Sky Kingdoms Bicycle Trip | Nubra to Ladakh Nomadic Lake Regions - Indian Himalaya

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 One of the Indian Himalaya's most spectacular and diverse mountain bicycle trips, we cycle on and off road to some of Ladakh's most unique regions: the desert like, sublimely beautiful Nubra Valley, the green nomadic regions of Ladakh, the traditionally Ladakhi Indus valley, the otherworldly Tso Kar Lake, a world of salt, and the turquoise Tsomoriri Lake in eastern Ladakh.

The scenery throughout the cycling trip is breathtakingly beautiful, the campsites idyllic, the roads mostly smaller country roads perfect for biking (with a few of the scenic sections along the Leh Manali road). We’ll see few tourists as we explore some of the Indian Himalaya's most interesting regions, and we have plenty of time for chai in small villages, shopping at local fruit and vegetable markets and cold beers in the evenings at camp!

Starting our bicycle journey in Leh, we cycle part way over the Kardung La (incorrectly marketed as 'the world's highest motorable pass) into the desert world of Nubra, cycling along the green and mighty Shyok River towards the border of Pakistan. Nubra is renown for its ancient Buddhist monasteries, sand dunes and Bactrian camels as well as its oasis villages, far removed from the bustle of Ladakh. Nubra was once a major stop along the ancient Silk Road, a route from Ladakh on to Baltistan and Yarkand. These Central Asian passes have been closed since the middle of the 20th century, when China closed its borders to trade and migration.

We explore the exquisitely beautiful Panamik valley, cycling along the massive Nubra (Siachen) River, followed by biking through the Shyok valley, cycling towards the border of Pakistan, visiting ancient Buddhist monasteries at Hunder and Deskit and cycling past sand dunes, perhaps even having a ride on Bactrian camel.

Crossing the Wari La (5000+ meters), another world class downhill back to the Indus valley before bicycing along idyllic roads to visit a hidden, high altitude lakes, turquoise Tsomoriri and the wonderful salt lake of Tso Kar. En route we'll drink salt butter tea and camp with Tibetan and Ladakhi nomads, visit traditional Ladakhi villages, watch rare wildlife and birds, and explore the northern reaches of the Indian Himalaya.

Summers in the Indian Himalaya are wonderful. Campsites are green and breathtakingly beautiful, cycling days are long and sunny, traditional villages are bustling with activity, glacial rivers sparkle and Himalayan panoramas from the passes are spectacular. The nomadic settlements we encounter along the way are timeless, vignettes Ladakh and Zanskar from centuries past. There is always plenty of extra time built in for exploration on our cycling trips, a photographer's dream!

Kashmir Extension
While you're in Ladakh, do some extra exploring! Tour Srinagar, Kashmir, the famous lakes with their colorful floating markets and shikaras (long-tail boats), either flying in and out of Srinagar or opting for a stunningly beautiful jeep safari over the renown Koji La pass to Leh and Ladakh for a tour of the Indus Valley and its many Buddhist monasteries. We base our tours in Srinagar, where you stay in style on traditional houseboats on the lake, visit the floating market, old Srinagar and its many mosques and markets and the famous Mughal gardens.

Join us for one of the Himalaya's greatest, most unique cycling trips, run in our signature Kamzang style.
Fun, adventure + a real challenge!

Trip

The Great Sky Kingdoms Bicycle Trip
Day 1 - Wednesday, 19 July 2017 - Arrive Leh
Day 2 - Leh
Day 3 - Leh
Day 4 - Bike Khardung Frog. Drive Khardung La (5340m) + Khardung. Bike Sumur Camp
Day 5 - Sumur Camp. Bike Panamik + Sumur
Day 6 - Bike Deskit + Hunder
Day 7 - Extra Day
Day 8 - Bike Agham Valley Camp (Thangyar)
Day 9 - Bike Wari La High Camp
Day 10 - Bike Sakti (cycle over Wari La 5315m)
Day 11 - Bike Karu + Kyungyam Phu (Roang)
Day 12 - Bike Kyungyamdo + Chumanthang
Day 13 - Bike Yaya Tso Lake
Day 14 - Bike Thangsang Tso (Lake)
Day 15 - Bike Korzok Phu Nomad Camp
Day 16 - Explore Korzok Phu
Day 17 - Bike Tsomoriri Lake Viewpoint + Puga Camp
Day 18 - Bike Rajung Karu (cycle over Tso Kar La 4950m)
Day 19 - Bike Thukje (cycle over Horlam Kongka La 4950m)
Day 20 - Bike Rumtse (cycle over Taglang La 5325m)
Day 21 - Bike Leh | Hemis – Stok Road
Day 22 - Leh
Day 23 - Thursday, 10 August 2017 - Trip Ends

NOTE
Our Ladakh bicycling trip starts and finishes in Leh, Ladakh. There are daily flights Delhi - Leh - Delhi. If you have successive international flights that are not all part of the same ticket or following domestic flights we suggest planning more cautiously and leaving an extra day in Leh after the trip. We'd love to help arrange excursions to Srinagar, Pangong Lake or sightseeing in the Indus Valley if you have extra time!

Kamzang Journeys Photos
The Great Ladakh, Zanskar + Kashmir Bicycle Journey
Nubra + Indus Bicycle Trip

GoPro + Ladakh Cycling Videos!
These great YouTube videos were put together by friend and cyclist David Koelle. Although they're not exactly our routes, they give you an idea of the roads, the beauty and the challenges of cycling in the Indian Himalaya!
Nubra - Wari La Cycle | David Koelle
Lamayuru, Leh, Nubra + Khardung La Cycle - | David Koelle
Pangong Lake + Chang La Cycle | David Koelle
Srinagar - Lamayuru Cycle | David Koell
Leh - Manali Cycle | David Koelle

Watch a Kamzang Journeys Ladakh Trek!
Kamzang Journeys | Changthang Nomads | MrMennoBen
(We cycle through this stunningly beautiful nomadic region; check out our Kamzang style camping!)

Itinerary

Day 1 - Meet in Leh 3500m
Welcome to Leh, the capital of predominantly Buddhist Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, tucked away amidst mountainous Ladakh, part of the great Trans Himalayan range. If arriving by air, you will feel the jump in altitude and it will take your body a few days to adjust. If arriving by road from Manali or Srinagar, you will have had some extra acclimatization en route but still need time to adjust to the 3500 meter altitude. Hydrate with plenty of water, stay away from alcohol for a few days, rest and don't over-exert yourself! Even walking up the stairs of the guesthouse, or the steep steps leading to Leh Fort, will make you breathless for the first few days. We recommend starting the day before you fly up to Leh, and consider taking Diamox before you fly to Leh.

We stay at the family run Shaynam Hotel, a lovely guest house with a beautiful garden courtyard, located just below the Main Bazaar in Leh, with options to stay at Omasila in Changspa, north of Leh. Kim will take you on a short tour of old Leh once you've settled into your room. Central Asian Leh is packed with Muslim bakeries, modern cafes, Western and tandoori restaurants, old, winding alleyways, antique and pashmina shops, Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, picturesque mosques, Hindu and Sikh temples and wonderful, atmospheric fruit and vegetable markets along the Main Bazaar. 

We will meet for dinner in the evening at the Ibex, Chopsticks, Penguin or Summer Harvest, a few of our favorite restaurants.

Start putting your bike together if you've brought it with you, or Kim will take you into Leh to get fitted for your rental bicycle. We can spend the next few days sightseeing on by bike!

Day 2 - Leh | Cycling Tour Leh (Shanti Stupa, Gompa Village, Leh Fort) (20-25 km)
We have two more full days in Leh to acclimatize, do some cycling, and enjoy the peaceful, willow-lined streets and bustling bazaar life of Singge Namgyal's 17th century capital of Ladakh, once an integral part of Western Tibet and a major trading post along the southern Silk Route. There is lots to explore in this wonderful Central Asian town; the newly-restored ruins of the 17th century Leh Palace, the ancient 15th century Leh Fort and the attached Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, other historic Tibetan Buddhist gompas, the Sunni Muslim mosques, narrow back alleys with steaming Muslim bread, tiny antique shops tucked away amidst the many ancient stupas and architectural remnants, the exotic Main Bazaar (c. 1840s) which once accommodated trade caravans, and even a polo field. Today, the Main Bazaar is a colorful street, the sidewalks crammed mornings and afternoons with Ladakhi women selling their fresh fruits and vegetables, and locals at the far end vending their dried nuts, apricots and apples.

Caravans of merchants from far flung destinations such as Yarkand, Tibet, Kashgar and North India passed through Leh during ancient trade missions, trading salt, wool, Pashmina, tea and semi-precious stones, lending to the city its exotic allure. Pilgrims flocked to the monasteries of Leh and the Indus valley, explorers of old stopped in Leh to re-stock and weather out the harsh Himalayan winter and soldiers en route to plunder and conquer desirous destinations passed through Leh, all leaving their mark on this unique capital.

Kim will take you for a walk (or cycle) up the bustling Fort Road, lined with shops owned by Kashmiri, Tibetan and Kashmiri shop-keepers, to the crumbling but majestic Leh Fort (3680 meters) and the red, Maitreiya Tsemo Gompa, perched high on a craggy and crumbling hilltop overlooking the bazaars of old Leh. You can stop at 16th century nine-story Leh Palace, of a similar architectural design to the Tibetan Potala Palace, on the way down if you have the energy. Visit the museum, a worthwhile endeavor, as well as the nearby gompas (Tibetan Buddhist monasteries) - Soma Gompa, Chamba Lakhang and Chensrig Lakhang.

