Frequently Asked Questions
trekking in ladakh
Do I need a visa to visit Ladakh?
Yes, all visitors to Ladakh must apply for a visa with the Indian Government. Many nationalities can obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) online. These are valid for 60 days from arrival in India. Upload a photo, a passport scan and pay the necessary fee online. Following this, the Indian government promises to deliver an ETA by e-mail in 72 hours (although we recommend applying a few weeks in advance). More details can be found here: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html. Alternatively you can visit your nearest Indian Embassy/Consulate and apply for a visa through them. Please be aware that these visas are valid from the date of issue, so it is best to wait until a few weeks before your departure to apply for it.
If you are visiting certain areas in Ladakh, such as the Nubra Valley, you will also need a Special Area Permit, which can be applied for in Leh. These permits are easily obtainable, and your guide or driver will take care of this for you.
What do I do if I want to extend my visa?
Indian tourist visas are not extendable, so it’s important to get a visa that lasts the duration of your trip before leaving. The Indian authorities take overstaying a visa very seriously, and you could be prevented from leaving the country if that happens.
What will the weather be like?
This depends on the time of year you’ll be travelling, but all of our tours take place through the warmer months in the middle of the year. Summers (June-September) in Ladakh are generally warm and sunny, with temperatures in the low to mid-20s and cooler nights. Outside of these months, Ladakh is very cold, will snow possible as early as October and as late as May. There is rarely any rain any any time of year, as Ladakh is a high-altitude desert.
What kind of bags should I bring?
We suggest bringing a soft travel bag, backpack (50-60 litres) or a suitcase (but in this case you would need a soft type bag as well for the trek). You also need a small day pack and a light bag to leave items that you are not taking on the trek.
Do I carry my own bag on the trek?
No, you only carry a small day pack with personal items such as camera, water bottle, toilet paper etc. Our porters carry your main bag which will arrive at your daily destination.
Who will be guiding my trek?
All our treks have experienced English speaking guides who will look after you during the trek.
How hard will the trek be?
Because of the high altitude in Ladakh, you may not feel as fit or strong as you are accustomed to during the trek. Furthermore, the level of physical exertion required increases as you ascend in altitude, but as long as you take it slowly and don’t push yourself it can still be an enjoyable albeit challenging experience. We encourage you to train before your trip and ensure your general level of fitness is high. Anyone with a good level of fitness will be able to complete our treks.
How far will we walk each day?
In general we walk five to eight hours per day. It’s not a matter of distance but the number of hours we walk. As we get higher we are restricted in the distance we can walk so that we don’t exceed an altitude gain of approximately 500 metres per day.
Do I need trekking boots?
These are great but should be worn in. If you don’t have boots, good trainers or walking sandals are fine for shorter treks. Check with us if you are unsure.
Where do we sleep on trek?
You will sleep in either homestay accommodation or campsites, or a combination of both. The homestays are with local families, and provide basic rooms with simple beds and clean bedding. Most rooms have shared bathrooms and facilities.
Do I need a sleeping bag?
You will need a sleeping bag and we also recommend bringing a liner for it.
Will I suffer from altitude problems on the trek?
Our treks all go to different heights, and ultimately Ladakh is a high-altitude region so it’s common for travellers to feel some light symptoms of altitude sickness, especially during their first day or two. Any time you travel above 3,000 metres there is the possibility of altitude problems. It’s important to acclimatise, walk at your own pace and drink plenty of water. You should tell your guide if you have a headache, dizziness or any other health complaint. Our guides are all trained in first aid and understand what to do if someone is suffering from altitude sickness. Please read our Travel at High Altitude document for more detailed information about symptoms, treatment, and prevention of altitude sickness.
Will there be hot water for showering?
Some homestays may have showers available, otherwise you can ask for a bucket of hot water to wash yourself with.
Do I need a water filter?
Water filters are great and if you have one, bring it. Boiled and filtered water is available at your hotel and most restaurants. We don’t recommend buying water every day, due to the environmental impact.
Will I get lost?
Your guide will be walking with you, so as long as you are responsible, stay with the group, and listen to the guide’s instructions you will not get lost.
