Drive from Keylong to Sarchu across Bara-lacha La
This drive is absolutely breathtaking and you will not be able to resist the many photo-ops during your drive from Keylong to Sarchu even though you freeze every time you get off! Factors in plenty of time for these stops. Make a reasonably early start at 7 a.m. and preferably carry a packed lunch as the only place that offers any form of food en route is close to your destination!
Drive from Keylong to Bara-lacha La
The climb to Bara-lacha La (16,000ft. /4880m), is 55km long while a descent of over 36km brings you to Sarchu. Though the distance is not very much, the actual journey takes six to seven hours as the road surface becomes quite sharply after crossing Deepak Tal. Most of the road to the top is slushy, dirt track with intermittent patches on the road. One is continuously at altitudes above 15,000ft/4575m and even though the car is climbing slowly, the engine power is considerably reduced. About 3km before the pass you will cross Suraj Tal on your right. The road here is narrow so it is advisable to stop a little ahead of the lake for a coffee break. At an altitude close to 16,000ft/4880m, this is the highest lake you will come across on this journey and the Bhaga River originates from here.
Bara-lacha La means ‘crossroads pass’, as it is a double pass linking the upper Chandra and Bhaga valleys with the Lingti valley and the vast plains leading down to Sarchu. The top of the world feeling that you get here is unlike any other and spending a few minutes to fully taste the experience is a must.
Drive from Bara-lacha La to Sarchu
After cresting a hilltop, an expensive green valley unfolds below you and the drive down to Sarchu is extremely scenic. Let not the beauty of the place attracts you – it gets too much cold at night and since the only available accommodation is tents here, be prepared to literally chill out here! Besides the altitude 14,500ft/4420m, the strong, bone chilling winds that blow through this valley make Sarchu the spot where acclimatization blues hit most travelers. Plenty of hydration (of the non-alcoholic type!), no smoking and an early night is the order of the day.
The next morning you must hit the road at 6 a.m. as the day’s journey, either to Leh or to Tso Moriri, involves a long ten to twelve hours on the road and you have to cross snow-fed streams that build up in volume and speed as the sun rises higher in the sky.
Driving Road Distances: Keylong to Sarchu
|Keylong to Jispa|
|Jispa to Darcha|
|Darcha to Bara-lacha La|
|Bara-lacha La to Sarchu|