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India : Spiti - Ladakh

Itinerary


Day 1: Arrive Chandigarh - Shimla - Rampur

You will be met at the airport on arrival and transferred to Rampur, passing through Shimla, capital of the Himachal Pradesh region. Surrounded by green hills with snow-capped peaks Shimla is a popular tourist destination during the summer months. The British regarded Shimla as the summer capital of India and traces of the colonial era remain. The name Shimla is believed locally to originate from Shyamali Devi, a re-incarnation of the Goddess Kali. After a stop to look around Shimla we continue on to Rampur our destination for the night.  This evening we will have a group briefing. 

Altitude: 350m (1,148ft)
Accommodation: Hotel


Day 2: Rampur to Reckong Peo

Today we continue our transfer by vehicle to Reckong Peo, along a beautiful scenic route. 

Accommodation: Hotel (B)
Altitude: 2,290m (7,513ft) 


Day 3: Reckong Peo – Acclimatisation Day

Known simply as Peo by the local inhabitants Reckong Peo is 260 km (162 miles) from Shimla at an altitude of 2,290 m. 8km from Rekong Peo is Kalpa (formely known as Chini) A picturesque village with gorgeous views of the Kinner Kailash massif that has changed little in the last 500 years. With panoramic views from behind the Chorten (Tibetan Pagoda) at the top of the hill. The Narayan Nagini Temple Complex, has shrines of Hindu, Buddhist and local deities. The "Chilgoja" (a kind of dry fruit) tree is found in abundance here. A member of the pine tree family, the fruit is enclosed in a soft skin. Other than Kalpa, "Chilgoja" grows only in Turkey and Iraq. You have time today to visit the village.

Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)
Altitude: 2,290m (7,513ft)
 


Day 4: Reckong Peo - Puh

We set off today on mostly flat road with a few gentle ascents to Puh passing apple and apricot orchards. At the village of Akpa our inner line permits will be checked which takes about half an hour. From Akpa there is a mixture of newly paved and unpaved road and we have to make our way with care as the area is prone to landslides. We finish the day with a 6 km climb up a series of zigzags to the village of Puh.

Cycling Distance: 68km (42 miles)
Altitude: 2,950m (9,678ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)
 


Day 5: Puh to Nako 

Our route today is a mixture of steep up and down as far as Dubling Bridge. From here it is combination of rougher road and new seal to the start of the Spiti Valley. After crossing the bridge into the valley we ascend a spectacular narrow route cut into the vertical rock face to the tiny village of Ka, then ascend a series of hairpin bends all the way to Nako – all on newly sealed road.  We have time this evening for a lakeside stroll or to visit a 700 year-old monastery built here. On a clear night here you will enjoy an amazing starry sky.

Cycling Distance: 50km (31 miles)
Altitude: 3,900m (12,795ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D) 


Day 6: Nako to Tabo  

Today begins with a gentle uphill ride for around 3 km to Malling Nalla.  We have a steep drop for the next 20 km on narrow surfaced road, with bare rock face on one side and a sheer drop on the other; near the bottom are a long series of exhillerating switchbacks. The bends are very tight and this is a thrilling stretch of cycling. The next 8km are on fairly flat road with a few rough patches. At Sumdo there will be another inner line permit inspection. Pare Chu River flows in here from Tibet and the valley opens out into wider terrain. In Tabo you can visit the Monastery built in 996 A.D.

Cycling Distance: 69km (43 miles) 
Altitude: 3400m (11,154ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)


Day 7: Tabo to Kaza

From Tabo we begin on mainly flat unpaved road with a few downhill stretches. There are stunning views of the Spiti valley. At Schichling we stop to visit Dhankar Monastery (1100 years old). The road is a mix of surfaced and rough stretches on mainly flat terrain to Rangrik. From here we continue on a further 5 km to Kaza.

