Nerves of Wari La Pass Route | Ladakh Mega Meet

35

The Journey so far…

We had a very pleasant night at Nubra Valley, in fact it was quite normal there with respect to cold. However, we had to wake up early in the morning and drive on towards Pangong Tso via Wari La Pass Since, the day was very long and lots of pictures are to be shared of this new route for me, so I will break the story in two parts as I am sure you will not want to miss on the photos.

A Teaser… On top of Wari La Pass
On top of Wari La Pass
Day 5 | 1st Half | Hunder – Diskit (Nubra) – Wari La Pass

Everyone was quick to wake up and get ready. By 6.30 AM everyone was ready, out there with packed bags, sipping cup of tea. Tapan ji called up, so did Gagan and Nabeel, all were safe, sound and ready to go including Benjamin which was quite a surprise. I told them we will leave from here by 7 AM and be there at Diskit in next 10 minutes from Hunder Meanwhile, the caretaker at Yourdum Guest House, handed over our breakfast as Bread Jam and Boiled Eggs, properly packed. I was really delighted by the services from this little family and warmth they provided, offering the care in such early hours. After settling the bills, I thanked them and our convoy started to move for an unknown journey to Wari La Pass.

Flowers from Nubra Valley
Flowers from Nubra Valley

Flowers from Nubra Valley
Yourdum Guest House, Hunder – Nubra Valley
Yourdum Guest House, Hunder - Nubra Valley

Yourdum Guest House, Hunder - Nubra Valley
Apples from Nubra Valley
Apples from Nubra Valley

In next 10 minutes we reached Diskit, organized the group as Gagan, Nabeel and Bejamin join in finally. Benjamin was a surprise as he had decided to quit after last day’s horror at Khardung La and being hit with AMS but he was fine after complete rest last night. Tapan ji was already waiting for us, as usual spot on time. It was getting a challenge to beat his punctuality 😀 😀 … But, at least today we managed a bit though did not met the compliance still 😀 😀 … The convoy got bigger and we started for Khalsar which was our stop for breakfast. After Khalsar, there is no major village to get food before Sakti Village after crossing Wari La. About 5-6 KMs before Khalsar, there is a T-juncture from where left goes on to Sumur – Panamik – Siachen and right goes towards Khardung La – Leh via Khalsar. We stopped over there as there was a mechanic shop to get air pressure checked and fixed in all cars. After that we reached Khalsar and had a good stopover of about 50 minutes to fill-in our empty tummies. The food tasted decent and we packed couple of paranthas from there too. As other were still having breakfast, I decided to have a peaceful long stroll on the road to get a top view of Khalsar village. I enjoy such lone walks often on my Himalayan trips… Satisfied with appetite, we all were ready to go for the most exciting and unknown part of the day to us, ascending Wari La Pass 😀 …

Early Morning at Hunder Sand Dunes, Nubra Valley
Early Morning at Hunder Sand Dunes, Nubra Valley
Early Morning at Diskit, Nubra Valley
Early Morning at Diskit, Nubra Valley
Riders of DoW Group
Riders of DoW Group
Shyok River in Full Glory near Khalsar, Nubra Valley
Shyok River in Full Glory near Khalsar, Nubra Valley

Khalsar, Nubra ValleyKhalsar, Nubra Valley

Wari La Pass is situated at an altitude of 17400 Feet and was fifth pass of our trip. After crossing Khalsar Village, you need to move towards Agham Village, leaving the upper route going towards Khardung La. Once you reach Agham village there are two routes to Pangong Tso, one on left goes via Shyok Village which is quite a deadly route, mostly washed away, having live landslides, completely isolated and unstable (read my experience from my last Ladakh trip of this route: Adventures of Shyok Village Route | Ladakh – 2012). This route via Shyok village is quite short and one can reach Pangong Tso within 4-5 Hrs from this route. However, we had to take the right one, which ascends to Wari La Pass, then goes down to Sakti Village, then again ascend to Chang La Pass and finally descends towards Tangste – Pangong Tso Even Wari La route is not quite good by any means and the isolation along with steep gradient at some place can turn up the white faces even for locals and we were  mere mortals 😉 😉 … So, take a very calculative risk if you are planning to take on this route and especially when you are alone.

