Manali to Leh cycling holiday in the Himalayas, Ladakh
Description of Manali to Leh cycling holiday in the Himalayas, Ladakh
For eighteen days you will travel through Ladakh by bike, having your luggage transferred for you and vehicle support throughout. This is one of these holidays where the not only the scenery is spectacular, six mountain passes in all, but the communities you visit and people you meet along the way will also strike a lasting chord.
This cycling holiday in the Himalayas follows an iconic route from Manali in the Kullu Valley to Leh where you are rewarded with an incredible 2000m descent into Leh, the capital of Ladakh with stunning ancient history. This mixture of cultural and natural wonders is a constant feature of this odyssey, as you cycle past Buddhist monasteries in some of the most dramatic locations, alongside alpine forests and flower filled meadows, up to the Rohtang Pass or through the Lahaul Valley enveloped by white peaks.
With plenty of ascents, but also descents, this cycling holiday has been carefully crafted to allow you to acclimatise, enjoy breaks at some of the world’s finest viewpoints, be it from the arid heights of the Tibetan Plateau or the top of Taglang La, the second highest road in India at 5350m, but also the hospitality of Ladakhi people everywhere you go. Staying in a mix of accommodation from small hotels to fully serviced campsites, this is a challenging cycling holiday with lots of ups, but plenty more highs.
As a cycling holiday, this trip has very limited detrimental impact upon the environment, residents and communities in the regions we visit within Nepal and Tibet. Use of the bikes allows us to cover fairly large distances, while offering very little adverse impact, like pollution and threat to wildlife. Additionally, cycling also allows for easy access to the local population, shops and restaurants, which facilitates cultural exploration. By operating with a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy, we are able to raise awareness for a kind of tourism which puts environment and community before financial gain.
Water is a really important issue with cycling trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. We suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle as in 2 months along the Markha Valley trekking route 35,000 plastic bottles are bought and left behind by trekkers. Since 2011 we have been working with YAFCAD and Niyamdru Dro (French NGO) to provide local people with safe drinking water which they can sell to foreign trekkers instead of mineral water. We aim to sponsor as many water filters as possible and ask those villages without to boil water rather than selling bottled mineral water.
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
PeopleAccommodation and Meals:
You will spend 8 nights in hotels and 8 nights full service camping. Both the hotels and camps are locally staffed, which is economically beneficial to surrounding communities. Where meals are not provided, guides can recommend authentic restaurants with a range of Tibetan, Indian, Chinese and Continental food. Manali and Leh are famous for meat or vegetable momos, which are a steamed or fried stuffed dumpling. On trek, meals include locally sourced ingredients, like porridge, eggs, bread, pasta, rice and potato with a mixture of Indian and Chinese styles. All groceries and other items used during treks are purchased from local shops and markets in Leh- where clients are encouraged to support local businesses and explore local delicacies on offer.
Local Craft and Culture:
Although this trip is largely focused on trekking and the stunning natural scenery on offer, we like to include as many elements of culture as possible, too. We visit the 450- year- old Hadimba temple, for example, which is a wonderful example of architecture (it is crafted entirely from wood) and has some remarkable designs carved into it. The surrounding area is full of fir and pine forests, plus a vibrant bazaar with an array of colourful shawls, jewellery and handicrafts. Typical handmade products include pashmina and painted ornaments, which clients are encouraged to buy as souvenirs over imported, machine made products.
Our Himalayan Community Support Projects have been helping people in the Markha Valley, Ladakh since the floods in 2006, when we helped people rebuild homes. Since then we have been involved with the local women’s groups and Youth Organisation for the Conservation and Preservation of the Hems National Park in building and running a successful Eco Café. The focus is using only locally made or organic produce and eliminating the plastic bottles littered around the Valley with the use of a UV water filter for trekkers. The Ladakhi women have been trained in needle and flat felting in order to make and sell felt snow leopards, ibex and blue sheep as souvenirs. This has had great economic, social and environmental benefit for the area.
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.