Leh-Ladakh / Travel

How-to travel from Nubra to Pangong Tso

You must be wondering, why I am writing about traveling to two of the most visited destinations in Ladakh. After all, pretty much everyone who travels to Ladakh, visits Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso. And it is fairly common knowledge, that in order to visit these two destinations, you need to first visit Nubra Valley via Khardung La and then come back to Leh and next day travel to Pangong Tso via Chang La!

Well, that is one way and if you have the time, and you want to stick to the usual tourist infested route, instead of taking the path less taken. Then by all means, go for it!

khardung-la

The two routes I am writing about today, help you travel directly from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso in a single day. Minimize the number of kilometers you need to cover. And help you explore some of the most beautiful areas of Nubra Valley, which you would have otherwise missed.

Sounds interesting?

Then read on…

The quest

I have been searching for an alternate route from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso, ever since I visited Ladakh for the first time in 2005.

The map I had at that time, showed two direct routes from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso. However, no one seemed to know about them in Ladakh!

map-of-ladakh

In 2007, I finally got some confirmation from taxi drivers, and also a bad news. Shyok River was flowing in full force and crossing the river on motorcycles was impossible.

Couple of years later, Wari La become operational and updates and enquiries about the Agham – Shyok route started flowing in as well. As more and more people turned to Google Maps and as usual, it showed the shortest, but not the most feasible route to travelers.

I finally got to visit Wari La in October 2015 and in September last year, on my 8th trip to Ladakh; I covered the Agham – Shyok route as well.

Having covered both the routes, I feel it is now perfect time for travelers to start exploring these routes. Since they are more adventurous and at the same time, comparatively safer and doable than they were ever before.

Route 1, Nubra Valley – Wari La – Chang La – Pangong Tso: Traveling from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso via Wari La and Chang La used to be my top recommendation, until last year. This route is less susceptible to flooding and landslide than the alternate route via Agham and Shyok Village. And on top of that, you get to visit the beautiful Wari La and the mighty Chang La passes.

Wari La

wari-la

Chang La

chang-la

You also end up saving 50kms by taking this route, instead of going via Leh. Plus you can take detour from Shakti Village to Karu and top up on fuel.

However, Wari La is only open from mid-June to October-end, and can close down easily, in case of heavy snowfall. Plus snow makes climbing the steep hairpin bends of Wari La quite difficult. So it is only a good option, until heavy snowfall occurs. Plus unlike Khardung La, finding help at Wari La is extremely difficult. Since only a handful of vehicles cover this route.

road-to-wari-la

Route 2, Nubra Valley – Agham Village – Shyok Village – Pangong Tso: Until last year, I used to seldom recommend this route to travelers. Since bridges on this route were under construction and you had to drive through Shyok River at couple of points. Plus there were constant landslides and road was in bad condition as well.

Not anymore!

Bridges have been built and majority of the route between Agham Village and Shyok Village is in decent condition. And by taking this route, you end up traveling 110kms less than what you would have done, had you traveled via Leh.

Plus the route is beautiful and you end up saving a lot of time as well, and this can be done anytime of the year!

agham-shyok-road

along-the-shyok-river

Here is a time-lapse video of my journey from Hunder to Pangong Tso via Agham and Shyok. As you can see, the route is very much doable now.

However, there are a few choke points, which are landslide and mudslide prone. So even at the best of time it is recommended to inquire from vehicles coming from the opposite direction and locals about the state of the road.

Also by taking this route, you’re dependent on the petrol pump at Diskit Village, which became operational last year. There are no petrol pumps near Pangong Tso, so you have to carry enough fuel or buy fuel in black. Especially if you’re planning to take the Chushul route to Hanle and Tso Moriri.

Of course, neither of these routes is going to be as safe or easy as the usual route via Khardung La and Leh. However, this is where the thrill of adventure lies and makes it all, worth it!

27 Comments

  1. Sangam Mishra says:

    Very informative Sir jee.

