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Tso Kar Lake: 5 Essential Tips for a High-Altitude Adventure

Tso Kar

About Tso Kar Lake

Nestled amidst the rugged terrain of the Himalayas, Tso Kar Lake emerges as a true marvel of nature’s artistry. This hidden gem is also called the “White Lake” due to the glistening salt deposits that fringe its shores, offering an enchanting and serene escape for adventurous souls. The lake was the only source of salt in the region, which was used to export in the early ages to Tibet and nearby regions. Perched at a breathtaking altitude of over 4,530 meters (14,860 feet) above sea level, Tso Kar is another saltwater lake of Ladakh. Its clear waters mirror the azure skies, reflecting the stark beauty of its arid surroundings.

Whether you’re an intrepid traveler seeking solitude in the lap of nature or a photographer yearning to capture its ethereal landscapes, Tso Kar Lake invites you to embark on a journey of wonder and discovery in the heart of the Himalayas.

Highlights of Tso Kar Leh

  • The fascinating salt flats around the Lake reflect the sky like a mirror, making it a photographer's dream.
  • Tso Kar, which is more than 14,860 feet above sea level, lets you experience the pure, untamed wilderness of the Himalayas.
  • Bird watchers can enjoy seeing rare migratory and resident avian species, such as the beautiful black-necked crane, which adds a touch of wildlife wonder to the scenery.
  • Interact with the hardy Changpa nomads, the region's indigenous inhabitants, to gain insights into their unique way of life and the age-old traditions.
  • Enjoy stunning sunsets over the calm waters of the lake. The colors of twilight paint a picture of peace that stays with you.

Best Time To Visit Tso Kar Lake

The Tso Kar is at an altitude of 14,860 feet (4,560 meters) and often has cold temperatures. Therefore the summer months are the best time to visit, 


  • Late May and June mark the onset of the visiting season, offering ample sunshine to embrace.
  • Daytime temperatures range from a pleasant 5 to 10 degrees Celsius, with nights bringing a refreshing chill at -5 to 0 degrees Celsius.
  • In this period, the lake undergoes a captivating transformation, with its waters transitioning from a pristine white to rich, deep blue and eventually to enchanting shades of turquoise.


  • July and August present yet another enticing season for embarking on a Tso Kar adventure, regarded as the prime time to explore the lake.
  • Throughout these months, daytime temperatures typically oscillate between a delightful 10 to 20 degrees Celsius, while the nights provide a rejuvenating coolness, with temperatures ranging from 0 to 5 degrees Celsius.
  • This period is distinguished by the arrival of migrating birds, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the region, complete with its vibrant wildlife.


  • If you yearn for the enchantment of a frozen lake, the period from December to March is the ideal season for embarking on this extraordinary journey.
  • Yet, brace yourself for the embrace of extreme cold as daytime temperatures plummet to a bone-chilling -5 to -10 degrees Celsius, and the night descends to frigid depths as low as -30 degrees Celsius.
  • It’s important to remember that travelling during this unforgiving season risks high altitude sickness. Therefore, meticulous consideration and thorough preparation are prerequisites before venturing into these challenging and harsh conditions.

Tso Kar Height [Altitude of Tso Kar Lake]

  • Tso Kar’s surface elevation is approximately 14,860 feet (4,530 meters) above sea level, slightly higher than the famous lakes, Tso Moriri and Pangong Tso.
  • Being one of Ladakh’s rare saltwater high-altitude lakes, it is a magnet for countless migratory birds during the appropriate seasons.
  • Given the lake’s high altitude, it is imperative to acclimatize in Leh before embarking on the journey to this captivating lake. For essential information on acclimatization, please refer to our guide.
  • The lake’s altitude considerably influences its climate, making even summer nights notably chilly. Hence, packing multiple layers of clothing is not just a suggestion but a necessity.
  • The expedition to the lake promises mesmerizing vistas of the Himalayan peaks, crystal-clear azure waters, and a feeling of being at the top of the world. It’s an experience that attracts your memory, leaving an indelible mark of awe and wonder.