Cycle through the willow lines streets of Changspa to reach the many steps leading to the Japanese-built Shanti Stupa for a view over the green fields and white-washed Ladakhi houses of the villages surrounding Leh. The precariously perched Leh Fort guards the eastern edges of the fertile valley. Sankar Gompa (17th - 18th century), reached through shady lanes to the east of Changspa, lies in the midst of Chubi's groves of poplar and willow and is another wonderful morning or afternoon walk. The back route to Leh Fort starts in Chubi and passes through a desert-like Buddhist cremation ground before climbing to the fortress.

Our favorite bike ride starts at Shaynam Hotel, follows traditional, willow-lined roads to Shanti Stupa, a bit of off-road to Gompa village (and monastery at the top of this traditional village), along the high road overlooking Leh to Leh Fort, and then either down via Leh gate or through the Muslim sections of Leh back to Shaynam, from 20 - 25 kilometers depending on which route we take.

Day 3 - Leh | Cycling Tour Indus Valley (Eastern Monasteries - Thiksey, Shey + Stock Palace) (60 km)
If you feel acclimatized enough, we will take you on an Indus bicycle ride (8 km downhill to Spitok, 10 km downhill to the other end of Choglamsar) for a tour of the Indus' eastern monasteries by bike. From Choglamsar, cycle east to the ancient palace of Shey, one of Ladakh's old capitals, followed by 5 more scenic kilometers to Thiksey Gompa. After a look around this bustling monastic community, continue to cycle east along the Indus, crossing the river 6 kilometers later and cycling to hilltop Stakna Gompa. Heading back towards Leh, you'll cycle about another 15 kilometers to the road up to Stok Palace and green Stok village, with its living palace, wonderful prayer room and museum (this is a 7+ kilometer climb, perhaps better saved for another day). From Stok, it's just over 13 kilometers back to Leh, re-crossing the Indus at the Tibetan community of Choglamsar from where you'll backtrack east 1 km and then take the more scenic road back up to Leh.

NOTE: Because of the altitude of Leh (3500 meters), it may be safer to do a sightseeing trip along the Indus, wander through Leh's endlessly fascinating old town or relax and make sure your bike is tuned up. We will discuss once in Leh.

Extra Day in Leh | Bike Kardung La (5340m) to Leh (39 km downhill)
One of the Himalaya's great downhill rides, put your bicycle on a jeep up to the Kardung La along the Ladakh Range, the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra Valleys, and part way to the infamous Siachen Glacier. This epic road was built in 1976, and openned to public vehicles in 1988. Cycle down this switchbacking road, stopping on the way down to slowly cycle through some of Leh's leafy northern suburbs.

From Wikipedia "Khardong La is historically important as it lies on the major caravan route from Leh to Kashgar in Central Asia. About 10,000 horses and camels used to take the route annually, and a small population of Bactrian camels can still be seen at Hunder, in the area north of the pass. During World War II there was an attempt to transfer war material to China through this route."

Note that although all signs proclaim the Kardung La to be 5602 meters (or somewhere in this vicinity), it's actually nearly 300 meters lower, so actually not at all the highest motorable pass in the world! Times of India Article | Kardung La

Extra Days in Leh
Always great to have extra days in Leh to acclimatize and to enjoy the peaceful, willow-lined streets and bustling bazaar life of Singge Namgyal's 17th century capital of Ladakh, once an integral part of Western Tibet and a major trading post along the southern Silk Route. There is lots to explore in this wonderful Central Asian town; the newly-restored ruins of the 17th century Leh Palace, the ancient 15th century Leh Fort and the attached Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, other historic Tibetan Buddhist gompas, the Sunni Muslim mosques, narrow back alleys with steaming Muslim bread, tiny antique shops tucked away amidst the many ancient stupas and architectural remnants, the exotic Main Bazaar (c. 1840s) which once accommodated trade caravans, and even a polo field. Today, the Main Bazaar is a colorful street, the sidewalks crammed mornings and afternoons with Ladakhi women selling their fresh fruits and vegetables, and locals at the far end vending their dried nuts, apricots and apples.

Caravans of merchants from far-flung destinations such as Yarkand, Tibet, Kashgar and North India passed through Leh during ancient trade missions, trading salt, wool, Pashmina, tea and semi-precious stones, lending to the city its exotic allure. Pilgrims flocked to the monasteries of Leh and the Indus valley, explorers of old stopped in Leh to re-stock and weather out the harsh Himalayan winter and soldiers en route to plunder and conquer desirous destinations passed through Leh, all leaving their mark on this unique capital.

Walk or cycle up the bustling Fort Road, lined with shops owned by Kashmiri, Tibetan and Kashmiri shop-keepers, to the crumbling but majestic Leh Fort (3680 meters) and the red, Maitreiya Tsemo Gompa, perched high on a craggy and crumbling hilltop overlooking the bazaars of old Leh. You can stop at 16th century nine-story Leh Palace, of a similar architectural design to the Tibetan Potala Palace, on the way down if you have the energy. Visit the museum, a worthwhile endeavor, as well as the nearby gompas (Tibetan Buddhist monasteries) - Soma Gompa, Chamba Lakhang and Chensrig Lakhang.

Wander or cycle along the willow-lines streets of Changspa to reach the many steps leading to the Japanese-built Shanti Stupa for a view over the green fields and white-washed Ladakhi houses of the villages surrounding Leh. The precariously perched Leh Fort guards the eastern edges of the fertile valley. Sankar Gompa (17th - 18th century), reached through shady lanes to the east of Changspa, lies in the midst of Chubi's groves of poplar and willow and is another wonderful morning or afternoon walk. The back route to Leh Fort starts in Chubi and passes through a desert-like Buddhist cremation ground before climbing to the fortress.

OPTIONAL INDUS + MONASTERY JEEP TRIP
Arrange (through Kim, our Tibetan jeep-driver Wang Chuk or the Shaynam Hotel) a 'jeep safari' through the fertile Indus Valley to visit a few of the living Tibetan Buddhist gompas, the crumbling ruins of ancient fortresses and palaces and the traditional villages that dot the banks of the region, the 'cradle of civilization' of much of the ancient world. Kim can help arrange jeeps and/or a guide for a day's excursion.

To the East: Shey, Thikse, Hemis, Chemde, Thagthok, Stakna, Matho & Stok.
To the West: Spiyok, Phyang, Basgo, Likir, Alchi, Rizdong & Lamayuru.

OPTIONAL RAFTING TRIP
You can arrange a day rafting trip on the Indus (easier) or the Zanskar River, approximately $40.

Day 4 – Bike Khardung Frog (12 km). Drive Khardung La 5330m + Khardung 3560m (55 km). Bike Sumur 3105m (47 km)
A top ten Himalayan cycling day as we leave Leh and head towards Central Asian Nubra! Leaving Leh, we cycle north through the shady outskirts of Leh, past the Leh Fort, and slowly ascend the first part of the Kardung La roads, winding our way up an endless series of switchbacks, with broadening views of the Ladakh range as we gain altitude. Our goal is to cycle about 12 km to the 'Khardung Frog' or perhaps a few kilometers further, not exerting too much energy on our early days at altitude. You may opt to pack your bicycle on top of the jeep and drive to the the Khardung La, marketed as ‘The Highest Motorable Pass in the World’ at 5605 meters, but actually only 5330 meters.

The views back over Leh’s willow filled suburbs and the Stok Range are sublime as we climb higher out of Leh, passing the check post of South Pullu at (4630 m) after 22 km, and reaching the tourist-crowded top of the pass in less than two hours, a 36 km drive (or cycle) from Leh. We pass North Pullu, the Nubra side check post (4635m), 14 kilometers down another 17 km to reach Khardung village (3960m), from where we start our cycling after lunch at a ‘dhaba’ (Indian tea shop).

Back on the bikes, a great start to the second half of the day with one of the Himalayas’ greatest downhill cycles on a lovely, one-car paved road, with little traffic and views throughout. The road is partly along the cliff, with dramatic twists and turns, rising and falling high above the mighty Shyok River below. The first 24 kilometers to Khalsar is one of the Himalaya’s best downhills in our opinion, with spectacular viewpoints throughout the ride and with little traffic in the afternoon. The grade is gradual, and gradually rounds the corner towards Nubra with several notable photo points along parts of the road cut out from the cliff. Once at the intersection leading to Nubra or the Wari La, we take a left and continue to switchback gradually to the valley floor, cycling the next 6 balmy kilometers on a paved trail which cuts its way through sandy terrain, and leads to the intersection of Nubra’s two valleys at the Nubra (Siachen) River and the Shyok River, the later a tributary of the Indus.

We continue straight, cross a bridge and continue to cycle another 17 kilometers on a beautiful, flat road past several small settlements, with seabuckthorne bushes lining the road, passing a line of ancient, whitewashed shortens and mani wall, partially buried in the sands. Once we reach the shops and intersection of Sumur, we turn right and continue for less than 1 km to our green campsite in the back of a traditional Ladakhi house, kept by the grandfather, who prunes the apricot trees bursting with fruit.

