Day 1: Arrive Leh
Arrive at Leh Airport (3,500m). Pickup will be waiting for you. After checking into your hotel, take a good rest to get acclimatized. Notice the unusual blue sky. In the evening, visit local market or just stroll around. Consume plenty of liquids, do not over exert and refrain from smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages.
The Leh airport is called Kushok Bakula Rimpoche Airport, named after Kushok Bakula Rimpoche. He was a reincarnation Lama, a statesman, diplomat, educationalist and reviver of Buddhism. He also served as Member of Parliament representing Ladakh in 1968. Interesting thing is, he was elected MP unopposed, unheard in Indian politics.
Day 2: Leh Acclimatization-Local Sights-Orientation (60km, 5 Hours)
After breakfast, if feeling better, walk to local market. Take short-cut up from Masjid and negotiate narrow bylanes and hike upto Leh Royal Palace. Museum is ordinary, but the view of Leh town from balcony window is great. If you are lucky, you might see a polo game in progress towards east of the town. Visit sacred Datun Miswak Sahib on main market behind Masjid, below the Palace. This is the largest and oldest tree in Leh. Said to be planted by Guru Nanak Singh. In the evening visit Shanti Stupa. It was built by Japanese monks in 1991 to promote World Peace.
Day 3: Leh to Lamayuru (110km, 4-5 Hours)
Now you are ready for a day long trip. Toady you will visit Lamayuru on Leh-Srinagar Highway. This is a beautiful section of the road passing through rugged Ladakhi terrain and beautiful tiny villages. Notice how the mud houses blend with the landscape. You might stop at Magnetic Hill for a photo opportunity. The selfies at this spot look great on your social media profile.
Lamayuru is one of the oldest and largest monasteries in Ladakh with more than 150 monks in permanent residency.
Day 4: Lamayuru to Lato (180km, 5-6 Hours)
Ride back from Lamayuru enjoying the same surreal landscapes once again. Bypass the Leh town and arrive a small village of Lato (4,000m) situated at the bottom of Tanglangla Pass. The night here will prepare your body for high-altitude sleeping.
Day 5: Lato to Tso Moriri (160km, 6 Hours)
Your real high-altitude ride starts now. Enjoy the beautiful curves on the way up to Tangang La (5,328m). Feel the chill in the air. Enjoy the warmth of sunshine at the top of Tanglangla. Ride down the gentle slopes and reach the plateau of Morey Plains. Not so long ago, these plains were favourite resting ground for the traders and caravans. They recoup from the fatigue of ardours journey while their beasts feasted on nutricious grass. Reach Tso Moriri by evening. Keep your cameras ready. Sunsets are awesome and lights change every few minutes. Go to the edge of the lake to take some awesome low-angle photographs.
This is a High-Altitude sleeping night (4,595m). Temperature drops by 4-5 Degree Celcius immediately after sunset. Refrain from drinking alcohol and stay well hydrated. You will survive the night.
Day 6: Tsomoriri Rest
If you survived the night, try to wake up before sunrise. Get out of your tent and let the morning sunrays fall on your body. Its amazing how the rising sun warms up your whole body, from head to toes. Explore the surroundings on foot. The village on northern slopes of the lake is Karzok. A walk to the Karzok Monastry will take your breath away. This is propably one of the oldest human settlements on this planet. Think hard!
This Lake has no outlet. It is fed by two natural springs and snow-melt from surrounding mountains. Water is alkaline and not potable. Our geologist friends classify this lake as a endorheic lake with oligotropic characteristics.
Day 7: Tso Moriri to Leh (220km, 6-7 Hours)
Today is a bit longer riding day with some great off-road sections. Join the Indus river near Nyoma and follow along till you reach Leh. Enjoy a hot shower in hotel. Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of modern life in magnificient town of Leh.
