Camping in Ladakh is one of the greatest joys of a trip to this charming part of our country; a must experience, without which your trip to Ladakh may even seem a little incomplete. Speaking of my personal experience, camping in Ladakh is quite fun in itself. Sleeping in a tent under a starry, silent sky presents an experience you will enjoy for the rest of your life. These courses are quite warm and comfortable enough with all amenities available. Depending on your preference, you can stay in an existing campground; or bring all the necessary equipment and set up your own tent. Opportunities to do both are available in large quantities along the route and in the region.
Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri Lakes are considered the best place to camp in Ladakh, but the list does not end here. Tourism in Ladakh has grown several times in recent years and the availability of campsites has also increased significantly. They are available now in almost every major sight and in every pocket. Now you can, in fact, manage most of your trip by staying only in fields. If you are planning a trip to Ladakh, here is some information on places where you can find tent accommodation or where you can set up your own tent.
Camping in Ladakh
There are three options in terms of camping in Ladakh. The first are the camps, the second is Chadar’s tents, and the autocamping will be the third. The campsites are the most comfortable of all, but also the most expensive. Chadar’s tents are the cheapest, but not the whole cup of tea. Camping is the most fun of all if you knew what you were doing and more trouble if you didn’t.
Campsites in Ladakh
One of the most common questions about campsites in Ladakh is about how comfortable they are. People tend to think that as it is just a tent, they will not be able to withstand the cold of Ladakh. And that they will have to spend the night tolerating the cold and feeling uncomfortable.
This is not true at all. These tents are very comfortable and very warm. Once the flap is closed, you will not feel a cloud of air inside. The bedding provided is also very comfortable with pillows and blankets. All of these camps have a bed inside and you don’t have to sleep on the floor either. Some of the camps even have an attached bathroom. Even if you are traveling with family, these camps are a great place to stay overnight and try something different.
The charge per day will depend on where you were staying, but on average it costs about Rs. 2500 to stay in a campsite in Ladakh. This cost will include lodging, dinner and breakfast.
It is a dormitory type accommodation created by the numerous owners of Dhaba on the way. In front of the tent is the Dhaba and then there are a series of beds next to each other. The price of all these Chadar tents varies. Depending on the location, expect the cost to be between Rs. 200 – 400 per person. What you get in return is a bed for the night. While this is a good way to save money, there are four major concerns about traveling this way.
The first and foremost is hygiene. Although the bedding provided is warm and comfortable enough (in most places), it is of course not washed or changed daily. You never know who or how many people would have slept on that blanket in front of you, which may not be a comforting fact for many people.
The second concern is with shared bathrooms. You will do your squatting business on a well dug into the ground that would already be used all over the world.
You’re sleeping in a tent full of strangers, so privacy, of course, takes a dip.
To some extent, this can also be a concern. I am not talking about your own safety, but your luggage. You can never have an idea of waking up at night and rummaging through your belongings.
Camping in Ladakh
If you have the right gear and an easy way to carry everything, then camping in Ladakh is a lot of fun. There are plenty of places where you can set up your tent, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Camping on your own here can be a memorable but also dangerous experience if you didn’t know what you were doing. Read Ladakh Camping Safety Tips for information on how you can safely and hassle free camping in Ladakh.
Where to camp in Ladakh
Now that we know the different ways of camping in Ladakh, let’s look briefly at what all the places you can do.
Manali Leh Highway Camping
Chadar tents are available all along Manali Leh Road and you will continue to find them from time to time. Almost all Dhaba en route have a deal and provide bedding for travelers to stay overnight. Pang is Chadar’s largest tented settlement on the way.
Suitable campsites are available only near Keylong, Jispa and Sarchu. The most beautiful places will probably be in the Lahaul Valley, between Keylong and Darcha. The largest of them is near the border with Himachal and Sarchu. These are good luxury campsites with all amenities available.
If your plan was to self-camp, you will find plenty of spaces for camping after crossing Rohtang. However, it is advisable that you set up your camp somewhere closer to a Dhaba or Chadar tent. That way you can be sure that you are not camping somewhere you should not. Secondly, this way you will not be without food and water. Just pay the owner of Dhaba a small amount and ask him to give you a seat.
