Travel Guide for Tso Moriri Lake in Ladakh
Tso Moriri Lake – Ladakh
Tso Moriri lake in Changthang region of Ladakh is one of the most beautiful, calm and sacred (for ladakhis) high altitude lakes in India. In fact, it is the largest high altitude lake in India that is entirely in Indian Territory. This beautiful blue pallet lake is about 7 KM wide at its broadest point and about 19 KM long. Being part of the wetland reserve under Ramsar site, it is actual known as Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation Reserve and one cannot pitch any tents or construct anything near the banks of the lake. It is the highest Ramsar site in the world. A large number of flora and fauna is found in the region.
Since, it is very near to the Line of Actual Control, one need to get Inner Line Permit to visit Tso Moriri. You can get more details on Inner Line Permits here: Inner Line Permits for Leh – Ladakh. Starting May 2014, Indian Tourists does not need Inner Line Permits for Tso Moriri. Read more about it here
The beautiful multi shades of blue color offered by this lake along with a picturesque landscape around gives this place an extremely romantic feel and breathtaking feel. However, in actual reality the place is extremely harsh and difficult to survive especially in winters. There is only one cemented accommodation available around the lake and the facilities like electricity, medical aid, hot running water, western toilets etc. are rare to find. The lack of oxygen makes survival difficult if your body is not properly acclimatized to its high altitude and hence, one need to plan his/her journey extremely carefully to make it acute mountain sickness free vacation.
Photo credit: Kaushik Dada at IndiaMike
Tso Moriri lake is located about 240 KMs from Leh town of Ladakh district.
Tso Moriri lake is one of the high altitudes lakes of India at a staggering altitude of 4595 Meters or 15075 Feet, yes higher than Pangong Tso.
Season for Traveling to Tso Moriri Lake – Ladakh
In January to March, Tso Moriri remains mostly frozen, extremely cold conditions with no options to stay around the lake. In April types, it starts to melt and starts transforming into the beautiful multi shades of blue colors off the shores. Then May, June, July and August is the peak tourist season but as compared to Pangong Tso it gets less number of tourist.
Come September and early October, the tourists starts to reside as cold starts to set in and accommodation tents starts to pack up nearing to lake. According to me, this is by far the best time to visit Tso Moriri to see full glory of beautiful shades of blue color. The colors are purely magical at this time of the year and with less number of tourist comparatively, you get better deals and enjoy more. After second week of October up to December, all the accommodation packs up and the only nearest place you can stay is either in some home stay type guest house at Korzok village or at Chumathang with basic facilities to fight the harsh cold. Chumathang is at much lower in altitude and one can stay there if visiting at the onset or in winters.
How to Reach Tso Moriri Lake – Ladakh
Route from Leh to Tso Moriri Lake
This is the general route to Tso Moriri that most people take to visit this ever beautiful lake in Ladakh. You can reach in about 6 – 7 Hrs depending upon the number of break you take in between. The route along with distance between the subsequent places is as follows:
Leh – Karu (36 KMs) – Upshi (13 KMs) – Kumdok (19 KMs) – Kere (53 KMs) – Chumathang (34 KMs) – Mahe (22 KMs) – Sumdo (10 KMs) – Korzok or Tso Moriri(53 KMs) = 240 KMs
You can cover Thicksey, Hemis and Shey monasteries while going through this route, if you haven’t covered them earlier while going to Pangong Tso. This route provides the best road conditions among all other routes. So, if you are one of those who prefer relaxing vacation and do not want to rush through places then, I will suggest make a two day trip to Tso Moriri lake via this route from Leh. Of course, I assume your body has been acclimatized properly by staying for couple of nights in Leh and spending a night or two in Nubra Valley as well before attempting to sleep near Tso Moriri or Korzok. If you are short on time then you can also exit towards Manali via Manali – Leh Highway from Tso Moriri via this route only but you need to esnure you have enough fuel to cover about 550 KMs without any fuel pump.
Route from Pangong Tso Lake to Tso Moriri Lake
There exist a direct and an indirect route between Tso Moriri and Pangong Tso as well and in most general cases, you will always be doing it from direct route of Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri because you can exit Ladakh from Tso Moriri towards Manali – Leh Highway after visiting Tso Moriri without coming back towards Leh and secondly, Tso Moriri is higher than Pangong Tso so as per acclimatization schedule you should stay near Pangong Tso before spending night at Tso Moriri.
Pangong Tso Lake to Tso Moriri Lake via Changthang (Merak – Chusul – Nyoma)
You can go to Tso Moriri from Pangong Tso directly via the remote and ever beautiful Changthang region. The drive between Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri is one of the most beautiful drives in whole Ladakh region. Foreigners are not allowed to go beyond Man – Merak Villages as permits are not issued to them for this route. Hence, they need to follow the indirect, slighly longer route to Tso Moriri from Pangong Tso. You need to mention all the places mentioned in the route below on your permit form in order to under take this route. The route along with distance between the subsequent places is as follows:
Spangmik (Pangong Tso) – Man (9 KMs) – Merak (12 KMs)– Kakstet (4 KMs) – Chusul (24 KMs) – Tsaga La (33 KMs) – Tsaga Village (20 KMs) – Loma (23 KMs) – Nyoma (22 KMs) – Mahe (25 KMs) – Sumdo (10 KMs) – Tso Moriri / Korzok (53 KMs) = 235 KMs
You need to make sure you carry fuel for about 550 – 600 KMs because you will be covering Leh – Pangong Tso – Nyoma – Loma – Tso Moriri – Leh without any other petrol pump. And if you want to exit Ladakh through Manali – Leh Highway from Tso Moriri then also carry petrol/diesel for about 650 – 700 KMs as the next petrol pump will be available at Tandi. Otherwise, you need to come back to Karu or Upshi, refill and move back again towards Manali – Leh Highway.
