The roads from Srinagar to Leh are mostly smooth except Zoji La and then part of road till Drass .. After Drass till Kargil and then to Leh, the roads are wide and well maintained ..
By and large, on most blogs you will see the trip from Srinagar to Leh can be done in 2 days
Day 1: Srinagar to Kargil
Day 2: Kargil to Leh
While if you are short of time, then I don’t think there is anything more that you can do besides enjoying every site on way. If you do have more time or want to tweak this around based on your preference, then continue reading
Zojila Pass Timings
When Zoji LA first opens early in the season ( Generally May ) , it is one way i.e.
In 2015, due to excessive snow, one day traffic was allowed to go from Srinagar to Kargil Side and Next day, the traffic was allowed to go from Kargil to Srinagar side. These changes are not known, till the pass is open and you wont get to know even a month in advance. This change has to be done just a few days before the trip at max.
2016 has seen little snow fall so anticipate less problem this year and Zoji La should be operational early
In all other years, traffic is allowed in slots during the day. Srinagar traffic is allowed to cross Sonamarg check post before 8.30 AM so one must start early morning in May from Srinagar. Post 9 AM till about 1 PM, the traffic is allowed to cross from Kargil side.
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Day 8 : Nubra Valley to Pangong via Shyok
Route : Hunder – Diskit – Khalsar – Agyam – Shyok – Durbuk – Tangste – Lukung – Spangmik
Attractions : Wilderness Drive to Agyam, Drive through Shyok RIver Bed
Distance : 155 kms 6 hrs ( 1 hrs of stoppage time, total 7 hrs )
Road Condition : Bad after Agyam ( Lot of slides , dry river bed , etc If its raining then this section is very tricky 4×4 preferred if not dry )
Food Recommendation : Dhabas are only available near Durbuk ( You wil find an odd tea shop on way before that ) – Khalsar has some Dhabhas ( Pack your food from the camp / hotel in Nubra and then have it at a place of your choice )
Kindly check locally and closer to your travel date about this restriction
From Aug, there is no restriction and you can travel easily right through the day and cross Zoji La anytime during the day
This restrictions has an impact on your planning and hence once should not plan to leave for Kargil immediately on arrival in Srinagar, especially in May / June and part of July
Now that we have handled the uncertainty of Zoji La, its time to plan the night halts and the possible options
The first night halt can either be in Srinagar or Sonamarg.
While Srinagar is more like a city with no scenic beauty but one can relish Kashmiri Cuisine and enjoy the Shikara Ride amidst the setting Sun, which is certainly a worth while thing to do.
If you love being in nature then plan a night halt in Sonamarg. It is about 80 kms from Srinagar and you are away from the town and into the country side of Kashmir. Besides, it is at much higher altitude and the weather is also cooler.
However, please do keep in mind that from mid July to Mid Aug due to Amarnath Yatra, do not plan a night halt in Sonamarg due to heavy rush of pilgrims. There are stay options before Sonamarg and you must stay before Sonamarg to avoid Pilgrim rush.
The next suggested night halt is Kargil but it is a very boring town and nothing to write home about. At least you can find a decent accommodation for good night rest. Kargil is also a doorway to Zanskar Valley and if you are planning to take a detour to Zanskar then this also acts as your base.
At the start of the season, plan for Kargil only ( Zoji La can be unpredictable ). Sometimes it may take even upto 8 hrs to cross Zoji La This happens only when the snow conditions are high
Once the snow settles down usually from July onwards, if you like you can plan a night in Lamayuru. In order to do this, stay for the night halt in Sonamarg. This way you will have sufficient time for beautiful landscape and sites en route to Lamayuru from Sonamarg.
Kargil night halt can be replaced with Lamayuru from July, once the snow melts on Zoji La
Lamayuru is a small village and is home to one of the oldest monastery in Ladakh region. The choice of stay in Lamayuru is basic but clean and if you are looking for any kind of luxury then you will be disappointed. Neat and clean accommodation with simple food service in a peaceful surroundings is what you will get here.
From Lamayuru, when you begin the drive to Leh, there are may interesting detours. Tingmosgang ( from Nurla about 100 kms from Lamayuru ) and Alchi after Ule are your best possible options.
Tingmosgang & Alchi make for an interesting detour on the Srinagar – Leh highway
Both Tingmosgang and Alchi are small village with interesting Monasteries and you can interact with locals and visit the monasteries to explore the local culture besides driving on rural roads of Ladakh in itself a unique experience.
If you like you can plan a night halt at either of these places before you head to Leh or just head straight straight to Leh if monasteries is not your thing Or don’t have enough number of days at hand