Darkness over Tso Moriri – Tso Kar Lake | Ladakh Mega Meet

18

The Journey so far…

It was a cold morning with rain pouring down and gloomy day out there, at Chumathang We had plans to visit Tso Moriri for couple of hours and spend our night at Tso Kar Lake But, this gloomy day meant, we are going to miss the blue hues of Tso Moriri Lake which we desperately wanted to witness especially after missing on the colors of Pangong Tso However, luck was not much with us this time for both the lakes, so nothing can be done 🙁 🙁

Tso Kar Lake
Tso Kar Lake
Day 8 | Chumathang – Kiagar Tso – Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Pang

Tapan ji and Gagan were supposed to re-join the convoy today as they were to come back from Tso Moriri and Leh towards Tso Kar lake, respectively, where we all stay for the night together. But, before that we all had to make a queue for daily routines as 10 of us had access to just one washroom 😀 😀 … I woke up at 6.30 AM, so no queue for me and sleep of those who enjoyed the luxury of room with attached bath was broken early 😉 … All this delayed the overall movement BUT I also got a chance to take a dip in the hot water from the spring in a washroom outside our rooms. So, it was quite refreshing to me with cold outside and feeling fresh after that dip in hot water. You can check the review of Hot Spring Resort Chumathang at the link: A Review | Hot Springs Resort, Chumathang

Drizzle at Chumathang
Drizzle at Chumathang

Gagan got the shocker spring and was on the way towards Tso Kar lake. After heavy breakfast and settling the bills, we also started towards Tso Moriri midst the dark clouds and drizzle. Soon, we crossed Mahe bridge and then Sumdo where we got to meet Tapan ji and his gang. This meant a long wait for them because we had to go there to Tso Moriri, come back to same point at Sumdo for lunch and then take the diversion to Tso Kar lake for evening stay together… Unfortunately, there was no choice. So, in all agreement we moved ahead quickly.

First we climbed Namashang La at an altitude of about 5300 Mtrs just before Kiagar Tso lake This was the 11th Pass of our trip but the ascend wasn’t that significant. After few clicks on this dark day with light drizzle still on, we moved towards Kiagar Tso Lake, the 9th Lake of our trip. Kiagar Tso is lovely small lake that falls on the way to Tso Moriri and popularly the road usually converts to dirt track further to Tso Moriri after this lake 😀 … Well, the majestic backdrop and wilderness around this lake is worth watching.

Namashang La at an altitude of about 5300 Mtrs
Namashang La at an altitude of about 5300 Mtrs
Road Leading to Namashang La
Road Leading to Namashang La
Road ahead of Namashang La
Road ahead of Namashang La
The lovely Kiagar Tso Lake
Kiagar Tso Lake

Kiagar Tso Lake
Horses running away from us at Kiagar Tso Lake
Horses running away from us at Kiagar Tso Lake
Views on the way to Kiagar Tso Lake
Views on the way to Kiagar Tso Lake

It was not a good day for taking pictures, so we made good progress and above all due to this weather, we all were disappointed for not seeing the blue colors of Tso Moriri lake. Finally, we reached there at Tso Moriri and without any second thoughts we continued the drive up to the hillock ahead of Korzok village. From this vantage point, you can see 270 degree views of hills around and Tso Moriri lake. We kept the visit to Tso Moriri a short one (a bit disappointing :() and started rolling back from Tso Moriri to Sumdo where Tapan ji + his friends were waiting for us.

Dramatic Landscape near Tso Moriri Lake
Dramatic Landscape near Tso Moriri Lake
Tso Moriri Lake, First Look…
Tso Moriri Lake, First Look...
The not so beautiful Tso Moriri
The not so beautiful Tso Moriri
Sitting on top of a Hillock near Korzok
Sitting on top of a Hillock near Korzok
Different view of Tso Moriri Lake
Different view of Tso Moriri Lake
Tso Moriri Lake
DoW-ed Machine at Tso Moriri
DoW-ed Machine at Tso Moriri
Korzok Village near Tso Moriri
Korzok Village near Tso Moriri
Yaks at Korzok Village
Yaks at Korzok Village
Sheeps Grazing at pastures near Tso Moriri
Sheeps Grazing at pastures near Tso Moriri