Cycling Distance: 48km (30 miles)   
Altitude: 3,500m (11,482ft)
Accommodation: Camping (B,L,D)
 


Day 8 Kaza Rest day

There are a few places of interest nearby you may like to visit today. Ki Monastery (17 km from Rangrik) is an 11th C training monastery for Lammas and home to around 100 monks and nuns.  There are ancient Buddhist scrolls and paintings which were brought here from Tibet over 500 years ago. Another 5km takes us up to Kibber Village – the world’s highest village accessible by vehicle, the village is very close to the Tibetan border so it is usual for army officials to be in the area.  Kaza – the biggest town in the valley has internet (intermittently), an ATM, a German bakery, and phone facilities.

Altitude: 3,500m (11,482ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B)


Day 9: Kaza to Losar

We begin on fairly good road passing through lovely traditional villages: Hull, Pangmo, and Kyato. Towards the end of the day we are cycling on rougher rocky surface. We camp tonight at Losar at the Base of the Kunzum Pass.


Cycling Distance: 45km (28 miles)
Altitude: 
 
4,250m (13,943ft)
Accommodation: Camping (B,L,D)


Day 10: Losar to Chattru

We begin with a long uphill stretch to Kunzum La Pass (4590m). At the top of the pass it is customary to perform a respectful circuit around the stupa and Kunzum Mata (goddess) Temple and ask for continued safe travels. There are beautiful views of the Zanskar range and the Lahaul Valley. Once over the pass we have a final downhill stretch of 12km to Bata from here the rocky challenging road runs along the Chandra River to our camp site at Chattru; a small village in a beautiful narrow valley and a green oasis amongst barren surroundings.

The road today is the roughest of the trip with a distinct lack of tarmac and embedded and loose rocks.

Cycling Distance: 48km (30 miles)  
Altitude: 3,500m (11,483ft)
Accommodation: Camping (B,L,D)


Day 11: Chattru – Sissu

On our journey today we climb steadily on a relatively good road, first with a series of zigzags then sidle to meet the main Manali to Leh road. In places we negotiate streams that flow across the road.  From the junction it is a rutted dirt (possibly mud) road down to the village of Khoksar and another permit check. We continue on a good, mostly sealed and downhill road to Sissu in the foothills of the Pir Panjal range.

Cycling distance: 48km (30 miles)  
Altitude: 3,500m (11,483ft)
Accommodation: Camping (B,L,D)


Day 12: Sissu to Jispa 

We set off with a short ride to Keylong keeping high on the valley side with several large up and downs on mostly good roads. You will notice that the terrain is becoming much more arid.  From Keylong we start with a steady climb and then the day ends with a long downhill into the hamlet of Jispa where we end the day on the bikes. This will be a relatively easy day of cycling. 

Cycling Distance:  48.5km (30 miles)
Total Climb: 951m (3,120ft)
Total Descent: 685m (2,247ft) 
Altitude: 3,350m (10,990ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 13: Jispa to Zing Zing Bar

Leaving Jispa we come out of a gorge and briefly ride downhill before starting the ascent to Patseo crossing some streams that flow across the road. We begin to get a sense of the remoteness of the area, with just a few sheep dotted here and there. Travelling on we enter territory occupied by Lamas. On the horizon you can see the bleak, awesome spectacle of the Higher Himalayan ranges. From Patse we continue our climb for a further 10km to Zing Zing Bar then on a further 5 km up a series of zigzags to our campsite. Road conditions are good – mostly sealed with short sections under repair.

Cycling Distance:  36.5km (22.5 miles)
Total Climb: 1,158m (3,799ft)
Toal Descent: 172m (564ft) 
Altitude: 4,020m (13,188ft)
Accommodation: Camping (B,L,D)


Day 14: Zing Zing Bar to Sarchu

The hard long climb to the Baralacha La Pass continues today. However the tough cycling is rich in rewards as we travel through wild, scenic country. The pass itself is arid with no vegetation, the mountainside resembles a quarry, covered with loose rocks and gravel. Descending into the gorge area of Bharatpur we cross mountain rivers en route to our campsite 6km before Sarchu. Tonight you will relish the magnificent surroundings from our campsite in a wide open valley surrounded by impressive mountains.

