Tag Archives: Desert

Silver sand dunes and a double humpy ride


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Silver coloured sand dunes of Hunder in Nubra valley of Ladakh have gradually become a part of the must-see itinerary for tourists to Ladakh. Its a very unusual landscape, no doubt about it. In a single frame, you can see sand dunes, river, forest as well as snow clad peaks. You even have camels for desert safari, albeit double humped ones. Its a rugged landscape all around, but Hunder seems like out of world for this region. It has got so many colours and textures in one place, that you can’t stop admiring.

Colours of nature! These sunsets never fail to amaze you whether it is in hot deserts of Thar or cold deserts of Ladakh. You can see the Karakoram ranges in the background, behind whichnot too far is located the highest battlefield in world at Siachen Glacier. Tree line in the centre left form a part of Karakoram wildlife sanctuary, while you can see the sand dunes of Hunder on the centre right. Than, to complete the painting is an offshoot of Shyok river. Together they create the magic of Nubra valley in Ladakh.

Also read: Khardungla might have lost the height but not the sheen!

Nubra is also pleasing because of its gentle weather which is result of milder altitude. Everyone who feels uneasy at Leh, gets better here. Nubra valley is at average altitude of around 10,000 feet.

Nature’s play! The other day, another sunset and different range. September sunset casts its golden glow over the Karakoram ranges in Ladakh as seen from the Nubra valley. Tough to believe that right behind this nature’s painting, not too far away is world’s highest battlefield at Siachen Glacier, which is also the world’s second largest glacier in non-polar regions. But for now, it is time to soak in this mesmerising colours. Isn’t it!

Sand dunes can be best enjoyed during sunset. The sun light is gentle and colours are beautiful. Actually time of sunset here is also a photographer’s paradise, such is the beauty around.

Largest monastery in Nubra: Diskit monastery which braved the mongolian invaders

Sand dunes glowing in sunlight with forest of Karakoram wildlife sanctuary making a backdrop
All kinds of shapes in the dunes
Silvery powder at 10K ft
A baby camel hiding behind mother’s back


Most tourists will come on a day trip here. They will Leh early in the morning and then reach here before lunch. They will leave back by early evening to each back to Leh. But since this place is best enjoyed during sunset, hence it is better to plan a night halt at Hunder. A less than two day’s trip to Nubra can’t do justice to this place. If you keep two days in hand, than besides Hunder sand dunes, you can have sufficient time to see Diskit monastery on the first day and you can even go Turtuk, the next morning. Although, personally I would like to stay a night at Turtuk as well. 

Also read: Turtuk, beauty of the last bastion!

Wild flowers at Karakoram wildlife sanctuary
Sea buck thorn berries in sand dunes of Nubra. They are now plucked and sold as Leh berries considered to be highly nutritious and rich source of vitamin
Tourist vehicles at parking area of Hunder sand dunes

With ever increasing number of tourists, Hunder now has many offerings for stay. There are many homestays, guest houses and retreats to suit various budgets. 

Everybody is welcome 

Have you ever been to Hunder sand dunes and done a camel safari? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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Pang : Thrill of being at highest transit camp in the world


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View of Pang dhabas (towards right) and the army transit camp (towards left), as seen from the way up towards More plains.

Pang is a magical place. It brings you to an entirely different world, like the one never seen before. At an altitude of over 15,300 feet this is also claimed to be the highest army transit camp in the world. Army claims the altitude as 15, 640 feet. For a traveller- a biker or a driver, Pang is in midst of two entirely different terrains. While coming from Sarchu is the rough routes of Kangla Jal while on the Leh side is the super-highway of More Plains. Both worth a journey of lifetime.

Dhabas around Pang, with ample facility for food as well as tents, beds for night stay.