Tso Kar Temperature

A Guide to Temperature and Climate

Preparing for the ever-changing weather conditions that characterize this high-altitude destination is crucial when planning an excursion to the mesmerizing Lake in Ladakh. Nestled at an impressive elevation of approximately 14,860 feet (4,530 meters) above sea level, The Lake’s climate presents unique challenges and delights, distinct from those at lower altitudes. Let’s delve into the temperature and weather patterns of Tso Kar to ensure you make the most of your adventure.

Tso Kar Temperature:

The temperature at Tso Kar Lake experiences significant fluctuations throughout the year, demanding an understanding of the seasonal variations to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable visit. Here’s a breakdown of the temperature ranges you can anticipate:

TsoKar Lake

Spring (April to June)

  • Spring marks the commencement of the tourist season at the lake.
  • During these months, daytime temperatures typically range from 5 to 10 degrees Celsius, providing a mild and pleasant climate.
  • However, nights can still be chilly, with temperatures dropping to approximately -5 to -15 degrees Celsius. Packing thermals and layered clothing is essential during this season to stay cozy.

Summer (July to September)

  • Summer emerges as the peak tourist season at Tso Kar, with the lake’s surroundings bursting to life with vibrant colors.
  • Daytime temperatures are generally comfortable, ranging from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius. Evenings remain refreshing, with temperatures hovering around 0 to 5 degrees Celsius.
  • This period offers the best opportunity to immerse yourself in natural beauty and witness its abundant wildlife.

Autumn (October to November)

  • As autumn sets in, the weather begins to cool down.
  • Daytime temperatures drop to around 10 degrees Celsius, and nights become pleasantly chilly, with temperatures up to -15 degrees Celsius.
  • This season provides a quieter and less crowded atmosphere for your visit, offering a unique perspective on the evolving landscape.

Winter (December to March)

  • Winter at Tso Kar unfolds an entirely different realm.
  • Daytime temperatures plummet to -5 to -15 degrees Celsius, and nights can be bitterly cold, often plunging as low as -30 degrees Celsius.
  • This is when the lake’s surface freezes over, transforming the landscape into a captivating icy wonderland.
  • However, it’s vital to note that traveling during this period can be challenging due to the extreme cold and the heightened risk of high-altitude sickness.

Regardless of the season you choose to explore this fantastic salt water Lake, being well-prepared for the ever-shifting weather conditions is paramount. Ensure your packing list encompasses an array of clothing layers, from warm jackets to lightweight summer attire, allowing you to embrace the lake’s breathtaking beauty, no matter how Mother Nature paints the scene. Whether basking in the summer sun or marveling at the frozen wonder of winter, The Lake promises an unforgettable journey through the changing seasons.

Essential Information Of Tso Kar

A few important tips and key information when you are planning a visit to Tsokar Lake.

Best time to visit

  • The most favorable time to visit Tso Kar Lake is during the summer months of July and August, when the weather is delightful.

Nearest Village for TsoKar Lake

  • Thukje is the nearest village to Tsokar Lake. 
  • It is about 3km from the lake with a tiny population.

Entry Ticket Charges

  • There are NO entry ticket charges for the lake.
  • Inner line permit is mandatory for both Indians and foreign nations, 

Altitude of Tso Kar

  • The Tso Kar Surface elevation at about  14,860 ft (4,530 m). 

Distance to Tsokar Lake

  • The shortest route from Leh to Tso Kar Lake spans approximately 155 km, passing through Taglang La.
  • Alternatively, the distance from Leh to Tso Kar Lake is approximately 208 km via Chumathang.
  • The Tso Moriri To Tso Kar distance is just an 80 km journey.

Mobile Network at Tso Kar Lake

  • Due to the absence of a mobile network near the lake, it is strongly recommended to inform your family and friends in advance to prevent any unnecessary panic on their part.


