Cold Desert on Bicycle
(The Spiti Circuit )
In a first of its kind, cycle to the Middle Land of Spiti!
The name Spiti comes from the original word Piti which means the ‘middle land’, a kingdom nestled between the larger kingdoms of Tibet and Ladakh. The area boasts of a typically arid Trans –Himalayan landscape and the people here follow Tibetian Buddhism.
Spiti is best experienced when one does so at a slow pace and besides walking, the only other way of doing that is on a cycle. We’ll not only be seeing Spiti but, this tour will also take us through the beautiful hills of Kinnaur region and some greener parts of lower Himachal. This trip is as much about the journey as the destination and something you’ll remember for years to come. And as much as you experience outside, it will surely be a journey within as well.
The Himalayan Cold Desert Biking Expedition in Spiti gives you the high of biking in the Himachal without having to push your body to its limits. Cross some of the highest passes in the world, and ride your way through the otherworldly landscape of this unique region.
Duration: 9 Days
Group Size: 6-12 PAX
Season: May to September
DAY 1 : ARRIVE IN CHANDIGARH. DRIVE TO SANGLA VALLEY
Total distance: 350 km, Drive 10 hours
Starting altitude: 320 m; Highest altitude: 2745 m; Resting altitude: 2720 m
From the plains, we begin our journey, drive through the bustling mountain town of Shimla, and head off to the picturesque district of Kinnaur. We move on the Indo-Tibet Highway till Rakcham from where we will cross the bridge
into the Baspa River valley. Situated along the Baspa River in Kinnaur, Batseri and the surrounding areas are out of a storybook. A perfect place to break our journey and enjoy a night of comfort at our resort along the Baspa river.
Highlights: Gradual incline from the Indo-Gangetic plains to the foothills of Himalayas, Reaching the lush green Kinnaur district before venturing into the cold mountain desert of Spiti.
DAY 2 : ARRIVE AND STAY STAY AT BATSERI. EXPLORE BASPA RIVER (VALLEY)
Total distance: 40 km; Cycling distance: 40 km
Starting altitude: 2720 m; Highest altitude: 3450 m; Resting altitude: 2720 m
A great day to acclimatize and get your legs running. Warm up your bikes and cycle towards Chitkul at 3450 m. Chitkul is the last village on the Indo-China border and is home to some traditional architecture as well as stunning landscapes. It’s 20 km to Chitkul and mostly uphill, making for a great day through winding roads along the river. As with every uphill, there is always a breezy downhill to be enjoyed.
Highlights: Chitkul, Baspa river valley. Acclimatization ride.
DAY 3: BATSERI TO KANAM VILLAGE
Total distance: 83 km; Cycling distance: 75 km
Starting altitude: 2720 m; Highest altitude: 2860 m; Resting altitude: 2700 m
Kanam, a prominent monastic village located in the district of Kinnaur, is also known as ‘The Land of God’. This place is noted for its 7 big and small monasteries built by Rin-Chan-Sang-Po and the local deity of the region is Dabla-Shu. One of these monasteries is located at the top of the village and has 25 rooms.
Highlights: Visiting local Buddhist monasteries, Experiencing the lush green mountain views.
DAY 4 : KANAM VILLAGE TO NAKO
Total distance: 72 km; Cycling distance: 72 km
Starting altitude: 2700 m; Highest altitude: 3625 m; Resting altitude: 3625 m
The real expedition begins; we have a steep uphill ride to Nako before going downhill in a joyous and challenging adventure multiple times during the day. Nako is the largest village at an elevation of 3,625 metres (11,893 ft) (3,662
metres (12,014 ft), in the Hangrang Valley with the backdrop of Reo Purgyal which has an elevation of 6,816 metres (22,362 ft) and is the highest mountain in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh.
Highlights: Visiting monastery and Nako Lake.
DAY 5: NAKO TO GUE TO TABO
Total distance: 78 km; Cycling distance: 78 km
Starting altitude: 3625 m; Highest altitude: 3850 m; Resting altitude: 3300m
Gue: Home to the monastery preserving a 500-year-old Monk Mummy sitting hunched. Villagers quickly inform you that its hair, and nails continue to grow and its teeth are still intact. You’ll come across the mummy, covered in traditional yellow and white monk clothes, inside a glass casing.
