The Autum Newsletter 2019
Dear Classic Bike Adventure friends,
Right now, I’m hanging out with friends in monsoon-drenched Goa and savoring the rainy season. After four successful Ladakh tours in July and August, I’m treating myself to a short break. In two weeks, our grand three-week Spiti and Sach Pass Tour kicks off in the Himalayas, and I’m going to follow that by guiding two Bhutan tours in a team with Swiss Peter and Chador from Bhutan. But now, I finally have the time to brighten your day with a newsletter!
Our Topics – CBA AUTUMN 2019 NEWSLETTER:
- We’re counting down to the grand Munich–Lhasa Overland Tour from 5 May to 20 June 2020. We have a group, and two slots are still open – please get in touch if you want to join us!
We have three new pilot tours lined up for 2020:
- Our new Tibet Motorcycle Tour – on touring enduros from Everest Base Camp to Shangri La, from 11 to 26 April 2020
- The wildest trails in the Himalayas: Ladakh – Zanskar – Lahaul / Chenab Valley – Sach Pass – Dharamsala, from 15 to 30 September 2020
- The Golden Himachal Tour for connoisseurs – from the Dalai Lama’s monastery to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, from 15 to 28 November 2020
Our 2020 and 2021 tour program is now open for booking – and here are the highlights:
- Two Goa and South India Tours – now starting from Benaulim and finishing at Agonda Beach in South Goa. Otherwise, we’re using our proven route covering Malwan, Belgaum, Badami, Hampi and Kali River in the Dandeli Jungle, and have added Gokharna and Kundle Beach. The dates: 19 Jan. to 2 Feb. and 2 to 16 Feb. 2020, as well as 28 Nov. to 12 Dec. 2020.
- The Three Lakes of Ladakh Tour is scheduled four times, and we have an autumn tour on the program for the first time in early September. Bikes are still available on these two tours: 18 Jul. to 1 Aug. and 1 to 15 Aug. 2020.
- Our tenth Nepal and the Road to Mustang Tour – a classic in its own right – 8 to 22 Nov. 2020
- We continue to offer the best Bhutan bike tours at the best time of year in October and November. We’re planning one 12-day Bhutan Intensive Tour and one 15-day Three Wild Valleys Of Bhutan Tour each.
- We’ve once again scheduled our longest and best Himalayan tour – the three-week Little Tibet – Spiti Tour, taking in seven high-altitude valleys and some of the most breathtaking passes of the Indian Himalayas – for 2021. This “friends-only” classic is always quickly booked solid. The next date has already been set: Sat., 25 Sep. – Sat. 16 Oct. 2021. The tour is open for booking now.
We have two pilot tours lined up for 2021:
- The Wild West of Nepal – a genuine pilot tour from Bardia National Park to Rara Lake and Jumla, including Pokhara, Gorkha and Kathmandu – is planned for autumn 2021.
- Desert Biking in Rajasthan – eleven days of desert adventure on dirt tracks, staying overnight in romantic desert camps and in small historic palace hotels, all far from the beaten tourist paths and highways.
The Unknown East of Tibet – on enduros from Everest Base Camp to Shangri La – 11 to 26 April 2020, with RC Tiziana and RC Hendrik
From Tibet to the land “south of the clouds”: the world’s highest mountains and the Himalayas of Eastern Tibet. Until recently, the roads descending from the Tibetan plateau to the province of Yunnan via the eastern Himalayas were off-limits to foreigners.
On our new Tibet Motorcycle Tour, you can expect the finest views of the world’s highest mountain, the cultural highlights of Tibet, remote mountain roads, undiscovered wilderness on the banks of the Mekong, snow-covered Himalayan peaks, deep evergreen forests, and of course endless winding roads and beautiful mountain passes.
Our Tibet Motorcycle Tour kicks off in Chengdu. From there, we’ll catch a flight to the heart of the Himalayas – Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. We’ll explore the new sections of the mountain metropolis, as well as its many-faceted traditional quarter with highlights such as the Potala Palace and Drepung Monastery.
After two days to acclimatize and take in the sights, we’ll start our ride to Everest Base Camp. We’re going to cruise the Roof of the World, following the banks of the sacred, azure-blue Yamdrok salt lake, and visiting the region’s most important monasteries and fortresses. The highest mountain in the world awaits us with spectacular views at sunset. We’ll spend the night at Rongbuk Monastery with a view of Everest.
