Is it Safe?
A big fat YES! Typically we confuse Kargil to be a part of the Kashmir Valley and hence the apprehension. It falls under Ladakh region along with Leh and Zanskar. Ofcourse you will witness the presence of The Indian Army because of its shared boundary with Pakistan but it is completely safe to travel here. The civilians share a very cordial relationship and engage in a lot of collaborative social and cultural campaigns. Almost all areas of Kargil’s country side are accessible for travellers and the Indian Army provides special permissions to registered travel agencies to visit the restricted areas in Drass and Garkone Valley (which are closer to the border).
It is a treat for meat lovers. However, if you are vegetarian, your options will be limited. But that should not stop you from trying the veg variants of these local delicacies. You will find a lot of muslim/kashmiri/ladakhi/Tibetan influence in the food because of its rich cultural history. There will be lots of meat preparations along with rice, thukpas, momos, papa and Khulaq. For the ones with a sweet tooth, don’t forget to try the Apricot Custard. We suggest you do not pass off on an opportunity to eat at a local’s house. You will be surprised. Being a less touristy town, Kargil has less options for continental food but we can suggest some local restaurants that serve delicious Mughlai and North Indian dishes, in veg as well.
About 5 years ago travellers used to complain about options to stay in Kargil but now there is something for every budget. There are about 10” Grade A” hotels and numerous budget guest houses. For a local experience, there are options for homestays and village camps that we can arrange.
In Leh, postpaid connections of almost all carriers work (Airtel, Bsnl, Aircel, Vodafone, Idea). No pre paid connections outside of J&K work in Ladakh (Kargil/Leh/Zanskar). You can use it on roaming if you have a postpaid connection. Activate your roaming facility before to come to Ladakh. In Kargil, post paid connections of Airtel & Bsnl work so you can use it roaming if you have one. Activate your roaming facility before arriving. In Zanskar, only Bsnl connectivity is available. So only Bsnl postpaid roaming connections or local bsnl connections will work there. Local Airtel SIM card can be purchased from the market. You will need a valid ID proof and passport size photograph and process may take upto a week. Connectivity will be intermittent while travelling to remote villages within Ladakh.
3G connectivity on your phone will not work porperly wherever you are in Ladakh (Leh/Kargil/Zanskar). The only provider in J&K is Bsnl. Most guest houses/hotels are wifi enabled. We have wifi connectivity in our office in Kargil. There a bunch of internet cafes also around the town. We can show them to you once you are here.
Banks & ATMs
n Leh, there are plenty of Banks and ATMs in the town like Axis bank, HDFC bank, ICICI bank, State Bank of India, J&K Bank. In Kargil, there is ICICI, HDFC, SBI and J&K bank and their respective ATMs. In Padum (Zanskar), there is J&K Bank and SBI. Having said that, keeping some hard cash on you is a good idea as sometimes the “system” is down due to internet or electricity issues.
Ladakh is a dry mountain, high altitude terrain with average height is 3500m from sea level. Typically 2500m and above sea level is considered as high altitude terrain. The oygen level drops and the air pressure decreases, so your body needs some time get accustomed to the change. Essentially your lungs and heart has to set the tempo straight to the new external factors. Therefore, It is important to get acclimatized to altitude before doing any strenuous activity. Your body will hydrate faster and fatigue sets in quicker. Mild headache, nausea, lack of sleep and appetite are normal symptoms which will go away in a day or two. The first three days are the most critical and need to be cautious. One day of good rest and drinking plenty of water (1 litre a day atleast) is advised to stay hydrated. Having said this, Kargil is at an altitude 2400m and if you travel from Srinagar you can travel on the day to Kargil without resting in Srinagar. As your will gradually ascending up by road, it will get you get acclimatized. If you are travelling from Leh, it is advised that you rest in Leh on the day you arrive and travel to Kargil the next day so that you can acclimatize better. However, it is not a compulsion. As a precautionary measure, we would advise that you get a medical fitness test done from a doctor before to arrive Kargil. If you bring a copy of the medical certificate, it ll be good to have that in our records. Doctor and medical facilities are available in the town incase of any emergency. If you want to read more about Acute Mountain Sickness,