Spiti Expedition – Sangla to Tabo (205 KMs)
Previous day we covered the distance from Karcham to Rakcham in dark and did not realize how treacherous the road was. We were eagerly waiting for our return journey so that we can witness what we had covered. Our target was to cover the distance up to Tabo during the day. We were so mesmerised by the beauty of Sangla that we spent more than anticipated time over there and got delayed. Nonetheless, the target was to enjoy everything i.e. panoramic landscapes, tough terrains, thrilling drive, and overcoming hurdles with an aim to achieve our target. The drive through Himalayas in itself is sightseeing where at every juncture nature throw on us its abundance of beauty that fills us with awe. This stretch also has minimal facilities in between such as fuel station, ATM, hotels, restaurants, etc. The route set for the journey was straight forward.
Rakcham – Sangla – Karcham – Pooh – Kah – Nako – Sumdo – Tabo
A beautiful morning at Sangla
We woke up early in the morning and enjoyed the surrounding area near the camp. We dream of mornings like this and wanted to drown ourselves in the purity of such bliss. Our camp was just beside the flowing Baspa River and the sound of flowing river acted as a rhythm divine on that beautiful morning. Given a chance anyone would like to spend their life at such a beautiful place but that’s far from reality. A beautiful sunrise boosted our energy and the landscape was awesome. We spent more than expected time at Sangla with a small but adventurous nature trail through the meadows with colourful wild flowers, small streams, snow, and pine forests against the magnificent backdrop of great Himalayas.
Mesmerising Sangla Valley
Love is in the air
Return from Rakcham to Karcham
It was a beautiful sunny day with clear blue sky providing that additional oomph to the beauty. We left from Rakcham @ 1:45 pm with trip meter at 2065 KMs. We crossed Sangla @ 2:15 pm covering 13 KMs through very narrow roads where two vehicles at a time would seldom cross together. Drive through such a terrain becomes very judgemental and one needs to be generous to make way for another vehicle to pass before proceeding ahead. Normally, vehicle with downward movement takes the lead. We started negotiating twist and turns through gravels with no sign of tarmac at some stretches. The adventure of negotiating treacherous road through this stretch with no barrier on mountain edge was undertaken cautiously by all of us. The view to the bottom would easily give goose bumps to the experienced of all as well. Yes, this was the same stretch that we covered previous evening. We reached Karcham @ 3:30 p.m. thereby covering 32 KMs. Now we were back on NH22 for our onward journey towards Kaza.
On our way from Rakcham to Sangla
Passing through a small settlement
Be judgemental and give way to upward traffic
A scenic view from the highway
Blind Curve and the gorge
Our bikers leading the way
An awesome drive through carved roads
Waiting for the team members after crossing difficult stretch
Look at the inclination
Leading the way
View of bottom from the highway
NH22 (Hindustan – Tibet Highway) – Most treacherous road in the world
After covering further distance of 10 KMs only we encountered the first treacherous stretch of our journey. There was no sign of tarmac and we were passing through mud and gravel with a possibility of shooting stones at every juncture. The mountain was so volatile and unstable that it will give jitters to the experienced as well. There were two road blocks as well due to clearing work in progress and it took a toll of 30 minutes in our movement. The view of bottom from the hill was a sight not for the faint heart. Slowly and steadily we crossed this phase and reached Akpa @ 4:30 p.m. thereby covering 65 KMs during the day. We ordered for food at a local restaurant and started gathering some information on road conditions for onward journey. We got various suggestions and inconsistent information from local people. Once again a Ladakh like scenario where concrete information was missing. Since, we were travelling through world’s most treacherous road in a remote location that too in the dark we were sceptical about it. We spoke to the manager at Siddharth Hotel, Tabo (where our stay was booked) and he informed us that it will take at least 6 hours to reach Tabo. Finally, we decided to move ahead with our scheduled plan and left from Akpa @ 6:30 p.m. after having homemade food. This is where team come together to achieve the target. Till now we have covered just 65 KMs in a span of 5 hours. This is how a road trip at Himalaya is all about. It throws all your calculation out of gear and presents you with various challenges.
Welcome to NH22 – Deadliest road in the world
Where is the tarmac?
Final leap covered in dark
As it has happened to us numerous times in past, once again we were passing through a treacherous road (that too world’s most treacherous) in dark. Somehow I got the feeling that it proved as blessing in disguise with almost negligible traffic on the road with minimal distractions as the focus was solely on drive and road. We reached Pooh (alt 2262 mtrs) @ 8:40 p.m. thereby covering a distance of 100 KMs. Once again we stopped and discussed about our journey as we still had 105 KMs to cover and this is the only place where accommodation can be arranged. Once again we decided to move ahead and now there was no looking back but to achieve our target. The road conditions at most part of the stretch were good with few patches of rough. We crossed Kah @ 9:10 p.m. and had covered 123 KMs so far. After Pooh there was a constant ascend through numerous hairpin bends and we reached Nako (alt 3662 mtrs) @ 9:51 p.m. After covering another 35 KMs we reached Sumdo (alt 3280 mtrs) @ 11:20 p.m. thereby covering 175 KMs during the day. We did the mandatory entry at the checkpost and entered the Spiti Valley with trip meter at 2240 KM from Mumbai (820 KM from Delhi). After regrouping we proceeded towards our destination which was just 30 KM away. It took us another 45 minutes to reach our destination. Finally after covering 205 KMs we reached Tabo (alt 3280 mtrs) @ 12:15 a.m. It was a moment of pride and satisfaction for all and even more for the bikers. The hotel staff prepared dinner for us and we loved it to the core. Once again we signed off for the day with an anticipation of what’s in store for us.
A glimpse of our driving phase from dusk to dark…
Dusk – a difficult phase to drive
A moment of pride and satisfaction
Deep focus on driving
It was a day of achievement for us with majority of world’s deadliest road being covered. Half part of our journey was covered in dark as well but in the end we achieved our target. The highway actually is a gateway to heaven with changing topography and landscape at every juncture. The journey through these terrains in itself is sightseeing. Wherever you step out becomes a spot for sightseeing. Every mountain and landscape was speaking to us and telling us some untold mystery. We cannot explain our feelings through words as it can only be felt by actually passing through these terrains. We are sure every traveller would have gone through such feeling while travelling through these terrains. Mesmerizing landscapes, beautiful sky, glittering stars, rivers, and surprises everywhere – Julley to Spiti.