain closed. However, frozen lakes, ice-capped mountains, and glaciers beckon visitors, with winter sports such as ice skating. 

Ladakh: A Haven for Solo Travellers 

The Himalayan wonderland is a paradise for solo travellers with a plethora of delightful experiences ranging from marvellous sceneries to ancient monasteries, daring activities, and a vibrant civilization waiting to be discovered. The local people exude warmth and hospitality making it a safe place for women to travel alone due to the low crime rate. Countering oft-thought opinions, Chinese intrusions and incursions rarely affect the ‘tourist map’ of Ladakh. 

Backpacking Solo across Ladakh: Things to Do

It is akin to sinning to rush a trip to Ladakh and it is recommended to carve out a minimum of a week to ten days to truly discover its myriad layers. Leh, the capital city, is an ideal base point to begin the trip as most travel connections are tied to the city, before venturing deeper north.

Trekking and Camping: 

Ladakh’s dramatic beauty is best viewed on foot. Several treks are popular in the area and the Markha Valley trek, commencing from Chilling or Stok, classified as a moderate-difficult one, is a popular trail. A visually delightful river valley in Hemis National Park, the Markha Valley is close to the Zanskar region, and the week-long trek requires a considerable level of fitness and daily exercise before embarking on the hike. The climb throws open the stark elegance of Ladakh, leaving a traveller to revel in silent observation. The walk along the banks of the Markha River and wild, unpopulated, and barren landscapes, also known as ‘Little Tibet,’ is as extraordinary as it is enticing. It is a walk for those willing to ‘just be’ in the moment, savour the wilderness, and feel the power of the most majestic mountain range in the world. 

Traversing through tiny, remote hamlets such as Hankar, Markha, and Rumbak, seemingly roofed by soaring cliffs and fenced by deep valleys, the hike runs through dazzling Buddhist monasteries, green meadows, waist-deep river crossings, uninhabited mountain passes, and spectacular gorges. Tibetan culture thrives in the small mud house communities which pop like an oasis of emerald brilliance bordered by brown backgrounds, with ornate home kitchens, hidden shrines, Buddhist prayer flags, and Tibetan shepherds herding their sheep. Camping and walking along the route offers a rare glimpse into the authenticities of life in remote mountain societies, interaction with the local people, buying handicrafts, and sampling Ladakhi fare. 

The Ganda La Pass is one of the first ‘hurdles’ of the trek at a height of 16,000 feet, with a remarkable bird’s eye view over the Zanskar Range and Stok Mountains. Patches of green are graced by birds such as the brown accentor, and robin accentor, and wild animals like Tibetan wolves. A long zigzag descent cuts through a deep and colourful gorge leading to the small village of Skiu. Over the course of the trail, there are several sparkling jewels such as the Chacham Valley with its blue sheep; the Umlung gompa, perched atop a craggy mountain framing the valley; and the Gongmaru La Pass at nearly 17,00 feet, the highest mountain pass on the trek offering a tantalising view of the Kang Yatze peaks, the tallest crests in the valley, towering at 21,000 feet. It is especially delightful to taste yoghurt and local cheese en route, bought from the shepherds who live in high-altitude pastures in the summer season. 

Several initiatives have been undertaken by organizations to boost the income of communities here that rely solely on tourism in the short summer months. Eco-cafes have been set up along the route providing a source of livelihood, employment, and skill-upgradation through workshops in cafes such as felting, and a meeting place for like-minded individuals to discuss ideas on protecting the region’s fragile environment. Hikers are also encouraged to reuse water bottles and café owners emphasise the limited use of plastic. 


Bicycling around Ladakh is a great way to explore the region too. One can either start out solo or book tours that start in Leh, covering gompas from the east to the west of the city, former royal palaces, and the markets. Although cycling in Ladakh is not easy and acclimatisation is crucial, along with  physical fitness and mental strength, the thrill of riding on a bicycle through snow-peaks and mountain-passes such as Khardung La, the highest motorable pass in the world, breathing in fresh air, and marvelling at the myriad colours of nature, lends a tremendous sense of exhilaration.

E-bicycling as a concept is something that people can try as it is not as demanding as regular bicycling in the mountains. It gives you the same thrill of slow travel albeit lesser stress on the lungs.

Wildlife Safari and Photography:

Ladakh is home to an excess of wildlife, endemic to the province, despite its harsh environment. Ecological adaptation by the animal kingdom at extremely high altitudes, minimal vegetation, freezing weather, and rocky terrains with very little oxygen has led to rare species flourishing in the region. Although there is an absence of naturally existing forest coverage, relatively small squares of greenery abundant with wild roses, herbaceous, and willow plants, have helped in colonizing the slopes and river banks, setting up an alpine zone with exotic fauna. Miraculously the summer season is engulfed in several hues of highland flora, swaying gently with the breeze. 

There are over two hundred bird species and between seven to ten endangered animal species in Ladakh. It is a vital breeding ground for the globally threatened Black-necked Crane. Ironically, most animals here suffer from mountain sickness due to a deprivation of oxygen at high altitudes and many migrate to lower and warmer areas in the winter months, with marmots and brown bears hibernating. Ladakh is famous for sighting the romantic Black-necked Cranes, elusive Snow Leopards, skittish Blue Sheep, shy Himalayan Brown Bears, omnipresent wild yaks, and the misunderstood Tibetan Wolves. 

