The Journey so far…
- Prologue, Itinerary & Road Updates
- Preview – 17 High Mountain Passes
- Preview – 14 Magical Lakes
- Rush from Srinagar to Kargil
- Heartbreak over Kargil to Leh
- Smiles, Sleep & Steps in Leh
- Mess-up at Khardung La to Nubra Valley
- Nerves of Wari La Pass Route
- Charmness over Chang La Pass to Pangong Tso
- Anxiety over Pangong Tso – Chusul – Hanle
- Freedom around Kyon Tso 1 & Kyon Tso 2
- Shock on Nidar – Yaye Tso – Horla
It was a cold morning with rain pouring down and gloomy day out there, at Chumathang We had plans to visit Tso Moriri for couple of hours and spend our night at Tso Kar Lake But, this gloomy day meant, we are going to miss the blue hues of Tso Moriri Lake which we desperately wanted to witness especially after missing on the colors of Pangong Tso However, luck was not much with us this time for both the lakes, so nothing can be done 🙁 🙁
Day 8 | Chumathang – Kiagar Tso – Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Pang
Tapan ji and Gagan were supposed to re-join the convoy today as they were to come back from Tso Moriri and Leh towards Tso Kar lake, respectively, where we all stay for the night together. But, before that we all had to make a queue for daily routines as 10 of us had access to just one washroom 😀 😀 … I woke up at 6.30 AM, so no queue for me and sleep of those who enjoyed the luxury of room with attached bath was broken early 😉 … All this delayed the overall movement BUT I also got a chance to take a dip in the hot water from the spring in a washroom outside our rooms. So, it was quite refreshing to me with cold outside and feeling fresh after that dip in hot water. You can check the review of Hot Spring Resort Chumathang at the link: A Review | Hot Springs Resort, Chumathang
Gagan got the shocker spring and was on the way towards Tso Kar lake. After heavy breakfast and settling the bills, we also started towards Tso Moriri midst the dark clouds and drizzle. Soon, we crossed Mahe bridge and then Sumdo where we got to meet Tapan ji and his gang. This meant a long wait for them because we had to go there to Tso Moriri, come back to same point at Sumdo for lunch and then take the diversion to Tso Kar lake for evening stay together… Unfortunately, there was no choice. So, in all agreement we moved ahead quickly.
First we climbed Namashang La at an altitude of about 5300 Mtrs just before Kiagar Tso lake This was the 11th Pass of our trip but the ascend wasn’t that significant. After few clicks on this dark day with light drizzle still on, we moved towards Kiagar Tso Lake, the 9th Lake of our trip. Kiagar Tso is lovely small lake that falls on the way to Tso Moriri and popularly the road usually converts to dirt track further to Tso Moriri after this lake 😀 … Well, the majestic backdrop and wilderness around this lake is worth watching.
It was not a good day for taking pictures, so we made good progress and above all due to this weather, we all were disappointed for not seeing the blue colors of Tso Moriri lake. Finally, we reached there at Tso Moriri and without any second thoughts we continued the drive up to the hillock ahead of Korzok village. From this vantage point, you can see 270 degree views of hills around and Tso Moriri lake. We kept the visit to Tso Moriri a short one (a bit disappointing :() and started rolling back from Tso Moriri to Sumdo where Tapan ji + his friends were waiting for us.
I have always loved Tso Moriri much more than Pangong Tso and in fact the route to Tso Moriri itself is a journey to experience on a Ladakh trip. For more details on the route to Tso Moriri, Kiagar Tso and Tso Kar, you can always refer the DoW Maps of Ladakh. It started to rain again and freshly laid tarmac was shining besides Kiagar Tso lake as we passed by it. Finally, we reached near Sumdo where there was this small dhabha at which we had tea and Maggie as our lunch for the day. Tapan ji and his friends were bored to death by then and thanks for his patience that he waited so long for us 🙂 … So, now the group was extended to 3 more as we approached towards Tso Kar lake for night stay through the diversion from Sumdo.
The road to Tso Kar from Sumdo is not that well laid and is kind of a dirt track only. We had seen worse over Kyon Tso, so this was nothing but a road for us in comparison 😉 … We were the only souls running on the route as we ascended to Polakongka La Pass pass at an altitude of 4966 Mtrs, the 12th pass of our trip. The wind was quite cold at the top as we had trouble having bio-breaks too with such cold wind hitting us :D… Somehow, you need to handle it when you are high up in trans Himalayas… The scenery soon turned to dramatic as the dark cover was scattered and sunlight begun to break through the clouds, giving it a dramatic backdrop. The flat bed dirt roads to Tso Kar lake with wide landscape, clouds hovering at the top of Rupshu region, were too amazing to be real. The photo breaks increased quite a lot with such beautiful location around but we managed to hit Tso Kar lake, well before sunset.
