- The Indian Himalayas, bordering Tibet
- Manali - Leh - Pangong Tso - Nubra Valley
- The highest motorable mountain passes in the world
- The ultimate challenge for every biker
- Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime
Note: only for enthusiastic and experienced riders.
You’ll spend long days on your motorbike, in difficult and sometimes unpredictable circumstances, at high altitudes, with little comfort.
Travel time: 12 days
Travel period: from July 14 to July 25, 2020
Price: 2890 euros
Motorcyclist + passenger: 4780 euros
Passenger only (1 place free as a passenger with Alain): 1890 euros
The Manali - Leh - Pangong Tso - Nubra Valley route lures motorcyclists from all over the world to India for the overwhelming beauty of the Himalayas and of course for the thrill to ride on the world's highest motorable mountain passes. Experience the adventure of a lifetime!
The mountain passes that lead across the Himalayas to the Indian state of Ladakh are only open for two months a year: the rest of the year they are completely snowed under and impassable. Ladakh, the Buddhist north of India that borders Tibet, has remained very pure due to its remoteness and difficult accessibility. According to many travellers, Ladakh is still as Tibet was fifty years ago.
To get there we have to cross a 350 km stretch in the high Himalaya, where there are no houses or villages, only make-shift, high-altitude (between 4000 and 5000 meter) tented camps. We spend the night and eat en route in large tents that are set up for the occasion in the summer. Before we pass this particular stretch of the expedition, we will take our time to acclimatise and get used to the altitude. Yet altitude sickness can be a problem here: extra oxygen is provided in the tent camps and a helicopter is always on standby at the military base in the area to fly down serious cases. Safety before anything.
In towns and villages we spend the night in basic hotels and/or guesthouses.
You fly from Delhi to the airport of Kullu/Manali where we will pick you up with a minibus and bring you to Manali.
In Manali (2000m altitude) you will stay two days to get used to the altitude. The second day you will get to know your motorcycle and we will tour around Manali to get the feel of your Royal Enfield bike. The next day we leave early to endeavour the first major hurdle of this trip: the infamous Rohtang La (Rohtang means ‘Pile of Dead Bodies’ in Tibetan, needless to say more), a pass of almost 4000 meters altitude that is notorious for its unpredictable weather conditions.
The Rohtang Pass is also an attraction for Indian families, which means that on sunny days it can sometimes be crowded on the way. Once we have crossed the Rohtang Pass, the road becomes calmer and we can enjoy some incredible panoramic views. We pass the town of Keylong, the very last urban centre on this side of the Himalayas, after which we will stop for the first (but definitely not the last) checkpoint of the Indian army where we have to register. We spend the night in a tented camp.
The next morning we continue to Sarchu, halfway the road to Leh. We spend the night in a tented camp at 4290 meters, quite an experience!
We leave early in the morning to reach the highest point of the crossing of the Himalayas between Leh and Manali: the mythical Tanglang La pass (5,328m) is on both sides framed by the majestic peaks of the Himalayas. Many dream of crossing this legendary mountain pass on motorcycle: we just do it!
From here it is still a four-hour drive to Leh, through a truly idyllic landscape, along the river Indus: here still a small stream that originated on the Tibetan plateau and which grows into one of the most powerful and longest rivers in the world and after 3180 km flows into the Arabian Gulf in Pakistan.
After arriving in Leh it is time to drink a lot (I mean water) and to take a flat rest to let the trip and the altitude sink. At ‘only’ 3500m altitude you will adjust fairly quickly.
Today everyone has a day off. Take your time to visit the ancient town of Leh, once the capital of the Kingdom of Ladakh, at your own pace. We are now in the Buddhist part of India, which is close to Tibet. Travellers who have visited Tibet will note how Leh looks more Tibetan than current Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.
The next day early morning we visit the Takshey Buddhist monastery together, where we can witness the morning prayer and chanting rituals. Afterwards we also visit the Hemis monastery; one of the most important and famous monastery of the Buddhist world. It is a curious monastery, for here some centuries-old Tibetan manuscripts are kept that describe how Jesus Christ stayed in the area for a long time and inspired the Buddhist teachings for his later sermons.
The next day we ride to the legendary Pangong Tso, a turquoise coloured salt lake at 4200 meters that forms the border between India and Tibet. Without exaggeration, it is one of the most beautiful natural wonders you will ever see. We sleep in comfortable tents and leave the next morning for another highlight of this trip: Nubra Valley. We are now in the middle of the famous Karakoram Range, near the three-country point between China (Tibet), the Chinese province of Tjingjiang, India and Pakistan. This mythical valley used to be part of the Silk Road and connected eastern Tibet with what was once Turkestan via the Karakoram pass. The Nubra Valley has only recently opened for foreign travellers: we will be among the first foreigners to park their Royal Enfield bikes here and admire the Bactrian camels.
On our last day we depart early morning for one of the - literally - highlights of our trip: the Kardung La is the highest motorable mountain pass in the world: 5600 meters. It’s a biker’s dream and we do it again! To avoid altitude sickness, we can only stay on the pass for 20 minutes before descending to Leh on the other side.
Our expedition ends here. Those who wish can extend their stay in beautiful Leh or fly back to Delhi the next day.
This expedition includes:
* 12 days, 11 nights hotel, yurt, tent based on shared double room
* Lunches, plus dinners in the tent camps. Dinners in the towns/cities are not included
* Rent motorbike; Royal Enfield Classic 500 cc (or equal)
* Third party insurance (don't get fooled by low local prices: the bikes aren't maintained and they're not insured!)
* Back-up vehicle with driver, runner and mechanic
* Spare parts and spare motorbike
* Dutch/English/French/German/Spanish-speaking guide(s) with field knowledge (Alain Grootaers & Jackie Huisman)
* All permits to enter restricted areas, change of motorbikes in Leh, Ladakh, Nubra Valley due to local union regulations
This expedition does not include:
* Flights from and to New Delhi
Flight from and to Kullu-Manali
Dinners in towns/cities
Traveller’s visum for India
* Travel insurance
* Cancellation insurance
FOR THIS EXPEDITION A GOOD PHYSICAL CONDITION AND FLEXIBILITY OF MIND ARE ESSENTIAL CONDITIONS
This expedition will demand a lot from you: waterfalls and landslides make the road unpredictable: sometimes we have to wait a long time for the road to be cleared by bulldozers, sometimes we have to ride through rivers: lost time that we have to catch up on the way. Moreover, this is Incredible India: wild, beautiful, authentic, but often a shock to the western travellers. Altitude is also an important factor: we advise everyone to take medication in advance (or at least take it along) for altitude sickness. It is unpredictable whether or not you are prone to it, but headaches or nausea are annoying when you have to ride. Medication can prevent this. We try to paint a realistic picture of this adventurous and incredibly beautiful, but often challenging journey.
Incidentally, we naturally try to limit the risks: there will be a back-up vehicle with a driver, mechanic, spare parts and a complete spare motorbike who will be stand-by. The back-up vehicle will carry extra oxygen and the necessary medication. Those who are too tired to ride can always rest in the car: the mechanic or assistant mechanic will then take over.