Camping at Pangong Lake Banned by Authorities

by Vargis.Khan

In what will definitely be a heart breaking move for people planning to visit Ladakh this year, authorities have decided to ban camping at Pangong lake completely. This will be applicable for campsites and self-camping both. Bulldozers have been put in action and every structure on the banks of Pangong has been demolished. Campsites owners have been instructed to not bring up any more constructions near the lake, either temporary or permanent. People planning to self camp as well will not be allowed to pitch their tents anymore.

This step has been taken in order to prevent degradation of the lake by taking well planned, sustainable and scientific steps. After the recent boost in tourism in Ladakh, several camps, restaurants, huts have come up along the banks of Pangong. Most of these structures are illegal and have been set up without any permission. Too many tourists and too many campsites has resulted in an increase in all kinds effluents and contaminants; which poses a serious threat to the very existence of the lake; as well as the wildlife around. Steps are also being taken to seal all bore wells and hand pumps; which are operating illegally and without permission.

Actually, this decision was taken last year and was supposed to have been brought in effect effective September 15th. The law was put in place but never implemented though. Campsites continued to operate till the end of tourist season and no action was taken. This year, however, before the season began, it was made clear that there will be no more commercial structures around the lake on state-owned land.

Options?

What does this mean for you as a tourist? It means that you will have to choose from either of the following.

  • Make a day trip to Pangong. Start early from Leh by 5 AM, reach Pangong, spend some time and return by evening.
  • Look for a place to stay in the villages of Spangmik, Man or Merak if you want to stay close to the lake. However, considering the fact that these are just small villages and tourists arrive in thousands, chances are that you will not find anywhere to stay for the night.
  • If you are OK with staying a bit far from Pangong, look for a place to stay at either Durbuk or Tangste. Both these villages are about 30 to 40 kilometers away from the lake. But these too will get crowded and accommodation at these places also will be a challenge.
No More Camping at Pangong Lake

There could be a change or at least a modification to the law later in the year after the season starts. Some campsites may get set up at some distance from Pangong but as of now, the ban is complete and absolute in terms of state-owned land. Locals at Spangmik or other nearby villages may bring about new constructions on their privately owned land later in the year but there is no update on it yet.

UPDATE

Camp sites are still operational at Pangong. Law was passed but not followed upon by the locals. Authorities too did not take any action. Below are some images shared by Kalyan Samaddar who recently traveled to Ladakh. In his words,

“There are plenty of cottages and tents. Rates are wildly fluctuating. If you book in advance from Leh then it might be around 1500-2000. If you reach Pangong early; and book the cottage on the spot then you can get at 700-1000 range. If you are a little late to reach in Pangong and most of the cottages has been filled up the the rate can sky rocket to 2000-3000 range!
We were moderately late and the first cottage asked for 1300! I said my foot! for this crap you want me to pay so much? Before I move to another place, another group snapped the cottage in front of me. I went to another one and the rate was absurd … finally had to pay 2000!!! Only consolation, this 2000 included dinner and break fast ..)

So the law is there but not in effect. Considering that the entire Ladakh is invested in tourism related ventures like this, I do not believe that the local authorities will take any actions either, unless the court or NGT cracks the whip even harder. I hope the information above was of help. If you have any questions; or need any other details; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.

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60 comments

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Saikat K. Das March 9, 2020 - 5:52 pm

Hi Vargis,

I am planning to visit Pangong on June 3rd week. What is the budget friendly and nice place to camp there? Like Mr. Samaddar mentioned 1300 rate on 2019, which place it is ?

any leads will be very helpful

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Vargis.Khan March 10, 2020 - 4:02 pm

Hi Saikat – Just take a look around. There is no set prices. Depends on your negotiaiton.

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Vikas bansal September 16, 2019 - 4:35 am

I am.planning to visit pangong lake on 4 oct 2019, plz guide me whc tent is best,near to lake and still operational?

