This is a very special adventure that takes you to the very north of India, close to both the Chinese and Pakistan borders, through a secluded valley with the last two remaining villages of the Aryan people which needs special military permits to enter (don’t worry, we look after that for you). You’ll stay at an ancient monastery, camp at a sacred lake, stay at an Ecolodge, and a number of guesthouses and hotels. After 10 years of designing Himalayan motorcycle adventures, Rex thinks he’s cracked the perfect motorcycle adventure.
Starting in Leh, we head west on the perfect tarmac to Lamayuru via magnetic hill and an 800-year-old monastery. We then head north into the secluded Aryan valley and have lunch before heading west into Muslim territory near the Pakistan border. We then head back to Leh for a night and then east through the valleys and stay at a high-altitude salt lake before we tackle the third-highest pass in the world the next day. The 60 km ride down the mountain pass will stay with you forever as you will have the road to yourself and the conditions are near perfect. We ride into a narrow valley ready for another big day tomorrow when we tackle the second-highest mountain pass in the world. The roads are steep but they are arguably the best riding you will do in your life. We stay at a campsite at Pangong Lake which is two-thirds inside the Chinese border.
From here, you get to choose your own adventure! If the weather is good then we’ll give the group the choice of the way they would like to get to their next destination. The 35 m high, colourful future Buddha in Diskit looks down the valley towards Pakistan. How do we get to Diskit though? Do we take the 6-hour / 160 m route through the valley along the Shyok River or will everybody feel like something a bit more challenging and come back over the second-highest road and then head north over a remote mountain pass with twists and turns that will make you dizzy. It’s an extra 60 km and a few extra hours on the bike but you’ll be telling stories for decades about this day.
We’ve been building up to the climax of the adventure – the ascent of Khardungla, considered by many to be the highest motorable road in the world. After the obligatory “I conquered Khardungla photo” in front of the sign we turn our engines off and freewheel all the way down to the oasis that is Leh where the 17th century, 9-story Royal Palace watches over us.
Your mind will be swirling, trying to remember everything you’ve seen and experienced in the past 14 days as you head home via Delhi. The Himalayas have weaved their magic and will be a part of you for the rest of your life.
|ADVENTURE DATES||2023 – July, Thursday 13th – Sunday 23rd
2024 – June, Saturday 15th – Tuesday 25th
Other dates by request
|PRIVATE ADVENTURES||This tour is also available as a private adventure for solo adventurers, a couple, a club, or even just a group of mates. This can be any combination of riders, pillions, sidecar passengers, or even a family in one of our expedition support vehicles. The tour can be shortened or lengthened to suit your desires. Please contact us to discuss your needs.
The best months are from June to September
|PRICES||Rider: US$3,890 per person
Pillion: US$3,290 per person
|WHAT’S INCLUDED|| Return domestic flights from Delhi to Leh
Transfers to/from Leh Airport and Hotel
A low kilometre, well-maintained Royal Enfield Motorcycle
Quality Accommodation on a twin share basis (Comfort hotels/guest houses/Camping)
3 meals a day for the entire tour
English speaking guide
A medical kit is available and Oxygen in the support vehicle
Mechanics with all the necessary spare parts
Support vehicle to carry all luggage (if riders are injured, feeling unwell, or just want a break then they can jump into our backup vehicle to relax)
Bottled water throughout the adventure
Tea/Chai & snacks en-route
Permits for restricted areas
All entrance fees en-route
|NOT INCLUDED|| International flights
VISA (details sent with rider pack)
Travel Insurance (compulsory)
Tipping (US$100 suggested)
NOTE: The prices above are based on a twin share basis. If you’d like your own room, then there is a US$650 supplement.
Payment terms: A US$500 deposit must be made at the time of booking. Balance payment must be paid 8 weeks before the tour start date. Payment plans are available upon request.Terms & Conditions What To Bring Price Guarantee
|Rider or Pillion||Rider, Pillion|
The moment you’ve been looking forward to for so long has finally arrived. A Himalayan Heroes rep will greet you at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport – IGIA and transport you to your hotel. Tomorrow, we catch a morning flight to Leh where you’ll get a chance to acclimatise to the altitude and jump on the bikes but first, you should take it easy and relax by the pool and sleep off any jet lag. If you would like to arrive a day early and see the sights of Old and New Delhi then we can arrange that. If you wanted to see the Taj Mahal then we suggest arriving two days early as it is a full day trip. We highly recommend it as it’s a long way to come to not see a modern wonder of the world!
