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Ladakh bike trip – passes, monasteries and villages of Little Tibet

Ladakh bike trip – passes, monasteries and villages of Little Tibet

£1,690 per person

Introduction

Hire an E-BikeThe High Passes of Ladakh tour has a beautiful desert landscape in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. Ladakh, often called ‘Little Tibet’ or the ‘Land of Many Passes’, is renowned for its stunning mountain landscape and Buddhist culture. Locals make their living from pastoral farming by irrigating small plots of land to grow buckwheat and barley. 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.

We believe you will find it an exhilarating, challenging and life-affirming adventure. If you’ve tested yourself on our Lands End to John O’Groats tour or Road to Vienna, maybe this could be your next adventure?

You will cycle against the backdrop of the magnificent Ladakh Range, which is a segment of the Karakoram mountain range. It spans the borders of Afghanistan, China, India, Pakistan and Tajikistan. We have designed the High Passes of Ladakh cycling holiday so you can enjoy the best that the region has to offer.

E-Bike Hire is available on this trip, please contact us for details.

Cycling

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. You’ll also experience cycling alongside two Himalayan rivers: the Shyok (the river of death) and the Indus River, which at 3,180 kilometres is one of the longest rivers in Asia. Besides the amazing scenery and crisp cool desert air we will be pedalling through valleys where time appears to have stood still.

You will start the trip 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. Afterwards we turn back south (then east) to Alchi, famous for its nine hundred-year-old monastery. Continuing east to Stok Palace our route heads north, crossing the formidable Wari La (5280m). With a spectacular descent from the Wari La under our belts we then 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.

Highlights

  • Cycling in the Himalayas
  • Crossing highest motor-able road Khardungla 5602m
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Buddhist culture
  • 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 Himalayan blue sheep (also called a bharal – which is the staple diet of the snow leopard) as well as the kiang, a native of the Tibetan plateau and only found in Jammu and Kashmir.

Terrain & Experience

Most of the road is tarmac but there are some stretches in poor condition. This trip has been graded as 4 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. Having prior off-road riding experience and good fitness levels are recommended.

Accommodation

We use a variety of accommodation. In Delhi, Leh, Alchi and Hunder we use
comfortable hotels. All rooms have attached bathrooms with western toilets and hot
and cold running water (towels and toiletries are provided).

In Stok and Sumur we stay in a guest house – all rooms have attached bathrooms
with western toilets and showers. Towels and toilet paper are provided.

For some nights we use homestays – the homestays vary in what is provided. The
homestay in Sakti has attached bathrooms with western flush toilets and hot and
cold water (towels are provided). In Likir bathrooms are common. There is hot water and western toilet, but towels and toilet paper are not provided, In Hemis
Shukpachen bathrooms are one per 2 rooms. There are hot showers and western
toilets, but towels and toilet paper are not provided. The homestay in Chilling is more local style and the toilets are local long drop. There is a shower room, and a bucket of hot water can be provided. Towels and toilet paper are not provided.The price of the cycle tour is based on a twin shared basis. A single supplement is payable on request at £250. Please contact the office for availability.

Meals

Breakfast is included throughout the trip.

Lunches and dinners are included on the bike ride but not in Leh and Delhi. Your
leader will suggest group meals in Leh and Delhi so you can eat out as a group.
Vegetarians are very well catered for in India. If you have any other dietary
requirements such as vegan, gluten or lactose free please let us know in advance
and we can advise you on whether to carry some extra snacks/food.
Lunches will be a mix of snacks and rice/chapattis and vegetables.
Safe drinking water will be provided whilst cycling..

Money
We suggest you bring most of your money in cash which is easy to change in Delhi
and Leh. ATM machines are available in Delhi and Leh but sometimes there are long
queues and sometimes they run out of money. You will need money for lunches and
dinners in Delhi and Leh, entry fees for monasteries and for tipping. We would
suggest changing £100 on arrival.

Tipping is expected in India. We suggest 10% on a bill in restaurants. Rs100 for
porters for carrying bags to the room. For the tipping of the drivers and guides your
leader will advise you. We suggest you allow approximately Rs6,000 for tipping plus Rs1,000 kitty for entry fees.
The above does not include tipping of your leader – we suggest you collect
Rs2500/Rs3000 per person at the end of the trip and give to them on the last night.

Equipment
The weight limit on the flights to and from Leh is 15kg checked in baggage and 7/8kg hand luggage. For the flights to and from Leh all electricals, chargers, power banks, tablets, phones and batteries must be in the hand luggage. Any sharp obkects such as penknives and scissors and pedals go in the checked in baggage.