  2. Wouldn’t this route too become tourist infested with this info? 🙂

  3. Good one and nicely narrated…
    This will be my priority when I plan my next trip to Leh ??

  4. Sandeep Shambharkar says:

    Thank you Yogeshji…will do it this year

  5. ANKIT KHARE says:

    We did diskit to pangong via agham shyok route last year September on motorcycle. We didn’t faced any issues except 2 major water crossings and skidding on sand few times. Though we never fell down but one has to be very very careful while riding on sand filled on this route. Gumboots came very handful managing water crossing. We sold our gumboots in leh.

  6. Very well described…thanks for the update Yogesh Ji…I covered Nubra as well as Pangong in Oct 2016 on my Santro Xing in October 2016 but on the usual routes…planning again for Oct this year. Will it be doable on a Santro (Nubra to Pangong via Agham/Shyok route ) ?

    • Thank you very much Vishal. This route can be done in a hatchback, in fact we saw couple of santros en route, being driven by locals. However, there are points where the hatchback can bottom out. Also in case a landslide hasn’t been cleared fully, it would be difficult to navigate through it.

      • Rakesh Raina says:

        Yogesh Ji, how about using a Sedan Ciaz for the Wari La route.

      • The sedan would struggle a bit at Wari La since some of the hairpin bends are pretty narrow and steep. SUVs have to do a two point turn at a couple of these turns. Apart from that, as long as road isn’t covered with snow, it should be alright.

    • Rakesh Raina says:

      Dear Vishal,
      Since you covered in a hatchback would request you to share your experience especially the route you opted to an fro Leh. Also please share your experience with the road condition and any obstacles faced if any. Any precautions you suggest with the vehicle.

  7. Subhankar Paul says:

    Very useful information for the intending Ladakh travellers. I did the Wari La route in 2014 with Rigzin in June. The trip was heavenly with hypnotic scenery. That time Shayok bridges were not built so Rigzin didn’t dare to take the Agham road crossing the full flowing Shayak .
    Thanks Yogesh for the rewarding update.
    Now I wonder which should be preferred route during the winter months considering the beauty of the journey?

    • In case of winter, Wari La isn’t an option, since it closes whenever there is heavy snowfall. Shyok will remain open and is in fact used by taxi drivers as times, when Khardung La shuts down due to heavy snowfall.

  8. Dhaval Lakkad says:

    Hello,

    I must say that this is the best information about the agham-shyok road.

    We will be travelling on agham-shyok road on 21st June 2017 by innova and royal enfield bikes.

    Some one told me that this road will not be possible in june due to shyok river flowing on the road.

    So please let me know whether I will be able to cross this road or not?

    Regards,
    Dhaval

  9. Is this true? Bridge thing? I just had a long talk with one of my friends who have been visited ladakh 2-3 times and he said it’s impossible to drive through that road and also he said wari la route is closed. Is it true?
    P.s- your article is very helpful keep up the good work sir!! 🙂

    • Wari La is open from July to October. And the Shyok route is mostly alright now, barring a few sections. Landslides and mudslide can still close it, just like any other route. Locals do this route on compact cars and even taxis like Ecco do it.

  10. Hi. Yogesh
    First of all thank you so much for providing such valuable and useful information. Really appreciate your efforts. I am planning to visit Ladakh for the first time during last week of June 2017. I would like to traverse Nubra-Shyok-Pangong Route.

    Would love to have your valuable opinion about using the route during last week of June, as I am little concerned about landslide / rain during that period.

    • Surojit, rain in Ladakh depends on Western Disturbance, hence is a little unpreditacble. Shyok route does get frequent landslides, hence it is best to check with locals in Nubra (especially drivers), before attempting the Shyok route.

  11. Yogesh ji i saw your youtube video for shyok road .. when did you start traveling for pangong? as you encountered night drive.. most of the drivers reach there in afternoon!

    • We had started from Diskit Monastery around 12:40 pm and thereafter, we had stopped for lunch at Khalsar and then tea at Tangste. Hence sunset occurred, while we were between Tangste and Lukung.

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