3978 m, 5040 m, 4400 m, 4108 m, 3700 m, 5325 m, 5059 m, 4739 m, 4892 m, 3978 m. That’s the order of all the passes Hannes and I crossed during the month of cycling in Zanskar and Ladakh, North India. The starting point was Manali, a 14 hours bus ride north of Delhi. We first cycled within a few days to Darca (a little village after Keylong) and then loaded our panniers on horses and trekked for 6 days, pushing and carrying our bikes, to Padum. From Padum we cycled via Kargil to Leh and finally returned via the infamous Manali-Leh-Highway to Manali. It’s been strenuous and challenging days, yet rewarded with stunning scenery and interesting experiences. Indeed a highlight of my trip and it’s great final. And best of all, the people were just great, in particular those in the Buddhist areas. Despite (or maybe because) of the harsh living conditions, we experienced the people as honest, trustworthy and really friendly. It made us feel very welcome and safe. Especially those traits distinguish North India from Central India, i.e. Delhi, Agra or Jaipur, where many people are quite annoying, dishonest and unfriendly. This let us to the conclusion that North India has very little to do with India! It’s like a different country and therewith definitely worth a trip.
Naturally, it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops and there were a few annoyances, too. For instance, the diarrhea that knocked Hannes and me off for two days, respectively (well, it actually didn’t come by surprise), the many military trucks between Kargil and Leh, sections of really bad roads, or the sometimes boring and dessert-like landscape. However, that all add to the slightly adventurous character of this trip.
And, as usual, a few words about how we spent our nights: 14 nights we spent camping in the mountains, 18 nights in basic hotels (with prices ranging from 8 to 30 Euros a night) and 2 nights on the bus.