Day 5 - Sumur Camp. Bike Panamik 3120m + Sumur (50 km)
Starting the day with a lovely, shady 2 km ride uphill from the campsite, we cycle past neatly dressed school kids and a group of white washed chortens, following a small stream and cycling under a ‘kane’ (entrance) chorten, cleansing ourselves (and our bicycle presumably) for the arrival at Sumur Gompa at the top of the hill. As we switch back gently, we cycle under numerous Buddhist ‘lung pa’, or Tibetan five-colored prayer flags, strung up in banners above the road, and pass under many more on the 2 km ride down after leaving the monastery.

We cut off 1 or 2 km of road by taking this monastery route, and reach the beautiful road along the mighty Nubra River (also called the Siachen River), passing by many more leafy villages, the road slightly undulating as it follows the right banks of the Nubra River, ascending slightly for the first 6 km. Chukars cluck as they scuttle through the underbrush, and desert lizards scurry across the road. We cycle along this stunningly beautiful and green road, and past more seabuckthorne bushes which line the road, so be careful where you park your bike as the thorns puncture tires!

The Panamik hot springs are about 23 km past our Sumur camp, a short ride above the road; stop for a soak if you'd like! We cycle the last 2 kilometers to reach the point of control, from where we can unfortunately continue no further. Both India and Pakistan claim sovereignty over the Siachen region although most has been under the control of India since 1884. The Siachen Glacier is one of the highest battlegrounds in the world, with Pakistan to the north and China just to the east. The Siachen Glacier, 76 kilometers long, is located in the eastern Karakorum range and is one of the longest in the world.

Unless the line of control opens for foreigners (in which case we’ll be able to cycle further), we will cycle back 25 km along the lovely Nubra (Siachen) River to our camp at Sumur, enjoying the rest of the afternoon in the shade of large, leafy trees, cruising on our bikes (or walking) amongst the smaller sand dunes closer to the river, or wandering through town.

Optional Day | Bike to Siachen Base Camp (80 km O/W)
This is only an option if the Indian Army Border Patrol has opened the border to foreigners, which it presently hasn't done.

Day 6 – Bike Deskit + Hunder (25 km to Khalsar + 14 km to Deskit Gompa + 11 km to Hunder) (50 km)
We cycle 25 kilometers along the beautiful, partially desert road, past the chortens half buried in shifting desert sands, past willows and small houses, to the main intersection of the Nubra and Shyok Rivers at Khalsar (3185m), from where we make a large turn to the right around the traffic box and cycle along the Shyok River. From the junction marker, we cycle 6 km of beautiful, beach side riding, easy biking with a few seabuckthorne bushes for greenery, and a few Indian tourist on ATVs.

Once through this flat river delta section, we climb on a cliff side road, sometimes with cement barrier markers, other times not, the road often cutting into the cliffside. ‘Honk’ signs are painted on every sharp bend, but still cycle slowly and be aware of oncoming traffic. We continue to cycle along this dramatic, switch backing road, part of the road cut into the cliff side overlooking the Shyok River.

We enjoy broad vistas as we reach the level section of road, lined with poplars, cooler away from the desert but a smaller, somewhat exposed road for a few kilometers. Back down at river level, we cycle through a swampy area of seabuckthorne and tall grasses for the last 4 km to Deskit, the capital of Nubra, climbing just a bit before reaching Deskit.

Once at Deskit, we cycle a few switchbacks up to Deskit Gompa about 50 meters above town. Diskit Monastery (Diskit Gompa), built in 1420, is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley, belonging to the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism and affiliated with Thikey Gompa. It was founded by Changzem Tserab Zangpo, a disciple of Tsong Khompa, the founder of the Gelugpa sect, in the 14th century. An impressive 32 meter high Maitreya Buddha statue is a major landmark of Nubra Valley, maintained by Diskit Monastery. There is a path behind the monastery, past a ruined watchtower, from where you can get fabulous views down over the Shyok Valley.

From Deskit we have 7 km of easy riding past sand dunes and Bactrian camels, left over from Silk Route trade of years past, to balmy Hunder, where we have set up camp for the night. Hundar, the land of sand dunes, was the capital of the original Nubra kingdom in the 17th century, and is home to Chamba Gompa, with its ancient mani walls, a pilgrims 'kora', or circumambulation route. 

The people of Nubra are an interesting mix of the ethnically Tibetan Ladakhis, and Central Asian inhabitants, with blue or green eyes, fairer skin, sometimes freckles, lighter hair and more sculpted features. There are even rumors of a Greek tribe searching for the tomb of Jesus Christ in this region centuries ago, and eventually settled down in what is now known as Nubra. The locals also raise sheep and goats, as well as keeping the Bactrian camels. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon in this atmospheric village along the Shyok River.

Day 7 - Extra Day
Optional Day| Bike Turtuk (82 km O/W)
Skuru to Turkuk is 57 kilometers along a starkly beautiful road, which cuts a swath through a deep river canyon, with falling rocks a possible hazard. Turtuk, not visited by tourists until 2010, is home to Muslim Balti people that associate themselves with Pakistan rather than India, and resemble Central Asian tribal people rather than Ladakhis. There are apricot trees and traditional architecture, and dramatic lighting in the mornings and evenings.

We suggest driving the first 20 or so km from Hunder to Skuru as it’s a long and hot day, and the first section of road passes by long sections of military camps, and through rocks which reflect the sun. From Hunder + 12 km to Thoise (airport) + 6 km to Skuru. Just past Skuru look across the river to a beautiful, large and green village. The road is mostly flat for the first section, with rises and drops on the later section, with scrub and slight undulations throughout, multi hued boulder fields, the massive river below, slightly exposed roads, gaining height as it nears the border of Pakistan and then dropping again. Overall it's a gorgeous valley, and would be a great ride.

We camped in Skuru in 2016 but didn't find any good campsites anywhere, and the trip is too long to do as a day trip, so we're keeping this section in the itinerary as an optional day if we had time.

Day 8 – Bike Agham Valley Camp (Thangyar) 3489m (65 km)
Cycling easily back to Deskit, we're back on the exciting cliff side road ride high above the Shyok River. Eventually the road switchbacks down to the valley floor, and we cycle along a beautiful, incredibly straight road which cuts a path through the flood plains and to the intersection of the Shyok and Nubra (Siachen) River junctions.

From the intersection we cycle another 4 or 5 km, climbing gradually above the river to the intersection of roads to the Khardung La and towards the Wari La. We take the left route, staying high on more cliff hugging roads which go on and on high above the Shyok River. Fortunately this is a little used but blacktopped road, so traffic is barely existent on the more narrow road, which switchbacks a few times down to the sandy river bottom, and then back up. At the valley bottom birds enjoy the small run off streams, and rounded, multi colored river rocks decorate the landscape, with the green of distant settlements brightening this dramatic landscapes. After a long, straight stretch right through the middle of the valley floor, we climb on the right side of the river once again, this time a shorter ascent, contour around several cliff faces and then drop for the last time to the river floor. Another stretch of nearly 10 km on flat ground on an equally straight road but peppered with small trees and shrubs, later lined with new willow groves, brings us to the chorten marking Agham village (3326m), spread out amongst sprawling groves of willows. From here the landscape changes dramatically, and we have a gradual climb on a less used, smaller road following an intersecting river, for less than 5 km.  Just past the first pink, blooming Zanskari rose bush is our idyllic little campsite next to a clear, cold stream. Enjoy a wash, it's been a long, hot but beautiful day of cycling!

Day 9 - Bike Wari La High Camp (17 km)
We cycle 6 km on a lovely, green road, gaining 230 meters in altitude, to the turnoff to Tangyar village. Look to the left to see Tangyer Monastery up in the hillside. Crossing a metal bridge over the small river a few kilometers later, the valley becomes a beautiful grazing pasture, with many cows, later yaks and horses, feeding on the plentiful grass. We look straight up the valley towards the pass, the road switchbacking all the way, with local doksas peppering the valley. Orange and yellow lichen covered boulders add color to the valley, and small snow peaks are visible ahead of us as we cycle. We cover the first 1000 meters in 17 km, and plan s toet up camp in this beautiful valley, leaving the next 800+ meters for tomorrow.

IF everyone is extremely acclimatized, we might attempt the Wari La all in one day, but to be safe we will plan on camping at a beautiful high camp and doing the challenging pass tomorrow.

Day 10 - Bike Sakti 3810m (cycle over Wari La 5315m) (45 km?)
The cycle to the Wari La pass is gradual but unrelenting, a continuous chain of switchbacks through this beautiful, green landscape. We will need frequent water and rest stops, but will eventually power our way to the rocky pass. The reward for this effort is one of the world's most incredible downhills, a 1500 meter descent on a mostly paved, perfect road, with views throughout. The first 10 or so kilometers is a bit rough, but might be paved this year. Afterwards the road is a small country road, perfect for a downhill cruise! We soon reach balmy Sakti village, pass through the many small shops where we might stop for a juice or beer, and head all the way through the village to our lovely homestay campsite at Solon Camping & Homestay.

Just before we reach camp on the left, we bike past Takthok Monastery, translated as ‘rock roof’. This is the only monastery of the Nyingma sect of Buddhism in Ladakh, and was founded in the 16th century near a cave where Guru Rimpoche is said to have meditated in the 8th century. There is a famous cham, or lama dance, held every year during the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar.

