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Wild Zanskar and Ladakh - Motorcycle Tours in the Indian Himalayas

View of Ladakh   

Wild Zanskar and the Best of Ladakh
on our Motorcycle Tour of the Indian Himalaya

The Indian Himalaya Bike tour is a mystical "river journey" from Leh to the wild Zanskar Valley, hidden in the remotest reaches of the Himalayas.

From Leh, we start by following the holy Indus downstream to the west. After crossing the Fotu La pass (4,094 m), our route takes us through barren, rocky valleys and passes to the mouth of the Suru river near Kargil, the gateway to Zanskar Valley.
From Kargil, we'll head south into Baltistan’s Suru Valley. Our Himalayan Motorcycle Tour route takes us up the wild, rugged valley on a steady climb to Penzi La pass (4,400 m) the only road into Zanskar. We'll be passing enormous glaciers on our way into the valley. We'll slowly work our way up riding our Enfield motorcycles across the rough tracks to our destination in Padum – literally the end of the road.

 

After exploring Zanskar, enough time will remain to get to know the highlights of the Indus Valley. We’ll be visiting the Likkir, Tikkse and Hemis monasteries and spending the night in Chilling on the lower Zanskar River, as well as in the Alchi oasis. And last but not least, the ultimate high point – one that can also be measured in terms of altitude – the Kardungh La, the highest pass in the world, at 5,605 meters!

 

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Peter at Zanskar

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The Himalayan Motorcycle Tour profile

The Himalayan Motorcycle Tour is a challenging tour.

Solid riding skills, a sense of adventure and flexibility are a must when taking part in our Himalaya motorcycle expeditions, which cover around 1,700 km and considerable altitude differences. Road conditions vary from freshly-paved to rough tracks.

While we never actually leave the road, off-road skills can come in handy on some of the tracks we use. It’s also important to note that it’s virtually impossible to predict the weather and road conditions in the Himalayas in the months following the monsoon.

Landslides and abrupt weather changes can force us to change our tour program on very short notice. You can certainly look forward to a great Himalayan adventure.

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Peter at Zanskar

Peter at Zanskar

Peter at Zanskar

Peter at Zanskar

Peter at Zanskar

Peter at Zanskar

Peter at Zanskar

Ladakh

Peter at Zanskar

CLIMATE AND BEST SEASONS FOR THE HIMALAYAN MOTORCYCLE TOURS

The climate and temperatures during the tour are comparable to that of the Alps or mountain ranges in northern Europe. Warm riding gear is a must for the duration of the Himalayan Motorcycle tour, but you can also expect heat and blazing sunshine at times. In extreme cases, you can expect night-time temperatures below freezing when camping at high altitudes in the Himalayas. Generally, the night-time lows will be around 10°C, even at higher elevations. The humidity is extremely low, comparable to a dry desert climate. Skin lotion, lip balm and sun blocker are a must.

GROUP SIZE FOR HIMALAYA BIKE TOUR

A maximum of 12 bikes and riders, plus a maximum of six passengers in the jeeps. We guarantee a seat in a jeep for all passengers. Groups will not exceed 14 participants, plus the crew.

Minimum number of participants: 6 riders

We recommend booking early due to the great demand for this tour and its complex logistics.

Himalayan Bike Tour profile

Wherever possible, we stay in hotels, tourist bungalows and government rest houses, in double rooms with en-suite showers and WCs. Sometimes we have to fall back on dorm-style accommodations in places where our usual standard isn’t available, however.

Our crew also carries camping and catering gear to give us the greatest possible autonomy. In some places, local accommodations are so poor that we simply prefer camping in a beautiful spot in the countryside.

It also ensures that we’re always ready for sudden weather changes, delays or detours, thus avoiding long, forced rides to often-remote hotels.

Our catering crew prepares breakfast and dinner for us when camping. We’ll also eat in hotel restaurants whenever they seem suitable. Lunch will usually consist of a snack on the road.

You should bring your own sleeping bag, thermal mat and rain gear.