As we were approaching Agham, we saw some magnificent vistas around, the virgin beauty of Nubra Valley was yet to start. Just before the Agham Village, there was a small landslide that was being cleared by bumble-bee !! This gave all of us a chance to re-group and click some magical views surrounding us. It was fun out there with such large number of like minded travellers around. After driving a while, finally, the T-junction came and we took the right which stated Wari La Pass. The road initially looks like that you are entering a canyon with closed views surrounding it but after a while the valley expands itself in front offering some breath-taking views. There were few very small settlements initially. Rigzin and his company got the black fuel which was being sold there in one of the settlements to live up to the ever shortage of fuel pumps in such remote places of Ladakh. Then we reached a water crossing which was not that deep owing to the fact being late in the season, however, due to the presence of sharp stones underneath, it was a bit tricky. One by one we all passed through, bikers had to struggle a bit over stones, especially Benjamin but he was pulled out safely. Then came an i10 😯 😯 … But, to relief it was from a local. He struggled to pass through but after couple of grunt and tries, being pushed from our group, he finally got through… So, we had much wanted tiny adventure fun up there 🙂 🙂

View near Agham Village, Nubra Valley
View near Agham Village, Nubra Valley
DoW Riders making their way to landslide point
DoW Riders making their way to landslide point
DoW Group, enjoying near Landslide point
DoW Group, enjoying near Landslide point
Road to Wari La Pass
Road to Wari La Pass
Chortens on the way to Wari La Pass
Chortens on the way to Wari La Pass
Refueling Black Fuel from a small settlement
Refueling Black Fuel from a small settlement on the way to Wari La Pass
Nabeel in Water crossing on the way to Wari La Pass
Nabeel in Water crossing on the way to Wari La Pass
Benjamin in Water crossing on the way to Wari La Pass
Benjamin in Water crossing on the way to Wari La Pass
Rigzin Making his Way Out
Water crossing on the way to Wari La Pass
Gagan Making his Way Out
Water crossing on the way to Wari La Pass
Spotted some locals on the way to Wari La Pass
Spotted some locals on the way to Wari La Pass

The desolation started after that part, injecting in some nerves as there was no one around. Any breakdown will mean trouble and you will left with yourself to fix the issue. Rarely anyone takes these routes and that late in season, it ought to be your lucky day. Thankfully, we had a decent convoy to help someone in need. No single soul was present or accompanying us and we were just running in extreme isolation of nature on our own… The really virgin beauty of Nubra Valley was beyond comparison!! I was loving every section of it, could hardly take out my eyes off it and then the mountains towards Wari La started to appear, standing tall and handsome. The road conditions started deteriorating and finally ended up being just a dirt track. I was just ogling the majestic vistas outside, trying to click them every now and then, any possible means. We reached a point where everyone took short cut except us being safe players, however, sad part was Gagan in his Ertiga got stuck following behind one of them. He had to reverse the car all the way to road and then follow the road, guess Neha must have done a good job in navigating him through that patch. So, a lesson here, when you have rough roads only take short cuts if you feel really confident about your vehicle. Roads are there for a reason 😉 … This whole episode got him way behind us as we waited for more than 20 minutes without any signs. The vehicle was gasping for oxygen as it was throwing back the smoke inside. We were also gasping for breath at such high altitude and then when we spotted him, decided to move ahead.

A Desolated Drive to Wari La Pass
A Desolated Drive to Wari La Pass

A Desolated Drive to Wari La Pass
Yeah, Road to Wari La Pass 😉
Yeah, Road to Wari La Pass
Shortcuts, try them with care 😉
Yeah, Road to Wari La Pass
Ready to Resume the Deolated Drive
Ready to Resume the Deolated Drive

Ready to Resume the Deolated Drive
That’s where Wari La Pass Lies…
That's where Wari La Pass Lies
Majestic views on the way to Wari La Pass
Views on the way to Wari La Pass

Views on the way to Wari La Pass

Views on the way to Wari La Pass

Views on the way to Wari La Pass

It is not always good to take such long breaks at such high altitude about 17000 feet. In the last stages of ascend to Wari La, there were couple of tricky stretches with a little steep gradient and rough roads. Innova did struggle a bit on those patches so we were waiting for Gagan to make it through in his Ertiga. Eventually, we made it the top of Wari La and feeling of excitement from nervousness jumped in… It was quite a pass, completely desolated, no one around, no shacks, nothing just a yak horn facing the sky as per rituals and having a stone lying there with Wari La written over it. Everyone seemed to have settled down with their hearts into the raw nature of this trans Himalayan region and they were enjoying every bit of it, even with fierce cold wind at the top. Shekhar even hiked far distance, barely seen through 300mm lens when we all requested him to come down as it was quite an altitude. We spent another 20 minutes up there and were just waiting for Gagan, Nabeel and Benjamin to be spotted. Still, there were no signs of them…

On top of Wari La Pass
On top of Wari La Pass

On top of Wari La Pass

On top of Wari La Pass

I hope you enjoyed this part, have you ever done Wari La Pass? If yes, please share what did you like about Wari La Pass and how you felt being there…

The Journey ahead…

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35 Comments

  1. Hi dheeraj,

    this is the second time I am writing to you. last time I availed your advise on trip to chandertal in oct’16.
    thanks for your advise. unfortunately my friends backed out of trip due to extreme cold predictions by various websites. however, I completed my trip with my best friend my wife. we took chandertal on 15th Oct 16. we started early morning 4:30 am from mandi and reached back Mandi 11:30 pm same day. didn’t stay coz kids wr back home.
    it was a great memorable experience for both. your advise motivated us to take on the trip successfully.

    Next year 2017, I am planning to cover, Marsimik la, wari la, kaksang la, khardungla, chang la and tanglang la.

    can you please advise on following:
    1. route to be taken
    2. vehicle scorpio 2×2, is this fine?
    3. best time so that I can have fair encounter with snow.(I don’t mind roads to be bad or dangerous)
    4. self accommodation or we can get homestay through out?
    5. can we include sach paas in this route?
    6. estimated time in days?
    7. is oxygen supply required?
    8. can we take our 6 years daughter along? She has done Lahual & spiti, manali to simla circuit with us in july 2016.

    Apart from this kindly also suggest on following regarding Mana pass/dungri la.
    1. approximate time to complete the trip to n fro from chandigarh.
    2. best time to visit the place from adventure point of view.

    • Hello Dheeraj,

      Kaksang La is something I will not suggest at all with family. Wehad company to rescue and had to install pajero tyre in a fortuner to save ourselves from dying. The place is no man’s land and without company you are inviting trouble only. Rest your replies:

      1. Follow the common itinerary for Ladakh. Spare a day for Marsimik La from Pangong Tso. Ladakh from Manali – Most Common Itinerary
      2. Scorpio should be fine
      3. June end, July should be time to visit when they may be open especially Wari La and Marsimik la
      4. Yo will get places of stay at all the places
      5. Depends upo how many days you have in hand. But, year 2-3 days here and there you can add Sach Pass to it.
      6. Will plan for about 15-18 days.
      7. It will be good to carry for contingency always.
      8. She should be fine as long as you dont try too outrageous and follows basic principles of acclimatization which is equally applicable to all of you not just the kiddo.

  2. Hi Dheeraj,

    We did this stretch in August 2014 and we must have seen dozens of marmots and wild yaks on the way. These were very shy marmots unlike near pangong lake. So all the travellers visiting next time, keep a lookout for them.

  3. Hi Dheeraj

    I am planning to visit Ladakh around 24th June’15. I am considering whether to do Nubra – Pangong direct or to come back to Leh and then go to Pangong. I don’t have any time restrictions. I have plenty of days in hand. However I am thinking of Nubra – Pangong direct only because i will get to explore a new route. I want to know whether that route is actually beautiful enough to take the risk. Will it really add to the Ladakh experience if i take the wari la pass route instead of coming back to leh and then going to panggong.
    I also presume that the route back to leh from nubra is same as the way from leh to nubra. So coming back to leh from that same route, I will be repeating the route and not seeing anything new. Am i right??

  4. Hi Dheeraj,

    I am a solo rider planning to take the Wari La route from Khalsar to Pangong. I am planning to take a rented vehicle which is in considerably good condition (bike rented from Manali)

    1) Will a royal enfield bike be able to handle the steep gradients on the Wari La pass?
    2) The route from Khalsar to Sakti is approximately 100kms, how many kms of bad roads will I encounter on this stretch?
    3) My visit will be during the peak season (2nd half of July this year), so will there be any other bikers on the road or will it be completely desolate?
    4) How many stream crossings are there and how many difficult ones? How long would it take from Khalsar to reach Sakti considering I ride very slow to be on the safer side?

    • Hi Aravind,

      1. Yes
      2. Roads are overall fine majority of the distance. Near the pass only about 15-20 KMs of road is bad from both sides and that bad is also not very bad.
      3. The route is desolated, you might find some you might not find any, depends on luck
      4. There will be at least couple of ones which will be there though at one of them bridge was being developed.

      Regards
      Dheeraj

      • Thanks Dheeraj 🙂 Gives me confidence to take this route towards Pangong instead of riding back to Leh via the Khardungla again. I can tank up my bike at Karu and proceed towards Pangong. What is your take on fuel availability on the Changthang route. I am planning to go towards Hanle (via Chushul) and then to Tsomoriri, Tsokar and back to Leh (via Chumathang).
        1) I would be needing a lot of extra fuel to complete this stretch. How much fuel would I be needing approximately?
        2) What is the fuel availability in black and is the quality reliable?
        2) Is fuel always available at Karu which I am hoping for since I am not going back to Leh from Nubra Valley?

  5. Hi,

    I would like to know during which month did you guys take the Wari La route. I’ve heard that the route is not open during all times even during Summer. Am planning to visit Leh June 2015.
    Please let me know.

    Thanks,

    Tarun R.

    • Tarun, Wari La opens after mid of June and remains open almost upto September. We did this in September only. However, on any given day Wari La pass is very isolated route and in case you are not multiple vehicles then it is not advisable to try this route as any help will be very difficult to get in 100s of KMs.

