07-Aug-2008

Ladakh - Tso Kar


We had a late start, only at 11. Around ten, I developed a splitting headache. Sachin had one too. High Altitude sickness was hitting the two of us. We staggered into the jeep and held our heads for pretty much half of the bumpy ride to Tso Kar. Luckily, drinking lots and lots of water and eating Diamox helped. We recovered in time for our driver, Stanzin, to pull up by a stream with two black necked cranes. An endangered species, it is usually hard to spot them.

Gingerly, we all began to walk silently, trying not to crunch up the rubble. After a while, only Sandeep and Aswath were continuing. The cranes did not fly away. Instead, they seemed to be playing a game too, moving in a manner that kept the distance between them and us constant. Eventually Sandeep and Aswath abandoned the quest and came back. We decided to have our packed lunch (another rip-off from Nomadic camp) and watch the birds. Stanzin finished off his lunch quickly and then grabbing our camera, decided to stalk them. Much more suited to the job than any of us, he nimbly bounced from one rock to another and kept at the job for a long time. Eventually he came back, gave his lopsided grin (which we would all grow to suspect and love) and informed us that he had not clicked the pics in zoom mode. So after all that time and effort, we had pictures of two black and white spots.

Tso Moriri is a great bio diversity hot spot. We could not see a single bird that looked normal (which by Mumbai definition would mean pigeons, crows and the occasional sparrows). We spotted various ducks, red starts and rose finches, not to mention the camera-shy burrowing creatures – the marmots. None of which I would have been able to name but for Aswath. Even without knowing the names, it was possible to admire them, beautiful as they were.

The journey to Tso Kar, did not take too long – around four hours and was in some strange way quite picturesque. However, the road was barely there. We seemed to be driving over plain ground for most part, giving Stanzin a chance to show off the vehicle’s ruggedness. Jolted, we arrive in Tso Kar.

‘Tso’ means lake. It was a bit of a surprise when we realised that Tso Kar did not have a lake. Infact our campsite was at what had been a lake bed once upon a time. The lake had long receded to other parts. Nevertheless, we did our mandatory strolling and clicking. Dinner was much more sumptuous, and less well priced. The tents were also warmer. All of us slept much better.

1 comment:

Bharathis said...

Did you get the pictures of the burrowing animals? I think nature lovers would have a field day there!