Guru Ghummakad
I keep looking for long weekends (any public holiday combined with Saturday+ Sunday) for a refreshing break and last winters I had asked my friend (Comdt in ITBP, posted at Leh) whether I should visit Leh in Dec (23-25) or Jan (26-28) and he guided me to visit in Jan as most of the lakes, rivers, waterfalls are frozen and give you an opportunity to understand the lifestyle of people living in this part of the world.

Winter Ladakh 1.jpg

(Bird's eye view of Spituk Monastery, while landing at Leh Airport)

I would suggest the following for those who are visiting for shorter periods and want to make best use of time available at hand:-
  1. Start some fitness regimen atleast a month in advance - atleast 40-50 minutes of brisk walk and light stretching exercises.
  2. After consulting your doctor, start taking Diamox tablets (Acetazolamide-Brand is a "water pill" (diuretic) used to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness and other ailments, see on Google as well to check for contraindications) twice a day, 2 days before landing in Leh and then continue for atleast 2 more days. This helps in getting acclimatized faster.
  3. Once you check into your place of stay, have good breakfast and rest for some time, not sleep as sleeping reduces the oxygen intake and may cause sudden drop of oxygen in your blood. Just sit and watch TV or simply chat, make plans for the trip.
  4. Do not repeat DO NOT exert on first one or 2 days.
  5. Those having any medical condition must consult their doctor before proceeding. I got my Executive Health Check Up done on 29th Dec, 2017 and the TMT Test showed "Mild Ischemia". Dr Tarun Sahni, Consultant in Appollo Hospital (Dr Sahni is known as the “father of modern hyperbaric medicine in India”) asked me to get a "Stress Echo Test" done before this trip, which too was done on 23rd Jan, 2018 and it showed "Good Exercise Tolerability", giving me enough confidence to embark on this trip. Rohan too had got his complete health scan on 29th Dec'17 and was fit to travel. Both of us started course of Diamox (point no.2 above) from 24th evening.
Our flight landed at 8am and the crew announced "Welcome to Leh, it is a very bright and sunny day and outside temperature is minus 9". It made us little bit jittery and we quickly zipped up our heavy jackets, put on newly purchased gloves (claimed to work upto -50 degrees Celsius) and covered our head with a woolen cap. However, when we stepped out to take the waiting mini-bus from aircraft to the arrival lounge of Leh Airport, we were just fine, no discomfort at all. This van was heated and the arrival hall too was not "biting cold". We travelled from Leh Airport to ITBP Camp in a heated Mahindra Bolero and enjoyed the morning sunshine and beauty of nearly empty road of Leh. Had breakfast - piping hot porridge and Kahva (a Kashmiri brew tea), rested for about 15-20 minutes, then taxi came at 9 am.

Mr. Jigmet Dorjey, a village headman of Thiksay and an office bearer of Leh Taxi Union was our driver for the next two days. We got an insight into culture, lifestyle and flora/fauna of this region through him. He also narrated his experience about tourism and how it should grow in future too.