Favorite Cycling Routes: Ladakh (Northern Indian Himalayas)


We can’t post a series about our favorite routes without mentioning the famous Leh to Manali route, as well as the Kargil to Leh route in the Indian Himalayas. The region of Ladakh is a high altitude disputed territory which boarders Pakistan and China and is full of monasteries and Tibetan monks, desolate dry mountains, and a few beautiful rivers. Ladakh is a wonderful place to cycle for those of you who enjoy isolation, endless high altitude passes, and easy camping.

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Cycling On The Moon: Ladakh

“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.”

The last few days before Leh proved to be more difficult than we had thought. After completing two passes in a day, we figured we would have an easy two days out, gaining only about 500m of elevation in order to reach Leh, the capital of Ladakh and a pleasant tourist city situated in the mountains. Boy were we wrong! Instead of simply gaining the elevation we needed, we instead climbed another two unofficial passes, gaining and loosing 600m… Twice. And that doesn’t even include the smaller ups and downs which lead us through this high desert terrain. It wasn’t simply the altitude (3,500-4,000m) that was difficult either, it was the extremely intense heat (40c) beating down on us constantly and, as we were really in a desert, there was no shade or water.

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Ladakh: Hospitality At Its Finest

“Desire! That’s the one secret of every man’s career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire.”


Just before reaching the pass that would officially bring us into the Zanskar valley we encountered two Indian motorcyclists who had just come from farther ahead. They flagged us down to explain that the pass had been impossible for them to complete as there was no road. Not a bad road, or a washed out road, simply, no road. And on top of that, there was new snowfall (unsurprising as farther below we had experienced over twelve hours straight of rain) and apparently a river (or part of the non road) which would have water up to our waists due to the extensive snow melt. So, after spending one last night surrounded by beautiful mountains over 7,000m, we decided to cycle out and towards Leh in order to return a few weeks later for a twenty day trans Himalayan trek through the Zanskar valley.

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