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Tsomoriri Lake Trek in Ladakh by Red Chilli Adventures
The remote land of Changthang (meaning NORTHLAND in Tibetan) stretches from Tibet to the extreme northwest of the Kunlun Range. This region, known as the land of the nomads, will take you by several encampments of the Changpa nomads and give you an unique opportunity to have a glimpse into their way of living and maybe a cup of buttertea in one of their tents made of black yak hair.
Leh- Kyamar via Rumtse (4 hrs) It is a nice drive from Leh to Rumtse with beautiful views of the Indus Valley and many monasteries along the way. From Rumtse it is a short walk in rather flat terrain, which will aid acclimatization. We will camp overnight at lush Kyamar (4050 m).
Kyamar- Tisaling (6-7 hrs) We start our day with a gradual ascent towards our first pass, Kumur La (4800 m). After the pass, we steadily descend towards the base of Mandalchan La (4850 m). Here we might come across nomads with herds of sheep, goats and yaks. The nomads stay here only during summer season, when their animals can find good areas for grassing. After a short rest, we set out for our next pass, a relatively easy ascent with many fluttering prayer flags waiting to greet us on the top. From the pass it's only about 40 mins. descend to the camping site and pastureland of Tisaling (4200m)
Tisaling – Ponganagu (6 hrs) By now, we are well acclimatized to conquer our next pass, the Shibuk La (4900 m). From the top of the pass, we have a good view of the surrounding mountains and of our next destination, Tsokar Lake (4250m). It's approximately a 4 hrs walk to the Tsokar basin, and our camp for the night will be the windy Pongunabu.
Ponganagu – Nuruchan (6 hrs) Today is an easy day, following a dusty jeep road towards Tsokar Lake. Tsokar means "white lake", called so because of the deposits of salt which encrust its shores. Until recently, the Changpa nomads were harvesting salt here and trading it for other goods. Migrating birds like black necked cranes, gulls and Brahminy ducks live by the shores of the lake part of the year. Leaving Tsokar, we carry on along the trail to the right of the lake and walk in a barren landscape until Nuruchan (4300m), our campsite, which is also a winter settlement for the nomads.
Nuruchan- Gyamar Barma (7-8 hrs) In the early morning hours we will cross the icy cold stream by Nuruchan, before gradually ascending Horlam Kongka La (5000 m). From the pass, we will have a good view of the turquoise blue Tsokar. After an easy 40-minute walk down to Rajung Karu, we will encounter several Tibetan nomad families of Western Tibetan origin with their flock of yaks, sheep and pashmina goats. When the Chinese invaded Tibet they and their animals faced numerous hardships, fighting biting cold and losing many lives while fleeing into Ladakh from Tibet. After spending some time with the nomads, we will continue towards Kyamayuru La (5410m). This pass is a challenging one, but the magnificent view from the top makes it well worth all strenuous effort! From the pass we descend gradually to the valley leading to our campsite at Gyamar Barma (5150 m). Due to the campsite's high altitude, bad weather can bring the temperature down to freezing at night, and frost may well coat our tents in the morning. However it is an amazing place, this high altitude plateau, with herds of grazing yaks and surrounded by snowcapped mountains.
Gyamar Barma – Gyamar (2-3 hrs) After a hearty breakfast, we head towards our next pass, Kartse La (5300 m.) We will take our time to reach the pass, ascending slowly in the thin air of this high altitude plateau. After a short break, we descend gradually down to the lush, green valley of Gyamar (5150m) to spend the night.
Gyamar – Korzok (6-7 hrs) Yalung Nyaulung La, (5450 m), is the highest and final pass on our trek. From the top of the pass, the sapphire blue, freshwater lake of Tsomoriri (4500m) will shine like a jewel in this brown, barren landscape. The lake is approx 40km long, is situated at 4500m and is flanked by the Trans Himalaya and the Greater Himalaya. There is an interesting legend behind Tso Moriris name as well. It is said that a woman, possibly a chomo (a Buddhist nun), riding on a yak, was somehow carried into the lake. The yak could not swim and started sinking in the water. The woman cried out for help "ri, ri" – an exclamation of fear – until she drowned. Thus the legend says the lake got its name – Chomoriri. Descending steeply for a couple of hours to Korzok Phu, we will encounter the summer pasture of the Korzok people. From here we continue to our final destination, the village of Korzok, overlooking Tso Moriri and inhabited by a small, permanent settlement of Changpa nomads. At an altitude of 4572m it is one of India's highest, permanent villages. The monastery at Korzok is more than 500 years old and lying on the trading route between Spiti and Ladakh, it was visited by many of the early explorers.
Korzok – Leh (7 hrs) We drive back to Leh, crossing the dusty plains of Rupshu before entering the green Indus Valley, and at last, Leh.
You will live in 4 season tents to withstand weather extremes, if any on the trip. Other items of personal nature need to be added by you especially personal medication, if any. Temperatures are going to vary between 25-30 degrees Celsius to 5-10 degrees at night. Long pants and long shirts are handy because of the strong sun in the mountains.
Note: we can arrange down sleeping bag on your request at an extra cost of Rs 100 per day.
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