In eastern Tibet, you can expect remote mountain roads through primeval forests, the “Switzerland of the Orient” in Lulang, and grasslands with grazing yaks. We’ll ride along the majestic Mekong, Salween and Yangtze – the longest river in Asia – and enjoy the views of rugged sandstone landscapes and deep gorges. The colorful old town of Shangri-La is the perfect conclusion of our Tibet Motorcycle Tour. From there, we’ll return to Chengdu.
This trip combines the cultural and scenic highlights of Tibet and the pure riding pleasure of the region’s most beautiful country roads. A thrilling, brand-new adventure!
Why we’re starting and ending our Tibet Motorcycle Tour in China?
In the wake of the earthquake in Nepal in 2015 and road construction in many parts of the country, the journey from Kathmandu to Lhasa has not only become time-consuming, but dangerous. The entire route from Kathmandu to the Chinese border at Rasua Gadhi on the Nepalese side and Gyirong on the Chinese side is currently a construction site. The road surface consists of sand and large stones, and it’s extremely dusty. Numerous trucks also use the road. Not even enduro enthusiasts would enjoy the ride.
We would also have to factor in the time-consuming border procedures on the Nepalese and, in particular, the Chinese side, that can take up to a full day. Starting and ending the Tibet Motorcycle Tour in Kathmandu would thus mean putting up with the same route and dealing with comparably long border procedures twice on the same tour.
Regardless of what other organizers may think, that’s not our idea of a fun Tibet Motorcycle Tour. The road conditions and waiting times would not exactly be the highlights of a ride to Everest Base Camp. It therefore doesn’t make any sense sense to start and end a tour with a focus on Tibet as its highlight in Kathmandu.
And besides, a fleet of state-of-the-art bikes is waiting and ready to roll in Tibet. If you want to discover the best Nepal has to offer – and not just see it as a transit country – we recommend our spectacular 14-day Road to Mustang Motorcycle Tour.
On our Tibet Motorcycle Tour, which starts in Lhasa and ends in Shangri-La, we hardly ever take the same road twice – we only have the most beautiful routes, and we don’t waste precious time at borders. We want you to remember your ride to Everest Base Camp as a true highlight.
The pilot tour: Ladakh – Zanskar – Lahaul – Sach Pass – Dharamsala with RCs Julian, Vinod and Peter – 15 to 30 Sep. 2020 – 15 days, 1,300 km.
From Ladakh we’ll set out to Zanskar, and our first big challenge will be Penzi La Pass (4,440 m). From Padum, we’ll take the new jeep track to Shingo La Pass (5,040 m), and from there into Lahaul Valley, where we reach the Leh-Manali Highway.
From Keylong, we’ll follow the Chenab River, first to Killar, which is already a breathtakingly wild ride. Then we’re going to tackle the notorious “most dangerous road in the world” to Kishtwar and back! The next day we’ll cross the rugged, 4.390-meter Sach Pass into Chamba Valley. The tour ends in the Dalai Lama’s home-in-exile, Dharamsala.
Check the map – according to Google, there’s no connection from Padum, Zanskar to Darcha, Lahaul… But there is for us!
This pilot tour is only for hardened off-roaders who are immune to vertigo and thrive on dust, mud, thin air and adrenaline!
- New: The Shingo La Pass between Padum, Zanskar and Darcha, Lahaul.
- New: Killar-Kishtwar Road – the most dangerous road in the world!
- Still breathtaking: Sach Pass!
The two pilot tours in the Indian Himalayas will definitely be happening in 2020!
We’re scouting the tours in September and October of this year. There are still some bridges and good overnight accommodations missing, but everything should be lined up for us by autumn 2020.
The new romantic Himalayan autumn adventure
The Golden Himachal Tour for connoisseurs – from the Dalai Lama’s monastery to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, from 15 to 28 November 2020 with RC Peter and RC Vinod
Experience November in the idyllic foothills of the Himalayas at altitudes of less than 4,000 meters in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh – 14 days of Royal Enfield cruising at its best when the lower Himalayas are at their most beautiful.
The Dalai Lama’s home at Dharamsala – Bir and Billing, the paragliders’ paradise – Kandi Pass – Jalorie Pass – Sangla Valley – Kalpa – Mandi – the artists’ village Andretta – Pong Lake – Dalhousie – the Golden Temple in Amritsar (1,400 km)
Start: Sunday, 15 November: Flight from DELHI to DHARAMSALA
Finish: Saturday, 28 November: Flight from AMRITSAR to DELHI – the farewell dinner and visit of the Royal Enfield showrooms in Saket, Delhi are part of the package; an overnight stay in Delhi can be arranged.
We’ve selected the best resorts and guest houses for this tasty tour. RC Peter will be on the tour, which will include a stop at Casa Kath Kuni, his farmhouse in Kullu Valley near Naggar.
Here’s an overview of the selected route and accommodations:
|The Blossoms Village Resort||0 km||Dharamsala (1,300 m)||www.blossomsvillage.com|
|Colonel’s Resort||100 km||Bir (1,550 m)||www.colonelsresort.com|
|Ragini Cottages||150 km||Naggar (1,750 m)||www.raginicottagesnaggar.com|
|Sunshine Cottages||150 km||Tirthan Valley (1,600 m)||https://www.facebook.com/SunshineHimalayanCottageTirthanValley/|
|Hotel Shrikand||160 km||Sarahan (2,100 m)||–|
|The Grand Shamba-La Hotel||90 km||Kalpa (2,960 m)||thegrandshambala.com|
|Hotel Batseri||60 km||Sangla (2,300 m)||www.hotelbatseri.com|
|Hotel Batseri||50 km||Sangla||www.hotelbatseri.com|
|Hot Spring Health Care Resort||180 km||Tatapani (700 m)||https://www.hotspringhealthcare.com/|
|The Mirage Resort||220 km||Andretta (1,360 m)||https://mirageandretta.com/|
|Norboo Guest House||90 km||McLeod Ganj (2,080 m)||www.greenhotel.in/v3/norbu-house|
|Norboo Guest House||———||McLeod Ganj||www.greenhotel.in/v3/norbu-house|
|Hotel Grand View||170 km||Dalhousie (1,970 m)||www.grandviewdalhousie.in|
|Bhandari Guest House||200 km||Amritsar (230 m)||http://bhandariguesthouse.com|
|Flight home… no hotel planned.||—-||Delhi (320 m)||Let us know if you want help with finding the right hotel in Delhi, or a follow-up program to the Taj Mahal, Goa or Rajasthan.|
For more info, contact me personally at email@example.com
– Sweet memories from Peter’s Sauerland Party in May 2019 – follow the link to the pics and a small party clip on FB. Not only did everyone have a blast, we also raised more than €3,500 in donations for the Conscience Primary School for orphans and earthquake victims in Nepal, which is being supported by the German NGO Einfach Machen e.V. (http://einfachmachenev.de/home-en/).
– We successfully completed the 2019 Ladakh season – scroll down for a selection of pictures and a video clip. For 2020, bikes are still available on two Ladakh tours.
|18 Jul. – 1 Aug. 2020||Three Lakes of Ladakh Tour|
|1 Aug. – 15 Aug. 2020||Three Lakes of Ladakh Tour|
– In the coming 2019-20 winter season, we still have openings on these Goa and South India tours:
Two on the classic 14-day tour around Goa with highlights such as Hampi, the jungle of the Western Ghats and Gokarna Beach.
South India Classic Motorcycle Tour – THE HIGHLIGHTS
- 15-day guided motorcycle tour with eleven days on the road (1,600 km), with a tour guide, bike mechanic and support jeep
- exploring the ruins of 1,000 temples in Hampi, the abandoned capital of the Vijayanagar empire
- whitewater rafting through the jungles of the Western Ghats on the Kali River, a pristine environment rich with exotic wildlife
- two nights in the Bison Jungle Lodge, staying in rustic cottages with showers and WC en suite
- a safari through the Dandeli National Park to see antelopes, panthers, monkeys, crocodiles and more
- mystical Hindu cave temples at Badami, a medieval place of pilgrimage
- four days of bikes and beaches in Goa, including Agonda, the paradise beach of southern Goa
- Malwan Fort on a rocky island in the Arabian Sea, a taste of the authentic India of centuries gone by
and our grand Goa to Kerala Tour (17 days, 2,050 km) – our tropical tour for connoisseurs!
Jungles, palaces, plantations, temples and the most beautiful mountain roads in South India!
