Himalayan Silk Road Tour

Frequently Asked Questions

How do we manage altitude on this trip?

We thought very carefully about managing altitude properly, which is the main reason why we start the trip in Srinagar (1600m) where we spend 4 days before gradually climbing altitude towards Kargil (2700m). After spending a few days there, we then climb altitude again towards Leh (3200m). 

Khardung La Pass is the highest point of this trip (approx 5,500m) where we make a brief photo stop and we advise anyone who doesn't want to get out of the vehicle to stay inside. After that we descend to the Nubra Valley (3500m).

We also advise if anyone does suffer from altitude sickness to also carry any medication. We come equipped with oxygen cylinders in case these are required. To date, we have fortunately never had to use these. All members of our group trips so far said they did not experience any altitude sickness.

How are the roads and what type of vehicles do you use?

The roads are excellent in this region of India. There is an army presence here due to the borders India shares with China and Pakistan and with that has come very good roads, especially in Ladakh. The Indian Border Road Organisation (BRO) has done an excellent job of creating and maintaining these roads. 

We use spacious comfortable cars for this trip, so the group will be divided between vehicles with a maximum of 3 people to the car plus driver. This is because travelling by minibus would make journey times longer, especially when climbing altitude. Also, we sometimes need to take detours on narrower roads which are more suitable for cars. Finally, it gives us added flexibility if some guests wish to return back to the hotel sooner then they can do so without impacting the rest of the group.

What is the accommodation like on this trip?

We have gone to great lengths to personally selected all the accommodation based on our travels in this region. The hotels in Delhi are of great quality and not too far from the airport for ease of transfer. In Srinagar, we start at the locally-owned boutique Nadis Hotel and also spend one night in a well-managed traditional Kashmiri houseboat on Dal Lake. In Kargil, we have selected a locally owned property which offers incredibly well-kept rooms and hospitality. In Ladakh, the properties are a selected mix of eco resorts and boutique lodges all of which offer a taste of luxury and wonderful hospitality in culturally-relevant properties that keep with tradition and sustainability in mind. 

First choice hotels are subject to availability.

How does this trip account for sustainability and benefiting these rural communities?

At Travel The Unknown, we have always wanted to spread the benefits of tourism to more remote parts of destinations and away from overcrowded centres. This trip is no exception and it provides much appreciated income to areas which otherwise see fewer tourists. 

Furthermore, we have gone to great length to source wonderful ethically minded properties both in regard to the environment and the community. In Srinagar, Nadis Hotel is a locally-owned boutique property who grow their own fresh food in garden as a conservation initiative and employ many local people; similarly the houseboat on Lake Dal are a legacy passed on for ten generations and the team are working to preserve their history. In Ladakh, we use a variety of properties all of which are doing great work in this area. Ule Ethnic Resort is entirely solar powered, the first in the region to do so, and source the majority of dairy and produce on-site. Ladakh Eco Lodge has been in the hands of the village's original families for ten generations and their sustainably built mud cabins offer a luxurious stay alongside a look into the traditional ways of life in this part of the world. Finally, Lchang Nang Retreat in the Nubra Valley is a property where ones rooms are found in traditionally built cottages and are fully solar powered, they monitor plastic, waste segregation, and ensure low-impact constructions in their successful effort to reduce their carbon footprint to a minimum. 

Alongside these wonderful properties, we also support many local families and businesses through culinary experiences, traditional craft workshops, and the Munshi Aziz Bhat Museum and museum in Hunderman which are family-owned and the head of a local effort to preserve the history of border-families and this forgotten part of the Silk Road. We must acknowledge the use of smaller vehicles in larger numbers than a minivan or bus for example, however this is a choice purposefully made due to the nature of the mountain passes and roads in the rural areas which are more safely navigated in appropriate vehicles. 

Do I need any special vaccinations or medication for this trip?

You just need the typical travel vaccinations required for visiting most countries in Asia. We recommend consulting the NHS Fit for Travel website which has information about this. This region of India is not a malarial zone, so no malaria medication is required.

When is the best time to travel in this region?

The best time to travel in Kashmir and Ladakh is between April and September. Outside of this period, it is too cold and some of the roads might be unpassable due to snowfall. Fortunately, this region is not impacted by the monsoon in the summer months, so it provides a wonderful respite from the otherwise intense heat and rain the rest of the country experiences in the peak summer months.

Where would you suggest I extend my trip?

There are some wonderful extensions which can be arranged in Ladakh, such as a trip to the surreal Pangong and Tsomoriri lakes. You can do some additional village walks and explore some of Ladakh's many valleys (Zanskar, Suru, Indus, Drass). Depending on when you are travelling, you might also be able to do some bird and wildlife viewing. The region is home to endangered mammals, such as the snow leopard and Himalayan brown bear.

How safe is the region?

We believe the region is very safe, otherwise we would not be offering this trip! Ladakh has always been considered very safe to visit. Kashmir has had flashpoints in the past, the last time being in 2019 when the constitution was changed. However, since then there has been no incident impacting travel there. That said, the FCDO still has a travel advisory against visiting Kashmir, although we believe this does not fully reflect the ground reality.  We take many factors into account before running a trip, and we have full trust in our local partners who know these regions very well. However, we understand that your existing insurance provider might not cover travel to places against FCDO advice. For peace of mind, we recommend obtaining additional insurance for the days you are in Kashmir from companies, such as Battle Face Insurance and Good Neighbor Insurance, who provide affordable cover for destinations which have FCDO advisories. Lastly, we would not risk the safety of our clients or ground team, so if there was any perceived risk to travelling to the region, we would find an alternative solution.