It is important that the vehicle is checked thoroughly before it is driven on the ladakh terrain. Most Self Drive Rental companies as a standard practice only follow manufacturers guidance for service. But in case of Ladakh, this is grossly inadequate. Before every Ladakh road trip, the vehicle must be checked thoroughly and preventive maintenance done to avoid breakdown. It is almost impossible to recover from vehicle failure if it happens in a remote area.
The Operational teams from Self Drive Companies like Zoom / Myles / Voler have never driven in these terrains and neither understand the demands of this terrain. Even Car Manufacturer Service Managers are not aware of the demands of the Ladakh Region.
All SUV must be thoroughly inspected at the Service Station before and after Ladakh Trip
Before you book from these companies demand/insist that you get a properly serviced/inspected car before it is delivered to you for Ladakh Trip
Following options are generally available for rent
SUV Options available on Rent
- Toyota Fortuner AT 4×4 or Manual Transmission
- Ford Endeavor
- XUV 500
- 4×4 Scorpio or 2 Wheel Drive Scorpio ( New generation also available )
- Old Model Innova ( Not recommended due to low ground clearance ) – The New Innova Crysta has higher ground clearance and is highly recommended as well for comfort and power both ( It comes with 2.4 L Diesel Engine which produces 150 PS power and give you a torque of 343 Nm @ 1400 – 2800 rpm which is better then XUV 500 )
- Nissan Terrano / Renault Duster
- Hyundai Creta
Only the following Manufacturers have their Service Station in Leh, so its important to pick a vehicle from following manufacturers
- Tata ( But not reliable )
Though Duster / Terrano are perfectly fine to drive in Ladakh but neither manufacturer has any presence in the region so a minor fault can also leave you stranded
Unwind Outdoor specialises in Self Drive Road Trips to Ladakh
Driving your own SUV ?? Check out the following resources …
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 )
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 )
Self Drive SUV Packages For Ladakh
Ladakh Taxi Union
Ever since individual without any prior knowledge of the dynamics of the region started visiting Ladakh, they have created such a turmoil within the region. Locals rely on tourism for livelihood and self drive vehicles was threatening their income. So the union got together and ban the entry to local sites around Leh
Nubra and Pangong are now out of bound for Self Drive Vehicles. You can still drive your own vehicle and go to these places but not rented Self Drive Vehicles
Ladakhi ( local person ) will not cause any damage to you or to the SUV. Please have no apprehension. Just don’t pick up a fight for no reason
Is 4 Wheel Drive A Must
90% of the time you wont need to engage 4 wheel drive. By and large you can do this trip by following simple principles of hill driving. Only in case of unexpected scenario will 4 Wheel drive be engaged and will be useful. For example, while crossing a stream if you are stuck and your main wheel has no traction then by using the 4 wheel option you will be able to recover.
In the same scenario, if you have tow strap and D- Shackles, you can ask for help and the cars/pick up truck on the other side can provide a little pull and you will be out as well. Or you can try doing the reverse and trace back the route and then try again but this time inspect the stream again and try a different path
In our experience
A tow strap and D-shackle is a must for your Ladakh trip
To know more about SUV driving tips check the blog.
Can I Drive my own Sedan
Yes, you can. If you have a Sedan with lower ground clearance and are waiting for SUV then don’t wait .. Just go but go in Aug and Sept. This is because most of the Ladakh region is dry by this time. The snow around the high passes has mostly melted, the streams have less water and chances of slush are also low.
What we mean is that the chances are less but they are not zero. Weather is unpredictable and you can encounter unpredictable scenario but the chances are less. in Sept, the chances to encounter unexpected scenario are even lesser. But bear in mind that any rain/snow during your trip and your skills will be tested. So a stronger vehicle comes handy. If weather holds out and there is no rain/snow then you will have a perfectly smooth trip
Plan a trip in Sedan after mid Aug and Sept only. Definitely not in June or July