Spiti Valley Circuit By Motorcycle Part 2

Bike 02-0092

Picking up Where I left off in: Spiti Valley Circuit By Motorcycle Part 1

We left Rekong Peo on Tuesday morning after obtaining the Inner-line Permit on Monday. We set out early and made way to Nako. About an hour into the drive nature called and there was no where offering privacy, I squatted on the side of the road.

Bike 02-0030

Thinking I would make it before any vehicles passed, however one showed up before I finished, they honked and I simultaneously Waved and Wiped. The ride was amazing, a beautiful day full of stunning scenery and the road was decent for the second half of the day. I found a spare tube and air pump in the middle of road. Further down the road we found a group of Israelis with a few bikes and a van, they were changing one of the bike tubes, it was their lost tube and pump. We offered help and they offered some real coffee. We traveled with them the last stretch of road to Nako, a steep climb with an endless evolving view, and smooth switch-back roads. There being only one main road to take we continued to run into each other throughout Spiti and Ladakh and became lasting friends.

Bike 03-0003

Onward from Nako we aimed to stop in Tabo, when we got there we weren’t too impressed and decided to keep going. Before leaving, we stretched our legs checking out the monastery, had a chai and played some Carrom (a table top billiards game with discs). Then set out to make it to Dhankar by evening and stayed on the top floor of Dhankar Monastary Guesthouse, it was comfortable, the food was rather good, and the room had a full power view of the valley/river and surrounding mountains. I took a walk up to the high altitude Dhankar lake, and enjoyed the company of some locals fishing in the lake, which is stocked/studied by WWF and fishing is prohibited. I recommend making the trip early or late in the day when the winds are calm. I spent a few hours on the lakeside in the morning and was able to capture the mountains reflecting off the lake.

Bike 02-0117

We decided to leave for Mudh in Pin Valley before sunset. Early in the morning after I am up and packed Johnny decided that he was just going to sleep in. I told him I was leaving anyway and he didn’t object. I took off early and was able to enjoy a beautiful sunrise drive through the valley. I took it slow with many stops and arrived around 9am. I spent the day hiking and enjoying beautiful weather. The day had worn on and still no sign of Johnny, I was starting to worry. It was too late to go look for him and I only had enough fuel to go to Kaza, if that. The next day still no sign, but a kind Israeli offered me a liter of fuel and wouldn’t take anything for it. Still wasn’t enough to go back to Dhankar and to the station in Kaza. The next day Johnny finally arrived, he had bike problems taking a day to fix. Then when he did leave he ran out of fuel and ended up being towed by another motorcycle. While our bikes were parked outside the gates of Dhankar Monastary we believe someone drained our fuel. Even with an extra liter of fuel my bike fell well below the bike’s tank average. We had to wait a couple of days for someone to bring Johnny 5 liters of fuel to Mudh from Kaza. I was able to barely make it to Kaza on my fuel. Mudh is beautiful place to visit so make sure you take the Pin Valley detour. I stayed at Tara Guesthouse as recommended while we stayed in Dhankar, the home stay part of the guesthouse is cheaper and the room on the corner offers two windows with a great view from the bed. There are a number of day hikes you can take in Mudh, my favorite one was walking down the far side of the river along the farms with endless rock walls. Around every corner it would offer a new view but it never really opens up. For a open view you will have take a hike up one of the steep mountain sides.

Bike 02-0241

After spending a night or two in Kaza and enjoying the German Bakery with avocado sandwiches, we decided to make a trip up to Tangyund Monastery at 4,520 meters and is located outside Komic. Komic is one of the world’s highest inhabited villages. Johnny’s bike was having problems in the high elevation, it wasn’t getting enough oxygen to burn the fuel properly. While traveling at high altitudes you should adjust your carburetor’s air intake, go to a mechanic the first time and have him show you how. Tangyund Monastery offers a spectacular panoramic view, when the weather decides to clear up. We stayed at Tangyund Monastery for the night enjoyed some delicious green been curry dish with vegetables and tingmo, Tibetan steamed dough balls, cooked by the monks. Dinner was served at “30:7” according to the monks, 7:30 in English. We called it an early night going to sleep after dinner. Despite going to bed early we both slept terribly due to the altitude. High altitude can cause serious problems including Altitude Sickness, breathing problems, and weird dreams. I woke up several times throughout the night, once I woke up screaming, I am not sure why maybe a bad dream or maybe I stopped breathing. Johnny’s problems were a bit more severe, he hardly slept that night, suffering from confusion and panic. He packed his gear in the night and took off at the first sign of light. I awoke to the sound of him cranking the bike and was able to see him just as he pulled away. Left alone, I packed up my gear and had a couple of chais with the monks before starting back to Kaza. Shortly after I left it began to snow and rain and the roads turned to mud. My tires were caked with mud and I was sliding all over the road. I basically had to walk the bike down the mountain, dropping it several times when the mud caked wheels slid out of line. The whole trip back was spent with me cursing the road and Johnny for leaving me.

