Indian Himalayas: Manali to Leh Highway

from $1,695

Cycle the highest roads in the world (up to 5400m). The Manali-Leh Highway takes us all the way from the foothills of the Himalayas to the capital of the Kingdom of Ladakh, the Little Tibet, at the heart of the world’s greatest mountain range.

A 17-day trip of a lifetime!

  • Trip Duration 17 Days
  • Activity Level Challenging
  • Group Size Medium Group
All about the Indian Himalayas: Manali to Leh Highway.

Cycling the highest roads in the world

From Manali to Leh + Kardung La (highest motorable pass in the world)

17 days, 9 cycling  /  590km  /  6 big passes, 3  over 5000m

Rising out of the dusty, hot and chaotic plains of India, the Himalayas in the northern most part of the country are a world apart from the hustle and bustle of crazy towns and markets below.

Mountains rise to over seven thousand metres through which wild rivers of glacial melt cut narrow valleys. Ladakh and its capital Leh was opened to the West in 1974 and was made accessible by a 580 kilometre ribbon of road, known as the Manali-Leh Highway. This mostly unmetalled road follows spectacular valleys linked by a series of high altitude passes which eventually lead to the remote and starkly beautiful Kingdom of Ladakh, situated in the rain shadow of the Himalayas. Apart from the breath-taking (in every sense!) scenery, the region brings together a melt of religions which adds a very interesting cultural element to the route.

This trip is definitely not for the faint-hearted: stamina, good fitness and a sense of humour are required!


Carlos Gonzalez

Carlos Gonzalez: Bilingual accredited Mountain and Nature guide as well as MTB guide with First Aid experience. Extensive bike touring experience in Spain, South America, Central America, North America, Morocco and the Indian Himalayas (40,000 km pedalled)

For the cycling leg we’ll be accompanied by a team of 6 people, including an accredited guide with fluent English.


A good level of fitness is required. Although distances and gradient aren’t extreme, the altitude is what makes this trip tough together with potentially varying weather conditions. The first 2-3 days could be wet, thereafter dry and cold with strong wind from time to time.

Pre-tour preparation: We would advise at least one longer distance (60 -70km) weekly ride with a few shorter rides (25-30km) squeezed in between (1-2mths before departure)

Although this is not a race, by doing races your fitness will improve substantially, especially with multi-day events like Sani2c.


We will provide a comprehensive kit list. You will need to supply your own bicycle and basic spares. We will bring the more specialized bike tools.

  1. Day 1 Meeting in Delhi

    Arrive in Delhi and recover. Brave the mad markets and sample some Indian street food!

  2. Day 2 Delhi

    Take a walk in the chaotic streets or visit the famous Red Fort and Jama Masjid mosque.

    Catch overnight ‘luxury’ bus to Manali (a 14h trip)

  3. Day 3 Manali (2000m)

    Arrive Manali in the morning, check into our hotel and enjoy a walk around the old town and pine forest reserves. Manali is a sensible starting point in the foothills (2000m) and offers a quite respite from the hectiness of Delhi. Set alongside the Beas River the valley sides steepen quickly where you will catch glimpses of the mighty Rohtang range which will be your first intro to Himalayan pass climbing! We’ll assemble our bikes and go for a testing ride.

  4. Day 4 Manali (2000m)

    This is another rest day to recover completely from all the travelling. Optionally, we’ll go for another ride or/and a short hike.

  5. Day 5 Marhi (3350m) (36km, 1400m)

    This first 36km is a sensible warm-up and will allow you to acclimatize, the distance may not seem long, and however you will be ascending 1400m. The pass switchbacks up the Pir Panjal range which receives the brunt of the monsoon. Storms ram into these 4000m mountains stopping them in their tracks, thus creating the rain shadow on the other side. With the now unpredictable weather patterns showers are touch and go!  The result, however, of this high rainfall area is beautiful: lush forested slopes of towering pines, evergreens and fir trees broken up by cascading waterfalls. Our camp will be already set up for us when we get there.

  6. Day 6 Keylong (3200m) (84km, 1200m)

    A final tough 17km along seriously washed out rocky road bound by impressive drop-off will take us to the top of our first pass just under 4000m, The Rohtang-La Pass. Once crossing the pass you will be rewarded with a fabulous downhill but on a bumpy pock-marked surface. At the police checkpoint of Koksar we will follow the Chandrabhagga River bound by towering snowy peaks and glaciers to Keylong.

