Ladakh Tourism: How to Plan your Leh Ladakh Trip

How to Travel From Leh to Tso Moriri

Introduction

Ladakh is home to several glacial lakes and among which Tso Moriri is one of the sacred as well as popular tourist destinations. Located in the Changthang region of Ladakh, Tso Moriri Lake is a beautiful and calm high-altitude lake. This placid lake is nestled at a whopping altitude of 4,595 m above sea level amidst the snow-clad mountains. Settled in the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, Tso Moriri is a hidden gem in the cold desert. This azure lake runs up to 28 km in length, 2 to 5 km in width, and is 100 feet deep. You can enjoy camping near the lake and enjoy the scenic vistas. For those who are looking for information about how to travel from Leh to Tso Moriri, we have gathered all the important details about the route and journey.

Tso Moriri is home to some of the exotic migratory birds that you can spot here during the trip. This is an ideal tourist destination for nature lovers and caters to every kind of traveler including families, friends, backpackers, solo travelers, and honeymooners. You can start your journey from Leh and explore several other tourist places en route. This freshwater lake is fed by melting snow and springs and has no outlet.

It is easily accessible in summers from various routes, however, from Leh to Korzok route, it is accessible throughout the year. You can reach the lake by various routes and from other popular tourist attractions of Ladakh. Take a look at the travel guide, which helps you to gather information about how to reach Tso Moriri from Leh, things to carry, tips, places to stay, routes, permits, and other important information.

How to reach Tso Moriri From Leh

Tso Moriri is situated 220 km from Leh and is easily accessible by different routes. You can reach there directly from Leh or visit there via Pangong Lake and Chushul. En route, you will cross several high altitude mountain passes while traveling on different routes such as Namashang La, Tanglang La, Kongka La, Chang La, and Tsaga La Pass. The other route is from Tso Kar and Moore Plains, which offers a unique road trip experience.

Tso Kar is another placid lake of Ladakh and is a less explored place. Here is the detailed information about the three routes, places to visit, places to stay, places to stay, and places to eat en route.

Route 1:

Leh – Shey – Karu – Upshi – Kumdok – Kere – Chumathang – Mahe – Sumdo – Namashang La – Korzok - Tso Moriri

  • Distance from Leh to Tso Moriri via Chumathang: 220 km
  • Travel Time: 5 hours 20 minutes (approx.)

Places to visit en route Tso Moriri from Leh via Chumathang

  • Thiksey Monastery
  • Nyingma Monastery
  • Shey Palace
  • Shey Monastery
  • Stakna Monastery
  • Stakna Bridge
  • Hemis Monastery
  • Shara Monastery
  • Chumathang Hot Spring
  • Chumathang Gompa
  • Kyagar Tso
  • Mahe Bridge

Places to eat en route Tso Moriri from Leh via Chumathang

  • Rancho Cafe, Shey
  • Punjabi Dhaba, Shey
  • Chang La Queen Cafe, Shey
  • Cafe Cloud, Thiksey
  • Lazeez Restaurant, Bilal, Thiskey
  • Namdruk Restaurant
  • Pangong Restaurant, Karu
  • The Singey Villa Restaurant, Karu
  • Cafe Backpackers, Chumathang

Places to stay en route Tso Moriri from Leh via Chumathang

  • Shel Photang Towaling Camp, Shey
  • Dokpa Guest House, Shey
  • Chamba Camp, Thiksey
  • The Ice Guest House, Thiksey
  • Zimskhang Homestay, Thiskey
  • The Verda Driftwood Lake Homes, Karu
  • Midway Guest House, Karu
  • The Singey Villa, Karu Highway Inn, Upshi

Route 2:

Leh – Shey – Karu – Upshi – Rumtse – Tanglang La – Debring – Tso Kar – Polo Kongka La – Puga – Sumdo – Namashang La – Korzok

  • Distance and Travel Time from Leh to Tso Kar: 153 km and 4 hours (approx)
  • Distance & travel time from Tso Kar to Tso Moriri via Tanglang La: 88 km and 4 hours (approx)

Places to visit en route Tso Moriri from Leh via Tso Kar

  • Shey Palace
  • Shey Monastery
  • Thiksey Monastery
  • Nyingma Monastery
  • Stakna Monastery
  • Stakna Bridge
  • Hemis Monastery
  • Moore Plains
  • Tanglang La Pass
  • Shri Krishna Temple
  • Tso Kar
  • Startsapuk Tso
  • Puga Hotsprings
  • Kiagar La
  • Kyagar Tso

