Tips for Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso Direct Route

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In the last article, I talked about tips for Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri Direct Route and in this article today, I will share some tips about another seek after direct route which is Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso. This direct route from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso has now become more popular in the recent past years, thanks to the less number of leaves we get from offices 😉 😉 … Many a times I used to get queries where people try to squeeze in that extra day by traveling directly from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso instead of coming back to Leh. I thought of summarizing my tips for this direct route as well in this article today so that it can be referred whenever required and can also let you know about my thoughts regarding this direct route in detail. Well, to start with the basic question of whether there exist a direct route from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso or not? Then, yes, there exist a direct route to travel from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso. In fact, there are couple of direct routes between these two most popular tourist destinations in Ladakh 😀 😀

To get more detailed understanding of the routes in Ladakh along with distances, you can also refer: DoW – Maps of Ladakh | Nubra Valley & Changthang. And, I always suggest everyone to keep in mind that all the remote routes in Ladakh are isolated and completely off track with most of the section running as dirt roads. The first and the foremost tip I suggest is that “better stick to traditional routes in case it is your first trip to Ladakh to avoid the uncertainities of different kinds on these unconventional routes 😉” … As you draw from the map of Ladakh, there exist couple of routes to travel to Pangong Tso from Nubra Valley directly and I will talk about both of them in detail one by one for you.

Shyok River on Roads… Making Your Own Way – Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso
Shyok River on Roads... Making Your Own Way - Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso

Road Conditions of Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso

Nubra Valley – Agham – Wari La – Shakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso (Lukung)

This one is mostly used by tourist interested to reach Pangong Tso directly from Nubra Valley. Major part of the ascend and descend towards Wari La from Agham Village is tough and roads are mix of average and bad. Second part about this route is that, you will very rarely spot a taxi or other vehicle, so in case of any exigency, help will be very very hard to find and will be available in some miles of distance, if any. Since, this route does not have much priority so you may most likely to find it either closed or in bad shape, especially the start of the season in June. For rest of the route beyond Shakti towards Chang La – Pangong Tso, it is the same route that is coming from Leh. It takes about 10+ Hrs to reach Pangong Tso from Nubra Valley via Wari La route, so start early in the day.

  • Sedans/Hatchbacks = Tough, at least the climb up/down for Wari La and then again to Changla. Very Tough in early summers.
  • High Ground Clearance SUVs (4×2) = Manageable, Tough in early summers.
  • High Ground Clearance SUVs (4×4) = Manageable, Tough in early summers without 4×4.
On the way to Wari La – Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso
On the way to Wari La - Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso

On the way to Wari La - Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso
Nubra Valley – Agham – Shyok Village – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso (Lukung)

In future this route may be mostly used by tourists interested to reach Pangong Tso directly from Nubra Valley. It has been 5 years since this route has been made through but has remained mostly closed so far due to major landslides that happens on this route every now and then due to an unstable mountain. Some of the sections between Agham and Shyok villages are extremely difficult, very much landslide prone and will most likely get your heart in the mouth at one or the other curve 😉 😉 … This whole stretch has variety of troubles to greet you – water crossing (some nasty ones), loose rocks, sharp stones, big rocks under water crossings or standing water or sometimes even Shyok river itself on the road 😀 😀 etc.. There are some sections especially before Shyok Village (towards Nubra side), which might be tough to climb even with High Ground clearance vehicles without 4×4. At one of the section, we were moving and one person kept clearing stones falling from above 😉 …

YOU MUST keep in mind that this route is rarest of rarely taken by anyone and even taxis from Leh refuse to take this route, mostly. Govt. has given orders to keep this route open for tourist season but being there myself in April and seeing the roughest terrain, I seriously doubt that they would be able to keep this route operational especially at the time of rains or when snow melts very fast making some nasty water crossings and swollen Shyok river. Anyone, in any vehicle, should try to attempt this route only if you have 2-3 vehicles at least in the convoy so that you get some help in case of any breakdown or if he/she is too, too adventurous to take on the challenges offered by this route but please take a sensible call for yourself as well as your lovd ones waiting for your safe return :)… Vehicles with high Ground Clearance preferably with 4×4 is suggested on this route. Always inquire about the road conditions either at Agham Village or Khalsar Village before attempting it from Nubra Valley side and either at Shyok village or at a GREF hut that comes after Shyok village from Durbuk side.