Bike 02-0007

We spent another couple days in Kaza, two days after the road from Kaza to Manali was open we took off. The drive was beautiful but the road was rough, it took us two days to make it to Manali. On the first day there is an amazing viewpoint at Kunzum Pass with a temple covered in Tibetan prayer flags. I spent a couple hours there talking with the few people who passed through. A car of Indians was driving circles around the temple, then they stopped and when I questioned them I learned that you drive clockwise around the temple three times for good luck. This was the last enjoyment of the day. Bike 02-0081Afterwards the road could hardly be called a road, we had to drive through several snow packs with snow and ice walls towering overhead. We made it to Batal (I believe) and it was nothing more than a place we could sleep in a shack. The locals there said there was another place to stop 10-20km away, so we decided to continue till the next stop. The next stop however wasn’t for hours, and the road continued to worsen, made of big rocks that would kick your wheels from side to side, then there would be nice wide open flat space. In the darkness it looked quite nice so we picked up speed then our bikes started to fishtail and we quickly realized it was loose sand. Driving through one of the snow packs my tires sunk more than halfway into a snow crevasse. The bike was stuck deep, I straddled it with my knees at the top of the seat, pushing with everything I had and gunning the engine. The bike finally popped out of the hole, it picked me up, and took off nearly driving me straight into a snow wall. It was dark, we could barely see, our clothes were soaked through to our underwear, and it seemed like the night was never going to end. Finally around 9:30pm we found a roadside dhaba to stop in, and in the light I saw my hand was covered in blood. At the dhaba we warmed up with piping hot chai, veg curry, and a wood burning stove. We slept and dried our clothes near the wood burning stove, it cost 100 rupees to stay for the night, not including food.

We took off in the morning and made it to the top of Rhotang Pass at mid-day, when the roads were wet and the pass is in full swing circus mode. The pass is supposed to have only one way traffic alternating every day. Bikes are permitted to travel in either direction regardless of the rest of traffic, of course like most traffic regulations in India no one enforces them. Never mind the danger and lack of parking, everyone just wants to visit the top of the pass to say they did it and head back to Manali. It is important to make Rohtang Pass early in the morning before the sun starts melting the snow and ice. Ideally, early enough to avoid the traffic and circus act on the top.

Bike 02-0097

List of Stops, Important Information, Distances and Points of Interest

  • Banjar- 91km
  • Rampur- 106km

  • Shimla (Detour for parts, 250km Round Trip from Rampur)

  • Sangla- 94km- Stay: Shruti Guesthouse

  • Chitkul-45km- Round trip from Sangla Near the Indo-Tibeten/Chinese border

  • Rekong Peo- 41km- Obtain Inner-line Permit, LAST FUEL, last cell connection,and last Internet till Kaza)

  • Nako-102km

  • Dhankar- 95km- Stay at Dhankar Monastary Guesthouse, Hike to Lake, Watch for Altitude Sickness

  • Mudh- 51km- Stay at Tara Guesthouse

  • Kaza- 50km- FUEL, Paid Internet Access, German Bakery, (obtain permit if going towards Rekong Peo)

  • Komic- 50km RT- Stay at Tangyund Monastary, Watch for Altitude Sickness

  • Batal-88km- Stop for the Night

  • Rohtang Pass- 63km- Best to make the top of the pass early in the morning.

  • Manali- 51km- Rest, Recuperate, Go to Leh, Ladakh

Did you enjoy reading? Let me know by commenting and by sharing it with the social media links! Follow me on Facebook:Wandering Stray and twitter  for new stories and photos! 

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge