There have been many queries where people ask me, “Can I visit Tso Moriri from Manali side?” That is, while going to Leh from Manali they want to cover the Tso Moriri lake as well and then reach Leh.
This trend of queries for visiting Tso Moriri from Manali side has especially become common after 2014 when the inner line permits were exempted for the Indians visiting major tourist places in Ladakh including this beautiful Tso Moriri lake. The urge to visit Tso Moriri while coming to Leh from Manali side definitely seems logical because it is a short detour and those who plan to exit from Srinagar side, it makes perfect sense to save a day for them.
As of today (2018), Inner Line Permits are required again for everyone including Indians to visit Tso Moriri lake and other inner line areas of Ladakh.
However, though what looks on the map in terms of distance does not qualify what looks on maps in terms of altitude. Hence, in today’s article, I will like to answer this in detail why not to visit Tso Moriri lake when coming to Leh from Manali side.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Planning to visit Tso Moriri from Manali side?
Below are the top five reasons I believe you should not visit Tso Moriri when you are traveling from Manali to Leh. Let us look at them one by one.
1. No Acclimatisation to sleep at Tso Moriri
You should not visit Tso Moriri from Manali to Leh because your body will never be acclimatized to sleep at such a high altitude. I never recommend people to even sleep at Sarchu while traveling from Manali to Leh. Keep in mind, Sarchu is about 300 Mtrs less in altitude than Tso Moriri lake and 300 Mtrs is quite a lot when it comes to altitude.
And, if you are suffering from AMS even a difference of 100 Mtrs can save or take your life. Sarchu is even considered to be vomit Hilton as most people keep vomiting while sleeping up there or they mostly don’t tend to sleep. Very few people get away with without experiencing symptoms of AMS even at Sarchu.
Now, Tso Moriri lake is even higher in altitude than Sarchu. So, there is no gradual ascend of altitude for your body to accept such a high altitude to sleep that early in the trip when you have only slept at Manali or even Jispa does not help.
While on the other hand, if you are coming back from Leh side after covering other high altitude places in Ladakh especially sleeping at Pangong Tso, then your body is in much better condition to accept sleeping at the altitude of Tso Moriri. This will help you enjoy the beauty of the lake much more and without any worries of falling sick. You can read more about acclimatization in my article on Acute Mountain Sickness and Importance of Acclimatization
2. No help nearby in case of medical emergency
Tso Moriri is a located at desolated place in Ladakh and in case if there is any help that is required whatsoever after falling severely sick due to AMS (which you can), you are looking for about 8 Hrs drive to Leh.
Any wise person can judge what it means to be away from medical help for about 8 Hrs in any medical emergency. Hitting with AMS badly, is indeed is an emergency as AMS can be fatal if not dealt with quickly.
The main problem is when people are suffering from AMS, they tend to avoid admitting it and either say it is motion sickness or says it is fatigue. This aggravates the symptoms further and the condition worsens mostly.
3. Only Leh taxis are allowed to visit Tso Moriri
As per Leh taxi union rules, you will have to have a taxi based out in Leh in order to visit Tso Moriri lake unless you are not traveling by your own personal car or bike. When coming from Manali, you will be having Manali taxi in most cases unless you plan to call a Leh based taxi to pick you from Manali or make such an arrangement on Manali – Leh Highway. Hence, you cannot visit Tso Moriri on such taxis unless you want to end up in a tussle with an already unacclimatized body 😉
Keep in mind if you are traveling by bus including HPTDC deluxe bus to Leh, there is no option to travel to Tso Moriri directly in such a case as all buses run between Manali and Leh only.
4. Only Leh rented bikes are allowed to visit Tso Moriri
As per Leh bike rental union rules, you will have to have a rented bike based out in Leh in order to visit Tso Moriri lake unless you are not traveling by your own personal bike. When coming from Manali, you will be having Manali or Delhi rented bike which will not be allowed at Tso Moriri, if confronted at the various checkpoints installed by union guys.
Hence, similar to taxis, you cannot visit Tso Moriri on outside Leh rented bike unless you want to end up in a tussle with an already unacclimatized body 😉 … In general, Tso Moriri is more or less neglected by the union guys because it is not so popular among the majority of tourists.
5. Inner Line Permits are required to visit Tso Moriri
In case you need to visit Tso Moriri lake, Indians also need Ladakh Inner Line Permits to visit Inner Line areas of Ladakh including Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, and Tso Moriri. Although inner line permits are available online, domestic tourists need to get the permit copy stamped from the DC office in Leh or Tourist Reception Center (TRC) in Leh. Also, the fee for Inner Line Permit needs to be paid in person.
Hence, you will need to reach Leh to get the inner line permit stamped and pay the required fees. Otherwise, you need to get the permit arranged in advance and handed over to you before the checkpost, either at Tso Kar or Debring.
In case you are a foreigner, you need the protected area permit to visit Tso Moriri. This permit is issued from DC office in Leh as well as online. In the case of PAP online, you can select the travel agent and pay the fee as well. So, this is a trivial issue for a foreigner visiting Tso Moriri lake. You can more read about Protected Area Permit.
Well, I have tried to enlist the five reasons not to visit Tso Moriri from Manali side. However, the first reason combined with second reason should be enough for any wise person not to risk the life of himself and play with the emotions of family/friends sitting back at home wishing for his safe return.
Why I say so is because I have been through many such incidents where youngsters set aside such important tips and think their young bodies can overpower the biology, the body’s acclimatization needs. However, many such incidents bring agony, chaos or panic to them as well as family and friends who can’t do anything sitting three days or 1500 KM away from them back at home.
In the end, a humble request to you all to seriously consider the above tips and avoid ending up in trouble. Add one extra day in your plan or drop any other place as I am sure that is not more valuable than your life or your loved ones 🙂 🙂 …
Did you face any issues while visiting Tso Moriri or you have more such reasons? I will be glad to hear them in the comments section or in DoW Community. Of course, it will help other fellow travelers too. Please feel free to share this article with your friends or family who you know will be going on a trip to Ladakh or planning to visit Tso Moriri from Manali side, you may end up saving a life 😉 🙂 …