The Ladakh Cycling Epic with Kate Leeming

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Join renowned expedition cyclist Kate Leeming on this cycle journey through Ladakh, visiting the stunning Himalayan lakes of Tso Moriri and Tso Pangong.


Duration: 20 Days
Starts in: Indian Himalaya
Group Size: 6-16
Difficulty: 3/5

Operated by:

World Expeditions

World Expeditions is an adventure travel and ecotourism company that offers guided small group trekking and adventure holidays.


Join Delhi

On arrival in Delhi you will be met by a World Expeditions representative and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free to explore Delhi and sightseeing tours can be arranged. Due to the differing times of arrivals of group members, a group meeting will not be held until the following morning. Note: As an alternative to arriving in Delhi on a late night flight, you may wish to consider arriving the day before the trip commences. Please talk to your World Expeditions reservations consultant or your travel agent for pre-tour accommodation options.

Fly to Leh (3500m)

Today we take the morning flight to Leh from Delhi (flight cost not included). Once settled into the hotel in Leh we recommend taking it easy and allowing your body to adjust to the increase in altitude from Delhi (216m) to Leh (3500m).

In Leh

On day three we have a full day sightseeing some of the outlying forts and monasteries in the Indus Valley. We include a visit to Shey Palace – the capital of upper Ladakh - until the Royal family moved to Leh in the 17th century. We also visit the nearby Tikse Monastery perched on the summit of a sugarloaf mountain overlooking the Indus Valley. Tikse was founded in the 14th century after the Dalai Lama sent monks to Ladakh and the outlying regions of West Tibet. The monastery is situated in a commanding position in the Indus Valley with the monks chambers spreading down the hillside below the main Assembly Hall. Note the presence here of the new multi - denominational chapel that was completed a decade ago. It was built with the assistance of tourist funds and is proof of the continuing vitality of Buddhism in Ladakh. In the evening we can either wander up to Shanti Stupa for a magnificent sunset or relax around our hotel in the comfortable grounds. Day four is set aside for preparing our bikes for the upcoming journey and making final adjustments.

Leh to Ranibagh - 84km

Today we set out on our fourteen day cycle expedition of Ladakh. We will start by crossing to the southern side of the Indus River shortly after leaving Leh. This affords us a quieter ride until we reach the village of Hemis at which point we will cross back to the northern side of the Indus and continue to trace its course for the remainder of the day. Tonight we will make camp by the Indus for a well earned evenings rest.

Ranibagh to Chumathang - 65km

Today we continue to trace the course of the Indus through some stunning terrain. En-route we will see some examples of the varying hues of orange and purple for which Ladakh is well known. Not far after the village of Chumathang we will make our camp, once again by the mighty Indus. We may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the nearby Himalayan peaks.

Chumathang to Takshang River via Namshang La (4828m) - 60km

Today we cross our first pass of the trip, the Namshang La (4828m). This pass marks the point where we leave the Indus Valley behind and join the high plateau that is home to Tso Moriri. Tonight we camp just shy of Tso Moriri by the Takshang River. It's no Indus but it's home after a long day in the saddle.

Takshang River to Tso Moriri (Karzok) - 20km

After yesterday's pass crossing, today is a relatively easy day - after some rough track to Karzok. There will be plenty of time to soak up the views of the freshwater lake situated at an altitude of 4522m. There may even be the opportunity to visit a nearby village, the headquarters of the Chang pa (nomadic peoples) in this wild and remote region of Rupshu. Later we heading to the shores of Tso Moriri where Brahmini ducks and a host of birdlife nest close to the lake.

Tso Moriri (Karzok) to Tso Kar via Polokonga La (4900m) - 37km

Today is Tso-Tso. All terrible puns aside, today we crest our second pass, the Polokongka La (4900m). Our day will start with a vehicle transfer, taking us and our bikes back to the junction at Sumdo we came through yesterday. From the junction we get back on our bikes and begin making our way toward Tso Kar, our overnight stop by yet another high altitude fresh water lake.