Day 11 - Bike Karu + Kyungyam Phu (Roang) (72 km)
Cycling past the ancient fortress that used to guard this remote valley, we have another 10+ kilometer downhill to the main road along the Indus. From this intersection we turn left and cycling through wonderfully green villages, oasis of newly panted barley waving in the breezes, willow and popular trees, rounded and weathered boulders and charming Ladakhi villages. The temperature, although warm, is milder than Nubra, and we'll enjoy the breezy ride to the small hamlet of Kyungyam Sumdo (Kyungyamdo). From the sumdo, or intersection, we cycle off the main road on a small country road for about 7 kilometers to the traditional Ladakhi hamlet of Kyungyam, below the high Gun La pass (5640m), where the team has set up camp.

Wander through the village, chat with the locals, visit the small monastery and enjoy traditional Ladakhi life ...

Day 12 - Bike Kyungyamdo + Chumanthang (63 km)
Yet another great downhill bike ride back to the Indus road, from where we turn left and continue to follow the Indus through more idyllic countryside for over 60 kilometers, eventually reaching the green campsite at Chumanthang, just past the hot springs of the same name. Stop at the hot springs for a well deserved soak, and pick up beers or cold drinks at the small shop just across the street. Camp is right on the Indus, a popular picnic spot for locals who might stop to peek into our dining tent.

Day 13 - Bike Mahe Bridge + Yaya Tso Lake (43 km)
An exploratory section of our Ladakh cycling trip, a detour up to the yet un-visited Yaya Tso Lake, an Ang Chuk exclusive. Ang Chuk has talked of this stunningly beautiful, high lake for years, so this year we have an excuse to cycle up and camp on the banks of the lake, probably sharing the campsite with nomads.

The staff will set up another scenic campsite for us, and we should be able to do some off road mountain biking around this high lake area.

Day 14 - Bike Thangsang Tso (55 km)
Cycling back down to the Indus again, we continue east until the Mahe Bridge, where the staff have submitted our restricted area permits. From the intersection, leading to (even more) restricted Hanle near the border of a region disputed with China, we cross the metal bridge and cycle south over a several small passes, biking on another country road. We are cycling through familiar nomadic regions, and will stop to visit Tibetan nomads camped near beautiful, pastel colored Thangsang Tso (lake). This is incredible Himalayan riding; your soul will soar as you pass through this wonderful, high, Tibetan feeling landscape!

Day 15 - Bike Korzok 4550m + Korzok Phu 4640m (29 km)
More incredibly scenic cycling on good, small roads as we head south at Mahe bridge, cross an 4800 meter pass with views down to our first salt-lake, Thadsang Karu Kyagar Tso, and continue along the small road towards lake Tso Moriri. Once at the protected wetlands section at the top of the lake we take the western route to Korzok and on to the nomadic settlement of Korzok Phu to reach our camp in the midst of the nomadic tents.

We will stop at Korzok, one of the highest villages in the world, to visit the recently renovated 300-year-old Korzok Gompa. There are often 'mani' pujas happening when we're in Korzok, so if we're lucky we'll have a chance to sit in on all the villagers and nomads counting their prayer beads in this ancient monastery. In the afternoon, there is an option to walk up the eastern hilltop for another great view of the lake. Back on the bikes for the rest of the few kilometers to Korzok Phu, along a gurgling stream and through the green nomadic plateau to our campsite near the nomads.

Day 16 – Explore Korzok Phu
Enjoy the day in this bustling, colorful nomadic settlement where our Tibetan horseman Sherap has relatives. Nomadic boys cruise by on their donkeys if they're not in school, children and local Ladakhi nomads stop by camp to watch the happenings, donkeys roam the green campsite, and the hundreds of sheep and goats are herded back to their paddocks in the evening. Kim will lead the shopping expedition, jumping from one dry green tussock to another,  to several nomad tents in search of yak-hair blankets, yogurt and a cup of barley beer or salt butter tea.

Day 17 – Bike Tsomoriri Viewpoint + Puga (47 km to Puga)
We'll cycle back through the nomadic tents, back to Korzok along the small jeep road, and then head south to the Korzok viewpoint of turquoise Lake Tsomori. Descending on a sandy trail, we pass a section of small cliffs with offerings of white rocks on our right, followed by an incredibly reflective section of the lakeside, bordered with flat multi-hued slate and mica. Don't miss a photo of the snow-peaks to the east reflected in the calm lake with the rocks in front. Continuing past a section of many long mani walls, we'll spend a bit more time cycling along this incredibly scenic mountain lake.

Returning to Korzok, we cycle north, past the wetland preserve, to our lovely campsite at the Tibetan settlement of Puga in the middle of the lake region north of Tsomoriri Lake.

Day 18 – Bike Rajung Karu (cycle over Tso Kar La 4950m) (41 km)
We cycle west from Pugu on a small road that leads to the north of the otherworldly Tso Kar Lake, a salt lake once mined for salt by the Ladakhi villagers and nomads of this region. The salt lake is a magnet for rare migratory birds such as the black necked crane, and home to such rare and wild creatures as the kiang, or wild Tibetan ass. The first section of the ride is paved, a small road connecting Tsomoriri with Tso Kar, and the last section of the road is unpaved, passing by a now deserted seasonal settlement of the Tibetan nomads of Rajung Karu. From this settlement we'll cycle steeply uphill, off road and up to the top of rolling hills to what we've named the Tso Kar La, from where we descend to the long Tibetan nomadic region of Rajung Karu.

The staff has set up camp somewhere in this long, green valley, full of white canvas and brown woven wool tents, where Tibetan nomads migrate and spend from 4 - 5 months yearly. It's a fascinating look into the life of nomads, and we will take advantage of the chance to visit some of the tents, hunt for fresh yogurt and make friends with the Tibetan mastiffs while searching for Tibetan textiles.

Day 19 - Bike Thukje (cycle over Horlam Kongka La 4950m) (50 km?)
Cycling right (west) down this green valley, following the winding river, we're again on an off road trail cycling towards the Horlam Kongka La pass (4950m), a small, rolling pass just 200 meters above the valley. From the prayer flags at the top of the pass, we cycle down an unpaved trail towards the lake, having a rounded pass decorated with mani stones and a cairn festooned with Tibetan prayer flags and bleached blue sheep skulls. From our hilltop we have spectacular views down to the salty Tso Kar Lake far below us, with smaller Startsabuk Tso just below it and several semi-permanent nomadic dwellings shimmering in the harsh Ladakhi sunlight.to ford the stream at Nuru Chang. From this small seasonal settlement, we stay on a dirt road to the south western end of Tso Kar Lake, following the shores of the lake as we cycle north, a sublimely beautiful day!

Once at the tented tourist camp at the top of the lake, we cycle for about half an hour to Thukje, at the northern end of the lake. Our camp at Tso Kar Lake is set up along a salty, crusted and baked plateau next to more boggy grasslands. Bird life abounds in this wetlands, especially long-legged wading birds and rare migratory cranes. We can walk right along the shores of the lake, where bubbles and slabs of salt have been pushed up onto the white shores. En route we will probably encounter more herds of wild kiang marking their territory by racing in front of us, kicking up dust and performing incredible maneuvers. National Geographic material.

Tso Kar Lake is the 'salt lake' of Rupshu, previously the site of large salt excavations by the Rupshu-pa nomads, a section of the lake given to each group each year when the salt trade between Tibet and the lower hills was thriving (after the border with China was closed in 1959). Today, Tso Kar Lake is not as salty as it previously was, and the salt trade has diminished in importance because if the introduction of iodized and subsidized Indian salt. Most of the people of Tso Kar lake are Tibet semi-nomadic people who spend the winters in their villages at the lake.

After a long day, we finally reach our beautiful camp at the semi-permanent village of Thugje along the green, wet northern reaches of the lake. There is a new gompa being built next to the old one above our camp, a wonderful vantage point to look down on this magical world of lakes and salt. And there are several tented tea-shops where you can pick up a beer or coke.

Day 20 - Bike Rumtse 4095m (cycle over Taglang La 5328m)
Leaving the otherworldly Tso Kar salt lake region, we cycle about 10 kilometers to the Manali Leh 'highway', a well paved but relatively traffic free road linking Manali in Himachal Pradesh with Ladakh. We pass many nomadic doksas en route, with their flocks of hundreds of sheep and Pashmina goats, and soon start our climb of the Taglang La pass, Ladakh's second highest motorable pass.

From the top of this iconic pass, yet another fabulous downhill from 5300 meters, wizzing down paved switchbacks, green grazing regions and a sparkling river valley below, to lovely Rumtse. We camp in a green campsite just outside of the town, and enjoy a balmy sunset over a few cold Kingfishers!