Von Goa to Cochin, with all of the most famous hill stations of the South – Madikeri, Belur, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Tekkady, Munnar…
We’ve added a full day for sightseeing in the old harbor town of Fort Cochin at the end of the tour.
The tour also includes a full day each for Periyar National Park and the Maharaja’s residential city of Mysore.
Here’s the link to the photo album of the 2018 tour!
The dates of all three tours have been set:
|19 Jan. – 2 Feb. 2020||South India Classic Tour|
|2 Feb. – 16 Feb. 2020||South India Classic Tour|
|23 Feb. – 10 Mar. 2020||Goa to Kerala – The Best of South India|
A brief update: We’ve tested a number of bikes in recent years in our search for alternatives to the classic Royal Enfield Bullet.
Out there on Google for all to see: the trashed frames of the Royal Enfield Himalayan.
Our two Royal Enfield Himalayan enduros ended their short careers after frame breaks that led to serious crashes – fatigue cracks after less than 20,000 km! And we aren’t the only ones whose Himalayans literally went to pieces. Here’s a recent story: https://news.maxabout.com/bikes/royal-enfield/royal-enfield-himalayan-chassis-breaks
Then we bought a BMW 310GS and put it through its paces in Bhutan, South India, Nepal-Mustang and Ladakh. After a little more than 6,000 km, the starter motor was shot, the clutch slipping and the fork bottoming out. We then shipped the bike to New Delhi, to the only authorized service center in northern India, to have it repaired under warranty. It’s been standing there, collecting dust for two months – no spares. Good thing we only bought one BMW. After all the drama, I suspect we’re going to be pulling the plug on this one.
And then there’s the Royal Enfield GT 650 Twin – like the old GT 535 Cafe Racer, isn’t made for long tours or riders taller than 175 cm or heavier than 90 kg. The power and handling feel great at first, but only for quick blasts to the nearest ice cream stand in Goa.
The KTM 390 Adventure enduro still isn’t on the market. And apart from rumors, we haven’t heard anything definite from Royal Enfield about a 650cc enduro with a beefed-up frame.
Good thing that we’re taking such good care of our fleet of more than thirty 500cc Bullets with carbs. They’re still in great shape, even after about 40,000 km, and they’re always a joy to ride on long tours.
The classic 500cc Bullet from Royal Enfield still remains the best bike for our tours in the Indian Himalayas, Nepal and Bhutan.
Who knows, maybe the 650 Royal Enfield “hard enduro” will materialize after all? The picture below is only an artist’s impression. We’ll keep you posted.
– We want to offer our regular guests a special friendship discount: If you book with us more than 12 months before the start of the tour, we have a deal for you – you can either deduct 5% from the tour price or earmark that amount for donation to one of our two long-term development aid projects: the Conscience Primary School for orphans and earthquake victims in Nepal via the German NGO Einfach Machen e.V. (http://einfachmachenev.de/home-en/), or the aid project for physically handicapped children in Ladakh, via REWA Society Ladakh (www.ladakh-hilfe.de/english/). The choice is yours.
The Sauerland Party celebrating the 30th anniversary of Classic Bike Adventures is history – and here are some impressions.
https://www.facebook.com/Classicbikeadventuresindia And here is the Sauerland Party video clip: https://youtu.be/bjKiPIWNKww
Finally, a travel report of our Bhutan Intensive Tour in November 2018 – “A Dream in the Himalayas”
The text is in German, but literally hundreds of pics of unique landscapes, fantastic people and Bullets on endless bendy roads speak for themselves.
Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page www.facebook.com/Classicbikeadventuresindia/ for the latest news and photos from our tours – here are are a few examples from recent months.
Road Captain Vinod’s first video clip – of the first Ladakh Tour in 2019: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i29yANVI_O8
We wish you all a golden and dry autumn.
And keep dreaming of your next adventure with us!
See you soon – cruising in the Himalayas, in Goa and the South of India, in Bhutan, or just relaxing with us in Goa…
Your Road Captain Peter, with Ana, Aslam, Chador, Hendrik, Hubert, Joe, Julian, Martin, Swiss Peter, Ramesh, Ranjita, Shankar, Shekar, Sishu, Sonam, Sonu, Sunny, Subash, Tenzin, Tiziana, Vinod, Willy, Wolf…