OUR CREW FOR THE HIMALAYAN TOUR

Our English-speaking German tour guides are skilled motorcyclists and inveterate travelers who have spent years on the road in the Himalayas. They’re resilient in the face of stress and have considerable knowledge of the history and culture of the regions they cover. Our mechanics also have years of experience accompanying us on the road, following groups in the support jeep. Our local catering and camp crew is responsible for setting up and tearing down camp, cooking, and handling our water and fuel supplies.

Indian blood, English heart – our 500cc Royal Enfield Bullets

Essentially 1950s English technology with only subtle updates, our Enfield Bullets have been fitted with touring gear and optimized as reliable workhorses that are at home on rugged terrain. The Bullet Motorcycle weighs 170 kg dry, and its 500cc, single-cylinder four-stroke engine delivers 23 horsepower with the torque characteristic of a steam engine – a living classic with the stuff of a cult bike.

Our talented mechanics have the tuning skills to keep our Bullet Motorcycles going strong, even at the highest altitudes.

HIMALAYAN MOTORCYCLE TOUR SERVICES

  • domestic flights from Delhi to Leh and back
  • all airport transfers
  • accommodations in double rooms, generally with showers and WC en suite
  • roomy alpine 2-person tents with awnings (simple sleeping mats will be provided)
  • large dining tent for group breakfasts and dinners, separate latrine tent
  • breakfast and evening meals (various teas, coffee and bottled water are included, alcoholic drinks and soft drinks are not)
  • hot lunches and bottled water during the tour
  • all road and bridge tolls and admission fees for the entire program
  • late-model Enfield Bullet 500cc rental motorcycle with electric start and gearshift on the left, yellow all-India rental registration number plate and special insurance for rental motorcycles (EUR 500.00 deductible), disk brake, touring gear and saddle bags
  • fuel, oil and all replacement parts for the bikes
  • English-speaking guide for the entire duration of the Himalaya Bike tour
  • support jeep for luggage
  • second 4WD vehicle for crew, tents and kitchen
  • catering and camp crew
  • experienced motorcycle mechanics
  • reserved seat in support jeep for all passengers

 

The Himalayan Motorcycle Tour route in detail

Here is the current tour map.

 

Zanskar & Ladakh Himalayan tour map

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1: Flight to Leh, time to acclimatize.
Pick-up at the international airport in Delhi, transfer to domestic airport, flight to Leh with Deccan Airways, departure around 5:30 am, arrival around 7:00 am, transfer to hotel, free time for the remainder of the morning to acclimatize to the elevation of 3,600 m. In the afternoon, we’ll meet to prepare for the Himalaya motorcycle tour, and have a group welcome dinner in the evening.

 

Day 2: Warm-up tour – Thikse and Hemis monastery, 80 km

Warm-up tour: our first excursion with our Enfield motorcycles to Ladakh’s most famous monasteries, Hemis and Thikse. That evening, we’ll be having an Indian tandoori dinner in the beer garden restaurant.

 

Day 3: Start of the Himalayan Motorcycle tour: Alchi – Basgo and Likkir, 80 km

At the start of the Himalayan tour, we’ll visit the ruins of the ancient Basgo royal fortress and the picturesque Likir monastery with its huge, free-standing snake Buddha on the way to Alchi. We’ll spend the night in a basic guest house in Alchi (3,200 m), an oasis on the Indus River which is home to the oldest monastery in Ladakh. Our catering crew will pamper us today for the first time.

 

Day 4: Over Fatu La pass to Kargil – Lamayaru monastery, 190 km

We’ll pass the impressive Lamayuru monastery – and visit it on the way back –, continuing ever upwards to Fatu La pass (4,000 m).
We’ll then descend into Baltistan Valley to the garrison city Kargil, the gateway to Zanskar valley. A hotel at the bazaar (2,600 m) will be our home for the night.