Day 21 – Bike Leh (via Hemis – Stok Road)
Our last day of cycling, but a beautiful one to finish off our great 'sky kingdoms' cycling trip! From Rumtse the scenery is fabulous, colored by eggplant, moss green and mustard yellow mountains, guarded by massive white washed chortens, with lovely traditional villages, willows and poplars, Ladakhi women dressed in traditional wine colored gonchas. Just after Gya, look across the river to an old monastery built high into a cliff side, recently renovated. Cycling past lovely Miri, we soon reach the intersection of the Indus highway once again, and cross a suspension bridge to reach Upshi, from where we cross over to a small country road on the opposites side of the Indus as the main road. This quiet, tree lined road passes through several villages, past a Muslim mosque, and finally we cycle over the Indus one more time on a small, prayer flag decorated bridge to reach the Tibetan settlement of Choglamsar. From here we have one last challenge, about 10 km of uphill on a pretty paved road, again off the main road, but leading also to Leh and the Shaynam Hotel.

Back at the Shaynam, much needed hot showers and a clean change of clothes await, and tandoori food and cold beers are not far away at the Ibex! We'll head out to celebrate the end of a fantastic bicycle journey across much of the Indian Himalaya!

Day 22 – Leh
We've scheduled one last day in Leh, our favorite Central Asian capital, in case of delays during the trip. We'll also have time to do some more shopping and exploring, and to wind down after our journey through the high, nomadic regions of 'old Tibet'.

Pack up the bikes, or have one last cycle through Leh, Changspa or Chubi's shady streets, perhaps cycling up again to Shanti Stupa, Gonpa village or the Leh Fortress.

Day 23 - Trip Ends
Our wonderful Himalayan journey ends today. You're free to spend extra days in Srinagar, continue by land via Jammu to Delhi, or fly to Delhi or elsewhere. We're happy to assist if you need help with arrangements.

See 'Extensions' tab for trips to beautiful Pangong Lake on the border of India and China (Tibet) as well as many wonderful day trips (or cycles) out of Srinagar.

Highlights+Reviews

Trip Advisor Reviews

Client's Highlights
Outstanding trekking adventure, first class guides and personal attention - this is why Kamzang has so many repeat clients! We trekked with Kim Bannister and Lhakpa Dorje Sherpa for 22 days through remote Zanskar in Aug 2014. It was the adventure of a lifetime. Kim has many years experience and a loyal team of support staff and horsemen. Food and camping were very well organized; Kim and Lhakpa lead us through stunning scenery into remote Zanskari villages. Their detailed local knowledge and ability to speak with villagers made for a memorable rich experience. Over high passes and crossing rivers we always were in good hands. Thoroughly recommended if you really want to trek off the map.
- David R & Kathy F (Canada), Wild Ladakh & Zanskar Trek 2014

This was the third time I've trekked with Kamzang Journeys and Kim and her crew it was lovely to be back amongst friends. Ladakh is a fabulous destination and a real step back in time to 'real' travelling. Trekking with Kim and her crew is authentic but also luxurious; a single tent as standard, the 'Festival Tent' for relaxation and meals, hot water for tea/coffee on 'tap', and great standards of cooking! No fears of food poisoning as hygiene is excellent. If you're stuck with June - September for your long Himalayan trekking Ladakh is the place to go and Kim and Kamzang Journeys are the people to go with!
- Sally L (UK), Nomads, Lakes & High Passes Trek, Wild Ladakh & Zanskar Trek + more

A bucket list must, and an expeditionary style adventure in a pristine environment. All at the good hands of Kim Bannister, the organizational wizard, and her extraordinary staff. Kim and her guide partner Lhakpa Dorji led us on an idyllic route through the remote and beautiful Ladakh & Zanskar region of northern India. My initial apprehensions, as a first time trekker, were quickly extinguished by the friendly and professional manner of the competent staff. It was the experience of a life time, certainly one that I will never forget. This trekking company deserves a "5 star rating"! You need only bring a good set of lungs, a strong pair of legs, a zest for adventure and a sense of humor. I will return!
- Tom B (USA), Ladakh & Zanskar Kora Trek 2013

Magnificent treks and highly professional! I have trekked with Kim four times, three in Ladakh in Northern India and one in Nepal. On all four occasions the treks were very well organised and run in a very professional manner. Kim's crew are all enthusiastic and are very happy to provide assistance where necessary. As trekkers you are very well looked after with individual tents and a large tent for socializing and dining. Kim and Lhakpa plan their treks so they are interesting and that they go off the beaten track and you are not walking in procession with other trekking groups, Kim is aware of the different needs and capabilities of her trekkers and her daily itineraries cater for all. On the more challenging parts of her treks Kim and her crew are always there to support. I hope to do more trekking with Kim and Kamzang Journeys and highly recommend them.
- Dennis B (Australia), Nomads, Lakes & High Passes Trek 2015, Wild Ladakh & Zanskar Trek 2013 + more

Thank you very much for a wonderful trek. I felt so very well looked after, from great food to river crossings to much needed breaks and always someone to see that we did not feel lost or alone. Your attention to detail, from the shopping expeditions both in Leh and along the way, from the variety and quality of food to making sure that everything we needed was provided and easy to access, is amazing. Also your energy and generosity of time and spirit in those extra expeditions to nomad tents, the fort etc. when many leaders would have signed off for the day.
- Leslie S (Australia), Nomads, Lakes & High Passes Trek 2012

I have done a number of treks with a variety of companies. One of these treks was to Ladakh, India with Kamzang. I found the trek’s organization and quality of food to be excellent. Equally important was Kim’s knowledge of the cultures that we trekked through, so that we, as relative outsiders, could gain some insight into their lives. However, two things stand out. Kim’s infectious enthusiasm: not just for the landscapes and cultures we passed through but for dad-to-day life on the trek. Secondly, the shared ‘mess-tent’, a haven of comfort and conversation. Very highly recommended.
- Roger E (UK), Nomads, Lakes & High Passes Trek 2011

What a trip! Thanks for all your hard work and imagination. Truly a spectacular journey and the clientele you attracted was a magnificent bonus.
- Chris R (USA), Wild Ladakh & Rupshu Trek

Wow! What an unforgettable experience you have given me. I was constantly amazed at your patience with the individual needs and concerns of the group and of the heartfelt care and connection you have with your staff and horses. You are a great leadership team and a joy to wake up to each morning! The landscape, the interactions with the villagers, nuns and monks along the way, the exhileration of the more risky bits of the trip and your smiling faces will not be forgotten. Thank you & Jullay!
- Annie K, Wild Zanskar 2010

I think about you and Lhakpa and everybody a lot; and I miss the trek, the beautiful mountains, the amazing sceneries and rich culture there. Every time when I go through my trekking photos, the memories of those great moments come back to me, speaking to me and asking me why I haven't packed my gears and signed up for my next Himalaya trip?!
 - Summer T (China), Wild Ladakh Zanskar Traverse

I have been on treks with Kim four times. All her trips are superbly well organized and smoothly run. Everything is take care of. The food is great and accommodation good. The only thing you have to do is the walking. It's a five star service and great value!
- Peter H (UK), Ladakh & Zanskar Treks + more

Client Highlights
Trekkers' Comments

Trek Highlights

  • Approx 900 km Cycling
  • Approx 12,000+ Meters Altitude Gained
  • Exotic Leh + historic Indus Valley 
  • Otherworldly High Salt Lakes (Tso Morori, Tso Kar)
  • The Kardung La + Wari La (both 5300+ meters)
  • Desert-like Nubra Valley, Bactian Camels, Oasis Villages + Sand Dunes
  • Cycling along the Shayok River
  • Traditional Ladakhi Villlages
  • Camping with Nomads + Nomadic Life (Yaks, Nomadic Tents, Pashmina Goats, Salt Butter Tea)
  • Himalayan Passes + Snow Peaks
  • Buddhist Ladakh + Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
  • Idyllic Campsites
  • Central Asian Wildlife 
  • Challenging Cycling, Good Roads
  • Lots of Exploration!

Photos
The Great Ladakh, Zanskar + Kashmir Bicycle Journey
Nubra + Indus Bicycle Trip

Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Kashmir + Srinagar Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Himalayan Photos
Wildlife
Himalayan Wildlife Photos

Birds
Himalayan Bird Photos

Flowers
Himalayan Flowers Photos

Travel Reading
Travel Books

Articles + Videos | Ladakh + Zanskar, Indian Himalaya

Kamzang Journeys | Kharnak Nomads | MrMennoBen

Kamzang Journeys | Markha Valley | MrMennoBen YouTube

Kamzang Journeys | Changthang Nomads | MrMennoBen YouTube (especially for the Sky Kingdoms trip)

Kamzang Journeys | Rupshu Nomads | MrMennoBen YouTube

Leh + Indus Valley | MrMennoBen YouTube

Ladakh Diaries: Postcard from Paradise | India Today - Features Kamzang Journeys

On Snow Leopard Mountain | BBC Planet Earth

Child Monks of the Himalayas | BBC - In Pictures

Chang Tang Pa | Cat Vinton Photo Essay

Silent Roar, The Snow Leopard | National Geographic Documentary

Shepherdess of the Glaciers | Trailer YouTube

Ladakh, Mountains & Men | Le Figaro

Blog Article | Za Rahula Local Nomadic God

Street Food in India | India Mike Blog

Ladakh, the Last Shangri La | National Geographic

A Journey to Little Tibet | National Geographic

Legends of Dha Hanu

India: Extreme Biking in Beautiful Ladakh | The Telegraph UK

The Grey Ghosts of the Mountains | Vimeo

Kashmir, the Inheritance of Loss | New York Times

Gandhi | BBC Documentary (3 Parts)
The Making of the Mahatma - Part 1

The Rise to Fame - Part 2
The Road to Freedom - Part 3

In Search of Gandhi | BBC Documentary

GoPro + Ladakh Cycling Videos
These great YouTube videos were put together by friend and cyclist David Koelle. Although they're not exactly our routes, they give you an idea of the roads, the beauty and the challenges of cycling in the Indian Himalaya!

