Manali is the adventure-sports capital of Himachal Pradesh, and all kinds of activities can be organised through operators here. Those who are fond of the adrenaline rush, pick from the below activities.
Paragliding is popular at Solang Nullah, Gulaba and Marhi (below the Rohtang La), from April to November – weather permitting. Paragliding is rare during the monsoon. September and October generally have the best thermals, though May and June can be good, too. Tandem flights at Solang Nullah cost around ₹1000 for a one-minute flight above the beginners’ ski slope, though that’s basically just take-off and land. For ₹3200 you get around 10 minutes (including the cable-car fare).
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Many agents offer bike hire for ₹400 to ₹800 per day and can give current info on routes. Some will take you on guided rides – ranging from day outings to two-week trips to Ladakh or Spiti with vehicle support. Central Manali’s Himalayan Bike Bar is an MTB specialist renting and selling bikes, as well as a good source of information on extreme off-road events.
Cliffs at Solang, Aleo and Vashisht have a good range of bolted and traditional routes, ranging from British 4a to 6b (French 5a to 7b). A day’s climbing for beginners or experienced climbers costs ₹1500 to ₹2000 with Manali agencies, including transport. Longer courses are also offered. Solang and the Chatru area in Lahaul are tops for bouldering. Sunny, dry November is a good month.
Walking & Trekking
Manali is a popular jumping-off point for organised mountain treks. Generally it works like- the larger the group, the lower the price per person. June, September and October are overall the best months. Popular shorter options include variants on Beas Kund (three days, with the option of extra days hiking up surrounding mountains), the 4250m-high Bhrigu Lake (three days through lovely upland meadows) and the Hamta Pass, which is varied and stunningly beautiful whether crossing into Lahaul (four days) or doing an up-and-back walk. Prices vary incredibly widely by season, group size and facilities offered: a typical range is ₹1600 to ₹3000 per person per day including guides, transport, pack animals, food and camping equipment. More demanding and usually more expensive hikes include the six- to nine-day Pin-Parvati Trek for which human porters are required, and routes west to the isolated village of Bara Bhangal, continuing to the Chamba or Kangra Valleys (11 days or more).
Plenty of shorter walks are possible from Manali. From Old Manali a very pleasant forest stroll towards Goshal (around an hour, three possible routes) winds through woodlands with occasional views across the valley to the Jogini Waterfalls. You can return along Shanag Lane. A fuller day hike (about five hours up, four hours back) is up to Lama Dugh meadow at 3380m: the way starts along the uphill cobbled path from behind the upper of two water tanks above Hotel Delfryn in the Log Huts Area of town. Don’t take the mud path that runs almost parallel at first.
Agencies such as Himalayan Caravan and Himalayan Yeti arrange a wide range of expeditions. Given 10 to 14 days, possibilities including peaks around the head of the Solang Valley: Friendship Peak (5289m) and Ladakhi (5342m) are suitable for those with limited experience (training is available), while Hanuman Tibba (5930m) and Manali Peak (5669m) are more difficult. Deo Tibba (6001m), above the east side of the Kullu Valley, is another exciting peak for experienced climbers. Typical prices are around ₹5000 per person per day including instructor/guides, equipment, transport, food and camping. Conditions tend to be best in October and November.
Skiing & Snowboarding
Solang Nullah is viewed as Manali’s main ski resort. It has the region’s only cable car, but there’s only one piste (around 1.5km) whose lower end is at a mere 2450m. Climate change keeps shortening the season, which is basically just January and February (or less). A plan has been mooted for a much-more-ambitious gondola to be built at far-higher Sethan village; currently skiers have to climb the slopes on foot. Others come to Solang Nullah for snowshoeing. Further ski options are available in the upper Solang valley and around Gulaba. For ski packages, contact Himalayan Caravan, Himalayan Extreme Centre or the very-experienced family team at Solang Nullah’s Hotel Iceland. Heli-skiing packages to high-altitude powder in February and March can be arranged through Himalayan Heli Adventures.
The region’s main rafting takes place near Kullu, but Manali agencies can prove helpful in getting together a group of travellers and organising shared transport.
Himalayan Extreme Centre charges ₹1700 to ₹2000 per person for a day of descending four different waterfalls above Vashisht.
It is advisable to cross-check all prices before taking on any activity as they keep varying with time.