Famous for the large herds of kiang, or wild ass, which graze on its shores, the lake of Tso Moriri, 210km southeast of Leh, lies in the sparsely populated region of Rupshu. You need a permit to travel here. Twenty kilometres long, the lake nestles in a wide valley flanked by some of the highest peaks in Ladakh – Lungser Kangri (6666m) and Chanmser Kangri (6622m) – and is home to flocks of migratory nangpa or bar-headed geese, as well as occasional herds of pashmina goats and camps of nomadic herders. Located on the shores of the lake at an altitude of 4595m, the only large village in the area is Korzok, a friendly place with a small gompa. To help protect the fragile ecosystem against the influx of tourists, a new directive stipulates that no habitation can be built within 700m of the shoreline. Visitors should bring their own food supplies and make sure they take all their rubbish away.
The open spaces around Tso Moriri make for some pleasant trekking, including the relatively easy – if you are acclimatized – three-day, 40km circuit of the lake. Another route gaining popularity is the trail from Rumtse near Upshi via Tso Kar to Tso Moriri. Some trekking operators in Manali and Leh can arrange more ambitious routes such as the ancient trade route linking Spiti to Tso Moriri and Leh via Kibber. Treks start from around $50 per person per day in a group of four, which usually includes transport, food and tents.