A Tourist’s Tale of Winter in Ladakh

Yogesh Sarkar

Ever since I first visited Ladakh in 2005, I had been hoping and dreaming of visiting Ladakh in the winter, when the harsh winter temperatures and heap of snow, cut it off from the rest of the world, barring of course the aerial route, which I dreamt to take.

Fast forward to 2011 and an exchange of PMs with fellow BCMTian Bee (Bijoy) saw me finally pulling the trigger and booking the flight ticket to Leh on the 27th of May, 2011, for the 25th December departure from Delhi and 1st January return! Rahul and a friend of his too joined in, while a couple of more BCMTians showed interest as well.

Sadly, due to one thing or the other, everyone else had to pull out and even Rahul’s plan began to look dicey, and it was only on the 20th of December, 5 days before our scheduled departure, that everything fell into place and I knew for sure, that I wouldn’t be heading to Ladakh alone!

Last few days were chockablock with plenty of frantic last minute shopping involved and on the eve of our scheduled departure to Leh, I was thoroughly worried about how I was going to carry all the stuff to Ladakh, till of course I got the confirmation from Jet Airways, that I could carry 2 pieces of luggage in my checked in quota, without any issue and also a large enough carry on bag, which was stuffed to the brim with photography equipment, netbook and enough cables and chargers to wire a small room!

Here is what my equipment list looked like, as I got ready to catch couple of hours of sleep, before the 6:30AM flight to Leh:

Photography and Electronic Equipment:

Canon EOS 1000D Body
Canon 18-55IS Lens
Canon 55-250IS Lens
Canon 50mm f1.8
2x Canon LP-E5 Batteries
Canon BG-E5 Battery Grip
3x Hoya UV filters
Hoya CPL Filter
Cokin GND Filter
Canon A720IS
8x AA Sony Cycle Energy rechargeable batteries
6x AA normal batteries
Asus Eee PC 901HA Netbook
Sony Ericson Xperia Mini ST15i mobile phone
Nokia 3350Clasic mobile phone
Belkin 3 port surge protector
Eveready 3w LED torch
Benro T-800EX Tripod
Tamrac Expedition 3 backpack
6 x battery chargers for above equipment
29GB of SD memory cards
10GB Micro SD cards in the mobile phones
6GB worth of pen drives
And a whole host of other small things and cleaning supplies!

Clothes, shoes and other stuff

Xelement Cordura Riding Jacket with protectors removed (served well)
Warm pant
Holo Fill nylon lower custom made by Carabin
2x Benetton Woolmark sweaters
A Raymond sweater
2x Nivea warm inners (upper and lowers)
3x BCMTouring cotton T-shirts
A pair of Quechua Forclaz 500 trekking shoes
A pair of v shape slippers
A pair of sheep leather gloves (insulating layer)
A pair of woolen gloves (provided extra warmth or more grip for camera operation)
A pair of Fastrack Goggles
A muffler
A monkey cap
A warm woolen cap
A shawl (never used it)
A small and light mink blanket (never used it)
My trusty Swiss Army Knife
Several pair of socks, underwear, handkerchiefs and towel
Lotus Herbal SPF 50 sunscreen lotion
VJ John lip moisturizer
Ponds cold cream (never needed it)
1 liter thermos
And of course hand sanitizer, tooth paste and brush, shaver etc.
Complimented by toilet paper and soap (paper as well as normal) that Rahul brought in and mustard oil we bought from Leh.
Medicines for cold, headache, fever, allergy, altitude, stomach ache etc.

Food stuff

EAS 100% Whey Protein powder, mixed with one third milk powder.
Almonds, cashews, pistachio and raisins
200gm Cheese spread
200gm Cheese slices
400gm peanut gajak
250gm jaggery
200gm dry petha (meant for my Tuesday Fast, never ate)
Not mentioning chocolates as I left them at home by mistake!
All this was complimented by similar stuff brought by Rahul, especially the namkeen that we all loved.

There is of course a lot more stuff, however this is what I feel was the major chunk and has thus been listed for other’s benefit and after fitting it all inside the two duffle bags and my camera backpack, which was then placed inside a Benetton Strolley backpack, this is what my luggage looked like (600ml pepsi bottle placed for reference):


With a local taxi already booked to pick me up from home at 4AM, it was time to try and catch couple of hours of sleep.

A sneak peak of what you will find in the travelogue:


25th December 2011, Leh

26th December 2011, Leh - Alchi

26th December 2011, Alchi - Likir - Leh

27th December 2011, Leh - Tangste

27th December 2011, Tangste - Harong Wet Lands - Tangste

28th December 2011, Tangste - Pangong Tso - Man

28th December, Man - Merak - Chushul

28th December, Chushul - Rezang La War Memorial - Loma - Hanle

29th December, Hanle

29th December 2011, Hanle - Nyoma - Tso Moriri - Chumathang

30th December, Chumathang - Upshi - Leh

31st December 2011, Hemis Monastery

31st December 2011, Thiksey Monastery and welcoming the New Year

1st January 2012, back to Delhi
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Mashallah...finally its out...

Bring it on...

2012 couldnt have started on a better note...

And so the log is up.... glued and can't wait to oodle on white pics.

Congratulations Yogesh for successfully completing what may be termed as one of the toughest travel one can do.


Nature Lover
Great going Yogesh! Very exhaustive list of camera and travel stuff. I can think of only a small medical kit as a must add item. Hope you would also let us know your experience with the warm clothing and footwear.
Just one more thought. I usually carry a Hard Disk backup for the images, even if I have a laptop. Unfortunately, my Hyperdrive HD backup is acting up and would have to look for a replacement.
Thanks for the detailed report! Looking forward to the whole enchilada!

Yogesh Sarkar

Thanks Che, Aaditi, Ananth, Akshay and Rajan

Thanks Abhishek, but believe me, it isn't really tough. If it was, I wouldn't have likely been able to do it and neither would this travelogue been named as "A Tourist’s Tale of Winter in Ladakh".

Thanks Koshy sir and yes I was carrying medicines, but haven't mentioned them here, as it is supposed to be based on the recommendation of the doctor and/or of the personal choice of the traveler. Laptop's HDD was mainly used for daily backup, and I never really needed to format the card, so didn't really have to worry about it too much. Though I am planning to add couple of SSDs to the foray in future.