  7. Day 7 Patseo (3850m) (45km, 900m)

    The forested slopes diminish as the terrain becomes more arid. The road is mostly rutted and rocky while some sections are surprisingly superbly sleek! Jispa is the last proper village from where we start to ascent to Patseo, an army encampment. In the distance the bleak, rugged high Himalayas beckon.

  8. Day 8 Sarchu (4250m) (67km, 1200m)

    The day starts with a 9km flattish section to Zing Zing Bar, a small army post. Then a dusty series of switchbacks leads you 22km up the scree-covered Baralacha-La Pass (4980m) – the rewards are high-altitude lakes and valleys together with a fabulous downhill to Bharatpur (a camp of dhabbas) where we will stop to eat our packed lunch with a well earned tea! The descent continues along a magnificent valley – mountains thrown up in all directions and the detail of delicate flowers clinging to the edge of a high pastures until we get to the Sarchu Plains.

  9. Day 9 Rest day at Sarchu (4250m)

    This is a key rest day. After gradually ascending for the last for days a day for acclimatization is important. It is also the perfect opportunity to service your bikes, read, eat, sleep, walk or simply admire the magnificent scenery.

  10. Day 10 Pang (4550m) (72km, 1300m)

    This is a very tough day over a double pass. The route meanders along the beautiful Sarchu River and then starts to climb up out of the valley the 21 switchbacks of the Gata loops for 10 km, which is only half the way up the Nakee-La Pass (4920m). From this ‘false’ summit the road descents into a desolate windswept valley only to ascend once more to the Lachalung-La Pass at 5065m! The descent to Pang is absolutely spectacular as granite walls rise like fortresses on either side of the valley.

  11. Day 11 Tsokar (4650m) (47km, 300m)

    An easy climb out of Pang (yes, comparatively easy!) takes you onto the only flat section of the trip – the might Moray plains, a flat and wide valley bound by softly shaped mountains. Timing is crucial here in order to avoid being thrashed by strong winds. We take a 3km detour to Tsokar, a high altitude salt lake and our highest camp at 4650m

    Accommodation: Camp (All meals included)

    Fresh river water available

  12. Day 12 Rumtse (4300m) (64km, 900m)

    Today is the 17km climb over the ‘2nd highest pass in the world’ and the highest on this highway. The approach to the Taglang-La pass is gentle although the horrendous road surface ensures that it will never be easy. Prayer flags adorn the summit and views that give you an ‘on top of the world’ feeling are the rewards! A phenomenal 1200m descent to camp awaits you. The picturesque village of Rumtse is essentially the first real experience of Ladakh and the first village you will have seen in 5 days.

    Accommodation: Camp (All meals included)

    Fresh river water available

  13. Day 13 Leh (3600m) (82km, 400m)

    A geologically spectacular descent through a wine coloured gorge will lead you into the Indus valley. The small town of Upshi marks the junction from where we follow the gently undulating milky-green Indus River all the way to the capital of the Kingdom of Ladakh – Leh!

    Accommodation: Hotel (Breakfast included)

  14. Day 14 Leh (3600m)

    A well earned rest day! You are left to your own devices which may be to explore the old town of Leh and its twisting narrow streets as well as some of the more famous sites, such as Leh Palace or the Shanti Stupa. Or you may simply spend your time recharging on chocolate cakes and cappuccinos at the numerous exceptional bakeries!

    Accommodation: Hotel (Breakfast included)

  15. Day 15 Khardung-la (5380m) - Leh (78km, 1800m)

    The ultimate challenge to end off this trip is to assault the ‘Highest Motorable Road in the World’. This incredible ascent of 1800m over 39km from 3600m – 5600m will be worth all the gasping and puffing as you are rewarded with snow-capped peaks of the Stok range and the sweeping views of the Nubra valley and the Karakorum range in the distance (besides the fact that you will feel very chuffed with yourself) and you can whizz back down the 39km in about a fifth of the time it took to get up there!

    Accommodation: Hotel (Breakfast included)

  16. Day 16 Delhi

    Early morning flight to Delhi. Welcome back to the madness!!!

    Accommodation: Hotel (Breakfast included)

  17. Day 17 End of our services

    After breakfast, you’re on your own.