Wildlife Safaris can be undertaken in the Hemis National Park and the Changthang Sanctuary, stretching from four to ten days. The Suru, Zanskar, and Nubra Valley regions are also apt for striking flora and fauna sightings should one choose not to go on an organised tour.  Himalayan Brown Bear sightings are ideal too.The months from January to April are ideal for observing rare wild animals thriving in their natural habitat, and April to August are best for spotting birds. Several avifauna species that are breeding migrants cross the Himalayas during the spring and autumn migration period. A few varieties of bird species also arrive between October and early December to reproduce. However, sudden changes in the weather often lead to a tremendous fall of migrant birds, at stopover sites such as Hanle and Chumur. Wildlife photographers flock to the Uley and Changthang regions in the winters for a sighting of the elusive Snow leopard.

For nature enthusiasts, solo trips to Ladakh offer an exceptional opportunity for photography, capturing astonishing moments of nature with birds in mid-flight and indigenous animals quietly grazing on the hillside pastures. 

Cultural Excursions:

Ladakh’s fascinating way of life has inspired many a traveller to grab a backpack, stroll the lengths of its tiny settlements, and immerse in its unique heritage. Studying the local history of the land on guided walks to fully comprehend the local traditions, and customs, eating the local cuisine, and purchasing souvenirs from traditional artisans all add to the thrill of exploratory heaven. 

The radiant monasteries, temples, festivals, and traditional lifestyle are a vibrant mix of Tibetan Buddhism supplemented with Hindu and Muslim influences. Monasteries dominate theLadakh district, usually built on a hill overlooking the town. Whitewashed stupas dating back to the 11th century, fluttering multi-coloured prayer flags, lamas in long robes and mani walls, or long walls with prayers carved on stones, dominate, and colour the barrenness of Ladakh. The Hemis and Phuktal monasteries are eminent gompas, but there is a treasure trove of lesser-known shrines tucked away in the smaller corners of Ladakh. The Lamayuru Monastery, or the Yungdrung Tharpaling Monastery, in Lamayuru village, is one such example. Sitting at an altitude of 11,000 feet, it is one of the oldest shrines in Ladakh from the 11th century and was originally the leading Bon Monastery, an indigenous Tibetan religion, in Ladakh, currently affiliated with the Drikung school of Buddhism. The original structure comprised five buildings, and today, ruins of the four corner buildings can still be seen. The gompa is renowned for its architecture, intricate murals, and a vast collection of ancient manuscripts and artefacts. 

The monastery hosts the two-day religious Lamayuru Festival or Yuru Kabgyat Festival in the month of June/July, dedicated to Yama, the Lord of Death, and Guru Padmasambhava, the Second Buddha and a protector of the creatures and stallions. The Cham Dance, or masked dance, is performed by monks donning bright robes and masks, dancing in circular motions, to please the deities to keep evil forces at bay. It is performed on the reverberating beats of drums and cymbals, with tunes from long traditional pipes. Sacrificial offerings are offered and sacred rituals are completed, with spinning prayer wheels in the background, at the end of the festival. 

Safety Tips for Solo Travellers

Solo trips to Ladakh are an exhilarating experience but it stands to reason that simple precautions to ensure one’s safety need to be followed:

  1. Prepare for the Trip: It is crucial to ensure that one is physically fit and healthy before undertaking the trip. The altitude and rugged territory can be a challenge and fitness routines should commence at least six weeks prior to the trip. 

       2. Acclimatization: The high altitude can pose serious health risks and it is essential to give one’s body enough time to adjust to low oxygen levels.  

  1. Adequate Research for Travel Plans: Booking in advance is vital for flights, transport, and accommodation. Additionally, certain areas in Ladakh are restricted and require special permits to visit, which can be obtained online, and it is mandatory to carry these documents. Moreover, one can book intelligently to avoid crowds and budget wisely. Reading up on suitable lodging to prioritize safety, comfort, and accessibility is also key. Offbeat Tracks partners with some of the best homestays in Ladakh. We especially tie up with women entrepreneurs in smaller communities such as Rigzen’s fantastic homestay in Likir.
  2. Choose Attire Wisely: Given the temperature fluctuations, it is critical to pack for varying degrees of cold. Dressing in layers is advisable with comfortable and sturdy footwear suitable for trekking. It is suggested to carry hats, scarves, sunglasses, and sunscreen for sunny days. Most importantly, local customs must be respected and one must dress appropriately, especially when visiting religious sites. 
  3. Pack an Extra Bag: When embarking on a solo trip, it is imperative to bring a well-stocked backpack that includes a first-aid kit, as medical facilities may not be accessible in isolated areas. Travel insurance to cover adventure activities such as trekking, mountain biking, river rafting, etc., sufficient cash, reusable water bottles, and power banks for electronic gadgets are also highly advised. 
  4. Always Stay Hydrated: The high elevation can cause altitude sickness. Carrying water bottles must be prioritised especially whilst trekking. 
  5. Share the Itinerary: Keep friends and family in the loop by disclosing all details of the trip and stay connected. 

A solo trip to Ladakh is an invigorating experience with a charming blend of magnificent panoramas, spiritual significance, and retreats, adrenaline rushes, and cultural immersion. Offering something unique for every traveller, navigating through the topographies of Ladakh often leads to a journey of self-exploration and reflection. At Offbeat Tracks we understand the need for these exclusive experiences. Reach out to us and pick our brains to create a charmed journey of thrilling adventure infused with introspection, to chart out the ideal solo trip to Ladakh, meant for you.


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