Places to eat en route Tso Moriri from Leh via Tso Kar

  • Rancho Cafe, Shey
  • Punjabi Dhaba, Shey
  • Chang La Queen Cafe, Shey
  • Cafe Cloud, Thiksey
  • Lazeej Restaurant, Bilal, Thiskey
  • Namdruk Restaurant
  • Pangong Restaurant, Karu
  • The Singey Villa Restaurant, Karu
  • Ice Stupa Cafe, Rumtse
  • Pang Cafe, Pang Intersection Point
  • Kunday Chan Restaurant, Tso Kar

Places to stay en route Tso Moriri from Leh via Tso Kar

  • Shel Photang Towaling Camp, Shey
  • Dokpa Guest House, Shey
  • Chamba Camp, Thiksey
  • The Ice Guest House, Thiksey
  • Zimskhang Homestay, Thiskey
  • The Verda Driftwood Lake Homes, Karu
  • Midway Guest House, Karu
  • The Singey Villa, Karu
  • Highway Inn, Upshi
  • Nawang Homestay, Rumtse
  • Wild Camp, Tso Kar
  • Lotus Camps, Tso Kar
  • Druk Resort, Tso Kar

Route 3:

Leh – Sakti – Chang La – Tangtse – Spangmik (Pangong Tso) – Man – Merak – Chushul – Tsaga La – Tsaga Village – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe – Sumdo – Korzok (Tso Moriri)

  • Distance & Travel time from Leh to Pangong Tso via Chang La: 223 km / 6 hours (approx)
  • Distance & Travel time from Pangong Lake to Tso Moriri via Chushul: 328 km / 9 hours (approx)

Places to visit en route Tso Moriri from Leh via Pangong Tso

  • Thiksey Monastery
  • Shey Palace
  • Shey Monastery
  • Hemis Monastery
  • Stakna Monastery
  • Stakna Bridge
  • Nyingma Monastery
  • Chang La
  • Tangtse Monastery
  • Spangmik Village
  • Chagar Tso
  • Pangong Lake View Point
  • Chushul War Memorial Park
  • Mirpal Tso
  • Horla Pass
  • Yay Nunnery
  • Yaye Tso
  • Mahe Bridge
  • Kyagar Tso

Places to eat en route Tso Moriri from Leh via Pangong Tso

  • Chang La Queen Cafe, Shey
  • Punjabi Dhaba, Shey
  • Lazeez Restaurant, Thiksey
  • Namdruk Restaurant and Lounge, Thiksey
  • Pangong Way, Durbok
  • Wah Ji Wah, Durbok
  • Pangong Cafe, Tangtse
  • 3 Idiots Food Stall, Spangmik
  • Kaksang La, Chumathang

Places to stay en route Tso Moriri from Leh via Pangong Tso

  • Gobi Guest House, Shey
  • Saktipa House, Shey
  • Dokpa Guest House, Shey
  • Chamba Camp, Thiksey
  • Midway Guest House, Karu
  • Pangong Delight Camp, Tangtse
  • The Golden Cottage, Lukung
  • Hotel Pangong Residency, Tangtse
  • The Pangong Inn, Tangtse
  • Royal Tangtse Guest House, Tangtse
  • Good Luck Camp, Pangong Lake
  • The Golden Cottage and Restaurant, Spangmik
  • World Attic Camp, Pangong Lake
  • JKTDC Camp Resort, Pangong Lake

Petrol Pump en route Tso Moriri

There are very limited fuel pumps available in the Ladakh region. If you are planning to visit Tso Moriri via Leh, Pangong Lake, or from Tso Kar then the last fuel pump is situated in Karu. After that, there is no pump en route to Tso Kar, Pangong Lake, and Tso Moriri.

It is highly recommendable to carry extra fuel from Leh and refill your tanks at Karu. Carry enough fuel so that you will not face any problem as there is also no other fuel pump at any of the villages en route Pangong Lake including Sakti, Tangtse, Durbuk, Lukung, and Spangmik. You may find fuel in black at some of Dhabas, otherwise, you will not get fuel.

