Once we turned east off the Mandali Road, the landscape turned even more spectacular. Soon we spotted a nomad camp right along the tracks. We had hoped for so much to meet Changpa Nomads… A few kids, barely able to walk, were playing in the dust next to the road. Our stop made the rest of the family leave their tent or whatever chores they were doing. Their burned and frost bitten faces mirrored their harsh life. Living in tents through a winter at 5.000 meters with those extreme temperatures was beyond our imagination.
An elderly man offered us some nice looking stones. He seemed desperate. We bought them out of guilt, like we have so many times before. With the gap between these people’s life and ours so wide, we felt reduced to gawking tourists, no matter how hard we tried by showing respect and genuine interest.
Tso Kar appeared after a short drive – place of unworldly beauty! The small lake comes in different shades of blue to turquoise. Small patches of green at its shore add more color and the surrounding mountain provides the frame for this drama. Further up is nothing the bright blue sky with bleach white clouds.
On the way to Thukje, the only village in the area, we spotted more marmots. So fat, as if they had been genetically manipulated.
Tso Kar is a saltwater lake and the entire area is full of white mounds, which look like snow from the distance. Ironically, Tso Kar has a little brother, a fresh water lake. Together with Anne & Yann, we set out to find it. But above all, we were on the look out for certain endemic birds, like the very rare Black-Necked Crane or the Bar-Headed Goose. What we did find was a group of French people, whose car got stuck in the mud. Pushing a car at 4.500 meters leaves you with little life left!
What we didn’t find was Tso Kar’s little brother. When we passed a small swamp-like area, we decided this must be it and turned around. Anyway, it was a nice walk and we saved the French people. On the way back we did spot the very birds we were looking for, but far away, in the distance. And with the rain coming in and temperatures dropping, we decided to call it a day.