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Ladakh can take your breath away. Expert tips for acclimatisation.

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Traveling in summer? In India? There’s this famous misconception that one should travel in India only in the winter months. But summer is the best time to visit the gorgeous destinations dotted all over the Himalayas.

Our favorite is Ladakh – the land of the high passes. Inaccessible for most of the winter, it can be tricky in the monsoon, with waterfalls sprouting up from nowhere and washing away the narrow hill-roads and paths. But come summer, it is THE must visit destination.

Snow-capped mountains and ancient Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. Yaks, prayer flags and the loveliest of the lakes. All these seem to say, “Welcome to Ladakh”. One of the reasons behind these picture perfect visuals is the unique arid climate of Ladakh. But you do have to approach this gorgeous beauty with care. It’s challenging, and it’s fragile.

So, before you book tickets and pack your bags, here are some tips that are in the best interest of everyone – you and your hosts. After all, a healthy and responsible traveler is a happy traveler.


1) What is acclimatisation?

  • It is the time you give your body to adapt to the decreasing oxygen levels and atmospheric pressure at places with high altitudes like Ladakh.

2) Why should I acclimatise?

  • At high altitudes, without proper acclimatisation, you may suffer from dizziness, headaches or even AMS (acute mountain sickness). In its severe form, AMS can be life threatening.

3) What are the symptoms of AMS?

  • Loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting

  • Fatigue or weakness

  • Dizziness or light-headedness

  • Difficulty sleeping

4) What does AMS feel like?

  • People have likened AMS to a bad hangover, or worse. However, because the symptoms of mild AMS can be somewhat vague, a useful rule-of-thumb is: if you feel unwell at altitude, it is altitude sickness unless there is another obvious explanation (such as diarrhea).

5) How long does it take to acclimatize?

  • It depends on your fitness levels and genetic predispositions. Usually 1 day of acclimatization is sufficient for sightseeing holidays, but if you plan to undertake something more strenuous like trekking, you’ll need 3-4 days of acclimatization.

When possible a slow ascent by road helps you adjust better, as compared to landing directly by flight.

6) If I am on a trekking holiday, do I have to sleep-in till I acclimatize?

  • Not necessarily. After about a day’s rest, you can do local sightseeing, taking care not to exert yourself too much. This is a good time to enjoy local cuisine and culture before you set off on your big adventure.

7) Can we take kids with us?

  • Yes, but do check with your family doctor if they have any medical conditions that might worsen with exertion or high altitudes.

What else can I do to avoid AMS?

  1. Stay hydrated. But do not force yourself or someone else to drink fluids excessively. Excessive hydration can lead to vomiting and water build-up in tissues.

  2. Avoid tea, coffee and other caffeinated drinks as they tend to dehydrate you. Smoking can further deprive you of oxygen, so that is also best avoided.

  3. Where possible, come down to a lower altitude at night. Breathing becomes slower during sleep, and it’s better to avoid sleeping at high altitudes.

  4. Listen to your body. Do not over-exert in excitement or to keep up with someone else.

  5. Stay warm. Plan your clothing accordingly.

  6. Good nourishment is important. Don’t miss meals, but don’t overeat.

Preventive Medicine:

Some people take Diamox which can somewhat help with the acclimatization process. It comes with its own side effects and does not guarantee that you can avoid AMS.

If you plan to rely on any such medicines, please consult with your family doctor. Also inform your family and co-passengers so that they can provide this information to attending medical personnel in case there’s an acute sickness during the trip.

Oxygen Cylinders are available at chemist shops and might come in handy for temporary relief.

summer holiday in Ladakh

Packing tips:

Other than what you would pack for any hill station holiday, these are the things that you should make sure to have for a trip to Ladakh.

  1. Clothing – layers are your friend.

  2. Pack light. Have a small bag handy with water, glucose, dry fruits/energy bars and a small torch.

  3. Goggles with UV protection, to keep your eyes safe in the harsh mountain light.

  4. Sunscreen and lip balm are a must.

  5. Spare batteries and power banks: batteries die out faster in cold climate.

  6. Cash: ATMs are few and far in-between.

  7. Check with your mobile service provider for connectivity in Leh Ladakh. If needed, take an additional sim that provides coverage there.

  8. For trekking – a sturdy pair of trekking shoes, a walking stick, rain coat, cap and a sippy water bottle that can be hanged to your backpack.

  9. First Aid kit.

  10. Photocopies of your ID proof.

  11. A map of Ladakh so you do not end up using all your phone battery on maps.

Other tips:

  1. Take your shoes off before entering a monastery. Ask permission if you want to take photos inside.

  2. Try out Butter Tea, Kashmiri Kaava, Leh berry juice and other local delicacies.

  3. Greet people of Ladakh by saying “Jullay”. It means Hello/ Thank you/Bye.

  4. Don’t litter. Make a habit of tucking in wrappers and covers in an outer packet and disposing them off properly at your place of stay.

  5. Take a book to reading on your camping trip, and a little notebook and pen to sketch or jot down your musings.

This summer, embark on an adventure of a lifetime. Trek with female guides in Ladakh, staying in women-owned homestays. Perfect for that self-affirming solo-trip or bonding-over-adventure-and-outdoors group trip.

solo holiday ladakh package

If you are traveling with us, please do share any concerns or questions with us. We’ll make sure you stay safe, enjoy the trip, and make a ton of memories.

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell


My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.


While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

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