15 Days
Duration
N India
Tour Through
9/10
Toughness
Jul, Aug, Sep
Tour Months

From the green hills of Shimla, to rugged rockscapes of Lahaul Spiti, pinnacle-topped monasteries and on to Leh, the Shimla Spiti Leh Tour blends the adventure of riding India’s Classic Royal Enfield with spectacular scenery, amazing roads, unspoilt cultures and traditions in the north of Himachal Pradesh in the hidden Sangla Valley – Kinnaur’s best kept secret, the challenges of the Chandra Valley with its many river crossings and onwards into Ladakh ending in Leh.


Tour Start & Finish at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, India
Tour Duration 12 days
Tour Months Aug, Sep, Oct
Included   Motorcycle, Fuel, Hotels, Main Meals, Domestic Transfers, Guide
Excluded  Visas, Travel Insurance, Excess Luggage Fees, Catch-Up Costs

See Terms for complete list of Includes and Excludes.


This is a stunningly beautiful, rewarding and challenging 15 day Motorcycle Road Adventure through one of India’s most remote and spectacular Himalayan Buddhist regions. From the green hills of Shimla, to the dry desert-scapes of the Lahaul Spiti valley, with pinnacle-topped monasteries and onwards on the dramatic Leh highway. There are many river crossings through the Chandra Valley after leaving the Spiti Valley.

 

Landscape

High Mountain Roads – Vast Panoramas

Clear Blue Skies – Raging Rivers

Sky Blue lakes – High altitude desert

Night Stays

Three Star Hotels – Luxury Camps

Local Guest Houses – Parachute Tents

Simple huts – Local Lodges

Culture & Customs

Cliff Top Buddhism – Nomadic Life

Bhuddist Gumpas – 14th Century Farming

Silk Road Scenes – Dance and Dress

Challenges En-Route

Broken roads – Off-road sections

River crossings – Altitude Sickness

Snow & Ice – Bright hot sunshine

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Day 1 – Arrive in Delhi

We’ve collected you from the airport and transferred you to our Delhi hotel to meet the Group and enjoy a welcome dinner. We welcome you with a dinner in a local Delhi restaurant. Our night stop is in Delhi at this hotel.

In Delhi you repack your clothing and kit into two motorcycle panniers and a tank bag that you will transport on your motorcycle, leaving behind our travel suitcases to be collected on your return to Delhi.

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Day 2 – North to Chandigarh

An early start gets us on the highway north, by car, skirting Chandigarh, past the railhead at Kalka, to the start of the Tour at our hotel in the centre of Shimla, the Hill Station Capital of Himachel Pradesh. The next day you are ready to take command of you motorcycle. Our nightstop is in Shimla.
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Day 3 – Satluj River

After a Ride Briefing we head off gently through Shimla and on to hidden valleys; our first day is a rollercoaster ride of twisting climbing roads, taking us into green hills and into the apple orchards above, at an old temple site with views across the Satluj Valley, in the Alpine-like hills north of Shimla.

Your confidence grows as you learn the ‘rules of engagement’, the group is finding its pace and we’re heading north east up the highway. Way above us apple orchards high on hidden plateaux. Apples are brought from the high orchards by ropeway, down to the roadside, to be piled high in waiting jeeps and Tata trucks.I’ve seen Himachali apples on sale in markets in south India, 3,500kms to the south. A hundred million boxes of ‘ruby reds’ on their way across India through Delhi’s huge fruit markets and way below us a silver streak – the Satluj river, deep in its bottomless gorge.

Our night-stop in old colonial style cottages is in the sleepy village of Sarahan, home to the centuries old Bhimakali Temple with its six concentric silver coated doors; creating a unique blend of Hindu-Buddhist architecture. Sarahan is also a summer home to the Apple Maharajas whose fine wooden houses can be seen dotted on hillsides.

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Day 4 – Sangla Valley

Riding up the steep Sangla valley you’ll discover discovering fine examples of the unique Kinnauri religious style in their ancient stone and wood, earthquake-proof temples. Steep sided valleys with thick forests are home to leopards and bears, cloaked in deep snow in winter. Pioneering apple orchard developments are sprinkled across the Baspa Sangla valley as are quaint unique and largely unspoilt villages, whose friendly locals tell of a hard life, often cut-off for months in winter. We night stop in tents in the pea and buckwheat fields of the Sangla valley, beside the ‘rumbling’ Baspa River.
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Day 5 – Kinner Kailash

Refreshed and ready to go, we start the ride the north. You might get your feet wet as we cross several small streams that spill over the road! …back across the Satluj river, beyond the massive hydro-project at Karchham. We are heading for the hill side village of Kalpa, sitting above a beautiful Deodar forest, amidst gardens and apple orchards. You’ll smile at the views across the valley to Kinnaur’s most holy ‘Kinner Kailash’ 6,050m, not to be confused with Tibet’s Mt Kailash. We night stop in Kalpa.
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Day 6 – Holy Nako Lake

Day six is a spectacular ride that winds up the Satluj river with it’s vertical-sided, bottomless gorge. We’re heading for the village of Nako to the north. But not before we’ve ridden The Groove; a brilliant piece of road engineering where the road is literally carved out of the rock face. We arrive and take the chance to walk through the narrow paths of the old village and settle for the evening. At 3,600m the air is clean and cool, in what I think must be one of India’s prettiest mountain villages. Our night stop is in luxury tents above the village’s beautiful lake.

We’re in ‘border country’ we ride below ridges that once were occupied by Chinese forces in the Sino-Indian war 1962, parts of the territory China called Aksai Chin – a high altitude salt desert. It was absorbed by the British in a 1904 treaty with Tibet, once the extended kingdom of the largely Hindu Dogras.

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Day 7 – Tabo & Kaza

The day begins – after the short ride back to the main road, fording the Malling Nala. You’ll get your feet wet, but in the hot sun they’ll soon will soon dry out. At the head of the valley the Spiti river flows into the Pare Chu creating the Satluj river. After the check post we must turn left, the Tibet border not 10 kms distant and head into the Spiti Valley. We stop for lunch at Tabo, home to India’s oldest and rarest Buddhist Gumpas. Made of mud they have survived with their finely adorned Buddhas for over a thousand years.

Beneath fantastic blue skies we ride on to Kaza. It’s a short ride, giving you time to stop and absorb the huge mountain-scape around you. We stop regularly on this rides to take pictures and ‘admire the view’. Our night stop is in a monastery guest house high above the Spiti river in Dhankar where the now ancient, crumbling monastery sits, with spectacular views across the Spiti Valley reveal the entrance to the Pin Valley.

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Day 8 – Kaza Take II

The pass at the head of the Pin valley crosses back into Himachal Pradesh, we ride some way up the Pin valley to explore small communities that live in this beautiful remote place. Doubling-back the short distance to the Spiti river, we continue the ride north west into the valley.

Kaza is only a short distance to ride. We can have lunch here or at Kibber, 22kms furth up the road. But we’ll leave our bags at the hotel in Kaza and ride on to visit (the neck-craning sight) of Ki Monastery, perched quite litterally on a pinnacle of rock. We’ll ride on to the village of Kibber (for lunch or light refereshment). Kibber is still one the most unspoilt villages in the Spiti Valley. We’ll night stop in Kaza. Then further to the hidden village of Kibber. It’s at 4,270m. the highest you’ll have ridden on the tour.

Some of you will notice the thin air and start to move a bit more slowly, but acclimatising yourself to the rarefied atmosphere that lies ahead on the Tour is important. We’ll not stay long, riding back to the hotel for a ‘Sundowner’ and dinner. We night stop in Kaza.

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Day 9 – Kunzum La

We’re ready to ride towards the source of the Spiti River, taking a side tributary that crosses the mountains at Kunzum La. 4,500m, the distant Kunzum La. The other side of the pass sees us in remote, dramatic and seemingly harsh scenery. But we’re heading to a little known secret and our night stop beside a beautiful blue mountain lake. Here it is quite possible you will experience the first symptoms of AMS. We plan to stay the night here. We night stop in tents beside the lake, around which horsemen and shepherds tend their animals.
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Day 10 – Lahual coming...

We left the Spiti valley when we crossed Kunzum La. Now riding through the District Lahaul we’ll but first we traverse numerous rivers flowing over the roadway. In winter this road is quite often washed away and even in July snow drifts quite often block the road forcing us to take rough diversions. This is probably the most ‘technically difficult’ road to ride in north India.

Our destination today is Keylong. From the lake we have to cross many road-rivers, It is uninhabitted, remote, challenging and rewarding – in places may seem impassable. Crossing the Chandra River we climb the far side on a narrow mud road – scratched into the mountain, high above the river, until we meet the main highway to Leh. We night stop in Keylong.

