Travel | 08 Nov 2018

Leh Ladakh Bike Tour 2019

Come June 2019, all the passionate bikers from India and around the world will hit their most favourite motorcycling destination - Leh Ladakh, the northernmost tip of India very close to China and Pakistan borders.

This ride is the holy grail for all motorcyclists. We have been riding this terrain for almost a decade now and every year we find that there is something amazingly new and unpredictable to experience.

In this blog, we cover in detail the best route to ride to Leh and beyond (all the routes are accessible by cars and jeeps too), where to stay, what to expect, tips for travel etc.

Route 1

Delhi - Parwanoo - Narkanda - Kalpa - Kaza - Keylong - Sarchu - Leh - Khardung La - Hunder - Pangong Lake - Debring - Keylong - Manali

Distance : 2600 Kilometers

This is the best of all routes. We always prefer to ride through this route.

The main reasons we prefer to ride through this route are :

1) Step by step acclimatization. Our body gets accustomed to the cold easily as we climb on a steady phase rather than a steep climb. This way, we are not prone to get high altitude sickness.

2) This route gives us a great time at Spiti Valley. In our experience, there is nothing greater than the time we spend at Spiti Valley.

3) Riding Kaza to Keylong is only possible thro this route. This route if done from the opposite direction won't be this much fun.

Day 1 : Delhi

Arrive at Delhi. Check-in hotel. Settle all your luggage at hotel.

If you have shipped your own motorcycle go to transport and take delivery of the bike. Ride your motorcycle and check if you are comfortable and everything is fine. Make sure there is no problem in your motorcycle during transportation. If any problem found, take motorcycle to a reputed mechanic and rectify the issue.

If you are renting a motorcycle, make sure you take a test ride and everything is comfortable. If you find any problem, do not hesitate to point it out to the bike rental company and ask them to fix it. Ride bike to hotel, take rest.

Day 2 : Delhi to Parwanoo

Distance : 266 Kilometers

Start ride very early in the day. Ride out of the hotel by 6 am.

Head towards India gate. Ride will end in two weeks, but the memories are forever. So for a great memory, park your motorcycle in front of India gate and take photos.

Start your epic ride from India gate. Ride out from India gate by 7 am to avoid the peak hour traffic of Delhi. Ride on the Delhi to Chandigarh highway and exit the city.

After the city traffic lightens, you will find a lot of dhabas. stop for breakfast. Finish your breakfast before 9 am and keep riding to avoid the heat.

June will be the peak of summer in Delhi. Temperature will be crossing 43 degrees celsius (110 degrees fahrenheit). Limit the number of pit stops to avoid the heat.

Keep yourself hydrated. Hydration backpacks will be very useful. To quench thirst in between, stop on the road side lemon and soda shops. Avoid stopping at air conditioned fast food joints as they will increase the heat.

If you are riding as a group and in case of a puncture, it is better that only the rider who has a puncture takes care of it on this day rather than stopping as a group or make only one other rider accompany him. Once you stop the heat gets into your head and make it difficult to ride, so it is not good for everyone to stop.

The goal of today should be to reach Parwanoo as soon as possible. Parwanoo will be cool and you will enjoy the climate there. Parwanoo is a very small town situated right at the entry to Himachal Pradesh. There is nothing much to do there. Grab some chilled beers and relax at the hotel.

Suggested hotels at Parwanoo
Hotel Windsmoor
HPTDC Hotel Shivalik
Hotel Sunshine

Day 3 : Parwanoo to Narkanda

Distance : 146 Kilometers

Start early before 9 am. Let the climb begin. Today we will slowly start riding the mountains. This is a very good terrain. No potholes. Enjoy the curves. Ride at a relaxed phase and reach Narkanda before 4 pm.

Narkanda will be very cool. If you want spend some time out of the hotel, head to the market road. There are a few snooker parlours with very good ambiance. Take good rest in the evening, sleep early as you got a hard day ride tomorrow. 

Suggested hotels at Narkanda
HPTDC Hotel Hatu
Hotel Sara
Hotel Snowflake

Day 4 : Narkanda to Kalpa

Distance : 172 Kilometers

Start the ride early before 7 am. Today the ride will get a bit tougher. Roads will be good till Rampur Bushahr. Then the dangerous curves begin. Roads are full of potholes. Ride with your utmost concentration on the road. As the sides get steeper, the roads get uglier.

