Valley of God - Manali to Leh Cycling Tour
Day By Day
Day By Day
We begin the day after a hearty breakfast, then fit our bikes and gather expert tips for biking and safety from our trip leader. Most of this guidance would stay with us throughout the Manali to Leh (M2L) challenging journey. We ride down to the Manali town and up Solang Valley for beautiful views of glaciers and snow-capped mountains. When the snow melts in summers, skiing is replaced with paragliding, parachuting and rope-way. We have lunch at Sulphur springs at Vaishisht and post-lunch enjoy an easy downhill ride back to Manali and retire at our hotel. Optional: Short evening walk to Hadimba Devi temple, mall road, Naggar Castle art.
As a warm-up ride today we pass through Manali’s floral valleys, cedar and fir forests and say hello to numerous villagers.
Get ready to ride up hairpin bends until Kothi, ascend through small hamlets to the serene Rohalla Falls, and while enjoying the ride through orchards of apple trees reach the Rohtang Pass.
Tonight we camp at Marhi.
A memorable day lies ahead as we would cross our fast pass today! We start early and ride uphill into the betrayed mountains, bidding adieu to all sort of habitation. The road zig-zags higher and higher into the mountains and much of it can be muddy and wet due to rainfall. Rohtang La awaits us at the top gifting spectacular views of Lahoul and Spiti mountains. From the pass, the tarmac road snakes down into the Khoksar village, bypassing Sissu. We can stop to visit Fort Gondhala and cross over the river to enter Tandi.
Note: The campsite is 2km outside Tandi but if conditions are unfavorable at Rohtang, we will camp at Sissu.
We enjoy a beautiful flat ride following the main valley - the Lahaul Valley and cycling becomes easier as we continue into Tandi, where the rivers Chandra and Bhaga unite to flow as Chandrabhaga or Chenab as it is known in the Chamba Valley.
From here, the terrain becomes much more arid and we cycle on a rutty, dusty and rocky road climbing up to Keylong. The same road then descends through some switchbacks to Jispa where we retire and relax tonight.
This is another good day for acclimatization as we are soon approaching the Trans-Himalayan Range. We thoroughly enjoy our ride through the calm green pastureland from Jispa to Darcha and sit down to taste a cup of local tea or coffee on the way. After this short break we continue to climb towards Zingzingbar, our final destination for today.
Tough day! Target: Cross the mighty Indian Himalayas and reach Sarchu (Brandy Nala) - border between – Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
We embark on a gradual, forever seeming climb across Zingzingbar meadows followed by a long ascent to Baralacha La Pass! All the hard work pays off when we reach the top, the middle of the Himalayas, that offer mesmerizing views of snow-covered peaks of Barashigri, Chandrabhaga and Mulkila. Here on, an easy descend past Kiling Serai leads us to Sarchu aka Brandy Nala.
Fact of the day: Baralacha means 'a pass with crossroads' and the trails from Zanskar, Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul come together here.
It is going to be the longest ride of this trip! We start early, climb up the windswept Sarchu plains, and cross Brandy and Whisky Nala. We then ascend through a series of 22 hairpin bends (Gata Loops) and occasionally stop to look back at the wind eroded valley of eroded rock formations.
After reaching the top at Lachung La at 16,732 ft / 5,100 m we get to soak in nature at its best surrounding the barren Zanskar Range – multi-colored mountains - purple, green, brown hillsides change colors as clouds are blown across the sky.
An easy ride from the Lachalung La guides us down through an amazing canyon of magnificent rock formations of the Trans-Himalayan range until we reach Pang.
Following a short ascent to the Mori Plains we reach Rupshu, the waterless high altitude desert of Tibetan Plateau and home to hardy Changpas, Tibetan nomads living in yak hair tents, grazing yaks and sheep on barren lands. We continue riding along a sandy track to Tsokar Lake, popular among the bird watchers and camp near Pongunagu.
Fun fact: Tso-kar is aka ‘white lake’ due to white salt deposits. At the lake, look out for herds of kiang (wild ass).