Tso Kar to Rumtse via Taglang La (5329m) - 77km

From our camp by Tso Kar we head back toward the Leh-Manali Road. Once joining this road we begin the climb of our first 5000m pass of the trip, the Taglang La (5329m). From the top of the pass we descend the hairpins down to our camp for the night in the village of Rumtse.

Rumtse to Sakti via Upshi and Karu - 66km

The descent of the previous day continues this morning as we make our way to Upshi to rejoin the Indus River and close the loop we embarked upon days earlier. The last several kilometres of the morning ride are surrounded by the multi-coloured landscape for which Ladakh is famous. Once back in the Indus Valley we make our way to Karu before turning to the north for the final 14kms to the village of Sakti, passing many terraced fields and gaining about 300m en-route.

Sakti to Durbuk via Chang La (5358m) - 66km, then transfer to Tso Pangong

Another pass day ahead of us, with our biggest yet, at 5358m. Thankfully, as is often the case, what goes up must come down. Following our conquest of Chang La we descend to the village of Durbuk. Here our day of riding concludes, and we will load into the support vehicles for the drive to Pangong Lake where we will make camp for the next two nights.

Tso Pangong - rest day

Today we have a day to rest our weary legs by the beautiful high grassland Pangong Lake. This lake has been the location for many famous Indian films and also forms part of the Indian border with China.

Tso Pangong to Shyok via Durbuk - 70km

Today we backtrack to Durbuk though this time on our bikes. From there we wind our way through a narrow gorge and over a short, steep pass to our overnight stop in the village of Shyok, on the banks of a river of the same name.

Shyok Village to Khalsar - 79km

The Shyok River forms the division between the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges. The word Shyok means ‘river of death’, the name attributed from ancient times when traders of the famous Silk Route followed the river down from the Karakoram Pass, crossing its icy, turbulent waters many times; a treacherous journey during the snow melt. Today, however, we have a beautiful ride, gradually descending along the Shyok River valley with many snow-capped peaks all around us and three small climbs towards the end of the day.

Khalsar to Hunder via Diskit - 36km

Today it is a relatively short day to the famed Nubra Valley. We will visit the Diskit monastery, explore the sand dunes of Hunder and perhaps see some Bactrian Camels, remnants of the ancient trade routes that crisscross the Himalaya in this area.

Hunder to Khardung via Khalsar - 59km

We return to Khalsar (approx. 36 kms) and then commence the the long climb up our final pass of the trip, the Khardung La (5360m). Today we cover the first 23km of the climb to Khardung Village gaining around 800m in altitude.

Khardung to Leh via Khardung La (5360m) - 75km

We have perhaps left the greatest challenge for last as today's crossing of the Khardung La requires a 1360m ascent. Spread over 32km, the climb may be long, but never steep to reach the crest of the pass. Remember though, we are all in this together and after celebrating our achievement in reaching the top it's time for a thrilling descent to Leh where we will be warmly greeted by the comfort of our hotel. This evening it's time to recap on the adventure you've completed and all you have achieved over the last 15 days.

In Leh

Today is a day set aside for any final sightseeing you may wish to do as well as for dismantling your bikes for the journey home.

Return flight to Delhi, concludes

Today you have a flight to Delhi, where the trip concludes upon arrival at the Delhi Airport.

Additional Information

In the company of renowned cyclist, author and adventurer Kate Leeming, take on this challenging expedition that traverses some of the most rugged terrain in the Indian Himalaya. The brand new route, designed and tested by Kate, is a fully supported adventure that will appeal to highly motivated cyclists keen to get off the beaten track and experience areas rarely seen by cyclists. After acclimatising in Leh, we begin our exploration of Ladakh at handle bar height. Over 14 days we cycle across a vast wilderness landscape on the borderlands of Tibet, crossing passes that afford stunning vistas of snow capped ranges, rugged gorges. We will camp beside lakes whose clarity and colour you would never think possible if not seeing them with your own eyes.


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