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Vargis.Khan September 16, 2019 - 4:43 pm

There are several of them there Vikas Bhai. Reach the lake, see a few, find one per your liking and negotiate an on the spot deal. You are going late in the season so should be easy to negotiate a good price since there won’t be many tourists around.

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Melissa Nguyen August 15, 2019 - 5:16 pm

We were there at the end of July and stayed at Pangong Sarai Camp, near the village and still very close to the lake shore.

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Melissa Nguyen August 15, 2019 - 5:23 pm

I’d like to add that I don’t know if Pangong Sarai Camp is operational right now. Our tour guide said that they (Pangong Sarai) open less tents this year than he remebered. I don’t know the cost for a tent because we booked a tour, but I understood that it’s one of the more expensive one. The quality of the tent, facility and service was very good though.

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Vargis.Khan August 15, 2019 - 10:50 pm

Thanks for the information Melissa. How was your trip overall?

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Digant June 26, 2019 - 3:12 pm

Hello,

My parents are visiting this september. I know few camps are still operating, but i wanted to know which ones. I had visited pangong two years ago and had stayed at camp watermark. However that is closed. The camp authorities suggested natures nest camp to me. Is it good? Any other options?

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Bharat June 27, 2019 - 1:40 am

I just came back after Ladakh trip this June and here’s an update on the status of the camps that I saw at Panggong:

I stayed at Nature’s Nest camp near Spangmik village. Its about 7 km from the spot where you get the first glimpse of Panggong lake (near Lukung) as you travel from Leh (or Nubra valley) to Panggong. The tents at Nature’s nest are pretty close to the lake shore (about 150 to 200m). It means you can walk between your tent and the lake as and when you like although at 14,500 ft, this short walk is also quite an effort because of the low oxygen content in air. I saw one or two camps adjacent to Nature’s Nest that are operational. The rest of the camps in the area have been razed.

There is another pretty large cluster of camps a few kilometres away from Nature’s Nest in the direction of Lukung. But these camps are at least 500m away from the lake shore. It is near the tourist spot where the climax of movie 3-idiots was shot and where you can take Yak rides or horse rides. If you stay at one of these camps, you will need a vehicle every time you want to go to and from the lake.

There are a few more camps just besides another tourist spot closer to Lukung. I understand this is the spot where ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ was shot. These camps too are pretty far from the Lake.

Nature’s Nest and the camps close to it are the closest to the lake.

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Vargis.Khan June 27, 2019 - 2:18 am

Thanks for so much for sharing this information Bharat Bhai

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Digant June 28, 2019 - 7:44 am

Natures nest is too costly. Almost 8000 rs per night at MAP plan.

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Vargis.Khan June 28, 2019 - 1:19 pm

That is crazy expensive. 8k per tent or per person?

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Digant June 29, 2019 - 4:26 am

8k per tent.

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Saahil Jeet June 30, 2019 - 8:11 am

Can anyone specify which tents nearby the lake are still operational ?

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shanthala viswanath August 21, 2019 - 10:23 am

pangong heritage camp we were there on aug 2nd 2019

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aniket June 20, 2019 - 4:42 pm

I am planning to visit Pangong Lake in the month of August(9/10 Aug). Can you please tell me the current situation.

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Vargis.Khan June 20, 2019 - 11:00 pm

A few camp sites are still operational

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Ankush Sharma February 29, 2020 - 1:23 pm

Any one having current status of these tents? Planning to visit in May

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Vargis.Khan March 1, 2020 - 1:00 am

It is operational now

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Bilal nawaz June 18, 2019 - 12:10 pm

hello Vargis,

This side bilal actually i want to know i am going in sep mid in pangong so i want to know is there private camp allow in nearby pangong lake. if we carry own tent and stay nearby so i hope we are not facing any kind of problem by locals peoples. so please let me know is allowed or not because nearby pangong camp are too much costly..!!

Thanks
Bilal nawaz

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Vargis.Khan June 18, 2019 - 6:03 pm

Yes you cann bring and pitch your own tent Bilal but you will have to do that at some distance from the lake.

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shanthala viswanath August 21, 2019 - 10:20 am

we were at pangong lake on 2nd Aug 2019 Pangong heritage camp

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Varun June 15, 2019 - 6:31 am

Sir, I am planning to visit in first week of September. Should I do a day visit to lake or should I camp there. Thanks in advance for your time.

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Vargis.Khan June 15, 2019 - 6:55 pm

It will be best to camp there for the night Varun

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kunal gupta May 22, 2019 - 12:19 pm

Hello sir,
I have a plan to visit Pangong on 22nd June, what would be the status of camps by then, as i would be travelling with family.

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Vargis.Khan May 22, 2019 - 1:45 pm

Some camps are still operational Kunal

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Arun Shankar May 11, 2019 - 10:52 am

Hello Sir!!! Your blogs are very informative!! Thanks a lot sir!!! Are the camps operational now or homestay is the only option?

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Vargis.Khan May 11, 2019 - 5:28 pm

Thanks Arun. There are a few camps that are still operational.

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Harjit Singh Dhaul May 6, 2019 - 9:11 am

I feel the tour operator did not disclosed the ban to us, as per the plan we are travelling directly from Nubra to Panyong and night staying in Panyong next day back to Leh, Now what should we do

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Vargis.Khan May 6, 2019 - 1:41 pm

There are a few camp sites still operating at some distance from the lake.

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Pran gupta May 11, 2019 - 8:14 am

Dear Vargis bhai,
You are really a great help to a travel community.
Need your help.
I have booked Pangong heritage camp for 15 th june and they are claiming that they are still operating along with 4 other camps as they are legal and having all proper documents but at the same time they are saying that decision is pending at the DC level regarding their camps to be continued or not.
Now i am in deliemia as if they inform later regarding close of their camp i will not get home stay then.
I have already paid in advance and they they are not ready to refund at this time.
Please advise

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Vargis.Khan May 11, 2019 - 5:44 pm

Hello Pran Bhai – That is correct. Some camp sites are still operating there. I am not sure about how are they legal or for how long will they continue but there are still some camps set up at a little distance from the lake.

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Raj April 30, 2019 - 2:29 pm

Dear Vargis,

Any Updates on the Camps.
Planning to Visit Pangong on 7th May.

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Vargis.Khan April 30, 2019 - 5:02 pm

Those are still banned Raj

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Harry April 27, 2019 - 10:59 am

Thanks vargis bhai for the valuable information about camping at Pangong Lake….You are doing a very good job…..May god bless you…I have two queries for you:

1) Can you tell me how far Spangmik, Man and Merak are from pangong lake ? Actually I tried to check on google maps but it is showing very large distance from pangong.

2) As I will be travelling by public transport bus, it will become difficult for me to find a place for night stay near pangong. So kindly suggest something..

Thanks

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Vargis.Khan April 27, 2019 - 7:16 pm

Hi Harry Bhai,

Thank you for your kinds words. God Bless you and your family too brother.

1. Spangmik to Man is about 10 kms and Merak is another 10 kms ahead
2. There is really no other choice to this Bhai. You can try your luck as a paying guest in Spangmik but best would be to rent a bike for a day from Leh and return by evening

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HARRY April 28, 2019 - 12:41 am

thanks bhai…..Problem is that I do not have any riding expeprience in mountains.How far is spangmik from pangong lake ?

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Naitik Nisar April 24, 2019 - 8:25 am

Thanks Vargis Khan for valuable information.
Any updates on which all camps will be allowed.
I am planning Ladakh trip in third week of June around 22.

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Vargis.Khan April 24, 2019 - 12:54 pm

It is all a highly disputed matter right now Mr. Nisar. Some campsites are claiming they will pitch in their tents as this is allowed while others are claiming it is a complete Ban. More clarity on this will only come in next few weeks as the season begins

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Aditya April 24, 2019 - 7:18 am

My tour operator called today on 24th April and told that Camping is not allowed anymore. Is this rule still in place or has been reversed?

