Ladakh is the most famous region in the Indian Himalayas, but most certainly not the only place worth visiting. Let us take you to other valleys, maybe not as famous and less visited, but definitely equally beautiful, and perhaps even more interesting than Ladakh… Our route includes the valleys of Lahaul, Spiti and Pang, but do not be mistaken – it’s neither easy nor boring. These are rarely visited trails, and things may tumble down, fall off from the slopes, or streams could drown the highway. The tracks are narrow, the canyons deep. This is an adventure for seasoned bikers. If you’re new to this, well… you’d better choose a different offer. Mind-blowing views and raw adventure guaranteed – this event combines the most challenging sectors of the state of Himachal Pradesh. We traverse several high, possibly snow-covered passes, ride on rock ledges suspended high above the rivers. This route provides spiritual experiences for those who seek them – several visits to Buddhist monasteries and a view of Dharamsala, the seat of the Dalai Lama should do the trick. This trip is mainly off-road and it’s generally a rough ride. But fear not – we know the region well, provide proven motorcycles, as well as mechanical and medical care (doctor and support car all the way). And most importantly – good company.
We head south in order to go west. The Himalayas have their own rules and it is not so easy to ride through the mountains. It takes four days to get to places several dozen kilometres away (in a straight line) from Manali. Well, it’s the right time to get acquainted with your motorcycle and specific Indian road rules. The first day in India will certainly be memorable. Night at a guesthouse.
We go through the Valley of Kinnaur. The traffic gets lighter, and although the road leads to China the border crossing has been closed for years. There are sharp turns and tracks high above the river. The route leads through the jungle so watch out for monkeys crossing the road. Rule number one – always use horns on bends. Slowly the Hindu world starts fading away and the Buddhist world emerges.
We climb up the valley of the Spiti River. After several kilometres we get to the centre of the Buddhist world. Tabo is at 3,200 metres altitude. The local monastery is home to the Dalai Lama’s favourite monks, no wonder he is a frequent visitor here.
This day is all about climbing higher and higher. We get to Komic, the highest located village in India – more than 4,200 metres above sea level. Even the neighbouring Kiber is much lower. We also drop by a monastery at Key. It’s beautifully situated on the mountain peak, which guarantees a magnificent view of the entire valley.
We cross the Konzua pass and get on the main highway Leh – Manali. It is just a two hour ride from our starting point at Manali. After a few days on gravel we hit asphalt again, which everybody welcomes willingly. It’s just the next 150 kilometres, but still – smooth road does you good.
A quick break for refuelling at Tandi and we continue our journey along the Chenab River. Mile after mile the traffic gets lighter and the views better. Night at a guesthouse.
The real Himalayan ride begins. Not too far, but it’s the quality that counts… Slope on the right, edge on the left. Almost no traffic but whenever a lorry appears there a shiver runs down your spine… Almost nobody here speaks English, and everyone is genuinely surprised you don’t know Hindi. This is also the day your SD card might turn out too small for all the photos…
If you thought it doesn’t get any better than yesterday, by the end of this day you might change your mind. The Sach Pass lies ahead, not the highest – “only” a little more than 4,000 metres, but don’t be mistaken! You need to have some serious guts to cross it… The weather is capricious, as the pass is low enough for the monsoon to reach it. Expect fog, clouds, rain and steep slopes on the sides of the road. Night at a guesthouse.
Time for leaving the deserts of the Himalayas and head for the green. You’re in the jungle, baby! Everything around buzzes and ticks. The views are still beautiful, but very different from the countryside before. It’s a rainy landscape, and water dictates its terms here – let’s hope to pass through smoothly. Night at a hotel.
The long and winding road… Asphalt all the way, the speed less than extreme. But the traffic increases. Night at a hotel.
Dharamsala makes for an interesting stop on the way – it is the seat of the Tibetan government in exile. We sightsee the town first thing in the morning. We can’t promise that you get to shake hands with the Dalai Lama, but usually this is the place you’re most likely to meet him. Also, if you want souvenirs from the trip, Dharamsala is the place to be. Night at a hotel.
Theoretically not a very long ride, but… The traffic is intense and you need to be extra careful – Himalayan drivers believe in reincarnation, if you know what we mean… Asphalt all the way, but the views…
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