Late afternoon light on the stony river valley and mountain ranges
A day of few settlements, lots of mountains, vast skies.
Another long day's drive, and the start of the final stage of our expedition, covering more miles on the G219 from Ali / Shiquanhe to our final destination at a remote riverside camp 50 km on from Dormar / Domar.
The Lonely Planet guide to Tibet has one page of info for the entire route from Ali / Shiquanhe to Kashgar - which was to take us the next four full days - and it's written in the opposite direction from the one we were travelling. This part of the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway is little travelled, and passes through the Aksai Chin region which is claimed by both China and India. The only people/traffic we encountered were either Chinese truckers or Chinese military, and the only villages we passed through had Chinese check points and a handful of facilities to service the long distance truckers.
En route we detoured to Rutok, a lovely Tibetan village (not to be confused with the new Chinese town of Rutok Xian a few km further up the road), complete with chorten, dzong and monastery, set amongst green pasturelands, red mountains and the blue of Pangong tso lake, which made up for the petroglyphs we'd missed earlier in the day. Before returning to the main road, we picnicked in view of a flock of fat bottomed sheep and some goats, and new concrete posts, presumably to carry electricity cables.
We had another leg stretch at a monument on the shores of Pangong tso lake, looking across the blue waters to Ladakh before continuing on, hugging the shoreline and clinging to the blasted-into-the-cliff-face road.
A while further on we had an impromptu roadside stop when Minga spotted some black necked cranes in the dried out marshland we were driving through.
After the police checkpoint at Domar, we continued on until we spied our blue and yellow tents set up on a stony plain by the side of a river. Windy and overcast when we arrived, the skies cleared at the end of the day bringing the most amazing light and calm to the stunning scenery.