Adventures do not get any bigger, thrilling or challenging than this. Biking expeditions through the Leh-Ladhak region have, in recent years, become one of the best ways to tour through the rugged beauty of the Ladhak, a district in the state of Jammu Kashmir, that lies in the folds of the Himalayas.
Expeditions typically range from eight to 12 days and cover anything up to 1000 kms of riding among some of the highest mountain passes and some beautiful mountain landscapes. The road, though, is not always going to be like this. The thrill of the ride comes in going over some really rough and unpaved roads, which test both biker and bike. Generally the Royal Enfield Bullet is the preferred vehicle on these trips. These bikes come in 350 and 500 cc configurations and with a huge dose of history.
The Bullet first came to India in 1956. The bike has been in continuous production since making it the oldest motorcycle brand in the world still in production. The bikes have an iconic status among adventure riders…and it is almost de rigueur to do this trip on a Bullet.
While each operator offers a slightly different itinerary, expeditions typically begin at Leh, the capital of Ladhak. At 3000 meters above sea level a start at Leh is important to acclimatize to the high altitudes of the rest of the journey. From Leh, riders depart to the Nubra valley via the Khardungla Pass. The Border Roads Organization, that maintains and builds roads here, maintains that this is the highest motorable pass in the world but there is some dispute about that. What is undisputed however, are the fantastic mountain peaks and rugged landscapes you will encounter on this ride.
Nubra valley is known for its stark beauty. The cold desert rests between the Ladhak and Karakorum ranges of the Himalayas. It is home to the Shyok and Siachen rivers which meet here to move forward as the Indus. The population is generally Buddhist and this place hosts some stunning monasteries. Hunder is a popular stop in the valley, both to see the unique Bacterian camels…double humped…and to take in high altitude sand dunes.
Pangong Lake, covering an area of over 130 sq kms and bordering China controlled Tibet is another must visit destination. The ride up to the lake is through some rough terrain and can be a challenge even for accomplished riders.
Most of this region is sparsely populated and wild. This is truly off the beaten path, as it is only in the last few years that it is being opened up to tourists. But summer is the time to visit as the region is bathed in all shades of green. The melting snow and glaciers feed multiple rivers and streams as they come tumbling through adding to the already magical beauty of this place. Click on the image to see more of Lili’s travels through India.