Traveling to Tso Moriri by Car

Traveling by your own vehicle or car is the most convenient and the best way to travel to Tso Moriri. You can start your drive from Leh and reach Tso Kar directly via Chumathang. You can also travel to Tso Moriri from Pangong Tso via Chang La or from Tso Kar via Tanglang La Pass and Moore Plains. The route from Tso Kar is less explored but offers an incredible experience to travelers.

There are several rough patches and water crossings involved in this route. You need a tough car with a strong engine to cross rugged terrains and high altitude mountain passes including Chang La, Tanglang La, Namashank La, Tsaga La, and Kongka La. Some of the recommended vehicles for the journey:

  • Sedans/ Hatchbacks: If you are confident of your driving skills then you can choose to travel in this vehicle to Tso Moriri from Leh. These vehicles are good for climbing up and down for Chang La, Tanglang La, Namashank La, Tsaga La, and Kongka La. If you are planning to travel in the early summers then you might face some problems as there are several water crossings and the route is tough.
  • High Ground Clearance SUVs (4×2): As compared to sedans and hatchbacks, it is a good option to travel to Tso Moriri. It has a good ground clearance and you can cross the high altitude passes with ease. However, traveling in this type of SUVs in early summers is difficult as the streams on the road and ice-melting make the road slushy and muddy.
  • High Ground Clearance SUVs (4×4): For traveling in Ladakh, this is the perfect option as it has good ground clearance and a powerful engine, which is certainly helpful in crossing the streams, climbing up and down the mountain passes in summers.

Some of the best cars for the trip to Tso Moriri via Chang La, Tanglang La, Namashank La, Tsaga La, and Kongka La are:

  • Mahindra Thar
  • Toyota Fortuner
  • Tata Safari
  • Mahindra Scorpio
  • Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Mitsubishi Pajero

Tips

  • Always carry important documents like Pollution Check, Driving Licence, Registration Card of the vehicle, and photo identity proof with you. Keep them handy.
  • Do not carry extra luggage with you while traveling to Tso Moriri. Leave your extra baggage in Leh as the ascent to the high altitude mountain passes is not easy.
  • Get your car serviced before the trip and make sure you will check all the components.
  • Make sure that you will get your car's engine oil and oil filter changed before going on the trip as this will help you obtain optimal performance from your car engine.
  • Ensure that the electrical system of the car is working fine with no worn-out wires anywhere.
  • Check all the shock absorbents and fluids.
  • Fill up the tanks, carry extra fuel, and check the tires.
  • Carry the essential kit and check the braking system of the car.
  • Check the wheel alignment and adjust wheel steering.

Traveling to Tso Moriri by Motorcycle

Exploring the breathtaking beauty of Ladakh by bike is a dream of every traveler. You can also visit Tso Moriri by bike from Leh, Pangong Lake, and Tso Kar. Traveling by bike on these winding terrains is a unique experience, which you will cherish throughout your life. You will cross some of the high altitude mountain passes during your journey. With the choice of the best bike and your riding skills, you can climb these mountain passes and explore the region without any hassle. For this route, you need a motorcycle that has a good and powerful engine that will ride on rugged terrains and slushy muddy roads.

Some of the best bikes for the road trip to Pangong Lake are:

  • Royal Enfield 350
  • Royal Enfield 550
  • Hero XPulse 200
  • Royal Enfield Himalayan
  • Bajaj Dominor 400
  • Royal Enfield Interceptor 650

Tips

  • It is advisable to travel light and solo.
  • If you have extra luggage, then leave it in Leh. Carry only essential baggage.
  • Make sure it is in good condition and get it serviced before the trip.
  • Check wheel alignment before starting for the trip.
  • Make sure about carbonator tuning.
  • Ensure suspensions are in good condition.
  • Double check fluid levels such as engine oil, brake oil, and coolant.
  • Check tires for air pressure.
  • Make sure the chains are properly lubricated and are not too tight or loose.
  • Make sure the bike has gear oil and suspension oil.

Travelling to Tso Moriri by Bus

You can board a bus from Leh for Tso Moriri. It is the cheapest option among other modes of transport. However, the buses are not really frequent as well as the timings and the schedule for the buses are fixed, which you need to confirm at the Leh bus stand. It is advisable to book your ticket in advance that can be done only from the Leh bus stand one day prior to the journey. The government-run buses from Leh to Korzok ply only three times a month. If that does not match with your itinerary then you can travel in a shared taxi.

