Cycling from Leh to Tso Moriri Lake (and back via TsoKar)

By @Saravana |

Tsomoriri is, in my opinion the most beautiful of all the 3 big lakes in Ladakh. So a trip there well worth the effort, especially if you make it a circular route and come back via the TsoKar lake and Taglang La.

The distance between Leh and Tsomoriri lake (Korzok village) is around 220km and it can be covered on a bicycle in 3-4 days. A major chunk of the route (~150km from Leh to Mahe bridge checkpost) follows the Indus river and road climbs gently (with a few up/down sections ofcourse) from 3300m in Leh to about 4100m at the Mahe bridge. 800m change in elevation over a span of 150km is not much of an issue.

From Mahe bridge the road climbs to the rustic Sumdo village (~25km away), located downstream from the Puga hot springs. From Sumdo the road climbs up to a 5000m pass, goes around the beautiful Tso Kyagar lake and then finally descends down to the Tsomoriri lake. This strech of road from Sumdo to the Tso moriri lake is probably one of the most beautiful streches of road you'll encounter in Ladakh. Especially the grasslands surrounding the Tso Kyagar lake.

Here are a few possible stopping points along the route, with the distance from Leh mentioned

1.Upshi (50km) - Lunch stop

2.Himya (80km) - Possible halt. There is a restaurant here but no guest houses. Homestays were hard to find but you can camp by the road.

3.Chumathang (120km) - 2-3 restaurants and a Hotel.

4.Mahe Bridge (150km) - Tea stall

5.Sumdo Village (175km) - No restaurants or guest houses. But you can stay at the Tibetan Chindrens Village (TCV) school.

6.Korzok village (220km) - Many homestays and camping spots by the lake.

On the way back, the road forks near the Sumdo village. Here you have the option of either going back to Leh via the same way you came or turn left and go to the Tso kar lake (~50km away). The stretch between Sumdo and TsoKar is possibly one of the roughest and most isolated in Ladakh with very little traffic and it goes over the 4950m PoloGongla pass, which is my favorite name for a pass yet.

While going toward Tsokar watch out for the Kiang (Himalayan Wild Ass), you'll be able to see big herds grazing by the lake.

At the Tsokar village there is a guest house and if it happens to be closed you can talk to the Lama at the monastery and he will provide you accomodation and food.

The area surrounding Tsokar lake is rich with wildlife and birds and you can easily spend a couple of days exploring it. Once you are done.. you can proceed towards Debring and join the Manali Leh highway which would take you over the Taglang La pass and to Leh.

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