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