Pangong Lake is a famous border lake. It lies to the north of the Rutog County (not far from Rutog Rock Paintings) and extends westward across the border. “Pangong” comes from the Indian language, meaning “a patch of meadow”. In the Tibetan language, this lake is called “Cuomu Angla Renbo Tso”, which means “Long-Necked Crane Lake”.
Most part of the Pangong Lake lies in China, with only a small part in Kashmir. From east to west, the lake is 155 km long, with an average breadth of 2-5 km. The broadest place from north to south is only 15 km. It is formed with 3 narrow lakes linked together. The 593-square-kilometer lake is 4,242 meters above sea level, with the deepest point reaching 57 meters. The highlight about this lake is that its eastern part inside China is fresh water, while the western part in Kashmir is salt water. Although the fresh water part is crystal clear and the water tastes sweet, there is only sparse vegetation on the bank. On the contrary, the salt water part has reared lush meadows on the bank.
The lake is famous for the schizothoracin, a kind of carp unique in Tibet. The fish is known as “Crack-Bellied Fish” because at its anus and anal fins large scales that appear like a long crack long the belly. This fish has evolved to meet the harsh conditions of the Tibetan Plateau.
At the lake center is a small island at 300 meters long and 200 meters broad. Bar-headed goose, brown-headed gull, black-necked crane and nearly 20 other species of birds dwell on this ideal resort. When they all gather, the sky is throbbing with wings and ringing with songs. This bird island is at the world’s highest elevation. Nearby the lake’s banks are sites of some prehistoric tribes.
Pangong Lake can be reached in a 5-hour drive from Leh, most of it on a rough and dramatic mountain road. The road crosses the villages of Shey and Gya and traverses the Changla Pass, where army sentries and a small teahouse greet visitors. Toad down from Changla Pass leads through Tangste and other smaller villages, crossing river called Pagal Naala or “The Crazy Stream”. The spectacular lakeside is open during the tourist reason, from May to Sept..
The first glimpse of the tranquil, azure blue water and shaky lakeshore remains deeply in the memory of tourists. You will realize that the undisturbed animals and the undeveloped landscape are the most precious pictures.
The options for eatery are limited. “Pangong Tso resort” is a famous hotel on the lakeside. They can offer some local venison, like Schizothorax, wild meat and bird eggs. But it is advised not to eat in consideration of environmental protection. Carry your own food will never go wrong.
It is the most convenient for you to stay in Pangong Tso resort, and the normal price of standard room is CNY160 per room. If you want to create peculiar photos, you can try to camp by the lakeside to capture the spectacular sceneries of sunrise and sunset. Of course, you will have more choice by going back to Rutog County.
1. 8 kilometers away from Rutog County along Tibet line
There is a huge stone engraved with red words of ‘Pangong Tso’ by the lakeside, which is left to travelers who want to take a photo with “here I am’. In the wetland in front of the resort, you can take one or two obsolete small wooden boats as foreground. Keep moving and you will discover several corner are also good places to shoot the sceneries of lake and mountain.
2. On the way back and forth to bird island
It is a great opportunity to snapshoot the flyer when you are close to the bird island. The waterfowl are tweeting on the lake and seagulls are chasing each other on the quarter. You should try to creep and disguise so as to approach the birds as much as possible.
Pangong Tso is a destination for photographers and experiential travelers to appreciate exceptional natural beauty. Generally, as an important shoot place among Tibetan lakes, Pangong Tso is arranged in Ngari trip.
Plan A: Rent a car to Pangong Tso along Ali line from Lhasa and arrive in there seven days later. There are many attractions you can shoot, such as YamdrokTso Lake, Mount Everest, Tashilhunpo Monastery and so on. The whole journey is about 2,200 kilometers.
Plan B: If you start from Karghalik in Sinkiang, which will cost you three days. The whole journey is 910 kilometers. Spend a night at the lakeside and get to the bird islands by boat where you can have a close contact with Bar-headed Geese, Great Blackneaded Gull, etc.