Total number of days: 15, 10 on motorbike
Accommodations: Hotel, guest house, camping
Best time: June through October
This extreme adventure trip takes you over five major passes, two of which are over 16,600ft (5000m) on the road to Leh, Ladakh. From Leh, nestled high in the Himalayas and accessible for only 4 months of the year, we will have the ultimate challenge: from 11,500 feet (3,600 meters) in Leh all the way up to the Khardung-La Pass, the highest motorable pass in the world, taking you to a breath taking height of 18,380 feet (5,603m) in just 39 km.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN DELHI. On your arrival our representative will greet you at the airport and transfer you to the hotel .
DAY 2: FLY TO KULLU DRIVE TO MANALI. You will be transfered to the airport and fly to Kullu then drive to Manali (approx 1 hour). The drive takes you through the lush alpine landscape of Himachal Pradesh into the Kullu Valley and along the Beas River, which we follow to the hill resort of Manali (2000m). On arrival we check-into the hotel and collect/build our bikes and get them ready for the following day. The evening is free to explore the local surroundings. Manali is surrounded by beautiful fir and pine forests, and there are lovely walks in and around the town. There is also a colorful Tibetan bazaar famous for its shawls, caps, jewelry and handicrafts made by Tibetan refugees.
DAY 3: MANALI. Today we get on our bikes for the first time and go on an acclimatization ride. A nearby forest hides a 450-year-old temple, called Hadimba Devi, made out of wood that has remarkable carvings. We then cycle out of Manali and follow the Beas River to Nagar Castle. Nagar was once the capital of this area and the old castle has now been turned into a hotel. Near the castle is the Nicholas Roerich estate. Roerich was a Russian artist, who married a Bollywood heroine and lived here in Nagar. He traveled extensively through Ladakh and Tibet and many of his beautiful works of art still hang in the gallery here. Other options for today include 'Old Manali', a picturesque village close to the ruins of the Fortress Mandakot and the hot sulphur springs at Vaishisht or up to Palchen a small settlement on the way to Rotang.
DAY 4: MANALI TO KEYLONG. Today is the first ascent as you begin to "warm up" for the tough ride ahead. Out of Manali, we head through an evergreen area of pine and deodar trees as you tackle the first set of many hairpin bends and switchbacks on the way to the Rohtang pass. It’s a 12 km ascent to the Rohtang pass (10,890ft, 3320m), where if the weather is fine there are some lovely scenic views on the horizon of snow covered peaks and glaciers. From Rohtang, you leave the lush vegetation behind and continue with a descent to Gramphu. From here you will encounter some un-metalled stretches of flat road as we cross the raging torrent of the river at Khoksar and continue on a short and easy ride to Sissu in the foothills of the Pir Panjal range. From here it’s only a short ride to Keylong, crossing mountain streams flowing over the road. Altitude 11,000ft (3350m)
DAY 5: KEYLONG TO SARCHU. Today the terrain is much more arid and the road is rutty, dusty and rocky. Passing the hamlet of Jispa we come out of a gorge and descend downhill before starting the ascent to Patseo. You now get a sense of the isolation of the area, with nothing but a few sheep dotted around, as we begin to enter the territory of the Lamas. On the far horizon you can see the bleak and awesome spectacle of the Higher Himalayan ranges. You climb to the Baralacha La Pass but the rewards are great as you travel through this wild and scenic country. The pass is arid with no vegetation, the sides of the mountains looking more like a quarry covered with loose rocks and scree. As you descend the gorge area of Bharatpur you will cross mountain rivers before reaching our destination at Serchu tented camp. Altitude 13,975 ft (4255m)
DAY 6: SARCHU TO RUMTSE/ PANG. Today we tackle the zigzag "21 loops of Gata" at 15,030ft up the canyon wall. Once you reach the summit of the Nakeela Pass its downhill to Whisky Nula. The day passes some beautiful arid mountain scenery of the high ranges, before starting to ascend the second highest pass on the Manali-Leh highway, the Lachulung-La. The road here is likely to be the worst of the trip with a distinct lack of tarmac, it's very gravelly and there are many loose stones. We have a long descent to Pang down a steep sided gorge followed by an 8km switchback climb before reaching the flat top of the Moray Plains. This barren area is known for its extreme temperatures in the morning and evening, fast winds and sandstorms. The only sign of life is the hardy Nomadic Changpas who can be seen tending to their yaks in this most desolate place before the world's second highest pass, the Tanglang La at 5,360m.
DAY 7: RUMTSE TO LEH. As you continue the descent to Upshi the scenery changes dramatically and you arrive in a fertile irrigated valley by a river dotted by pretty villages and Stupas. The spectacular red colored mountains around add to the beauty and richness of the scenery. Crossing the Indus River the road improves as we follow the other road that ushers us towards Leh. This is an easy ride as we pass the Thiksey Monastery and the Chortens Garden before we reach Leh.
DAY 8: AT LEISURE IN LEH. Taking a rest from the bikes today you have the chance to explore Leh and some of its twisting narrow streets, explore some of the more famous sites, such as Leh Palace or the Sakar Gompa monastery. Accommodation: Guest house.
