Day 8: Leh – Tso Moriri (4th Aug 16)
After yesterdays entertaining session which went unto 2 in the morning, became the cause for us to be delayed by at least 1.30 hours. Another fact added to this was, this being our last day in Leh we had to pack our stuff in a way that we won’t need our luggage to be taken out completely over the course of next two days.
Finally we left around 9.30 AM. Since our trip to Thiksey Monastery on evening before, we came back quite late into Leh and main thing which many of wanted to buy, “Apricots” we couldn’t find anywhere since all the shops were closed. So we asked Rigzin if he knew of any place where we can buy some good quality of Apricots, being Rigzin he knew one such shop located in a corner of a market which would give us opportunity to make the purchase. We spent close to 30 mins there since there was so much variety of Dry Fruits and we were busy tasting them all :-P, breakfast before the actual breakfast :-D.
We finally bid our goodbye to this beautiful town and many of us were already making plans for their next trip here. We started on Manali Leh Highway towards Tso Moriri, our next destination. There weren’t many places we had to visit enroute so our first stop was Karu where we took a halt for breakfast. It was already close to 11.30 AM so we decided to make it a combination of good amount of breakfast which included Various Paranthas, French toast, Bread Toast with Tea, Omelettes. We also had to make arrangements for the cash which would be needed over next 3 days inclusive of payment for Car that we were hiring. Thank god we weren’t looted somewhere, would have been a good bounty if we were. After this we took the Leh – Manali until Upshi where we had to take left road which heads to Chumathang, Chumur and the one on the right is Manali highway. The road initially was in excellent condition so we were excited that our this outing is going to be a good affair which proved to be delusion as BRO had just started the work on this stretch of road so it was nothing but rocks everywhere, one thing however I would like to note is that although the roads are not in best of shapes as of now but Indus flows right next to you and the region is beautiful, so even though the ride is slow one you enjoy every bit of it. Views are bit different than what you see while going to Khardung La or Chang La, the rock formation here is completely different. At certain point when we were stopping for nature breaks or photo breaks, we took some rocks in hand, these are as if you are taking a piece of wood which would break if you apply little extra pressure. The colours however were fantastic, different purplish tints could be clearly visible. At one point we could see a kind of Rainbow of colours on the mountain. The entire mountain was rainbow coloured.
We continued till Kiari, once we had passed that there was blasting site which was being cleared by BRO guys. If anyone for whom I grew respect on this trip was BRO, absolutely mind boggling work that these men and women are doing. We had to stop there for 30 mins before we were allowed to move forward and you know no driver honked for them move aside. Imagine this happening in any other city, there would be chaos within 5 mins. But in this border region, I have come across almost all drivers waiting patiently for their turn to pass, giving way to other vehicles before making a try pass themselves. Commendable job guys. It was soon after this we reached Chumathang where we stopped to visit the Hot Water Springs, In cold climate outside the water in origin of springs was probably boiling at 70 to 80 degrees. We checked with others whether all wanted to take a break for lunch or head to Tso Moriri directly. We did have a good breakfast in the morning so no one was that hungry and also we wanted to make it to Tso Moriri in daylight so we could visit some places there. The road after Chumathand until Mahe Bridge is a visual treat, Black Tarmac with side stripes, a mountain on one side of the road and Indus flowing on the other side..wow simply superb.
We soon reached Mahe bridge where we had to take right to go towards Tso Moriri and the road going straight heads to Nyoma and China boarder later. You are not allowed to take photographs at Mahe Bridge not sure why. We crossed it and started to Korzok. The Area after you cross Mahe Bridge comes under Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation Reserve. Many times after you have crossed Mahe Bridge, a small vollage appears consisting about 15-20 households, fields, and white homes as we were haggling our way through the terrain. It took around 1.30 hours when we reached Kyagar Tso, which appeared out of nowhere. By then surroundings had started to change from barren land to more visible greener fields. Kyagar Tso itself is an emerald colours lake. After navigating for few more Kms we finally reached Tso Moriri. The first look at this lake was altogether a different experience. In Pangong Tso, only the Lake is beautiful and not so the area around it but here in Tso Moriri it’s a complete package with snow capped mountains right next to the lake, the whole area looks more beautiful than ever. By the time we reached Korzok, we were super hungry and the camp restaurant presented good option to fill our stomachs. Before that, our earlier planned place of stay Crane Guesthouse was full due to on-going Korzok festival. This lead me to another place about which I had read earlier, Goose Homestay. I had read very positive reviews about the place but I am afraid it is not the case anymore. I suppose the condition has deteriorated over course of last few years. We shared single bath room between us 6 and 3 other groups of foreigners which had 4 people each. But you know we didn’t have much to complain since we had planned to leave Tso Moriri by 4 AM next day in order to reach Manali on the same day instead of making a night stay at Jispa and move to Manali on 6th as per earlier plan. And another thing was, this is probably the remotest place one ever visits in normal travel plan so this was something to be expected.
Anyways, we checked in there and went to Camp Restaurant to eat something. Again, Maggie, Yipee and some tea we had there. Rigzin asked us to get fresh and be out of again so that we can explore further. One thing we missed is going into the actual lake since we came pretty late here and now only option for us to go near the mountain to capture late evening views of the lake from above. Mighty mountains, snow capped peaks, lush green fields and the deep blue water stretching to the horizon, Tso Moriri offers it all. The wind picked speed as the sun set, Rigzin had already warned us about this so we were ready with jackets to negate the effects of cold winds. After spending about 30 minutes here we headed back to our homestay, had a not so great dinner and went to sleep around 9.30 so that we could get up early as 4 AM next day and leave for Manali. Here again I was not able to sleep. I probably slept for an hour at max combining all small naps.