Bedding is provided in the hotels and guest house. In the homestays blankets are
available. We suggest you bring a sheet line or fleece liner for the homestays. (You
do not need a sleeping bag).

Towels are provided in the hotels and guesthouses and in Sakti homestay but not in
Likir, Hemis Shukpachen or Chilling homestays.

Toilet paper is provided in the hotels and guest houses but not in the homestays.
Sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses
Helmet
Waterproof top and trousers
Sandals/shoes for cycling
Overshoes
Socks
Warm jacket
Thin down jacket
Short sleeve cycling tops
Long sleeved cycling tops
Cycling shorts
Baggy over shorts (India is a very conservative country and we request you to wear
over shorts out of respect for the culture. Tight lycra is not acceptable in India and
especially at religious sites.
Water bottles
Gloves – fingerless and a pair of warmer gloves

Arm coverings
Long cycling shorts
Thin windproof
Warm hat
Lip balm with sun protection
Toiletries
Your favourite snacks/electrolyte tablets
Towel
Toilet paper
Pedals and saddle if you want to use your own
Chargers for phones, tablets etc – please note there is electricity every night so you
can charge phones and power banks every day
Headtorch
Clothes for evenings and Delhi and Leh

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. The support vehicle will be available for all days cycling.

Flights

You will independently book and pay for flights costs, however we are happy to give you advice or help book your flights for you.

Please note: If you wish to arrive early or stay on in India we can
organise sightseeing or trips around Delhi or to Agra to see the Taj Mahal or a
Golden Triangle extension.
You can also fly to Leh before the group or stay on in Leh after the trip.The trip starts with Delhi to Leh flight on day 1. If bringing your own bike, airlines will charge additional baggage fee.

Tour Plan

The High Passes of Ladakh tour route 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.

