Day 1, August 13: We hopped onto the last bus to Manali, which is a 14hr ride from Delhi. During this season, roads become very susceptible to landslides, and our bus was unable to go ahead due to a major landslide 8Kms from Mandi. Leaving the bus at Mandi, we decided to walk.
Few more people joined us. Our destination was still 108 Km away. We trekked for 10Km, crossing hundreds of vehicles waiting for the road to clear off.
Delayed by the landslide, we finally reached Manali by evening for our overnight halt. Manali is known for its trout fish and local fruit wines. Trout fish are captured from the cold local water rivers and prepared without cutting them into pieces. Wines are extra cheap due to plenty of local fruit orchards.
## DAY 2
The next morning, we started towards Leh. It was raining again. We hired a 350cc Royal Enfield and a 160cc Yamaha FZ (all other Enfields were already booked up due some bikers group coming to Manali the very same day, we had no other option). Unavailability of bikes is common during holidays and the rental costs also shoot up. We ended up paying around INR 1500 per day rent for the bikes with a minimum of 5 days’ hire. After so much hassle for bikes, we finally started for Rohtag Pass as our first destination.
Starting slowly at 1pm, crossing streams and the high walls of the mountains, a true beauty to behold, we finally reached Rohtang pass around 4PM. We had hoped for some snow there, but didn’t find any.
Since we still had time before sunset, we decided to set our camps 10-15kms downhill, alongside a river stream near Gramphu. Spent the night with wines, the roaring river and a beautiful night-sky.
## DAY 3
It was a lazy morning to start with. Next destination was Keylong pass, and then further along the Leh highway, as far as possible. It was 50km of a high octane ride until Keylong, after which, ascension started again, coupled with sharp turns and amazing views at every corner. The experience along the route was simply breath-taking; something I had not expected at all. We continued to ride ahead, crossing Patsio (Alt. 12300 Ft.) and Suraj Taal (Alt. ~15000ft). Going further ahead roughly 20-25km, one of our bike started showing the signs of sickness due to high altitude. We decided to stop and set up camp, but couldn’t find any wood to burn. This was something we had not anticipated and it was already getting very cold and windy. So, finally, we decided to go downhill where we would find a local tent, food and fire.
Downhill 4-5 kms (alt. 14300ft), we found the tents set up by locals. They offer quite a good hospitality at very low a cost. We spent our night at “Zing-Zing Bar” and in the morning, after saying goodbye to Sonam Bhaiya, reached Manali the same day and took the bus back to Delhi.
“It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.”. Pack your bags even if you don’t have a week long vacation. Try not to rush to Leh, enjoy the beautiful rocky mountains by the side of highway.