I have always loved Tso Moriri much more than Pangong Tso and in fact the route to Tso Moriri itself is a journey to experience on a Ladakh trip. For more details on the route to Tso Moriri, Kiagar Tso and Tso Kar, you can always refer the DoW Maps of Ladakh. It started to rain again and freshly laid tarmac was shining besides Kiagar Tso lake as we passed by it. Finally, we reached near Sumdo where there was this small dhabha at which we had tea and Maggie as our lunch for the day. Tapan ji and his friends were bored to death by then and thanks for his patience that he waited so long for us 🙂 … So, now the group was extended to 3 more as we approached towards Tso Kar lake for night stay through the diversion from Sumdo.

Clouds playing around in Barren-scape
Clouds playing around in Barren-scape
Shining Road besides Kiagar Tso
Shining Road besides Kiagar Tso
Dhabha near Sumdo where we had lunch
Dhabha near Sumdo where we had lunch

The road to Tso Kar from Sumdo is not that well laid and is kind of a dirt track only. We had seen worse over Kyon Tso, so this was nothing but a road for us in comparison 😉 … We were the only souls running on the route as we ascended to Polakongka La Pass pass at an altitude of 4966 Mtrs, the 12th pass of our trip. The wind was quite cold at the top as we had trouble having bio-breaks too with such cold wind hitting us :D… Somehow, you need to handle it when you are high up in trans Himalayas… The scenery soon turned to dramatic as the dark cover was scattered and sunlight begun to break through the clouds, giving it a dramatic backdrop. The flat bed dirt roads to Tso Kar lake with wide landscape, clouds hovering at the top of Rupshu region, were too amazing to be real. The photo breaks increased quite a lot with such beautiful location around but we managed to hit Tso Kar lake, well before sunset.

Beautiful Views on the way to Tso Kar Lake
Beautiful Views on the way to Tso Kar Lake
Roads leading to Polakongka La Pass
Roads leading to Polakongka La Pass
Polakongka La Pass pass at an altitude of 4966 Mtrs
Polakongka La Pass pass at an altitude of 4966 Mtrs
A Lone Ride to Tso Kar Lake
A Lone Ride to Tso Kar Lake
Playing Together – Lights, Shadows and Dark Cover
Playing Together near Tso Kar Lake - Lights, Shadows and Dark Cover
Tso Kar Lake – The First View
Tso Kar Lake - The First View
About Tso Kar Lake

Tso Kar Lake is a salt water lake situated in Rupshu region of Ladakh at an altitude of 4530 Mtrs and having length of about 7.5 KMs. This was the 11th lake of our trip and everyone loved the sight of it with majestic backdrop of Rupshu mountains. There is another small lake, Startsapuk Tso, at its south-west end too. It was used to be an important source of salt as well for Changpas, which they used to export to Tibet. Tso Kar Lake is quite popular for the birds and animals found around this region, mainly around Startsapuk Tso being non-saline in taste. Bird Watchers who come over to this lake can spot grebes, brown-headed gulls, strip geese, rust geese, terns, black-necked cranes and Tibetan grouse, etc.. One can also spot Kiangs (Tibetan Wild Ass), Tibetan gazelles, Tibetan wolves and foxes, teppe marmots, yaks, horses, etc.. around it.

Clouds hanging over Startsapuk Tso
Clouds hanging over Startsapuk Tso
Roads Leading to Tso Kar Lake
Roads Leading to Tso Kar Lake

Roads Leading to Tso Kar Lake
And the black tarmac begins
Roads Leading to Tso Kar Lake
Beautiful Colors around Tso Kar Lake
Beautiful Colors around Tso Kar Lake

Anyhow, back to story, roads have appeared now as smooth tarmac up to the Thugje Village. Foreigners had flocked the area around shores, with large telescopes. Initially, we thought they have special lenses mounted on the camera but then as we went closer, came to know that they were large telescopes. They were spotting the birds and it was shocking to see crystal clear picture of a bird as far as about a KM away, may be. Quite impressive but we had to move… As we reached nearby Thugje Village for the night stay, well there was a shock of a thing waiting for us as you read…

