Back from Ladakh: 2022 Edition

I got back from Ladakh on Monday – the trip didn’t go quite according to plan as I tested positive for COVID on the second morning of the trek so had to go back to Leh to isolate.

A bit of a disappointment after all the anticipation.

On the plus side, both the hotel in Leh (Hotel New Glacier View) and the local Exodus agent (Chosphel, Venture Ladakh) were great, and the other lady on the trip got COVID too so we could isolate together.

Room 302 provided a great view and a daily breakfast delivery, and Chosphel came every day to check on us, which was very reassuring. Most importantly of all we were clear to fly home on our scheduled group flights.

I’m pretty sure I caught COVID at Heathrow (hardly anyone masking and very busy) or on the flight to Delhi – adults had to mask but kids didn’t and there were lots of families with under 5s on their way to see family in India. There is no requirement for a test, just a vaccination certificate.

With hindsight, what I thought was me not acclimatising very well – headaches, tiredness, loss of appetite – were probably all symptoms of COVID.

I didn’t get it too bad – moving about was tiring and I had a stuffy / snotty head for the first couple of days, which I spent sleeping, then another couple reading in between snoozes and then out and about a bit in the fresh air. The rules were quite relaxed generally so we were OK to eat out and potter around town once we felt up to it so long as we masked and stayed socially distanced.

Drank a lot of water!

The thing I got in Dolpo was much worse.

Not much has changed in Leh – the bazaar and back streets are still as they were, the Gompa too (minus as few of the lovely trees) but the Brazil Cafe was deserted so we didn’t go there. The new Central Asian Museum is great and Valerie P’s orientation tour introduced us to Baker’s Alley and a couple of open air rooftop cafe / bar / restaurants.

Our return to Leh coincided with a visit from the Dalai Lama who is spending a month at his summer residence in Choglamsar a few miles up the valley. Needless to say, we didn’t join the crowds at the Gompa, Mosque and Church the morning he visited them all.

Once we’d completed our day 0 (positive) + 5 days of isolation we headed out with Konchok and Lobzang from Ladakh Venture for a couple of (rainy) days camping and walking west of Likir, camping at Ulley and Hemishukpachan and walking between the two.

Leh - Basgo - Likir - Uley - Hemis Shukpachan
Leh – Basgo – Likir – Uley – Hemis Shukpachan

We returned to Leh a few hours before the rest of the (now all male) group. They had had 5 very hot days and then, once they were higher up, 5 cold, wet and cloudy days. Not so good. Only one of them summited.

A long journey home: Leh – Delhi – London – Hereford took 3 days. Tom picked me up from LHR on Sunday and I had lovely evening with them all, watching the final of the women’s Euros 2022 drinking beer and eating crisps.

Things I’ve come back to:

  • A new 4G antenna on the front of the house, which – so far – is providing nice consistent internet access.
  • Cows in Thistly Field – as opposed to cows in Leh’s Karzoo Ice Rink.
  • A scythe-wielding husband….

There will be photos, once I’ve got them onto Flickr….