India : Spiti - Ladakh
Getting there and away
The tour starts in Chandigarh. We appreciate that people join redspokes tours from all over the world; no matter what time you arrive at the airport on the tour start date you and your luggage will be transferred to the joining hotel. Please bear in mind that if you arrive before midday you may have to wait for your room to be made available.
The tour ends in Leh. If you decide to arrive early or stay on in Delhi after the tour (perhaps to visit the Taj Mahal), redspokes can help you organise your visit to the Taj Mahal, extra accommodation and transfers to the airport if needed. If you depart on the last day of the tour your airport transfer is included in the tour price.
If flying from the UK BA and Jet Air appear to be the favoured airlines by our customers. Check out multi-destination options for arrival in Chandrigarh and departure from Leh on www.expedia.com or www.opodo.co.uk for an idea of times and price.
Passport and Visa
You must be in possession of a valid passport and visa. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months after date of arrival or 1 month after expiration of visa. An e-visa is now available for India and can be applied for online. Visa application forms for UK residents can be obtained by clicking here.
If you would prefer to pay an agent to get your visa, we would suggest using Travcour (UK) Ltd. They have been in the visa business for 25 years & offer our customers a £5 discount on all visas purchased.
Insurance and vaccinations
It is a condition of joining our trips that you must be adequately insured. All persons are expected to arrange their own insurance. Polices should cover any potential risks involved in a mountain cycling holiday. We ask for copy of your policy to be sent in with your completed booking form.
Snowcard Insurance Services specialize in all mountain sports holidays including mountain biking. Their policies include emergency medical and repatriation expenses as well as mountain rescue. They are also able to insure personal belongings including equipment as well as travel cover for cancellation, delay and missed departure. Follow the link below to obtain full information and a quote: www.snowcard.co.uk.
There are no compulsory vaccinations for foreign visitors although it is strongly recommended that you be vaccinated against Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio and Hepatitis A. You should also take adequate supplies of a suitable malarial prophylactic. You should contact your doctor at least 3 months prior to travel to obtain these vaccinations and the latest advice to travellers.
Cycle support and grading
All the time you will have the security of a back-up vehicle, either a jeep or truck. The vehicles will carry our entire luggage and you when needed. Our leaders carry a good tool kit and will help to fix any bike problems. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be equipped for all repairs, so you must ensure that your bike is in good working order before the tour. If in doubt, have it fully serviced by a bike shop before you travel.
This trip is designed for the experienced cyclist. The distances and gradient each day are not extreme, but the altitude and terrain make this a tough trip. Although you do not need to be an athlete, it pays to spend some time before the trip getting into the best shape possible. This will ensure you get the most from your holiday. We can send you specific training tips on request.
Equipment and bike stuff
Bikes for this trip need to be:
Tough as your bikes can take a hammering in the Himalayas. Low geared, for example a 22-tooth granny cog on the front crank driving an 11-32/34 block on the back will do the trick. Comfortable. There are some long days so it is essential your saddle and riding position are comfortable.
A mountain bike is a good option. Front suspension will help with the washboard tracks and potholes, but it is not essential. Full-suspension is OK, but may be hard work on the tarmac stretches. If you have flat bars, fitting bar ends will give you a different hand position and help with the climbs. Touring bikes. The trip can be done on a traditional touring, but it is important to ensure it has got strong enough wheels, sufficiently wide tyres (37mm is about the minimum) and low enough gearing. It's worth investing in a pair of 36 spoke, hand-built wheels, using a good quality rim (e.g. Sun Rhyno, Mavic or Rigida).
The route is a mixture of poorly maintained tarmac and very rough gravel tracks. The best tyre for the job is probably the Schwalbe Marathon XR. It's very tough and hardwearing, and has a decent tread for the gravel without being too knobbly for tarmac.