  6. ayush kulshrestha on

    Hi..
    We are group of youngsters and have hired 2 innovas for our trip in 2nd week of sep’14. Do u recommend us using wari la for travelling to pangong from nubra or should we go via leh. Just thinkin if nt risky v may get an extra day 2 spend in leh and do river rafting.what do u suggest?

    • Ayush, you can take the Wari La route. Just keep in mind it is quite desolated but with couple of vehicles going together you will not get stranded along in any worst case, hence you can take this risk I will say but beaware that is always a risky proposition as help is no where available on that route.

      • Ayush… Dheeraj is correct is stating about the desolation of the place. I m being honest as i took that route last month. There is not a single hope of assistance in case of ne brkdown. We too were on Innova , a new innova so we were confident of the car. In case of bad weather, dont take it i suggest as because as you near the Wari la pass, it does get little steep n risky if there is water on the road.

        Besides that the good thing about this journey is the breathtaking locales and this is only part of Leh where i found greenery. If the weather is fine and the car in good condition, you can give it a try. All the best bro!

  7. Hi Dheeraj, I have completed my trip from leg and i did travel on the Wari-La route from Nubra to Pangong. As far as road is concerned , i don’t think it is as bad as being suggested. The only thing is that the car should be perfectly fine as it is true that no 1 is available for any assistance on that route. But it is worth taking a chance.

    • JKB, good to know that you enjoyed the trip. Regarding the road being bad or not, it depends upon the time of travel too. Also, what is worrisome in taking Wari La route is desolation. You might have noticed that too. It is the only thing which I generally stress upon not the road conditions. Also, there are some sections which are quite steep, which you might have felt and hence need car in better condition as aptly point out.

  8. hi.
    travelling to leh with family in first week of september 2014 for 7 clear days. planning two nights at Nubra and one night at pangong. pls suggest an itinerary. further is it better to go from nubra to pangong via wari la or take the safer route back through leh. we shall be hiring a local taxi with driver from leh. age factor – adults 50 yrs. young ones 25 yrs. is there any place to stopover between nubra and pangong. looking forward to your valuable guidance.

    • Best is to go from the safer route back from Leh to Pangong Tso. Rest all depends upon how much risk you are ready to take. You have 7 days, acclimatize for first two days in Leh, then do 3 day tour to Nubra followed by 2 day tour to Pangong Tso.

  9. Vipin Vasanth on

    Hi sir, I have been reading through your articles and have found it very very helpful and comprehensive.thanks a bunch for all this info. I am doing my first trip to leh in the first week of September, I’m extremely excited about this however have a bunch of questions n confusions and was hoping I could get some help from you sir:) we are 10, we plan on taking a SUV to fit in 6 people and the rest 4 on two bikes (all luggage in the car). Is it ok to ride pillion considering we will be riding in places like khardungla,Chang la and Wari la?

    Also if you could recommend a good bike for this trip,considering it not giving too many problems? For instance a bike with tubeless tires may come handy as we can avoid the hassle of fixing punctures.

    Finally, will we get to see snow during September. I’m not referring to snow fall, but just snow settlements in any of the peaks or passes? 🙂 will be very grateful to you if u could help me with these answers:) thanks in advance 🙂

    • Vipin, since you have car to take the luggage and you can also swap people if riders are tired, I think it is fine to travel in such manner. Good bike is the one with which rider is always comfortable. So, based on the comfort of riding your group has, opt for the bikes. Do not follow the patter of bullets. Pulsars can equally do well. So, choose which you are comfortable with. Tubeless tires are always handy. Carry air compressor with you.
      Snow will be very less to spot but if you lucky on a day you might see snowfall on Khardung La or Taglang la 🙂

  10. Hi Dheeraj… i am travelling in July to Leh region. I ll be travelling from nubra to pan gong via wari la. Just wanted to know that will i be needing permit to travel from that road?

    • No you do not need any permit to travel on that road BUT keep in mind that route is quite desolated and any help on this route is miles away. Hence, if it is a single vehicle then I will say avoid it or be 105% sure about nothing will go wrong to the vehicle.

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  14. hi I am planning 25th May to 12th June in my ertiga from Mumbai. how was ertiga’s performance?

    • Dinesh, as you can see Ertiga was with us even on Wari La Pass and crossed it without much fuss, though all because of careful and cautious driveing by Gagan. I feel you are traveling early in the season when road conditions are unstable and you face lot of challenges in terms of heavy water crossings. So, you need to be sure there.

      For hatchback/sedan taking on Manali – Leh Highway and Ladakh, please refer the link: FAQ | Can I do Leh – Ladakh trip in Hatchback or Sedan? for more details.

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  16. Soumen Bhowmick on

    Was really looking forward to this part. Eagerly waiting for the second part as well. After these pictures can’t really wait for our tour to start.

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