The nearer you get to Kalpa, you can see the ice glazed mountain peaks at a distance. When you reach Kalpa, the mountains covered with ice peaks get more nearer to your side. You will get a big sense of curiosity. Photo below is the view from the balcony of the hotel we stay at Kalpa.

Climate gets cooler day by day. You have to take your thermals out for tonight's sleep. Get acclimatized to the climate and take good rest. You got another tough ride tomorrow.

Suggested hotels at Kalpa
HPTDC Hotel Kinner Kailash
Hotel Apple Pie Kalpa
Hotel Tab Exotic Kalpa


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Day 5 : Kalpa to Kaza

Distance : 197 Kilometers

While waking up at Kalpa today you will notice that daylight is getting more. The sun comes very early and sets late. Even though this gives us more daylight to ride, we should not take it as an advantage. Always try to end the ride as early as possible to give enough rest for the day.

Start the ride early before 7 am. Today the ride will get more tougher. We have long distance to cover. The ascend gets higher then descends and again ascends. This will keep on happening.

From today river Sutlej will be to your right. You will have a glimpse of the river almost all time thro the journey.

Reach Nako for lunch. From today, get accustomed to noodles and egg for lunch on the way. Make sure you take a photo with your bike at the Nako helipad. That will be a great memory.

The biggest part of the ride starts today afternoon. You will enter the most scenic Spiti valley. Spiti is full of surprises that cannot be explained. Feel the pristine beauty of Spiti yourself.

You will reach Kaza before 6 pm. Party the evening hard as tomorrow will be a rest day.

Suggested hotels at Kaza
HPTDC The Spiti Hotel
Hotel Spiti Heritage
Hotel Deyzor

If you like staying in the tents -and love the adventure it offers, you can check into Zostel, Spiti. This is purely for the adventure seekers and offers an out of the world experience camping right under the miky way. If you are the one who needs luxury, give the tents a miss and stay in their cosy rooms.

Day 6 : Kaza

Rest day

Get up at leisure. Today is a rest day. The rest is not for you. The rest is for your motorcycle. Take your motorcycle to the local mechanics at Kaza and get them serviced. These guys are pretty experienced in fast jobs.

After the service is done, hire a cab (better not to ride your bike on that day) and go to the world's highest post office at Hikkim (pin-code : 172114). It is just 14 kms from Kaza. You can post a post card to your home and friends from there - what a way to show your love!

For riders at leisure, who are extending their stay at Kaza for another day must visit the Key Gompa Monastery which is situated on top of a remote hill at an altitude of 13,668 ft (4,166 meters) above mean sea level on the banks of the spiti river.


Image Source : Wikipedia

Day 7 : Kaza to Keylong

Distance : 186 Kilometers

Please read this point twice and thrice to make sure it goes to your head. Today is going to be the most toughest day of the ride.

Kaza to Keylong, is one of the most toughest rides in the world. This is the terrain every good rider in the world wants to ride. We have been riding it for a decade and every year the terrain is totally different.

You will be experiencing sudden landslides today. In such a case, you have to wait on the road until BRO (Border Roads Organisation) rushes up and clear the landslides for the vehicles to pass on.

You will experience a lot of water crossings today. Snow on the valley melts and gushes like river thro the roads. We have to ride through these water crossings. Remember the rule - before any water crossing, stop for a minute, put your judgment to test and ride through it like a gun.

In case, your motorcycle gets stuck in the water crossing and engine is turned off, do not panic and start the engine in the water crossing as this will make the electric system fail. Get off your bike, push it out through the water crossing and start the bike after that.

Nothing on today's ride is predictable. So, we deal every moment with pleasure as it is going to be a treasure.

It is getting cold during the ride. From today, we would advise you to wear your thermal top below your jacket to withstand the cold.

Carry chocolates with you to energise whenever you feel low. Keep yourself hydrated. Always eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty.

 

Kunzum pass has fifteen sharp hairpin turns, testing the riding skills of even very experienced motorcycle riders.

The legend is that all the riders and travelers seeks blessings of Kunzum mata before starting the adventurous journey. You will make a short pit stop at the temple, offer prayers and keep riding on enjoying the adventure.


Image Source : Wikipedia

After Kunzum we reach the dried up river bed of Batal. The next part is going to be fun. You are going to ride through a river bed full of stones and pebbles.

The key is to stand up and ride, not to give full pressure to your shock absorbers. Enjoy the ride.