  • — Dheeraj: Juley !! Ye hotel wala kahan gaya aur taala kyon laga hai?? (where did this hotel guy went, hotel is locked) :confused: :confused:
  • — Local: Kyon?? Kya hua? Wo to chala gaya Leh wapis… (why, what happend? The hotel guy had left for Leh…)
  • — Dheeraj: Booking hai hamari, 13 log hain kahan rahe, shaam ho gayi hai aur thandd bhi bahut hai? Chaabi hai?? (We have a booking, 13 people are there, now where do we stay, it is already evening and quite cold here. Are there keys for the hotel) :confused: :confused:
  • — Local: Koi chaabi nahin hai. Acha, bada group hai, isiliye chala gaya vo kyonki uska cook wapis gaaon chala gaya to saara kaam use hi karna padta na. Yahan kuch nhn hai rehne ke liye (No keys are here. Ohh.. It’s a big group and as his cook went to his home town, so the hotel guy also fled because he would have to work out himself for all of you. There is no place to live here now) 😯 😯

Wow !! What a shock for us and cold was griping with each passing moment 😀 😀 … With deep worries and thoughts inside, we all decided to went towards Pang in the late evening and make it in dark so as to find at least some dorm tents to stay overnight. Another problem was that there were no signals and no signs of Gagan being around. He must have met us by now as it was getting dark. We waited for about 20 minutes for him in the village, took out long lenses to spot his car on the far away campsites where those foreigners were staying, but no luck 🙁 … There was no way to communicate with them over next 2 days and if they were heading to Tso Kar, they would have ended up late without any place to stay too. So, all in all, quite a few concerns have popped up out of no where but this what Ladakh trip is all about 😉 …

We drove further, waited for few minutes on the shortcut that diverts from Tso Kar lake route and meets Manali – Leh Highway at Moore plains Just about one of our car started to climb down the shortcut, we saw few headlights in distance blinking constantly and coming towards us… Whoaa… It was Gagan, Neha and riding along was Benjamin 😀 😀 … What a sigh of relief for each one of us in the group!! We were overjoyed to see them and convoy grow bigger as sun was almost set. Gagan told us that he was stuck up at Taglang La pass as it was snowing up there but they had amazing time. Benjamin’s fingers were still numb while riding in such snowfall up there at Taglang la but he was still going strong. Anyways, all is well that ends well…

Views on Shortcut to Manali – Leh Highway from Tso Kar
Views on Shortcut to Manali - Leh Highway from Tso Kar
Last Lights of the Day
Last Lights of the Day

Last Lights of the Day

We embarked on the shortcut and after a while met on Manali – Leh Highway ahead of Debring. The Moore Plains have all been tarred roads now, so fun was actually gone from them. But, this time it was kind of advantage to us as we made speedy progress towards Pang in dark light. It was almost pitch black as we reached Pang and stopped by first dhabha that came on the way. Thankfully, there was one temporary room setup which was available where 10-11 beds were laid out with one quilt each. Hence, it was enough to survive the night and cold. Camps would have been really uneasy seeing the harsh cold wind lashing Pang at night.

Now, we were 17 and there was a couple too. So, Rigzin went down to see if any similar structure or room is available or not. Thankfully, there was only one more such temporary room available down. Tapan ji with his friends, Neha + Gagan and Benjamin, all settled for the night in that shelter to beat the cold. Tensions were relieved to quite an extent, we relaxed in the Dorm kitchen tent where TataSky was installed by the lady running that dhabha. She prepared tea for us first and then cooked food as we relaxed after an eventful long day of journey in the warm kitchen. Watching TV after almost 9 days was a kind of a feeling in itself and we made full use of it before calling off this adventurous day with heavy dinner 🙂 🙂

Have you ever encountered such worries or conditions out of the blue when you travel? Ever lost a travel partner and found again, just by chance or luck on the roads? Have you been to Tso Moriri or Tso Kar Lake before or you planning to visit them and have any queries? Well, I will love to hear from you in comments section. Hope you liked the story of this DoW Mega Adventure so far.

The Journey ahead…

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You can call me an Avid Traveler, a Day - Night Dreamer and a Passionate Lover of Himalayas who has a high zest for driving whilst exploring new places in Himalayas & sharing back those Himalayan Travel experiences with the other fellow Travelers... I am in love with Spreading Smiles in Himalayas through DoW Causes & currently enjoying life as Happy Traveling Soul at DoW Community. You can read more about me in detail at the link here ...

