Leh – Ladakh Diaries – Pangong Tso to Nubra Valley (163 KM)
Previous day we covered the distance of 153 KMs (Leh to Pangong Tso) and reached Pangong Tso @ 6:00 p.m.. We witnessed both sunset and sunrise at Pangong Tso with the kindness of weather gods. Before reaching Pangong Tso, we passed through beautiful Ladakh countryside, tough terrains, over Chang La, the third highest motorable mountain pass in the world with traces of snow along the road & frozen Tsoltar Lake. At Pangong Tso, the mountains in the backdrop appeared to be painted in the colors of green, brown and violet. Pangong Lake appeared as a clear representation of nature craftsmanship. As time flies, there came the moment to bid adieu to this mesmerising lake after enjoying every aspect of our stay. The reflection of barren mountains and a clear blue sky on the brackish waters of Pangong Tso was a sight that will remain in our heart till eternity!
For this day’s expedition the route was not yet finalized as we again had mixed information about the directions. Normally, travellers follow Leh – Pangong Tso – Leh and Leh – Nubra – Leh, but we wanted to follow the route less travelled i.e. from Pangong Tso to Nubra via Shyok valley. After spending a beautiful morning, we left from Pangong Tso @ 11:50 a.m. with a goal to reach Durbuk first and than decide on the route to be followed. The trip meter at the start of today’s sojourn was 3055 KM. Just after 15 minutes drive only, a twist was there in the offing where our bikers overwhelmed with confidence went for an off-roading experience. Initially the road looked good but afterwards it caught them in surprise where they got stuck in sands. We were continuously monitoring them while traveling and stopped at right time to guide them. Finally they returned via the main route and joined us after a stoppage of 45 minutes. Once again we started our journey through beautiful terrains and did a return entry at check post in Tangste and took some guidance on route to be followed. We reached Durbuk @ 1:40 p.m. thereby covering a distance of 43 KMs and joined our friends. We took an hour break for lunch and gathered some information at Durbuk. Finally, we decided to follow the route via Shyok Valley as we received the information that Nubra Valley is around 80 KMs via this route and road conditions are almost similar to that of Chang La.
Once again a different terrain as was the case throughout this sojourn. In half an hour reached Shyok thereby covering a distance of 61 KMs. We continued our onward journey and again tarmac has vanished but still the road was in a better condition as compared to Chang La. We crossed a water stream and found that a biker was stuck due to some technical fault. Giving helping hand in these isolated location is a gesture of humanity. We met some more bikers and enquired about road conditions and distance as they had real experience of the conditions. They informed us that the route is rough but not tough and there were few water streams that one need to cross which is bit tricky for bikers. The most surprising information was that we were still 100 KMs away from Hunder and as per the information received from Durbuk we were under the impression that only 65 KM was left. Nevertheless, we were determined and confident to cover the same.
We continued our journey through Shyok valley besides Shyok river and believe us the route was amazingly beautiful. The road runs all along the way beside Shyok river with changing topography. We crossed few streams, sand dunes, rocky terrains, rubbles, changed sides of the river, sometime near riverbed and at times high on the hills, and vastly uninhabitated. We took a small tea break at one of the BRO camp near Shyok river and reached Agham @ 6:25 p.m. thereby covering a distance of 106 KMs. There we received an informatin that after 10 KMs the road is very good but now these were a matter of no concern to us. After the tea break we wanted to cover as much distance as possible before dark as we were still 54 KMs away from our target. First time on this tour we found an information that was accurate and after 10 KMs the road conditions were good. The number of travellers following this route were very few and apart from our group we did not see any vehicle neither coming from front nor coming from behind. We were on our own travelling through these beautiful landscapes. We took this opportunity of good road conditions to cover as much as possible and reached Khalsar – the beginning of Nubra region @ 7:15 p.m. thereby covering a distance of 133 KMs. At Khalsar, the road got merged into the Leh – Nubra valley route and a sense of satisfaction prevailed through our mind. The vast sandy confluence of Nubra and Shyok river appear shortly after descending from Khalsar. Both rivers were split into various channels and many streams thereby intermingling in this vast expanse looked truly amazing. We reached Diskit @ 8:00 p.m. after covering a distance of 153 KMs. Before reaching Diskit we witnessed a spectacular sunset that hurled amazing colours on the sky and mountains. Finally, we reached our destination for the day “Hunder” @ 8:20 p.m. thereby covering 163 KMs during the day. We roamed through narrow lanes of Hunder in search of a hotel and finally decided for a tent to spend the night.
A magnificent sunset…
On day 7 we travelled 163 KMs with a running time of 6 hours thereby clocking an average speed of 28 KM/hr. Instead of going back 153 KM to Leh and again travelling 120 KMs towards Nubra we covered the distance by travelling 163 KMs thereby saving 110 KMs of drive (saved almost a day) in these treacherous conditions. Overall, the drive was challenging with quite a few twists and turns with changing topography. We drove through hilly terrains with curvy roads, blind turns, uphill climb and beside Shyok river. While travelling through these terrain it felt like Ladakh is a mystery that unfolds a magic at every phase of it’s journey.