This trip is a true expedition fully supported by local staff and cargo mules that may carry your bike in the most difficult route sections. It is also integrated with a trekking program, if you want to take a non biker with you. Full adventure! The landscape is unique and you can feel, breathe and touch this remote world of high altitude and wilderness.
Level: Sporty. Total distance: 250 km/155 miles. Shortest day: 9 km/6 miles. Longest day: 50 km/31 miles. Average riding time: 5-8 hours/day, in altitude maximum climbing in one day: 700 m/2300 ft. Maximum altitude: 5100 m/16732 ft. Accommodations: budget (camping, B and B or huts).
Day 1: New Delhi-Himalayas (Manali). Meeting at Kulu airport (recommend early morning flight Delhi-Kulu). Transfer from Kulu airport to Manali (30 km) and hotel check-in. Afternoon bike set-up and warm up ride. Visit to Old Manali and Vashist temple with its hot springs. Overnight: Guest house in Manali (2050 meters).
Day 2: Manali - Keylong (50 km/31 miles). We will travel first by 4x4 until Rothang pass (3950 meters) 45 km outside Manali. From this pass we can enjoy a wide panoramic view with mountains rising far above the clouds. A breathtaking site! The downhill ahead is a must, so we will mount our bikes and ride all the way down until Khoksar (15 km), where we will check our passports at the police control. We are now in Lahaul valley, where we will cycle for the next 35 km until Keylong (3156 meters) passing by villages such as Tandi or Sissu. Overnight: Guest house Keylong
Day 3: Keylong - Palamo (35 km/22 miles/4-5 hours). The ride will take 4-5 hours and will cover 35 km until we reach Palamo at 3690 meters. The last 12 km, after the police control and a hot tea in Darcha (3300 meters) will be made on an unpaved road, going uphill until reaching Palamo where we will camp. For those feeling in great shape, there is the possibility for a detour to check Darcha main village. This is a good easy ride to acclimatize. Overnight: Camping.
Day 4: Palamo-Zanskar Sumdo (9 km/4 miles/4-5 hours). Ride of approximately 9 km to Zanskar Sumdo (3940 meters). Still in the process of acclimatization we will ride slowly, enjoying the first ride away from civilization. We will ride a gentle uphill leading us to a massive group of boulders signing the end of the road. Here we will need to carry the bike on the shoulders for half km until we reach the camping site. If you are not feeling the altitude, you can enjoy some single tracks nearby the camping and take some artistic photos over a bridge. Overnight: Camping.
Day 5: Zanskar Sumdo - Chumik Nakpo (12 km/7.5 miles/5-6 hours). This is the first day of pure single tracks. The more adventurous can carry their own bike, even though only 2 thirds of the track are possible to cycle. The others can load the bike on horses and simply enjoy the views. The day starts with a steep climb followed by snaky single tracks until we reach Chumik Nakpo (4400 meters), our Shingo La base camp. In between we will have the chance to have lunch in one of the beautiful meadows, refreshed by pure Himalayan springs. Overnight: Camping
Day 6: Chumik Nakpo - Shingo La-Kargyak (30 km/19 miles/6-8 hours). Early breakfast. From the camping to Shingo La pass at 5100 meters its 8.5 km. From here only one way: down! Trekking and MTB groups will be together at the pass and from here will split for the next couple of days. The first 5 km until Lakong camp will be very difficult and technical, but from there will be pure joy! This is the hardest day of the trip with impressive 30 km and a pass over 5100 meters. We will sleep at Kargyak (4150 meters), the most remote village of the valley with roughly 18 houses. Overnight: Camping.
Day 7: Kargyak - Shanka-Kargyak (optional): 16 km/8 miles/4-5 hours). This will be the “rest” day to give the possibility to interact with the local people. For that we will do a round trip visiting villages that are out of the beaten path. From Kargyak we will follow the stream until the scenic Shin village with its barely fields, place 100 meters above the valley. From there we will head west in direction of Thangso and for last Shanka (4200 meters), a charming little village with 4 families, that receive nearly no visit from foreigners.