Tips

  • Tickets are available one day in advance from the Leh bus stand. Make sure you will book it to save yourself from the last-minute hassles.
  • Confirm the timings and schedule of the buses in advance.
  • Carry dry eatables, chocolates, biscuits, and dry fruits for the journey.
  • Carry a water bottle, which you can refill en route.

Travelling to Tso Moriri by Taxi

You can travel in a shared taxi or book a private taxi from Leh to Tso Moriri. There are regular taxi services available in Leh for Tso Moriri. Private taxis are costly and comfortable, however, the shared taxi is cost effective. You need to confirm the shared taxi in advance from the taxi stand.

Tips

  • Make sure you will confirm the timings of the shared taxi one date before the journey.
  • Book the private taxi in advance.
  • If you are traveling in a shared taxi then do not carry extra luggage. Travel lightly and leave extra luggage in Leh.
  • Keep warm clothes handy.
  • Carry dry eatables such as chocolates, biscuits, and dry fruits. Also, carry a water bottle that you can refill.
  • Keep your important documents like permits, identity proof, and cash handy.

Best time to visit Tso Moriri

From June to September, the tourist season is at its peak and these months are the best time to visit Tso Moriri. During this time, the weather remains pleasant and all the routes to the lake are open. The days remain balmy and the temperature starts to dip in the evening. In the winter season, the lake freezes completely and due to heavy snowfall, the mountain passes get blocked.

Make sure you book accommodation in advance as, during the peak season, the chances of getting a good place to stay becomes difficult. It is not advisable to travel to the lake in winters as chances of getting stuck due to heavy snowfall increases and public transports are also not available in this season. However, in the summer season, you can easily get a conveyance to travel to the lake.

Road Conditions till Tso Moriri

If you are traveling from Leh to Tso Moriri, then you will find a smooth road from Leh to Upshi and from Upshi to Mahe, the road is a mix of good and bad. From Mahe to Sumdo, the road is in bad condition and after Sumdo till Korzok, the road is a combination of slushy and muddy trail. From the Tso Kar route, you will find a good and smooth road till Sumdo with an exception of Tanglang La and Kongka La Passes where the road remains usually broken. If you are traveling from the Pangong Tso side then you will find a dirt trail all the way till Chushul and after that, till Loma, there is a patch of good road. From Loma to Sumdo, the road is a mix of smooth and rough patches.

Mobile Connectivity at Tso Moriri

There is no mobile network reception at Tso Moriri. In most parts of Ladakh, only postpaid MTNL or BSNL networks but at Tso Moriri no mobile network is available.

Altitude Mountain Sickness at Tso Moriri

Situated at 4,522 m above sea level, Tso Moriri is one of the places in Ladakh where tourists are more likely to suffer from altitude mountain sickness. There is a sudden change of atmospheric pressure and oxygen at high altitudes due to which tourists suffer from AMS. The most common symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) are dizziness, nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath. You need to be very cautious about it and make sure your body gets acclimated.

Make sure you will travel slow and get yourself acclimatized properly so your family will not face AMS. If you are not feeling comfortable and feeling uneasy then lower your altitude immediately. It can help them to recover soon and will not put their health at any further risks.

Places to stay near Tso Moriri

There is a wide range of accommodation options available near Tso Moriri, however, the availability of hotels and guesthouses is not as much as compared to the staying option near Pangong Lake or Nubra Valley. So, it is advisable to book your stay in advance to save yourself from the last minute hassles as there are chances that you will not get the accommodation of your choice.

The accommodation options available here caters to each kind of tourist such as families, friends, solo travelers, and honeymooners. You can choose to stay at a hotel, resort, guest house, and camps. Tso Moriri is located in the wetland reserve, so no one is allowed to pitch their tents near the lake.

You can find staying options in Korzok ranging from economical to leisure guest houses and hotels. If you are looking for budget accommodation options then you should choose guesthouses and homestays and if there is no budget constraint then you can go for camps, which are also equipped with modern facilities. The basic facilities are available in the guest houses.

