- Acclimatization in Ladakh and Zanskar:
Because the altitude, treks in Ladakh and Zanskar are difficult. Minimum altitude is about 3500 meters. That’s why an acclimatization is necessary (at least 48 hours).
This acclimatization is usually done in Leh or in the Indus Valley.
Generally, it is better to do anything on the day of arrival in Leh (planes only land in the morning). Second and third days, we usually visit Leh and the monasteries around the city.
Especially during the acclimatization days (but it is also valid for the rest of the stay), it is better to drink a lot (water, tea… drinking alcohol during first days is strongly discouraged!).
- Altitude sickness
Altitude sickness is frequent in Ladakh, especially at the beginning of the stay or at the beginning of the trek when climbing the “first high passes”.
First symptoms are headaches, nausea, dizziness. They are not to be taken lightly and you have to loose altitude quickly if you are on a trek. If you are in Leh, the first caution is to rest. Some hotels provide oxygen to « fill you » in O2. If first symptoms persist, medical treatment is necessary (see your doctor before departure, who may prescribe « Diamox » or an equivalent).
In the most serious cases, Leh hospital is well equipped to treat this type of sickness.
Being in excellent physical condition is not a guarantee of escaping mountain sickness. Even the most athletic or experienced mountain people have to acclimatize.
- Physical condition :
Treks require good physical condition, some practice and need to respect for basic safety measures.
Some treks, as the one in the Sham Valley in Ladakh, can be adapted for people with “average” physical condition or for children under 10 years of age.
It is also strongly recommended to have a medical check-up before departure and to bring the necessary first aid medicines and kits for preventive measure.
- Drinks :
Water of Ladakh and Zanskar is not drinkable. It is therefore better, for drinking (and brushing teeth):
– to buy mineral water bottles
– to drink only local water that has been boiled
– to provide purifying tablets or a filter system before departure
- Insurance :
Check and arrange with your insurance company to cover any evacuation costs: special attention must be paid to checking the clauses of the contract.
This insurance must include any mountain rescue services (including helicopter evacuation, given the high cost of such operations).
Insurance coverage must start at the evacuation request and not on arrival at the nearest hospital (Leh) to allow a helicopter ride to that hospital.