Taglang La, the last pass before Leh is today’s challenge. We leave Tso-kar early and pedal back towards the main road. From here we ride up, higher and steeper, to the top of Taglang La ( 17,552 ft / 5,350 m). Pheww! Pat your back!
You’ve just cycled your way to the top of 2nd highest motor-able road pass in India! We are rewarded for all by magnificent views of the twin mountains - Himalaya and Karakorum. We rest, click photos and get ready to descent zig-zag roads to experience habitation once again since Lahaul. Homes and greenery of barley and potato fields greet us as we reach our camp at Rumptse.
Here comes a day you'll cherish forever! We get to witness and celebrate the yearly Hemis Festival today! The Hemis Monastery (built in 1630 AD to be the largest Tibetan Gompa) celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava over two days of festivities.
The festivities are ushered in with an early morning ritual atop the Gumpa, where the guru's portrait is ceremoniously put up on display to the sounds of beating drums, clashing cymbals and the spiritual wail of trumpets and pipes.
The highlight of the festival is the mask dance that is performed by the Lamas garbed in extravagant costumes and brightly painted masks and gathered around the central flag pole, to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
The cultural extravaganza of the Hemis festival continues today and besides dance and music you get time to indulge into shopping at stalls setup by hawkers outside the monastery. Pick up souvenirs and gift items for people back home. Traditional items such as garbs, hats, masks, good luck charms, etc. are some of the popular things sold here at this time.
We move on in the second half of the day to follow the mighty Indus river, to Karu to Thiskey, cross the ruins of Shey palace, reach Choglamsar, home to many Tibetan refugees and climb on to Leh.
The big climb is here – 18,372 ft / 5,600m Khardung-la. We set out at daybreak and cycle 26mi gaining 6,600 ft / 2,000 m – the ultimate challenge of this trip!
Pat your back twice! It is the highest motor-able road in the world! Feel proud of your achievement and reward yourself with the top view of a spectacular stretch – Indus valley in the South to endless peaks and ridges of Zanskar range to giants of the Saser Massif in the North. Hoping you’ve traveled far enough to meet yourself we end the trip today!
Dates & Prices
Dates & Prices
We know that feeling! That great feeling of coming back home after a long ride when you want to stretch your legs, rest your back and sip some nice hot coffee. Our experiential home stays, hotels and guesthouses are carefully chosen to give you a complete experience, help you see things differently and offer a chance to learn, appreciate and respect the local surroundings. Our comfort seeking guests get to soak in the aesthetics and authenticity of our highly-curated accommodations throughout this cycling journey.
*Per person on twin sharing
- Aluminum frame mountain/ hybrid bike with helmet
- Comfortable and scenic camp accommodation with dining tent, kitchen tent, toilet tent with all utensils etc.
- All breakfast, lunch and dinner during tour.
- SAG vehicle: A support vehicle that follows the riders throughout the trip and carries all belongings including spare bike and parts.
- Spare bikes and parts
- Entrance fees to historic sites, museums, temples and all other exclusive events.
- Special cultural show (folk dance and music).
- Permit fees
- Nutrition halts during the cycling course everyday. We will provide protein bars, nuts and dry fruits, fresh fruits, packed water bottle, chocolates & rehydration supplements during cycle ride.
- Essential first-aid kit
- All transportation from rendezvous (Manali) to final drop-off (Leh Airport)
- Pre tour transport from Delhi to Manali
- Pre tour accommodation and meals from Delhi to Manali
- Transaction Charges and GST (Goods and Services Tax)
- Domestic flight (Leh - Delhi)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Expenses of personal nature e.g. telephone bills, laundry, spa, massage etc.
- Any adventure activity like Paragliding, rafting, ropeway etc
- Photography expenses at heritage sites
- Expenses incurred on account of climate, weather or natural hazards and occurrences such as landslides, floods, earthquakes etc.
- Tips for crew members and hotel staff
- Any items/activity not mentioned in the list of inclusions.