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High Passes of Ladakh – Himalayas

High Passes of Ladakh – Himalayas

£1490 per person

Grade 4 Cycle TourWe are proud to offer our new cycle tour in the Ladakh Range a beautiful desert landscape in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. The cycling is essentially taking place in what can be best described as the western Himalayas. We believe you will find it an exhilarating, challenging and life-affirming adventure, it is ideally suited for clients who have tested themselves on our Lands End to John O’Groats tour or our flagship Road to Vienna and who are looking for something exotic and inspiring.

Ladakh is a beautiful region renowned for its stunning mountain landscape and Buddhist culture; it is often called Little Tibet or the Land of Many Passes. The cycling holiday is played out against the backdrop of the magnificent Ladakh Range, which is a segment of the Karakoram mountain range that spans the borders of Afghanistan, China, India, Pakistan and Tajikistan. Our carefully researched cycling holiday has been designed to offer the best that the region has to offer, we will be cycling over two of the highest mountain road passes in the world, the Wari La at 5280 metres and the unforgettable Khardung La at 5602 metres above sea level. We will also be cycling alongside three Himalayan rivers, the Shoyok (the river of death) a tributary of the Indus, the Indus itself, which at 3,180 kilometres is one of the longest rivers in Asia, eventually flowing into the Arabian Sea near Karachi and the Zangskar another tributary of the Indus. Besides the amazing scenery and crisp cool desert air we will be pedaling through valleys where time appears to have stood still.

Traversing the region by bicycle means that we can observe at close quarters some truly spectacular scenery and get the chance to interact with the villagers who reside in this tough, arid landscape and make their living from pastoral farming by irrigating small plots of land to grow buckwheat and barley. One of the true joys of cycling in this region is also the opportunity to see some interesting animals such as the Asiatic Ibex, Himalayan marmot, the dzo which is a cross between the yak and domestic cattle, the occasional Himalayan blue sheep (also called a bharal and which is the staple diet of the snow leopard) as well as the kiang which is the largest of the wild asses, a native of the Tibetan plateau and only found in Jammu and Kashmir.

The trip starts with a flight to Leh at 3500m above sea level, the first couple of days will be taken up with acclimatisation and orientation rides around Leh.

We then head northwest into the Sham Valley crossing some small passes and heading as far as Tingmosgam before turning back south and then east to Alchi, in Lower Ladakh, famous for its nine hundred-year-old monastery. We continue east to Stok Palace before turning north and crossing the formidable Wari La at 5280m, with a spectacular descent from the Wari La under our belts we pedal alongside the Shyok river and enter the serene Nubra valley, this is notable as the place where the Karakorum and the Ladakh ranges are separated from each other and it is the closest we’ll get to Tibet. The last full day of cycling takes us over the highest drivable mountain road, the Khardung La at 5602 metres above sea-level, and the swift descent back to Leh marks the end of an epic adventure in Ladakh, all that remains is a well-deserved celebration meal.

Highlights

  • Cycling in the Himalayas
  • Crossing highest motor-able road Khardungla 5602m
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Buddhist culture

Terrain & Experience

Most of the road is Tarmac but there are some stretches that are not in good condition. This trip has been graded as Tough due to some technical riding involved on the days when we cross High Mountain passes around 5000m. Altitude also plays an important role and this adds to the challenge. However, there are fairly good riding conditions on most of the days. A prior off-road riding experience and good fitness levels are recommended.

Accommodation

In Leh, the hotel is simple but clean with en suite facilities. In the more remote areas we will use home-stays. In Delhi we stay in a comfortable hotel.

We stay in guest houses with twin rooms and en-suite bathrooms. The price of the cycle tour is based on a twin shared basis. A single supplement is payable on request. Please contact the office for availability and price.

Meals

All breakfasts are included and some lunches and dinners as specified in the Tour Plan. You can buy a meal for 600 rupees (£8), excluding alcohol. Your leader will run a kitty for water and snacks whilst cycling. Please allow about £40 for this.

Luggage & Support Vehicle

Cargo Jeep/truck will transport your luggage, all you have to carry is what you need for the day: waterproofs, fleece, hat, camera, water bottle etc. There will be a support vehicle for all the cycling days.

Flights

Flights costs are not included in the tour, however we are happy to give you advice or book your flights for you.

Please note: The trip starts with Delhi to Leh flight on day 1. Most flights to Leh depart very early in the morning, so before booking international travel do confirm with us. Any transfers to the airport on this day from within Delhi could be arranged free of charge. If bringing your own bike, airlines will charge additional baggage fee.

Tour Plan

The route of this tour is flexible and should be seen as a guide only. Local conditions, weather or fitness could lead to changes in our daily plans. All times and distances are approximate.