Nubra - Wari La Cycle | David Koelle

Lamayuru, Leh, Nubra + Khardung La Cycle - | David Koelle

Pangong Lake + Chang La Cycle | David Koelle

Srinagar - Lamayuru Cycle | David Koelle

Leh - Manali Cycle | David Koelle

Date+Price

2017 Dates
19 July - 10 Aug
23 days

2017 Trip Price
$4280
+ 4+ cyclists

+ $4580 (2+3 cyclists)
+ $5280 (1+2 cyclists or Private Trip)

+ Hotel Single Supplement - $100 - $300
+ NO Single Supplement for camping
+ Flights NOT included (meet in Leh + depart from Srinagar)

Includes

  • NO single supplement for camping
  • Hotels in Leh (breakfast)
  • Hotels + houseboats in Srinagar (breakfast + dinner)
  • Airport transfers
  • Private jeep + back-up truck
  • Bike mechanic (for groups of 5+)
  • Restricted area permits
  • Leh + Indus sightseeing by bicycle
  • Kardung La bicycle trip
  • Kamzang Journeys Bicycling
    Northface tents (3 person tents for singles + doubles), plentiful 'gourmet' food with seasonal, fresh produce, French-press coffee, chai, Kashmiri + herbal teas, Katadyn filtered drinking water, warm washing water, library, 'lounge' with colorful Indian rugs, camp chairs, blankets, occasional tent music in evenings, oxygen & PAC bag (when needed), full medical kit, horses, yaks or porters, Western, Sherpa & local guides (when needed), our 5-star Kamzang staff + the signature yellow Kamzang dining tent. NO single supplement for single tents on trek!

Safety & Health Precautions

  • Thuraya satellite phone (when allowed)
  • InReach satellite messaging system (when allowed)
  • Updated route published on InReach site (when allowed)
  • Helicopter evacuation services (when allowed)
  • Oxygen saturation monitoring system
  • PAC bag (portable oxygen chamber)
  • Full medical kit & stretcher
  • Kayadyn filtered water
  • Safe, sanitary, delicious & plentiful food and drinks

Excludes

  • Domestic & international flights
  • Indian visa
  • Meals in Leh (while not on trek)
  • Travel or travel health insurance
  • Equipment rental
  • Alcohol & bottled drinks
  • Gompa (monastery) donations
  • Laundry
  • Tipping + other items of a personal nature

Tips & Extra Cash
Allow approx $300 for meals (while not on trek), drinks (on trek) and tips. We recommend $250 per trekker thrown into the tips pool for the crew.

Contact+Details

Trekker's Comments
Travel Books

Kamzang Journeys
Kim Bannister
kim@kamzang.com
Kim Mobile: +(91) 9419 981715
Lhakpa Mobile: +(91) 9419 977569

Delhi Airport Transfers & Sightseeing | Dhruv Travels
Contacts: Prince & Rajesh Dua
travelorganiserindia@yahoo.co.in
Office: +(91 11) 6536 8764
Prince Mobile: +(91) 98104 85897
Rajesh Mobile: +(91) 98993 73886

Srinagar & Kashmir Contact
Shangaloo Travels
Mehraj Deen (GM & Ladakh Operations)
mehraj@shanglootravels.com
Mehraj Mobile: +(91) 9419013874, 9858986512
Office: +(91) 0194 2502083
Shangaloo Travels Tel : +(91) 0194 2502082|2502083|2502084|2502085|2502086|2502087|2502088|2502089|2502090,
+(91) 9596 787001 -20

Kathmandu Contact
Khumbu Adventures
hiking.guide@gmail.com
Office: +(977) 01 4488352
Lhakpa Dorji Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 235461, 9813 371542
Doma Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 510833, 9803 675361

On-Trek Contact
We are not able to access SMS or phone calls to our satellite phone in Jammu & Kashmir state because of security restrictions. In case of emergency, a few numbers are listed below, or contact Doma Sherpa of Khumbu Adventures (above)

Ang Chuk (driver) +(91) 9419 344641
Rinchin (Shaynam Hotel manager) +(91) 9906 990444

InReach Explorer
NOTE: We are probably not able to use this satellite messaging system in 2016 either, but in case of restriction changes, info below:
We have a MapShare page that works for sending emails to our InReach messaging device. Give this link to people who want to follow us and have them send us a message so we have their email in the system. We can email them back directly Please tell people not to expect updates every day. There is a ‘message’ button on the top left, and the message sender needs to put their EMAIL address instead of phone number to get a response. Messages are free, enjoy.

Follow Us on Facebook
Kamzang Journeys Facebook
(Posts before and after treks, from Leh)

Bicycle
Will you rent or bring your own? Many airlines allow a bicycle packed in a bike box for no extra charge. Emirates is on that list. Rentals are from bicycle shops in Leh,  relatively good quality mountain bikes.

+ NOTE: You can bring a mountain bike or a touring bike on most roads in the Indian Himalaya, and use fat tires or touring tires.  There are advantages to both types of tires, and no bike will be perfect for all terrain. Most roads are paved, often very badly, although we will be cycling on some unpaved roads and jeep tracks.
+ See Gear tab

Bicycle Maintenance
You are responsible for knowing something about the maintenance of a bicycle although we have cyclists with us who are adept at fixing bike issues, and Lhakpa is a pretty good bike mechanic. If you don’t know anything, we recommend having a quick session at your local bike shop to know how to repair punctures and learn a few basics.

Arrival Hotels Leh
Hotel Shaynam
Padma Guest House
Hotel Omasila

Hotels in Leh
We use one of the three hotels below as our 'arrival hotels' depending on availability and your preference. Our standard hotel is the Hotel Shaynam where Kim and the staff stay, a lovely family-run guest house with a blooming garden, deck chairs & umbrellas. We don't charge a single supplement here. There is a single supplement or small upgrade charge for Hotel Omasila &  Padma Guest House. We book all hotels for you regardless of where you stay. Please specify your preference when booking a trek. If staying at Shaynam or Padma we recommend 'Open Hand' down the road for a delicious meal or coffee & great atmosphere.

Hotel Shaynam
Breakfast - Included
Extra Nights - Single $30, Double $35

Padma Guest House
Single Supplement - $75
Breakfast - Included
Extra Nights - Single $45, Double $55

Hotel Omasila
Single Supplement - $175
Extra Nights - Single $65, Double $75, Suite $115
Breakfast - Included

Alternative Hotels
We're happy to book other hotels of your choice for you. Some recommended hotels below.

Dragon Hotel
Single Supplement - $185
Extra Nights - Single $70, Double $80, Suite $120
Breakfast - Included

Luxury Hotels in Leh
We offer options to upgrade to one of Leh’s wonderful luxury hotels, which include breakfast in the tarriff. Indulge yourself! We’ll make the bookings for you, just let us know the dates …

The Grande Dragon Ladakh
Inquire for price
Breakfast - Included

Health Information
India Health Information
CDC

We also recommend bringing probiotics with you to help prevent infections while on trek. Doctor's recommendation!

Travel Medical Insurance
Required for your own safely. We carry a copy of your insurance with all contact, personal and policy information with us on the trek and our office in Kathmandu keeps a copy. Note that we almost always trek over 4000 meters (13,000+ feet) and that we don't do any technical climbing with ropes, ice axes or crampons.

Note that private helicopter insurance generally not available in India!

Global Rescue
We recommend that our trekkers also sign up for Global Rescue, which is rescue services only, as a supplement to your travel medical insurance.
Book package through Wicis-Sports via Carlota Fenes (carlota@wicis-media.com)

Wicis-Sports Wearable Tech | Sports Package
Live personal heath stats via a wearable chest strap heart rate monitor.
Track your vitals (heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturation), the weather, GPS locations, altitude, speed, bearing and stream LIVE via a Thuraya satellite hot spot. Partners: OCENS (weather), Global Rescue, Aspect Solar.

"Thuraya Telecom + WiCis Sports offer connectivity to Himalayan treks + expeditions"

"Founded in 2011 by Harvard and Stanford anesthesiologist Dr. Leo Montejo and located in the Lake Tahoe area, the company’s goal is to promote the use of mHealth and tracking devices to make adventure sports safer and engage their followers with real time data that is either private or also available to social medial platforms."

Book package through Wicis-Sports via Carlota Fenes (carlota@wicis-media.com)

Medical
We have a full medical kit with us including Diamox (for acclimatizing), antibiotics, inhalers, bandages, re-hydration, painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs etc. but please bring a supply of all prescription and personal medications. Kim has First Aid, CPR and Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certifications as well as many years of experience with altitude in the Himalaya but is NOT a qualified medic or doctor, so please have a check-up before leaving home, and inform us of any medical issues. This is for YOUR OWN safety.

DO bring all prescription medications and good rehydration/electrolytes. We advise bringing your own Diamox, Ciprofloxin, Azithromyacin & Augmentin. We have all of these with us but the Western versions are always better than the Indian equivalents.