Some great places I can suggest would be near Deepak Tal, near the border with Himachal and right after Pang, where the plains begin. A good third place could be near Tso Kar.
Camping on the Srinagar Leh Road
When I first traveled the Srinagar to Leh route, there wasn’t even a single camp available anywhere. Along the way there were only and only cemented hotels. However, with the recent increase in tourism in Ladakh, there are several campsites available between Srinagar and Leh. Most of them are located in and around Sonamarg and Kargil, but there is a campsite in Dras and a couple in Uleytokpo. Chadar tents on this route are not much, but you can find some between Lamayuru and Leh.
Camping is an option, but keep it limited to Sonamarg, Dras, Kargil, Lamayuru, Mulbekh, Khaltsi, Uleytokpo, Saspul or Nimmoo. I would not recommend setting up your tent anywhere else. Also at these locations, find an existing campsite or a Dhaba and pay them a small amount to give you a place to set up your tent. If you are ready to risk camping in the middle of nowhere, the options are limitless. So you just need to find a suitable enough place.
Camping in Nubra Valley
Nubra Valley is one of Ladakh’s biggest tourist attractions and there are numerous campsites here. The moment you cross Khalsar, you will begin to find campsites on both sides of the valley, Diskit, Hunder and Sumur. Hunder’s dunes are considered the best of all camping spots in Ladakh. Therefore, most of the campsites in the Nubra Valley are located just there. But you can find some inside and outside Diskit and Sumur.
Camping in the Nubra Valley can be a bit tricky as most of the main spots are already busy. I was there last year and haven’t noticed any campsites in and around Panamik so you can try setting up your tent there. The entire Nubra Valley is a well-populated area and farmland, so once again, don’t pitch your tent anywhere. Talk to a resident, pay a little, and ask them to show you a good place to camp.
Watch out for dogs if you were camping on your own. They are very aggressive, dangerous and do not see many strange faces. While you are camping, stay near your tent at night and do not go out alone after dark.
Camping in Pangong Tso
The very name of this lake has become synonymous with camping in Ladakh. There are a whole host of campsites in Pangong that can be easily accommodated by any budget. This is definitely the best place to camp in Ladakh. There are so many camps here that in 2019 authorities had to consider banning camping near Lake Pangong entirely to protect and preserve the lake.
If staying at a campsite was not within budget, you can also find Chadar tents also at the beginning of the lake. Just look for some large tents that sell snacks, tea etc. They, in fact, sell gasoline and diesel also for a higher price; so if you were going to Hanle or Tso Moriri after Pangong; This is where you can fuel your vehicle.
Camping in Tso Moriri
Like Pangong Lake, there are also several campsites in Tso Moriri. Camps here are a bit more expensive. The lakeside village is called Karzok and there are several hotels and inns here as well. If you were planning on camping then the most important thing to remember is to set up your tent a little away from the lake. Moriri is a freshwater lake and a protected Pantanal Conservation Reserve, meaning that camping on its banks is prohibited by law. For details, read How to Plan a Visit to Tso Moriri de Leh.
Camping in Changthang Valley
Changthang Valley is the region you pass through as you travel from Pangong to Tso Moriri via Man, Merak, Loma, Nyoma and Mahe. There are no campsites anywhere on this route. In fact, finding any kind of accommodation in these villages would be difficult. Do not set up your own tent anywhere on this stretch.
Camping in Hanle
There are no campsites in Hanle, just a small inn. You can set up your camp by paying any of the residents for a spot.
Camping in Turtuk
There are 2 campsites in Turtuk, but both are a bit expensive. If not within budget, you can stay in any of the villa’s guest houses. This is a great place to set up your own camp, but you can’t do it anywhere. You will have to pay a spot for a spot. For details, read How to plan a trip to Turtuk from Leh.
Camp on the Chumathang route
The Chumathang Route is the road you take from Leh to reach Tso Moriri directly via Karu. There are no campsites anywhere, just a small hostel near Chumathang Hot Water Spring.
Campground near Tso Kar
There are some campsites in Tso Kar and Chadar Tents. If you want to get away from the crowd and want to camp in Ladakh in a quieter place, then Tso Kar is the best choice. I camped here last year and it was an amazing experience. With More Plains next door and nothing else in sight with almost no one around, Tso Kar is my recommended place to stay for at least one night.