Playground Outdoors

Leh to Srinagar XC Cycle Tour

Crossing from the arid, Buddhist-dominated high-altitude desert of Ladakh to the fertile green, Muslim-majority region of Kashmir brings with it a captivating insight into different cultures. On the way, we cross the icy Zojila Pass, as well as Namik La, the Kargil War Memorial commemorating soldiers from the India-Pakistan conflict, cycle past the striking monasteries and Buddhist architecture that cling to the barren cliffs of this region, legendary Gurudwaras and ornate mosques. Finally, we descend into the lush forests surrounding the Kashmir Valley and enter Srinagar, famous for its floating markets on Dal Lake and local delicacies of kavah tea and wazwan.

Difficulty

Gradient Average 2.5% Maximum 15.4%

Route at altitudes between 1500 m / 5000 ft and 3600 m / 11800 ft. Three high-altitude pass climbs. Long days between 5 and 8 hours. Entire route in remote and inaccesible mountain region.

Duration

10 days

Delhi to Delhi
3 days travel & rest
7 days cycling & camping

Distance

420 km / 260 mi

Maximum Altitude

3600 m / 11810 ft

Price

₹150,000 $2100

Itinerary


Welcome to Leh! This heavily Tibetan-influenced city is known for taking visitors’ breath away - with its high altitude as well as the beauty and history associated with this remote mountainous desert. We will convene for the first time at the hotel arranged for you to meet and brief on the plan for the upcoming days.

Since Leh is already at an altitude of 11,500 feet, we will spend today acclimatizing in the city itself. Our goal is to be active and hydrate, so any kind of exploring will do - and this city has plenty of that to go around. Some of our favorites include climbing the prayer flag-adorned steps to the Leh Palace, built in the early 1600’s, pick up some traditional handicrafts from the main bazaar and Tibetan Refugee Markets, catch the view over the valley at sunset from the ornately decorated Shanti Stupa or explore the winding alleyways, Central Asian Museum, mosques, gurudwaras and freshly-baked tandoor bread of Old Town. Tonight, we reconvene one final time to make sure everything is set for tomorrow. In the morning, we’re off!

Leaving the bustle of Leh, we venture out onto the wide open valley and highway, passing the Gurudwara Shri Pathar Sahib on the way, built in 1517 to commemorate the visit to the Ladakh region of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder Guru of the Sikh faith. Here it is said that a demon tried to kill him with a rock, which melted instead of striking the Guru. Enraged, the demon kicked the molten rock, leaving his footprint there. The rock is on display inside the Gurdwara. After ascending the rocky switchbacks leading to the stunning cliffside Basgo Gompa (Monastery), we descend once more - passing the Nyidaphuk Gompa hidden inside a cave on our way to Alchi.

We begin our winding route today along the Indus, passing roadside Hindu temples and the Pharkey Thang Gompa until diverting slightly pass Khalsi for our ride in Lamayuru, famous for its Lamayuru Monastery jutting out from its cliffside foundation.

Today we begin our ascent toward Fotula Top, standing at 13,480 feet in altitude. The ride up is winding and constantly ascending, until we reach the arid view at the top - with signs commemorating the highest point on the Srinagar-Leh Road. The desert terrain seems to extend in every direction from this point, with the road below carving swirl-like patterns into the rocky vistas below. From here, we enjoy the descent, wind in our faces, to Budhkharbu.

Yet another day starting out with a 17km ascent to a pass - this time Namika La. After photographing the vast desert mountain expanse our new altitude gives us, we descend past Mulbekh, renowned for its massive statue of the “New Buddha” carved into the cliff of the Mulbekh Monastery. A few kilometers further, we pass the Shargole Cave Monastery, another chance to view the stunning Buddhist architecture found along these barren roads. Finally passing the Larsee Masjid, we ride into Kargil for our night’s stay.

Moving out of Kargil along the Drass River, we are met with splashes of green as we ride through riverside agricultural villages like Chanigound, Hardas and the terraced village of Kharbu. The ride is fairly level, as it hugs the river, and as we cross the sprawling crop fields and green pastures of the town of Bhimbat, we find the Dras/Kargil War Memorial, dedicated to the soldiers and officers of the Indian Army who were killed during the 1999 conflict between India and Pakistan. About 7km later, we ride into the town of Drass - our resting point for the night.

It’s alla scent this morning as we make our way up the 11,650 foot Zojila Pass, en-route crossing the Pandras War Memorial, one of the last signs of civilization besides the road we follow. Looping back and forth, the climb is a constant incline for a little over 30km until we reach the snowy top section. From here, we make the descent down into Sonmarg, the valley looking much greener than before we crossed the pass. We cycle down through a forest of massive pine trees, the road taking us further and further down to the valley floor via a series of switchbacks until we reach Sonmarg on the banks of the Sind River.

Our last day takes us from the vibrantly green countrysides, past mosques, Sikh Gurudwaras and quaint villages along the Sind River into the bustling city of Srinagar, our final stopping point. We spend the night exploring the bazars, tasting the local mutton delicacies and saffron/almond-infused kava tea traditional to this region and visiting the spectacular floating community on Dal Lake that reflects the mountains in the distance on its surface.

Depart Srinagr for Delhi or elsewhere. Mode of transport depends on weather conditions and availability of flights.

Playground Perks


Handcrafted & Curated

We don’t copy our itineraries off the internet. We scout and design all trip offerings personally. This ensures enough time to acclimatise at high altitude, explore around the campsite, and indulge in authentic local experiences so you don’t miss out on anything.

Everything Included

Honestly, everything. Internal flights, best-in-class travel insurance, personal camping equipment, and all meals - we’ll take care of everything that most travel operators will mark with an asterisk. You pay for nothing except personal purchases from the day your trip starts.

Equipment & Safety

4 season Mountain Hardwear tents and sleeping bags, emergency oxygen reserves & PACs to provide a safety net against AMS, UIAA Safety Label glacier rescue kits for technical trails, WAFA/WFR & CPR certified guides, best-in-class adventure insurance - we’ve always got a plan B.

Personalised & Bespoke

We curate bespoke adventures and trips every day because we recognise that everyone’s travel bug is unique. When it comes to adventure travel, there are different ways to experience the world’s most beautiful places, because every traveler is different - which is why we’ve stepped in to provide a space for environmental advocacy, cross-cultural connections, wellness and adventure to combine - all through travel.

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel starts with acknowledging that travel and tourism often contribute to the global climate crisis. We believe in the positive power of travel to transform mindsets & generate a sense of preservation towards wild spaces. We follow LNT Principles, minimise our carbon footprint, adopt regenerative practices & give back to local communities - from making sure our field staff are well equipped to higher-than-industry-standard compensation.

Self Guided & Operated

We’ll never hand you off to someone else - we run all trips ourselves. We minimise external contracting and only partner with people we know and trust personally. While we employ and collaborate with local guides and support staff for their unparalleled expertise and knowledge of the Himalayan ranges, our trips are led by one of our core team members so you always have a single point of contact.