Traveling to Ladakh in August is generally not considered the best idea; especially after the flood of clouds from Ladakh in 2010. This is the time when monsoons wreak havoc across the Himalayan region; and if you were thinking that maybe this is not the right time to go in that direction, you are right in your thinking.
With that said, the truth holds that tourism in Ladakh is only limited to 5 months a year. It starts in May and ends when October arrives. Although the Srinagar Leh road may remain open for a little while, the peak tourist season here only lasts from June to September. Of these 4 months, July and August are the monsoon months; and that’s when everyone will tell you to cancel or postpone your trip.
So the question is, can you visit Leh Ladakh in August? And the answer is a definite yes. It may not be the best time to go to Ladakh, but it definitely has its own advantages. Will it rain up there? The answer again is a yes and that is why you must prepare well for your journey ahead. Visiting hills with water hitting your helmet or windshield can be a bad idea, but only if you are not prepared for it. If you were Ladakh in August it will be as good as any other month. How you plan your trip to Ladakh in the monsoon season is what I will talk about in this article.
The first thing you need to know is that Ladakh (Lahaul & Spiti too) is in an area of rain shadow; which means that it receives very little or no rain. I know, the next thought that comes to mind is about the 2010 tragedy; but, except for these unfortunate events, the rain in Ladakh is generally limited to just a drizzle. When you start to approach the city of Leh or visit nearby areas like Nubra or Pangong, the chances of getting soaked are almost nil.
However, this still does not exempt you from the fact that you are traveling in the monsoon month. All thanks to global warming, there is no way to say for sure that where it will rain now and when. Sometimes, the tops of passes like Khardung La and Chang La can have heavy showers, which can cause landslides; which results in a temporary road block.
If you’re lucky, you might not find rain in Ladakh; but it will definitely do it before you get there. Up to the city of Keylong or Jispa, if you are traveling from Manali; and even Kargil, if you were traveling on the Srinagar Leh road, it can rain at any time and you must prepare accordingly. After crossing places like Jispa and Kargil, your chances of facing the rain are considerably less.
Is Ladakh open in August?
This is one of the most common questions I’ve been asked lately, so I’ll start with that. Yes, Ladakh remains open in the months of August and, in fact, also experiences its high tourist season at this time. Both highways leading to Ladakh from Manali and Srinagar are currently open; as well as all the internal roads that lead to places like the Nubra valley and Pangong Tso. There may be a temporary block if it rains very hard anywhere on the route; but the BRO paves the way and restores connectivity as soon as possible.
In addition to the road, all hotels and inns are also open for business. Public transport operates in the form of a shared bus and taxi service. All activities related to tourism, such as hiking, rafting, motorcycle rental, etc. are fully available.
Monsoon season in Ladakh
As we discussed earlier in the article, Ladakh is actually in an area of rain shadow and it doesn’t rain much here. In the regions near Himachal and Kashmir, however, the monsoons arrive in July and remain throughout August. The intensity and frequency, however, are more for the second half of July and the first half of August. So, if August is the only time you can plan this trip; but, at the same time, he also wants to avoid the boredom caused by the rains; I recommend that you plan your journey in the middle of the month. If possible, the plan in the last week of August and the monsoons by then would have disappeared.
Independence Day in Ladakh
This is a very important factor that you need to keep in mind. An ideal itinerary for Ladakh would maintain the Manali Leh and Srinagar Leh highways as part of the journey. Traveling from Manali won’t matter much, even around August 15th; however, it will make a huge difference when traveling to Kashmir. Security in Kashmir and in the vicinity of Ladakh increases and the entire region remains on high alert until independence day passes peacefully. So, if you were traveling in the first half of the month; or in the same week of August 15, be prepared to feel the strong presence of the army.
You will be stopped at several checkpoints for verification and you may also experience traffic delays. If there were any incidents or violence in the valley, Kashmir will be blocked and you will be stuck where you were. In August 2016, I had to stay in Sonamarg for two days before we could finally travel to Srinagar and cross it with the Army escort.
