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Cycling is one fine mode to transport you from one place to another, and let’s face it- it’s probably one of the most fun sports activities to undertake. The first reason why it is so much fun is that it requires just the bare minimum to undertake. All that you need is your cycle to take you through one of the best experiences. If you add on an exquisite natural trail through picturesque locations, the cycling experience becomes one of its kinds and the most cherished one for a long time. The Manali to Leh cycling expedition perhaps does just this to the participating cyclists. With most of the cycling stretch positioned at almost 14000feet above sea level, the experience is both challenging and delightful for the cyclists.
The cycling route extends over 550 kilometers between Manali and Leh, and will take about 10-12 days to cover over the bike. The best part is that the journey would passes through many high, and well known mountain passes such as Lachung La, Baralacha La, Tangiang La, and the very famous Rohtang pass. As the cycle ride goes through the Lahaul valley from Manali, the route becomes absolutely stunning with great natural landscape views to gaze and wonder at. However, the stretch post Darcha is pretty much an untapped patch of the wild, which has almost no permanent villages till the Tangiang La pass.
This cycling expedition is not for the novice cyclers as the entire stretch has almost no permanent conveniences or facilities. The only place to sleep along the way is make-shift sleeping areas run by local teashop owners. The twelve days during the cycling trip will be a combination of smoldering hot days, rocky terrain, extremely chilly nights, and as if all this wasn’t challenging enough, you obviously have the high altitude to make your peace with
Day 1 : Arrival in Manali, Cycling distance : 0 kms, Altitude: 1,950 m (6,400 ft)
Check-in to the booked hotel or orientation camp set up by Bikat Adventures. Proceedings will start after lunch with a round of introductions for the participants and organizers. The tour leader will brief about the expedition and after that fellow cyclists will be free to explore around Manali.. Overnight at the hotel/ camp.
Day 2 : Manali-Marhi
The first ascent of the trip prepares up for the tough ride ahead and takes you through the panoramic view of pine and deodar trees. We will take an early start to beat the traffic rush destined for Rohtang Pass. One has to negotiate many hairpin bends to reach Marhi. Marhi offers picturesque camping sites and prepares up for the muddy ascent of Rohtang Pass. Overnight in camps.
Day 3 : Marhi-Sissu
We start the day by finishing the 18km ascent to the Rohtang pass (3980m) and there are some lovely scenic views on the horizon of snow covered peaks and glaciers of Spiti valley. After a refreshing halt at Rohtang, a steady descent takes us to Gramphu on the highway along Chandra river. From here we will encounter some unmetalled stretches of flat road as we cross the raging torrent of the river at Khoksar and continue a short and easy ride to Sissu in the foothills of the Pir Panjal. Sissu (also known as Khagling) is a small town in the Lahaul valley and located on the right bank of Chandra river.
Day 4 : Sissu to Jispa
The day starts with a steady climb up to Gondla, 244m above Sissu. From Gondla there’s a fast descent to Tandi which is situated at the confluence of the Chandra River (flowing down from the north) and Bhaga River, which merge to form the Chandra- Bhaga River that later becomes known as Chenab downstream in Jammu and Kashmir . We cross the towns of Tandi and Keylong and ride on a low gradient all the way up till Jispa, where the river opens out into a wide valley. We camp on the banks of the Bhaga River.
Day 5 : Jispa to Zing Zing Bar
The road climbs steadily to Darcha some 10km from Jispa and then the climb to Patseo begins. The terrain is much more arid and the road is dusty and rocky. We can now sense the isolation of the area, with a few sheep dotted around and begin to enter the territory of the Lamas. In the far horizon you can see the bleak and awesome spectacle of the higher Himalayan ranges. The steep ascent to Baralacha-La starts at Zing Zing bar.
Day 6 : Zing Zing Bar to Sarchu via Baralacha La - 50 km
The day starts early and participants ascend the mountains up to the Baralacha La at 5030m. We cross Deepak Tal situated at 14,000 ft with the snow-capped Mulkila peaks forming a scenic backdrop. The pass is arid with no vegetation, the sides of the mountains looking more like a quarry covered with loose rocks and scree. The route descends gradually to the wide Sarchu Plains.
Day 7 : Sarchu to Whisky Nala via Nakee La - 47 km
The day starts with some relatively easy cycling but soon we are negotiating ‘21 loops of Gata’ that zigzag all the way to the summit of Nakila at 5050m. A short downhill section and you reach Whisky Nala. Camp here for the night.
Day 08 : Whisky Nala to Debring/Tso Kar via Lachung La - 81 km
We start the day with a 7km ascent to Taglang La at 5150 followed by a long descent along a steep gorge to reach Pang. From Pang, an 8 km switchback climb leads us to the flat top of the Moray Plains at 4700m. 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 in this most desolate place. Our first choice for camping will be Tso kar lake which is short detour from Main highway. In case this route is closed due to some reason we will camp at Debring which is Just before the ascent of Tanglang La ,world's second highest motorable pass at 5,360m.
Day 9 : Tso Kar to Lato via Taglang La - 53 km
A challenging climb that leads to the World’s second highest motorable pass in the world- Tanglang- La at 5360m. More vast openness and isolation from the rest of the world. This is a challenge indeed, but truly satisfying when you reach the top, before we set off down the exhilarating descent to the village of Lato. The first view of Lato will mesmerize you as you will watch the beautiful green patches of small Ladakhi farms, the Gompas, and barren mountains in the backdrop
Day 10 : Lato to Leh - 70 km
As we continue the scenery changes dramatically, we arrive in a fertile valley that is dotted with pretty villages and Stupas. The awesome red and green coloured mountains that stretch for miles add to the beauty of the spectacular scenery. You can actually see the tectonic forces at work. Crossing the Indus River the road improves dramatically as we follow the road towards Leh. This is an easy ride as we pass the Thiksey Monastery and the Chortens Garden entering Leh itself. Back to civilization and all its home comforts. Congratulations you have just crossed four major mountain passes and ridden over 480 kms.
Day 11 : Leh to Khardung La - 40 km; Return to Leh by vehicle
We will set of for Khardung La early morning just as the sun comes up. Cycling 45km and gaining 2000m, this is the ultimate challenge of the trip. It is the highest motorable road in the world taking you to a dizzy 5602m! 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 the true achievement as you finish the trip with your final satisfying descent. After a small celebration the trip will end by the evening.Hotel stay on this day is included in the fee. You can return from Leh as per your convenience. Please book your return flight accordingly.
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