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Day 11 – Sarchu plateau

The ride today has you climbing in altitude, crossing two passes to over 4,000m. We ride through glacial-melt rivers, some small some not so small. Arid desert landscapes so dry you’ll stop for water, zig-zagging roads, saline lakes and at the wide open pastures of Sarchu, possibly our second camping night-stop at altitude. At 4,250m you may be feel a little ‘high’, as the thin air induces deeper breathes and sometimes an uncomfortable sleep. Your Tour Leader has experience in recognising the symptoms of AMS and keeps a keen eye on all Riders during these high altitude stages, checking for signs of AMS We night stop in Sarchu.
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Day 12 – Tso Kar

Today’s not a long ride by design, we are climbing continually to over 4,500m and the symptoms of AMS may well be showing themselves. We ride slowly and take frequent rest stops, a technique that helps acclimatise Riders on a route that must not be rushed. The engineering masterpiece, the Gata Loops will tire you. 22 testing hairpin bends climbing for over 7kms, carrying you right over the top of the mountain. We stop for lunch at Pang and climb again to the More plains. Some distance off the More Plains – where Ladakhi nomads graze their flocks of sheep, we reach our night-stop, camping beside the tranquil Tso Kar lake.
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Day 13 – Leh Ladakh

The biggest challenge so far on the tour lies ahead. 50kms onwards the second highest motorable pass on earth, Tanglang La 5,360m (over 16,000ft), can be warm and sunny or cold and snowy. The approach road climb seems never ending, all the time your motor gets weaker. It may be raining or possibly snowing. We stop to put on wet and cold weather gear below the final climb to the pass. Stopping later on this road to ‘dress-up’ is not always easy.

On the far side of the pass, the road is constantly being rebuilt after harsh winters. Landslides weaken the higher sections as we drop down through swinging through loops down towards civilisation. One more tricky river crossing, through enormous gorges in red and green rock buttress-like formations and we’re on for lunch at Upshi on the mighty Indus river. With Leh in our sights the road takes us through ancient Buddhist capitals, past Potala-like monasteries and triumphantly into Leh. We night stop in a quiet and peaceful guest house close to the centre of Leh.

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Day 14 – Khardung La

The Shimla Spiti Leh Tour is nearly finished. But not before the ride to the top of the highest motorable pass in the world, Khardung La, 18,380ft. Stopping at the top to take in the (rarified) atmosphere, perhaps buy a few souveniers, before heading back down with the magnificent view of Leh and the entire Leh valley. You can take time to explore the quiet lanes and busy markets of Leh below the majestic Leh Palace. In the evening a local ride to the Peace Stupa in the north to watch the sunset over Leh. We night stop in the same Leh guest house.
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Day 15 – Last Day in Leh

It’s your last day in the mountains. It’s an early start to get you to the airport for your mountain flight back to Delhi. from the domestic airport you will be collected and brought back to our Delhi hotel. Your night stop is in the same Delhi hotel.
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Day 16 – Depart India

After breakfast we take you by car to the airport for your onward flight home.

Tour Prices Include…

Motorcycle including fuel, oil, maintenance & spares.
A Jeep as a support vehicle with driver.
Royal Enfield mechanic and spares where required.
Road Captain/Tour Guide.
All domestic transfers.
All hotel accommodation for the Tour dates (unless otherwise arranged).
All meals whilst at a hotel / lodge / camp. Typically Breakfast and Dinner.
Restricted Area Permits, where required.
Road Book notes and area maps, with en-route contact details.
First-Aid Boxes are carried in the support vehicle and with the Tour Guide.
Expedition Luggage: 2 Panniers, Tank Bags (by request) and 1 Holdall for accumulated stuff*.
*Luggage can be carried in the support vehicle.

Tour Prices Do Not Include…

International Flights / Excess baggage charges.
International Airport departure taxes, airline fuel surcharges.
Visa (Passports must be valid for at least 6 months.)
Personal Travel Insurance.
Lunch. Lunch is usually a “Road Experience” and is either paid for by yourself or a ‘group kitty’.
Entrance fees to national parks, monuments and sites of historic interest.
Hotel bar and snack bills, bottled drinking water.
Vaccinations and medicine.
Laundry service, tips, room service, porters, telephone and fax calls.
Motorcycle clothing.
Single Accommodation supplement for each tour day is £70.