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LADAKH - Kingdom of Buddha (Leh, Nubra, Tso Kar, ...)

Ladakh! What to say? For me it is a beautiful place with friendly people, stunning mountains, amusing view and treks, buddhist culture with many monks and gompas, yummy food, ...

Stok range mountains. Tradition meets new technology :)

All together making a place, which for me feels almost like a home. So familiar, so nice and friendly. It is not hard to stay, it is hard to leave. More then two months of my wondering around this part of the world were not really enough and passed rather too fast. Never the less - in the high season there are too many tourists and especially the Leh city turns to a bit hectic place. It is a difficult to make my favorites - but certainly the Nubra Valleys and around the Lakes Tso Moriri and Tso Kar are the most vivid in my memory.

* Leh and surrounding
* many monasteries - Alchi, Likir, Tiksey, Shey, Hemis, Diskit, ....
* Buddhist festivals (Hemis gompa)
* climbing on Stok Kangri (6132m) and Mentok1 (6293)
* trekking around the mountains
* around the lakes Tso Kar (salty one) and Tso Moriri
* Nubra Valley (a beautiful restricted permit area)
* Drinking "Chang" (local beer) with locals
* Cycling Khardung La (5602m)
* riding zanskar horse
* eating "tsampa" and drinking butter tea and many other really nice things
* .....

The road from Manali done by a government bus takes two days and there is a stopover in Keylong - a smaller city in the mountains. There I met very friendly Nepali people and stayed for only 25 RS a night. Here I also drunk my first "Chang" a locally brewed beer and stayed talking until late. The road to Leh goes over a gorgeous mountains with some high passes. The highest one "Taglung La" is 5328 meters. Many people experience altitude problems on the way, but in my case, this was never an issue. You can also take a jeep, which would cost you more then a double of the bus (1200 RS/ bus 525 RS), but it takes only around 22 hours. The most enjoyable are the stops on the way in the local "Dhaba's" - tea tents, where I found the food to be really nice and tea is also much appreciated.

Everybody enjoys the bike on the top of the world (Khardung La - 5602m)

Khardung La - 5602 meters - one of the highest mortal roads in the world

KHARDUNG LA - The highest mortal road in India and the third highest mortal road in the world. It is said, there is one higher pass in Tibet and the highest one is supposed to be in Bolivia. So how to enjoy this special place? Of course on the mountain bike! :)))) The official altitude reaches 5602 meters and you can see some snow around even in the mid summer. My GPS was slightly less generous, with only stating 5412 meters, but it is still very good challenge anyway. The road is around 40 km long from Leh ( 3.500m) and the altitude difference is over 2.000 meters. First part has got nice coating by a asphalt, but the second part is unsoiled, with many streams running over it. I must say, especially the way down is an unforgettable experience. Going down was really fast and only stops for a beautiful view and to take a photo interrupted my ride. It took me less then 30 minutes to make the top part of the road (the unsoiled part). It was the only time, when even a jeeps (usually fast going) were letting me go, when I was stepping on their backs for a while. The second one on the asphalt was not as interesting, but still pretty good long ride. If you ever get to this area - highly recommended. You can find quite good mountain bike in Leh to rent, just near the "Main bazaar street" and the owner is really nice. He was really exited about my trip and he customised the bike for me as much as he thought is possible. After meeting with more Czech people in Leh, they followed my recommendation and all together made it as a "Czech ride".

Children in Leh


Sunrise - Stok Kangri summit 6132m

Stok Kangri summit - 6132 meters

view on Stok Kangri (6132m) from my vindow in Upper Changspa
And yet, one mountain over the six thousand meters was not enough. There are several beautiful mountains around the Tso Moriri lake. The landscape is beautiful - wast planes, snowy mountains, lakes. This part of the Ladakh geologically belongs to the Tibetan plateau and it is a bit different to rest of the Ladakh. You don't meet too many tourists in those areas. Mainly because its remoteness and high altitude and also to get there, you need to apply for a special permit for the restricted areas in Leh (valid up to 7 days).

I have come there with a couple of friends and of course, part of our plan was to climb another mountain there. We arrived to a small village Korzong on the shore of the Tso Moriri lake (Tso means lake), where we stayed for two nights. Part of our group had needed more acclimatisation as the Korzong itself is already in 4.600 meters. Then we left up to the mountains to climb one of the Mentoks. Mentok 1 is higher and it is considered to be a technical climb. Mentok 2 should be approachable as a trekking peak. Our aim was Mentok 2. Also it is considered trekking peak like the Stok Kangri - high altitude makes it not easy task and there is usually snow/glaciers on the top, so crampons and ice axes are worthy part of the equipment. It was quite difficult to learn from the locals, which peak is which and even with one of the best maps you can get here we were still in doubt. In the end we just decided, which mountain we will try. And for me it happened to climb a Mentok 1 as a solo climb.

Mentok 1 - 6293 meters - view on the summit

Mentok 1 - summit - 6293 meters


Yak, Yak, Yak - Ladakh (from High Altitude Trekking) over 5.000m

Camping with the nomads

Nomads in the mountains

In the nomad's tent

On the pass - ... La - near Tso Moriri - Ladakh

Waiting - Korzong - Ladakh

Tso Kar Lake - Ladakh

Tso Moriri Lake - Glacier edge


Likir Monastery - Ladakh

Alchi monastery - making tea "chai" - Ladakh

In the mountains

Young monks enjoying the view Alchi monastery - Ladakh

Diskit Monastery - Nubra Valley - Ladakh

view from the Diskit Monastery - Nubra Valley - Ladakh

Stakna monastery series

Stakna monastery - offerings ceremony


How to operate the shovel - series Leh

Prayer - part of the life

Leh views - 1

view from the Leh gompa

Leh palace and old gompa in the background
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