Riding on the roads of Ladakh
Riding on the lanes of Ladakh is a dream road trip that any motorbike enthusiast or traveller has on their bucket list. It is a journey that every rider or traveler must experience once in their lifetime. Driving across the steep and narrow lanes of Baralacha Pass, Rohtang Pass, Tanglang Pass, and Chang Pass is exhilarating and brings to you an adrenaline rush. You will have immense pleasure riding to visit Shey and Thiksey, Lamayuru, Hemis, and Spituk monasteries, shopping, camping, clicking pictures, exploring the cuisine and enjoying the locals in the villages. There are many more things that you look forward to when you ride to Ladakh on your motorbike.
This expedition to Ladakh on the bike is undoubtedly an unprecedented chance to experience the charm of Ladakh. As a two-week long excursion, you will have an awesome time to explore this deserted land of Himalayas with snow-capped mountains at your own pace with ample time to relax too. The picturesque scenery riding down the adventurous paths will bring a good challenge for riders.
Riding a bike on the land of high passes brings you an adventure and thrill of a different level altogether. Many tourists come in the car but to feel the experience of the bike ride on the roads of Ladakh; they hire a bike in Leh. There are options available as you want to go about it. Either you rent it from Srinagar or Manali and drive down to Leh, or you come to Leh by flight and hire the bike for the rest of the journey. Both ways are possible, but it's an excellent feeling to drive on the beautiful roads under the brown mountains and blue skies once you reach Leh.
Mostly summers are the best time to visit Ladakh on a bike, mainly between the months of May to September. These months will allow you to explore and enjoy Ladakh on a motorcycle with beautiful and stunning backdrops. You can start your expedition from Manali and proceed towards Spiti in Ladakh. You can also start your journey from Srinagar during this period. Anytime when the monsoons have not yet started is a perfect time to plan your bike trip to Ladakh. Most of the roads in Ladakh are closed due to heavy rainfall and landslides. The drive from Manali to Leh opens up by mid-May when the snow has started to clear off slowly. The roads close by the end of September due to monsoons and winters eventually. Few crazy tourists would love to begin their new year with this adventurous bike journey to this surreal land of snow-clad peaks.
A bike trip to Ladakh will give you the most adventurous thrill. The feeling just cannot be explained in words unless you experience it in reality. There is a different energy and excitement for adventure seekers who decide to take this trip to heaven on the bike. The magical vibes from the mountains and alluring roads passing through the 'Land of high passes' is just exhilarating and challenging as well.
As you have chosen to visit Ladakh on the bike, the significant expense of your trip will go towards your ride. This ultimate adventure trip requires proper planning with your budget. The route from Manali to Leh is very challenging; hence if you are not a biker or who rides a bike frequently, it is advisable to rent a bike in Leh rather than from Manali or Srinagar. Never overestimate your riding skills and be safe. It's essential to keep in mind that you should not perform stunts or snow boats, go over the speed, especially on tricky and patchy roads. You should also know what to do in case you have a flat tire. Always keep yourself hydrated and fresh by taking plenty of breaks for refreshments. Carry some extra cash with you in case if required for emergencies.
Here's a snapshot brief on both these routes for your Ladakh trip on bike.
Route 1: Srinagar - Leh - Manali
Srinagar – Sonmarg – Zodjila Pass – Drass – Kargil – Mulbek – Namik La – Fotu La – Dha Hanu – Leh Ladakh – Hall of Fame – Magnetic Hill – Shanti stupa – Gurudwara Pathar Sahib – Khardung La – Nubra Valley – Bactrian Camel – Silk route – Diskit Monastery – Agham Shyok route – Changla La – Thiksey Monastery – Leh Palace – Rancho's school of 3 Idiots fame – Pangong Tso lake – Leh – Tso– Moriri – Tso Kar – Moore plains – Suraj Tal – Pang Lachungla – Namkila – Gata Lopes – Sarchu – Baralacha La – Zing Zing Bar – Keylong – Sisu – Tandi – Rohtang Pass – Manali
Route 2: Manali - Leh - Srinagar
Manali - Rohtang Pass - Lahaul Valley - Jispa - Baralacha La Pass - Suraj Tal - Sarchu - 21 Gata Loops - Pang - Tanglang La - Leh Ladakh - Shanti Stupa - Leh Palace - Hall of Fame – Magnetic Hill - Gurudwara Pathar Sahib - Khardung La - Nubra Valley - Bactrian Camel – Silk route – Diskit Monastery - Agham Shyok route – Changla La – Thiksey Monastery - Rancho's school of 3 Idiots fame – Pangong Tso lake – Leh - Lamayuru - Basgo Palace - Kargil - Mulbek - Giant Buddha Statue - Drass - Tiger Hill - Zodjila Pass - Srinagar
When to go?
Owing to the extreme cold, the best time to visit Ladakh for a pleasant road trip is during summers between June and September. Most Leh Ladakh tour packages are organized during this period. The roads leading to Ladakh are either closed or risky to travel through most other months of the year. If you yearn for some adventure in your journey, you may plan the trip in these other months.
How to prevent AMS?
Acclimatization is the key to preventing AMS. Make sure to keep at least 1 or 2 days for acclimatization on arriving at Leh before beginning your Ladakh bike trip. Allow yourself to get used to the low atmospheric pressure and cold. Avoid stepping out into the open immediately to avoid getting hit by AMS which have symptoms such as headache, nausea or restlessness.
How many days and itinerary?
Most popular Leh Ladakh tour packages offer an itinerary ranging from 3 days to 15 days. However, it is recommended that you plan this trip for a minimum of 7 days for the itinerary of your Leh Ladakh road trip including a day at Leh for acclimatization. Have a look at an overview of the most popular and easy itinerary that you can go with;
Important points to consider are:
1. Start working on your physical fitness at least a month before the trip. You need to build up a good stamina in order to cope up with the low oxygen levels at high-altitude.
2. Take time to acclimatize properly on your way to reduce the chances of getting hit by AMS.
3. People suffering from asthma, heart problems or high blood pressure should take doctor’s advice before planning a trip to Leh Ladakh.
4. Low oxygen levels can lead to breathlessness and even unconsciousness. So, refrain from too much physical exertion such as running around and games.
5. Carry preventive medicines to aid acclimatization and treat altitude sickness. Garlic soup also helps.
6. Headache, dizziness, fatigue and nausea are symptoms of high-altitude sickness. Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking on high altitude to prevent AMS.
7. Stop at Keylong, Jispa, Darcha on the Manali – Leh highway and avoid Sarchu in case of the above symptoms.
8. Stay hydrated through the journey. Recommend increase of water consumption by not more than 1 litre per day.
9. Keep your head and ears covered with something warm to protect from cold weather.
Some places are just made to enjoy the journey rather than the destination. A trip to Ladakh on a motorbike is one of those experiences. Whether you plan your bike trip through the Srinagar Leh highway route or the Manali Leh highway route, be rest assured this journey through the land of high passes will be one of the most challenging rides you have taken as also an unforgettable one. As much as you may long to reach your destination while on holiday, on this Ladakh road trip, you would wish the journey would never end!