Playground Outdoors

Leh to Tso Moriri XC Cycle Tour

An excellent option for “the road less taken” in Exploring Ladakh. While most visitors visit the much more touristy, crowded Pangong Lake by car, cycling to glittering blue Tso Moriri lake and village of Karzok set amidst the surrounding high desert mountains is a raw look into rural Ladakhi culture that not many others get to see. Passing ancient monasteries en-route, the 15,900 foot Namshang La and remote villages en-route, the journey to Tso Moriri is almost as impressive as the lake itself.

Difficulty

Gradient Average 1.7% Maximum 14.3%

Route at altitudes between 3500 m / 11500 ft and 4850 m / 15900 ft. Two high-altitude pass climbs. Long days between 5 and 8 hours. Entire route in remote and inaccesible mountain region.

Duration

9 days

Delhi to Delhi
4 days travel & resty
5 days cycling & camping

Distance

220 km / 137 mi

Maximum Altitude

4850 m / 15900 ft

Price

₹170,000 $2400

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!

A pleasant ride out of Leh, we pass the famous 15th Century Thiksey Monastery, towering on a mountain above the neon-green grass of the settlements below, and move through other small settlements on our way out of civilization. Beginning to get a feel for the barren Ladakh wilderness, we stay overnight at the military outpost of Karu.

We ride on the Manali-Leh Highway until Upshi, a small village with an economy heavily based on goat farming, and diverge toward Hymia into a copper-colored gorge narrowing drastically on either side below rocky cliffs that now jut out above us in all directions. Following the gently uphill slope, we pass through small settlements and villages, getting a glimpse of local life so far removed from the city, before arriving in Hymia for our night’s homestay.

Mountains seeming to grow taller by the minute, we cycle a tough 35km section of rocky road, climbing slowly upward along the desert valley. Although the motorable road is here, it is one of the most isolated-feeling sections of the route, with no signs of civilization around for miles at a time. As we pass Kiari, the road becomes smoother just in time for an increased angle of incline on our home stretch toward Kesar for the day.

Today brings with it a refreshing change of scenery, as we pass several more villages, and then divert from the Indus River into a smaller valley where life becomes greener again. Down by the riverbanks, trees sprout and small grass fields give shepherds a place to graze their sheep, juxtaposed against the barren rock cliffs and lifeless mountains that tower on either side. We finish the day at a cozy village homestay in Sumdo.

Bright and early, we set off on the switchbacks that take us to the top of Namshang La pass after a few hours of dedicated ascent. From the top, the vastness of this arid region comes into full perspective, before we descend to the shores of the blue Kiagar Tso, another lake en-route to our goal later this afternoon. Just beyond is an immense plateau, and as we reach the other side, Tso Moriri comes into view, massive and deep, royal blue. Karzok is another 9km from the lake basin, and our arrival to the village is marked with celebrations, sunset walks by the shore and explorations of the Drukpa Buddhist Monastery - among other treasures of this remote village.

Time to say goodbye - we retrace our path today via vehicle transport back to the bustling city of Leh, which now feels very lively compared to the remote terrain we covered during our journey. Treat yourself tonight by exploring the city and getting some good rest - you’ve earned it!

Depart Leh for Delhi or elsewhere. Mode of transport will depend 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.