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
    Ladakh bike trip – passes, monasteries and villages of Little Tibet
    Domestic flights
    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
    Cookie Policy (US)
    Cookie Policy (US)
    Visas
1
Arrive Delhi
Arrival in Delhi and transfer to the group hotel. Check in time in Delhi is usually after 2pm. Depending on the arrival time of your flight you can either rest and recover or do some optional sightseeing in Delhi. Your leader or our representative in Delhi will advise you of what there is to see and do. Overnight in Hotel   You will leave your home country before this date. Most flights to Delhi leave Day 0 and arrive Day 1
2
Fly to Leh.
Today we will be up very early for the flight to Leh, which lies at an elevation of 3500m. 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 in Leh you will be transferred to your hotel in the town centre and the rest of the morning is free for rest and recuperation. In the afternoon we will meet for an orientation walk around the town taking in the main market and the lanes and of alleyways of the old town at the base of Namgyal Hill before returning to our hotel for a comfortable night’s sleep. (Hotel. B)
3
Based in Leh. Local acclimatisation ride.
Cycling distance: 10km, 188m ascent After breakfast there will be a full trip briefing from our guides. We will then be fitted out with our bikes and we can go for a warm up test ride around the Leh valley to the Royal Palace and the Shanti Stupa. (Hotel. B,)
4
Based in Leh. Local acclimatisation ride
Cycling distance: 38 kilometres (or 48km all the way back to Leh) Ascent 175m (plus 600m if cycling all the way back to Leh), Descent 472m
After breakfast we descend towards the Indus and cycle out to the old ruined Royal Palace at Shey, where we visit a 500-year-old temple with a huge copper and gold Buddha statue. From Shey we cycle on a quiet track to Tikse monastery. Tikse is one of the largest yellow hat monasteries in central Ladakh and is set spectacularly on a hill overlooking the Indus Valley. A newer temple houses a spectacular 2 storey image of the Future Buddha. We cycle back to Shey for lunch and then we have the option to cycle or drive back to Leh. After spending some time here, we will return to our hotel in Leh by cars we should be well acclimatised for the coming adventure. (Hotel. B)
5
Cycle from Leh to Likir
Cycling distance: 60 kilometres Ascent 981m Descent 822m
Quite a tough ride today as we head west from Leh to Likir. The day starts with a great descent out of Leh to the Indus past the airport and Spittuk monastery. We cycle alongside the Indus River for a short while before a long slow climb takes us away from the Indus. We pass a Sikh temple and descend back to the Indus at Nimmu. From Nimmu we ascend gently to Basgo and then we have our first serious climb zig zagging up to one of the only straight bits of road we will see! A small road turns off to Likir and the final bit of the day is a tough climb up to Likir monastery. Known as Lu-khyil or ‘water spirits’, the gompa was founded in the 14th century. There is a spectacular gold-plated 25m-high statue of the Maitreya Buddha that dominates the surrounding landscape. (Homestay. B, L, D)
6
Cycle from Likir to Hemis Shukpachen
Cycling distance with Ullay 40 Km Ascent 970m Descent 1050m
Cycling distance without Ullay 30 Km Ascent 507m Descent 6350m
After breakfast we start with a descent from our homestay through Likir. We then head west across the valley over the Charatse La Pass (3,580m) to Saspoche, from where we start our climb to the Phobe La (3,730m). From the pass we descend towards Yangtang. There is the option to take a challenging 5km uphill (and 5km down) ride to Ullay village or you can continue on to Hemis Shukpachen. The ride to Ullay is on unpaved road and is all uphill. Ullay and the whole area around here is well known for snow leopard and wolf sightings. The ride to Ullay is up and down on the same road. From Yangtang the road climbs again to the next pass, the Sarmanthang La (3,880m). From the top we descend to our homestay in Hemis Shukpachen. (If you don’t cycle to Ullay you will reach the homestay by lunchtime and the afternoon is free to explore this pretty village or there is the option to cycle to the Mebtek La and the Lago La). (Homestay B, L, D)
7
Cycle from Hemis Shukpachen to Alchi
Cycling distance: 45 kilometres Ascent 876m Descent 1416m
We start today with a fantastic downhill from Hemis Shukpachen following the Hemis Chu to the main road. The road is decent and the scenery is magnificent. We join the Leh to Srinagar Highway which runs alongside the Indus river and we have around 5km cycling on this famous road before turning off at a bridge over the Indus. From here we cycle 6km uphill to Mangyu Gompa, where we will pause long enough to catch our breath and explore this beautiful village and it’s 11 th century temples. We then cycle back down the road and take a quiet road to our comfortable hotel in Alchi. This Ladakhi 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.)
8
Cycle from Alchi To Chilling 3650m.
Cycling distance: 70 kilometres Ascent 1030m Descent 1036m
We descend out of Alchi towards the hydro dam, where we cross the river and climb up and over a small pass and descend to the main road after Saspoche. We then have a long climb up to the Likir turn off for a welcome tea break. We continue on the main road descending to Basgo. Further on is Nimmu and the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers. We descend to the Zanskar River and the final 26km of the day is a wonderful ride on the quiet road following the Zanskar river. The scenery is magnificent as the river winds through a fantastic gorge. Eventually we spot the patches of green fields of Chilling. We stay tonight in a homestay in the village and after a refreshing cup of tea we can explore the hamlet which is famous for its apricots and metalsmiths. (Simple Homestay B, L, D.)
9
Cycle from Chilling to Stok Palace
Cycling distance: 84 kilometres Ascent 893m Descent 689m
Chilling marks the end of this section of our journey and we will retrace our tracks for 26km to the main road at Nimmu. From here we have a long, tough climb away from the Indus, past magnetic hill and a busy Sikh temple to a col from where we can spot Leh in the distance. A nice descent brings us past the turn off to Phyang village and little further on we spot Sptituk gompa on a hill. Just before the monastery we turn off the main road and cross the Indus River. We are now on a quiet road which undulates above the river. The road is being repaired and is quite rough in places. Finally we come to the turn off to Stok and the final 3km is a gradual uphill to our hotel. As we approach the hotel we get a spectacular view of Stok Kangri which stands at 6,41m and is the highest mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalaya. (Guest house B, L, D.)
10
Cycle from Stok Palace to Sakti
Cycling distance: 65 kilometres Ascent 832m Descent 500m
A shorter ride today before tomorrow’s big pass. The day starts with a wonderful descent to Chushot, from where we get great views across the valley to the mountains north of Leh. The road is nice and quiet and undulates gently until we descend to cross the Indus River by bridge. We join the main Manali to Leh highway for 5 minutes and turn off sharply to the right towards Karu and Sakti. Leaving the busy road behind we climb up the valley on a good road. After Karu village the monastery at Chemre comes into view. It’s a short, steep climb up to the gompa but well worth it for the views. We visit this large red hat monastery which has a small, interesting museum, before rejoining the road for the final climb to our homestay in Sakti village. (Homestay. B, L,D.)
11
Cycle from Sakti to Sumur. Crossing the Wari La (pass) at 5280m
Cycling distance 85 kilometres Ascent 1623m Descent 1860m
After a comfortable night in our homestay the day starts with a challenging yet exhilarating five-hour (27km) ascent to reach our first high pass, the uncompromising 5,260m Wari La. The road is quiet and good (apart from the last 3km at the top) as it winds its way in long zig zags up the valley. The scenery is ever more spectacular as we get higher. Prayer flags mark the top of this massive achievement and a well- deserved break. The descent starts with some rough road and after a few kilometres the tarmac begins again. We have lunch on the descent amid fields with yaks grazing. A wonderful 33km descent follows until Agham. We are now in the Nubra Valley where the main watercourse is the Shyok River. Please note that the roads around Agham are being repaired and so the last bit of today’s ride depends on which roads we use. If the roads are all good, we can cycle most of the way to Sumur (46km) but if the roads are not repaired, we will cycle as long as we can and the last part of today will be a transfer to our hotel in Sumur. (Guest House. B, L, D.)
12
Cycle from Sumur to Hunder
Cycling Distance: 53 kilometres Ascent 660m Descent 556m
Today is an easier day after the exertions of yesterday but we include plenty of sightseeing. The cycling terrain is more undulating today. We first visit Samstanling Gompa just above our guest house in Sumur. The monastery was built in the early 19th century by Tsultim Nima and is decorated in the traditional colours of gold, red ochre and white. We then descend to a bridge across the Shyok River at Khalsar and then head up the other side of the valley to Diskit Gompa. This is the oldest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley, founded in the 14th century. It is set high above the valley and as well as the monastery there is a huge Future Buddha statue to see. From Diskit we head to the sand dunes of the high-altitude desert of the Nubra Valley. Here we can see the endangered double humped Bactrian camels, that used to carry loads across the high passes of the Silk Road. Now used for tourists they are surviving and breeding well. Just past the sand dunes we arrive at our comfortable hotel in Hunder. (Hotel B, L, D.)
13
Cycle from Hunder back to Leh Crossing the Khardung La (pass) at 5602m
Cycling Distance: 65 kilometres Ascent 1247m Descent 1571m
Our Ladakh cycling tour saves the most exciting and adventurous leg of the journey until the end. Today we cross the highest road pass in the world, the awe inspiring Khardung La. We start the day with a transfer by vehicle to Khardung village (55km/2hrs). From here it is 30km to the pass. The views are magnificent as we climb higher and higher. There is a welcome tea break at North Pollu and then it's back on the bikes for the final zig zags to the top of the pass. Supposedly the highest road pass on earth the top is quite busy with jeeps and motorbikes – we will probably be the only cyclist. You can feel proud as you have your photograph taken against the famous Khardung La sign. The ride ends with a magnificent descent of over 1,800m back down to Leh and a welcome hot shower or beer in our comfortable hotel. (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)
15
Depart Delhi
You will be provided with a transfer to the airport for your flight home. Please note that check out time in the hotel is 11am. (B) If you wish to extend your time in Ladakh or in Delhi or you would like to visit the Taj Mahal please contact us for details.
Please note that the itinerary provided above is intended as a guide and may need to be adjusted to accommodate variations in distances or overnight stops. Flexibility will be necessary to ensure the best possible experience during your travels..

