"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

Posts tagged “Nubra Valley

Altitude Revisited

The extreme and mountainous terrain of Ladakh means that its road network is limited.
Like most visitors, we were based in Leh, and had to return there after every excursion into the wilder reaches of region.

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And so, after our journey to the Nubra valley, we had to return to and re-climb the Khardung Pass.
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Reflections

And so we left the Nubra Valley:
its awesome beauty; its monastery; its deserts; and its hints of Shangri La.
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Just Deserts

It was a day of surreal contrasts.

First a morning spent traversing “the world’s highest motorable road” with snow-chains fixed to our wheels,
then lunch in a restaurant staffed by a silent Buddhist monk,
and now an afternoon crossing the Nubra Valley desert – on camel.

I must be honest:
There was no real need to cross the desert, nor hire these beasts of burden.
But bactrian camels have been used to carry travellers across this part of the ancient Silk Route for more than two thousand years.
It was an opportunity I could not refuse!

With almost touching naiveté, I had imagined this would be similar to riding a horse.
I was mistaken:
For a start, there were no stirrups.
And trying to hang on to the animal with only one hand, whilst the other furiously gripped a camera, made the experience even more interesting.

It is surprisingly difficult to take a photograph whilst sitting astride a camel in motion,
but frankly alarming to be on the poor beast when it finally sits down!

So despite being treated with genuine care and concern by our camel-handlers,
(and sadly,  “our camel-handlers” is an expression I rarely have the opportunity to use)
it was with a slight sense of relief that we returned to a more familiar form of transport.

The beers we shared at the end of the day were, I think, well deserved.

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All bar one of these pictures were taken in the Nubra Valley highland deserts.


Enlightened Over Lunch

Arriving at our lunchtime restaurant, we thought this time there would be no puzzlement.
Experience had taught us the custom of being taken first to a bedroom.

But Ladakh still managed to surprise us:
We were welcomed by a Buddhist monk.
Quite what his role was, I never understood.
He appeared to do little other than sit at the reception desk, smiling in silence.
But, while maintaining that silence, somehow the monk summoned our hotel’s owner.

Again, we were shown first to a bedroom where, after a chance to wash and make ourselves comfortable, tea was served.
Feeling  relaxed and refreshed, we wandered down to the dining room to take lunch.

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Then sat outside for a few minutes, luxuriating in the gentle warmth of  spring sunshine.
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Halfway Descent

We descend from a morning high above the snow-line, to noon in a very different world.

This is the Nubra Valley, where all is fiercely arid yet almost bizarrely  colourful.

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 Pictures taken during our descent to the Nubra Valley, Ladakh