When you go from Leh to Pangong Lake you will go over Chang La, which is a high pass on 5360 metres. Chang La is said to be the third highest motorable pass in the world, but as the Chinese are building roads over several high passes I’m not sure this is true anymore. It is at least one of the highest motorable passes in the world.
At Chang La the Indian army has got first aid facilities and they also serves tea for free.
There is also a temple at Chang La. This temple is dedicated to the sadhu Changla Baba and it is the sadhu the pass is named after.
Shortly after we had arrived to the lake we came to a place were there was some simple accommodation and some parachute tents where you could have something to eat. After visiting the lakeshore we went up to the tent to have lunch. Inside the tent it was very hot because that’s were they cooked the food, but there was a couple of tables outside where we sat. We had a nice view of the lake until some Indian men parked their car near our table blocking our view. There was no parking place there so I kindly asked them to move their car and they did.
I had mixed vegetables with rice and a Pepsi. It was Rs 155 (July 2010) and the food was okay.
You can also get something to eat in the small village Spangmik, which is seven kilometres away further along the lake.
You can arrange for a daytrip to Pangong Lake from most travel companies in Leh. But I had to visit many before I fond one who had other people to share the price with on the same day I wanted to go. As for other tours there is a fixed price for Pangong Lake. There is one price for the first stop by the lake and if you want to go to the village 7km away along the lake it is a bit more expensive. As we were going all the way to the lake we also wanted to go the last 7 kilometres. For that the price of the car with driver was Rs 5398 (July 2010). We were four people sharing so we paid Rs 1350 each.
You need a permit to visit Pangong Lake and that can be arranged at the travel agent. I already had a permit, a one-week permit, which I had arranged at my hotel before going to Nubra Valley. The one-week permit valid for both Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake was Rs 230 (July 2010).
It is a long drive to Pangong Lake. It takes 5h one way so we started early. At 7.00 we were at the office and soon the car came. When we arrived to Karu the driver stopped to eat breakfast. As all others had had breakfast already we waited for him. He drove fast and had his window open. I didn’t like it and when we came to higher altitude it was really cold. I asked him to close the window, but he said he would fall asleep then. Finally he only had half the window open and it was still cold.
After eating lunch at Pangong Lake we were going to the village further away along the lake. The driver tried to persuade us not to go but to return to Leh. We insisted to go as we had paid for it and wanted to see more of the lake. It was obvious the driver didn’t like it. Going back to Leh he drove even faster and it took only four hours.
It was a long day and many hours spent in the car, but it was worth it. The scenery is beautiful along the way and so is the lake.
You should not go to Pangong Lake on your first day in Leh. Especially if you have flown in to Leh it is advised to stay in Leh for three days to rest and acclimatise to high altitude. Pangong Lake is situated at an altitude of 4350 metres and on your way there you pass over Chang La at 5360 metres. There is a big risk that you get altitude sickness if you travel there without acclimatisation.
One of the women on the same tour as me didn’t feel well and had a head ache when it was time to leave Pangong Lake. When we passed Chang La she went to the medics and got a pill. They told her to drink a lot of water and if she wasn’t feeling better in Leh they advised hear to go to a doctor. When I met her and her friend the next day she felt good again.