Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Birding in Ladakh - Part Two

Fine morning it was, couple of cups of tea and a great breakfast to begin the day. We packed our backpacks, loaded them on to the vehicle, and moved out of Kargil Town.
Kargil Town
Just to be safe, the driver Rinchen said “We need to re-fuel as due to the tough terrain, not many fueling stations en-route”. While, the tank was being refilled, out we were in the fresh air. Camera in the hand, clicks on the mind. Soon we were on the road again, and this time the climb was even steeper.

Our main objective of the day was to reach Leh town, before dark. But this hadn’t dampened our spirit to look around for Small Monasteries and stop to turn the prayer wheels (locally called Mane), spot birds and stare into hill locks for grazing sheep's and goats. We also stopped by the famous Lamayuru or Yuru Gompa
Mane - The prayer wheel
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)
Villages - En-route
Sheep and Goats - Grazing on Hill
Chukar - Chicks
Lamayuru or Yuru Gompa
Lama Kids - Outside Lamayuru or Yuru Gompa
As we neared Leh town, we transited through the magnetic hill, which claims to have the capacity to take the vehicle uphill, without driving it!!. 

Rinchen, made us stand out, while Rajesh continued to sit inside. We did see or should i say experience the phenomena. Was it real, was it an optical illusion is debatable.
Drive along the Magnetic Hill
Soon, we were covering the distance, which earlier seemed never ending. As the evening approached, the skies were changes shades and views all around were mystical.
Soon, we reached Leh town. Mahi Resort  is where our bookings were made by Mr. Ramesh Rawat. Ramesh was not only a good friend but also our host for the coming two weeks. He just said a couple of sentences and stressed on them initially. Stay calm, walk slow and drink lots of water!!!

The basic concept was to get acclimatized to the weather and to the altitude of 11,000 ft., as the oxygen levels were really low. We would feel breathless the moment we tried to walk fast. All we did was relaxed in the room and later in the evening took a stroll into the market lane which was situated in the heart of the city. The market  was more of  a medley of shops both old and new. Be it  shawls, woollens or pizzas from Italy could see it all.

After, a proper meal at the Mahi resort, it was time to catch on some good sleep, as the next day we were to head to the Zanskar river for rafting.

Personally, i had never ever done rafting and was a little anxious. Our new driver Rinchen (again a common name) was there at the reception to pick us up.

It was day three and was already falling in love with the mountains. We drove for a couple of hours, on a tiny road. The road had a steady climb and moved along the Zanskar river for about 28Kms.

Finally, we reached the starting point. Here is where we were got the rafting tips. Soon we were into our body suits and felt the gears. The moment we got on the raft, realised that it was self supported. The raft passed through the steep gorges which were carved out, by the river over countless years for sure. The Zanskar gorge has been referred to as the 'Grand Canyon' of Asia by many explorers.

The river is graded as Class IV, and it passed through very remote and difficult to access terrain. By the first hour passed, had gathered the courage and skill. Soon there was a rapid and we were asked to jump, if we wanted to experience the river's water. 

I did jump and within seconds could  feel, i was  frozen and fingers went numb, the water was very cold (around 7 degrees Celsius). Lying on my back, with the safety jacket on, kept floating until the rescue team had a lady from UK who was kayaking along our rafts on the mighty Zanskar River took me back to my raft. 

The dramatic 28Kms return journey through the Zanzkar gorge was completed in about three hours. The journey ends just at the confluence of Indus and Zanskar river near Nimmu town.

For me this is one of the most exotic rafting expedition.

In the winters, the Zanskar river freezes, and the local inhabitants use it for accessing the outer world. While the trekkers’ use it to see the exotic Zanskar village popularly, known as the 'Chadar Trek'.

It was the only day, when the gears were resting in the room.
TwitterFacebookGoogle PlusLinkedInInstagramEmail

Previous Page - Page 1                                
                                        Next Page - PAGE 3


Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites