Ladakh Motorcycle Tour
Put on your helmet and venture out on an adventure that is not only one of the toughest and most daring, but also the world’s greatest motorcycle tour.
Yes, we are talking about a motorcycle tour of Ladakh that promises to take you through delightful vistas and majestic landscapes of the Himalayas as soon as you step foot on this amazing land. And as you ride higher and higher into the mountains, the streams of the Himalayas accompany you all along the way to the ultimate peaks of the world.
Nestled on the Tibetan plateau, Ladakh is regarded as one of the remotest and elevated regions of India. At the same time, it is an awe-inspiring tourist destination that is home to numerous monasteries and ancient temples. In fact, the capital of Ladakh, Leh, is also referred to as “Little Tibet” as spiritualism is still practiced in this region in its purest form.
But that’s not all why this region is so fascinating: Ladakh is also home to outstanding medieval palaces, a number of beautiful villages, cold deserts, sensational landscapes and a deeply rooted Buddhist culture.
And most importantly, it is one of the most treacherous regions of Asia.
Amazing, isn’t it? So, if you are planning to embark on this adventurous motorcycle trip any time soon, read on to get a complete insight.
Once you have arrived in India from your home country, you will board an aircraft booked by us from New Delhi International Airport (Terminal 3) which will take you all the way to your base camp.
And from the moment you arrive at Leh Airport, your tour will begin. But in order to acclimatize with the altitude, you might require a few hours of sleep. This is why we will transfer you straight to your Hotel in Leh. Post which, you will be introduced with the rest of the touring team.
Subsequently, a brand-new Royal Enfield Himalayan / Scram 411 will be provided to you, which, you can take out for a short ride towards the Royal Leh Palace.
On the second day of your trip, you will set out early on your Royal Enfield to visit the famous Lamayuru Monastery, one of the most fascinating, ancient, and enormous monasteries of Ladakh. This monastery performs traditional spiritual ceremonies on a daily basis, reflecting the practices of Drikung and Kagyu Buddhism.
On your way back to Leh, you will have the chance to witness the enchanting beauty of the moonscapes, the extraordinary Magnetic Hill as well as Alchi Monastery.
You will be having an early morning breakfast, as today we will be heading towards Nubra Valley, which is also known as the “Valley of Flowers”. But behold, as you will be riding over an acclaimed mountain pass, the mighty Khardung La (17,582 ft.), which in fact is a gateway to this valley.
And after successfully crossing this high mountain pass, you will ride towards Turtuk, a majestic village known for its fruit plantation, especially apricots.
Later in the evening, you will make your way to Hunder, which, to be honest, is an oasis in the middle of this cold desert. And finally, we will conclude our day by spending the night in a boutique resort surrounded by stunning Himalayan landscapes.
Another early start to the day as you will set off for Lake Pangong via the Shyok Route. Located at an altitude of 13,940 feet, Pangong Lake or Pangong Tso, an endorheic lake, is known for its sparkling blue water and mesmerizing backdrop.
The ride to the lake offers many sightseeing opportunities and once you have reached, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing in an oasis of serenity.
But lo and behold, as the best is yet to come! An overnight stay by the lake will be arranged, along with a lovely bonfire for a short get together with the team.
On the fifth day, you will head back to your base camp (Leh city). So, following a hearty breakfast by the lake, you will make your way to the mighty Changla Pass (the tenth highest motorable pass in the world: 17,586 ft.) and ride back to the city of Leh. This journey will fascinate you with its majestic vistas and panoramic settings.
And upon reaching, you will conclude your day by relaxing in a premium hotel.
On the sixth day, your expedition will once again take you to the beautiful and picturesque Tso Moriri. Situated on the Changthang Plateau, Tso Moriri is considered to be one of the most beautiful, serene and sacred lakes of the Himalayas.
To be honest, the ride towards this lake is quite demanding and involves a lot of off-road riding that will definitely polish your motoring skills while giving countless memories in the process. And after reaching the lakeside, you can relax for the rest of the day in a traditional Ladakhi settlement.
