Ahead of the duped highest pass in the world lies Nubra valley i.e. the cold desert of Ladakh which although is a desert but lies at a stunning elevation of 10K feet, making it almost freezing beyond dusk. The place gets a lot of commercial tourist crowd from across the globe for a number of reason but visiting the place after the 3 odd months of tourist gives it a completely different picture.
I made my way to the place in first week of October which is when all the tourists have retreated, the place really feels like an empty barren desert with no vegetation, no human beings not even a dog. The only living thing that walks this place is the unique Backtrian Camel and few of their keepers who are the only ones willingly or unwillingly saving this species to get down from the level of critically endangered level of conservation. These camels are unique in every sense, they are short, very hairy and double humped. The legend has it that they come from Mongolian Gobi desert and can easily survive in extreme cold as well as warm weathers.
There are few people here who make a living by giving you small rides on the camel, which partially goes back in the maintenance of this fast reducing species. As per the present stats only 2 million of them are left across the globe, spread all over Central Asia.
If you go unprepared like me the biggest challenge you would face here is finding the basic i.e. food, there are absolutely no restaurants or cafe what so ever. The army runs a small canteen where outsiders are allowed considering the conditions and they serve very basic food like maggi, dosa & jalebi with tea and coffee, all of a condition which I would not eat unless I was about to die. This place goes by name of Cafe RCC.
The ideal way to enjoy the place is reach here around noon (considering you leave early morning from Leh) get a place to stay, so that your food can be prepared by them; Which is nothing fancy but sure keeps you safe and warm all night. Once you have found a place to stack your bag, then you can head to the main desert area to enjoy the view, take a ride on the camel’s back and if you have a good car do try the dune bashing here.
- There are many villages nearby where you can stay, choose one as per your ease. I took up Hunder which is the closest village overlooking the river and had a beautiful scenic view even from my Shit-pot.
- Try and choose for a homestay over a hotel or anything else which will keep you cosy, gives your homely comfort and ease to do anything and everything on your own.
- Get out once it’s dark to adore the most beautiful and clear sky you would ever come across.
- Try the local food if you have an option, you will never get to explore this food anyplace else.
- There are many places that do a Cultural show here, which is Gilgit-Baltistan and Ladakhi mix. Do try and attend one and enjoy the dance (more details in a fresh post would follow).