Pangong Tso To Tso Moriri Travel Guide

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Tso Moriri, located at an altitude of 15,075 ft is the largest of the high altitude lakes in the Trans-Himalayan biogeographic region. Unlike Pangong, this lake is entirely within India and being a sweet water lake, is home to wide range of wildlife. In a 1996 survey It was revealed that Thirty-four species of birds included 14 species of water birds of which 6 are the vulnerable species were found around this lake. This lake, like all other high altitude Himalayan lakes, is a beauty in itself however It has always been overshadowed by Pangong Tso. Despite the fact that both lakes are in a restricted area and permits are required to visit both, Tso Moriri doesn't get as many visitors as Pangong.

There are 2 ways to reach Tso Moriri. One of them, and, the easier one, is to approach through Moore Plains and the other one is through Changthang valley. This article covers the Changthang route, that is how to reach Tso Moriri from Pangong Tso. Inner line permit for Indians are required to travel on this route. Foreigners are not allowed in Changthang and can not travel beyond Pangong Tso. Click Here to read about how to obtain ILP. Click here to read directions on how to reach Pangong from Leh. Click here to read about how to reach Pangong Tso from Leh.

Changthang is a highly restricted area and while obtaining permits from DM office in Leh it is advised that you mention the entirely route on your permit.

Spangmik - Man - Merak - Khaltse - Chushul [49 kms]
Chushul - Tsaga / Chagga La - Loma [76 kms]
Loma - Nyoma - Mahe [47 kms]
Mahe - Sumdo [10 kms]
Sumdo - Namashang La - Karzok [53 kms]

Total distance covered would be around 235 kilometers. Please refer to the map below details of which are explained in detail later in this article.


pangong-tso-to-tso-moriri-map


Spangmik - Man - Merak - Khaltse - Chushul : From Spangmik, start driving on the dirt track right next to the lake. It is an awesome and a very scenic drive. There is no road and you will continue driving on a dirt track for most part of this journey. See the picture below for an example of the road. Cross the village of Man and continue towards Merak where you will be required to produce your permits. After registering yourself, continue towards Khaltse and from there to Chushul. It is advised to follow the electricity wires that connect these villages to ensure that you do not take a wrong turn somewhere and end up in trouble with Indian Army. There is no road here which makes it highly probable to get lost but as long as you stay on the dirt track and with the electricity wires, you will be OK. At Chushul, you can take a quick break and visit the Chushul War Memorial, dedicated to the heroes who lost their lives in battle with China.

This is the road that goes towards Chushul from Spangmik.


spangmik-to-man-1

Chushul - Tsaga La / Chagga La - Tsaga - Loma : From Chushul, head towards the high altitude pass of Tsaga La, also known as Chagga La. As a matter of fact there are 3 high altitude passes that you will cross before reaching Loma but because the climb is not steep at all, you will barely notice the passes. At the village of Tsaga, you will again have to register yourself at the ITBP check post and this is also the first time that you will see a road ever since you left Pangong. Road from here till Loma is pretty good and it will not take long to reach Loma where You will again be registering yourself at the Army check post. Please be very careful around the dogs at Loma. Do not approach a dog in any case and if approached by a dog, please get inside your vehicle and be on your way ASAP. These dogs are not at all friendly and if you are on a motorcycle, they will chase you not just for fun, but to attack. If you stop here somewhere, please do not wander alone at the village. These dogs are highly dangerous, are not used to seeing a lot of strangers and are capable of killing someone, as I was told by the Army when I was at Loma.

The scenic ride on the banks of Pangong.

road-to-chushul


Loma - Nyoma - Mahe
: From the check post at Loma, take the turn on your right and continue towards Nyoma and Mahe. Road from here is a mix of good and bad, drive is scenic and it should not take your more than an hour and a half at most to reach Mahe, provided that your breaks are not too often.

Mahe - Sumdo : There is a check-post at Sumdo where you need to register yourself. Right next to that check-post, there is a bridge on your right. This is the road that you will have to turn on to reach Sumdo. Ask the locals if you are unable to spot the deviation.

Sumdo - Namashang La - Karzok : Right after Sumdo, the ascent for Namashang La starts. The ascent is not that steep and road is not that bad. However a few kilometers after you have crossed Namashang La, there will be no road at all and you will travel on dirt tracks until Karzok. These tracks will get confusing several times and you will have to stop and think which way to go. Best way to travel around here is to either follow a cab (Sumo or Bolero run by locals] or to follow the track which seems to be the most prominent and traveled on. The first lake you will come across to after Namashang La is Kiagar Tso. Continue on the tracks and 10 kms before Karzok you will come across a bifurcation. The dirt track will continue to go straight and you will notice a road going towards your left. Do not turn on this road as it goes towards Chumur. You may see a few boards reading that the road straight ahead is closed but keep heading straight on the dirt tracks to Karzok.

This is the diversion mentioned above. Track straight ahead leads to Karzok, towards left is Chumur.

diversion-towards-chumur-before-karzok



Route Variations

1. Spangmik - Lukung - Tangtse - Erath - Chushul [128 kms] : If you are not too keen about driving on a dirt track right next to the lake and would prefer a solid road instead, this is another route you can take to reach Chushul. From Spangmik, head back to Lukung and from their to the village of Tangste. From their you can turn left and take the road which is a straight drive to Chushul. However though, this route is longer by almost 80 kms and you will miss the chance of driving next to the beautiful lake. From Chushul, you can follow the usual route explained above.

2. Chushul - Mitpal Tso - Yaye Tso - Mahe [77 kms] : From Chushul, you can either take the road through Tsaga, Loma and Nyoma to reach Mahe or you can take a shortcut at Chushul which can save you approximately 40 kms. However this road is drivable only by 4x4 vehicles because of steep climb and severely damaged roads. At Chushul, ask the locals for directions and take the road towards Mitpal Tso. You will be crossing two high altitude passes on this route, Kakasang La and Horla, both of which are a steep ascent. You will also come across three lakes before you reach Mahe, Ordong Tso, Yashu Tso and Yaye Tso. Please register yourself at the Army Check post just after Chushul. No additional passes are required to take this road however chances are that Army will not allow you to head this way and will rather send you on the road towards Loma.

3. Loma - Hanle [55 kms] : From Loma, you can either continue straight towards Mahe of if you have time you can also break the journey at Hanle. Hanle is the last village on Indian border and is 55 kms drive from Loma. Road if pretty good and you can stay for the night at Hanle. Next day, you will have to drive 55 kms back to Loma and continue your journey to Moriri from there. Please be advised that you have to acquire permits for Hanle, meaning that you will have to mention Hanle on your permit if you plan to visit there. Also, Hanle is a photography restricted area so you will have to leave your cameras and other photography equipment at the check post at Loma. You can collect it the next morning while returning from Hanle.

 

Accommodations and Other Facilities : Accommodations and Other Facilities : Accommodations on this route are rare. You will not find a decent place to stay till Karzok . If you must break the journey in between for whatever reason, your best chance is to speak to locals at one of the villages and if you are lucky, they may arrange a place for you to stay. There are no guest houses or hotels however until Karzok. Another option is to head towards Hanle from Loma, if you have the permits. There are a few home stays run by locals where you can spend the night.

There is no petrol pump on this route hence it is absolutely necessary to tank up in Leh and carry some extra fuel in case you feel that your vehicle cant carry enough to complete the journey. Dhabas at Lukung also offer petrol at a steep price of Rs. 100 / liter so In case you are running short on fuel, you can tank up here.

There is no phone service, no pay phones and your mobile will remain out of coverage through out the journey.


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