for those of you who also would like to cycle this beautiful highway I put up some further details about the way how I rode it. You should keep in mind that generally the highway is opened only 3 month per year: from june to august. I cycled from Manali to Leh (473 km) in 10 days with luggage such as tent and clothes (& a little ukelele ;o) ), but no cooker which was a little disadvantage, ’cause like this I was dependent on the dharbas & restaurants on the way which all serve the same … after a while I was fed up with omlette & rice with dahl.
Please have in mind that it’s going over high passes and that you should give yourself enough time to acclimatise to the altitude to avoid high-altitude-sickness!!! ;o)
day 1 – Manali – Marahi: 45 km (45km uphill, climbing ~2000hm from Manali which is ~2500hm above sealevel, it’s snowy up there ;o) the road is in good conditions till the Rothang pass but lots of people drive up there as a daytrip from Manali = lots of horning and some traffic jams … with a bike you usually can pass by ;o). It’s going uphill in nice loops so the climbing is not too steep and you can still use some higher gears and “relax” in between. finally you’ll reach the little village Marahi where you can find shops(dharba) & restaurants as well as little hotels and guest houses.)
day 2 – Marahi – Sissu: 50 km climbing up the last 7km till the top of the first high pass – the Rothang-La 3.978m … juchhuuu on top we had a nice coincidence: 6 cycelist from all over the world met each other … yes that was lots of pictures worth for all the indians who passed by in their cars and autobuses. :o) Continuing the way after exchanging lots of storys and contacts, the first nice downhill ride with beautiful views, some funny waterfalls to cross and some little bumpy holes in the road. finaly arrived quite hungry at the first dharbas since kms and after a short break went on the last 15km for the day very smoothly through a beautiful valley till reaching Sissu where you can find hotels, guesthouses, shops and restaurants.
day 3 – Sissu – Keylong: 32 km the way starts smoothly through the valley but soon the road gets rougher and veeery dusty! but still it’s an easy ride till Keylong. reached there at midday but waited for a friend coming behind us with the bus which got stucked in the traffic jam …
day 4 – Keylong – Patsio: 51 km the road is in good conditions, it’s going “slidly” uphill and some few km down to Patsio, which is nothing more than just 1 dharba and a guesthouse. ;o) located in a very nice valley with green moan and a beautiful mountain stream to camp next to. ;o)
day 5 – Patsio – Sarchu: 62 km till ZingZingBar (where you can find restaus & dharbas aswell as tents to sleep over) it’s an easy valley ride and than it goes uphill, uphill, uphill in some loops till you reach the BARALACHA-LA (4.895m) … on top with lots of snow. :o) downhill it goes through lots and lots of waterfalls till a small village. from there the road gets bumpy till it becomes a very smooth plateau ride till Sarchu. :o)
day 6 – Sarchu – Whiskey Nala: 48 km at first the nice plateau ride continues till reaching the “21 loops” uphill, on top waits a nice surprise … the view is amazing and … it continues uphill. :o) the road is rough but nicely driveable. finaly it goes bumpy 8kms downhill till Whiskey Nala, which is just some yurts serving as dharbas, restaus and guest houses. the people there are very friendly and invited us to their family members to the next nomad village … so we changed our plans for the next day. ;o)
day 7 – Whiskey Nala – Kamlung: 63 km climbing up the next big pass – LACHALANG-LA (5.060m) ;o) from there bumpy but nice 23 kms downhill ride through a very beautiful valley till Pang, which is a very buisy little “village” with lots of dharbas, restaus and guesthouses. from there another uphill climb over a bumpy rough road till the More Plains beginn … juchhuuu such a nice road … flying over it for the next ~30 kms so that even the constant rain doesn’t change my good mood and enjoyment! :o) only 2km before Kamlung the nice concrete stops and the road gets rough again. but there I’m with my nomad friends and enjoy the nice evening! :o)
day 8 – Kamlung – Rumptse: 48 km after a very interesting night in a nomad-tent (I woke up quite early with them – around 5h) the way leads uphill to the last and highest pass on this road: the TANGLANG-LA (5360m). road conditions are the worset since we left Manali … gravel road with lots of bumps like ever half meter so you constantly rumpel around on your bike, and that uphill … coompletly shitty and very tiering!!! On top yoou have a magival view in both valleys and lots of wind blowing around your nose … juchhuuu!!! :o) They way down starts aswell completlyshitty through heaps of mud. but after some few kms the road is getting good and it starts to be the most beautiful and longest downhill ride I ever had in my life: ~20km till Rumptse … juchhuu! :o) It’s a small village with stone houses again and dharbas, restaus and guest houses.
day 9 – Rumptse – Shey: 60 km last “real” riding day … smoothly downhill through a nice valley with beautiful mountains around … ~40km till Upshi, a very busy and stinky village with lots of everything. It’s getting hot again! :o) Next to a lovely river the road is very good, going little up and down till Shey … where there is a famouse monastery and palace to visit. :o) It’s only a few km left to Leh but somehow it’s more attractiv to stay an other night in nature next to the river then rushing through and reaching in a busy city! ;o)
day 10 – Shey – Leh: 13 km after few 5kms reaching Choglamsar … by than already in full preparation for the 33rd KALACHAKRA (buddhist Festival held from the Dalai Lama … read more about that under workshops ;o)) so the road is very very busy and the familiar indian horning restarts. aswell the typical “road-under-construstion”-DUST … aeh aeh!!! from here till Leh it’s only 8kms … uphill till the center … and DUST till you die! :o( Ladakhis all have mouth protections … which actually looks quite frightening at the beginnning, but after a while you get used to ;o) … so don’t forget to put a shawl if you are crazy enough to ride into the city!!! ;o)
oh LEH oh LEH … one of the highest roads in the world done by human power!!! :o) JUCHHUUU … my new addiction: the next highway is already in my focus. ;o)
so stay tuned … ;o)