A similar type of situation can definitely occur around Independence Day. Mobile and Internet services are also turned off. When traveling to Ladakh in August, my recommendation would be that you plan for half the month, after Independence Day or the first week. Otherwise, do not include the Srinagar Leh route in your plan and travel only on the side of Manali. However, if you also want to cover the Srinagar route, keep at least 2 to 3 days as a reservation on your itinerary.
You will find them in abundance throughout the tour. In August, all streams would be well fed by melting snow and rain; and some of them would have grown into great monsters. They will be present not only on the Manali – Leh and Srinagar – Leh routes, but also on the internal roads of Ladakh. If you were on a motorcycle trip, remember this while packing and decide which shoes to take. Rubber sandals that can cover your entire foot can be a good substitute to make sure you don’t get your shoes wet with every water pass. If you were traveling by car, be sure to take the one with good ground clearance. Crossing these streams of water and muddy areas would be difficult if your car didn’t have a good GC.
Motorcycle trip to Ladakh in August
If you are traveling on a motorcycle, it would be prudent to take clothes and all your belongings in waterproof bags and still wrap these bags in plastic sheets or canvas before tying them on the motorcycle. Always carry plastic bags and extra tarps in case you tear. Keep your electronics, wallet and important documents wrapped in plastic wrap at all times. Take a good quality rain suit, because you definitely don’t want to keep walking in such a cold temperature while it’s wet.
Changing clothes every time you get wet is also practically not possible. Your shoes must also be waterproof. Take light clothes that dry quickly enough. If you can, take an umbrella too. Before starting your trip, service the motorcycle and check all the wiring to ensure that there is no wear that could cause a short circuit in the rain.
Check your tires before starting the journey. If the tires are old and worn, replace them. Walk at a slower pace very slowly through the mud. Stroll the four-wheel tracks and trucks, because the mud is less there.
Traveling to Ladakh in August by car
If you are traveling by car, avoid putting any luggage on the roof as far as possible, but if necessary, put things that are not at risk of being ruined by rain. For example, your camping gear, if you’re carrying cans of Jerry, if you haven’t filled them yet. If you are tying a bag up there, make sure everything is wrapped tightly in plastic and that there is a thick canvas covering the roof. Remove all electronic items, papers, wallets, etc. before mounting the bags on the roof.
Protect your camera
An electronic device that gets more used to trips like this and is in danger of being ruined is your camera. Buy a raincoat for your camera, if you can. Otherwise, keep it protected not only from rain, but also from moisture. Do not carry your regular DSLR bag; instead, buy a waterproof bag for your camera and accessories.
Driving tips for going to Ladakh in August
One thing you need to be ready for is driving through mud and water passages in August. There are several areas on the highways where rain wreaks havoc, creating a lot of mud, like Rohtang on the Manali Leh road and Zoji La on the Srinagar Leh road. Heavy rains can wash parts of narrow roads, leaving vehicles struggling on slippery curves. Passing the car through these stretches can be challenging and you need to be extra careful when doing so.
When crossing a nallah in a car, stop for a minute, get out, inspect the passage, and then drive your car very carefully. If you’re still not sure, wait a while for another car to arrive and follow suit. Stay in first gear, do not clutch half and cross at once, maintaining the moment. If mud is out there, ask your fellow travelers to get out of the car so they can help push the vehicle if you get stuck.
Accelerate slowly to ensure your car doesn’t skid. You really need to accelerate the accelerator to prevent the wheel from turning. Avoid sudden movements on the steering wheel, accelerator or brake, as this can make your car spin. If you doubt your driving skills very much and are not very comfortable with the idea of driving on such roads, I suggest you hire a driver who is a resident of Manali.
Keep buffer days on your itinerary
The next concern is landslides due to rain; and to resolve this, you must keep a few days in buffer. There is a great possibility that a certain part of the road may close for a few hours or even a few days because of the landslide; in that case, you will have no choice but to go to the nearest city and wait. You also need to be careful when driving through areas that you see are affected by rain or a lot of dirt or mud around, because it is not always a big landslide, but also the smallest ones. Some rocks can slide off the top, damaging the vehicle and injuring you. Much of it, however, is that the BRO has posted notices in areas where this could happen. If you see a board that says “throwing rocks”, be alert.
