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Old 3rd August 2012, 09:49   #31
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Default Re: Driving in Thin Air

Day 5 28th June

Keylong to Sarchu

Our plan was to reach Leh today. However with two guys enjoying their bachelorhood again, plans go to docks the very next minute. Vikrant woke me up at 5 in the morning and said Boss time to get up. I had been driving daily more than 12 hrs since last 4 days and the thought of doing Sarchu - Leh in another 12+ hr drive was not appealing to me. All i said.."yaar shabe phursat ka jaga hun farishton ab to sone do... " just could'nt get out of bed.. Got up late and after a heavy breakfast decided to make Sarchu as the next halt. We were at Jispa at 11 and went to site of Jispa Journeys to checkout the tents near the river.

Our dormitory for the night...


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Glaciers on the way..


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water falls dotting the route..


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The royal enfeild odyssey was going on and we crossed paths at many places.


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water fording at Jispa..


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The bullets lined up at checkpost


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The whole route has been blasted for double laning and you hardly find blacktop.


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The first water crossing came after Jispa. The water flow was tremendous with boulders hidden beneath the water. An Innova struggled to get out. Bullets were having a difficult time. Many of them required assitance in clearing the crossing. For us it proved to be a piece of cake. 4L and gently eased in the water. A gentle tap at the accelerator and it sailed through without any fuss. In fact reversed and crossed it again 3 times just for the fun of it. I was already in love the Fort .


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Bring it on


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The second crossing was a bit more challenging. Again the enfields were with us. Ahead me was a manza. Requested him to let me pass through cause if he gets stuck so will i. We crossed again in 4L without any drama. The Manza did manage to come out but with smoke coming from the engine chamber, a smell of burnt clutch and underbody damage.


The lone rider on dusty roads..


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The serene Deepak Taal


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Streaks of milk..!


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The only black top came at the ascent and decent of Barlachala making it the easiest pass to climb. It was again windy, chilly and depressingly grey. But the beauty was beyond words..


The blacktop till Barlachala


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Debris from road blasting being cleared


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The vistas were sheer widescreen..


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Day 5 to be contd.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 09:57   #32
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Default Re: Driving in Thin Air

Amazing and very well written travelogue. Considering its been a year since you traveled, your memories are quite vivid and clear . Pictures are great and your style of writing very involving. Keep up the tempo and hopefully you will finish it all over the weekend and not keep us waiting.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 10:06   #33
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Default Re: Driving in Thin Air

Rivetting stuff, Columbus. The narration is top-class and the pics are icing on the cake. It amazes me how no two Ladakh travelogues are alike.

If you ask me, you should have traded driver duties, at least for a couple of hours a day. That's a lot of tough driving you undertook solo.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 11:29   #34
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Default Re: Driving in Thin Air

Day 5 contd.


The walls of snow..


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Suraj Taal


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Maximus checking out the chilled waters of Suraj Taal


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The black top to Barlachala... long live BRO.. This black top proved extremely cruial during our return trip...


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Bretherens.. me in the red.


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The 70mm panorama..


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Maximus is loving it... he was born for this stuff..


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The river beneath continuously fed by the melting snow.


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Let there be light..


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Decent from Barlachala


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The filtering light makes some beautiful effects..


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Finally a shade of blue...


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Sometimes looking in a different direction can give lot of answers..


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It becomes a riot of colours once you decend Barlachala


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Day 5 to be contd.

PS : Limiting the number of photographs per post to 20. Otherwise it will become very heavy to load.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 12:20   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faustus77 View Post
Columbus
Hi
Driving by itself doesnt tire you it is the perennial stop and go in first gear that saps your energy/stamina.
Thanks faustus77. Yes Driving itself is not tiring. Its other things like finding the road through craters, overtaking trucks and more trucks, stop go stop go in jams which sap your stamina.

Quote:
Originally Posted by idofsuresh View Post
What a co-incidence! There are lot of very similar pictures in almost same spots - but this one is a 100% match!
Thanks idofsuresh. Will wait for you log.

Quote:
Originally Posted by supertinu View Post
Amazing and very well written travelogue. hopefully you will finish it all over the weekend and not keep us waiting.
Thanks supertinu. Will try to keep a good pace.

Quote:
Originally Posted by noopster View Post
Rivetting stuff, Columbus. The narration is top-class and the pics are icing on the cake. It amazes me how no two Ladakh travelogues are alike.

If you ask me, you should have traded driver duties, at least for a couple of hours a day. That's a lot of tough driving you undertook solo.
Thanks noops

In Ladakh the scene changes minute by minute because of lighting conditions and hence the photographs look so different. Also the time of the year in which you do the trip also makes a big difference in what you see.
My partner drives an I10 in delhi. It was just not possible for him to adjust to a new car as big as the Fortuner especially on Manali - Leh highway. The tiredness was only on day 1 which was back breaking. Rest of the days i simply loved the drive .
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Old 3rd August 2012, 17:43   #36
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Default Re: Driving in Thin Air

Day 5 contd.