Permit For Tso Kar Ladakh

You must know the permit requirements when planning your visit to the captivating Tso-Kar Lake. As a protected area, an Inner Line Permit is a prerequisite for all travelers. Here’s what you need to know:

Obtaining Your Permit: The permit acquisition process is straightforward and can be conveniently completed online after you arrive in Leh, the gateway to this natural marvel.

Mandatory for All: It’s crucial to understand that Indian and foreign nationals must carry the Inner Line Permit when embarking on a journey to Tso Kar Lake.

Exception for Residents: is worth noting that only Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh residents are exempt from the Inner Line Permit requirement.

Restricted Citizens: Foreign nationals from China, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are restricted from traveling to this location.

Be sure to secure your permit, allowing you to explore the enchanting beauty of this Lake while adhering to the necessary regulations.

How To Reach Tso Kar Lake

Tso Kar Lake, nestled approximately 150 kilometers from Leh, is a secluded jewel in the Himalayas accessible exclusively by road. Your adventure commences with a flight to Leh, followed by a picturesque road expedition to this unspoiled lake.

  1. Hire a Local Taxi
    Begin your scenic journey by engaging a local taxi through the Leh Union. The road trip typically spans 8 to 10 hours, treating you to awe-inspiring vistas.
  2. Opt for a Motorcycle Adventure
    For the brave souls, consider renting a local motorbike, with the iconic Royal Enfield often the preferred choice.
    Venturing solo to the lakeside offers an exhilarating experience, but exercise caution.
    This remote region boasts limited network coverage and petrol pumps, making meticulous planning and preparedness essential.

Itinerary For Tso Kar Lake Ladakh

The Lake can be travelled from Leh via Tanglang La Pass or via Chumathang and from Pangong Lake via Kaksang La top. We have discussed them in detail below. 

Leh To Tso Kar Lake Via Chumathang

Journeying from Leh to TsoKar Lake via the picturesque route through Chumathang is an adventure that promises awe-inspiring landscapes and a glimpse into the rugged beauty of the Himalayan region. This route, spanning approximately 207 kilometers and taking around 7-8 hours,

The roadmap for the tour

Leh – Upshi (47 Km) – Kumdok (54 Km) –  Chumathang (38 Km) – Mahe Bridge (20 Km) – Sumdo (12 Km) – Puga (6 Km) – Tso Kar Lake (30 Km) making it a total of 207 Km.

  • Start your day with a satisfying breakfast in Leh.
  • Drive to Upshi, a charming town, and relish the captivating scenic beauty.
  • Continue your expedition to Kumdok, a picturesque location covering a distance of 54 kilometers.
  • After Kumdok, proceed to Chumathang, located 38 kilometers away, and rejuvenate in its soothing hot
  • springs.
  • Cross Mahe Bridge over the Indus River, marveling at the breathtaking views.
  • Arrive in Sumdo, a tranquil settlement amidst the rugged landscapes.
  • Head to Puga, where geothermal wonders await your exploration.
  • Finally, reach the enchanting Tso Kar Lake, nestled in the high-altitude Himalayas, and be captivated by its serene beauty.


Leh To Tsokar Via Tanglang La

Traveling through some of Ladakh’s most stunning high-altitude scenery is the experience of traveling the well-known Tanglang La Pass from Leh to Tso Kar Lake. Though the road conditions are more difficult, this 150-kilometer journey provides a fantastic experience for passengers. The exhilarating trail that leads to the lake via Tanglang La Pass entices travelers to discover the untamed splendor of the Himalayas.

The roadmap for the tour

Leh – Upshi (47 km) – Rumtse (29 km) – Tanglang La (32 km) – Debring (15 km) – Tso Kar (31 km) making it a total of 150 Km.

