Best Advice on Ladakh Motorcycle Ride

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I must congratulate you on choosing one of the finest motorcycle rides in the World – “The Great Himalayan Ride”. You would be happy to know that you would be covering about 2200 km of entire Himalayan range at a medium pace and most of your days will be spent on altitudes beyond 8000 ft above mean sea level – and that is beyond normal. No wonder this ride is rated among the most challenging motor-bike ride, anywhere in the World – it would be one of your greatest adventure pursuits. Since this will remain one of the most exclusive experiences of your life, it is helpful to prepare you ahead of time for this very interesting trip.

Incredible India – Expect the Unexpected
India is different, it is unique, it amazes you at every step and it is a whole lot more. The people, the weather, the traffic, the road sense, lane discipline, even the oxygen in the air, Royal Enfields – are all very ‘Indian’ – a beautiful fusion you would witness in this cradle of civilisation. The uncertainty, some delays, situation based change of plans, traffic and road conditions, is all part of the Indian travel experience. Think of this trip to be a lot more different than your western modern world and be prepared to embrace the un-expected realities of a developing nation. If you are able to do this – you would be transformed and rewarded – you would then be Ready for this trip and have lots of fun.

Caution – Please be aware that a lot of changes happen and be flexible in mind to expect and accept the changes in the travel plan. It may start with your flight landing late at Delhi due to air traffic congestion or a mountain pass getting blocked due to heavy rain last night or political situation in Kashmir Valley. Be rest assured your Tour Leaders know the best in the area and will make daily decisions based on lot of factors that change locally, in regions of our travel.

Itinerary

The date-wise itinerary and the proposed activities are tabulated below. It is good to have booked the accommodations and camps at least 4 months in advance (these camps are remote and have basic facilities only) as per the program given suggested below.

DAY ITINERARY ACTIVITIES
1 Arrival Delhi IGIA and Delhi Tour Qutub Minar & Lotus Temple
2 Delhi Local tour

 

India Gate, Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort, Jama Masjid
3 Travel to Chandigarh Local tour of Chandigarh
4 Ride to Amritsar
Visit Wagah Border, Harmandir Sahib
( 216 km | 7 Hrs )
Wagah Border for Retreat Ceremony

Harmandir Sahib – witness Prabhat Feri

5 Ride Amritsar to Patnitop
( 280 km | 8 Hrs )
Lunch at Nirulas, Lakhanpur Border
6 Ride Patnitop to Srinagar
( 190 km | 5 Hrs )
Ride from Patnitop to Srinagar, crossing Banihal Tunnel
Move to House boat on Dal Lake  and Check into Houseboats
Shikara ride to see Floating market on Dal lake
Folk music and dinner at House boat
7 Relaxed day and local tour of Srinagar Shankracharya, Pari Mahal, Mughal Gardens, Hazratbal
Kashmiri Lunch
Dachigam Sanctuary if time permits ( Needs permits, Optional)
8 Ride to Sonamarg – Zojila – Dras – Kargil
( 216 km | 7 Hrs )
Sonamarg, Zojila, Dras, Kargil
9 Ride to Lamayuru, Leh
( 260 km | 8 Hrs )
Pathar Sahib, Lamayuru, Alchi, Likir and then Leh
10 Rest day at Leh Inner line permits (if not already done)
Local site seeing – Stok Palace, Shey, Thiksey, Hemis, Shanti Stupa, Hall of fame museum, Leh Palace, Leh market
11 Ride to Nubra Valley via Kardung La pass
( 116 km | 5 Hrs )
Ride to the world’s highest pass Khardung La (18384 ft) and then cross over to beautiful Nubra Valley for an overnight joy at an Organic farm.
Check in into your beautiful camp at Hunder.
Dinner at Camp
12 A relaxed day in Nubra Valley Today is a relaxed day to explore the Nubra Valley yourself.
In morning go ride double hump Bactrian Camels and see desert dunes
Savour the Saser Kangri Views; Visit Diskit old and new monastery
Dont miss the tallest Buddha statue.
Sumur has a nice monastery – Samstemling Gompa.
13 Ride back to Leh via Wari La
( 180 km | 7 hrs )
We can take a different route to cross another pass – Wari La and then ride back to Leh. (We do have an option to go to Khardungla on this day and then return to Leh on the next day)
Arrive at Leh by Evening
14 Free day at Leh Today we have another free day at Leh and we could catch up on anything that we did not see.
This is also the day for logistic preparations and maintenance of motor bikes.
Here again there is an option of day trip to Pangong Tso if needed
Also we have a long ride to Tso Moriri tomorrow and a few more long riding days
Dinner at hotel
15 Ride to Tso Moriri
( 253 km | 9 hrs )
Today is a long day ride.
Start your ride early to pass Karu, Upshi, Chumthang, Karzok and reach Tso Moriri by afternoon.
Check in into you field camp and a sky gaze at night of stars like never before.

