Himalayan Grand-2: a 3-week itinerary through Kinnaur, Spiti Valley & Ladakh
Itinerary: New Delhi - Shimla - Kaza - Jispa - Sarchu - Tso kar - Manali - Shimla - New Delhi
Below is a day-by-day itinerary of the tour. This is how we expect the tour to flow, but as you know adventure happens! Dive in and get excited!
You shall be joining the tour by boarding an express train from the New Delhi Railway station (ETD 0700 hrs). The 4 hour journey will bring you to Kalka (at the foot steps of the Himalayas). A 4 hour bus/coach journey from here will bring you to Shimla (capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh & erstwhile “summer capital” of India).
Today you’ll meet your Royal Enfield Motorcycle, your ride for the next several days. After an extensive briefing session by your ride leader you’ll take a short ride in an effort to familiarise yourself with the bike and riding conditions. Today’s ride is short but challenging. You’ll be riding up the Hindustan-Tibet Highway (NH-22) towards Rampur. We leave the NH-22 at Narkanda, where a 6km road winds up the mountain to a beautiful “forest lodge” among lush greenery. You’ll be at an altitude of about 2850m.
Heading further along the NH-22 you’ll continue towards Kinnaur, where you’ll ride alongside the fierce Sutlej as you reach turning point Karchham. Here, a road continues towards Spiti and another turns towards the Baspa Valley and on to the beautifull village of Sangla. This is another 18km stretch of narrow winding road with hair-raising gorges & cliffs high above the Baspa river gushing below. Accommodation is in a comfortable tent camp at a beautiful setting on the banks of the river.
After enjoying a quiet 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 the 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.
We’ll backtrack to the NH-22 at Karchham and continue on the road towards Recong Peo, where you end up in the village of Kalpa. You’ll most likely be spending the day absorbing the stunning views of the “Kinner Kailash” and reminiscing the past few days after you left Shimla. Or perhaps walking 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 this is your last chance to make long distance phone calls, stack-up on toiletries, or anything else you need.
As you ride further up the Hindustan-Tibet highway, the landscape changes from green to rocky & barren. Still riding along the Sutlej you’ll reach Spello where your permits will be checked at a police check-point. Another 35km ride will bring you to Khab, a small village at the confluence of the Spiti & Sutlej rivers. 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 (Altitude 3660m). 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 a comfortable tent camp.
Today’s ride will take you further up into higher mountains (and across the infamous “Maling Nala”, your first creek crossing) then down to Chango where you’ll enter Spiti Valley. Your first destination is Tabo where you visit the historic 1000+ year old monastery. After having lunch at a restaurant nearby you’ll embark on the days second leg, via Dhangkar to Kaza.
Kaza is the headquarters of the Spiti sub-division and you’ll be staying here for 3 consecutive nights. You’ll be able to use facilities like Internet & long distance phone calls again, “luxuries” you left behind at Kalpa. This day can be considered a full rest day or can be used to explore the town and surrounds.
Today you will be visiting the Key Gompa and Komic village (~4300m), considered to be one of the highest villages in Asia, on your motorcycle.
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, 4550m) and a couple of streams (glacier melts) you’ll reach a pasture land 4km 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 “basic” camp-site in “cottage” tents (actually, "glamping" considering the Himalayas). Dinner & breakfast will be basic “camping meals”.
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 (20km 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.
A well deserved rest day has been placed here after 2 challenging days of riding, especially because another 3 days of back-to-back riding follows. 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.
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. 85km from Jispa, Sarchu is the last settlement (& check-point) in Himachal Pradesh. You reach here after crossing over Baralacha La (4930m), 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 tent camps. Crossing “The Morey Plains”, at an average height above 4000m, you’ll cross another two high passes (Nakee La 4905m & Lachlung La 5095m) until you reach Tso Kar (4524m), 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 tent camps.
Leaving after breakfast, you’ll first climb to the Tanglang La Pass. At 5340 M, this is the highest pass you’ll be riding to on the tour. From here you’ll backtrack to Sarchu riding over the high passes again. The views in the opposite direction are equally spectacular and give a new perspective & experience.
Riding further south and back-tracking past Jispa, you’ll arrive at a small hamlet of Sissu, on the banks of the Chandra river. The camp here has a spectacular setting and offers the opportunity to take short hikes in the beautiful surroundings.
Riding past Gramphu, you leave the Chandra river behind as you ride up to Rohtang La (3978 M). The scenery starts to turn a lot greener as you head down the Rohtang pass to the town of Manali. Situated along the banks of River Beas at the northern end of the Kullu valley, Manali is a popular tourist destination attracting thousands of Indian tourists in the summers who want to beat the heat of the plains (back to civilization).
