Manali to Leh
The 472 km overland journey is open for just three months in a year i.e. from June to end of September. The jeep safari trip from Manali to Leh can be extended to Nubra valley across Khardungla pass, the highest motorable road in the world or to Srinagar after crossing Zojila Pass. The Manali to Leh drive can be completed in two days with an overnight stay at Serchu or Darcha. Another option is to drive to Leh via Tsokar and Tsomoriri Lake. For undertaking this tour you will have to arrange your tour through tour operator from Leh, who can send you a permit to enter Tsomoriri Lake with a local taxi. The journey starts from Manali driving through the lush green and foggy hills offering a splendid view of Manali on the way.
Rohtang Pass (3980 m)
The countryside surprisingly changes into the rugged brown of the rain shadow area of Lahaul. The landscape converts into naked desert after crossing a few villages of Lahaul with prayer flags on their roofs. You will start ascending Baralacha Pass and you can see unexpectedly sprawling plain areas of Sarchu where you will spend a night in tented Camp. Further, there are many small passes before you cross Tanglang La pass at 5330m to reach Rumtse and Gya village. An hour drive from Rumtse takes you to Upshi where you cross the Indus River. Enter Indus valley with dotted villages on its bank and beautiful monasteries built on hillside. Your journey finishes at Leh making the drive a lifetime's experience.
The Pangong Lake is located on the distance of 160 km from Leh, with spectacular view of the colorful mountains and Changla pass. The scenic view of vibrant mountains throughout the journey makes your trip a memorable one. The drive begins with photogenic view of Thiksey monastery, famous for its architectural similarities with Potala palace of Lhasa. The monastery covers an entire mountain ridge. Beyond this village, you will drive towards Changla pass, leaving the Leh Manali road on your right hand side. The long easy ascent to takes you to Changla pass through its winding roads passing through Sakti Village. Stop at the Changla Pass for a quick photograph and drive down to the village of Tangtse, where you can enjoy a cup of tea. Leaving Tangtse for Pangong lake you pass through many small villages of Changthang and finally you can have a sudden view of the lake. The Pangong Lake is spectacular, surrounded by multicolored mountains and its reflection makes the lake beautiful. The color of the lake changes shades throughout the day. The division of lake between India and China makes it different from the other Lake. Therefore you are allowed to go upto Spangmik only.
The journey to Tsomoriri Lake is about 240 kms and passes through Shey, Thiksey, Upshi and many other small villages along the Indus River. The hot spring at Chumathang (3965 m) comes after driving for around 100 kms. This hot spring Resort where you can bath in hot spring water, which Ladakhisuses for healing, is a good resting point. After an hour's drive you will cross Maya bridge and drive upto Tsomoriri (4555 m) through Puga village along a bumpy road. Puga is known for its sulphur and borax deposits. Full day walking tour of Tsomoriri Lake includes a visit to the famous Karzok monastery and Nomad Camp above the village.
The Tsomoriri is the starting point for trekking to Spiti through its traditional route through Parang La (5580m) The "Changpas" (nomadic people), have trade relation with Spiti. The Area is rich in wildlife including the "Kyang" (wild ass), red fox and the rare, highly endangered, snow leopard. Black necked cranes and geese flock to the lakeside for breeding during the summer months. There are options to drive to Manali via Tsokar Lake and Serchu.
Nubra is located in the north of Leh around 120 kms across the Khardong La (18,380ft), Nubra means "Ldumra" which used to be an important station on the famous silk route leading from Leh to Kashgar through the two passes of Saser and Karakoram. The main attractions of this area are the Bactarian Camels (Double Humped Camels), Khardung-La Pass (world's highest motorable road at 18,380 feet) and the monasteries like Diskit and Samstaling.
The drive to Nubra Valley leads through Khardung-La (18380 ft), which is about 39 kms from Leh. Camel Safari can be organized from Deskit to Hundar Village for 2 hours. This tour can be extended for 2 nights / 3 days by visiting Panamik village and Sumur.