Ladakh Tourism: How to Plan your Leh Ladakh Trip

Pangong Lake to Tso Moriri

Introduction

The union territory of Ladakh is a paradise for bikers and two of its most beautiful attractions are Pangong Tso which is also called Pangong Lake and Tso Moriri which is also known as Moriri Lake.

This is a travel guide from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri and will help in sorting the entire route and other queries of all the travelers. It will help in locating the famous attractions, accessing the road conditions, and other important things along the way so that the entire journey turns out to be soothing, adventurous, and enjoyable.

About Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake

Pangong Lake is one of the finest attractions of Ladakh. It is the destination where people love to visit for more than one good reason. With a plethora of eye-arresting sights across the landscape, people usually believe and denote Pangong as “heaven on earth.”

It truly is magnificent in its own ways and keeps luring travelers, especially people on a bike trip from across the country. Pangong Lake is a saltwater lake perched at approximately 4350 m and has a width of 5 km and a length of 134 km. One-third of this lake comes under the Indian territory and the rest two-third in China.

About Tso Moriri or Moriri Lake

Moriri Lake or Mountain Lake is the second most popular and second most visited lake of Ladakh. One of the finest attractions of Leh-Ladakh, Tso Moriri offers tranquility and beauty at its best. This lake has been one of the top-notch destinations for travelers for a long time now.

Located at an altitude of approximately 4597m, Tso Moriri is a calm and serene place that not only mesmerizes with the natural beauty in store but due to its location in the Changtang Wildlife Sanctuary, it also offers a diverse variety of flora and fauna. Travelers often spend time camping in the camp colonies in proximity to the lake.

How to reach Tso Moriri from Pangong Tso

There are two best routes from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri. Both of which are through Chushul. The entire stretch is approximately 330 km and it takes around 9-10 hours depending upon the driving/ riding and road conditions. The majority portion of the road is a bit under-maintained and challenging for the riders. It is the thrill of bike riding from Pangong lake to Tso Moriri that lures more riders.

Route 1:

Pangong Tso – Man – Merak – Chushul – Tsaga La – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe – Sumdo – Kiagar Tso – Tso Moriri

This route is well-defined and prominent for people traveling from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri. The journey starts from the Spangmik region where Pangong is situated. Along the shoreline of Pangong lake; the route goes deep into the Tsaga La pass. One has to cross Man, Merak, Chushul to reach the Tsaga La Pass. From there, one has to head towards Sumdo while crossing Loma, Nyoma, and Mahe bridge. From the Mahe Bridge, one has to take the conventional route coming from Leh to Tso Moriri. Cross the Sumdo, Kiagar Tso, and finally reach Tso Moriri.

This entire route is a wonderful journey irrespective of the beauty offered by the two terminals. There are sections between Man and Tsaga La that are a bit tricky with muddy roads and quicksand but it's also the challenge offered by various trails in Ladakh that makes it a wonderful place. This entire journey is through the wonderful and beautiful shoreline of Pangong. For people on private cars having low ground clearance, it is important for them to be prepared for hiccups. The stretch from Tsaga La to Mahe is a spree with no problems at all. This is probably one of the best ways to reach Tso Moriri Lake from Pangon.

Route 2:

Pangong Tso – Man – Merak – Chushul – Nama – Kaksang La – Horala – Mahe – Sumdo – Kiagar Tso – Tso Moriri

On this trip, one has to take a diversion from Chushut towards Nama and Kaksang La. Crossing these two the person has to yet again connect at Mahe Bridge crossing Horala village. From Mahe, it will be the same trial that has to be covered. Sumdo to Kaigar to Moriri. People equally like this trail as the first one. Both of them have their share of adventure and challenge to throw at the riders. One can take any of these two routes as they are the best possible ways to go from Pangong Lake to Tso Moriri.

Important Tips to keep in mind while traveling from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri

  • Keeping a few things in mind while traveling from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri can help a person in a lot of ways. Here are few tips that are essential and one should keep in mind while riding/driving on this trail.
  • Choosing the route that runs along the Pangong shoreline and meets at Mahe post crossing Chushul and Loma is the best one to pick.
  • Irrespective of choosing any route, ensure utmost caution as the trail is tricky at a lot of places.
  • If taking the adventure enthusiast in you up a notch is what you want, then taking the Kaksang La route will be a good option. But that’s going to be a bit challenging for the bike and the rider.
  • Ensure having a puncture kit in your bag.

