Dead Cow Road to the Beautiful Baspa Valley

Our progress along National Highway 22 is being slowed by diversions to amazing places off the highway. They are popular tourist destinations with local Indian tourists from Mumbai, Delhi and Kolcatta and we are often stopped to get our photos taken. It is not peak tourist season yet and there are not many foreigners around either. O f course no one else is on a bike and with the nature of the topography there are no push bikes used in towns.

From our PWD rest house we had an early morning descent back to the topside of the landslide and a short bike up the valley to the next hydro dam and the start of our climb up to Sangla and the Baspa valley.  Shiva, the Hindu God,  greets us at the start of the climb with a warning hand sign. We see our first dead cow and I assume it has been hit by a vehicle after the second and third one we think laterally and realized that they had probably fallen onto the road from the steep slopes above.

We climb 700 metres up the spectacular road, again large sections have been blasted into vertical cliffs with 300m drop offs to  the river below that even make us squeamish. Then we see the circling vultures – they are big birds and it is cool to see so many.

The road levels out at the village of Sangla where we stay the night. We sit out an impressive thunder/lightening and rain storm while waiting for dinner. Next day we offload half our gear and ride up to the top town in the valley – Chitkul – at 3300m. It is a stunning ride under the steep rocky south face of Kinner Kailash (6000m) and the snowy peaks on the other side of the valley. Through more apple, apricot, walnut and almond orchards where higher up some of the trees are still at the blossoming stage.

At Chitkul we see the high peaks at the head of the valley, and the village itself is an eclectic mix of old and new. Old wonky wooden storehouses built on stilts because of deep winter snow and similarly 2 storey wooden houses where the living is abo ve snow levels. This along with less attractive concrete houses and guest houses.

We have a clear sunset and beautiful morning for the down hill ride back to Sangla where we enjoy banana pancakes and lassi and I do battle with slow internet, old computers and Google who has forgotten that I am still in India – travelling without your registered google cell phone number is a real pain!