About Tso Kar Lake
Tso Kar Lake is a salt water lake situated in Rupshu region of Ladakh at an altitude of 4530 Mtrs and having length of about 7.5 KMs. This was the 11th lake of our trip and everyone loved the sight of it with majestic backdrop of Rupshu mountains. There is another small lake, Startsapuk Tso, at its south-west end too. It was used to be an important source of salt as well for Changpas, which they used to export to Tibet. Tso Kar Lake is quite popular for the birds and animals found around this region, mainly around Startsapuk Tso being non-saline in taste. Bird Watchers who come over to this lake can spot grebes, brown-headed gulls, strip geese, rust geese, terns, black-necked cranes and Tibetan grouse, etc.. One can also spot Kiangs (Tibetan Wild Ass), Tibetan gazelles, Tibetan wolves and foxes, teppe marmots, yaks, horses, etc.. around it.
Anyhow, back to story, roads have appeared now as smooth tarmac up to the Thugje Village. Foreigners had flocked the area around shores, with large telescopes. Initially, we thought they have special lenses mounted on the camera but then as we went closer, came to know that they were large telescopes. They were spotting the birds and it was shocking to see crystal clear picture of a bird as far as about a KM away, may be. Quite impressive but we had to move… As we reached nearby Thugje Village for the night stay, well there was a shock of a thing waiting for us as you read…
- — Dheeraj: Juley !! Ye hotel wala kahan gaya aur taala kyon laga hai?? (where did this hotel guy went, hotel is locked) :confused: :confused:
- — Local: Kyon?? Kya hua? Wo to chala gaya Leh wapis… (why, what happend? The hotel guy had left for Leh…)
- — Dheeraj: Booking hai hamari, 13 log hain kahan rahe, shaam ho gayi hai aur thandd bhi bahut hai? Chaabi hai?? (We have a booking, 13 people are there, now where do we stay, it is already evening and quite cold here. Are there keys for the hotel) :confused: :confused:
- — Local: Koi chaabi nahin hai. Acha, bada group hai, isiliye chala gaya vo kyonki uska cook wapis gaaon chala gaya to saara kaam use hi karna padta na. Yahan kuch nhn hai rehne ke liye (No keys are here. Ohh.. It’s a big group and as his cook went to his home town, so the hotel guy also fled because he would have to work out himself for all of you. There is no place to live here now) 😯 😯
Wow !! What a shock for us and cold was griping with each passing moment 😀 😀 … With deep worries and thoughts inside, we all decided to went towards Pang in the late evening and make it in dark so as to find at least some dorm tents to stay overnight. Another problem was that there were no signals and no signs of Gagan being around. He must have met us by now as it was getting dark. We waited for about 20 minutes for him in the village, took out long lenses to spot his car on the far away campsites where those foreigners were staying, but no luck 🙁 … There was no way to communicate with them over next 2 days and if they were heading to Tso Kar, they would have ended up late without any place to stay too. So, all in all, quite a few concerns have popped up out of no where but this what Ladakh trip is all about 😉 …
We drove further, waited for few minutes on the shortcut that diverts from Tso Kar lake route and meets Manali – Leh Highway at Moore plains Just about one of our car started to climb down the shortcut, we saw few headlights in distance blinking constantly and coming towards us… Whoaa… It was Gagan, Neha and riding along was Benjamin 😀 😀 … What a sigh of relief for each one of us in the group!! We were overjoyed to see them and convoy grow bigger as sun was almost set. Gagan told us that he was stuck up at Taglang La pass as it was snowing up there but they had amazing time. Benjamin’s fingers were still numb while riding in such snowfall up there at Taglang la but he was still going strong. Anyways, all is well that ends well…
We embarked on the shortcut and after a while met on Manali – Leh Highway ahead of Debring. The Moore Plains have all been tarred roads now, so fun was actually gone from them. But, this time it was kind of advantage to us as we made speedy progress towards Pang in dark light. It was almost pitch black as we reached Pang and stopped by first dhabha that came on the way. Thankfully, there was one temporary room setup which was available where 10-11 beds were laid out with one quilt each. Hence, it was enough to survive the night and cold. Camps would have been really uneasy seeing the harsh cold wind lashing Pang at night.
Now, we were 17 and there was a couple too. So, Rigzin went down to see if any similar structure or room is available or not. Thankfully, there was only one more such temporary room available down. Tapan ji with his friends, Neha + Gagan and Benjamin, all settled for the night in that shelter to beat the cold. Tensions were relieved to quite an extent, we relaxed in the Dorm kitchen tent where TataSky was installed by the lady running that dhabha. She prepared tea for us first and then cooked food as we relaxed after an eventful long day of journey in the warm kitchen. Watching TV after almost 9 days was a kind of a feeling in itself and we made full use of it before calling off this adventurous day with heavy dinner 🙂 🙂
Have you ever encountered such worries or conditions out of the blue when you travel? Ever lost a travel partner and found again, just by chance or luck on the roads? Have you been to Tso Moriri or Tso Kar Lake before or you planning to visit them and have any queries? Well, I will love to hear from you in comments section. Hope you liked the story of this DoW Mega Adventure so far.
The Journey ahead…