CUSTOMER FEEDBACK

8.7
Superb
8.0
Accommodation
8.0
Route & Rest Locations
8.0
Food & Refreshments Provided
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Cycling Pace & Time in Saddle
10.0
Tour Guide & Support Crew
10.0
OVERALL SATISFACTION

Comments:

  • Richard & Karen Christie
    14 August 2023 at 20:25

    Valerie was excellent, as always, and she was well supported by Wangiel and Rajesh.

    Each day was varied with good cycling interspersed with plenty of visits to interesting sites along the way. Thanks for a great holiday.

    Accommodation
    Route & Rest Locations
    Food & Refreshments Provided
    Cycling Pace & Time in Saddle
    Tour Guide & Support Crew
    OVERALL SATISFACTION
  • Muriel Thomson
    14 August 2023 at 12:51

    Valerie Parkinson was probably the best trip leader I have ever had. She went above her ask to ensure that everyone on the trip was catered for and happy.

    We were also extremely fortunate to be able to see the Dalai Lama at Stok Monastery which was a real bonus.

    Thanks Pedal Nation – you delivered!

    Accommodation
    Route & Rest Locations
    Food & Refreshments Provided
    Cycling Pace & Time in Saddle
    Tour Guide & Support Crew
    OVERALL SATISFACTION

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Please click on your preferred tour dates below and you will be taken to our secure booking form.
Sunday 28th July to Sunday 11th August 2024
If you prefer not to book online, you can download a booking form and post or fax it to us. Please read the Booking Conditions carefully before completing the booking form. We require a completed booking form plus the appropriate deposit before your reservation can be confirmed. Note your booking is with High Places Ltd an ATOL and ABTOT bonded tour operator.