 

Day 5: Suru Valley – camping, 90 km

Through the beautiful, wild Suru valley – We’ll be leaving paved roads behind today, continuing on a dusty track on our motorcycles, at average speeds of around 20 kph. Ascending to the herdsman’s village of Parkachik, we’ll set up camp in a meadow at 3,900 meters, surrounded by towering mountains.

 

Day 6: Penzi La pass, Rangdum monastery, 90 km

Today, we’ll ascend the adventurous track further until we reach Penzi La pass (4,401 m) and visit the tiny Rangdum mountain monastery before descending along a huge glacier at the entrance to Zanskar Valley. We’ll be camping on a mountain meadow at the Zanskar River at nearly 4,000 meters.

 

Day 7: Zanskar Valley, Padum and Karsha monastery, 90 km

Around noon, we'll reach Padum, the only small town in Zanskar. Only around 1,000 people live here in the summer. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Karsha monastery, a medieval oasis of peace and an important center of the Buddhist faith. We’ll be spending the night in the best guest house in Zanskar, the basic but comfortable Hotel Ibex at an altitude of approx. 3,500 m.

 

Day 8: Half-day tour to Thongde monastery, relaxing in Padum, 80 km

Today, we’ll be heading out to the Thongde monastery, which overlooks the Zanskar river from a rocky outcrop – a special highlight of the Himalayan bike tour and the favorite of our pilot group in 2006. The afternoon is set aside for relaxing in the hotel garden and shopping in Padum. Dinner in the hotel restaurant.

 

Day 9: Zanskar Valley, riding to Parkachik, 170 km

Our return trip of our motorcycle tour of the Indian Himalayas starts with a longer ride. We’ll be crossing Penzi La pass (4,401 m) and spending another night camped on a meadow near Parkachik Glacier.

 

Day 10: Suru Valley, filling up in Kargil, camping in Lamayuru, 190 km

Descending through Suru Valley on our motorcycles, to Kargil, we’ll come across our first filling station in 550 km! Crossing the Fatu La pass, we'll reach the Lamayuru monastery, setting up our camp there at an altitude of around 3,800 meters.

 

Day 11: Lower Zanskar Valley to Chilling, overnight in Leh, 140 km

We'll have the opportunity to witness the morning meditation in the monastery – an unforgettable experience. Next, a steep descent to the Indus Valley. Our next track starts at the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers. The 40 km along the wild Zanskar river to Chilling, a village of coppersmiths, is one of the most breathtaking motorcycle routes anywhere in the Himalayas! We'll be reaching Leh – the end of our motorcycle tour – in the late afternoon.

 

Day 12: Day trip to Khardung La, the world’s highest pass! 110 km

Today we’ll be reaching the high point of our Himalaya Bike Tour – literally. 50 km on the road and 2,000 meters ascent to Khardung La pass, the highest motorable road in the world. There's nothing else like it! There will be time for relaxation and shopping in the afternoon, followed by a farewell dinner with the crew.

 

Day 13: Flight to Delhi, sightseeing and shopping

Our scheduled Deccan Airways flight will be departing around 7:00 am and arriving in Delhi around 9:00 am. Our good midrange hotel is centrally located in Karol Bagh, downtown New Delhi, the modern business center of the city. We’ll take time for sightseeing in the bazaars of New and Old Delhi.

 

Day 14: Motorcycle Tour to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, or relaxation and city sightseeing in Delhi

For those of you who would like to spend another seven to eight hours on Indian highways, we'll be saddling up on our Enfield Motorcycles for a 190-km ride to Agra to see the world-renowned Taj Mahal. If you'd rather take it easy, strolling through the bazaars and doing a bit of shopping, feel free to take the day off in Delhi. We'll be getting back together in the evening for our farewell dinner in a Tandoori restaurant, followed by the transfer to the airport.

 

Day 15: Departure from Delhi to home country

We'll reach the airport around midnight for your flight home or to your next destination.

 

Total distance covered: approx. 1,300 km, around 600 km on unpaved tracks

Visitors today: 70 Month: 8175 in total: 324169

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