We just completed our third and final “jeep-safari” from Leh. This time we visited the Nubra Valley, which is actually a Y-shaped valley with one side being the Nubra River and the other, the Shyok.
Much of the scenery was the same as our other trips (spectacular), but there were some variations. While we’ve seen a few oases that could support small towns or villages, the entire Nubra Valley was filled with small shrubs and trees.
This is probably due to the fact that, besides the rivers and streams, it actually rains in the region. While we were there, it drizzled briefly twice, which is unimaginable in many parts of desert Ladakh. One our first evening there, Joylani and I were scurrying back to our hotel from a walk, because we saw a pillar of rain moving towards us. We later discovered it was actually a huge dust-storm that was moving through the valley. I’d never seen sand stretch from the ground to the clouds like rain before. It made sense though as there were huge sand dunes about a kilometer away from Hunder, the village we were staying in. The dunes were larger than any I’d ever seen in Rajasthan and the main attraction there was to ride the double-humped Bactrian camels.
Aside from the geo-climatic differences, this trip was full of extremes. Sort of. To get to the Nubra Valley and back, we had to twice traverse Kardung-La, the highest motorable pass in the world at 18,380 feet.
Acclimatizing in Leh really helped, as I did not feel any of the effects of altitude sickness when we stopped for a few minutes at the summit. Although having been to all these high passes the past couple weeks has kind of killed the novelty of it all, we still took a photo next to the sign- it’s the highest in the world!
The other extreme we went to was the northern extreme. We visited the village of Panamik on our second day, which happens to be the northernmost point non-Ladakhis can go in India. I asked a chai-wallah there how far the LOC (Line of Control) was, which he told me was 60-70 kilometers. Other than that, we saw awesome scenery and some cool monasteries. Nothing truly extraordinary, but a fun side-trip nonetheless.