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.
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’.
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.
After a few hours, you stop at the Chang La pass. Third highest pass in the world, as it claims.
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:
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.
Buddhism reaches this high up, too.
And shortly it’s time to descend to the other side to find the lake.
The snow starts to become higher and out of reach as you start getting a little lower, and the landscape changes again.A 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:
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.
Also saw a vulture, but wasn’t fast enough for a picture.
Here it starts getting a little orangier (yes, it’s a word). And then even orangier.
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:
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.
Hang around for as long as you can in the cold, have something to eat in one of the cafes.
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).
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.
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).
And went past a monastry amid glorious scenery. That’s right, I said glorious.
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.