Permits required to travel from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri

Apart from the permit obtained for the Pangong Route and the other attractions nearby, one has to take a permit to ride the Chushul route and beyond. As of 2018, people have to visit the Leh DC office for getting a special permit for the Tso Moriri route.

Those who wish to travel from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri will have to obtain a separate stamp to visit these routes. The DC office has now started putting a separate stamp for this route so ensure the same before heading out. There can be instances that the army can stop the rider from crossing Chushul for many reasons even after having a valid pass. On the other hand, it is highly unlikely that a person would get an allowance on the Kaksang La pass for their safety reasons. Therefore keep your fingers crossed while taking the approval for this route.

Accommodation throughout the route

While on this route, accommodation is not going to be a problem as the entire journey can be divided into two days and parts. One can stop by at Mahe or Nyoma Village for relaxing and taking the edge off for the night. Accommodation between Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri is decent enough. Just make a plan beforehand and cover the ground accordingly. There are some homestays, inns, and campsites in various areas. Make sure to have a word with the army people to get a better idea about the changes or options available.

Phone and Internet services throughout the route

The entire Ladakh region faces phone and internet issues and it's just Airtel and BSNL networks that are successful here. One can find payphones in many areas such as Diskit, from where people can connect with their loved ones. On average, the entire phone system here is on a low and while traveling from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri the person would find problems throughout the route.

Road Condition throughout the route

The road conditions of both the above-given routes are a bit different. Those taking the first route while traveling from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri can expect a bit better trail. There are sections between Man and Tsaga La that are a bit tricky with muddy roads and quicksand. The road from Tsaga La to Mahe bridge is also good enough with tar-road connecting both these places. It is easy to ride/ drive on this road and would help in reducing the time taken to reach Tso Moriri. There might be a few patches in between but all in all the road conditions from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri if taken the first route will be decent.

On the contrary, for the travelers taking the second route the road condition till Chushul will be the same as discussed above. Onwards, towards Kaksang, the road condition becomes challenging, and lose sand with sharp stones on the ground becomes a common sight and condition. It needs more seasoned and skilled riders/ drivers to follow this route. But the challenging route makes it even better for adventure tourers to Ladakh.

One has to be very cautious on this route in order to prevent the tire from getting punctured. As it is a secluded trail, you might be stranded in the middle of nowhere. The road condition remains the same till Harola and post that region things become way better. From Harola to Mahe the road condition is absolutely good and one will enjoy cutting short the distance of this trail. From Mahe bridge, the entire road remains as discussed in the above route.

Note: There are people who wish to visit on the other side of Nama but due to the lack of people and help, army people don’t allow anyone there. So it is better to stick to the road for your own benefit.

Generic Tips

  • Make sure the entire trip is covered in the daytime. Avoid traveling during the night. It is advised to wake up early and start the ride/ drive from dawn and reach Tso Moriri by evening.
  • Keep all the essential items in the backpack including extra punctures, tool kit, lubes, clutch wire, break wire, and foot pump.
  • Keep yourself covered throughout the road and ride/ drive with caution.
  • Try covering the bad, patchy road in day time at least till Mahe so that you don’t get stranded due to any reason.
  • It is better to take the first route because you will find riders taking this one over the other.
  • Ensure drinking sufficient amounts of water every now and then so that dehydration is always at bay.
  • Keep taking 15-20 mins break frequently so that your concentration is never taken over by tiredness.
  • Make sure your bike gets rest throughout the trip because it is not just you taking the beating but the machine as well. This is the reason why short breaks at intervals are important.
  • Last but not the least, if possible break the entire 9-10 hour journey into 2 days for getting the hang of every spot you cross throughout the entire journey. There are several staying options throughout the route.
  • Another very important thing to keep in mind is to stay clear of the dogs in the region around Loma. These dogs have reportedly killed a lot of people and are hostile. Even the army people suggest to keep riding on the trail and not stopping. If by chance you take a halt and see any of these beasts approaching, make sure to be quick to get into your vehicle and for those on the bike, start your engine and ride. (To be taken seriously.)

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