Sarchu

Enjoying a underbody wash..


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Basking in the sun after a long time


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We were in midst of some spectacular views..


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Beyond those curves of the meandring river lies Sarchu.


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We finally were at Sarchu at 5 in the evening. Keylong to Sarchu should have been max 5 hrs. We took our sweet time of 7 and a half hrs. The road to Ladakh is a destination in it self and we were not going to rush through it .


Sarchu the tent city


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The Arrow straight road through Sarchu


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We had no prior booking at Sarchu. Most of the luxury tents are about 3-4 kms before the Sarchu bridge. We went upto the bridge to just to check out accomodation there. What was available there was pretty basic and we were aware that the night here would be difficult due to Altitude and AMS and hence decided to turn back and splurge for the night. Checked into Camp Himalyan Saga at2200 Rs including dinner, breakfast and packed lunch for the two of us. We could'nt negotiate less than this. The sight of Maximus was a big drawback..
We had skipped lunch and were running on stuff stashed in the car and hence were famished. They made some of the most wonderful sandwiches for us. Also had tea which proved to be a big mistake for me. More on this later..

Sarchu perhaps is the most beautiful place on the Manali - Leh highway. Vast flat valley in between lofty mountains. The gusts of wind have eroded the land leaving some spectacular formations.


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Day 5 to be contd.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 18:00   #37
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Default Re: Driving in Thin Air

Quote:
Originally Posted by columbus View Post
Day 5 contd.

Sarchu
Checked into Camp Himalyan Saga at2200 Rs including dinner, breakfast and packed lunch for the two of us. We could'nt negotiate less than this. The sight of Maximus was a big drawback..
We had skipped lunch and were running on stuff stashed in the car and hence were famished. They made some of the most wonderful sandwiches for us. Also had tea which proved to be a big mistake for me. More on this later..

Sarchu perhaps is the most beautiful place on the Manali - Leh highway. Vast flat valley in between lofty mountains. The gusts of wind have eroded the land leaving some spectacular formations.
Unbelievably beautiful pictures I am seeing for the second time (First one being IPHE-II).
1. Can you please elaborate on what was offered for the 2200 INR and the difference between the basic hotel near sarchu bridge? Was the camp worth the 2200 INR other the food?

2. What do you mean by
Quote:
The sight of Maximus was a big drawback
proving to be a disadvantage? Did they think you are some politician or some very well-off family and charged more?

Last edited by AlphaKilo : 3rd August 2012 at 18:01.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 18:54   #38
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A narrative, both pictorial and in the written word, worth it's weight in gold and probably more. Thank you for sharing the joy of the beauty of mother nature in all it's majesty.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 20:08   #39
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Great narration, great pictures... Thanks for the post! Good to learn how easily Maximus handled this route... Anywhere even Maximus struggled?

By the way, did I see a Punto in one of the pictures?! Can cars like Punto that is infamous for its low GC go to these places?!
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Old 3rd August 2012, 20:21   #40
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Default Re: Driving in Thin Air

Hi Columbus,

Your pictures show your artistic eye!! Good travelogue! Keep it up!
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Old 3rd August 2012, 21:25   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlphaKilo View Post
Unbelievably beautiful pictures I am seeing for the second time (First one being IPHE-II).
1. Can you please elaborate on what was offered for the 2200 INR and the difference between the basic hotel near sarchu bridge? Was the camp worth the 2200 INR other the food?

2. What do you mean by proving to be a disadvantage? Did they think you are some politician or some very well-off family and charged more?

Thanks Alpha for appreciating the pics.
Sarchu is heartbreakingly beautiful and yet its the most dangerous place to stay on the Manali - Leh highway. Because of its 14000+ ft altitude almost everyone gets hit by AMS if you come from the Manali side. Only the degree of severety differs. Many people call Sarchu the Vomit Hilton. Most of the travellers avoid Sarchu and do Keylong/Jispa to Leh in a day.

The are no hotels in Sarchu. Tents come up in May/June and get dismantled by october. The basic accomodation in Sarchu can go as low as 100 Rs a bed in a dorm tent. Individual tents near the bridge were going for Rs. 400 but they were very small ... small enough to just fit in two guys. Neither did they appear windproof. And the biggest problem of all the toilet is a walk of 20 meters and that too without any roof. Now i leave to your imagination the plight of someone finding his way in night, sub-zero temperatures and chilly winds
And God forbid if you get hit badly by AMS .... then you need that toilet very near. You need to be as comfortable as you can get in Sarchu.