Another day for relaxation, exploration or contemplation depending on your inclination.
Heading south from Manali, along the banks of the Beas, today’s ride takes you through some beautiful scenery. Riding down the Kullu valley past Naggar, you’ll leave behind the Beas and turn south-east towards Banjar at Aut. From here, a 28km long path lined with apple orchards leads you to your destination, a small hamlet called Nagini, on the edge of “The Great Himalayan National Park”.
Nagini and it’s surrounds offer some interesting experiences including optional ride to a village high above the valley, fishing for trout in the Tirthan river, village walks and a short trek to a small but beautiful waterfall.
The penultimate days ride is another spectacular journey along the Beas, through the apple orchards of Karsog region, past several picturesque villages down to the village of Tattapani on the banks of river Sutlej.
You’ll saddle-up yet again and for the last time on this tour for your journey back to Shimla. The evening can be spent taking a stroll on The Mall and doing some souvenir shopping. A farewell dinner is organized at a popular restaurant in the city.
It’s time to say your good-bye’s to your motorbike & the Himalayas. You’ll be taking a 4-hour train/bus ride down the Shivalik range to its footsteps at Kalka from where an Express Train will take you to New Delhi (in about another 4 hours) which shall be the end of the tour. Dinner is served in the train & is inclusive in the fare. If you’ve purchased a “Farewell” add-on you’ll be transferred to the hotel where your accommodation has been arranged.
- 21 nights Twin share accommodation in double-bed rooms/tents with Breakfasts & Dinners
- AC Bus Coach/ Chair car Express Train transfers between New Delhi & Shimla
- Transportation for Local Sight-seeing (to selected locations)
- Royal Enfield Himalayan 411 EFI or Classic 500 EFI rental motorcycle including fuel
- Experienced motorcycle mechanics
- English-speaking Ride leader & support crew
- Support vehicles with driver (for luggage, gear & occasional passengers)
- Tents, camping gear & provisions (for contingencies)
- Transfers to/from Airports/Railway stations
- Travel Insurance policy covering use of motorcycle
- Motorcycle damage deposit or damage waiver (optional)
- All Lunches, All drinks / beverages (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)
- Vaccinations and personal medication
- Visa fee for India
- Travel/ Holiday insurance
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry, tips, gifts, telephone or fax services, emergency evacuation costs, fines Entry fees and camera fees for museums, forts, temples, monuments and other such places Anything not explicitly mentioned in the “What’s Included” section
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Also take a look at the itineraries of our other tours in the region -
Ride your Royal Enfield through the mighty Himalayas over some of the highest passes in the Spiti Valley & Ladakh (upto 5320 M). Spend 3 whole weeks among spectacular Himalayan scenery & test exactly what you’re made of. We have created an itinerary with a little bit for everyone; from serious riders to those who like to immerse in culture & tradition. A motorcycle journey you will remember for the rest of your life ! Riding starts and ends at Shimla (2200 M).
The shorter of the 2 versions of our Himalayan Moto Adventures but very popular nonetheless. This 2-week itinerary has a good variety of motorcycle riding, scenery and culture; the beautiful Sangla-Baspa valley and it’s apple orchards, imposing snow-capped peaks of Kinnaur, the monasteries & “out of this world” landscape of the Spiti Valley and lush green vistas of the Kullu region. Riding starts and ends at Shimla (2200 M).
IMPORTANT ADVISORY: Please note that touring in the Himalayas on a motorcycle involves considerable amount of riding on un-paved/dirt track/loose gravel/wet mud type surfaces as well as creek crossings, some of which range between moderate to difficult. Riders need to have confidence in their riding skills/experience to be able to handle their bikes under such conditions considering the fact that they will be riding a Royal Enfield motorcycle which is not an “off-road” bike. We would expect that you have at least 3-4 years (10,000 - 15,000 KM) riding experience (& some off road skills) before you consider registering for these tours. Also, since the routes involve being at high altitudes (above 3500 M), a certain level of health/fitness is a pre-requisite. Write to us if you have doubts or need further clarifications. Our Himalayan tours start and end in New Delhi where the temperature can get up to 42°C in July. Even in the Himalayas the temperature at low altitude can get up to 30°C. However, they can fall below freezing at high altitudes in the mornings and during the nights (0-5°C). Rain is a certainty with snow being a possibility. Packing list: *On all our tours the space on the support vehicles is limited. Hence, we request that you limit your baggage to 25 KG.
- Driver’s license*
- International Driving Permit
- Travel insurance**
- Protective Riding Gloves
- Riding boots
- Riding jacket & pants
- Rain suit
- Riding goggles
- Eye drops
- Thermal underwear
- Insect repellent
- Sleeping bag/liner***
- Ear Plugs