Sunday 4 | September '05

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ladakh beckons
today's pics (27)
morning in the camp
camp again
our meadow
crystal waters
stream and mountains
spectacular colours
snowcapped peak
the fallen truck
distant village
village in hiding
kargil view
road and river
wrinkled mountains
shadow peaks
rugged landscapes
the road behind
Day 10 - Leh, via Kargil << | >>
10.50am: Camp  >  Kargil   >  Namikala  >  Fotula  >  Leh :9.45pm

After a brilliant night under the stars, and early morning ablutions in our personal spectacular loos with a view, we set off towards Leh at a leisurely pace.

We took our time packing the camp up and getting ready, and left fairly latish, after our meadow was taken over by a huge flock of sheep brought into graze by a villager. Some nearby villagers came up to us and watched us pack curiously, finally asking us for some plastic water bottles which we handed over, glad that we neither had to litter our beautiful meadow nor carry unnecessary baggage till our next stop.

morning at camp
morning at camp

The climb continued today, and the terrain got increasingly beautiful as we progressed. We passed through Drass, a picturesque little town where we stopped in the hope of making some phone calls, but without luck. The occasional spots of green amidst the stark brown landscape of Ladakh were fabulously lush and one couldn't help envying the people who stayed in the villages set among these oases. Of course, we weren't thinking about the hardships they went through making ends meet in this desolate land.

We spotted another truck that fell into the river; instead of trying to get it out, they had just tied it with cables to prevent it from flowing downstream. There it stood bang in the middle of the river like a strange amphibian, reminding us once again that you can't fool around with nature especially when behind the wheel.

Lunch was at Kargil with some tasty Kashmiri dishes, where we managed to make all our phone calls. It was strange to imagine such a sleepy little town was in the middle of a war just a few years ago.

kargil town

Climbing steadily, we crossed the Namikala Pass at 3000 odd metres and then the Fotula Pass at 4090m. The climb has been steady but steep, and this is the highest we have been so far.



We passed the Lamayuru monastery as it neared dusk, and we decided to reach Leh rather than stop by at the monastery. Soon after, we came to the famous 'moonscape' region where the terrain looks incredibly like the surface of the moon. Unfortunately, it was getting dark fast, and I couldn't get any really good pictures of the moonscape.

the moonscape

We reached Leh late at night around 9. 30pm and checked into Oriental Guest House, the same place I had stayed in when I came in May.

This is a highly recommended place to stay in Leh - the owner, Dawa Tsering, being an extremely hospitable host with a wealth of information on the region. We'll be using his place as a base while we visit the nearby Khardungla Pass and Nubra Valley. Dawa will also be organising permits for us for our exploration of Ladakh.

Leh town was shut for the most part at this time of the night, so Dawa arranged for us to have dinner at another restaurant he runs called Oriental Bar and Restaurant. He joined us for dinner and it was a pleasure catching up with him and making our plans for tomorrow and beyond.

Highlights: The climb to Leh with the spectacular views, seeing Kargil

Downsides: Seeing the remains of the truck that fell down the cliff
  << | >>
today's route - 313 km
day 10 km odo
Camp Zojila   183806
Meena Marg 4 183810
Matayen 5 183815
Drass 19 183834
Thasgam 25 183859
Kargil 33 183892
Mulbek 41 183933
Namikala 15 183948
Khangral 9 183957
Bodh Kharbu 6 183963
Fotula 23 183986
Lamayuru 14 184000
Khalsey 20 184020
Nurla 12 184032
Saspol 22 184054
Nimmo 26 184080
Leh 39 184119
total 313 3625