What standard of accommodation can I expect?
All of our accommodation in Ladakh has been chosen especially for our guests’ comfort and enjoyment. Most of our choices are boutique or heritage hotels, which feature traditional Ladakhi design with modern comforts, but even so they are not luxurious by western standards. Your accommodation will be basic but comfortable, and always warmed by the exceptional hospitality of the Ladakhi people. In homestays, you can expect a more traditional experience, but it will still be clean and comfortable. Camp sites on the trek will be very basic, as can be expected in the remote Himalayas.
Will there be somewhere safe to store my valuables?
We use very good hotels and most of them have safes and safe storage. Make sure that you ask each hotel to protect your valuables.
Will I be able to recharge my phone/batteries?
Yes, make sure that you have an adaptor. Ladakh has a standard 230 V. They use 2 pin and 3 pin round sockets.
Can I do laundry on the trip?
Laundry services are available in hotels, for varying and sometimes high charges. You can handwash small items (underwear and socks) if you bring a small bar of laundry soap or buy powder there. Please note that as the air is cool in Ladakh, it can take some time for your laundry to dry, so it’s recommended to bring plenty of changes of underwear and socks in particular so this isn’t an issue.
What standard of toilets can I expect?
The standard of hygiene in hotels and restaurants is generally good. Do be aware that toilets between towns may be squat type and more basic. We recommend carrying some toilet paper and hand sanitizer in your bag.
Do you cater for vegetarian and other special diets?
Yes, we recommend following a vegetarian diet while in Ladakh. Please advise us of your dietary requirements so that we can arrange this in advance.
What vaccinations do you recommend?
Beyond The Clouds recommend consulting a travel doctor (worth shopping around and checking the prices) for vaccinations. Usually they will recommend shots for hepatitis, typhoid, diphtheria/tetanus, polio booster and meningitis. You may also be offered a series of rabies injections as there is rabies present in Ladakh. Please discuss this with your travel doctor. We strongly recommend staying away from all animals during the trip. Please note: It is your personal decision as to which vaccinations to take, and we cannot take responsibility for this.
What do I do if I need medical care?
There are medical facilities and pharmacies in Leh, as well as medical care at Indian Army bases throughout Ladakh (for emergencies). Please inform your guide if you need any assistance.
Is there anything I should avoid doing in Ladakh?
Do not wear revealing clothing in villages or in monasteries, and avoid touching animals.
Can I take photographs anywhere?
Most Ladakhi people are very friendly and open to having their picture taken, but do show your respect by asking their permission first. When photographing children, ask their parents. Some monasteries either charge a fee for taking photos inside the chapels, or they ban it outright to protect the ancient murals. Please be respectful of such notices.
Can I bring gifts for the local children?
As a rule, Beyond The Clouds discourages handouts. Handing out things such as sweets, pens and money only creates a culture of begging (and bad teeth). As an alternative, you may wish to donate to our charity, First Steps Himalaya, so that we can purchase suitable items for children at our projects in rural Nepal.
What is the local currency?
The Indian Rupee is the local currency. It’s not usually available outside of India so should be purchased on arrival in Delhi. You can change money in Leh easily, and there are plenty of ATMs around the city.
How much spending money should I bring?
As all your accommodation and most of your food is included on these tours you only need to bring spending money for meals, souvenirs, alcoholic drinks and any extras such as massages. We would recommend bringing a minimum of US$500.
Can I use my credit cards? Are there any ATMs?
Yes – credit cards are accepted at most hotels and tourist shops in larger centres. There are ATMs in Leh but we would advise bringing some US$ or GBP cash, as the ATMs can frequently encounter problems and you may be unable to withdraw money for several days.
How much is recommended for tipping?
Tipping in Ladakh is entirely up to clients but is always appreciated by guides and porters on our treks. As a guideline, we suggest single and couple trekkers tipping the guide on a short trek (4-6 nights) around US$35-50 and each porter around US$20. If you are in a larger group then around US$50-70 for the guide between the group and US$25 for each porter. On longer treks (10-20 nights) a suggested tip for the guide would be US$70-150 and US$35-50 for each porter. Larger groups might give a bit more depending on group size.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions.