Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso via Wari La
Wari La is a high altitude pass in Ladakh region, situated at an altitude of 17,400 feet. It is one of those lesser known passes that are nowadays getting a lot of attention. Earlier, people used to return to Leh from Nubra and reach Pangong the next day however, these days almost everyone wants to head straight to Pangong from Nubra and cross Wari La on their way. I have off-late received lots of emails from people asking whether they should include Wari La in their itinerary, how tough is Wari La to cross, when does Wari La open, what kind of vehicle should be used to cross Wari La, can Wari La be done on motorcycles, and what are some of the precautions they should take while attempting Wari La. I will try to cover these questions in this article for everyone’s benefit however if you have any further query, please feel free to comment and ask.
One thing about Wari La that everyone should know is that it is not your usual high altitude pass that you would have covered so far in your trip to Ladakh. This pass is different and way more difficult. The last 20 kms of the ascent is so steep that it is enough to have you popping open the bonnet of even a 4×4 vehicle. Add to that the fact that there are several water crossings involved and the road is considerably bad. At the end of the climb, your vehicle would whimper and you would sweat, no matter how cold it is. And the climb is even tougher when you do it from Nubra valley’s side. You would rarely find anyone travelling on this road and for most of the journey you would be alone. There is no village where you can even get something to eat after Khalsar until Sakti, after crossing Wari La. If your vehicle breaks down, you would definitely be in trouble so take a very calculative risk.
Below is a map of the route you would be taking to cross Wari La. Click on the image below to view in full size or right click and save it to your hard disk.
After crossing Khalsar village, you need to take the road towards Village Agam, leaving the upper route going towards Khardung La. Once you reach Agam, you will be at a bifurcation where the road left would take you to Shyok village. The road towards right is the one the one you need to take to reach Wari La.
Your biggest worry when it comes to Wari La is the steep ascent. You would have crossed several passes so far in your Ladakh trip so make your best judgment. If your vehicle struggled at any of the previous passes, then you need to give up the idea of attempting Wari La. If you are travelling in a hatchback or a sedan then do not even think about taking this route. For Wari La, if you have a 4×4 vehicle then nothing like it but for a 2×4 drive, you really need a SUV and even that would struggle at several places. You also need to be confident of your driving skills and if some of the roads you encountered so far made your face turn white, you are better off not crossing Wari La at all. If you have a front wheel drive SUV like Mahindra XUV, chances are that it would not be able to climb up all the way.
For motorcycles, you really need an Enfield 350 or 500 CC for this road. At least I haven’t seen any other bike on this road. I came across a couple of guys on FZ and Pulsar 220 going back to Agam because after a certain point their motorcycles just refused to climb any further. Even with a Royal Enfield, travel solo and travel light. Do not carry a pillion leave your extra luggage back at the hotel at Leh if you can. If you are on a rented bike, the rule is plain and simple, DO NOT go towards Wari La.
The next question is, when does Wari La open? It is one of the passes that receive snow almost the entire year due to which it opens very late and closes pretty soon. It usually is declared open towards mid or end of July and remains so until late September or early October.
Do you need any passes for Wari La? Answer is No. You do not need an ILP or any other permit to attempt Wari La. All that you need is a solid vehicle, good driving or riding skills and nerves of steel.