18 Comments

  1. Hi Dheeraj,

    A very happy new year!

    First of all, I must thank you for this awesome blog that you have created. An absolute treasure trove.

    We are planning on a trip this September and below is the itinerary.

    Mon 7 Sep: Flight to Leh. Full day rest for acclimatization. Overnight at Leh
    Tue 8 Sep: Stok Palace, Stakna, Matho, Chemrey and Takthok monasteries. Overnight at Leh
    Wed 9 Sep: Alchi monastery, Likir Monastery, Bagso Moon landscapes and the Lamayuru monastery. Hall of Fame, Magnetic Hill, Pathar sahib and confluence of Zanskar and Indus. Overnight at Leh
    Thu 10 Sep: Leh to Pangong lake/Spangmik. On the way visit Shey Palace and Thiksey monasteries. Overnight at Camp
    Fri 11 Sep: Pangong to Leh. On the way back visit Hemis monasteries. Overnight at Leh
    Sat 12 Sep: Nubra Valley via Khardungla Pass. Arrive Nubra by noon, visit Hunder, Diskit monasteries. Overnight at Nubra
    Sun 13 Sep: Visit Panamik hot spring, back to Leh. Overnight at Leh
    Mon 14 Sep: Visit Santi Stupa, Leh Palace, Tsemo, Sankar. Overnight at Leh
    Tue 15 Sep: Leh to Tsomoriri Lake passing Chumathang (Hot Spring) along the Indus river. Overnight at Camp.
    Wed 16 Sep: Tso Moriri to Keylong. Overnight at Keylong
    Thu 17 Sep: Keylong to Manali. Overnight at Manali
    Fri 18 Sep: Manali to Delhi.

    What’s your take on this. Is it doable? Is any of the days too hectic?

    Can we stay in camps both at Pangong and Tso Moriri during Septemeber?

    Also, I know you have provided the cost of hiring cabs in Leh, but do we get a better rate if we do the entire tour in one cab? What should be the approximate cost then?

    Thanks for all your help!

    Best wishes,
    Souvik

    • Hi Souvik,

      Happy new year Souvik !! Thank you for appreciating DoW.

      We are planning on a trip this September and below is the itinerary. Your itinerary seems OK with just major change that you need to visit Nubra Valley first before Pangong Tso to be more acclimatized and not get hit with AMS. Second suggestion will be that you can stay at Sarchu while going from Tso Moriri to ease out the day on beautiful Manali – Leh Highway.

      Nights will be cold but if you OK with December type cold in Delhi, it shall be doable else stay in Himalayan Wooden Cottages.

      Best is to get in touch with drivers listed under that article as directly getting in touch with drivers will help you get decent discounts.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  2. Pingback: Struggle of Kunzum Pass - Batal - Gramphu Road

  3. Jatin Doshi on

    Hi Dheeraj…Just cam across your blog..what an amazing amount on info for people traveling to Ladakh by air or road or whatever way possible…I am also planning a trip to Ladakh this August..traveling alone…going by road..so will take the HPTDC bus from dlehi to manali and then next day manali to leh..I have 7 full days in Leh..I have planned my itinerary as follows and you may please advise in case if some changes are required…

    Day 0: reach leh in the evening..
    Day 1: stay in leh..acclimatize to the altitude and go for some local sightseeing..
    Day 2: take a day trip to pangong..
    day 3: leave for nubra valley..overnight stay there in one of the villages..
    day 4: return to leh..
    day 5: rest at leh…and may be go for rafting or short mountain biking trips..
    day 6: leave for tsomoriri…overnight at tso moriri..
    day 7: return to leh…
    day 8: flight back to delhi…

    some queries::

    1. i have heard of mountain biking trips where they take you up by car to khardung la and return is by a mountain bike or vice versa or you can bike both ways..a support vehicle there..can you provide some details of someone in leh who arranges this..

