Ladakh translated means "land of passes". And indeed, there is no other country in the world with higher drivable roads and passes than Ladakh. In the very North of India, at the upper run of the Indus River bordering Tibet, we find this rough piece of land. Ladakh is an extension of the Tibetan Plateau and therefore it is also called "little Tibet".
The first settlers of Ladakh were Buddhist monks, who took a break here during their pilgrimage from India to Tibet. In the 9th century, the influence of Ladakh grew far beyond the borders of the Indus valley; during this time, the numerous bastions and palaces have their origins. In the 14th century, a pilgrim from Tibet founded a Buddhist monastery, at that time know under the name of "Gelupka"; the head of it was the first Dalai Lama. Until today, Buddhism is the dominant religion in Ladakh, and you find Buddhist monasteries everywhere. Thousands of believers from all over the world come here every year to learn about the lessons of Buddha from the mouth of the Dalai Lama and other teachers.
Different from the Great Ladakh-Kashmir-tour, this motorbike tour begins and ends in Ladakh. Ladakh is in the center of our attention, and we do without the long journey from Delhi through Himachal Pradesh. In order to escape from the unpleasant side-effects of the height, we will spend the first days in Leh and surroundings, with its non-critical height of 3000 meters. During the first days of our trip, we also will not move above 3000 m over sea level. Then we'll be safe from catching mountain sickness. During our trip to Lake Pangong, we'll spend the night above 4000 meters for the first and only time, but by then our bodies will have become used to the height.
But also here, a bike travel across Ladakh means ultimate adventure. The climatic circumstances are a never-ending challenge for man and machine. During the summer, the temperatures go up to 30 degree Celsius, while falling towards zero during the night. Roads might be blocked from one moment to the next. Landslides, subsurface erosions or political unrests might be the reason for that. All this means high demands concerning the road performance and the physical condition of the bikers as well as the reliability of the bikes.
And why we do all that?
The compensation for all of this is a true feast of the senses, above all because of the indescribable variety and beauty of the Himalaya mountain world. Surrounded by the most majestic peaks of this globe, we cross desolate pebble deserts, leading us to believe that we've landed on the moon. Next moment, our eyes can enjoy the view of luscious grassland valleys, with their softly purling creeks. Contacts with the extraordinarily friendly and amiable population is balm for the soul; the precious colours and the diversity of oriental odours, typical for local bazars and markets, are a pleasure for eyes and noses.
The Ladakh cuisine is rich and variable. The variety of Tibetian and North Indian cooking is so amazing that two or three weeks may just suffice to take home a first impression. And who wants to take a break from the Indian cuisine will find numerous restaurants with international kitchens during our stay in Leh.
1. Day: Flight to Delhi
Your plane will reach Delhi airport at midnight. A few hours later, we'll take the plane to Ladakh. We'll arrive early in the morning. Our team will pick you up at the airport and bring you to our hotel.
Because of the early check-in, this is counted as the first overnight stay.
2. Day: Flight to Leh
Breakfast, then a very relaxed day in Ladakh's former capital. Once you have acquired a taste for it, you will never want to leave this town again. The calm, cheerful mental balance of the Buddhist population is extremely catching, and soon the last remnants of hecticness and stress will disappear. Today, relaxing is on top of our agenda, be it during a walk in the picturesque old town, a visit of the Shanti Stupa, the local palace or as visitor of one of the many cafes.
3. Day: Take-over of the bikes, tour of monasteries / ca. 50 km
After breakfast, we pick up our Enfields in the Fort Road Garage. You'll get a short introduction how to handle the Indian bikes by our guide and our mechanic. The Enfields are real oldtimers and need an affectionate treatment. Besides that, our staff will try to introduce you to the "logic" of the Indian traffic.
Then the journey begins. A short round trip takes you to some of the most beautiful monasteries of Ladakh, above all the monasteries in Thikse and Hemis. Beyond that, the palace in Stok and the Spituk monastery are part of the program.
Overnight stay above 3500 NHN
4. Day: Ride to the Dha-Hanu-Valley / ca. 175 km
Breakfast. Today, we'll leave Leh and start our first big tour. At first, we'll reach the Dha-Hanu-Valley, named after two villages, where the direct descendants of the Arians are living who immigrated more than 4000 years ago. The tribe of so-called "Brokpas" differs from the other inhabitants of Ladakh by their light skin and blue eyes. The Brokpas settle in five villages in the region, but only two of them, Dha and Hanu, are open for tourists.
