The direct route from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso is getting popular among domestic tourists year after year. As of 2019, this route is the hot favorite among tourists, especially those who are short on days for an ideal Ladakh trip.
Today in this article, I will talk about some important tips and things you should consider when traveling from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso.
So, when you ask me:
- Can I travel from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso directly?
The answer is “Yes”, you can travel to Pangong Tso from Nubra Valley either from Agham – Shyok village route or from Agham – Wari La route. So, in fact, there are a couple of direct routes between Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso, the two most popular tourist destinations in Ladakh.
Let’s look at the answer in detail now 🙂 …
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso Guide
I get a lot of questions about how I can save a day in my plan of Ladakh trip, where people look to travel directly from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso instead of coming back to Leh.
If you need to understand more about the routes in Ladakh along with distances, you can also refer our DoW – Maps of Ladakh | Nubra Valley & Changthang.
Before going into the details, I always suggest everyone to keep in mind that all the remote routes in Leh Ladakh are a bit desolate and most of them are like dirt roads. The first and the foremost tip I suggest is that “better stick to conventional routes in case it is your first trip to Ladakh to avoid the uncertainties of different kinds on these unconventional routes 😉” …
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As you can see in the DoW maps of Ladakh that there are two routes to travel to Pangong Tso from Nubra Valley directly. I will talk about both of them in detail one by one.
Road Conditions of Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso
Let’s check both the routes in detail one by one.
1. Nubra Valley – Agham – Shyok Village – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso (Lukung)
This route has become very popular among tourists starting in 2018. The road conditions have been stabilized a lot on this route and lots of people now travel on this route, especially when it is shorter than Wari La route and saves you a day in overall Ladakh plan.
Some of the road sections between Agham & Shyok villages are kind of tricky and landslide-prone. Even though a lot has been improved on this route starting 2016, still, it is not an easy piece of cake especially in July – August time period.
Sometimes the water in the Shyok river swells and closes the road. Hence, it is important to ask at Agham village before you travel on this route. There are some sections, especially before Shyok Village (towards Nubra side), which might be tough to climb without a high Ground clearance vehicle.
Hence, it is better to avoid traveling on this route by a hatchback or sedan, IMO. Rest people have taken it on the route; it depends upon the person driving the car and how much he loves his car. At one of the sections, we were moving, and one person kept clearing stones falling from above 😛 …
YOU MUST keep in mind that this route is getting popular year by year but still not majorly used. It is better to wait at Agham village for some company when you are alone and tag along to have some company for peace of mind of being not along. Having this company will help in case of any breakdown as others can help the person in need.
In case, you venture out on this route alone, you might get stranded for a longer period of time. If you are self-driving to Ladakh, it is better to carry the essential things for a self-drive trip to Ladakh.
Please take a sensible call for yourself as well as your loved ones waiting for your safe return. Cars with high ground clearance are preferable on this route. Always inquire about the road conditions either at Agham Village or Khalsar Village before taking the route from Shyok village to Pangong Tso.
If you are traveling from Pangong Tso, then there is a GREF hut that comes after Shyok village from Durbuk side. You can inquire about the route status from them as well.
- Sedans/Hatchbacks = Best avoid them!!
- High Ground Clearance SUVs (4×2) = Doable, drive with caution
- High Ground Clearance SUVs (4×4) = Will help a lot with the peace of mind.
2. Nubra Valley – Agham – Wari La – Shakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso (Lukung)
The direct route from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso from Wari La pass is much longer as compared to the Shyok Village route. It gets connected on the conventional route from Leh to Pangong Tso at Shakti/Serthi village.
So, that means you travel Nubra Valley to Sakti over Wari La and then traverse major part of Leh to Pangong Tso route as well, including climbing the Chang La pass. It easily takes about 10+ hrs to reach Pangong Tso from Wari La route.
This route will be closed in June due to snowfall at Wari La pass and is not kept actively open by BRO as there is no urgency to do so. It is just an alternate route present. Hence, in the winter months and early season time, you should not travel on this route at all because it will be most likely be closed.
As the Shyok village route, which is much shorter, is not traveled by many tourists, it is better only to take Wari La route in case that route is closed. Otherwise, you will not find many people on this desolate route, and no help will be available in miles in case of any breakdown.
So, even if for some reason you take this direct route to Pangong Tso from Nubra Valley, it is better to do it in a group of 2-3 vehicles at least.
The road conditions are mostly average with a dirt track in the majority of the route. There are a couple of water crossings, and at the to of Wari La, the vehicle with small GC may struggle a bit.
- Sedans/Hatchbacks = Tough but doable, at least the climb up/down for Wari La and then again to Chang La. Very tough in early summers.
- High Ground Clearance SUVs (4×2) = Manageable, tough in early summers.
- High Ground Clearance SUVs (4×4) = Manageable and certainly helpful
Itinerary of Nubra to Pangong Tso Route
Given below is a three-day itinerary for planning a trip to Pangong Tso directly from Nubra Valley without coming back to Leh. I am assuming that you have already stayed a couple of nights in Leh for acclimatization and then only you are traveling to Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso.
If you have more days at hand, then you can add the Turtuk village to stay in the below plan where you can travel to Turtuk on the first night. Then, the next day comes to Hunder and go over to Pangong Tso.
Day 1 | Leh – Khardung La – Diskit – Hunder
- Head for Nubra Valley and stay overnight at Hunder / Diskit
- On the way enjoy a cup of soup at Highest Motorable Pass (as claimed) Khardung La
- Diskit has monasteries with tallest lord Buddha statue and Hunder has sand dunes and bacterian camel safari
Day 2 | Hunder / Diskit – Shyok Village or Wari La – Pangong Tso
- Take the direct route to Pangong Tso via Shyok Village (shorter) or Wari La (longer) whichever is open
- Overnight at Pangong Tso
Day 3 | Pangong Tso – Leh, covering Hemis, Thicksey, and Shey monasteries
- Cover Hemis, Thicksey and Shey
- Overnight at Leh
Permits of Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso Route
No extra permits are required to travel from the Shyok village route or the Wari La route between Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso. The permits that you got from the DC office in Leh for Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso will be sufficient. You can apply the permits for Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso online now.
In the end, make a calculated risk when traveling on direct routes from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso either from Shyok village or Wari La pass. Remember that it is always good to travel in a group on such unconventional routes in Ladakh, so even if you are alone, the vehicle waits at Agham village to travel in a group. Otherwise, you will be best suited to avoid them.
Have a travel question?? You can follow me on Instagram and ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram too. I also conduct a weekly Q&A session every Saturday evening on Instagram, so see you there.
I am sure with the details described in this article, you will be able to make a judgment call, which is best the best route for you and your family. If you still have any doubts or questions about planning your trip from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso, feel free to post them in the comments section below.
I will be happy to hear from you on other suggestions about this wonderful route in Ladakh. Have you done this route?? Tell me what was your experience and help others travel better in Ladakh. Do not forget to share this article with your friends and family who are planning the trip to Ladakh.