ORIENTATION AT MANALI ENTIRE DAY 15 mile / 24 KM - 3/4 hrs
Breakfast, Bike fitting, Expert tips on biking techniques & safety, Cycle down Manali town, Cycle up Solang Valley, Paragliding, Rope-way, Lunch at Sulphur springs @Vaishisht, Post-lunch easy downhill ride back to Manali and uphill ride back to hotel. Optional: Short evening walk to Hadimba devi temple, mall road, Nagger Castle art.
Elevation gain: 1,945 ft/593 m
MANALI - MARHI 24 mile / 38 KM - 5/6 HRS
Warm-up ride today through Manali’s floral valleys, cedar and fir forests, saying hello to numerous villagers. Get ready to cycle 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. Night camp at Marhi.
Elevation gain: 5,046 ft/ 1,538 m
Marhi - Sissu 31 mile / 50 km – 5/6 hrs
You begin early to cycle up into betrayed mountains bidding adieu to all sort of habitation. An Ooooh nice ride to the mildly brrrr range of windy rainfall lays down a muddy pathway for you. Rohtang La awaits you at 3946m gifting spectacular views of Lahoul and Spiti mountains. Now cycle down tarmac roads into the Khoksar village, bypass Sissu and stop to visit Fort Gondhala. Cross the river and climb into Tandi.
Note: The campsite is 2km outside Tandi but if conditions are unfavorable at Rohtang, we camp at Sissu.
Elevation gain: 7,484 ft/ 2,281 m
SISSU - JISPA 33 mile / 53 KM - 6/7 HRS
It’s a fairly flat ride from Lahaul valley into Tandi. Here you watch river Chandra and river Bhaga unite to be called Chandrabhaga aka Chenab and flow into the Chamba valley. The terrain gets arid as your cycle on rutty, dusty, rocky road to climb Keylong. You then descend into Jispa which is 23 meters from Keylong.
Elevation gain: 4,147 ft/ 1,264 m
JISPA – ZINGZING BAR ENTIRE DAY 20 mile / 32 km - 5/6 hrs
Another good day for acclimatization as we are soon approaching the Trans-Himalayan Range. We start our biking to Patseo and Zingzing bar. Enjoy the ride through calm green pastureland leading to Darcha at 3,235 m / 10,613 ft. Lose yourself to nature as you sit down to taste a cup of local tea or coffee. Continue climbing until Zingzing bar at 4,270 m / 14,009 ft.
Elevation gain: 3,281 ft / 1,000 m
ZINGZING BAR – BRANDY NALA 40 mile / 65 KM – 6/7 HRS
Tough day! Target: Cross the mighty Indian Himalayas. Reach Sarchu (Brandy Nala) - border between – Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. A gradual, forever seeming climb across Zingzingbar meadows followed by a long ascent to Baralacha La Pass! Hard work pays off when you reach the top, the middle of the Himalayas that offer a mesmerizing view of snow-covered peaks of Barashigri, Chandrabhaga and Mulkila. From the pass easy descend past Kiling Serai and on to Sarchu.
Fact of the day: Baralacha means 'a pass with crossroads' and the trails from Zanskar, Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul come together here.
Longest ride of the trip! Start early, climb up the windswept Sarchu plains, cross Brandy and Whisky Nala. Ascend through a series of 22 amazing hairpin bends (Gata Loops), stop to look back at the wind eroded valley of eroded rock formations. Reach the Naki La top at 15, 748 ft / 4,800 m and descend the Lachung La at 16,732 ft / 5,100 m. Observe 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. Easy ride from the Lachalung La down through an amazing canyon of magnificent rock formations of the Trans-Himalayan range until we reach Pang.
Elevation gain: 3,395 ft / 1,035 m
WHISKY NALA - TSO-KAR 46 mile / 74 KM – 6/7 HRS
Short ascent to the Mori Plains at 15,419 ft / 4,700 m. 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. Cycle along a sandy track to Tsokar Lake, good for birdwatchers. Camp for the night 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).
Elevation gain: 3,343 ft / 1,019 m
TSO-KAR - RUMPTSE 47 mile / 76 KM – 7/8 HRS
Taglang La, the last pass before Leh is today’s challenge. We leave Tso-kar early and cycle back to the main road and 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! You are rewarded for all your hard work by a magnificent view of the twin mountains - Himalaya and Karakorum. Rest, click photos and get ready to descent zig-zag roads to experience habitation once again since Lahoul. Homes and greenery of barley and potato fields greet us as we reach our camp at Rumptse.
Elevation gain: 3,580 ft / 1,091 m
RUMPTSE - HEMIS 30 mile / 48 KM – 3/4 HRS
A day you'll cherish! You'll witness and celebrate the yearly Hemis Festival of 2016 with us! The Hemis Monsatery (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.
Elevation gain: 1,851 ft/564 m
HEMIS - LEH 22 mile / 35 km - 3/4 hrs
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.
3 Super Highlights of the Day:
Hemis monastery was once the largest and richest of all Ladakh monasteries
An impressive monastery at Thiksey sits perched on a hilltop and houses the "Future Buddha"
Tonight, you enjoy a hot shower at the hotel
Elevation gain: 751 ft / 229 m
LEH – KHARDUNGLA - LEH 50 mile / 80 KM – 7/8 HRS
Oh man! The big climb is here – 18,372 ft / 5,600m Khardungla pass. We set off 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 travelled far enough to meet yourself! We end the trip today!