Why visit Ladakh in August
OK enough with the scares. So, what is the good part of a trip to Ladakh in August or monsoon? The answer is the lush green views that you will witness throughout the journey. No matter which road you travel on, you will be treated with vegetation everywhere until you enter Ladakh. The whole route is so scenic that you will be amazed. If you have a minimal interest in photography, you are always looking for your camera.
The drive from Manali to Jispa will be memorable. The whole valley of Kashmir, Sonamarg and Drass will be the paradise it is famous for. Except in areas affected by water crossings and landslides, BRO would restore the roads in August, which means that you will be driving on a paved road. As it is the peak tourist season, all hotels and accommodation locations are open throughout the region, so you will have no trouble finding a place to stay anywhere.
Clothes to wear in Leh Ladakh in August
When you are packing clothes for the trip to Ladakh in August, you should bring clothes that dry quickly; polyester for example. There are necessarily two things to keep in mind. First is that you must pack clothes that you can wear in layers. What that means are clothes that you can wear on top of each other; In layers.
The weather in Ladakh is a little tricky and will vary greatly depending on the time of day and where you are. One moment you will be cold standing in the shade and then you will start to feel warm when you step in the sun. Therefore, carrying heavy wool will not really work, not all will be light. Take a pair of thermal clothes, your ordinary T-shirts and shirts, some light woolen clothes; and then a thick windproof waterproof jacket with a hood to protect your head, neck and face.
Ladakh in august
The second thing is to take clothes that do not take long to dry. This is important even if you were on a motorcycle trip; because then you run a high risk of getting soaked in the rain. The benefit with quick-drying clothes will be that you don’t even have to spread them out somewhere. Even if you get wet somewhere, they will dry out in a few minutes while you keep walking.
Hotels in Ladakh in August
All hotels and hostels in Ladakh will be operational until August. I don’t normally advise people to make any kind of advance booking, but a lot has changed in Ladakh in recent years. After the recent boost in tourism, you may find yourself in a situation where you may not find a place to stay or, at least, not a good place. This year, many people had to return from Pangong to Leh on the same day, because there were no camps available anywhere. So yes, today I recommend that you book your stay in advance while you are in Ladakh in the tourist season.
Snow in Ladakh in August
The chances of finding snow are much less in the month of August. Any snow you find will only be at the top of the passages. Capturing live snowfall will be rare and you probably won’t have one unless you’re very lucky. Snowfall also however, in August, can happen at the top of Khardung La or Chang La or any other pass, but definitely not in the lower areas.
Weather in Ladakh in august
So, in the end and to sum up, the weather in Ladakh in August will be really warm and pleasant. You may experience light or heavy showers on the way to Manali and Srinagar. In Ladakh, the chances of encountering rain are slightly lower, but you can be on top of passes. For the rest of the time, the days will be quite hot and you can actually walk around wearing ordinary summer clothes. However, the nights will definitely be cold and you will need to wear heavy wool.
Ladakh Temperature in august
The day temperature will be between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, but the night temperature will drop below 10 degrees Celsius.
Travel to Ladakh in August
Your final itinerary will depend on several things, how you are traveling; where you are traveling from, how many days you have on hand; but as an example, i will suggest an itinerary that you can follow. For the sake of this article, I will take Delhi as your starting point. However, if you were coming from a different place, only the journey for the first and the last day will be different. The rest of the plan will remain the same.
- Delhi to Jammu – Day 1
- Jammu to Srinagar – Day 2
- Srinagar to Kargil – Day 3
- Kargil to Leh – Day 4
- Leh – Day 5
- Leh to Diskit – Day 6
- Diskit to Turtuk to Panamik – Day 7
- Panamik to Pangong via Shyok – Day 8
- Pangong to Hanle – Day 9
- Hanle to Karzok – Day 10
- Karzok to Pang – Day 11
- Pang to Jispa – Day 12
- Jispa to Manali – Day 13
- Manali to Delhi – Day 14