"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." – Martin Buber
We are all aware of the scenic destinies – Manali and Leh … but few have explored the roadways between the two hilly destinies which is a breath-taking experience in itself. Off Road, this road trip has captured the imagination of many bikers and a biking trip on this road is a must-do in an adventurous person's list.
The distance between Manali and Leh is 490kms but the journey takes longer than usual due to the hilly terrain and bad stretches of road due to snow crossings, water crossings due to glacial melts and occasional landslides. The travel time is unpredictable due to all these factors and also the swift changing weather conditions. The minimum time for this journey is two days and it can extend due to undesirable factors. This road trip has many pit stops to unwind and relax for the night. Some of the popular ones are at Jispa, Sarchu and Keylong.
The summer months – May and June are ideal and are the peak season for this one of a kind road trip. The road to Leh from Manali remains open only for six months in a year. Buses and taxis on this route but the best way to enjoy this trip is on a private vehicle behind the wheels. This journey is not for the weak heart and you need a good level of physical fitness to face the extreme weather conditions, the fatigue and also the altitude and motion sickness.
One man has to stay at night at the starting point, at Manali to acclimatize to the cold weather and less atmospheric pressure. Do take a pit stop for overnight stay at Keylong, Jispa or Darcha to let your body cope with the high altitude and less atmospheric pressure. It is strongly advised not to sleep in Sarchu or Pang on the upward journey (towards Leh) as it can cause acute mountain sickness: headache, nausea, dizziness and vomiting. It is also advisable to carry high energy foods like chocolates, glucose etc on the trip and spend only a little time at the high mountain passes.
The spectacular views have captured the imagination of many professional photographers as well as the amateur ones on this route. Every click is a perfect postcard like image. The mountain ranges on both sides feature some of the most stunning sand and rock natural formations. Many small streams of snow-covered mountains and glacial melts look amazing. The landscape changes immediately after getting past the Rohtang Pass and entering the Chandra river valley in the Lahaul region that lies in rain-shadow. The greenery on the southern side of the mountain pass disappears and the mountain slopes on the leeward side become brown and arid. The scenery is remarkable on this journey and some scenic views are beautiful beyond imagination!