    2. is a budget of 8-10k sufficient for me for my pangong + nubra + tso moriri trips including accomodation and food…(pangong day trip..nubra valley – 1n/2d..tso moriri 1n/2d).. since i am traveling alone so will have to find shared taxis..but as i read your blog u have said that they are easily available in leh..some might charge 200-300 more..

    thanks a lot in advance already…

    • Hi Jatin,

      Day 0: reach leh in the evening..
      Day 1: stay in leh..acclimatize to the altitude and go for some local sightseeing..
      day 2: leave for nubra valley..overnight stay there in one of the villages..
      day 3: return to leh..
      Day 4: go to Pangong Tso and stay there
      day 5: come back to Leh by noon and may be go for rafting
      day 6: leave for Tso Moriri. Overnight at Tso Moriri.
      day 7: return to leh…
      day 8: flight back to delhi…

      Some queries:
      1. Yes, there are people who arranges that in Leh. You will get plenty of such options once in Leh, bargain and book for yourself. Best will be that you do it while coming back from Nubra Valley.

      2. Yes, travel agents charge about 200-300 more than usual and send you to these places on pre-booked tours with other tourists. Hence, that is best bet.

      Regards,
      Dheeraj

      • Jatin Doshi on

        hey..thanks a lot for the prompt reply…really appreciate..so according to you since I have time I should stay overnight at pangong..okay will do that..sorry to disturb again but my second query went unanswered..now that I am staying at all 3 places (nubra..pangong..tso moriri) overnight..is a budget of 8-10k sufficient for me alone inclusive of transport, accomodation and fooding for all the 3 outings combined??

        • 8-10K is a bit optmistic but can be managed if you stay in dorm tents at dhabhas or home stays at these places. Consider about 6-6.5K for taxi sharing cost for all three places and then you can do fine with 3-3.5K in case you eating with dhabhas and all. But, still consider about 25-30% more on safer side.

  4. Dear Dheeraj,

    Do we need to carry oxygen bottles all the way to tso moriri, tso kar? We are night staying there. I am dropping messages since days but not getting any reply. 🙁

    Is it advisable to take diamox? And what does over hydration mean (confused)…How much litres are adequate with preferred ORS water?

    Thanks,
    Pooja

    • Pooja, I am not sure where are you dropping messages. I do not see any pending replies in my list to you. Also, it takes about 4-36 Hrs of time to reply to each query depending upon the queue unless I am not available in town 🙂 🙂 … IN case email, i do not prefer replying on them oer blog and community. Once this log clears, I move to queue of mails which is already 178+ mails long 🙁 🙁

      1. Oxygen cans does not last long and are not that much helpful in case of emergency. If you need, you can carry bigger cylinders if going on trip on your own. Best is to acclimatize.
      2. Diamox is a sulpha drug, so be sure that you are not allergic to it and consult a doc. Coca30/6x are homeopathy ones and you might consider them.
      Over hydration means you are taking too much water intake resulting in too much bio-breaks, hence loss of salts. You need to make up for the loss of salts. So, smaller sips of water every 15 minutes is good to go and in fact juices, tang, rasna, etc.. which is much better to intake.

      Regards
      Dheeraj

  5. anil moses on

    Brother in our case, one night stay at korzok was quite uncomfortable as we all 5 had altitude sickness. Home stay was cheap, location was perfect but even then we decided to leave korzok next day early morning. We left at 7 am and drove for 12 hours, 300 km and reached keylong at 7 pm. The drive from tso moriri to moreh plains is unique by all means. At times, we felt that we are heading nowhere. One need to do this route to feel the real meaning of solitude and wilderness.

    • Seriously brother, one the the amazing part of of Manali – Leh Highway is the journey from Rumtse – Taglang – Moore Plain – Pang – Sarchu and yeah it happens at Tso Moriri. Not sure how come people do it while going to Leh from Manali side. Serious non no to such people but somethings are not under your control 😉

  6. lovely post dheeraj…. though the pics were not sharp… i understand it due to low light… waiting for new thread with new tale

    • Thanks dutta, yes, I agree though the low light is not just the factor but my lack of expertise in clicking pictures is thee reason here 🙂 .. I try my best to learn but fail to understand how to click better pictures. Yes, will post the next part in couple of days as I just returned form Tirthan Valley trip 🙂

      • i hope ur trip to tirthan valley was grt too… my two cents .. you can see some tutorials available on net to make your pics better… i mean when u sped so much on travelling there is no harm in spending some time to get more awsome pics

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