Altitude and health-related precautions

Kargil district is located at an average altitude of over 2,700m above mean sea level. Though marginally lower than Leh district, Kargil’s altitude is significantly higher than Kashmir and the Indian sub-continental plains. Though most people do not experience symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) in Kargil, many trekking routes are located at much higher elevations. It’s therefore a good idea to be cautious and be alert for symptoms of AMS. The most common symptoms of AMS are headache, disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, coughing, irregular breathing, and inability to concentrate. One should avoid smoking tobacco, alcohol and caffeine-based drinks as they dehydrate the body and interfere with the process of acclimatisation. It’s important to get as much rest as possible for the first 24 to 48 hours after arrival in Ladakh. High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPO) and High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACO) are serious forms of AMS, which can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Kargil has a District Hospital and an army hospital, which are equipped to provide medical aid. The best way to acclimatise is to ascent gradually. Kargil town’s moderate elevation makes it an ideal place to help your body acclimatise, even as you enjoy Purigi hospitality.

Reaching Kargil

The easiest way to reach Kargil is by road. The nearest airports are in Srinagar (204 km) and Leh (225 km), which are connected by commercial flights to Delhi and other cities in India. The drive from Leh to Kargil is scenic and travels along the historical route that was used to travel between Kashmir and Ladakh. The daily Srinagar-Kargil bus service operates only in the summer, while the daily Leh-Kargil service operates throughout the year. Once Zoji-la is blocked by snow in the winter, Kargil can only be reached by road from Leh. Alternatively, there are several trekking routes from Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Leh district to different parts of Kargil. Most of these routes can only be traversed in summer, while the famous Chadder trek (over the frozen Zangskar river) can only be used at the peak of winter.


There are regular bus services to most parts of Kargil district from Kargil town. However, the frequency of this service is infrequent for distant locations such as Padum—and in the case of Zangskar is subject to Penzi-la being open for vehicular traffic. The most convenient way of getting around Kargil district is by a hired taxi, who have a fixed rate for different routes. One can also bring their own private vehicle in the summer, when the mountain passes are open for traffic. However, driving on mountain roads requires special skill and awareness of driving etiquette. In this regard, hiring a taxi is a better option for commuting within the district and to areas outside.