Saturday, 19 April 2014

The epic drive from Leh to Manali.

This journey is something that I've read about many times before doing it. If you ever google the top ten drives in the world this is usually up there. The thing that makes it exciting is that the road between these two places is closed for about 9 months of the year because it's completely covered in snow. It is only open during the summer months so it suited us perfectly. We knew that it would be tough ride but also one to remember. It's a crazy road that passes over numerous mountain passes one higher than the next. Luckily for us we choose to drive back to Manali instead of driving to Leh as people can get pretty bad altitude sickness while climbing the high mountains getting to Leh. I think our time in Nepal helped us out a lot too.

Anyway this drive goes through the Himalayas and is truely beautiful. We left our guesthouse at about 10 p.m. to meet what we though was a jeep. Unfortunately the jeep got cancelled and we ended up having to drive in a minibus with a very obnoxious couple in front of us that insisted on pushing their seats fully back which left us with NO space whatsoever. I'm not going to lie, I plotted their deaths a couple of times during the trip. As we began in the dark we didn't really see much for the first couple of hours, this was when we were driving over the mountain passes. I also didn't get much sleep that night so I got to witness the sun rise. By the time the sun rose we were driving along vast open areas with a couple of yurts here and there. We stopped at one for breakfast and got to take in the views and then were off again (I was way too tired to take photos unfortunately).

After another while the scenery turned to a very desert landscape with beautiful rock formations and sand cliffs. Unfortunately I couldn't get many photos from this raod trip so my memories are all that will suffice. After another while we began to go into vast green spaces with fields everywhere. This was where we stopped for dinner and once again were off. As the sun was setting we climbed another mountain and were on the final frontier towards Manali. The other side of this mountain pass is where many Indian tourists go to for a day trip and it's where many of them get to see snow for the first time. While driving there we got to witness a few familys having snow ball fights. The way down from that mountian pass was astoundingly beautiful. The sun was setting and we were above the clouds so got to see the beautiful mountains lower down completely covered in clouds.

Further down again we were getting closer and closer to Manali and the scenery changed again, this time to beautiful greenery and forests. Soon it got dark and we had been going for about 24 hours we were all exhausted and dying to get to Manali when the unthinkable happened...the bus broke down! We had two options, either wait for god knows how long for someone to come and help or drive with no brakes, we decided on the latter as long as we drove pretty slow (this guy had been driving so fast throughout the entire trip)

Everything worked out in the end and we managed to make it to Manali in one piece, although the traffic coming in was absolutely crazy that we ended up having to sit in it for about an hour...absolutely torture!
Once the bus stopped it was about midnight and we had no place booked, we were absolutely shattered and all we could think about was jumping in to a bed...any bed!

We left in search for a place to stay with a Korean girl that had been on the bus with us. After searching for quite a while we realised that nearly everywhere was fully booked. Our taxi driver said his uncle had a guesthouse that we could stay in, we had mixed feelings about this but didn't really have a choice so decided to go with him. He parked the tuk-tuk on a road and made us follw him down a really dodgy alley (during the daytime it turned out to be a wonderful alley...but not now!)

We reached his uncles place and his uncle wasn't the nicest of men and only had one room available, so we decided to share the room with the Korean girl and find another place the next day. Then we finally got to fall into the bed!

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