Having said all this, with such a small distance it appears tempting to run over this route BUT just to analyse the difficulty I will also strongly suggest that you please read about the detailed report from 2015 trips of members of DoW Community about Nubra – Shyok Village – Pangong Tso Route which will help you make a better decision in choosing the route as it is beautifully explained what are the risks or challenges and when you should opt this route: Road Conditions | Nubra – Shyok Village – Pangong Tso Route 2015. In July/August, most likely the route is always washed away due to swollen water level in Shyok river. Similar reports are there from last year as well. So better confirm first, analyse the high risk involved and then only attempt this route or better avoid it unless you are very much sure and very much adventurous. You can read my travel tale about this route as well in the article: Adventures of Shyok Village Route

  • Sedans/Hatchbacks = Car Killer!!
  • High Ground Clearance SUVs (4×2) = Tough, but unmanageable mostly when water flows heavily in July, August
  • High Ground Clearance SUVs (4×4) = Manageable, but unmanageable mostly when water flows heavily in July, August
Adventures of Shyok Village Route – Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso
Adventures of Shyok Village Route - Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso

Adventures of Shyok Village Route - Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso

Permits of Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso

For both these direct routes from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso, AFAIK, you do not need to get any permits and just the form filled up for other places like Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso should do.

Conclusion

In the end, I will say that if your driver agrees to travel on Wari La route, then take the Wari La route to Pangong Tso from Nubra Valley after evaluating the risk of desolation on this route and if you are mentally prepared for taking it or not. Remember, any help required on both these routes will be HARD to find in miles of distance. If you have couple of vehicles then only consider these routes otherwise best is to avoid them and travel to Pangong Tso from Nubra Valley through conventional route. I am sure with details described in this article, you will be able to make a judgement call which is best for you and your family. If you still have any doubt or queries, feel free to post them in the comments section below or in DoW Community and you will have my reply in no time 🙂 🙂

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205 Comments

  1. Dear Dhiraj,

    I am planning to visit Leh-Ladakh in June 2017. We are a group of 10 persons, basically 3 families with ladies and children (all above 10). The tentative itinerary is as follows :

    Jun 4 : Srinagar to Sonamarg. Night halt
    Jun 5 : Sonamarg to Kargil. Night halt
    Jun 6 : Kargil to Uleytopko. Night halt
    Jun 7 : Uley to Leh. Night halt
    Jun 8 : Leh local sightseeing
    Jun 9 : Leh to hunder. Night halt at Hunder
    Jun 10 : Hunder to Leh (Here we were thinking of the alternative direct route from Agham-Shyok, not Wari-La to save an additional day. According to this report, yogeshsarkar.com/blog/2017/01/27/how-to-travel-from-nubra-to-pangong-tso/, this route is now doable. Please comment whether we should risk it. )
    Jun 11 : Pangong to Tso-Moriri. Night halt at Tso-Moriri (Here my question is whether visiting Tso-Moriri is worth visiting after staying a night at Pangong-Tso. Wont the 2 vistas be similar. Also would we be acclimatised enough for spending the night at Tso-Moriri and Pangong).
    Jun 12 : Tso-Moriri to Leh
    Jun 13 : Leh to Jispa ( Would the Manali-Leh highway open at that time)
    Jun 14 : Jispa stay for rest and natural beauty. (Is a days stay here worth it?)
    Jun 15: Jispa to Manali
    Jun 16 : Manali to Chandigarh

  2. HI , Dheeraj..
    Hope ur doing good! Firstly thank you so much for all your suggestions and guidance your giving to fellow travellers .