Tabo: Tabo is one of the largest villages in Spiti Valley that is welcoming and where you get a peek into the Buddhist culture and local lifestyle. The Tabo Monastery located in the Tabo village of Spiti Valley was founded in 996 CE in the Tibetan year of the Fire Ape by the Tibetan Buddhist lotsawa Rinchen.
Highlights: Visiting monasteries and Monk’s mummy, Tabo Monastery and the ride alongside Spiti river
DAY 6: TABO TO DHANKAR TO KAZA
Total distance: 54 km; Cycling distance: 54 km
Starting altitude: 3300m; Highest altitude: 3930 m; Resting altitude: 3650 m
Entering the cold desert, Mars-like landscapes of Spiti, we go through the major settlements in Spiti today as we cover a rolling section between Tabo and Kaza. While doing so, we’ll be taking detours to visit Dhankar monastery, the earliest capital town of the valley. We will also take some time to make the hour-long hike up to Dhankar Lake from the monastery. From Dhankar, one can view the confluence of the Pin and Spiti rivers which is a sight to behold. The day’s end will be at Kaza where we stop for the day.
Highlights: Dhankar Monastery, King’s Palace, Dhankar Lake, Apple orchards.
DAY 7 : KAZA TO KOMIC-LANGZA TO KAZA
Total distance: 45 km; Cycling distance: 45 km
Starting altitude: 3700 m; Highest altitude: 4590 m; Resting altitude: 3700 m
We will be visiting some popular and highest Spitian villages today. The ride from Kaza towards these villages is comparatively short but do not underestimate the climb and gain in altitude. Send a postcard from the highest post office at Hikkim, reach the highest village connected by road or find the geologist in you at the fossil village of Langza. Following our lunch in Langza, we will glide back down to the main road and retire in Kaza.
Highlights: Visit the highest motorable villages roads, World’s highest post office.
DAY 8: KAZA TO CHICHAM-KIBBER TO LOSAR VIA KIATO
Total distance: max 60 km; Cycling distance: 75 km
Starting altitude: 3700 m; Highest altitude: 4250 m; Resting altitude: 4100 m
Crossing by the picturesque Kee Monastery, we head towards Chicham Bridge, Asia’s highest suspension bridge via Kibber. Known for spotting rare Snow Leopards, Chicham and Kibber are traditional villages that are rapidly catching up to provide modern amenities. Getting continental food at such heights next to a national park is a luxury and a surreal memory that you will behold. The downhill ride to Losar will help you unravel and rethink your adventures of the last few days.
Highlights: Chicham Bridge, Traditional Villages, Long downhill ride
DAY 9: LOSAR TO CHANDRA TAL
Total distance: max 40 km; Cycling distance: 40 km
Starting altitude: 4100 m; Highest altitude: 4590 m; Resting altitude: 4200 m
After absorbing Spiti, we start the last day on the saddle with a long ride to Chandra Tal. For many, Chandra Tal is the highlight of their trip to Spiti. The initial sections are flat and smooth but the road will soon become rough. It will also make your ride to the highest point in your journey thus far, to Kunzum La. This marks the end of the tough section of your ride as you enter Lahaul. From Kunzum La, savour the last few kilometers of your cycling journey till Chandra Tal to make the perfect culmination of your trip.
Highlights: Kunzum La Pass, Chandra Tal Lake
DAY 10 : TRANSFER TO MANALI
Total distance: 170 km; Drive Distance : 170 KM
Starting altitude: 4200 m; Highest altitude: 4280 m; Resting altitude: 1900 m
After a night in the camps around Chandra Tal, we’ll start early for our drive towards Manali. This is where the journey ends. You can either choose to stay a night in Manali or travel towards Delhi / Chandigarh the same evening. Just because we are driving, don’t think of it as a boring day. The road from Chandra Tal towards Manali is full of excitement. Water crossings, boulders, and dirt tracks, coupled together with breathtaking views will keep you enthralled.
Highlights: The transition of landscape from shades of browns to greens, a long lasting memory.
Please download PDF for detailed information.