The trans-Himalayan feel that grips you as you travel across this remote mountain desert is somehow halted when you see the ecosystem being damaged by irresponsible tourists who give more importance to their own comfort and luxury than to the fragile place and the locals.
Though Ladakh is now connected by flights, it is still hard to find internet, running water here. It is a desert area of extremely hot or cold temperatures and as such, one needs to take certain measure while traveling in Ladakh.
Instead of choosing to travel in your private car, choose to ride in public transport or taxi, sharing stories with fellow travellers. Yes, it is the easy option to have your private car, and if you do choose that option, be nice enough to help locals or hitchhikers. After all, the journey is the most important part of travel, as if drive amidst the snow-hooded mountains and beautiful roads. Ladakh is one of the safe places in India, where you can hitchhike without worrying about your safety.
People seem to forget that Ladakh is, in fact, a desert and most of its drinkable water come from melted glaciers. Water conservation is one of Ladakh’s higher priorities and travellers who expect fresh running water all the time and flash-style western toilets would be disappointed. Learn to settle for buckets of water for bathing. And take fewer baths if you can. The idea of dry composting toilets may seem unusual to a first-time visitor but it is hygienic.
With the increase in tourism in Ladakh and higher demand for water, the glaciers are melting away fast, making it more troublesome for the place to keep up with its water needs.
There is nothing worse than going to a beautiful lakeside and seeing plastic bottles or Chips wrappers spread around the place tarnishing its beauty. The litter that takes away the beauty of the hillsides is turning this hill station into a garbage dumpster like so many others as well. It is better to practice recycling and taking the non-biodegradable trash back with you. Use a single plastic bottle that you can refill instead of buying new ones and laying waste to the previous one. The easiest thing you can do is carry a small trash bag with you. Don’t ruin the natural beauty of the place with your garbage. The usual thinking is that one little wrapper wouldn’t hurt much but the truth is that the single wrapper by countless other tourists is what in the end ruins a good spot.
We had been warned by the locals about the obnoxious tourists who play loud music by the lakeside and run havoc after getting drunk. We were shocked to hear of such an instance. So instead of being a nuisance to the locals and other travellers, try peacefully enjoying the scenery and let others enjoy it as well. Try the local food and flavours and befriend the people instead of shoving your camera everywhere and being choosy about your meals.
In the end, if you are using a travel company for your trip to Ladakh, research on how much they care about Ladakh’s ecosystem. What methods they have of recycling waste and water conservation, how much they support the traditional way of living.
Prefer the home-bred organizations for stay or eco-camps that use solar cells and leave a lesser carbon footprint. Try to let go of your luxurious urban lifestyle and go all organic and traditional. It will be a memorable experience and you will feel good about yourself afterwards.