Download the Ladakh Itinerary

10 days of cycling
Approx 445 miles Age
  • Destination
  • Depart from
    Delhi, India
  • Return from
    Delhi, India
  • Road surfaces
    Lots of hills. Tarmac, Off road (conditions can vary).
  • Bike Type
    Mountain bike
  • Included
    High Passes of Ladakh – Himalayas
    Accommodation
    Lunch
    Cycling guide
    Vehicle support
    Baggage transfer
    Bike hire
    Airport transfers
  • Not Included
    Evening meals (unless specified)
    GPX files
    Travel to start & from finish
    International flights
    Travel insurance
    Visas
1
Arrive in Delhi. Fly to Leh.
Most of our clients will be arriving into Delhi in the early hours of the morning. Our guides will be on hand to meet you at Delhi Airport and help with all the formalities required to take the connecting flight to Leh, which lies at an elevation of 3505 metres above sea-level. Leh nestles in a side valley to the north of the Indus and was once an important trading nexus between India and Central Asia. Up until the mid twentieth century it was common to see yak trains setting off from Leh Bazaar to traverse the Karakoram La to Yarkand and Kashgar. Having safely arrived into Leh you will be transferred to your hotel in the town centre and the rest of the afternoon is free for rest and recuperation. In the early evening we will meet for a walk around the town taking in sights such as Leh Palace, former home of the Ladakhi royal family. We will also be exploring the labyrinth of alleyways and houses in the old town at the base of Namgayal Hill before returning to our hotel for a comfortable night’s sleep. (Hotel. B,L,D)
2
Based in Leh. Local acclimatisation ride.
We have a gentle start to the day, we begin with a briefing from our guides, before enjoying an acclimatisation walk around the old town. In the afternoon we will be fitted out with our bikes and putting them to the test with a short ride to Leh Palace, Sankar and Shanti Stupa before returning to our hotel for dinner. (Hotel. B,L,D)
3
Based in Leh. Local acclimatisation ride
Cycling distance: 30 kilometres (19 miles)
After breakfast we cycle out to Thiksay Gompa (monastery), which is approximately 19 kilometres (12 miles) to the east of Leh and situated at 3,600 metres above sea-level. Thiksay Gompa is the largest in central Ladakh and houses some examples of statues, wall paintings and swords, dominating the sky-line its temple compound is built on the lines of Potala Palace Gompa in Lhasa, Tibet. En-route to Thiksay we will pedal through Sabu, Choklamsar and Shey, the later notable for its ruined fort and temple with a huge Buddha sculpture. With an afternoon cycling back to Leh we should be well acclimatised for the coming adventure. (Hotel. B,L,D)
4
Cycle from Leh to Likir and Yangthang
Cycling distance: 70 kilometres (43 miles)
We head northwards from Leh and cycle alongside the Indus river for a stretch before turning inland towards the magnificent and less visited gompa known as Klu-kkhyil or ‘water spirits’ which lies hidden between the hills at Likir. Klu-kkhyil Gompa was founded by Tibetan monks in the 14th century; it features an unusual, gold-plated 25m-high statue of the Maitreya Buddha that dominates the surrounding landscape. As we cycle on from Likir the terrain is mostly flat with very few steep hills, we then enter the Sham Valley, which is evocatively known as Apricot Valley, due to the flowering apricot blossom. After an exhilarating day in the saddle we will be staying in Yangthang, a tiny hamlet that enjoys stunning views of Himalayan mountain peaks all around. (Homestay. B,L,D)
5
Cycle from Yangthang to Ulley and Hemis Shukpachen
Cycling distance: 40 kilometres (25 miles)
With a new day in the western Himalayas before us, we will be awoken by the sounds of villagers going about their daily business. After a healthy breakfast we will be back on our bikes and slowly ascending along a mainly off-road trail for a few kilometres to reach Ulley where we will sit down for a well-earned lunch break. The cycling this morning is mostly off-road although there is some light traffic. Ulley is best known as a base from which to explore the region to catch sight of the iconic snow leopard, or the ‘Ghost of the Himalaya’ as it is also known. After lunch we have some downhill cycling to reach our base for the night at Hemis Shukpachen. (Guest House. B,L,D)
6
Cycle from Hemis Shukpachen to Alchi
Cycling distance: 45 kilometres (28 miles)
With the cycle tour taking on a relaxed rhythm, we will be departing the Sham Valley after breakfast and cycling on rough terrain to reach Hemis Chu, at this point we join the Leh to Srinagar Highway which runs alongside the Indus river. We have around 14 kilometres cycling on this famous road before turning off at a bridge over the Indus, this crossing is adorned with Buddhist prayer flags. At this point we have a hilly ride all the way to Mangyu Gompa, where we will pause long enough to catch our breath and explore, before cycling on to Alchi. This Ladakh village is our base for the night and is also home to Alchi Gompa founded in the 11th century by the Great Translator, Ringchen Zangpo. (Hotel. B,L,D.)
7
Cycle from Alchi To Chilling 3650m.
Cycling distance: 70 kilometres (43 miles)