Simple dinner at camp
Also next morning take a walk up the hill and get some great sunrise views.

16 Ride to Sarchu
( 221 km | 8 hrs )
We ride to Sarchu
Today we cross the beautiful Moreh Plains and cross a few high altitude passes including Lachung La and Naki La passes and the famous Gatta loops
Check into you field camp and get some rest …
Simple dinner at Camp
17 Ride to Manali
(240 km | 8 hrs)
We try to begin early and ride on to Rohtang and Manali
We ride through yet another high altitude pass of Baralach La before getting to famous Rohtang. After Rohtang the highway gets busy and you begin to see the signs of Civilisation. The tree line returns to the routes.
By late evening we get into our hotel and freshen up for a drink in Old Manali town
18 Free day Manali Today is a day to rewind and explore Manali at your own pace. There is Hadimba Temple, Vashistha Lake, old town and some beautiful cafes to see.
Basically a day to chill and collect your thoughts for return to your normal self
19 Ride from Manali to Chandigarh Ride on to the model city of Chandigarh via Mandi and Bilaspur. Today will be ride on winding and busy highway till you reach Chandigarh
Enroute you get a glimpse of Sikh history – a visit to Virasat e Khalsa, Anandpur Sahib and a lunch planned at a medieval Sikh Fort, Bharatgarh.
A town ride of Chandigarh is planned if time permits
20 Day train to New Delhi Hotel stay at Delhi

 The Weather in June – Sep
Due to snow in the high mountain passes, the tourist season in Kashmir and Ladakh opens up in June and close by end of September. This is also the window when monsoons go to Himalayas. You can expect sunny warm day, a mountain shower of rain, some windy gust and cold passes all in the same day. So there will be hot, cold and wet days on the ride. For sure, you would need sun screens, sunnies, wind cheaters, water proofs, thermals all handy to be used at various places.

The weather can be checked on the link http://www.accuweather.com/en/in/leh/359172/june-weather/359172.
Delhi would be Sunny and warm with temperatures between 27-41 Deg Celsius.
Srinagar would be pleasant and sunny with temperatures between – 14-31 Deg Celsius.
Ladakh would be bright and sunny mostly. Temps will be between 10-32 degs Celsius.

 Traffic Etc.
The traffic is same as Bristish System. We ride on the left of the road and overtaking will be from the right hand side. You need a valid motorcycle licence from your country or an International riding permit.  The road and lane discipline has much to be desired, and it pays to take precautions yourself. In the cities and towns that we ride through, there will be unexpected speed breakers and pedestrians and cattle occupying the road. While on the mountain roads there are blind turns and riders need to be particularly careful of opposite traffic. There is unfamiliar motorcycle, a new country, new roads and chaos on them – so take your time to adapt. It would take you 2-3 days to get used to the bike and the traffic conditions – and then we would be in mountains – where it is relatively easier. The roads in the area are mixed bag – there are good roads to pot-holed roads to No roads – and we take them on with smile. 

Riding Gear Etc.
A few good Jeans and long-sleeved shirts, with waterproofed riding boots and riding gloves will be a norm. Your normal casual clothing may also be carried – we would have laundry arrangements at most of the places we stay.We suggest you get your own fitting Helmet and riding jacket. A water proof wind cheater or rain jacket is always handy. There are places that would be cold – a set of thermal inner wears (4 pairs) would be handy. Some more things that riders normally carry are :-
–       Warm clothing – jacket or pullovers and woollen caps.
–       Skull cap or Balcalava or hat.
–       A spare pair of light shoes and flip-flops for moving around.
–       6 pair of socks and inner wears.
–       Spare batteries and memory cards (cameras & mobiles).
–       Disposable toiletries – shaving kits, paper soaps, tooth brushes etc.
–       Personal Sanitary needs, wet wipes.
–       Dry fruits and energy chocolates for personal snacking.
–       Personal medicines – Avomine, Diamox or for any other medical condition.
–       Personal woollen gloves for normal wearing.
–       Personal accessories – cameras, UV protected sun glasses, sunscreens,  mosquito repellent
–       Motor cycle spares ( we would carry this centrally with a certified Royal Enfield mechanic)
–       A swiss knife and pencil torch.
–       Spare set of spectacles if applicable. 

