After our arrival in Leh we travelled by road, playing “dodge the sacred cow” to our hotel for the first few nights.
Leh is a big military location with thousands of troops from several different Indian Army Units, protecting its strategic location and borders from Pakistan on one side and China on the the other.
The local people here are more Tibetan and in some cases Mongolian in appearance rather than classic Indian and so warm and welcoming.
The rest of the first day we had some down time so whilst some chose to catch up on their sleep a few of us ventured into the centre of Leh to explore and get some Rupees.
Our group leader Joe practically lives in Leh now and is an experienced mountaineer. He took us to a great local cafe for lunch and later explained how all the locals were talking about how an elderly snow leopard had wandered into town overnight where it had sought refuge in a Mosque under renovation. Unfortunately the leopard was found chomping on one of the local stray dogs before it was tranquillised and transported back to where it had come from and released. So having had a hearty meal and a good kip why not come back again…..note to self look out for hungry old leopards.
Our second day in Leh was all about gentle acclimatisation. We travelled first to where the Indus River meets the Zanska river before venturing on further to visit several of the local Buddhist Temples at Bascu, Likir and Alchee, the last of which at was over a thousand years old. It was fascinating and a real step back in time.
I definitely felt the altitude and lack of oxygen at times today. Every now and then it creeps up on you just as a gentle reminder of how high up you are …….and to breathe.