Day 8: Leh to Hunder -Nubra Valley via Khardung La (125km-6 Hours)
Today's highlight is Khardung La (5,359m), one of the Highest Roads in the World. Notice the changing landscape with each bend in the road. The Ladakh Ranges open up and offer glimpses of Zanskar range mountain peaks in far south-west horizon. After crossing the South Pulu, road winds up in tight turns and you gain altitude quickly. At Khardung La, take a break. Click pictures with sign-board proclaiming “Highest Road in the World”. It looks great on your Social Media profile. Also, eating a bowl of Maggi and sipping black tea at the café is a sacred ritual. All passes in Himalayas experience high velocity winds. So don’t panic if you are having a bad-hair day.
Once you cross the pass, you’ll descend into Nubra Valley, the Valley of Flowers. Notice the change in temperature and wind conditions. The river flowing through the valley is Shyok (Sha-yok). The river floods often create havoc in Nubra valley, destroying large parts of villages and their fields. There are many old songs in Nubra which refer to the power of the Shyok where miles of fertile lands were turned into infertile sandy desert. Nubra valley is at lower altitude than Leh and relatively warmer and greener.
In the evening, Ride Double humped Bactrian camel at Hunder, close to your camp. Popularly known as Camel Safari, they charge on hourly basis. These camels are the relics of ancient trade route from Leh-Nubra to Baltistan, Yarkand & Khotan; very important junctions on Silk-route. Now the trade is gone, but these magnificent creatures still survive.
Day 9: Hunder to Turtuk and Back (170km, 5-6 Hours)
Ride further north along Shyok river till Turtuk, the last village on Indian border. This village was earlier part of Pakistan. It was taken over by India in 1971 for strategic reasons. This region was closed to tourist prior to 2009. The population is majority Muslim with predominantly Balti culture.
Day 10: Hunder to Sakti via Wari La (120km, 7-8 Hours)
Wari La(5,312m) is an alternate route to enter Nubra Valley from Leh. Unlike Khardung La, this route is relatively less crowded. But roads are challenging even for true riders. If the camel ride at Hunder Sand Dunes haven't shaken you yet, this ride will definitely jolt you. You can expect long stretches of unpaved roads while climbing up. The wilderness towards top of the pass really catches on to you. Finally, the descent is equally interesting for real riders.
Day 11: Sakti to Pangong Lake (110km, 6 Hours)
You start climbing soon after leaving hotel. The climb to Changla (5360m) is quick and fast. You can feel breathless inside your helmet. Bikes too struggle to breath and you can smell the unburnt fuel. Having said that, this part of the journey is a geologist’s delight. Karakoram ranges merge into Pangong range. Karakoram peaks are soild-black and pointed, while Pangong mountains are brownish with gentle gradient. You may also encounter wild asses (Kiyangs) and marmots on the way. Reach Pangong by evening. The sunset really lights up the dome shaped mountains surrounding Pangong lake. If you reach early, spend some time at roadside cafes/dhabas and soak in the touristy atmosphere built around Bollywood movie “3-Idiots” theme at the northern edge of the lake.
This is a High-Altitude sleeping night (4,350m). Refrain from drinking alcohol and stay well hydrated.
Day 12: Pangong Lake Rest Day
This is a real rest day. No riding and no sightseeing. Just bask in the glorious sun and give your butts some break. Notice the changing colour of water. And yes, don't forget your sunscreen and drinking water bottle.
The lake water is saline and not potable. Our Geoligist friends call this, you guessed it, a endorheic lake. This lake is 134km long and 5km wide at its broadest point. Unfortunatle, the lake is a disputed territory between India and China. The Line-of-Actual-Control (LOAC or border) runs through the lake. Chinese control aprox 60% of the lake. The border issues are always complex and often defy logic & commonsense. Ask our tour guide for historical reasons, if interested.
Day 13: Pangong to Leh(160km,6-7 Hours)
After getting a good tan and well deserved rest, we ride back to Leh. By this time, the landscape already looks familiar. You negotiate the road obtacles with great ease and confidence. Unfortunately, the tour ends today after reaching Leh.
Day 14: Leh Rest Day
Time for a some hot shower, quick last minute shopping and updates on your social media life. Say goodbye to your machines and crew.
Day 15: Onwards Journey
Catch morning flights to Delhi and onward journey.