A fortnight into the ride we climbed the mighty Kunzum La as we rode from Losar to Chandra Tal. The climb was easier than imagined and the lake was more beautiful than imaginable! This was part of our 90 day ride in the Himalayas covering Spiti, Zanskar, Batalik, Ladakh, Nubra, Shyok, Pangong, Hanle, Tso Moriri, Garhwal and Kumaon!
Day 15 Losar to Chandra Tal
The previous day was extremely long and we planned a late start.
We took our own sweet time getting ready, grabbing breakfast and chatting with everyone available. Only after everyone else had left and there was no one left to chat with, we decided to make a move!
As we loaded up our bikes we found Si’s bike had less air in the front. It had become a morning ritual, topping up the air in his front tyre.
Once done we noticed the rear was flat. Luggage was removed, tyre removed, tube replaced, tyre fitted, luggage fitted and we grabbed a cup of tea for our efforts. We came back to see the rear was once again flat. The spare tube had a puncture as well! With no option we sat about repairing both the tubes, removing luggage, tyre, tube and then putting it back together. By the time we were done it was time for lunch!
Departure… Sort of!
A light lunch later we finally were on our way. We hadn’t moved 20 metres when someone yelled out Si. Another friend of his found him in Spiti. The two were meeting after a decade. They chatted while I kept an eye on the ticking clock.
We were yet to climb Kunzum La and Si’s tyres were disintegrating faster than the European Union!
Losar is the last check post in the Spiti Valley, where the cops took down our names before allowing us through.
Si, an atheist by and large, was praying to the mountains, river, wind and sky within a few kilometres. He just wanted to get to Chandra Tal, after which he would die a happy man. Or at the very least watch his tyres die!
The climb to Kunzum La is far easier than what one would expect and we steadily reached the top without dying at every hairpin. At the top of Kunzum we were greeted by a dog who followed us around the temple. One is supposed to go clockwise around the temple before proceeding. This is believed to ensure a safe journey by invoking the blessings of the local deity.
Since we had left very late, the wind picked up as we crossed the pass and temperatures dropped to single digits.
We gingerly made our way down and stopped to chat with a passing shepherd and his flock. The shepherds bring their flock from the lower Himalayas in the summer and take them down to the plains of Punjab in the winter. The livestock comprises of sheep, goats, horses and dogs for company.
Chandra Tal. Yay!
We reached Chandra Tal after the sun had set and the last light in the sky was fading. There we got an alpine tent for the night and Si again found his friends by yelling out their names in the dark.
We chatted into the night over the smallest drink of rum imaginable, which was shared by 4 people! The cloudy sky cleared long enough for me to get a couple of shots of the stars. But not much more than that…
Route Profile: Losar to Chandra Tal
You need to get yourself registered at the Losar checkpost. The road is flat for the first 7 km. The word ‘road’ is a misnomer, since it is only rocks and boulders from thereon!
The climb for Kunzum starts after that. The climb isn’t difficult as long as you go strong and steady.
From the top of Kunzum, the road descends steeply all the way to Batal. Around 3 km before Batal, you turn off the main road towards Chandra Tal. The road is flat’ish’ all the way till the Chandra Tal camps. You aren’t allowed to camp near the lake. The camps are 2 km before the lake.
There is nothing available between Losar and Chandra Tal/ Batal. Carry everything you need!
Food for Two 200
Food and Stay for Two 1400