Pangong Tso (Lake) is world’s highest saltwater lake and is situated 160 km from Leh town. During my 9 days tour of Ladakh, I stayed for a night in tents near Pangong. This post is about my experience of the drive from Leh to Pangong Lake. I was traveling solo and found an all inclusive package which was slow paced compared to other available one line. The most interesting part was that despite being a group package, I had only one more person in the group 😀
On the day of Pangong visit, I had early breakfast and started by 8.00 AM in the morning as en-route we have to visit Shey Palace-the ancient capital of Ladakh and Thiksey monastery.
Finally, we started the drive from Leh to Pangong Lake.
After visiting these two places, we started our journey. The road condition was good but it is only wide enough for two vehicles. The flora and fauna changes as we moved, initially there were enough grasslands where I had seen herds of animals grazing. There were few water bodies also and streams flowing down. But as we moved further towards Chang-la pass, the topography changed and there were high barren mountains.
We reached Chang la, which is the second highest motorable pass. Our driver a very energetic and young guy stopped there and announced that we will take the break here for some time. There is a small cafe here, which as usual serve tea, coffee, Maggi, momos and few other packed items. Fortunately, there was a proper toilet behind cafe for travelers (In Khardung La, the toilet means some makeshift shack or small toilet tent). So I had only tea here because I felt more breathless here as compared to Khardung La pass, don’t know why. There were construction and repair of the road was in progress, I came to know that Himank guys are always in action here doing some or the other things.
We again started our journey towards Pangong. The terrain is dry and rough, I have seen mountains with snow peaks all around. Some of the glaciers were also visible on the way. After driving for another 2 hours we took another break for Maggi as we were feeling hungry. The Maggi and tea taste so good in these parts that I can’t explain.
We filled our stomach and continued our drive from Leh to Pangong Lake. After driving for some time, we reached the grassland area. There was greenery on both sides of road touching the rugged hills. Our driver stopped the car in the middle of nowhere after that couple of other cars stopped behind us. We came to know that this is the area, where we can see marmots moving in the open. I got down from the car and we moved somewhat on the ground. Here we spotted few marmots sitting outside a hole but as other people also came forward and some of them made noise the smaller ones went inside the hole but there were some marmots who were accustomed to human beings. Some of the people offered fruits to them ignoring the advice of our & their drivers…. Just for the photo op 🙁
The drive ahead of Marmot area was very bumpy because in many places road condition was bad due to sudden water flow from glacier meltdown. As we came to Pagla nalla, road totally disappeared and the drive was super bumpy. The driver told that sometimes water flow in pagla nulla is so fast that it breaks the bridge and connectivity to Pangong disrupts. I had to hold the front sit and put my full force to avoid hitting my head on the SUV’s roof. After driving few hundred meters, finally our vehicle came on a dirt road and we moved further.
After driving for few minutes, I saw the first glimpse of Pangong between two hills. It was looking like a blue patch in the middle of golden hills.
From this points, we drove for some more time in turns and loops and finally I could see the vast blue lake, which is called Pangong Tso in the local language. It is beautiful lake….And I was happy because I have overnight stay booked in the camps beside the Lake.
The journey was tiring but I simply loved the landscapes I seen while the drive from Leh to Pangong Lake.