10 Reasons To Go On A Motorcycle Tour Of Ladakh
The legendary mountain range of Ladakh has always fascinated mankind. After all, it is amongst the highest mountain ranges in the world and home to iconic motorable passes such as the Khardung La and the Umling La.
But not just peaks, there are plenty of different things that welcome mountain enthusiasts from all over the world.
Which is why we have captured the region’s very special essence for you in ten points.
Julley – and have fun reading!
Here Is Why You Should Embark On A Motorcycle Tour Of Ladakh!
For those who are unaware: The mountain range of Ladakh is a southeastern extension of Karakoram Range (Source: Britannica).
This massive range, called the Ladakh Range, lights up this piece of terrain with wonderful panoramic vistas of eternally snow-capped, untamed mountain peaks.
But not just the mountains, the cyan lakes streaming down from these mountains along with the encompassing poplar and willow trees are a sight to behold for anyone who crosses these trails.
Be it in the capital city itself or the isolated villages of the upper Himalayas, Ladakh holds immeasurable pristine beauty.
And this beauty stretches from peak to peak, like a supernatural artwork with splashes of different colors.
All in all, it’s nothing less than an awe-inspiring, picturesque, and dazzling display of natural beauty. No wonder riders are overjoyed as soon as they set foot on this wonderful land.
Wish we could describe these breathtaking landscapes more poetically. Truth be told, there are no words that can relate how magnificent and splendid these landscapes are.
We have seen so many riders who travelled with us getting emotional as they passed through these mountains. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity – book our guided Himalayan motorcycle tours today!
Culture & Spirituality
The Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh is one of the most secluded regions of India. And because of its seclusion, this region has managed to preserve its unique and lively traditional culture.
In Buddhism, there are mainly four types of traditions: Theravada tradition, Mahayana tradition, Tibetan tradition, and Chan/Zen tradition. Ladakh is one of the last places where Tibetan Buddhism is still practiced in its original form (The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path).
And unlike Tibet, where Buddhist culture was largely destroyed by the Chinese government, many age-old traditions and practices of Tibetan Buddhism are still prevalent in Ladakh. For example, almost all the Ladakhis believe in karma and thus live by the idea of renouncing worldly life.
Monasteries and gompas decorated with prayer flags bearing the six-syllable Sanskrit mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”, numerous isolated meditation and religious institutions, and countless festivals bear witness to Ladakh’s ancient culture.
Arts and crafts such as metalwork, paintwork, looms, and sculptures can be found in this region in abundance. The most popular being the Buddhist Bhavachakra, which depicts the three poisons of life (rooster, pig, and snake). Where the rooster represents greed, the pig represents ignorance, and the snake represents hatred towards each other.
Lakes have always been an important source of water for the people of Ladakh. But they also remain as one of the most picturesque settings that this region has to offer. The reflection of the mountains and the sky above the surface of the lakes is surely a sight to behold!
And there are more than 20 large and small lakes in Ladakh, covering more than a thousand square kilometers of the region. Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Tso Kar, Nyak Tso, Yarab Tso, Mirpal Tso, Stat Tso, Lang Tso, Kyagar Tso, and Chagar Tso, to name a few.
However, the most prominent among these is Pangong Tso, a long, winding lake that stretches from western Tibet to Ladakh.
The extraordinary characteristic of this lake is that the water on the Tibetan side is fresh while on the Indian terrain it is salty. And because of its meandering shape, Tibetans have given it the name Pangong Tso, which means long-necked swan.
This lake is very popular among riders and a must-see while traveling through the Ladakhi Himalayas. It is known for its crystal-clear water, that changes its color depending on the sunlight. Furthermore, being surrounded by snow-capped mountain ranges, it is home to around 20 species of migratory birds.
Did you know? Pangong Tso is one of the highest saltwater lakes in the world, located at an altitude of 14,271 feet above sea level. And despite its salinity, it completely freezes in winter!
With a bit of luck, one or two species of gulls can be seen on the lakebed: Black-headed Gull, Brown-breasted Gull, or Palla’s Gull. And if it doesn’t work out with the gulls – you can also find various species of Great Crested Grebe, Garganey, Common Tern, and Bar-headed Goose.
Ladakhis have developed their own unique culture and way of life within their Tibetan culture.
And while the modern-day amenities have long reached Ladakh, the locals have still retained their simplicity and age-old traditions.
Julley, Julley! This is how you are usually greeted by the locals when you are traveling in these mountains.
The people of Ladakh are known for their tremendous warmth and hospitality, making your trip to this beautiful and peaceful Himalayan region an unforgettable experience.
In fact, Ladakhis are known for living in peace and harmony amongst each other. The reason for this is their liberal and open attitude towards life. Which is why there is almost zero crime rate observed in these regions.
Moreover, their society is very adaptable – probably because of the Buddhist influence the region has. You can also feel this when you talk to them, for they are very friendly and respectful towards the culture of other fellow travelers as much as their own.
And if you ever get stuck while riding, it doesn’t take long for one of the passersby to stop and offer you a hand. We have lost count, but it has happened to us so many times while conducting guided motorcycle tours in Ladakh.
Such is the warmth and love you will experience from the locals. And this legendary hospitality is also reflected in the delicious meals they prepare should you decide to stay in one of their homestays.
Would you like to experience a luxurious getaway and feel right at home even at 11,000 feet? If so, you should consider staying in one of the boutique accommodations in Leh!
Most of these are quite small, mostly managed by local families, allowing you to unwind and relax in absolute comfort.
One of the special things about these boutique accommodations is their welcoming, almost family-like hospitality. So, if you prefer uncrowded settlements that offer complete isolation, then a boutique resort will be just right for you.
Moreover, almost all boutique accommodations in and around the capital city (Leh) are themed after their culture or religion. Which in fact is a great experience in itself!
However, you can find budget boutique settlements as well if you don’t want to tear a hole in your pocket. These budget accommodations are usually run by the owner alongside his/her significant other.
But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice modern standards and amenities. Be it luxurious or budget, what all accommodations have in common is that great value is placed on comfort.
Besides, travelers staying in these boutique settlements benefit from becoming accustomed to local traditions. While this small community benefits from generating its own income.
A dream come true for wildlife lovers!
Although Ladakh is a high-altitude cold desert that experiences harsh weather all year round, the wildlife in this region is surprisingly very diverse and is home to around 30 species of rare animals.
Chamois, Yaks, Ibex, Nyans, Urial and Bactrian Camels are relatively widespread. Even the Tibetan Antelope (Chiru), Gazelles and Kyangs can be seen in the upper Himalayan region of Ladakh, especially near the Changthang plateau.
And if you are lucky, you may spot a Pallas cat (Otocolobus manul) or the secret ruler of the Himalayas – The Snow Leopard! With its spotted fur and golden eyes, this Snow Leopard can measure around 1.30 meters in length with a thick tail nearly as long as its body.
Did you know? Out of the estimated 4,080 – 6,590 snow leopards in the world, about 300 of them can be spotted in the Ladakh region alone!
One unique feature of all the animals in this region that may amaze you is their highly insulated fur. Having such insulation shields them from extreme vagaries of the weather, which is why you will find more goats and sheep here than anywhere else in the world.
But then again, things may not sound that interesting unless you decide to experience them yourself. Isn’t it?
How could we not mention the primary reason for this motorcycle trip? Be it novice, expert or a veteran, riding in the Himalayas continues to be one of the most cherished adventures one can think of. And rightly so, as this Indian region of Himalayas abounds with trails that are both treacherous as well as demanding.
As a matter of fact, touring in Ladakh has always been special. It was and will remain both mythical as well as exciting for anyone who embarks on this adventure.
And mind you, the adventure we are talking about cannot be compared to a pre-planned activity such as skydiving or bungee jumping. The experience you gain from this adventure is completely different.
A motorcycle tour of Ladakh is a real adventure. And a true adventure requires courage. While you won’t be risking your life in doing so, but this kind of adventure requires you to step out of your comfort zone.
Moreover, this adventure entails countless mountain passes and multiple water crossings that must be scaled to reach the other side.
Some of these high passes include those over 15,000 feet above sea level!
Chang La (17,590 feet), Marsimik La Pass (18,314 feet), Khardung La (17,582 feet), and Saser La (17,753 feet) to name a few.
But it’s not just about the ride either: On this adventure, you will discover regions that are mysterious, here fascinating stories from locals, and witness history that dates far back in the past.
You may be wondering what kind of cuisine would be available should you decide to go on a motorcycle tour around Ladakh. After all, who wouldn’t appreciate a luscious meal after a long day’s ride.
Many of us are under the notion that a simple bowl of soup and noodles is all that would be available in this Buddhist region. Considering the ancient rituals and minimalist lifestyle, one would not be wrong in this presumption.
Surprisingly, Ladakh is as famous for its delicious cuisines as it is for its panoramic views!
Especially the capital city of Leh, which boasts countless restaurants and cafés renowned for their fine dine.
These restaurants not only serve Indian & Tibetan cuisines, but also American, Korean, Mediterranean, Mexican, European and Japanese dishes. In fact, these cuisines were primarily introduced for the many tourists who visit this region every year.
However, if you really want to savor the traditional delicacies of Ladakh, you are in for a treat. Thukpa, Skyu, Chhutagi, Tingmo and Khambir are some of the local dishes that can be found in any of the local kitchens in this region.
Then again, Ladakhi momos are especially popular among travelers and are similar to Italian ravioli. Except for the filling, which consists of chopped vegetables and goat meat.
And once you are satisfied with the main course, you will be overjoyed with the options in dessert. But for those who prefer a warm drink post their meals, a hot cup of butter tea will surely soothe the palate and help one relax.
How can we leave out the wonderful monasteries of Ladakh, most of them being nothing less than architectural marvels, impressively decorated with murals and carvings.
The Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh are among the main attractions of this region and are often perched in between or right on top of the mountain peaks. These monasteries are vibrant and very much active, as they still house hundreds of monks dressed in maroon robes.
On your Ladakh trip you will have the opportunity to experience the life of these Ladakhi monks up close and participate in the communal prayers that take place twice a day.
These monks believe in bringing people closer together through spirituality and preach about the compassionate deeds of the Buddha.
And if you want to learn more about Buddhism, these monasteries are just the right place to get the right information.
To name a few: The Lamayuru Monastery for one, located at an altitude of 11,515 feet, is one of the oldest, largest, and most legendary monasteries of Ladakh.
The Shanti Stupa, built in 1991 by Buddhist Bhikshu Gyomyo Nakamura, stands atop a hill to the west of Leh and is visible from afar. This stupa is richly decorated with statues of Buddha and Tibetan mantras.
And lastly, the 15th century Thiksey Monastery. Originally built by Tibetan monks, the monastery is located on a hilltop and is famous for its 49-feet high statue of Maitreya Buddha.
Can a motorcycle tour conclude without camping? Not on our watch!
Chirping of the birds, the starry sky, beautiful sunset: there is nothing else more satisfying than experiencing nature up close while camping.
Building your own fire, being close to wilderness, feeling the wind in your hair and simply relaxing – all of these will calm your senses magically.
Given our fast-paced world brimming with modernization, this simplistic form of motorcycle touring will leave a positive effect on your body and mind.
And once the spirit of adventure is awakened, it won’t matter much if your clothes are dirty from all the riding, or your hair is tangled in mud. You will soon realize that these majestic landscapes are your home away from home.
Hardly any other form of adventure brings people together as quickly as this Ladakh trip. That’s because all the riders on a motorcycle tour have one thing in common: conversing about their day over a glass of wine around the campfire.
Imagine how magical that would be amidst the beautiful Himalayas!
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