We would advise the following: multi tool, tyre levers, pump, 2 spare inner tube, spare spokes of the correct length to fit your wheels - check with a bike shop, brake pads, a few spare links for your chain, 1 brake and 1 gear cable, 1 length of cable housing, 1 small bottle of lube, extra set of cleats, if applicable, spares for any unique or high-tech items on your bike, e.g. fluid and bleed kit for hydraulic brakes.
Please ensure that you bike is in good working order before you leave on tour. If you are not mechanically-minded we suggest that you get your bike looked at by a professional bike mechanic. In particularly we would suggest looking and adjusting all wheel spokes, greasing all your bearings, checking your brakes/gears cable, tighten all nuts and bolts, check chain, quick release clamps, tires and put in new inner tubes and check wheel rims are not worn. In addition, make sure the bike is well serviced and ride it with as much care and attention as possible.
Here's our recommended kit list. It's not rigid - feel free to vary it at as necessary:
Good quality waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, warm hat (thick fleece), sun hat, cycle mitts, warm gloves - mountaineering gloves (waterproof outer, fleece inner) are good, mid-weight fleece top, 2 pairs cycling tights (looser, "trackster" fit rather skin-tight lycra), shorts, long sleeved shirt, travel trousers, 2 wicking t-shirts (synthetic or merino wool), cotton tee-shirt for around town, long sleeved thermal top, thermal long johns, 2-3 pairs underwear, 2-3 pairs of standard socks, 1 pair warm sock, cycling shoes, e.g. SPD's, if applicable (bring spare cleats), trekking shoes, flip-flops, crocs or sandals to wear around camp.
Other suggested items are: a bike helmet, dark glasses (the sun is very strong), small day sack or pannier (assuming you have a rack to attach it to) to carry clothing, camera and valuables, a couple of spare passport photos, photocopies of key documents. e.g., passport (data and visa pages), travel insurance policy, airline tickets, camera, photos of your family and postcards of your town to show the locals.
You will need a 3/4 season sleeping bag for this tour. Temperatures can drop as low as 0 degrees at night.
Your bike must be carried as a part of your luggage allowance and, to this end, we do ask you to make every effort to keep your total check-in baggage to an absolute minimum. The baggage allowance for most airlines for an economy-class ticket is 20kg per person; although a degree of flexibility is usually extended to groups and the check in staff may accept up to 26kg per person without imposing excess baggage charges.
Your bike (in its cardboard box) will weigh 15 to 18kg. So, that means you will have a small allowance for clothing, etc. You should carry small heavy items in your day pack / pannier which you can take onto the plane as hand luggage.
Your hand luggage is not included as a part of your overall allowance, as it is not weighed. Please inform your airline that you will be taking your bike on the flight, and attempt to make every effort to secure from the airline an additional baggage allowance - but this is not always granted. Although we cannot guarantee that there will not be excess baggage charges, this is something, which very rarely happens.
What's included and what's not
Accommodation will be in hotels, guest houses and camping for the duration of the tour. Our prices are based on sharing a twin room; single rooms are sometimes available at extra cost. When camping we provide 2 person tents. Hot water for washing in will also be provided.
All food is provided on camping days.
Altitude sickness is the effect of the thin air at great heights. Travellers to the Himalayas may suffer some discomfort like breathlessness and headaches before becoming acclimatised. This can take from a few hours to a couple of days, depending on the individual. Take it lightly, but drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids. Proper hydration is critical. When we climb over some of the high passes, you are likely to experience some of the minor symptoms and discomfort of altitude sickness (headache, mild nausea, loss of appetite) until your body adjusts to the elevation.
Government Federal Parliamentary Republic
Currency Indian Rupee (à¤°)
Area total: 3,287,263 km2
Water: 314,070 km2
Land: 2,973,193 km2
Population 1,210,193,422 (provisional total as per 2011 census)
Language Hindi, English and 21 other official languages
Religion Hindu 81.3%, Muslim 12%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other groups including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi 2.5% (2000)
Electricity 230V/50Hz, Indian (Old British)/European plugs
Calling Code +91
Internet TLD .in
Time Zone UTC+5.5