PAC Bag + Oxygen
We carry a Portable Oxygen Chamber, or Gammow Bag, with us on many treks. There is no charge for use of the PAC bag but oxygen is $300 per canister (cost price, pass on to insurance company).

Travel Books
Travel Books

Arrival India

Arrival in India
NOTE: Flights to/from Leh are NOT included in the price or itinerary. Everyone will need to arrange their own flight or overland trip to Leh. You can book your international flights all the way to Leh, Ladakh (IXL) which will ensure that your flight provider is responsible for hotels if your flight is delayed or cancelled. You might also want to come overland from Manali, breath-taking jeep safari, or from Srinagar, both some of the planet's most spectacular drives.

Email us your flight arrival details and have our contact details with you when you arrive in Delhi in case you need assistance. Kim will have her mobile with her, as will our agents from Dhruv Travels, so don't hesitate to call. We can help with hotels, flights, airport pick-ups and drops, sightseeing in Delhi or travels further to Rajasthan or Agra & the Taj Mahal (see Dhruv Travels).

Indian Visa
Be sure to have your Indian Visa before arrival in India. Most countries qualify for the new visa-on-arrival system, which is valid for 30 days. Information about the new visa-on-arrival for citizens of many countries (excluding the UK). NOTE that you need to apply and pay for the visa BEFORE arriving in India. You get the actual visa with your paid application once in India.
Indian Visa

Reference for Indian Visa:
Hotel in Leh: Shaynam Hotel, 20 Old Leh Road, Leh 194101
Travel Agent in Delhi: Dhruv Travels, 2464, Nalwa St, Chuna Mandi, Paharganj, New Delhi, 110055, India, +91 11 2358 2715
Hotel in Delhi: Jyoti Mahal Guest House, 2488-90 Nalwa Street, Chuna Mandi, Pahar Ganj, New Delhi,110055, +91 1123580523/24/25/26

You can print out + fill out your Visa on Arrival form before arriving in India, but you need to apply for the visa before leaving for India!

Delhi Airport Hotels
Delhi Airport Hotel

Delhi Restaurants + Bars
Zomato

Notes on Itinerary
Although we try to follow the itinerary below, it is ONLY a guideline based on years of experience trekking in the Himalaya. At times local trail, river or weather conditions may make a deviation necessary; rivers may be impassible, snow blocks passes, and landslides wipe out trails. The trekking itinerary and campsites may also vary slightly depending on the group's acclimatization rate or sickness.

The Himalaya are our passion, and we take trekking seriously. Although everyone is here on vacation, please come with a dollop of patience and compassion added to your sense of adventure ...

Temperatures + Clothing
Dress conservatively in Leh and on the trail as a rule. Shorts are okay if they aren't too short, mini skirts aren’t recommended. Sleeveless t-shirts are absolutely fine, but perhaps avoid tank-tops on the trail. Super tight doesn't go over so well with the village elders. Many of the younger generation in Nepal wear modern Indian or Western-influenced clothes, but remember that you haven't signed up for a beach or surf vacation. Use your good judgment, be an ambassador for western tourists! Please ask Kim or your guide if unsure about appropriate clothing.

Leh is generally very hot during the day (t-shirt weather) and cool at night (long sleeve shirt, fleece or synthetic jacket weather depending on month in the summer). A sun hat is essential during the day, sandals like Keens perfect for both a wander around town and trekking. Ladakh is very casual, a pair of jeans and shirt fine for evenings.

Trekking temperatures vary considerably, and you will need a wide range of trekking gear during the trek. Gear will range from sandals to boots, from t-shirts to down jackets. We suggest packing a warm sleeping bag, and bring layers. A full discussion of gear on 'Gear' tab.

Cultural Issues
Ladakhis are very open and welcoming, but there are a few issues you should be aware of to make your stay in Ladakh more fulfilling. Use your right hand to pass things, shake hands or do most anything. Left hands are somewhat taboo. Best not to pat kids on heads, or point feet ahead of you at monasteries. Don't walk over someone's legs or feet, but put your hand down in front of you to signal them to pull their legs to the side. Take off shoes and hats when going into Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples, don't use flashes inside monasteries or temples in general, be respectful of a puja (prayer ceremony) if attending one. You can talk, all religious are very tolerant, but be aware of your level of voice.

Ladakhis don't anger quickly, so try not to raise your voice if exasperated or angry as it only will make a situation worse. Do bargain at shops, with taxis and rickshaws, but don't fleece them. They are poor and making a living, generally.

Give small donations on the streets if you choose, but try not to encourage begging too much. Be aware of who you are giving money to, and please only give small amounts. If you do want to donate to a cause, ask about our Kamzang Fund or other responsible organizations.

Note that Leh and Ladakh are melting pots of different religions: Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim, as well as a few Christians. Tolerance and acceptance of all religions tolerated!

Pampering Yourself in Leh
Inquire if you're interested in staying in one of Leh's high end hotels. A few suggestions ...

Stok Palace
'Built entirely by the Ladakhi craftsmen in 1820, the Stok Palace still continues to be a snug abode for the Namgyal dynasty. The Namgyal dynasty traces its origin to its founder –Lhachen Palgygon as early as 10th century. You are entering a historical property and the Palace stands 195 years old. The Stok Palace was opened to public in 1980 with blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and since it’s been over a decade and visitors continues to pour from all over the World. It encapsulates and reflects the lifestyle and history of Royalties set in the midst of the valley of Singey Sangpo which is known more popularly as Indus River.

Preserved from urbanity, this pristine natural landscape allows you to relax in serene atmosphere, pregnant with the delicious aroma of the country side and amazing views all around and takes the visitors through the imagery experience, detailing the softness of Snow, the brilliance of sunlight, billowing clouds, wandering pathways, and picturesque local architecture. As with anything embracing the grandeur and beauty of nature, the landscapes achieve a sense of timelessness; they envelop the echoes and silence of eons gone by. So come and enjoy the fine dining experience prepared from the family kitchen products coming from the local market and village. You can enjoy the pleasures of healthy and natural Ladakhi, Tibetan and Indian food.'

Nimmu House
'Nimmu House Ladakh is a sustainable Hotel in Ladakh, 30 km from Leh, in the village of Nimmoo. A noble house belonging to the cousin of the king of Ladakh, from the early 90s, surrounded by an orchard. Nimmu House includes five spacious tents scattered across the orchard and a room located in the house. Activities include Hiking, trekking, rafting, cooking classes, visits to the village of Nimmu and the monasteries of the Indus Valley'

The Ultimate Traveling Camp
'The first truly mobile luxury camps in India covering a calendar of destinations and festivals. This nomadic super luxury camp introduces the discerning traveller to different adventures in Carefully selected exceptional locations in the mountains, deserts, jungles and unexplored Countryside. Experience the many moods of exotic India with its dramatic landscapes, rustic and unexplored rural surroundings. Rediscover yourself…meet gurus from the far reaches of the Himalayas, raft down the River Indus, watch a game of Polo, a sport of the Royals, picnic in picturesque spots, celebrate tribal hues at the Hornbill Festival, explore quaint tribal Naga villages, or simply curl up in your ‘tent with a view’!

Tips for Staff
We recommend at least $200 per person to go into the tip pool for the staff. Please bring IC with you on the trek for the tips. It’s nice to buy the staff drinks on the last night. Or any other night that you feel like getting them a bottle of run!

Tips in General
Tips are always appreciated but they don’t need to be extravagant. 50 IC to carry bags to/from your room is fine. 100 IC for drivers to/from the airport. Round up taxi fares. A larger tip would be expected for a day trip in a car, perhaps 500 IC. 10% is included in some restaurant and hotel bills in India, and if it’s not included it’s still expected. Check your bills, and still round up at restaurants. Feel free to give out small change to the beggars in the streets (5, 10, 20 IC).

Cash + ATMs
You’ll want some cash with you on the trek for drinks, snacks, beer, sodas, etc. There are often  chances to during the trek, and usually local crafts to buy en route. (You’ll want your tip money IC as well). There are ATMs in Leh but they don’t dispense large amounts of cash so you’ll be best with currency to change. Traveler's checks not recommended in India.

Extra Days in India | Customize Your Journey
We are happy to book extra nights at the hotel, or a hotel of your choice, if you want to stay in Leh for a few extra days to explore our favorite Central Asian capital, or just to relax and soak in the mountain scenery. We are also happy to book trips to Nubra, sightseeing jeep safaris along the Indus Valley, rafting, bicycling down the Kardung La or any other activity you would like.

See our Extensions Tab for trip ideas!

Gear

Bicycle
Will you rent or bring your own? Many airlines allow a bicycle packed in a bike box for no extra charge. Emirates is on that list. Rentals are from bicycle shops in Leh, relatively good quality mountain bikes.

+ NOTE: You can bring a mountain bike or a touring bike on most roads in the Indian Himalaya, and use fat tires or touring tires.  There are advantages to both types of tires, and no bike will be perfect for all terrain. Most roads are paved, often very badly, although we will be cycling on some unpaved roads and jeep tracks.
+ See Gear tab

Bicycle Maintenance
You are responsible for knowing something about the maintenance of a bicycle although we have cyclists with us who are adept at fixing bike issues, and Lhakpa is a pretty good bike mechanic. If you don’t know anything, we recommend having a quick session at your local bike shop to know how to repair punctures and learn a few basics.