Compared to that our tents were Swiss type, Large with spotless linen and some very warm quilts, attached toilet and reasonably windproof. And above all they had their own oxygen cylinder and mask set up, which in my books is the first thing you need to ask before checking in a tent in Sarchu. Its a different matter that you can never become comfortable at Sarchu!

Bikers are able to negotiate the rates better and sight of a Toyota Fortuner dratically reduces your bargaining power Still i would say it was toatlly worth it. And the food was excellent.!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RS_DEL View Post
A narrative, both pictorial and in the written word, worth it's weight in gold and probably more. Thank you for sharing the joy of the beauty of mother nature in all it's majesty.
Thanks RS_DEL for the beautiful words.

Quote:
Originally Posted by devansn View Post
Great narration, great pictures... Thanks for the post! Good to learn how easily Maximus handled this route... Anywhere even Maximus struggled?


By the way, did I see a Punto in one of the pictures?! Can cars like Punto that is infamous for its low GC go to these places?!
Thanks devansn.

No Maximus did not struggle anywhere.
If a Linea can do it then a Punto definitely can. You need to time it well and be careful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by getsurya View Post
Hi Columbus,

Your pictures show your artistic eye!! Good travelogue! Keep it up!

Thanks getsurya

Last edited by columbus : 3rd August 2012 at 21:28.
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Old 4th August 2012, 00:09   #42
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Simply AWESOME ! Well deserved 5 stars ! Boy am I all in a planning mode to get this trip ticked off from Megaladon's to do's !

After reading your posts - I strongly feel that it was wise to go in for a 4x4 - now that we have an option in the 2012 Fortuner.

Keep it up!
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Old 4th August 2012, 10:09   #43
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Day 5 contd.

Sarchu


People may call Sarchu...Vomit Hilton...but for me its perhaps the most stunning place on Manali - Leh highway. The Sunset at Sarchu was like a Guru Dutt film unfolding infront of you. Light...Shadow...Light...Shadow... The play of light is beyond words. Its like an orchestra playing symphony, only the musical instruments being replaced by the filtering light of the sun. Touches the core of your heart....


The clouds float by so near that their shadows look like that of giant dragons floating above !


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Maximus getting a photoshoot !


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Our tents


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Mckana's Gold


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As the light fades the temperature starts to drop drastically and wind chill makes you run to the warmth of your tents. Nights at Sarchu are always "special". Its altitude is such that it makes it special...
I had tea in the evening along with the sandwiches which proved disastrous. Tea in the evening causes me severe acidity. Should have taken something else !! I lost my appetite for dinner. Whether it was the affect of Tea or AMS i do not know. I did'nt feel like eating and neither i was feeling good. For dinner i had soup and daal chawal and some salads. Talked to some bikers from Chennai and felt better after that. Vickrant however ate to his heart's content !
We returned to the safety of our tents and prepared ourselves for the night. The wind was fluttering the tents like anything. I slept fitfully... had some weird dreams...but nothing else. Vikrant however was busy locating his shoes through the night which were lying next to bed... . We were showing first symptoms of AMS. A lady in the neighbouring tent had to be given oxygen for her condition was not good. Later in the morning we came to know that she had to be taken to Army camp for medical aid late in the night. I dont remeber when i dozed off... to be woken by Vikrant in the morning. Boss subah ho gayi...!! Thank God.. the night is over .

Last edited by columbus : 4th August 2012 at 10:12.
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Old 4th August 2012, 10:35   #44
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Great write up and some nicely snapped up pictures.

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Tea in the evening causes me severe acidity. Should have taken something else !! I lost my appetite for dinner. Whether it was the affect of Tea or AMS i do not know.
Yes, it was AMS and tea adds more vigor to your sickness.


The kind of trips we T-BHPians do on Leh highway it will be great if we can do something for BRO and in the process also get some concessions so that we don't need to wait for HP licenses / permits, may be we can plan something which can be for the benefit of both BHPians as well as BRO. Oops...

Last edited by rajeshchand : 4th August 2012 at 10:37.
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Old 4th August 2012, 18:07   #45
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Quote:
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Sarchu

People may call Sarchu...Vomit Hilton...but for me its perhaps the most stunning place on Manali - Leh highway. The Sunset at Sarchu was like a Guru Dutt film unfolding infront of you. Light...Shadow...Light...Shadow... The play of light is beyond words. Its like an orchestra playing symphony, only the musical instruments being replaced by the filtering light of the sun. Touches the core of your heart....
Mr Columbus,

Do accept my heartiest congratulations for doing this trip and for sharing it with all of us so succinctly. The pictures and the writing style are great. Thanks for sharing this—I have to do Leh in my Yeti this year!

Thanks again.
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