Establishment at Pang would have been come up as a place for stoppage for armed forces moving to and fro to areas bordering Pakistan and China. Being an open valley close to stream and less windy in comparison to Sarchu would have made it ideal place for transit. When adventurers started taking this road journey, they also found place good for camping, as they will always feel assured because of close proximity of the transit camp, if in case of any emergency. Later on locals came up with restaurants here to provide food to travellers. Slowly camping facilities kept growing and now most of the dhabas have rooms and beds for bikers, trekkers, to stay overnight. Transit camp is still very helpful for locals and travellers in providing medical and communication facilities. I have often used paid satellite phone facilities at these transit camps on the way to inform about my well-being to my family.

More permanent sort of structures coming up at Pang, due to ever increasing numbers of adventure seekers.

But staying at Pang isn’t a mean task physically. It is quite challenging to stay at an altitude of over 15,000 feet. More so, when you are tired because of tough ride from Manali to Pang. Many travellers will feel acute AMS here. Still many locals will suggest to stay at Pang instead of Sarchu, despite its higher altitude because it is less windy.

Have a look at a video below of way to Pang and places around camp.

 

Another video below of route from Bharatpur to Pang, a magical view of mountains turning into gold when struck by first lights of sun!

Manali-Leh route is also known for its five high mountain passes. Have a look at a video below of all the five from Rohtang to Tanglang La

As I said Pang has some of the most fascinating terrains on its both sides and amazing roads constructed in them- sheer engineering marvel. Among them is the Kangla Jal. Flowing over a rocky bed at an altitude of 4878 metres, Kangla Jal makes for an amazing landscape. Kangla Jal is in a valley and there are towering mountains on both the sides. It is located where Miyar connects to Zanskar valley. A beautiful road has been carved into rocky sandstone formations making it a spectacular sight. But than it is also one of the toughest (often people say ‘the toughest’) water stream (Miyar river) to cross on Manali-Leh route. Water flows from the top and falls into the deep gorge overlooking Pang. Still, you won’t always find water here, as in the video below, it is completely dry (it was in late September). That is what makes it unpredictably beautiful. When there is water in the stream (mostly early in the season upto August) the flow of water changes as the day progresses and recedes towards evening. Old-timers will say that the best time to cross it is early morning when the sun if soft and the snow hasn’t started melting. Middle of the day will account for the most severe flows. Even for vehicles, life is tougher for bikes as they might have to cross kneedeep freezing cold water in great flow. A bit of challenge! However a newly laid bridge has made the life somewhat easy for bikers.

For those who love haunted stories, Gata Loops offers a couple. Very  interesting that a road of 21 hairpin bends taking up the mountain is also related to such stories. Gata Loops are in between Sarchu and Pang. Travel to these loops in the video below-

Pang is also the place where we see the unique soil formations on the mountains, and some very unusual structures. Vistas here are quite different, special colours of the sand & rocks as well as few images which have become iconic in this Manali-Leh journey for decades now.

Also read: Where Whisky and Brandy are ferocious Nallahs! 

Climbing up the mountain overlooking Pang and moving towards More plains

Factsheet: At an altitude of almost 4600 metres, Pang is 80 kms ahead of Sarchu. Tanglang La is further 70 kms from Pang and Upshi is another 60 kms from Tanglang La. It normally takes no less than three hours of biking to reach from Sarchu to Pang, depending upon the number of photo stops you are willing to take.

Have you ever stayed overnight at Pang? How was the experience? Please share your views in the comments section below.

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Ras Al Khaimah – A paradise in Emirates

Ras Al Khaimah is one of seven emirates which together comprise the federation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It was the last one to join and is claimed to be on top as emerging tourist destination in the GULF. It is the strongest emerging tourism spots in UAE with its natural beauty and stunning scenery. It has a 64 km shoreline of superb sandy beaches and clear crystal blue waters. Ras Al Khaimah features a wealth of landscapes from rugged mountain peaks to coastal areas and deserts. Tourists have options of host of outdoor activities from swimming, fishing and golfing to desert safari, diving, paragliding, parasailing, Bedouin desert camp, Iceland water park and above all a microlight flight.