Duffel Bags
We have Kamzang Journeys L orange duffel bags, a bargain at $40! Please inquire early as we need to bring from Kathmandu.

Rentals
We have Western down jackets to rent for $1.50 per day.  We also have good super-down sleeping bags to rent (0 to -10 F) for $2.50 per day.

Packing + Storage
It’s easiest to pack and unpack from a duffel bag, especially when the temperature drops. Best to invest in a strong, waterproof duffel such as a North Face. You can store extra gear in Leh at the hotel.

Shopping
You can get some trekking gear in Leh, such as trekking poles, sleeping bags (about 0F), light down jackets, Chinese-made gear which is often quite wearable. Top up your gear in Leh if you need to, but best not to rely on purchasing too much there.

Travel Photography Gear Guide
The Complete Guide to Gear for the Landscape Photographer

On Your Bike
You will need to carry certain things with you while riding, and the extras you can store in our back-up vehicle. In your daypack (or panniers) you will need:

  • Helmet & warm hat
  • Warm, windproof jacket & tights
  • Warm, windproof cycling gloves
  • Wind &/or rain jacket
  • Lightweight synthetic or down jacket
  • Camera
  • Water
  • Small bike-repair kit (extra tube, puncture repair kit, multi-tool, lube | chain oil)
  • Headlamp
  • Small medical kit
  • SPF lip balm & sunscreen
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Snacks

Other Gear (Optional)

  • Pedals
  • Saddle
  • Bike shoes
  • Panniers
  • Bike tubes (specifically sized for your bike tires)
  • Spare tire
  • Spare wheel set
  • Spare RD hanger
  • Brake pads (extra pair if you still use pads)

Gear List
This is a guideline, not a bible, for the gear you will need on the trek. Ask if you have questions! One 15 kg (33 lbs) maximum weight limit for the duffel bag for flights. 20 kg (50 lbs) weight limit for treks.

  • Small daypack | Biking pack
  • Sleeping bag (-20F/-30C recommended)
  • Thermarest (Air mattress)
  • Sneakers, Keens or light shoes (city, evenings)
  • Crocs (camp + washing) 

  • Cycling tights
  • Cycling T-shirts
  • Cycling L/S shirts
  • Cycling windproof jacket
  • Cycling gloves
  • Cycling socks
  • Cycling beenie (hat)
  • Down jacket
  • T-shirts (city)
  • Pants or skirt (city)
  • Fleece or thermal jacket (evenings, city)
  • Fleece or thermal top (evenings)
  • Fleece or thermal bottoms (evenings)
  • Lightweight Gortex jacket & pants (wind & rainproof)
  • Lightweight long underwear (to sleep in or layer under clothes)
  • Socks (evening, city)
  • Gloves (evening)
  • Thermal hat
  • Down booties (optional, recommended)
  • Sunglasses (2, bring extra pair)
  • Water bottles
  • Bladder (optional)
  • Toiletries, sunscreen with SPF, lipbalm with SPF & personal medical supplies
  • Watch (or small clock with alarm)
  • Extra batteries & battery chargers
  • Headlamp 
(2, bring extra)
  • Laundry Detergent (Lhasa) or Bio-degradable Soap
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Books
  • Zip-lock bags
  • SOFT toilet paper or tissues (we supply Chinese toilet paper but you’ll want something softer for blowing your nose)
  • Baby-Wipes | Wet-Wipes OR Chux (for washing)
  • Rehydration | Electrolytes
  • Snacks!

NOTE: We have a 'dress code' for the evenings in the tent, which essentially means you'll be changing out of your trekking clothes and into clean, dry evening clothes!

Medical Supplies
We strongly suggest bringing Western meds with you as there are a lot of Indian fakes on the market!

Suggested: Diamox, Azithromyacin, Ciprofloxacin, Tinidazole or Flagyl & Augmentin. Bring COMPEED for covering blisters & good tasting electrolytes &/or rehydration salts (Emergen-C is a good American brand). The local versions aren’t very appealing.

We also recommend bringing strong knee & ankle supports & braces, ACE bandages for sprains & strains, Tegaderm &/or other would coverings. Duct tape is always useful. We're happy to take excess medical supplies off your hands when you leave if you won't need them and pass them on to others. We use lots of the large amount we have with us to treat locals as well as our own trekkers ...

Comments on Gear
On our biking trips in Tibet we either stay in hotels or camp. When we stay in hotels you'll want something comfortable, casual and warm for the evenings. For Lhasa and sightseeing you will want good walking shoes (or Keens), and comfortable clothes for visiting monasteries, hiking around fortresses, basic comfortable street wear. Mornings and evenings are always chilly in Tibet, even in the summer, while days can be scorching.

Nights are chilly to cold, so a down jacket and a WARM sleeping bag are essentials. We recommend a DOWN sleeping bag of 0 to -20 F (-18 to -28 C). Campsites near passes can get COLD. Rentals are available although they are only about 0 to -10F. The dining tent is a Tibetan style ‘yurt’, with blankets and camp chairs on the ground. It warms up in the evenings with everyone inside and hot tea but it is still important to have warm clothes for the evenings. Down booties are great when it’s cold, a down jacket is essential, and down or synthetic pants are also nice to have.

Crocs for washing and the evenings are also very useful. Wear a pair of warm socks under them for going in and out of the dining tent which is a 'shoes off' zone. Tevas take a long time to dry, not recommended.

Good, polarized sunglasses are essential; please bring an extra pair if you tend to lose them! Don’t forget a sun hat &/or baseball cap and have plenty of sunscreen and lip balm with SPF!

Tents
Everyone gets their own 2-person dome tent without a single supplement. Singles have a 2-person tent and couples share a larger, 3-person version.

Water
We bring KATADYN expedition-sized water filters along on the trek for fresh drinking water, ecologically the best way to get water in the Himalaya’s fragile trekking regions. Bring your own filter pump, Steripen/UV purifier or iodine/chlorine tablets for fresh water while trekking. NOTE: To be extra safe with your drinking water, you can drop one purifying tablet into your water bottle after filling with our filtered water. Make sure you wait the required amount of time before drinking, and don’t add anything with Vitamin C as this negates the iodine.

Please bring at least TWO (and better three) Nalgene, Sigg or other unbreakable plastic/metal water bottles. Camelbacks and other bladder systems are good for trekking but can leak, so as a back-up it’s best to also bring a Nalgene or other water bottle.

NOTE: We do not provide boiled water for drinking on either our tea-house/lodge or our camping treks although there is endless hot water for herbal, black or green teas, hot chocolate, hot lemon as well as Indian chai and Kashmiri tea.

Snacks
You will NEED snacks hiking at altitude, even if you’re not a snacker. People crave unusual foods at altitude!  Energy bars, ‘GU’ gels, chocolate bars, dried fruit & nuts, beef jerky (or whatever) are important to have along for long days, pre-lunch bonks and passes. Lemonade mix, Emergen-C or similar drink mixes are great to have for hot days in your water bottles, and it is ESSENTIAL to bring electrolytes with you every day.  

Bring something to share in the tent in the evenings if you want. Cheese is great as a treat on a cheese-board before dinner (Blue, Stilton, Yarlsburg, good Cheddar, Brie, etc). If you would like, bring a bit of your favorite and we’ll throw it on a cheese board for appetizers one night.

NOTE: Nothing besides your personal snack food is required, but it’s fun to see what everyone comes up with!  Almost all basics available in Kathmandu, so no need to over-load.

Extensions

Srinagar & the Jewels of Kashmir
Kashmir, Srinagar & Indus Jeep Safari

A great extension to any of our Kamzang Journeys treks in Ladakh & Zanskar, or a wonderful trip on its own. Kashmir and Srinagar are some of the jewels of the Indian Himalaya, often described by local Kashmiris as 'heaven on earth' ....

We are offering a wonderful nine-day itinerary, flying from Delhi to Srinagar and finishing in Leh via the overland route.
There are many ways to customize this trip, please get in touch to make this trip exactly what you are looking for!

Some of the highlights: old historic Srinagar & the Mughal Gardens, touring Dal & Nageen Lakes by shikara (local boat), the atmospheric morning floating market, a visit to Dacigram National Park, an excursion Manasbal & Wular Lake, the largest lake in Asia, a tour of
Yousmarg  and a visit to Naranag Temple, the oldest in Kashmir.

En route to Leh you'll have the option to drive the stunningly beautiful Indus highway via the Koji La, with a chance to visit idyllic Sonmarg and stop at several Tibetan Buddhist monasteries along the road to Leh. Or you can take a one-hour flight directly to Leh.

Enjoy the world renown beauty and hospitality of Kashmir!

Leh, the Indus Valley & High Lakes
Leh, Indus Valley Monasteries & Salt Lakes

We also have a nearly perfect extension, again also a trip on its own, of Leh, the Indus Valley monasteries (gompas, in Tibetan or Ladakhi) and a jeep safari to the breathtakingly beautiful and culturally interesting Tso Moriri and Pangong Lakes, the later partly in Tibet. Visit the nomadic communities at Tso Moriri, the traditional villages at Pangong Lake and explore the bustling Tibetan Buddhist monasteries en route to these lakes.

There is lots to explore in historic Leh and tucked away amongst the shady villages and intriguing alleyways of this Central Asian capital.

Jullay!

 © Kim Bannister

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