We head out of Alchi eventually taking an easterly course and joining the main road to Nimmu at the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers. The clear mountain light and the backdrop of the rivers make this is a superb location from which to capture some souvenir photographs. The rest of the day is spent cycling alongside the Zanskar river to eventually arrive into the small settlement of Chilling. In the village there is an unusual trolley bridge which the more adventurous amongst us may wish to try. It certainly isn’t for the faint hearted. (Overnight in Homestay. B,L,D.)
8
Cycle from Chilling to Stok Palace
Cycling distance: 66 kilometres (41 miles)
Chilling marks the end of this section of our journey and we will retrace our tyre tracks for around 28 kilometres (17 miles) arriving at Nyemo, from there we will follow the mighty Indus river to reach Spituk Gompa; in addition to some sightseeing at the gompa we will pause to watch the aeroplanes negotiating the snow covered peaks that surround Leh Airport before pedalling on once again along the well maintained road to Stok. We are guaranteed a spectacular view of Stok Kangri which stands at 6123 metres and is the highest mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalayas. (Homestay. B,L,D.)
9
Cycle from Stok Palace to Sakti
Cycling distance: 114 kilometres (71 miles)
Today’s ride promises to be long and interesting and with fewer hills in prospect we should leave our homestay with a spring in our step. We begin the day with a glorious descent to reach Chushot, a place famous for breeding the Bactrian two humped camel which is native to the steppes of Central Asia, the camel derives its name from the ancient historical region of Central Asia which straddled the Hindu Kush mountain range and Amu Darya river. Bactria covered the flat regions which are today part of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. From Chushot we continue on flatter terrain to Changa and then take a short path to Hemis Gompa, notable as one of the most splendid in the region and famous for its festival mask dance. After visiting the gompa we head to Kharu and start our gradual climb to our overnight accommodation in Sakti. (Homestay. B,L,D.)
10
Cycle from Sakti to Sumur. Crossing the Wari La (pass) at 5280m
Cycling distance 108 kilometres (67 miles)
After a comfortable night in our homestay we will be occupied for the first part of the day with a challenging yet exhilarating three hour ascent to reach our first high pass, the uncompromising Wari La at 5260 metres above sea-level, from the Wari La we cycle into the Nubra valley, following a steep downhill path all the way to Agham. From Agham we cycle alongside the Shayok river to reach Sumur at 3200 metres above sea-level where we will be staying overnight. (Guest House. B,L,D.)
11
Cycle from Sumur to Hunder
Cycling Distance: 45 kilometres (28 miles)
Today is a short and easy day and packed with sightseeing. The cycling terrain is mainly flat and we will be visiting Samstanling Gompa in Summor, a remote village in the Nubra Valley. The monastery was built in the early 19th century by Tsultims Nima and is decorated in the traditional colours of gold, red ochre and white. After our visit to Samstanling we will cycle on to visit Diskit Gompa, this is the oldest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley, it was founded by Chanzem Tserab Zangpo in the 14th century. Besides its role as a place of worship, the monastery also serves as a school, with financial support from the Tibet Support Group, it provides education delivered in the English language to local children. After our extended break at Diskit Gompa we will remount and continue to cycle through the Nubra valley, its original name being Ldurma, the Valley of Flowers. The geography of the Nubra Valley is that of a high altitude cold desert, with little rainfall, the only vegetation is to be found alongside the river beds. This is a spectacular part of our journey and our destination for the evening is the oasis like village of Hunder. (Homestay. B,L,D.)
12
Cycle from Hunder back to Leh Crossing the Khardung La (pass) at 5602m
Cycling Distance: 128 kilometres (80 miles)
Our Ladakh cycling tour saves the most exciting and adventurous leg of the journey until the end. We have to cross the highest road pass in the world, the awe inspiring Khardung La at 5602 metres above sea-level. We start the day cycling on mostly flat terrain until we reach Khalsar, some 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Hunder. This part of the ride sorts the women from the girls, it is a leg stretching, lung busting full-on climb, forget Mont Ventoux (1912metres), the Khardung La at around two and a half times higher, is the real deal. We ascend to the base on the Khardung La and then continue with an even steeper ascent to the very top of the pass. You will feel on top of the world and will have the photographs to prove it. After plenty of high-fives and some sweet tea its all downhill back to Leh. (Hotel. B,L,D.)
13
Leh
After yesterday’s exertions today is a recovery day, rounded off with a celebratory meal. (Hotel. B,L.)
14
Fly to Delhi
Early morning transfer to Leh airport, with a connecting flight to Delhi. Upon arrival into Delhi the rest of the day is free for sightseeing. (Hotel. B,L.)
15
Depart Delhi
Early morning transfer to Delhi International airport for connecting flights home.

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BOOK 7 - 21 AUGUST 2021  
BOOK 6 - 20 AUGUST 2022