Cycling Route from Manali to Leh
For the nature lovers and adventure seekers, cycling is one of the most rewarding means of traveling in the hills. That is mainly because bicycles are eco friendly and do not pollute the environment. Equally important is the fact that, such a mode of transport allows them to observe the surrounding more and to imbibe the natural and cultural uniqueness of the region far better.
Cycling in the Hills of ManaliIndeed, cycling in the hills of Manali opens up new horizon that no other modes of transport ever can. The extraordinary beauty of the region as well as the unique culture of the place can be best appreciated if you take up a cycling expedition across the hills into the remote valleys and dales.
There are quite a few popular bicycling trails in the Manali region. For example, you can take a bicycle trip to the Solang Valley, located at a distance of 13 km from the town. You may also take a trip to the Bhrigu Lake, just 18.3 km away from the town. Nearer home, there is the Manali National Park. However, the one that takes you from Manali to Leh is not only the most rewarding, but also by far more challenging.
Cycling Route from Manali to Leh
The trail from Manali to Leh is around 590 km long and depending upon your stamina, it generally takes around 10 to 12 days to cover this distance. On the way, you cross a number of high passes including Rohtang Pass (3900 m), Baralacha La (4800 m), NakeeLa (4900 m), Lachung La (5050 m) and Tanglang La (5260 m). Incidentally, Tanglang La is also the world’s second highest motorable road.
Apart from high passes, the route also takes you across icy streams and remote hamlets. The views range from lush green forests in the lower region to semi desert condition in the higher altitude. However, one good thing about this route is that the road condition is more or less satisfactory. While around 25% of the road is mud packed the rest of the trail constitutes of metalled road. The best time undertake this tour is from June to October.
Probable Itinerary of Manali Leh Cycling TourManali is the starting point of this tour. Depending upon the terrain and length of the tour, one is expected to cycle for 22 to 60 km per day. That is why it is advisable to reach Manali one day in advance and spend the day acclimatizing. You can cycle to nearby places to have a feel of what lies ahead.
Day 1: From Manali to Marhi (37 km)First day’s trail runs through forests of deodar and pine trees intercepted by little hamlets and apple orchards. Kothi is the last village in this route. Soon one gets accustomed to many hairpin bends and switchbacks. Higher up one comes across number of streams tumbling down the mountain side. The treeline starts diminishing from Gulaba. The ride ends at Marhi, located at a distance of 14 km from Gulaba and around 37 km from Manali. The average altitude of this palace is around 3312 meter.
Day 2: From Marhi to Sissu (59 km)
Day 3: From Sissu to Jispa (59 km)
Keylong is another 8 km of tough ride from Tandi. From there, a level ride for 7 km takes you Stingri. From there, Jispa Top is 6 km of uphill ride. The last phase to Jispa is 16km of downhill ride.
Day 4: From Jispa to Patseo (22 km)
Day 5: From Patseo to Srachu (63 km)On this phase you cross Baralacha La (4800 m), the second of the five passes you cross on the way. ‘Baralacha’ is translated to 'a pass with crossroads'. True to its name, different trails from Ladakh, Zanskar, Lahaul and Spiti come together to meet at this very point. It offers an amazing view of snow-covered peaks like Barashigri, Chandrabhaga and Mulkila.
Cycling from Patseo to Sarchu is quite tough. It involves constant upward ride up Baralacha La. Zingzangbar, located at a distance of 10km from Patseo, is the first major landmark. 4 km of upward ride takes you to Zinzangbar Top. The Baralacha La is 15 km from here. On the way, just 3 km from the pass, you see the stunning Suraj Tal Lake.
Many travelers make a break at Zingzanbar. They spend the night there and head for Brandy Nullah, which lies beyond Sarchu, the next day. We will however, cycle straight to Sarchu and spend the night there. It is a downward ride of 22 km.
Day 6: From Sarchu to Whiskey Nullah (54km)
Day 7: From Whiskey Nallah to Pang (30 km)
Day 8: From Pang to Tsokar Lake (44 km)A short climb from Pang takes you to Mori Plains. From there, you enter Rupshu, which is a waterless high altitude desert and part of Tibetan Plateau. A nomadic tribe of Tibetan origin known as Changpa lives in this area. They are shepherds; you will see them gazing huge flocks of goats and sheep. You will also notice that their tents are made out of yak hair.
After crossing this region, you leave the main highway to enter a sandy diversion. It ends at Tsokar Lake. The word ‘Tsokar’ means white; you will notice white salt deposits around the water. You may also come across a hard of wild asses known as Kiang. You may also see lots of rare birds around this lake. The place is a paradise for bird watchers.
Day 9: from Tsokar to Rumptse (80 Km)Today we cross the last pass on this route. However, for that we will have to cycle back to the Manali Leh Highway once again. The climb is long and steep from this point. Once you reach Tanglang La (5260 m) stop for a while to enjoy the view. One can see both the Himalayas and the Karakoram from this spot. From Tanglang La, the road goes downwards in a zigzag pattern. Very soon we come across villages with potato and barley fields. Soon we reach Rumptse and rest for the night.
Day 10: From Rumptse to Leh (82 km)
As we follow the Manali Leh Highway, we first cross Karo and then reach Tikse. If you feel like you may stop here to see the big statue of Future Buddha and also the Shey Palace. Otherwise, you can continue cycling to reach your destination Leh.