Here are some of the popular places to stay near Tso Moriri during your trip:

  • Tso Moriri Camp & Resort
  • Lake View Guest House
  • Nomadic Life Camp
  • Goose Homestay
  • Mentok Homestay
  • Crane Guest House
  • Wander Hut Tso Moriri
  • Wild Camp
  • Golden Mark Camps
  • Nomadic Life Camp
  • Tso Moriri Hotel
  • The Norling Camp

Permits

Tso Moriri is situated in the restricted/ protected areas and to visit here, the permit is mandatory. If you are planning to visit Tso Moriri from Pangong Lake and Tso Kar, then you need a permit for these places as well. There are two types of permits - Inner Line Permit (ILP) and Protected Area Permit/ Restricted Area Permit (PAP/ RAP).

The Indian nationals are required to obtain Inner Line Permit (ILP). You can apply for Inner Line Permit by online and offline modes. You can apply for the permit online mode on the official website of LAHDC (Leh Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council) http://lahdclehpermit.in/. Complete the form, pay the fees, take the printout of the form, and then visit the DC Office in Leh to get the permits stamped in person. For offline mode, you can directly visit the DC Office in Leh where you have to fill the form, pay the fees, and get the permit stamped. You are required to show valid photo identity proof issued by the government to get your permit stamped. Keep the extra copies of the Inner Line Permit with you while traveling as you are required to submit the copies at several checkpoints.

The Restricted or Protected Area Permit (RAP/ PAP) is required for foreign nationals and it can be issued to a group of tourists consisting of two or more persons. If someone is planning to visit here alone then they have to contact the tour agent who will help you to group together with any group. However, it is not mandatory for you to travel in the same group or with the same travel agent mentioned in the permit. The tourists are allowed to visit specific tourist circuits with the exact entry and exit points. Foreigners are not allowed to visit areas other than the ones indicated in the permit. Also, they are not allowed to stay in the restricted/ protected area after the expiry of the permit.

Things to Carry during Leh to Tso Moriri

  • Carry extra fuel from Leh and make sure you will fill tanks in Karu as this is the last fuel pump before Tso Kar, Tso Moriri, and Pangong Tso. Otherwise, you will have to buy the fuel in black from small dhabas and roadside shops.
  • Carry enough cash from Leh as there is no ATM en route as well as not in Pangong Tso, Tso Kar, and Tso Moriri. Most of the shops and hotels accept cash only.
  • Keep warm clothes handy. Make sure you will carry woolen layers as the weather is unpredictable in the region. During the daytime, it remains balmy, and in the evening, the temperature dips.
  • Sturdy and comfortable shoes.
  • Important documents like photo id proof, accommodation tickets, and permits in a waterproof bag. Also, keep them handy.
  • First aid kit along with the prescribed medicines and basic medications for fever, cough, cold, and mountain sickness.
  • Chargers of all your electronic devices along with the power bank.
  • Carry a waterproof jacket, an umbrella, and windcheater in the monsoon season.
  • Make sure your backpacks are waterproof.
  • Rechargeable torch and cells for the torch.
  • 3 socket Belkin Surge Protector, lighter, and matchbox
  • Goggles (for protection from sun rays) and sunscreen lotion with high SPF (50 or above)
  • Mustard Oil (for applying on legs, arms, and face as they can become dry due to cold winds)
  • Toiletries
  • Eatables such as dry fruits, chocolates, and biscuits. Also, carry water bottles.

Tips to keep in mind while traveling from Leh to Tso Moriri

  • Make sure you will have a basic understanding of your vehicle and know how to repair it in case of urgency as there is no village after Karu. If your vehicle breaks down, you
  • would definitely be in trouble so ensure that you will learn about vehicle repair.
  • To avoid motion sickness, drink plenty of water and eat small meals in the form of snacks. Do not travel empty stomach and do not overeat either.
  • It is important to get acclimatized properly before traveling to high altitude places.
  • Apply moisturizer and sunscreen lotion to save yourself from sunburn.
  • Wear sunglasses in the snowy areas to save your eyes from direct sunlight as UV rays reflected from the snow can cause snow blindness or sunburn your cornea.
  • Heavy woolen garments are a must while traveling to such high altitude passes and lakes.
  • Carry a first aid kit with medicines for nausea, headache, and vomiting as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a common phenomenon at high altitude places.
  • Keep yourself warm and hydrated. It helps in saving yourself from AMS.
  • Be a responsible traveler, do not litter packets and wrappers anywhere.
  • Drive well within speed limits as the roads are too treacherous to handle.

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