Shortly before sunset, you will reach Tandi (8 kilometers before Keylong). Yet the day's ride is not over. Head straight to the fuel pump at Tandi. Fuel up and get extra fuel in the cans you are carrying. The next fuel pump is only at Leh (after 365 kilometers).

Calculate the mileage of your bike and make sure you carry enough extra fuel till you can reach Leh. Finish the refuel work before you go to the hotel as it might get crowded next day morning which will delay your ride.

Celebrate the day's accomplishment with a grand beer party. Enjoy rest of your evening as we will have an easy and relaxed ride tomorrow.

Suggested hotels at Keylong
Hotel The Chandrabhaga
Hotel Snowland
Hotel New Gyespa


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Day 8 : Keylong to Sarchu

Distance : 108 Kilometers

Start at leisure today. If you feel any problem with your motorcycle get it fixed at Keylong. Today we will ride through Zing Zing Bar and Bharatpur passing through the Baralacha La pass.

You have to be extra cautious while riding through the Baralacha La pass. This will be the first pass full of ice you will ride through. Ice has the power of making you fall asleep. You have to overcome it and ride with caution.

After you cross Baralacha La, make your pit stop at Bharatpur and have a quick bite at the tent dabas there.

From there Sarchu is very near. The entire road will be scenic. Take a lot of photos to add to your memories.

As soon as you reach Sarchu, the first thing you do is top up your fuel tanks with the fuel you carry. The ride was easy today, but the stay is going to be tough. Sarchu does not have luxurious hotels. You have to stay in tents.

Temperature is going down. Staying in tents in this temperature will be testing. Sleep with thermals, woolen gloves & woolen socks. Make sure you do not come out of your tents after dark.

Enjoy every moment of your stay. Retire early today as tomorrow we are going have a hard day's ride.

Suggested tent stays at Sarchu
Dorje Camps Sarchu
Garjha Hill Sight Camp Sarchu
Himalayan Routes Camp Sarchu

Day 9 : Sarchu to Leh

Distance : 250 Kilometers

Start the ride early before 7 am. We got a long way to cover through treacherous roads and passes. Within a short distance from Sarchu we will pass through the world famous Gata Loops.

Gata Loops is a series of twenty one hairpin bends. The curves looks really sexy but beware, it is not so easy as it seems. Ride with utmost concentration.

I know a lot of riders who are tempted to take the short cuts in between the curves as they are so inviting and some lorries go through that. Take my word, don't attempt it. I have come across many riders who are stuck in the middle and don't know what to do.

Do not engage in such mischievous activities. Just keep riding straight on the loops and it is an enjoyable ride.

End of Gata Loops, on the top you reach the third highest pass in this road, the Nakeela pass (15547 feet).

Keep it as a rule for every pass - do not spend much time on the top. The oxygen level is low on the top of all passes. So spend very less time at the top. Experience the top for a few minutes, click pictures and start descending the pass immediately.

Descend from Nakeela, and again another ascend, you reach the second highest pass in this road, the Lachulung La pass (16616 feet).

Descend from Lachulunga La, you reach a village called Pang. Refresh, re-energize & hydrate here with noodle, eggs & momos. The task is just half done.

You still have the world famous off-road terrain, more plains, and one very big pass to ride through today.

Just after Pang in 4-5 kilometers starts the More Plains. It is a 30-35 kilometers stretch that connects you to the Tanglang La pass.

If you are an off-road lover, get off the plains and ride on the side of the road in the sand. You cannot get such a breathtaking off-road experience anywhere else in the world.

After More Plains you reach the top of Tanglang La. Tanglang La is the highest pass in this road (17582 feet). It is also the second highest motor able pass in the world.

Descend from Tanglang La, you reach Leh through Upshi and Karu. Another great ride you had today. Reach hotel, freshen up and go out.

Explore the city of Leh. There are a lot of bakeries, restaurants and bars that are open till midnight. Have great fun as tomorrow is a rest day.

Suggested hotels at Leh
The Auspicious Hotel
Hotel Chube
The Hotel Ladakh Continental
Hotel Khardungla View
Hotel Lonchay Residency


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Day 10 : Leh

Rest Day

Get up early today. Even though today is a rest day, we cannot waste our very limited time we have in the city of Leh.

Take your motorcycle to the local mechanics at Leh and get them serviced for the remaining part of the ride as this will be the last rest day.

Hire a cab and take a local tour of Leh. Visit the War Museum, Leh Palace & many other famous places.