Cycling Distance:  41.5km (26 miles)
Total Climb: 840m (2,755ft)
Total Descent: 658m (2,518ft) 
 Altitude: 4,255m (13,960ft)
Accommodation: Camping (B,L,D)


Day 15 Sarchu – rest day

Sarchu is on the boundary of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir between the Baralacha La and Lachlung La passes, Sarchu is important mainly due to its location on the Leh-Manali highway. It is a busy stopping point between May and September when the Leh-Manali road is accessible. An important trading point on the ancient Silk Route, Sarchu is still a vibrant market place for traders, nomadic tribes and adventure travellers.

Altitude: 4,255m (13,960ft) 
Accommodation: Camping (B)


Day 16: Sarchu to Whisky Nullah 

The day starts with some easy cycling along the river valley but we are soon tackling the twenty-one zigzag Gata Loops 15,030ft up the canyon wall. These have a good gradient and road surface but abiove these is a steeper push to the summit of the Nakeela Pass. Then its downhill to Whisky Nullah through beautiful arid mountain scenery of the high ranges.

Cycling Distance: 83.5km (52 miles)
Total Climb: 1,274m (4,180ft)
Total Descent: 1,100m (3,608ft) 
Altitude: 4,750m (15,583ft)
Accommodation: Camping (B,L,D)


Day 17: Whisky Nullah to Tso Kar Lake

We begin today ascending the ascending the zigzags visible from our campsite to reach the second highest pass on the Manali-Leh highway;  Lachulung La. The recently sealed road has only a few rough patches. 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 their yaks and sheep in this most desolate of places. We continue across the plane, mostly downhill on a very good road which even has a white centreline! We turn off onto a rough sandy track for 5 km to reach our campsite near the shores of the Tso Kar salt lake.

Cycling Distance: 44.5km (28 miles)
Total Climb: 321m (1,053ft)
Total Descent: 252m (826ft) 
Altitude: 4,650m (15,255ft)
Accommodation: Camping (B,L,D)


Day 18: Tso Kar Lake to Lato

This is a challenge indeed, as we head to the world's second highest pass, the Taglang La at 5,328m. A tough day but road conditions are good and mostly sealed the whole way and it is truly satisfying when you reach the top. We set off again down the exhilarating 1,200m descent of switchbacks to the village of Rumptse. There are tiny villages as we enter into populated and more fertile terrain. The air feels warmer as we cycle on to the village of Lato nestled under immense rock faces.

Cycling Distance: 70.5km (44 miles)
Total Climb: 493m (1,617ft)
Total Descent: 1,006m (3,300ft) 
Altitude: 3,650m (11,975ft)
Accommodation: Camping (B,L,D)
 


Day 19: Lato to Leh

Continuing uphill to Upshi, the scenery changes dramatically; we enter a fertile irrigated river valley dotted with pretty villages and Stupas. The spectacular red-hued mountains around us add to the beauty and richness of our environment. Crossing the Indus River the road improves as we head towards Leh. This is an easy stretch, we pass the Thiksey Monastery and the Chortens Garden en route.

Cycling Distance: 69.5km (43 miles)
Total Climb: 525m (1,722ft)
Total Descent: 1,056m (3,464ft) 
Altitude: 3,500m (11,482ft)
Accommodation: Guest house (B,L)


Day 20: Leh

Taking a rest from the bikes today you have the chance to wander around the twisting narrow streets of Leh. A popular tourist destination, there are many cafes and sites of historical interest to explore such as Leh Palace or the Sakar Gompa monastery. 

Altitude: 3,500m (11,482ft) 
Accommodation: Guest house (B) 


Day 21: Leh to The Khardung-La Pass

We set off for the Khardung - La Pass at daybreak. Cycling twenty-six miles and gaining 2,000m (6,600ft), this is the ultimate challenge of the trip. It 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. You can feel proud of a true achievement as you finish the trip with your final thrilling descent.

Cycling Distance:  79.5 km (49 miles)
Total Climb: 2,165m (7,103ft)
Total Descent: 2,165m (7,103ft) 

Altitude: 5,600m (18,373ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L)


Day 22: Leh to home

You will be transferred to the airport in Leh for a morning flight back home. 
Altitude: 3,500m (11,482ft) 
Meals: Breakfast

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