Spiti to Ladkah Motorcycle Tour 21 N / 22 D

Day 01: New Delhi – Kalka – Shimla (By Train/Car)

You shall be joining the tour by boarding a train at the New Delhi Railway Station or another convenient location informed to you (if you haven’t purchased a Meet & Greet) .  This early morning air-conditioned express train will bring you to Kalka, at the footsteps of the Himalayas, in about 4 hours.  Breakfast is served in the train & is inclusive in the fare.  From Kalka a 3 hour road journey in an AC Car will bring you to the erstwhile “summer capital” of India.

Day 02: Shimla (short familiarisation ride – 50 KM)

Today you’ll meet your Royal Enfield Motorcycle, your ride for the next several days.  After an exhaustive briefing by your ride leader you’ll be taking a short ride in an effort to know your bike better and to get familiar with its controls and riding conditions in India.  The rest of the day is free for leisure or sight-seeing.   The evening can be spent taking a stroll on The Mall, soaking-in the charm of Shimla & its surrounds and visiting the Christ Church on the Ridge.

Day 03: Shimla – Narkanda (70 KM)

After breakfast it’s time to kickoff your motorcycle tour.  Today’s ride is comparatively short but challenging nonetheless.  You’ll be leaving Shimla and riding up the Hindustan-Tibet Highway (NH-22) to Narkanda, situated at 2720 M amidst dense “deodar” forest.

Day 04: Narkanda – Sangla (165 KM)

Riding further on the NH-22 you’ll continue towards Kinnaur.  Riding along the fierce Sutlej river flowing angrily in the gorges below you’ll reach Karchham.  At this turning point, a road continues towards Spiti and another turns towards the Baspa Valley and on to the beautifull village of Sangla.  This is another 18 km stretch of narrow winding road with hair-raising gorges & cliffs high above the Baspa river gushing below.  Accommodation is in comfortable tented camps at a beautiful setting at the banks of the river.

Day 05: Sangla  (Return trip to Chitkul – 44 KM)

After enjoying a quite morning in the lap of Sangla valley you’ll saddle-up once again, for a short ride to Chitkul, another quaint village in the Baspa Valley.  Chitkul is the last village on this road towards border with Tibet (China) and offers great views of snow clad peaks of the Kinnaur region.  After spending a little time here you’ll return to Sangla in time for lunch.  The evening is at your disposal to take a walk along the Baspa river or just enjoy the view & the setting from the camp.

Day 06: Sangla – Kalpa (55 KM)

Again backtracking to the NH-22 at Karchham you’ll continue on the road towards Recong Peo, nestled 7 km above which is the village of Kalpa.  You’ll most likely be spending this day absorbing the stunning views of the “Kinner Kailash” and reminiscing the past few days after you left Shimla.  Or perhaps, taking walks around this lovely village & its apple orchards.  We, on the other hand, will be busy arranging your Inner-line permits (which are required by “foreign visitors” for visiting the areas ahead) and giving the motorcycles a thorough check-up for the journey ahead.  You’ll be heading further up the NH-22 tomorrow and soon enter a region devoid of certain amenities (cell phone networks & provision stores, among other things) so its your last chance to make long distance phone calls & stack-up on toiletries & whatnot.

Day 07: Kalpa – Nako Lake (120 KM)

As you ride further up the Hindustan-Tibet highway, the mountain landscape starts to change from green to rocky & barren.  Still riding along the Sutlej you’ll reach Spello where your permits will be checked at a Police check-post.  Another 35 km ride will bring you to Khab, a small village at the confluence of the Spiti & Sutlej rivers.  Leaving Sutlej, from this point on you’ll be riding along the Spiti river to reach Nako, a village situated near the small but beautiful Nako lake (3660 M).  This is first of the many high altitude lakes visited by you on this tour.  The location of this village is remote & infrastructure is basic.  Accommodation here, is in comfortable tented camps.

Day 08: Nako – Tabo – Kaza (115 KM)

Today’s ride will take you further up into higher mountains (& across the infamous “Maling Nala”, your first major water crossing) and down to Chango where you’ll enter Spiti Valley.  Your first destination is Tabo where you visit the historic monastery.  After having a look at the 1000 year old monastery, a 47 km ride along the Spiti river brings you to Kaza.

Day 09: Kaza

Kaza is the head-quarters of the Spiti sub-division and you’ll be staying here for two consecutive nights.  You’ll be able to use facilities like Internet & long distance phone calls again, “luxuries” you left behind at Kalpa.  You’ll also be visiting the Key Gompa and Komic village (4275 M), considered to be one of the highest villages in Asia, on your motorcycle.

Day 10: Kaza – Chandra Tal (100 KM)

Continuing up the Spiti Valley & further into higher Himalayas, today you’ll arrive at the second High Altitude Lake on your tour.  After crossing a high pass (Kunzum La, 4550 M) and a couple of streams (glacier melts) you’ll reach a pasture land 4 KM short of the beautiful & desolate lake of Chandra Taal (Vehicles are not allowed beyond this point & camping is no longer permitted near the lake shore). Here, the accommodation will be at a “make-shift” camp-site in “dome” tent (sleeps two each).  Sleeping bags will be provided.  Dinner & breakfast will be basic “camping meals”.  Call of nature will have to be answered in a small toilet tents or “in the open”, as per your preference.