Pangong Tso Lake to Tso Moriri Lake via Chumathang
The indirect route that goes via Chumathang is the longer one, where you need to go all the way back from Pangong Tso to Leh upto Karu and from there you can take left towards Upshi – Chumathang – Korzok to reach Tso Moriri. This route can be followed by foreign tourists who are not allowed the permit for Changthang (Man – Merak – Chusul etc) region, if they do not want to go back to Leh. But, IMO one must go back to Leh from Pangong Tso, refresh themselves and start towards Tso Moriri next morning instead of very long day via Chumathang. You need to mention both Tso Moriri and Pangong Tso on your permit form in order to under take this route. The route along with distance between the subsequent places is as follows:
Spangmik – Lukung (16 KMs) – Tangtse (34 KMs) – Durbuk (9 KMs) – Chang La (32 KMs) – Sakti (34 KMs) – Karu (10 KMs) – Upshi (13 KMs) – Kumdok (19 KMs) – Kere (53 KMs) – Chumathang (34 KMs) – Mahe (22 KMs) – Sumdo (10 KMs) – Korzok or Tso Moriri(53 KMs) = 339 KMs
Do not forget to refill petrol/diesel at Karu or Upshi petrol pump and if you want to exit Ladakh through Manali – Leh Highway then also carry petrol/diesel for about 500 – 550 KMs as the next petrol pump will be available at Tandi. Otherwise, you need to come back to Karu or Upshi, refill and move back again towards Manali – Leh Highway.
The higher ground clearance vehicles are preferable and 4×4 ones would definitely be helpful especially between Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri via Man – Merak – Chusul – Nyoma (Changthang) route. However, for general route via Chumathang, quite a few people do it in hatchbacks and sedans as well which depends upon your skills to drive and road conditions at the time of travel.
Suggested Itinerary for Tso Moriri Lake – Ladakh
Generally, at least one night stay is preferable to truly witness the mesmerizing beauty of this blue colored salt water lake. Of course, one night stay will help you watch sunrise and sunset over the picturesque landscape and increase the charm of your vacation to great extent. Most people, generally do:
Day 1 | Leh – Tso Moriri via Chumathang
- Cover Korzok Monastery
- Overnight at Tso Moriri or Korzok
Day 2 | Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Debring – Taglang La – Rumste – Upshi – Karu – Leh
- Cover Tso Kar Lake and Taglang La (some part of Manali – Leh Highway)
- Overnight at Leh
You can also check the most common and very well balanced itinerary for whole Leh – Ladakh region covering all major tourist destination including Srinagar – Leh Highway and Manali – Leh Highway, at the below link: Most Common Itinerary for Leh – Ladakh
Accommodation Options at Tso Moriri Lake – Ladakh
You cannot find accommodation at Tso Moriri lake on the banks because it is restricted to pitch the camps there being a wetland reserve and sanctuary for migratory birds. You can pitch the tents near the other tented colonies pitched just before Korzok village or find an accommodation in Korzok village. Both ways you will definitely have a clear and broad view of the 24 KM in length, 6 KM in width this magnificent blue colored high altitude lake – Tso Moriri (Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation Reserve)
For a comprehensive list of accommodation options or hotels or camps around Tso Moriri lake, check the link here: Good Hotels or Accommodation options near Tso Moriri – Ladakh
Medical Facilities near Tso Moriri Lake – Ladakh
The nearest basic medical health center may be available at Korzok Village though I am not that sure about it. You can get basic first aid including Oxygen doses at some of the tents/camps, I guess.
Food Joints near Tso Moriri Lake – Ladakh
Being a remote place, you will either be eating in the home stay at Korzok Village or at the camps/tents near Korzok in which you might be staying overnight.
Phone Signals at Tso Moriri Lake – Ladakh
You will not find any phone or mobile signals at Tso Moriri lake.
Petrol Pumps near Tso Moriri Lake – Ladakh
Nearest Petrol Pump is at Karu (about 204 KMs) from Tso Moriri and comes on the way to Tso Moriri from Leh. I will suggest that you top-up the fuel from Leh itself and then drive/ride up to to Tso Moriri.
ATMs near Tso Moriri Lake – Ladakh
You will not find any ATMs near Tso Moriri lake and hence, it is always better to carry cash from Leh (the only place where you find ATM in Ladakh) itself.
It is a great place to visit and I am sure if you visit Ladakh, this one surely is not the place you would like to exclude from your plan. I hope the above information will be useful for your upcoming Leh – Ladakh trip.
Please feel free to post any queries or doubts you might have in planning your trip to Tso Moriri place in the comments section below. If you have been to Tso Moriri lake, kindly share your thoughts and other information you might feel will be worth sharing with other fellow travelers and prove helpful to them.
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