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Pangong Tso, Ladakh

Lakes of Ladakh

Lakes of Ladakh

Lakes in Leh Ladakh

Ladakh is a cold desert and known for its arid landscape with looming mountains. The lakes of Ladakh set against this stark landscape appear all the more beautiful and mystical. The remoteness further adds to the serenity of the lakes and their environment. The most well-known of these lakes are the high-altitude lakes of Ladakh found in the Changthang Plateau: Pangong Lake, Tso Kar, and Tso Moriri.

In addition to their remarkable beauty and extraordinary colours, these lakes also boast of unique ecosystems and are excellent spots for bird-watching. There are other hidden lakes of Ladakh, which are not as popular but have their own charm. On our tours, while visiting the famous lakes of Ladakh, you will also encounter the unknown lakes of Ladakh, many of which locals consider sacred. Permits are required to visit some of the lakes and we will arrange for the permits.

Popular Lakes of Ladakh

The popular lakes of Ladakh found in the Changthang Plateau are Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, and Tso Kar. They are some of the highest saltwater lakes in the world and because of the wetland ecosystem prevalent here, they are designated as Ramsar sites.

The wetlands are home to native species of birds and also attract migratory birds. They also host unique flora and fauna such as the marmot, Tibetan wolf, red fox, and kiang (Tibetan wild ass). So, a visit to these lakes allows you to experience wildlife, a unique ecosystem, scenic views, and a sacred and peaceful environment.

Map of the lakes of Ladakh

Map of Ladakh with roads and trekking routes


The lakes of Ladakh can be visited from Leh in one day, but we recommend you to take two days to visit a lake. Please note that Tso Moriri, Tso Kiagar and Tso Kar can be visited in one return trip from Leh in two days.

Tso Moriri lake

How to Visit Tso Moriri Lake in Ladakh ?

Tso Moriri is located in a plateau at 220 km from Leh. It will take around 6 hours to reach via Chumathang where you can visit a monastery.

Tso Moriri lake stay

There are permanent residents in the village Karzog on the bank of Tso Moriri. There is a hotel and a few very rudimentary guesthouses there. The most comfortable places to stay are the camps near Karzog.

Tso Moriri Lake altitude

Tso Moriri Lake, officially named as Tso-moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve is located in the Changthang Wetlands at an altitude of 4,595 m (15,075 ft).

Tso Moriri Lake, or Mountain Lake, is another high-altitude saltwater lake and a Ramsar site. Like Pangong Lake, Tso Moriri, which is fed by meltwater and springs, freezes over in winter. The wetland attracts migratory birds and is known for endemic species such as bharal, kiang, and marmot. The lake is located close to the Korzok Monastery.

Tso Moriri lake, Ladakh

Difficult to say which lake stands number one in the list.

Pangong Tso lake

Pangong Tso in Ladakh

Half Indian, half Chinese, this stunning lake is also a strategic place.

How to Visit Pangong Lake in Ladakh ?

Travellers can reach the lake from the capital Leh via Chang La pass by a four to five hour drive. A visit to Pangong Lake and Pangong Tso camping are included in our tours.

Pangong Tso stay

There are several camps available near Spangmik. Homestays are also available in the same village.

Pangong Lake altitude

It is located at a height of 4250 m above sea level and falls under the disputed area as it is claimed by both India and China.

Pangong Lake weather

Cold with snowfall in winter. In case of heavy snowfall, the lake may be inaccessible.

Pangong Lake, or High Grassland Lake, is the most famous lake in Ladakh. It is known to be the world’s highest saltwater lake and is every photographer’s delight because of its stunning blue colour, whose shades seem to change. When you travel with us, you can enjoy the Pangong lake in all its moods as we will camp by its side and watch the stars and the rising sun reflected in the lake.

The lake freezes completely in winter and does not support aquatic life because of its high saline content but there are opportunities for bird watching here. The lake lies in both Indian and Tibetan/Chinese territories and is believed to have five sub-lakes. The land-locked lake is fed by streams and glacial meltwater.

Tso Kar lake in Leh ladakh

How to Visit Tso Kar Lake in Ladakh ?

Tso Kar is at a distance of 155 km from Leh. It will take around 4 hours to reach via the Manali to Leh road. Note that it is best plan a visit of Tso Kar with Tso Moriri and Tso Kiagar.

Tso Kar stay

There is no permanent inhabitant near Tso Kar, but a camp is open during the season.

Tso Kar Lake altitude

Tso Moriri Lake, officially named as Tso-moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve is located in the Changthang Wetlands at an altitude of 4,595 m (15,075 ft).

Tso Kar, or White Lake, is named after the colour of its shore, which is white as a result of salt deposits. The Tso Kar Wetland Complex comprises Tso Kar, a saltwater lake, and Startsapuk Tso, a freshwater lake. The two lakes are connected. While the water is too saline to support aquatic life, the marshland around it attracts bird life and is a breeding ground. You can spot birds such as Brahminy ducks and great-crested grebes.

Tso Kar lake in Ladakh

The salt crystallizes all around the lake and gives it its whitish colour.

Kiagar Tso lake

Kiagar Tso lake in Ladakh

A relatively small lake but its beauty may surpass the other lakes.

How to Visit Kiagar Tso Lake in Ladakh ?

Kiagar Tso is located in the Rupshu Valley of Ladakh and is about 190 km from Leh on the way to Tso Moriri.

Kiagar Tso stay

There is no stay facilities near Kiagar Tso but you can stay at Karkog a few kilometers ahead.

Pangong Lake altitude

Located at a height of 4,700 meters, Lake Kiagar Tso is the highest of the lakes of Ladakh and another splendid sight to the eyes.

The Kiagar Tso lake is not as well-known among the travellers as the others, but it does entail its own charm. For those who are open to stopping by at beautiful locations off the maps, this Lake is for them.

We take you to this wonderful lake of Ladakh to experience the calm, away from the rest of the world.

Lesser-Known Lakes of Ladakh

There are many lakes in Ladakh that are not on the tourist map. Some need special permits. Most are inaccessible by road and you can reach them after short hikes. As these lakes are secluded and in remote areas, it is recommended to travel in groups.

Yarab Tso

Yarab Tso is a small lake located near Panamik village in Nubra Valley. It is a short trek from the village. It is a sacred lake and known for its power to fulfill wishes.

Yaye Tso

Yaye Tso is a volcanic lake known for its heart shape. It is a 3.5hr drive from Leh and is found on the route Mahe–Hora La–Kaksang La–Chusul. There is a monastery and nunnery close to the Yaye village that you could visit.

Twin Lakes of Leh Ladakh

Two twin lakes in Leh Ladakh are Kyun Tso and Ryul Tso that are at around 5000m near Hanle, which is known for stargazing. Stat Tso and Lang Tso are found in the Zanskar range.

Mirpal Tso

What makes Mirpal Tso in Chumathang Valley unique is the green hue of its waters, sandy shores, and fresh water. Like many of the remote lakes of Ladakh, it can be accessed after a short hike.

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