Day 11: Chandra Taal – Jispa (140 KM)

After breakfast, you’ll say goodbye to the “Moon Lake” and  head down into the Lahaul Valley, along the Chandra, a river originating from a glacier near Baralacha La.  The road (or the lack of it) from Chandra Taal all the way to Gramphu (where it meets the popular Manali-Leh “highway”) offers some of the most thrilling riding experience you’ll have on this tour.  This stretch of the journey has several big & small water crossings challenging enough to test your grit & determination.  After Gramphu its a relatively smooth ride till Jispa (20 km ahead of Keylong)  On the way, the Chandra & Bhaga rivers meet at Tandi (which is also the last fuel station before Leh) & together form the Chandrabhaga river which is renamed as “Chenab” in Jammu & Kashmir state.  Jispa is small village, mainly serving as a convenient stop-over on the way to Ladakh.

Day 12: Jispa

A well deserved rest day has been placed here after 2 challenging days of riding specially because another 3 days of back-to-back riding follows afterwards, till you reach Leh.  Here you’ll be able to snuggle in a soft, warm bed once again (and enjoy a hot shower) in a beautiful Guest House right on the banks of Bhaga, a river originating from Suraj Taal (Sun Lake) also near Baralacha La.

Day 13: Jispa – Sarchu (85 KM)

85 km from Jispa, Sarchu is our next stop and also the last settlement (& check-point) in Himachal Pradesh.  You reach here after crossing over Baralacha La (4830 M), one of the many high passes on this tour & considered to get the maximum snowfall during the winters.  You’ll also pass Suraj Taal, another of the high altitude lakes in the region.    Accommodation is in comfortable tented camps.

Day 14: Sarchu – Tso Kar (125 KM)

Once you leave Sarchu it becomes evident that you’re going deeper into the Himalayas and any sights of human settlement will become few & far between from here on, barring some temporary “tent restaurants”, truck stops & Indian Army barracks.  Crossing another two high passes (Nakee La 4905M & Lachlung La 5095M) and the vast expanse of  plain area called “the morey plains” (at an average height above 4000 M) which stretches for almost 35 km’s you’ll reach Tso Kar (4524 M), the third high altitude lake on this tour.  Surrounded by a wild life sanctuary, Tso Kar is a salt lake and breeding ground of many rare migratory birds.  Accommodation is in comfortable tented camps.

Day 15: Tso Kar – Leh (135 KM)

Leaving after breakfast, you’ll backtrack to the Manali-Leh road and head towards Taglang La (5359 M), another of the high passes on this journey.  Beyond this mighty pass, the road meanders down all the way to the banks of the river Indus, at Upshi.  Turning north-west from here, the journey will take you along the banks of river Indus to Leh, the administrative head-quarters of Ladakh and entry/exit point for most travelers coming to this region.

Day 16: Leh

Another day for relaxation, exploration or contemplation depending on your inclination.

Day 17: Leh – Chang La – Pangong Tso (160 KM)

Today, once you leave Leh it becomes evident that you’re going deeper into the Himalayas and any sights of human settlement will become few & far between from here on, barring some temporary “tent restaurants”, truck stops & Indian Army barracks.  Making an early start, today you’ll cross another high pass (Chang La, 5289 M) and a crazy stream of glacier melts (Paagal Nala) to reach the banks of Pangong Tso, the first of the many High Altitude Lakes visited by you on this tour.  Accommodation is in comfortable tented camps.

Pangong Tso, a 134 km (83 mi) long endorheic lake, is one of the largest brackish lakes in Asia situated at a height of about 4350 M in the Changthang region of Ladakh.  You can just laze around the camps, enjoy spectacular views of the lake changing its colours or take short hikes up the hills behind you for even better vantage points to watch the sunset as village folk return from the pastures with their herds of sheep.

Day 18: Pangong Tso – Leh (160 KM)

Backtracking over the “Paagal Nala” & Chang La you’ll be returning to Leh.

Day 19: Leh – Khardung La – Hunder (125 KM)

Today’s journey will take you across Khardung La (5359 M), if not the highest, at least considered to be one of the highest motor-able passes in the world, into the Nubra Valley and at the footsteps of the Karakoram range of the Himalayas.  Going past the Khardong village, you’ll get the first sight of the Shyok river, flowing in a wide valley.  From Khalsar, you’ll turn left towards Deskit and on to the little village of Hunder.  Between Hunder and Deskit lie several kilometres of sand dunes where two-humped bactrian camels graze in the neighbouring “forests” of sea-buckthorn.  There is also a Gompa next to the road beyond which you’re not allowed.  You can either laze around, take walks around the village or to the sand dunes or if you are in the mood for yet another monastery take a hike 2 km up the hill to a deserted monastery.  The place is quite eerie but its worth the climb for spectacular views of the Nubra Valley.

Day 20: Hunder – Khardung La – Leh (125 KM)

You’ll saddle-up yet again and for the last time on this tour for your return journey to Leh.

Day 21: Leh

Your last day in Leh.  You can shop for souvenirs or just explore the historic city of Leh at your own pace.  This day also works as a reserve day between your flight to New Delhi incase an unforeseen event delays our arrival from Hunder.

Day 22: Leh – New Delhi (By Air)

It’s time to say your good-bye’s to your fellow travelers & the Himalayas today.  You will be transferred to the Leh Airport where you’ll catch a morning flight to New Delhi which shall be the “end” of your tour.  If you’ve purchased a “Farewell” you’ll be transferred to the hotel where your accommodation has been arranged.

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