Ras Al Khaimah - Beach 2

Ras Al Khaimah is just a 45-minute drive from Dubai International Airport and is the perfect getaway for business, leisure, adventure, and luxury travel. The emirate has over 7,000 years of fascinating history, culture and is home to the highest mountain in the UAE.  It is a destination offering views of the terracotta deserts and an international gourmet experience. It also promises activities to suit adventure-seekers, spa-goers in addition to the exceptional experiences available at the world-class resorts.

Ras Al Khaimah - Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach

Dhayah Fort : Built as a strategic military castle in the 16th century on a mountain overlooking the Gulf, Dayah Fort witnessed a battle between the local people and the British troops. Here, its towers were set on fire and later destroyed in 1819. The Fort was restored in the 1990’s and its strategic location provides outstanding views of Ras Al Khaimah.

Dhayah Fort at Ras Al Khaimah

Falcon Show : Falconry is a traditional pastime in Ras Al Khaimah. At the Banyan Tree Al Wadi, the first desert spa resort in the UAE, visitors can enjoy a spectacular show of falcons in the natural desert environment. Home to Arabian gazelles and the Oryx the desert spa resort has a nature reserve which spans over 130 hectares.

Ras Al Khaimah - Falcon show

Enjoy an informative talk and display with various falcons. Participants may even get a chance to hold one of these majestic birds, whilst experiencing the Arabian sunset with a drink in hand, a harmonious blend of nature and luxury.

Ras Al Khaimah - Falcon Show 2

Iceland Water Park: A perfect escape from the heat, the Iceland Water Park is an ideal family entertainment destination for visitors of all ages. Providing a wide variety of games, water slides and an extensive food court, Iceland Water Park offers visitors maximum fun and amusement.

Ras Al Khaimah - Iceland Waterpark

Al Jazirah Aviation Club: A truly amazing experience awaiting Ras Al Khaimah visitors is to fly with a micro-light aircraft as well as  powered parachutes and enjoy scenic views of the desert, the white sandy beach, the turquoise sea and the majestic mountain

Ras Al Khaimah - Jazirat Aviation Club

Mangroves: From mountains, deserts and ancient cultural sites to beaches, mangroves, water sports and more, Ras Al Khaimah is a truly unforgettable Arabian experience. Mangroves and salt flats form a large part of the coastal and inland landscape. The mangroves, which are home to a variety of wildlife, including flamingoes, extend right into the centre of Ras Al Khaimah bringing a rich sense of nature into the city. Visitors can explore the mangroves by taking kayak excursions and literally lose themselves in the natural beauty.

Ras Al Khaimah - Mangroves

Mountain trail: In the eastern part of Ras Al Khaimah is a spectacular mountain range called the Ru’us Al Jibal. It is part of the Hajar Mountains, which start in the Musandam Peninsula and run as far south as Sur in Oman. These mountains were formed more than 70 million years ago. Jebel Jais at 1,930 m is not only the highest peak in Ras Al Khaimah but in the entire UAE. A key feature of the mountains is the abundance of wadis and hiking and mountain bike trails.

Ras Al Khaimah - Mountains

Water Adventures: Situated on the west coast of the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah offers the ideal location for all water activities. The clear blue waters of the Gulf provide the perfect conditions for scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing and water skiing. For lovers of nature, kayaking in the mangroves of Ras Al Khaimah or at sea offers an unforgettable experience.

 

Ras Al Khaimah - Parasailing

Al Hamra Marina & Royal Yacht Club: The Al Hamra Marina is the ideal destination for visitors and water sport lovers out to enjoy the beauty of the sea. It has a restaurant and offers charter boats. The marina also provides maintenance and training and charter boats. The Al Hamra Marina comprises of 200 wet berths up to 100 feet provided with power supply and fresh water. It is the last significant fuelling stop for vessels in the Arabian Gulf. Al Hamra Marina also hosts the Royal Yacht Club of Ras Al Khaimah, and as well organizes water activities and amazing competitions.