    SO here are is my query
    planning to visit leh-ladakh this september 14th 2016 with my husband..we are also planning to travel from leh-Hunder by bike..So please tell me first ..is it safe for a couple to travel by bike from leh-Hunder(so long ..i believe distance is approximately 140KM)..so suggest us on this plzzz.i’m extremely nervous to travel ,as its just two of us ….

    • Thank you Priya.

      Yes, it is fine and alot of people do it every year. If you guys are OK and comfortable riding bikes for about 6-7 Hrs then you can make the trip. Also, make your you have good experience of riding bike and then only take a chance to ride up there.

  3. Mandar Bhalerao on

    Hi
    Did the shyok route on 13th Aug 2016 on RE 500 bullet There wasn’t much water on road (if you choose to call it that) but there were 2 nasty stream crossings. Not to mention lose rocks, round stones, sand, mud on the road. Sand was the most treacherous part for me.
    But the route is doable if you have a convoy of around 5-6 bikes at least. Otherwise it’s just insane.
    BRO has started asphalting the road again but it’s a matter of time that it gets washed away again.
    Cheers
    Mandar

  4. Hello Dheeraj,
    We are a group of 6 and travelling to Leh in september and have 6 days and below is how we have planned

    Day 1: Local Leh
    Day 2: Leh – Nubra Valley
    Day 3:Take direct route as above from Nubra Valley to pangong
    Day 4: Pangong – Leh
    Day 5:Leh – Kargil
    Day 6: Kargil – Leh
    We reach Leh from Manali by bus and we take a flight to Srinagar on Day 7.

    We did not have Kargil in mind,but learnt about the direct route from nubra to pangong from a local taxi driver who also helped sketch out this itinerary and agreed to this plan for a decent price.

    Would be happy to get some suggestions from you and also about the feasibility of plan.

    • Hi, I am also planning to go in mid sept.
      What are your days for travelling? If our dates collide we can go together from Nubra to Pangong.

      Prashant R.

      • Hi prasanth….we as couple are even planning to visit in mid-septemebr[14th to 22nd] .please let us know the dates.. we can join you guys if our dates are matching ..please let me know .Thanks .

  5. We are reaching Leh on August 20. Will it be possible to visit Turtuk and Pangong by bike? We return on August 27

  6. Mayur Ghodekar on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    We are planning to travel from nubra valley to pangong, so which would be suitable route to travel on bike.
    please advice.

    Thanks,
    Mayur.

    • Mayur, if you have couple of bikes or supporting vehicle/accompany cars/taxis with you then better try to take Agham – Shyok route but confirm from the locals about it current condition. If open, use that else try Wari La pass. Please note that, it is desolated and so as Agham – Shayok route.

    • HI Reshma,

      I have planned my trip in mid sept. and planning to go from Nubra to pangong directly. We can accompany you guys on that route. We will also get the company on that difficult route.

      Thanks,
      Prashant.

    • Hi Reshma ..we are even planning to this month (sep 14th to 22 nd september) .please let us know the dates..we can join you guys if the dates are matching .Thanks .

  7. Hello Dheeraj,

    My friend and I are planning a Leh/Ladakh Tour from Hyd and below are our options:

    Option 1:
    Aug 12 — Rest at Leh hotel
    Aug 13 — Leh – Nubra Valley
    Aug 14 — Nubra Valley – Pangong Lake via Wari La
    Aug 15 — Pangong Lake – Leh
    Aug 16 — Check out Leh

    Option 2:
    Aug 12 — Rest at Leh hotel
    Aug 13 — Leh – Khardungla Pass-Magnetic Hill-Leh
    Aug 14 — Leh- Pangong Lake
    Aug 15 — Pangong Lake – Leh
    Aug 16 — Check out Leh

    Please review and advise which one is better considering this is our first trip.

    Thanks,
    Kumar

    • Hi Kumar,

      I will say you do below:

      Aug 12 — Rest at Leh hotel
      Aug 13 — Local Leh, visit Magnetic Hills
      Aug 14 — Leh – Khardung La – Leh
      Aug 15 — Leh – Pangong Lake – Leh
      Aug 16 — Check out Leh

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