Day 11 : Leh to Hunder via Khardung La

Distance : 126 Kilometers

Ride out leisurely by 9 am. Today is one of the most important days of your life. You are setting up a record.

Crossing all hurdles like a warrior, today you ride through Khardung La - the highest motor able road in the world (18380 feet).

Take photos near the sign board there. Have some refreshment at the World's highest cafeteria at Khardung La.

At this pass, where it is difficult for us to walk due to the less oxygen level, you can see the soldiers of the Indian army playing volley ball with all their might.

Descend from Khardung La, we enter the scenic Nubra valley. You will be surprised to see sand dunes and a desert formation at that altitude. Passing through these beautiful sceneries you enter Hunder and stay in luxurious tents for the night.

You will reach Hunder by 1 pm. Chill out with beers and party the day off. It is not so cold at Hunder which gives you a great party mood.

Suggested tents at Hunder
Apple Nubra Cottage
Royal Deluxe Nubra

Day 12 : Hunder to Pangong Lake

Distance : 164 Kilometers

Ride out by 8 am. Ride through Khalsar, Shyok, Durbuk & Tangtse to Pangong Lake. Stay in campsite by the lake.

Suggested campsite at Pangong Lake
The Golden Cottage and Restaurant

Day 13 : Pangong Lake to Debring

Distance : 205 Kilometers

We begin our journey back. Just breaking on at Debring.

If there is time, we make a short visit to Tso Kar lake for a photo.

Day 14 : Debring to Keylong

Distance : 236 Kilometers

Just breaking on at Keylong before proceeding to Manali tomorrow.

Day 15 : Keylong to Manali

Distance : 116 Kilometers

Today is the last day of the ride. We ride through the Rohtang Pass. Rohtang is a pass full of slush. Take care of your clutch. After many days we are going to see more traffic, more people.

Arrive Manali by afternoon and relax. This was how our shoes looked like at Manali full of slush from Rohtang almost after all rides.

Ride ends. You can fly back home from Manali or take a bus to Delhi.

Motorcycles taken for rent at Delhi can be handed over at Manali or transported to Delhi or you can ride to Delhi via Chandigarh and complete your ride at Delhi.


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Route 2

Chandigarh - Patnitop - Srinagar - Kargil - Leh - Khardung La - Hunder - Pangong Lake - Debring - Keylong - Manali

Distance : 1870 Kilometers

Day 1 : Chandigarh

Arrive at Chandigarh.

Day 2 : Chandigarh to Patnitop

Distance : 407 Kilometers

Start ride very early in the day. Ride out of the hotel by 6 am.

Hard days ride. We got a lot of distance to cover. Limit your pit stops. You will arrive Patnitop by 7 pm.

If you are unsure about riding this distance, you can break at Hoshiarpur or Pathankot

Suggested hotels at Patnitop
Hotel Samson
Hotel Trinetar Resorts
Hotel Patnitop Heights

Day 3 : Patnitop to Srinagar

Distance : 187 Kilometers

Start early before 7 am. Let the climb begin. Twists and turns and you will reach Srinagar by 7 pm.

Check-in to Hotel

Suggested hotels at Srinagar
Batra Hotels and Residences
Asian Park Hotel
Hotel Pacific

Day 4 : Srinagar

Rest day

Get up at leisure. Today is a rest day. Take your motorcycle to the local mechanics and get them serviced.

Srinagar local sightseeing.

Day 5 : Sringagar to Kargil

Distance : 202 Kilometers

Suggested hotels at Kargil
Zozila Hotel
Hotel Rangyul
Hotel Greenland


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Day 6 : Kargil to Leh

Distance : 217 Kilometers

Day 7 : Leh

Rest Day

Day 8 : Leh to Hunder via Khardung La

Distance : 126 Kilometers

Day 9 : Hunder to Pangong Lake

Distance : 164 Kilometers

Day 10 : Pangong Lake to Debring

Distance : 205 Kilometers

Day 11 : Debring to Keylong

Distance : 236 Kilometers

Day 12 : Keylong to Manali

Distance : 116 Kilometers


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Other Shorter Routes

Route 3

Manali - Sarchu - Leh - Khardung La - Hunder - Pangong Lake - Debring - Keylong - Manali

Distance : 1318 Kilometers

Route 4

Manali - Sarchu - Leh - Khardung La - Hunder - Pangong Lake - Leh

Distance : 911 Kilometers

Long Live The Highway. Long Live The Mountains.