Seeking adventure around Manali? We’ve got a list With Manali as your base, you can launch yourself into all kinds of adventures.
1. Water sports
Pirdi to Jhiri
Being strapped to an inflated boat and being hurled through a frothy cold river might not seem like a family activity. But river rafting through Grade II and III rapids on the Beas, near Manali, has enormous potential for family bonding. It’s safe, exciting, and most importantly, fun. You strap in at Pirdi (40 km from Manali) and move towards Jhiri, moving along the river for 14 km for about 45 minutes. For quieter ways, you can go kayaking at Pandoh Dam, or try river crossing suspended on a harness over the white waters. You may also try canoeing in the waters of Vashisht. Check here for detailed info and timings.
Solang Nallah and Marhi
It’s unreal and great that the skies above Manali are a bit crowded nowadays. First, it looks pretty colourful, and secondly it means that more and more people are braving paragliding. Manali is a hotspot where you can even do short courses for a week or more. There are shorter thrills ranging from two minutes to 15, sailing over peaks in tandem. The shorter flights involves a 150-metre trek up a slope followed by 60-90 second glide.
The longer, 30-minute flights are for experienced fliers and take off from Bijli Mahadev, Kothi, and Fatru. It’s pretty safe—just ensure sure you sign up with operators who are registered with the tourism department. You must try paragliding in Marhi and Solang Nala. Know more about Paragliding experiences in Manali here.
Across Himachal Pradesh
Snowy peaks, gravelly cliff sides and rolling greens – Manali has something on offer for trekkers of all merit. You can customise your experience and end up either in a luxe tent with 21st-century plumbing, or one where the wind threatens to blow off your shelter. Most treks kick off from Manali itself, and some routes, like the one-and half hour trek to Rohtang Pass, allow you to cheat, using ponies. The Beas Kund trek is one of the more popular and picturesque ones that follows the river through meadows.
A route that starts from Gulaba lying 15 km away from Manali trails through a deodar forest to Lake Bhrigu and promises to be a magical experience. Experience the snow, walk through the snow laden paths and enjoy true heaven by trekking through different places in Manali as shown here. Read along to know about each of these trekking expeditions.
You’d imagine that the slopes of the Himalayas would generously and automatically lend themselves to world-class skiing. You’d be half correct. The sport is not overly developed in the country, but Manali and Kullu have both been ardent supporters of it for decades. Solang Valley with its three-and-half feet of snow are perfect slopes for beginners as well as the venue for the Alpine Premier League which invited ski contestant from across the world, hosted by Ski Himalayas Ropeway Pvt Ltd and the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports run by the state. It is best that you book your spot in advance in this day trek to Solang Valley. Read here for information on these treks.
Kullu and Manali
Sleeping under the stars with just the towering peaks of the Himalayas for company has a certain unrivalled charm about it. Camping in Manali comes with all this and a few more material comforts. While serial campers can carry their two weeks-worth food, clothes, home and cooking utensils on their back, those who want to experience camping but not the trek, will be equally satisfied. Luxe tents with satellite TV, heaters, four poster canopied beds also boast of breathtaking views and even snow covered tent tops, just like hardcore campers.
Look out for packages specially tailored for families and couples, as these also throw in a bunch of enjoyable activities depending on your level of involvement. You can share this camping adventure with friends in the days to come. Checkout the varied camping trips you may select from.
6. Jeep safaris
Spiti and Pin Valley and Kinnaur
You might have noticed that most TV adverts of four-wheel drive SUVs usually prove the mettle of said car in mountainous or forest-friendly regions. A majority of them are actually shot in Manali, mainly because the roads, even the one through deodar forests and through sweeping valleys are excellent and therefore perfect for safaris. The awesome vistas that greet you get more and more unreal the higher north you travel. The Pin Valley National Park is in fact peopled with deer and marmots, tigers and cheetahs, so wildlife sightings are guaranteed.
7. Ride to Ladakh
Manali to Leh
Whether you take an Enfield or a Jeep, this destination deserves a section by itself. The week long ride (by Jeep) is best between July and September, taking you on the highest possible motorable road in the world. Make sure you carry your camera, but don’t forget to lower it every now and then to take in the sheer magnificence and colours of the changing landscape around you. Remember that the ride must be spaced out over a minimum number of days – it takes that much time to acclimatise yourself to the sharply changing altitude. So do you have it in you to face the challenges a biker faces against harsh weather and continually changing landscapes? If yes, read here and plan your next trip biking through Ladakh.
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering is one of the country’s best places to learn how to scale cliff sides. If that sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry, you can do day trip versions of these and try rock climbing and rappelling. However, if you are keen on taking it up a notch, you can sign up for intensive training treks and hike up to base camps to glaciers for ice and snow craft training. You can hire equipment at the institutes and will be accompanied by excellent guides and trainers. For an added edge you can even go ice climbing, where the glaciers of Malana, Beas Kund and Chandertal provide ample challenges.
9. On two wheels
Kullu, Manali, Leh
There are so many ways to experience Manali – there’s the watery route through rapids, you can grapple up and down mountainsides, ski down slopes, or walk from one peak to another – but few of them compare to the thrill of discovering the Himachal area on two wheels. Mountain biking tours are a popular choice nowadays for young tourists who are keen to travel the countryside on bicycles. They can be customised to your level of stamina and interest. Some tours are short, just a day long, around Rohtang Pass past meadows and gurgling brooks. The really gruelling ones take you up to Leh, and need at least 15 days, of which nearly five will be spent acclimatising at the altitude. Know the rates and schedules of mountain biking here and plan mountain biking expedition during your next vacation.
River Beas and Tirthan Valley
The English were the ones who introduced trout in the Beas and today the Tirthan Valley and the river are chock-full and perfect spots for angling. If you’re a first-timer take a guide, and don’t forget to pick up day-long fishing permits that allow you a generous catch of six trout a day across almost 45 kms of water. The brown and rainbow trout available in buckets in the rivers here are the best ‘sport’ fish in the world. Courses in angling in April, May and September, give you a holistic view of the activity, complete with knowledge on the surrounding flora and fauna, combined with a fabulous camping experience. Check out fishing activities in Manali here.
Best time to Visit:
The roads for biking and jeep safari, especially towards Leh, Ladakh are open between June and September; angling is best from late March until October, while the slopes are perfect for skiing in December and mid-January. The rest of the activities are year-long favourites, although the monsoons between July and September can call for frequent rain checks.
For a truly extraordinary experience, try heli-skiing. Operators offer helicopter rides to drop you off at peaks where you can ski down vertical descents of 3,500 m. Needless to say – this one’s for pros only.