Rural routes

Ladakh village experiences offer an authentic rural experience and provides a snapshot of the village life in the himalayan region of Ladakh. It is the one of the largest district in India and the largest district of Jammu and Kashmir State with 113 villages (112 inhabited and one un inhabited village. Live and interact with the local inhabitants, experience traditional activities you might not get to see otherwise on a typical vacation as a tourist. Staying with a family in their home will allow you a unique insight into the lifestyles and culture of Ladakhi people. Journeys here will be on foot, by river raft and by vehicles with stops at un-spoilt Buddhist monasteries en route. Feel at home with LadakhSafari’s homestays.

It is also important to know about the traditional system of toilets in Ladakh:
Ladakh’s traditional composting toilets are ideally suited to the environment and their use should be encouraged. No water is used (or wasted), the smell is negligible because of the dry climate and the end product is one of the best fertilizers around for organic agriculture. In rural areas the process saves animal faeces which, when dry, can be used more efficiently for fuel, essential in a region with hardly any wood. When using a Ladakhi toilet, usually situated upstairs and on the north side of a Ladakhi house, don’t use water and remember to shovel down some earth or ash (there’s normally a pile in a comer) when you’ve finished; this stops the smell and discourages flies. Don’t throw tampons, sanitary towels, condoms etc down the hole.

Unfortunately, many guesthouses in Leh are being encouraged by government incentives to introduce flush toilets purely to please visitors. These are having disastrous effects on the local environment. First, they are using up extremely valuable fresh water supplies and second, Leh has no sewage system to deal with the waste that is produced. Instead, the groundwater supplies and the streams are becoming heavily contaminated because of poorly constructed and poorly maintained drains and septic tanks. Even if sewage-treatment works could be built and there was enough water, polluting chemicals would have to be introduced into the systems and the lavatories would still be useless in winter when they freeze over. Various local organizations have tried to make guesthouse owners aware of the problem but have met with little success because the owners believe that Western loos are essential to attract guests. Therefore it is up to travellers to make them aware that you would prefer traditional toilets rather than Western-style ones. If your guesthouse has a choice between a flush system and a dry toilet, please use the latter. After all, most trekkers are quite happy without flush toilets in the mountains and surely you didn’t come to Ladakh to be comforted by Western luxuries.