There are no hotels or guest houses, therefore we spend the night in a stationary camp.
Overnight stay above 3240 NHN
5. Day: Ride to Kargil / ca. 75 km
After breakfast, we continue our ride in the Western direction. The landscape is spectacular. Only very few tourists ever reach this remote part of Ladakh, and we are the only travel agency who discovered this extraordinary piece of land, hidden in the depths of the Himalaya, for you.
Today's travel destination is Kargil. In Kargil, the Buddhist part of Ladakh ends, and we now enter the country of the Muslims. Men with beards and veiled women determine the appearance of the streets. A fascinating experience! During our walk across the streets of Kargil, we will notice that the easygoing happiness of Buddhism had to make room for the rigidness of the Islamic faith. Fortunately, there is now a hotel in Kargil which is suited for the taste of Western tourists.
Overnight stay above 2700 NHN
6. Day: Drive to Lamayuro / ca. 105 km
Directly after breakfast, we leave Kargil and soon we'll be back in the land of the Buddhists. Today we are heading towards Lamayuro. Here we'll find one of the oldest monasteries of Ladakh. The building is placed high on a rocky mountain, from there you have a spectacular view over the so-called "moon land". "Pasted" to the hills surrounding the monastery, you find the houses and huts where the inhabitants of Lamayuro are living.
Overnight stay above 3520 NHN
7. Day: Ride to Alchi / ca. 55 km
Breakfast. Alchi is the location of an old Buddhist monastery, famous for its picturesque wall paintings. There is a very relaxed atmosphere in this tiny village. If you like, you can make a visit to the close-by Rizong Monastery, which has the reputation of being one of the most rigid monasteries in Ladakh.
Overnight stay above 3130 NHN
8. Day: Ride across the Kardung-La to the Nubra Valley / ca. 185 km
Breakfast. Today we reach new heights. Leaving Leh, we'll drive on the pass to Kardung-La, the highest motorized pass of the world. With a cloudless blue sky and beaming sunlight, we'll have a magnificent view of Leh and the mountain range of Stok. At the Kardung-La, we'll enjoy a cup of tea in the highest tea house of the world, before continuing our ride to Diskuit in the Nubra Valley after the obligatory "pass fotos".
Overnight stay above 3180 NHN
9. Day: Relaxing or trip across the Nubra Vallay
Breakfast. Everybody can spend the day today as he or she prefers. There are several options. You might want to visit the monastery of Diskit, or take a camel ride in Hundur (appr. 30 km), make a trip to Turtuk (appr. 180 km), a small remote village bordering Pakistan, or along the Nubra River to the Valley of Flowers (appr. 100 km). Kilometers are for both distances.
We meet for supper in Diskit.
Overnight stay above 3180 NHN
10. Day: To the Pangong lake / ca. 160 km
We take the direct road to the Pangong-lake. Since last dummer, this road is open.
Overnight stay in stationary camp above 4.200 NHN
11. Day: Back to Leh / ca. 160 km
Breakfast. The tour back to Leh is the last ride during our journey in Ladakh. Back in Leh, shopping in the busy roads of Leh's capital will end the day.
Overnight stay above 3500 NHN
12. Day: A day in Leh
Before going home tomorrow we spend another relaxing day in Ladakh's capital Leh
Overnight stay above 3500 NHN
13. Day: Flight to Delhi
Breakfast. Early in the morning, we fly back to Delhi. We'll have a few hours to visit some of the highlights in India's capital.
For visitors of the Taj Mahal
Those who have book a visit of the Taj Mahal right after the tour will be picked up at the airport and driven by car to Agra.
14. Day: Return flight (or visit of the Taj Mahal)
The adventure comes to an end. Sometime during the night, your plane will head home. Until departure, you'll have a room in the hotel in Delhi.
For visitors of the Taj Mahal:
Early morning, before sunrise, we start towards the Taj Mahal and get the chance to admire this extraordinary miracle of Muslim architecture. Afterwards we'll have breakfast in our hotel, then we drive back to Delhi.
15. Day: Flight back home
Now the adventure comes to an end for the visitors of the Taj Mahal. Somewhere during the night, your plane will be ready to leave for home. Until then, you'll have a hotel room in Delhi.
We would be happy to welcome you soon on another tour in "Incredible India", maybe in the desert state of Rajasthan or in tropical Kerala.