You will be surprised by their hospitality. If this is not enough you can try to win the prize of best MTB climber of Zanskar, trying one of the new half meter wide perfect single tracks until 5400 meters starting from Shin. Not feeling to ride. Do some volunteering at the Sun School for Kargyak, you will love the kids! At the evening a special party at villagers house.Overnight: Camping.
Day 8: Kargyak - Phuktal Monastery/Purne (26 km/16 miles/6-8 hours). A perfect ride through a “dramatic” Himalayan valley. Enjoy the smooth single tracks that will take you through the lost Buddhist villages of this valley, such as Testa, Tablay or Kuru. This will be an easy ride, but you can’t be impressed with the over hangs on your side! After passing by Purne (3900 meters), our camping place, we will head to Phuktal Gompa (3800 meters), one of the most impressive Gompas (Buddhist temple) in the Ladakh Kingdom. The monastery, situated on a limestone cliff is impressive with an assembly hall carved out of a huge cave. Overnight: Camping.
Day 9: Purne - Reru (25 km/15 miles/3-5 hours). Cross small canyons of Pudding stones leading to Ichar village. The trail over hangs Kargyak river and is beautifully hard going with single tracks on vertiginous slopes. Cross the villages of Cha, Kaydang, Hamuni and Surle. At the arrival to Reru (3800) and after a final hard climb of 100 meters, immerse yourself in the crystal clear streams near the camping site. Overnight: Camping.
Day 10: Reru - Padum (20 km/12.5 miles/2-4 hours). This will be an easy ride with time to enjoy the last Buddhist villages of this memorable trip. On the way we will have the chance to visit Bardan Gompa dating back to 17th century (8 km from Reru). Belonging to the Dugpa-Kargyud monastic order, it was one of the first centres from the order to be set up in Zanskar. Near Bardan Monastery lies the smaller Muney monastery, which is well known for its art treasures. Overnight: Guest house in Padum (3500 meters).
Day 11: Padum (optional): 32 km/20 miles/3-6 hours). Free day in Padum. It will be the return to what is the closest look to modern civilization in the region: internet, restaurants, shops and already a bit of Indian chaos. If this is not what you were really looking for, you can go for a ride until the striking Tsondhe monastery 16 km away.
At the monastery you will be able to enjoy an amazing view over the valley with the little barley fields that compose an astonishing colourful puzzle. Enjoy the final uphill of 300 meters over an unpaved road and why not the downhill on the other side of the monastery through a single track. Overnight: Guest house in Padum.
Day 12: Padum - Kargil (transfer): 110 km/69 miles/6-8 hours). Transfer to Kargil (2650 meters). This will be a full day to cover the 110 km from Padum to Kargil. In between the astonishing views over 7000 m snow peaks, in particular the famous Nun and Kun. The road includes the Pensi La pass with 4400 meters before reaching Rangdum (3600 meters) with its remarkable gompa.
Overnight: Hotel in Kargil.
Day 13: Kargil - Leh (transfer): 230 km/140 miles/7-8 hours). Last day of drive before arriving to the ancient capital of Ladakh - Leh at 3522 meters. It will take us 7-8 hrs to make this road that includes Fotu La pass (4094 meters). On the way we will still have the opportunity to visit the famous Alchi monastery. Overnight: Hotel in Leh.
Day 14: Leh. Free Day in Leh, capital of Ladakh. Last opportunity to buy souvenirs. But don’t miss the chance to visit the Palace, with a similar architecture to the famous Potala Palace in Lhasa and the interesting mosque with Buddhist influences, the oldest in the region and unique in the world. Overnight: Hotel in Leh.
Day 15: Leh to New Delhi. Transfer to airport to fly back to Delhi. On arrival at Delhi, transfer to downtown (optional). Free afternoon for city tour in Old and New Delhi. Return flight during night.
Airfare is not included in the tour price.
Also see tour packages in:
Asia India Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring Cultural Journey