You will start your day with a wholesome organic breakfast and authentic butter tea as you prepare to ride back to your base camp (Leh city). On your way back, you will ride towards Tso Kar, yet another high-altitude lake on the Rupshu Plateau in southern Ladakh featuring snow-capped mountains and panoramic views. Here, you will have all the time in the world to fill your soul with the sight before resuming your journey back to Leh.
On the way back, you will also cross the mighty Tanglang La, another high mountain pass (17,480 feet) and a gateway to your base camp. Later in the evening, you will be invited to a small get-together to share your experiences with the other riders of your team along with drinks and dinner.
This would be the last day of your motorcycle tour and we will leave this day for you to explore this beautiful region all by yourself. You can visit the nearby Tibetan market to shop for souvenirs or roam through the landscapes to take back home as many memories as you can.
This delightful motorcycle tour will end today, leaving you with blissful memories that will remain with you for the rest of the eternity. Our representative will take you to the airport, from where you can board your flight back to the capital city of New Delhi.
But before you leave, the entire team of Wild Triumph will bid adieu and wish you good health, success and happiness for the rest of your life.
Top 5 Places You Will Visit On This Motorcycle Tour
Ladakh: A dream destination for wanderers, backpackers, moto travelers, adventure seekers and nature lovers.
So, if you think that Ladakh is only an adventurous destination suitable for extreme riders, you probably are unaware of the beautiful places the region has to offer. As such, if you are planning a motorcycle trip to Ladakh and wondering what you will get out of it besides a great ride – here is a list of 5 most beautiful spots that are part of this tour.
Nubra Valley, also called Dumra, is a historical region of Ladakh situated at an altitude of around 10,000 feet above sea level. This valley is the most scenic and amongst the best tourist destinations in Ladakh.
With its stunning backdrop and gracious locals, Nubra Valley, which was once an ancient trade route connecting to Yarkand (an autonomous region of China), is in fact one of the cherished destinations amongst motorcycle enthusiasts.
Nestled in the heart of the great Himalayas, this region is one of the last treasures of our planet due to its remoteness. Indeed, a visit to Nubra is not just a journey, but a travel experience – the huge sand dunes of Hunder in this valley make a spectacular setting for an overnight stay that ought to be experienced once in your life.
Remember the sparkling clear lake and scenic route we mentioned in the itinerary? Well, this lake is what we were talking about and is indeed one of the most fascinating places to visit in Ladakh.
And while lakes and streams are not uncommon in the Himalayan region, none of them can compare to this picturesque Pangong Tso. And not only that: depending on the time of day, you can observe different shades of blue until evening. Then after sunset, millions of stars can be seen reflecting on its surface.
Believe it or not, it is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and can be reached from your base camp (Leh) by venturing on a short 6-hour ride. Surprisingly, Pangong Tso freezes over in winter, even though it is considered to be the highest saltwater lake in the world! How fascinating is that?
The magnificent Tso Moriri Lake, situated in a remote corner of the Himalayas, is considered to be the largest snow-covered lake of India. Located at an altitude of more than 14,835 feet above sea level in a treacherous mountainous terrain, it appears nothing but a heavenly gift. However, owing to its high altitude and challenging route, not many riders embark on this journey.
This beautiful blue lake, measuring approximately 7 kilometers in width and around 19 kilometers in length, is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna.
And while we agree that Pangong Tso is by far more famous, it’s Tso Moriri that will simply leave you in awe. All in all, it is a must visit and worthwhile destination for anyone who embarks on a motorcycle tour of Ladakh.
About 45 kilometers from the city of Leh, you will come across the monastery of Hemis, which dates back to the 11th century. This monastery was built during the reign of the Ladakhi King Singe Namgyal in 1627 AD and houses numerous beautiful artworks, engraved statues, and ancient swords that were used by the king. Being a Tibetan monastery, it is the most extravagant and remarkable site in Ladakh that has still preserved the largest of all Thangka paintings.
