We all have heard about or visited the famous lakes of Ladakh which are popular by the names of Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri or Tso Kar lakes. The word ‘Tso’ means ‘Lake’ in Ladakhi language. As Pangong Tso lake made its pseudo debut on 3 Idiots Bollywood movie, it got so famous that Ladakh is flooded with tourists nowadays. More and more Bollywood movies or scenes are being shot in Leh – Ladakh region. However, there are few tourists or travelers who still look for those peaceful locations to visit in Ladakh. Today I am going to introduce you to some of the lesser known lakes of Ladakh that you can visit on your next trip to Ladakh.
You must have already read about the most common itinerary of Ladakh and hence, understand how to reach Ladakh too. I will not go into the details of planning a trip to Ladakh as this site is full of such articles. You can always leave a question on this site or in our community forums to get experts.
8 Lesser Known Lakes in Ladakh
I am not going to cover all the lakes that I know in Ladakh but some which are worth visiting I will enlist down in this article so that you can travel to them. Fortunately, these lakes are in Ladakh mainland but still unexplored and I am sure you would love to challenge yourself for yet another adventure trip to Ladakh. I have excluded the Surajtal and Deepaktal Lakes of Manali – Leh Highway. So, let’s look at these unexplored lakes in Ladakh one by one and let’s see how many will you visit on the next trip to Ladakh.
1. Kyon Tso 1 or Ryul Tso and 2. Kyon Tso 2 or Chiling Tso
The first two in the list are the twin lakes located deep in the isolation of Changthang region near Hanle. These twin lakes are close to each other, one on your left and other on the right. We visited them in 2013 on DoW Ladakh Mega meet and it was pure heaven. Some people visit these desolate lakes when traveling to Tso Moriri from Hanle directly too.
Pro Tip: If you are doing a self drive these remote places in Leh – Ladakh or Zanskar Valley, then make sure to read the article 40 Must Have Things to Carry on a Self Drive Trip to Ladakh
You must travel in a group in order to visit this desolated place as there is no help around in case you get stuck. Do not take your vehicle near to the lake as there are marshes which can suck the tires of your vehicles and you will spend the entire day taking out the car. So, enjoy the views from distance OR hike to the shores. While traveling to these two lakes, you can also visit Thit Zarbo La before Nidar region in Nyoma. You will need to get a special permit for Hanle, Kyon Tso 1, Kyon Tso 2 to visit these lakes. Once you reach Hanle, then take the road or off road from Hanle to Thitzarbo La – Nidar – Nyoma route or make a day trip from Hanle. You should not venture in this region along or not in a small group and also you must travel with a valid permit.
3. Mirpal Tso
Next on the list if an emerald green lake which is nested amid widening brown-black mountains just below Kaksang La pass. The deep green hue is probably obtained from the mountains around but it is definitely unique, even to a place like Ladakh. When visiting this lake, you also give yourself an opportunity to visit 8th highest motorable road or pass in the world called Kaksang La. However, don’t be fooled by the beauty of the lake. You can see it from a distance but there’s still no road to reach the banks of the lake (yet), so you need to hike it. You can either travel from Pangong Tso – Chusul side or from Chumathang – Nurpa La or Thato La – Horala – Kaksang La – Mirpal Tso – Chusul side. The route requires a special permit from DC office in Leh and mostly army does not allow to travel beyond Chusul – Nama checkpost.
Just like the twin lakes of Ryul Tso and Chilling Tso, do not venture along on this route or in a small group, the route is desolated and full of sharp stones. We busted two our tires of Fortuner and ended up using spare tire from Pajero to reach safely to Chumathang in the night.
4. Yaye Tso
About 20 odd KMs on the route of Mahe – Hora La – Kaksang La – Chusul, you will see this heart shaped volcanic lake at an altitude of 4988 Mtrs known by the name Yaye Tso. The lake is as interesting as it sounds. Promptly visible atop the Hora la pass, you can actually drive down to the lake. There’s a Yaye village nearby along with a monastery/nunnery. the lake is surrounded by quicksand, so be careful! The road from Mahe to Hora la pass is well built and do not need any permit to travel up to Hora La. There are lots of shortcuts on the route but I will suggest staying away from them as it can cause trouble to the car. You can hike a bit from Nurpa La or Thato La which comes before Hora La to view this lake from a vantage point.
5. Yarab Tso
This small lake or pond is located near Panamik village in Nubra Valley. You can visit this lake in case you are visiting Panamik village. Nothing special about it except locals treat it as a sacred/holy lake and swimming/bathing is not allowed. It is considered as a Wish Pond. Just before you enter the Panamik village in Nubra Valley, where the traditional gate built of flag as seen before start of almost all villages in Ladakh, there goes a dirt track/very rough towards left which takes you a place right at the foot of a small hill. The hike to Yarab Tso from that point is hardly 15-20 minutes while from Panamik side, the hike is a bit tough and long.
6. Tso Kiagar
I believe you may have visited this lake or may have ignored while traveling to Tso Moriri. It is yet another lake in Ladakh with a beautiful backdrop where you can spot some wildlife too. You can pitch your camps in case you are interested in camping in a desolate place and it will be totally worth the experience. As you drive from Chumathang towards the boundless Tso Moriri, the roads will lead straight into Tso Kiagar. The lake might be small-ish to the eye but its jaw-droppingly beautiful. We think more people should stop and enjoy the serenity of this lake instead of rushing to Korzok.
7. Lang Tso & 8. Stat Tso Twin Lakes in Zanskar Valley
Yeah, I know that it is not exactly Ladakh but surely alongside this beautiful plateau is another lost Shangrila – the Zanskar Valley. Lately, we have been writing a lot about Zanskar Valley. In case, you have already gone through the most common itinerary of Zanskar Valley, you might have seen that these twin lakes, Lang Tso and Stat Tso, fall just around the corner of Pensi La pass that connects Zanskar Valley with Suru Valley.
These twin lakes adjoin Pensi la pass and are a thing of absolute beauty offering some majestic reflections of backdrop peaks of Zanskar. And yes, it is 100% accessible to anyone who can make this far 🙂 … If you are lured to camp at the lake, then please note that you must be acclimatized to sleep at around 14000 feet. Also, if you have a couple of spare days at Kargil, these twin lakes can be visited from the Kargil to lakes to Rangdum and next day back to Kargil.
I hope you got to know some unknown or lesser known lakes of Ladakh from this article. So, which of these lesser known lakes in Ladakh lake is on your 2018-19 adventure agenda? I feel in case you were not planning to visit Ladakh this season thinking you might have covered all the places in Ladakh, well I have given you about seven reasons to visit Ladakh in 2018 again 🙂 … In the next article, I will share with you some lesser known places to visit in Ladakh apart from these lakes so that you can plan another trip to this heavenly region of trans Himalayas.
In case, you have got any questions on planning a trip to visit any of these lakes or have any suggestions that can help other fellow tourists, feel free to post them either in the comments section of this article below or in the “Ask a Travel Question” section of this website. You can also take guidance from other travel experts or help other fellow members in our DoW Community Forums.