Many times I get questions on traveling on the direct route from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri in one day without coming back to Leh. Today I am going to talk about this topic and will summarize the tips for traveling on this direct route of Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri. It will help you understand this route in detail and how it can help you save time along with associated risks.
Well, to start with the answer to the basic question “Can I travel from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri directly without coming back to Leh“? Then, the answer is “Yes”, there exists a direct route to travel from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri.
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I have already talked about the road conditions of the direct route from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri. As you know the road conditions are not that great between Pangong Tso – Chusul with most of the route being a dirt track all the way up to Tsaga La pass. It is a bumpy ride or drive up to Tsaga La and then improves almost up to Tso Kiagar ahead of Sumdo village when nearing Tso Moriri lake.
Apart from it, I always suggest everyone to keep in mind that all the remote routes in Ladakh are isolated and completely off track with most being dirt roads. Better stick to the traditional routes in case it is your first trip to Ladakh to avoid the uncertainties of different kinds on these unconventional routes in Ladakh 😉 …
To get a more detailed understanding of the routes in Ladakh along with distances, you can also refer DoW – Maps of Ladakh | Nubra Valley & Changthang. As you can see in the DoW maps of Ladakh that there exist a couple of routes to travel to Tso Moriri from Pangong Tso directly. I will talk about both of them in detail one by one for you.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Road Conditions – Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri Direct Route
Let us check these two routes in detail one by one.
1. Pangong Tso (Spangmik) – Man – Merak – Chusul – Tsaga – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe – Sumdo – Kiagar Tso – Tso Moriri (Korzok)
This is the first route we are going to talk about that runs along the shoreline of Pangong Tso lake and then goes deep towards Tsaga La pass, further to Loma – Nyoma and meets at Mahe bridge. Then, from Mahe onwards, it meets the conventional route of reaching Tso Moriri from Leh. You take the route further as Sumdo – Kiagar Tso – Tso Moriri after Mahe.
This route is mostly desolate but one of the most beautiful routes in Ladakh. And why not?? It does run along the shoreline of Pangong Tso lake. A couple of sections of the roads between Tsaga La and Man – Merak is a bit tricky and some with quicksands. Small ground clearance vehicles can get stuck, so better be prepared with essential things to carry when you self drive to Ladakh, especially with a hatchback and sedan.
Then, Tsaga – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe is a well-laid tarmac where it will be easy to drive any kind of vehicle. Even the diversion road to Hanle from Loma is in very good condition barring few patches in between.
2. Pangong Tso (Spangmik) – Man – Merak – Chusul – Nama – Kaksang La – Horala – Mahe – Sumdo – Kiagar Tso – Tso Moriri (Korzok)
This route diverges from Chusul towards Kaksang La – Horala – Mahe, as you might have already seen in the DoW Maps of Ladakh. So, the road conditions of this route up to Chusul are the same as what we have already discussed.
The road conditions from Chusul towards Kaksang La pass further degrades and loose soil with sharp stones is common. The ascend to Kaksang La from Nama side has sharp stones and it is similar on the other side of Kaksang La too. These stones can cut your tire and leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. We had to install a Pajero tire in a Fortuner to save ourselves. Once you reach Horala, the road starts to improve with Horala to Mahe being all black tarmac.
You will be very very lucky to spot some soul on this route as no one takes this route being so desolate and lack of permissions from the army. Most likely the army will not allow you to travel beyond Nama. There will be no help around in miles in case required. Hence, utmost bravado is required on this route to travel on this route even in case you are somehow allowed by the army.
Permits for Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri
Apart from what is said above regarding the road conditions for both these direct routes from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri route or Pangong Tso to Hanle to Tso Moriri route, the permits to Man – Merak – Chusul – Tsaga or remote Changthang routes are given by DC office in Leh. As of June 2018, the DC office in Leh has started to put a separate stamp on the permit to highlight that you are allowed to drive or travel on the Chusul route & beyond.
However, at times, due to security reasons the Leh DC office can stop issuing permits and also the army can stop you at Chusul check-post even if you have the valid permits. It is very very unlikely that you will be allowed to travel from Nama to the Kaksang La route. So, keep your fingers crossed when applying for permits at Leh DC office.
Also, even if the permits are given to you then as well there is no 100% guarantee that you will be allowed to cross Chusul check post or not because since last few years several such incidents have happened where people with permits also had to return back from Changla route due to security constraints.
Again, please keep in mind that these routes are totally desolate and very few people travel on them. Hence, with no one around in miles of distance for any help, you must think twice and take a calculated risk only.
I hope knowing these direct routes from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri will help you asses the risk and make a call of either taking this route or going to Tso Moriri via the conventional route through Upshi or Chumathang.
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