Route: Keylong – Jispa – Baralacha – Sarchu
Was a beautiful day! We all woke up at around 6 am and quickly had our shower to leave the crappy hotel asap. Must say that the view from the hotel window was amazing.
With only ginger tea in our stomachs, we started our journey to Sarchu and had many photo sessions on the way. The scenery was awesome and it just kept getting better.
..we had a perfect morning, with this kinda view just about 10 minutes drive from Keylong! The sad part was that we forgot our tripod on the roads after this photo session!!
Suzuki Alto got stuck, but Toyota Innova made it through!! Motorbike – a better option(only if you have it in you!)
- Never fancy venturing out in the Himalayas with a vehicle with low ground clearance, you have more things to feel adventurous than getting stuck in the streams and rock piles every 100 meters.
After a couple of hours, Baliram bhai pulled over near some dhabas (small restaurants). The dhabas were very clean with beds covered in colorful bed sheets. The place was cozy and food homely. We had double of everything… tea, coffee, omelette, toasts and aloo parathas. The kitchen was tiny but very clean. On another bed near the cash counter, some elderly women were knitting woolen socks and greeted us with warm friendly smiles. ‘We should have halted here last night’ I thought to myself observing the difference in cleanliness between the two places. We packed some food for our drive ahead and left the place with our stomachs and hearts full.
After a couple of hours drive, we reached Baralacha which is 4890m (16,043 ft) above sea level and is completely covered with snow. It was afternoon and as the sun was shining, we didn’t feel cold even with all the snow around us. And for the first time I also saw what a frozen lake looks like. We played around with snow, threw stones into the lake, took a lot of pictures and got into the car when we started feeling the hunger pang.
- After we got into the car, we realized that we were panting heavily even without much exertion. Be careful, this is how our body reacts to the rarefied air at this altitude.
- Take in lots of water & black tea to get acclimatized to the place.
To regain our energy, we gobbled on our packed food and some chocolates. After Baralacha, we started to descend. We passed through narrow roads in between the rocky mountains and gradually the climate became very warm. The roads were so narrow that we had to pullover for a military convoy to pass by.
After a couple of dangerous bridges, the roads became wider and smoother. It looked like the green mountains had spread out to give way for us. The place is called Sarchu and the beauty of the place is amazing! It was 1500 hrs and the weather was warm and we were very excited when we were told that we were going to halt there in tents. Staying in a tent in the midst of all that beauty… wow!
We jumped out of our cars and ran around the lovely place clicking lots of pictures. We then thought it’s a good idea to get some sleep before we set out for our next photo session. Being very happy to see our orange top spacious tents, we comfortably settled in but couldn’t sleep.
As the afternoon passed by, the weather changed drastically. Geared up in two of everything…from socks to caps, we set out to take pictures of flocks of sheep on the mountains. But we were feeling very heavy and stiff, and could not even walk fast. Once the sun went down, the cold crept in… and it was so cold that within an hour’s time the temperature dropped from 20 to 0 deg C. So we got back and planned to have quick dinner and get some good sleep.
Dinner was terrible! To start with, the tomato soup was a mix of chilli powder in hot water. I didn’t feel like having dinner, but my better half and my buddy chatted over rice and dal curry. We got back to our tent, settled in our beds for our 9 hr sleep, switched off the lights… and then the nightmare started.
The ice-cold wind was very harsh and was hitting hard on our tents. Our heavy clothing and layers of blankets didn’t help a bit. The cold wind made sleeping impossible. Ruby showed the symptoms of altitude sickness first, as she was feeling very uneasy and finding it hard to breathe. She tried sitting, standing and lying down in different positions, but was in vain. At around 2 am she had that urge to puke and all the dal came out! She took a tablet and after that she never puked for the entire trip. By then my friend was showing symptoms of altitude sickness. He puked and puked again and got tired like hell. I advised ruby to keep 2 pillows under her head, which made it easy for her to breathe and she slept off in a couple of minutes.
Travel Tips :
- Do not halt at Sarchu as the place is high in altitude and low in oxygen.
- The best alternative is to leave very early from Jispa/Keylong and pass through Sarchu by noon.
- Sleeping bag is again a very good option, even if you are staying inside a tent.
The Himalayan Road trip continues….