Above all, the Hemis religious community celebrates their main annual festival in this monastery, which is held in honor of Lord Padmasambhava. It is one of the most exciting festivals in the world involving spiritual mask dance commonly known as Cham.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Hemis was restructured into its present appearance with a large assembly hall and a spacious courtyard. It now features a three-dimensional structure representing Mandala and is filled with countless artistic treasures making it one of the most outstanding examples of Buddhist architecture and a special highlight of our motorcycle trip.
Royal Leh Palace
Most of you would associate Ladakh with religious monasteries, clear blue lakes, breathtaking landscapes and high mountain peaks. However, with its Royal Kings and Palaces, Ladakh is also entwined with a rich history.
The enormous 17th-century Leh Palace, designed to resemble the former residence of the Dalai Lama (Potala Palace of Tibet), overlooks the marketplace and winding streets of this city. It is a 9-storey high mansion, where the upper floors were originally utilized by the royal family, while the lower floors were used for storage and supplies.
This Royal Leh Palace is about 4.5 kilometers from the Leh Airport and is accessible by road. Currently, the Palace is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the view from the terrace is breathtaking. So, be sure to explore this wonderful architecture on the first day of your trip!
How To Plan Your Ladakh Motorcycle Tour?
Anyone who is willing to embark on a motorcycle tour of Ladakh is usually overwhelmed with all kinds of possibilities. But the first real question is: How to start planning your trip? So, before you get down to the practical tasks involving packing, flight booking, etc., the first thing you should focus on is finalizing the itinerary.
Typically, the route you choose and the places you wish to visit on your expedition will determine the number of days required for a motorcycle trip to Ladakh. For instance, you can start your trip either from Delhi, from Manali or directly from the capital of Ladakh by flying straight to Leh from New Delhi International Airport.
As such, you will need to spare at least 18 days for a motorcycle trip starting from Delhi. But if you can’t devote that much time, you have the option of starting the tour from Manali and riding all the way to Ladakh via the Leh-Manali Highway, bringing the total duration of the tour to 14 days.
And if you are interested in traversing the entire Ladakh range while keeping the duration of the tour to a minimum, you can fly directly to Leh and start your journey from there, which incidentally would take around 9 days.
Always remember that planning a motorcycle trip in advance is the best way to get yourself prepared for the experience. And you should certainly devote enough time to think about all the places you would want to visit and how much time you can actually spend riding towards them.
If you are on a tight schedule, it is highly likely that you will constantly pressure yourself during the tour and may even want to skip some important destinations in order to finish the trip quickly.
So, be sure to work out a practical itinerary that includes plenty of free time between two major destinations to make this trip as exciting and relaxing as possible.
For more tips on multi-day motorcycle tour of Ladakh, check out our article: How to prepare for Ladakh motorcycle trip.
Best Motorcycles For Touring In Ladakh
Every rider must first of all give consideration to the motorcycle on which he has practical hands-on experience. After all, riding in the mountains can be extremely demanding as it requires a lot of off-roading skills.
And by choosing a motorcycle that you can manage well and that is anything but difficult to maneuver has always proven to be helpful in such ventures. So, make sure you go for comfort rather than style.
If you are looking for suggestions: Royal Enfield’s Himalayan is the most popular machine among motorcyclists, topping the charts year after year when it comes to touring in Ladakh. There is a reason for this, which is why so many of these can been in the Indian mountains. And thanks to its low center of gravity as well as ease-of-control, the bike remains stable in all kinds of terrain.
But besides the Himalayan, there are a few other recommended brands if you want to try something different: BMW R 1200 GS, Triumph Tiger 1200, Honda Africa Twin and Hero Xpulse.
For a detailed insight, check out our article on some of the best motorcycles for touring in Ladakh.
Best Time To Embark On a Motorcycle Tour Of Ladakh
Unlike the rest of India, a rather different time is recommended for traveling into the Indian Himalayas.
This is because while the rest of India experiences peak summers, this would be the ideal time to enjoy a motorcycle trip through Ladakh. Especially if you have decided to visit some remote regions that involve crossing a high mountain pass, as these routes are only open from May until September.
Slightly lower-lying regions of Ladakh, such as the capital Leh, can be accessed year-round if you fly directly into the city from New Delhi. However, expect heavy snowfall and adverse weather conditions if you plan to travel apart from the said months.
Altogether, the best time to venture on a motorcycle trip around Ladakh starts from May and remains till last week of September with the approximate temperature ranging between 10 to 15°C during the day. However, the month of June & September are particularly ideal for motorcyclists as you won’t find many tourists at this time of the year.
Things To Pack For Your Ladakh Motorcycle Trip
While there are a lot of things motorcyclists could agree on, no one seems to be absolutely right on one basic question: Packing.
Fortunately, you’re in for a treat today, because as experts in motorcycle touring, we have come up with a list of what to take and what to leave for your motorcycle trip to Ladakh. But do remember, our checklist is just an aid – and what is absolutely necessary depends on you entirely.
Required Physical Fitness For Touring In Ladakh
Long distance motorcycle tours require a good level of fitness, which is why it is often recommended to prepare several weeks in advance for your trip by following fitness regimes on a routine basis.
A multi-day motorcycle tour of Ladakh should not be underestimated – for the sake of your own safety. This is because an adventure such as this demands considerable amount of motor skills including an accurate responsiveness of your arms, shoulders and neck, especially on the curves.
In addition, this adventure involves riding in extreme weather conditions that eventually puts a lot of strain on the body.
Moreover, the oxygen content in the air is much lower than elsewhere, which greatly increases the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). It is therefore advisable to prepare the body well before such a trip to improve overall endurance and breathing capabilities.
Pro Tip: A regular fitness routine of more than six hours per week boosts cardiovascular health and your ability to recover quickly from exertion – and is the best way to prepare yourself for the Himalayas.
Tips For Riding Motorcycle In Ladakh
When you think of motorcycle touring in India, the first thing that comes to mind is the Himalayan mountains of Ladakh. And while there are certainly some straight roads you can find there, that is not often the case.
Given that most of you would be traveling from the west, here are few tips to help you ride in the mountains.
Tip 1: Not only do you need an agile motorcycle, but also a good sturdy helmet, waterproof pants, touring jacket, riding boots and motorcycle gloves to ensure complete safety in this treacherous region of Himalayas.
Tip 2: While entering a blind curve, it is important to have a clear view of the oncoming traffic as soon as possible. And in case something comes up unexpectedly, you as a motorcyclist need to be able to react quickly and accurately.
Tip 3: Always stay on the left-hand side while you are riding, unless you are overtaking, which should never be done without getting a clear view.
Tip 4: Watch out for falling rocks, gravel or black ice. These are typical warning signs of upcoming danger. And be careful: strong winds usually bring a lot of debris and loose splinters along with them.
Tip 5: Do not engage the front brakes excessively (else they will overheat and fail). It is better to shift down a gear and allow the engine to do the work.
Tip 6: Himalayan passes are often quite treacherous. As such, a good physical fitness is highly recommended!
Tip 7: In general, while riding in the high mountains of Ladakh, you must expect extreme weather conditions, including snow. So, be prepared for uncertainties at all times and pack accordingly.
Tip 8: If you are a novice rider, you should improve your riding skills by enrolling in one of the basic motorcycle safety foundation courses available near you. This is because you will be riding on winding and unpaved roads that are quite demanding and require at the least intermediate level of expertise.
Tip 9: Before venturing into any of the remote regions, it is wise to check with the locals about the condition of the road as well as the expected weather.
Tip 10: And lastly, touring in Ladakh is not just about challenges, remember to take as many stoppages as you like to embrace your journey and to relax.
Suggested Reading: How To Ensure A Safe Motorcycle Ride In The Himalayas
- Flight from New Delhi International Airport (Terminal 3) to Leh Airport.
- Flight from Leh Airport to New Delhi International Airport.
- Airport Pickup & Drop.
- Royal Enfield Himalayan or Scram 411 as per rider’s choice.
- Twin-shared accommodation (additional $750 in case you prefer separate rooms).
- Backup SUV / Pickup Truck / Mini Bus.
- Protected Area Permit.
- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
- Group Leader, Mechanic, Cultural Guide and Support Staff.
- Medical Aid (On-call doctor available).
The classic way to calculate the cost of a Ladakh motorcycle trip is to determine the expected individual expense. For instance: tour package price, international flight charges, visa fees, and other miscellaneous costs (helmet, boots, jacket, etc.).
Now once you have made a list of these expenses, curate them all and add them up to get a ballpark figure. However, this calculation is never accurate and never reliable as there is always a possibility of unexpected expense including but not limited to shopping.
To give you a realistic idea of the actual cost involved on a trip to Ladakh, let’s just say for a 9-day tour, take a note of the following expenses.
|Tour package price||$3000|
|Round trip international flight||$1200|
|Accommodation (before & after the commencement of tour)||$100|
|Meals & beverages (apart from the package deal)||$150|
All in all, if you opt for a 9-day of motorcycle trip to Ladakh, you will have to keep a budget of $4,920 aside.
However, this expense can be controlled and kept to a bare minimum. The most common way to keep your spending under control is to keep a list of your expenses. We recommend our riders who participate in our guided tours to use TravelSpend, a fairly simple app that is free (basic version) and serves the purpose.
All you do is enter the expenses under the relevant categories (e.g., alcohol, shopping, snacks) to get a graphical representation of how much you have spent and how much you are probably going to spend in the upcoming days.
With rising altitude, the air pressure decreases and so does the ability of a body to absorb oxygen. However, once our body experiences conditions such as these, it immediately begins to adapt with the situation which can be seen by an increased heart beat in order to transport more oxygen to the blood. But this process may last for couple of days depending on the altitude you are riding.
Altitude sickness can affect riders of all age groups, both men and women, smokers and non-smokers alike. Therefore, it is best to address the problem before it becomes worse.
In short, mild symptoms of altitude sickness are quite common while touring in Ladakh. These symptoms fade away in a couple of days as you begin to acclimatize. So, during the first few days of your arrival, make sure you wear warm clothes and maintain a healthy diet.
Staying hydrated enough with electrolyte and water will also help your body to absorb oxygen better. Butter tea, fresh juice, and warm soup will also help, but refrain from alcohol at least for first few days.
Further Reading: How To Prevent Mountain Sickness On A Motorcycle Tour of Himalayas
All the participants that would like to venture on a motorcycle tour of Ladakh are required by law to obtain an Indian visa prior to their departure from home country.
This applies to all foreign nationals, including those from Europe, UK and USA. However, you don’t need to visit any Indian embassy for this, as you can submit the application form online directly with the Bureau of Immigration (Click here to visit website).
Your Indian visa will be emailed to you once it has been issued, and all you have to do is print it out and carry along with you.
Advice: Since you are visiting the country just for leisure, you can apply for an e-visa, also known as ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization), which is the cheapest and fastest way to get a tourist visa.
All the participants that have private insurance cover need to check their policy for international coverage. Typically, coverage outside the home country is limited, and not all policies include medical evacuation in the event of mishap.
This is why we recommend that you choose a specialized travel health insurance that covers your health outside of your home country as well. This type of insurance will protect you in case you fall sick or require any kind of treatment during your trip.
Subject to certain conditions, it will also cover the cost of return transport. Moreover, these insurances are not very expensive and usually cost around $150 for a two-week long trip.
In order to guarantee a quality service at a reasonable price, we require a certain number of participants. As such, we require a minimum number of 6 riders (excluding pillion riders) to successfully commence a guided motorcycle tour.
In the event that this is not achieved, we can propose an exclusive private motorcycle tour for you and your friends for a small surcharge.
Likewise, a maximum of 14 riders are allowed in a group in order to guarantee a satisfactory experience.
A group of 6 or more riders may, by mutual consent, request customization before booking the tour. Such customizations may include a change in the overall duration of the tour, starting date, addition of specific destinations, altogether different motorcycles, or changes in the level of difficulty.
As an alternate to the aforementioned motorcycle tour, we also have few other routes on offer. Feel free to explore our entire range of Himalayan motorcycle tours to get a detailed insight.
All the pillion riders accompanying the tour have a guaranteed seat in the backup vehicle.
However, do note that we may change the vehicle type depending on the number of pillion riders accompanying the tour. For instance, a couple of pillion riders can easily relax in the back seat of an SUV, but if the group size is significantly big, we would switch to a 15-seater mini-bus.
Yes, international travelers must carry their country-issued driver’s license along with international driver’s license in order to drive any kind of motorized vehicle in India.
This international driver’s license is a kind of translation of your country issued license and is meant to make it easier for the officials or the traffic patrol officer to check whether you are authorized to ride a motorcycle or not.
Apart from a valid driver’s license, passport and your ETA / Visa, all the international riders visiting Ladakh need to carry a Protective Area Permit (PAP Act 1958) to visit regions that are close to the international borders or are deemed restricted by the Government of India to ensure the protection of ecosystem and the local culture alike.
Not to worry though, the day you arrive in Ladakh, our representative will ensure that you have this important document issued before we enter in these restricted regions.
Do note however, if you are a diplomatic passport holder, a member of the United Nations, or a citizen of any neighboring countries of India (see list here), you will have to apply for this permit yourself three months in advance from either Indian Ministry of External Affairs or Home Affairs.
You are required to deposit cash in the amount of $500 prior to the start of the tour. This deposit will be refunded in full after inspecting your motorcycle at the end of the tour.
And while all minor tumbles or tip-overs that do not significantly damage the motorcycle are generally covered by us, no refunds shall be made in the event of a serious fall, particularly involving negligence on the part of rider.
As a guided motorcycle tour operator, we bear the responsibility for carrying all the luggage on the tour. We usually bring a pickup truck along on these kinds of tours to store reserve fuel, spare parts, and luggage of all the tour participants.
Except for some remote locations where even Indian sims won’t work, almost all regions in the Himalayas have an Internet connection.
So, in most cases, you will have access to a Wi-Fi network in your hotels, through which you can connect with your friends and family back home. Besides, we usually lend a cell phone to our group in case the local network is slow or has a poor connection. All in all, the choice is yours!
All the Indian traffic laws and regulations apply to the Himalayan region of Ladakh as well.
Remember that vehicles in India drive on the left side of the road. Moreover, as a motorcyclist, always make way for bigger vehicles in case they are overtaking or are coming from the opposite direction.
And remember, honking in India is not at all offensive. It is sometimes used as a gesture to warn someone or as a precaution while entering a blind curve.
Road signs are equally important to understand as they guide drivers on the road. Read everything about them here.
Motorcycle touring in Ladakh also means relaxing over a cup of tea or enjoying your time with a delicious bowl of hot soup and noodles in between.
You will find many restaurants and cafés that serve authentic traditional dishes as well as international cuisines (Chinese, Nepalese, etc.), so you can really indulge in anything you like.
As for beverages, in Leh, the capital of Ladakh, there are many good bars and pubs that offer countless alcoholic options such as scotch, wine and beer. In the other remote regions, you won’t find much except for beer, so you can keep some reserve in the backup vehicle if you wish.
It is advised to carry Indian rupees with you during the entire tour period.
All the international travelers are allowed to carry a maximum of 25,000 rupees while crossing international borders. However, you can bring in up to US$5,000 in cash into India without following any legal formalities. Should you wish to bring in more foreign currency, you will need to fill out a customs declaration form provided by the authorities.
Upon arrival in India, you can either use your credit / debit card with pin to withdraw cash from the ATMs found almost in every part of the city, or you can visit a foreign exchange counter at the airport.
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