DAY 9: SIGHTSEEING IN INDUS VALLEY. Today you will spend a full day visiting many of the important places in the wide Indus valley. This will certainly include Shey (the Palace of the old Ladakhi kings), Thikse (a large monastery which contains a three-storey-high statue of Chamba, the Buddha of the future), and Hemis (the largest monastery in Ladakh). At the latter, ask to see the temple in the rear, which houses the Buddhas that have ‘spoken’ in the past. Overnight in Leh.
SHEY PALACE (15 km from Leh) The old summer palace of the kings of Ladakh was built about 550 years ago by Lhachen Palgyigon, the first king of Ladakh. It stands next to the remains of a larger construction on the east side of a hill which runs south-east towards the Indus. From the palace you can see over the fertile Indus plain north-east to Tikse Gompa and over the Indus to the Zanskar mountain range. The old Shey palace has the largest golden Buddha statue in Ladakh in its gompa. The statue is worked out of gold and gilded copper sheets, stands 12 meters high and has blue hair. It was erected by King Dalden Namgyal in the middle of the 17th century. The most important moment in the construction of such a figure is when the eyes are painted in and the statue can 'see'. No artist or monk would dare to look the Buddha in the eye so the pupils are painted over the artist's shoulder, with his back to the idol.
THIKSE GOMPA (17 km from Leh) The 500-year-old Thikse monastery, perched on a hill high above the Indus, has the largest contingent of monks in Ladakh. On the right of the entrance to the main courtyard a new chapel houses an enormous 15 meter high seated Buddha figure. About 100 yellow-cap monks belong to the gompa. If you get there by 6.30am you can witness the daily morning prayers, but there are also prayers closer to noon, preceded by long, mournful sounds from the horns on the roof.
HEMIS GOMPA (45 km from Leh) Hemis Gompa is famous far beyond the borders of Ladakh for its Festival. This takes place every year with mask dances on the 9th to 11th day of the fifth Tibetan month. Hemis also has a gigantic thangka, one of the largest in the world, which is only displayed to the public every 12 years at the Festival. Hemis Gompa is the largest and one of the most important in Ladakh quite apart from its annual festival. It was founded about 350 years ago by Stagtshang Raschen, who was invited to Ladakh by King Singe Namgyal.
DAY 10-11: LEH TO THE KHARDUNG-LA PASS TO NUBRA VALLEY.
Today we set of for the Khardung - La Pass and Nubra valley as soon as the light comes up. This is the highest motorable road in the world taking you to a dizzy 5,600m! The view from the top is spectacular, stretching from the Indus valley in the South over the endless peaks and ridges of the Zanskar range to the giants of the Saser Massif in the North. We cross over the pass then descend towards Nubra valley.
The average altitude of the valley is about 10,000 ft. above the sea level. The Sasser Pass and the famous Karakoram Pass lie to the northwest of the valley which connects Nubra with Xinjiang, China. Historically, this was a critical trade pass from East Turkestan and Central Asia. Along the Nubra at river lie the quaint villages of Sumur, Tiger, Tirith and Panamik. Sumur is also known for an important Gompa or monastery called Samstanling, while Panamik is noted for its hot springs. Across the Nubra at Panamik, is an isolated Ansa Gompa located on a hill. Most of the people are of mixed Tibetan and Central Asia origin and speak varieties of the Balti language. The Nubra valley is a fertile tract of land producing a variety of fruits and nuts. The beautiful village of Bogdang is also located in the valley. It is famous for its people, who have startling blue eyes, auburn hair and ruddy cheeks against the typical mongoloid features of the Ladakhis. Local lore has it that they were a Greek tribe who came in search of Jesus Christ’s tomb and settled here. Hunder, a village in Nubra valley, is famous for its roaming camels.
DAY 12: NUBRA-LEH. We take the same route back up over Khardung-la pass, with a stop at Smastanling Gonpa en route
DAY 13: FLY TO DELHI. Our representative will meet you and transfer you to your hotel.
DAY 14: RELAX IN DELHI. International flights usually leave after midnight, so sleep in and relax. Leave for the airport about 10 pm.
DAY 15: FLY HOME
LAND COST: on request:
- All Accommodation in Delhi, Manali & Leh with breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Camping accommodations as per the program itinerary, with all meals during the bike program
- All monastery entrance fees, wild life fees, camping fees and restricted area permits
- English-speaking Bike guide throughout the trip.
- Service of cook and attendants
- Supporting jeep with bike repair kits
- All Camping equipment including North Face or equivalent sleeping tents, foam mattresses, mess tents, dining tent & toilet tent
- All transportation from pick up to drop off at the Delhi International Airport
What’s not included:
- Medical and evacuation insurance
- Miscellaneous expenses and tipping to the staff
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and snack food in Leh and Delhi
- International Air ticket to Delhi
- Motor Bike (if you require a bike, please inform us in advance and will provide one)
- A Single Supplement
- Laundry and other services not mentioned in the package. If you need any additional arrangements please let us know
IMPORTANT TREK NOTES:
Whilst every effort is made to keep to the above itinerary, clients will hopefully appreciate that this is Adventure Travel in a remote mountain region. There will quite likely be changes to the itinerary in terms of anything from on-the-spot choice of campsite to when a rest day is taken. Weather conditions, road conditions, vehicle breakdowns off the beaten track, local availability of horses or yaks, can contribute to the need for changes. The Trek guide will do everything in his power to see that you are inconvenienced as little as possible in such circumstances. Timings are approximate.
© Yama Adventures, 2017.