  • Start your day with a hearty breakfast in Leh.
  • Head towards Upshi, a charming town, while soaking in the scenic beauty along the way.
  • Continue your expedition to Rumtse, where the landscapes captivate with their rugged allure.
  • Ascend to Tanglang La Pass, one of the world’s highest motorable passes, and revel in panoramic views.
  • Proceed to Debring, where the remote beauty of the Himalayas unfolds.
  • Finally, arrive at the enchanting Tso Kar Lake, nestled in the high-altitude Himalayan region, and be captivated by its serene beauty.


Tso Moriri To Tso Kar

The journey from Tsomoriri to Tsokar Lake is an enchanting passage through the high-altitude landscapes of Ladakh. As you leave the pristine shores of Tsomoriri, the road winds through rugged terrain, revealing the raw beauty of the Himalayan region. En route, you’ll pass by the serene lake (Kyagar Tso Lake), traverse high mountain passes (Pologongka La – 16312 feet), and witness the grandeur of nature at every turn (Puga Valley). The transition from one breathtaking lake to another offers a captivating experience for travelers seeking the remote and awe-inspiring landscapes of this Himalayan wonderland.

The roadmap for the tour

Karzok – Kyagar Tso Lake (20 Km) – Namshang La Pass (9 Km) – Sumdo (14 Km) – Puga (6 Km) – Pologongka La (14 Km)  – TsoKar (17 Km) making it a total of 78 Km.

  • Begin your day with a satisfying breakfast at Karzok, overlooking the serene Tsomoriri Lake.
  • Set out to explore Kyagar Tso Lake, a hidden gem in the Himalayan landscape.
  • Traverse the picturesque Namshang La Pass, where stunning vistas unfold before you.
  • Arrive at Sumdo, a tranquil village surrounded by rugged beauty.
  • Continue your journey to Puga, a place known for its remarkable geothermal wonders.
  • Ascend Pologongka La, taking in the breathtaking views from this high-altitude pass.
  • Finally, reach Tso Kar, your destination, where the tranquil beauty of the lake and its surroundings await your arrival.


Tso Kar Lake Accommodation

Tso Kar, tucked away in the remote landscapes of Ladakh, offers an escape from the ordinary. However, it’s important to note that accommodation options here are limited. Visitors can opt for authentic experiences in local homestays, where Ladakhi warmth and culture envelop you. Apart from the homestays, there are minimal hotels, so remember to make a booking.

A few accommodations are mentioned below. 

Plan and book your accommodation well to make the most of your journey to Tso Kar Lake, ensuring a serene and unforgettable retreat in this Himalayan wonderland. 

Places To Visit Near By Tsokar Lake

Tso Kar, tucked away in the high-altitude region of Ladakh, is the entry point to a world of scenic beauties and cultural gems. There are many interesting places to visit around this peaceful lake, each with its own special charm and attraction.

Tsomoriri Lake:

This area’s crown gem is Tsomoriri Lake, commonly called Lake Moriri. The deep blue waves against the rough mountains in the background create a captivating scene.

Tsomoriri Lake Near Tso Kar Lake

Korzok Village: 

Perched on the banks of Tsomoriri Lake lies the quaint village of Korzok. With its charming stone buildings and friendly people, it provides an insight into the Ladakhi way of life.

Karzok Monastery

The serene atmosphere of Buddhist customs may be experienced at the Karzok Monastery, a spiritual haven overlooking the settlement. Its elaborate architecture is also a point of interest.

Nomadic communities

You may come across Changpa community nomadic communities around the lake, get a glimpse of their way of life, and engage with the local shepherds.

Kyagar Tso Lake

This undiscovered treasure provides a tranquil haven away from the busy world with its unspoiled beauty.

Chumathang Hot Springs:

Surrounded by beautiful scenery, the Chumathang Hot Springs allows you to relax in their healing waters and have a refreshing experience.

Tanglang La Pass:

Reach the summit of one of the highest motorable passes in the world, Tanglang La Pass, and be rewarded with sweeping vistas of the surrounding peaks.

