Leh – Pangong Tso

Pangong Tso is a large aquamarine lake, reachable from Leh, Lakadh in Jammu & Kashmir.  Over half of the lake is in Tibet, the rest in India.  The journey there?  Incredible.

Leh Lake-4

These are the kinds of roads you’ll be zig-zagging along (at a decent pace).

It’s a long drive, about five hours each way with the option of staying over night at the lake.  It’s not cheap, either.  Ask taxi drivers at the stand in Leh (they can drive you but can’t get your permit) and a few travel agents, hotels will always be the most expensive option.  Obviously the more people that go the cheaper it is.

I can’t really decide what this sign actually means … ‘beware: car going uphill’.

Leh Lake-5

More amusing random road signs around Ladakh can be found here.

So you climb the mountains steadily, til you’re level with the top of the mountains.Leh Lake-32

And you’re actually in the snow.Leh Lake-31

After a few hours, you stop at the Chang La pass.  Third highest pass in the world, as it claims.Leh Lake-30

It’s just about the half way point.  The Indian Army offers ‘free hot tea’ – thank you very much kind sirs – in this building on the left:Leh Lake-29

There’s a very cold hole in the floor nearby if you need a wee, too.  Stay a while and take it all in (not in the toilet), leave footprints in the snow and snap a few pictures.Leh Lake-26

Buddhism reaches this high up, too.Leh Lake-28

And shortly it’s time to descend to the other side to find the lake.Leh Lake-25

The snow starts to become higher and out of reach as you start getting a little lower, and the landscape changes again.Leh Lake-24A chance to feel a little safer on the roads without the snow and steep drops.  You’ll see a few animals, too.   Met these wee fellas:

Leh Lake-7

There were loads of them running about all over the place, eating from the hands of tourists and being quite amiable really.  One almost wishes they could talk.Leh Lake-9

Also saw a vulture, but wasn’t fast enough for a picture.

The landscape will be constantly changing colour as you go round a new corner.  Tis fantastic, it is.Leh Lake-21

Here it starts getting a little orangier (yes, it’s a word).  And then even orangier.Leh Lake-10

And then a little greyer, but just as beautiful.Leh Lake-11

Until … whoah!  Hit the brakes! We literally had to due to a large lorry coming at us from the other direction.  You get your first glimpse of the aquamarine lake, nestled between mountains.Leh Lake-19

The weather on the day I visited was fantastic.  Blue skies with white fluffy clouds made all the colours just kinda gel together perfectly.

This is what the lake looks like close up:Leh Lake-16

You want to swim in it, but it’s friggin’ cold as a freezer.  Though it’s not frozen.  Might have to work on that simile.Leh Lake-14

Hang around for as long as you can in the cold, have something to eat in one of the cafes.Leh Lake-12

Expect things like pasta, soup and noodles.  And toilet rooms.  If you’re staying over, you’ll be in a small room just behind the cafes (hopefully not the toilet room).Leh Lake-13

Then it’s time to head on back to Leh, back up to the mountain pass and down the other side.    What does Juley mean?  Find out here.Leh Lake-27

We went a slightly different way towards the end of the return journey, passing lush trees (anything is lush after seeing so many greys and oranges).Leh Lake-3

And went past a monastry amid glorious scenery.  That’s right, I said glorious.Leh Lake-1

Until you’re back down on flat ground again, passing the monasteries you stopped in the day before.

A brilliant day if I do say so myself.  Lah dee dah.

When visited: early October

Weather: chilly sunshine, snow on the journey and wind on the lake

Need to know: permits are needed to get to the lake. Organised in Leh, a travel agent/hotel can do it for you.  If you’re tripping solo your permit will have to be applied for with others (though you don’t have to travel with them). Expect to part ways with your passport for a day.  Sniff.

Further Information: Wikipedia, Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor.  Read and don’t weep.

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