The Royal Enfield Bullet 350/500 cc
Royal Enfield was a Worcestershire-based British company in the 1890s. It did great service to the crown during the wars with different models. After a bulk order of 800 odd bikes from Indian Army, the Indian Enfield Bullet 350 began production in Madras in 1953. The Bullet went on to enjoy the longest production run of any motorcycle in history.About 10 years ago the 350cc bikes gave way to the classic British 500cc concept while adding modern technology. These bikes are fuel-injected, have electronic ignition and come with modern gas-filled suspension, an effective front disc brake and other luxuries. One of these versions is the 500cc Desert Storm, and that is the bike we would have for our 18 day Himalayan Ride. To read more on this please go to the link – http://royalenfield.com/aboutus/overview/
Royal Enfield has its own issues on rides through the terrain in Himalayas – but all of them are surmountable. By far they are the best and the only alternatives to take on the rough roads and harsh weather we would go into. They are best run at 60-70 kmph in plains and at their own sweet pace in mountains. This speed enables you to enjoy the journey enroute and that is important. Some items that seasoned riders often recommend to be carried are –

  1. Bike puncture kit
  2. Spare tube and spark-plug
  3. Medical kit
  4. Bike papers with 10 Xeroxes
  5. Bike oil
  6. Petrol
  7. Brake n accelerator wire
  8. Chain link
  9. Rope
  10. Fevi-quick

Regardless of your profession – we suggest that you begin to get used to riding a motor cycle a month before coming to India. There are motorcycle instincts, skills and senses that need to be awakened for this journey – please begin now.

 High Altitude and Acclimatisation
Most of the days of our journeys will be in high altitude. What I mean is that – we would go higher in the mountains, the air will get thinner and there is less oxygen in every breath you take. This means you will be breathing harder to get the same amount of oxygen for your body. So your body needs to adapt to this changed environment. Good news is that the route Srinagar – Leh highway is gradual and the best for acclimatisation before we reach Leh and take up ride to World’s highest motor-able passes. So we expect no problems on this aspect. The adapting capacity will depend on person to person. We advise you consult your physician and take advice. Diamox is often helpful to adapt to acclimatisation if needed. While we would take care of this aspect, it would be good to know some common advice to help easy adaptation to high altitudes. These are –

–       Cover Srinagar – Leh journey over two days.
–       Keep your body hydrated.
–       Avoid sleeping at high altitudes.
–       Avoid over exertion.
–       Avoid tobacco, smoking, alcohol or other depressant drugs.
–       Keep your body warm and eat lots of carbohydrates.
–       Avoid sleep during the day.
–       Sleep in upright position, if possible.
–       Carry preventive medicines for Acute Mountain Sickness.
–       Keep oxygen cylinder handy.
–       Immediately descend, if symptoms increase.

Inner Line Permit
Since most of the places we visit are closer to borders, the access to those places is closely controlled. We would need an inner line permit to visit all the places beyond Leh. At every check point a copy of this will have to be handed over. We would try to get this prepared before- hand for you. It would be good to carry 15 copies of your passport and visa to handover to various hotels and camps. We will handle this for you, if all the documents are sent in advance. 

Mountains have Solitude
It is good to be informed that except for Srinagar, Leh and Manali – the amenities continue to reduce and one should expect lesser of these and more of mother nature- mobile towers, internet network, ATMs or any other facility are very limited or non-existent. We advise that you carry cash and prepare to be disconnected to outside world on a few days. The electricity availability in a few places will be on generator sets – and hence limited. So your charging of batteries will have to be planned well. This in fact is the time to enjoy the solitude and take an inner journey – talk to yourself and be one with the nature – it is one of the most humbling experiences that you would have.

Kashmir Valley
Kashmir valley at some times has uncertain political environment. But since tourism is the only lifeline for the valley, every effort is made to ensure that tourist season and inflow is not affected. There are government advisories that would caution you for avoiding this region due to some incidents that happened with foreign tourists 20 years back. Your team leader keeps a close watch on these events and would know of it a few days in advance, and there may be a need to modify the route.   

Final Word
While travelling to India – you are in for a very unique experience. The adventure tour that you have opted for is for sure one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of your life – and it is for the tough ones. You have to rough it out a bit and be open and flexible to accept change in plans and some delays. Be patient and smile at what you see. You have chosen to be on this trip – your smiling attitude will make it a great experience that you would talk about for years to come. And you would like to comeback to see other parts of this wonderful phenomenon called INDIA.

One thought on “Best Advice on Ladakh Motorcycle Ride

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