INDIA in July, 2019 (8)

INDIA in July, 2019 (8)

2019-08-01T10:44:04+00:00August 1st, 2019|Lee & Paul Update|

We saddle up and leave the comfort of our large hotel out of Kaza and head up to another 1000-year-old monastery, high on a knoll with impressive views over the valley floor and mountains beyond.

It’s been a very pleasant stay at the Grand Dewachen Hotel
The Key Monastery, the largest in the Spiti Valley, sits on a rocky knoll
The Dalai Lama visited here in 2000
At just under 4200m above sea level, the views are amazing

We ride on to Kibber Village and it’s more hair-raising riding at very high altitudes. The road can be smooth single-lane bitumen one minute, rocks and gravel, large areas of slippery mud…we never know what’s around the corner and there’s no warning signs!

Don’t walk too far at 4270m as it becomes very hard to breathe
Our lunch stop at remote Kibber Village
The 120-metre cable Chicham Bridge – a scary 150 metres down to the river below
Dodging yak grazing on the summer pastures
You always ride round to the left of stupors – not straight ahead as you’d like to do

Long winding roads and valleys that present unforgettable glimpses of cold desert and snow-crowned mountains welcome you when you set foot into Spiti Valley. Spiti means ‘The Middle Land’ as the valley separates India from Tibet.

The utterly magnificent and jaw-dropping Spiti Valley
Ride through to the bridge and come back along the other side

We pull into the tiny village of Losar at 4080 metres and it’s hard to breathe as we walk around and buy cheap yak-hair shawls from the only shop.

You can hear the silence in Losar Village
View from our home-stay room at Losar

Such a tranquil atmosphere in this village of around 200 people. We leave early and it’s cold, there’s a lot of river crossings and the road becomes very challenging.

Lots of moving stock always brings a smile to your dial

We ride up over the Kunzum Pass at 4551 metres with melting snow lining the road and icy-cold winds.

Kunzum Pass is just one of India’s highest motorable roads
Morning chai stop at Batal that you would probably ride straight past
Warm chai and warm fellow bikers – all good
Awesome cosy atmosphere inside and they can knock up anything
Or you can sit outside in the very fresh air

Bordered on all sides by the Himalayas, Spiti Valley has an altitude of 3,800 metres above sea level. It only gets around 250 days of sunshine in the year, making it one of the coldest places in the country.

No wonder this road is only open 3-5 months of the year

We continue on with snow-capped mountains either side as we travel up the Lahaul Valley. The idea is to ride early before the water levels rise after lunch but some of these river crossings don’t seem to have got the memo.

Rocky, barren and cold

After lunch at Chhatru the riding gets really tough with eleven major river crossings and it takes three and a half hours to ride just 17 kilometres.

It’s hard to believe that this is actually a road

Everyone helps get a passenger truck through a dodgy bit and it’s very humbling to be around the Indian people in these situations. In our society, people would be yelling and swearing at each other in frustration. These people just all help each other – willingly and with grace. It’s lesson for everyone as there’s not an ounce of mean-spiritedness.

Long legs are definitely an advantage with large rocks and water
Our tour leader, Kamal, has done this many times

Kamal was a fabulous leader through it all and Sanjur’s driving skills over this 80km stretch of road were outstanding. He can read his vehicle and it’s capabilities so well. Imran, our mechanic, is also a pivotal part of this team of three and was always ready to fix and help.

Puddles become lakes and you don’t know what’s at the bottom
And there’s always something cool to capture attention

We finally make it to Jispa. Don has hurt his ankle and after an x-ray they discover it’s not broken. Brian (76) lay’s his bike down for a bit in one river-crossing but we are all ready for a celebratory beer…what a road!


13 Comments

  1. Sandy Ogle August 4, 2019 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    Wow well done Guys & Gals. Great photos Lee and Happy birthday for the other day xx

    • Lee August 14, 2019 at 5:38 am - Reply

      Thanks Sandy, final blog and video to follow xxx

  2. Jen Green August 2, 2019 at 8:42 am - Reply

    Life is so simple. Makes one wonder why we live the hectic life here which is so stressful. Some of the land/mountain structures/forms are just amazing.

    • Lee August 4, 2019 at 7:14 am - Reply

      It seems like the simpler it is, the happier people are! Everyone needs to be teleported into these places at some point – we can be so precious with our lives these days. The scenery is amongst our list of top places…

  3. Mal Cremer August 2, 2019 at 8:03 am - Reply

    Challenging roads and you still have a sense of humor – very good!! Each blog shows riding more challenging than the last and the altitude is higher. well done Lee and Paul

    • Lee August 4, 2019 at 7:15 am - Reply

      We were definitely built up gradually to the level of roads – at times it was pure terror for me! Thanks Mal

  4. Sue Hird August 1, 2019 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Each blog I think you’ve reached the impossible, and still you go on!
    The landscape looks SO inhospitable – the people who live there must be amazingly resilient.

    Many many WOWs !!

    • Lee August 2, 2019 at 2:41 am - Reply

      Indian people are very humbling to be around wherever they are…they just get on with everything – life, tasks and interacting with others. We could all learn from them. We look back on what we’ve done and realise it was a very special tour

  5. Gerry Sokolik August 1, 2019 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    Lee, CT and I are contemplating doing something similar to your India trip. I’ll be in BNE this Fall and would
    Like to speak with you and Paul about the logistics of it. After living it vicariously, we thought “What the Hell” maybe we should give it a go. Hope your well settled at home and looking forward to our speaking sometime in November.

    • Lee August 2, 2019 at 2:44 am - Reply

      Hey Gerry, nice to hear from you. Yes, you and CT should give this a go. I would totally recommend you go with this tour company. We researched a lot of them. This one does the Spiti Valley which was so awesome. Mostly their clients are Kiwis which is always a great bunch of seasoned riders. Have a look at

    • Lee August 2, 2019 at 2:45 am - Reply

      Love to see you in November…plenty of beds here.

  6. Ken August 1, 2019 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    Top job

    • Lee August 2, 2019 at 2:46 am - Reply

      Cheers mate

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