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Vargis.Khan April 24, 2019 - 12:55 pm

It is all in the air right now and in dispute. Some campsites are claiming that they have been allowed while others are saying that the Ban is absolute. More clarity on this will only come in next few weeks as the season begins

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ritesh nayar April 23, 2019 - 8:30 am

hi.. how to know which campsites are genuinely operational and which are false? is alpine cottages genuine?

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Vargis.Khan April 23, 2019 - 2:19 pm

I supposed all of them are genuine as of now. The rule has been taken back and they are setting up camps again there.

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Raj April 22, 2019 - 12:44 pm

Any updates today ?
My agent called today and said the issue is resolved and bookings have commenced.

I don’t now how to proceed ..

We will be in Pangong on 7th May

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Vargis.Khan April 22, 2019 - 1:02 pm

Yes that is correct. A few camp sites got operational again and in all probability, it will continue this year for all of them

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Shobha May 7, 2019 - 4:17 am

Thank you for ur input
Is there any solution we are there from 11 may

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Madhumita Choudhury April 20, 2019 - 3:55 am

Hello Vargis, this information is very useful. We have a booking at Alpine Huts lodge from the 30th April and the agent told us that a final call on this will be taken on 23rd. Also this is the cottage that was earlier operated by JKTDC, so is completely legal is what they say. Any idea if we will be allowed to stay?

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Vargis.Khan April 20, 2019 - 5:24 am

Every camp site for now has been remove Madhumita and yes, your agent is right. Final decision is yet to be made on this but one this is for sure, there will not be any camp sites close to the lake. They may allow camping at some distance from the lake, like Spangmik village etc.

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Bharat April 19, 2019 - 3:57 am

There is a hotel ‘Pangong Redidency’ in Tangtse. Any feedback on how it is? Even if it is basic, it will be ok for a night’s stay as long as it is clean and hygienic.

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Vargis.Khan April 19, 2019 - 1:14 pm

Most of the hotels are OK for a night stay. If you are able to find a place in Tangste, book it.

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Bharat April 19, 2019 - 3:54 am

As tourists, it is a bit disappointing that the only realistic way to see the lake is a long day trip from Leh. But protecting the lake from litter and pollution is more important than entertaining tourists, so I think banning camps at the lake shore it is a good decision . Even if the authorities allow camps at some distance away from the lake, they should implement strict rules on how waste and sewage should be handled and disposed.

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Vargis.Khan April 19, 2019 - 1:14 pm

I completely agree Bharat

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parul April 18, 2019 - 6:07 am

Can you please tell me is this for all camps or only for illegal camps. Thanks

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Vargis.Khan April 18, 2019 - 1:59 pm

For all camps

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Jony Rahardja April 18, 2019 - 2:05 pm

need to know about this too……..going to pangong in may

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Vargis.Khan April 19, 2019 - 1:18 pm

Yes it is confirmed

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Bharat April 18, 2019 - 4:29 am

I heard from my agent that the authorities are going to take a “final call” soon. Any update on this? In India, it is not unusual for such decisions being reversed or courts bringing in stay order after hue and cry from the locals who lose business.

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Vargis.Khan April 18, 2019 - 2:00 pm

This was the final call actually. The decision was pending since last year. Only thing to know now is how far away from the lake will camping me allowed.

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Nilesh Kothari April 16, 2019 - 9:28 am

Thanks Vargis, this information is not available anywhere. My driver called me up and said that the camps are being demolished. And then only your blog mentions it. I am surprised campsites are still taking reservations for the current season. Will you be able to assist with any contact no.s where we can stay in any village near Pangong. We are keen to spend a night there.

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Vargis.Khan April 16, 2019 - 12:12 pm

Hi Nilesh – Sorry brother, I do not have any contacts in the villages.

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