Puga Valley:

Boiling mud lakes and steamy springs combine to produce a unique and bizarre scenery in this geothermal paradise.

Puga Valley near Tsokar Lake

Mirpal Lake:

Mirpal Lake offers a peaceful environment for introspection and admiration of the splendor of nature, thanks to its tranquil atmosphere and mountain reflections.

Helpful Tips Tso Kar

Acclimatization is Key
Before starting your journey to Tso Kar Lake, spend a couple of days acclimatizing to the high-altitude conditions in Leh. This will help your body adjust to the reduced oxygen levels and reduce the risk of altitude sickness.

Prepare for a No Network Zone:
The Lake is located in a remote area with virtually nonexistent mobile networks. Inform your family and friends in advance, and consider carrying a satellite phone or alternative means of communication for emergencies.

Minimal Accommodation Options:
Keep in mind that accommodation options around Tso Kar Lake are limited. Plan your stay, especially during the peak tourist season, and be prepared for basic amenities, or consider homestays and tented camps for an authentic experience.

Extreme Weather Variations:
Tso Kar Lake experiences extreme weather conditions, with daytime temperatures varying widely. From chilly nights to strong gusty winds and sudden weather changes, pack layers of clothing, including warm jackets, to ensure you’re prepared for the unpredictable climate.

Pack Essentials:
Pack essential items like drinking water, first-aid kits, high-energy snacks, and any necessary medications. Also, carry extra fuel and spare tires if you drive to the lake, as fuel stations are scarce in this remote region.

By following these essential tips, you’ll be better equipped to make the most of your journey to the breathtaking Tso Kar Lake while ensuring your safety and comfort amidst the challenging yet rewarding high-altitude terrain.


Where is Tso Kar Lake located?

Tso Kar Lake is located in the Changthang region of Ladakh, in the northern part of India, within the Union Territory of Ladakh. Its about 150km from Leh and 80km from Tsomoriri Lake. 

What is the best time to visit Tso Kar Lake?

The best time to visit the lake is during the summer months, from May to September when the weather is relatively milder and the lake is accessible. Also, during this period the lakes present vibrant colors to its travelers due to blue skies. 

How do I reach Tso Kar Lake from Leh?

Tso Kar can be reached from Leh via two main routes: one through Tanglang La Pass, the shortest route of 150km, and the other via Chumathang, about 208 km. Both routes offer stunning landscapes and may get closed during winter. 

Are there accommodation options at Tso Kar Lake?

Yes, there are limited accommodation options around the Lake, including homestays and a few hotels. It’s advisable to book in advance during the tourist season.

Is there mobile network coverage at Tso Kar Lake?

No, Tso Kar Lake is in a remote area with no mobile network coverage. Only Satellite phones are operational here. Prepare accordingly and inform family and friends in advance.

Is there any wildlife near Tso Kar Lake?

Yes, the lake is a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts, with various bird species and wildlife like marmots, foxes, and occasionally, the elusive snow leopard.

Can I visit Tso Kar Lake in winter?

Visiting Tso Kar Lake in winter (December to March) is NOT possible due to the extreme cold and closure of roads due to snowfall. 

What is the significance of Tso Kar Lake?

The Tso-Kar holds ecological significance as a vital wetland and a breeding ground for several bird species, making it a designated Ramsar site.

Can I bring my own vehicle to Tso Kar Lake?

Yes, you can bring your vehicle this adventure tour, but be prepared for rough and challenging road conditions and ensure your vehicle is well-maintained. Alongside, we suggest you carry sufficient fuel. 

What are the major attractions near Tso Kar Lake?

The following are a few nearby places worth visiting and recommended to be added to your itinerary while planning a trip to TsoKar Lake. The places include Tsomoriri Lake, Karzok Monastery, interaction with Changpa Tribe (Nomadic Settlements), Kyagar Tso Lake, Chumathang Hot Springs, Puga Valley, Mirpal Tso Lake and many more. 

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