Named after the first Arab Seaman Ahmad bin Majid, the “Prince of Sea“, a motorised yacht (pictured below) which offers visitors a variety of sailing trips around the coast of Ras Al Khaimah, introduces you to an amazing sailing journey with valuable heritage and the Arabian hospitality. Various excursions including daytime, sunset and dinner cruises offering visitors various activities covering swimming, snorkelling and the opportunity of spotting one of the rare green turtles at Al Marjan Island, while enjoying delicious barbequed seafood, watch a folkloric show with a belly dancer.

Ras Al Khaimah - Prince of Sea

Sawing: The Seawings Urban Experience takes off from the pristine shores of Ras Al Khaimah on an exciting 45 minutes aerial tour of the city, giving you picturesque views of the emirate before flying to Dubai. Departure & Arrival: Ras Al Khaimah – Dubai

Ras Al Khaimah - Seawings

From desert retreats to beachfront properties, Ras Al Khaimah’s hotels and resorts offer an array of signature treatments to stimulate your senses. With tranquil surroundings, expert therapists and rejuvenating massages, every spa experience is sure to restore the balance of mind and body. Banyan Tree Al Wadi is the first desert spa resort in the UAE.

Spa at Ras Al Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah - Banyan Tree Al Wadi - Desert Spa

Banyan Tree Al Wadi: The resort, located only 20 minutes from the vibrant Ras Al Khaimah city centre, offers a wide variety of exclusive services and facilities including 101 pool – villas. Explore the 500 hectare private nature reserve, indulge in 3,999sqm of Asian-inspired hydrotherapy spa facilities and take advantage of numerous meeting and banquet spaces, a kids’ club, falconry mews as well as horse and camel stables.

Ras Al Khaimah - Banyan Tree Al Wadi

Desert Safari: A Desert Safari in Ras Al Khaimah offers visitors a day filled with excitement and adventure. The Safari begins with a thrilling drive in a 4×4 vehicle across the desert and climbing sand dunes, often at a 45-degree angle! Later in the day visitors will have the opportunity to experience a ride on a camel and enjoy a traditional Arabic dinner and entertainment around a camp fire.

Ras Al Khaimah - Sunset

Desert Camps: Ras Al Khaimah is famous for its many beautiful camping spots, where people can enjoy picnics and barbecues under the stars, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. You can go it alone or visit one of the traditional Bedouin camps and discover a fascinating way of life that has changed little over the years.

Ras Al Khaimah - Bedouin Oasis

Bedouin Oasis Desert Camp: The first Bedouin-style desert camp in Ras Al Khaimah provides visitors with the perfect opportunity to explore desert living. Using only traditional and natural materials, the Bedouin Oasis Desert allows visitors to be transported back to the days when tent roofs were originally made from goat hair and an antique gas light or a fire were the only sources of heat and light.

Ras Al Khaimah -Bassata Desert Camp

Authentic and generous hospitality is an essential component of Arabian culture. This sentiment is beautifully reflected in Ras Al Khaimah’s diverse collection of hotels and resorts, ranging from boutique to luxurious five-star properties.  Al Hamra Village (pictured below) is a luxurious integrated community, located in Ras Al Khaimah on the shores of the Arabian Gulf. The development covers an area of 77 million square feet and includes 1,500 kilometers of pristine beaches, over 1,000 villas and townhouses, nearly 2,500 residential apartments, five hotels, an 18 hole golf course, a marina and a shopping mall.

Ras Al Khaimah -Beach

For those who are looking for a premium weekend getaway or planning their vacation, Ras Al Khaimah offers two of the UAE’s most luxurious hotels in the beachfront Waldorf Astoria, the Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach Resort as well as the Banyan Tree Al Wadi in the heart of the desert.

Al Hamra residences at Ras Al Khaimah

See a video of Ras Al Khaimah-

Photo of the Day – Precise Cut

A lonely tree in desert of Thar in Rajasthan, India. And so precisely cut leaves! Why? Any guess? Not a manly work at all. It is the work of camels who have simply eaten up everything that is within reach of their long necks… Neat work. Isn’t it. This is few kilometres away from Jaisalmer in core of Thar…

Precise Cut
Precise Cut