Pascal Kolkhuis Tanke | tropicalcyclist.contact [@] gmail [.]com

LADAKH:

THE BREATHTAKING TOPS OF SMALL TIBET

you can't be higher on a bicycle

the deepness of
Tibetan Buddhism

can mountains really
be so beautiful?

Some of the photos above were taken during our own exploration, while in the tours with guests the luggage transport is by support vehicle. For more photoshere.

For almost twenty years we didn't think it was possible, a bike ride just as beautiful as the one on the Karakoram Highway or the Pamir Highway. And suddenly it happened: Inner Ladakh, the breathtaking peaks of Little Tibet, in the Indian Himalayas!
Do they scare or challenge you? Three mountain passes of 5,300 (+) meters, the Wari La, the Khardung La and the Chang La. They are very different in nature, but all their climbs and descents have one thing in common: they are breathtakingly beautiful. Nature in its purest form, subjecting your entire body to it.
Ladakh is also so much more than high mountain passes.
The beautiful, holy Pangong Lake for example, at 4,300 meters, is unparalleled.
Or the Nubra valley, which combines deserted remoteness with lively fertility in the villages.
Or the higher Buddhist monasteries, where Tibetan monks can live their spiritual, serene life without being oppressed by Chinese culture (as in Tibet itself).
And yes, of course: Leh as a wonderful base camp, sometimes called Little Kathmandu, but then in the authentic form.

Food is always delicious, the people are extremely courteous and hospitable, the roads are traffic-calm, the weather is ideal for cycling: what is not top in Ladakh?
For us it is certain: Inner Ladakh is the absolute winner!
In 2018 we did the tour with guests for the first time. The sparkling travelogue from Karin indicates that this journey is certainly not only for top athletes.

The tour also inspired two newspaper articles:

ROUTE CYCLING HOLIDAY INNER LADAKH

The Khardung La is north-west of the Wari La and the Wari La is north-west of the Chang La. Those are mountain passes of 5.300 m.

  • Day 1: welcome to Leh at an altitude of 3,500 meters.
  • Day 2: A second day of acclimatization, with a bicycle trip of 40 km to the Thiksey monastery.
  • Day 3: the third day of adaptation to the altitude, from Leh to the slightly higher Chemrey monastery (50 km).
  • Dag 4: the Wari La (5,300 m) on and over, to Tangyar (3,800 m). The thirty kilometers of climbing take around 4 to 5 hours nett, flatter sections are alternated by steeper ones, on which your cycling computer does not indicate more than 5 to 7 km/hour. The more than 20 km long descent is phenomenal.
  • Day 5: 60 mostly descending and flat kilometers to Sumur (3,200 m), with a few climbs on the way; into the northern Nubra valley. A bit more civilized, but the landscape is still anything but 'normal'!
  • Day 6: to Panamik, known for its hot springs, and back; and then cycle on to Diskit (3,200 m), the southern Nubra valley (daily total: 80 km).
  • Day 7: rest day. Diskit has a famous (high altitude) monastery. In September we can float/raft on the Shyok river.
  • Day 8: to Turtuk (2,900 m) at the end of the Nubra valley, close to the Pakistani border (90 km). This area was closed to foreigners until recently and can best be described as the North Pakistani Hunza valley in rugged form: beautiful!
  • Day 9: back to Diskit, with completely different panoramas in the opposite direction.
  • Day 10: the prelude to the Khardung La: 45 km to the village of Khardung, at an altitude of 4,000 m.
  • Day 11: 32 km to the top of the Khardung La (5,359 m), followed by a fantastic descent of 38 km to Leh.
  • Day 12: rest day in Leh.
  • Day 13: after a one-hour transfer to the foot of the Chang La (3,600 m), it is more than 30 km of cycling, to the top of 5,360 meters. Almost 40 km of descent will then take you to Tangtse.
  • Day 14: 45 km long, fascinating vistas guide you to the holy, incomparable Pangong Lake, at over 4,300 m.
  • Day 15: transfer of 5-6 hours, back to Leh.
  • Day 16: goodbye.

Cycling through Ladakh is tough. And also worth the effort! The road surface is remarkably good - less than a quarter is unpaved; much is perfect asphalt - but the height is a challenge and from 5,000 meters on it certainly dominates your entire cycling effort. Fortunately, we always spend our nights much lower after long descents. A good condition, but not that of a top athlete, is a requirement; as well as feeling at home on a mountain bike or sturdy randonneur. Above all, a flexible travel mentality is needed to optimally enjoy this expedition-like journey.

CYCLING INNER LADAKH, PRACTICAL

On Saturday 12 September 2020 we welcome our guests to Leh.
We say goodbye on Sunday 27 September 2020, in Leh.
The bike ride is supported by a large bus or by several smaller ones.
The strict continental climate only offers the opportunity to travel / cycle in a short (summer) period. August and September are the best months with lots of sun and little rainfall. The weather is fickle on the mountain passes, it can change in no time.
The number of participants is a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 18.
The road surface is varied and partly unpaved: a lot of asphalt like a billiard cloth, paved road, sand & stones, sometimes a river bed, crumbled by the seasons. The worst parts are just before and after the tops of the three mountain passes. A mountain bike and a sturdy randonneur are both possible. We have tools and a number of universal parts with us.
Bicycles can be rented in Leh.
The accommodations vary: (good) hotels, guesthouses and some primitive 'homestays'. Outside of Leh, electricity and hot water are available only a few hours a day.
You can apply for the visa for India online in advance. The passport must be valid for at least another six months.
The DTP and Hepatitis A vaccinations are recommended.

PRICES CYCLING TOUR INNER LADAKH

The comfort-price ratio of a bicycle trip through the remote areas of Ladakh is different from the quality-price ratio: the latter is very high. It's about a truly unique experience. Our combination of small groups, foreign areas and full care cannot possibly be low-budget. On the other hand, the price for participating in a tour covers almost all costs on the spot, because included are:

  1. all overnight stays
  2. the full supply of drinks and food (except alcoholic drinks, which are very scarce in this part of India)
  3. the (cycling) Dutch- and English-speaking guidance and that of the support vehicle which transports the luggage - and possibly bicycles and people
  4. all transport and logistics between the start and the finish in Leh
  5. all entrance fees

Participation in the tour costs 2,495 euros per person.
Those who want a single room pay a supplement of 330 euros.

Practically no pocket money is needed.

Optional is:

  • the daily cleaning, maintenance and repair of clothes and bicycle. In other words, in cycling terms: the care of mechanic and soigneur. This option costs 130 euros once, and then also applies to all future (hopefully many) Tropical Cyclist trips.

Flying to Leh is over Delhi, you can buy a ticket that includes the last domestic flight (and the first back). There are many possible airlines who offer this route.
Heb je belangstelling voor deze expeditie-achtige tocht? tropicalcyclist.contact@gmail.com

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