After an early breakfast, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your flight to Leh over the highest mountain range in the world. Some people pay big money for joy flights that aren’t anywhere as picturesque as what you’ve just seen. Landing at a shared military facility, you’ll be greeted by a Himalayan Heroes rep who will transfer you to our hotel where you’ll have an early light lunch before jumping on the bikes to get used to how they handle and stop as we manoeuvre our way through traffic to a monastery on top of a hill that overlooks the airport on one side and the vast valley on the other side. We usually follow the winding river home as it’s a great short intro to what you are in for. This is your opportunity to ask the mechanics to make adjustments to the brake and gear levers, mirrors, etc. A rider briefing and a welcome dinner top off a great first day.
After breakfast, we jump on the bikes and head west to our first destination – Lamayuru. We’ll stop at Magnetic Hill and defy gravity, pop in to see a monastery that dates from the 10th century before taking a detour up a narrow valley for some riding fun. When the road turns to dirt, we turn around and head back to the main road wondering “if this is how good it is on day 1, what are the other days going to be like!”. We then take it easy along the beautiful tarmac that climbs the valley walls as there are no guard rails or signposts to tell you that the upcoming corner is actually a hairpin. We ride through “Moonland” to the monastery at Lamayuru. Go to the rooftop and look for “skull cave”. If you spot it, I highly recommend you visit it….but don’t go alone.
We head back the same way we came for about 10 km and then turn NW into a protected valley. There might be a short delay at the military checkpoint while they check all our paperwork is in order. Once we’re through, we’ll come across two of the four villages of the Aryan people – Hanuthang and Dah. It is said that they are descendants of Alexander the Great and that there haven’t been any marriages outside of the four villages. They are proud of their “race purity” and one can certainly see they have Indo-Aryan features unlike the majority of the Ladakhis who have Tibeto-Mongol looks. The villagers have realised it is easier to charge for a photo than it is to work the fields and orchards so be prepared to pay for a closeup photo or be discreet and use a zoom lens :-).
If the road is good, we’ll continue onto Batalik and then up and over a mountain pass following the Pakistan line of control just 8 km to your right. We try not to make any unscheduled stops in view of the Pakistani military lookouts. Kargil is a Muslim city and it is certainly different from the places you will visit on the rest of the adventure so be sure to go for a walk (again, it is best to go as a small group) and enjoy the scrumptious street food.
We head back to Leh via the southern route. The riding is cruisy as we head into Mulbekh where a giant statue of Buddha overlooking the old trade route is carved into a huge rock by the side of the road. It is said to date back to the early centuries and animal sacrifices were done here a few times a year. A few kilometres down the road, a beautiful monastery is built into the caves overlooking the lush valley. A more picturesque place is unlikely to be found. The roads keep getting better as we head back into Lamayuru for lunch before we head back to Leh. This is the base for our adventure and WiFi, good coffee, souvenirs and laundry facilities are available.
We escape the city and head southwest through a military base and follow the Indus River for nearly 180 km before coming to a police checkpoint. We say hello with a wave of our passports and then over the bridge and south through a narrow valley road that has you flip-flopping left and right for a good 10 km. As we exit the valley, the landscape opens up and reveals the high-altitude lakes that are considered more sacred than the 400-year-old monastery that we visit. On every adventure, we encourage our riders to “Give Back” to the communities we visit. The monastery school is a great place to hand over school equipment, toys such as Lego, sporting equipment, clothes or other necessities to the local community.
KARZOK TO SAKTI (210 km – 8-9 hours)
If you aren’t particularly alert, then a good way to way up is to go for a swim in the lake – Tso Moriri. It is frozen for most of the year and certainly feels like it when you jump in. As we head back beside the lake, we take a shortcut across the hard-packed dunes and gravel roads. After our off-road fix, we stop for a break at Tso Kar and prepare for our ascent of Taglangla – the third-highest road in the world. If you thought the ride up to the top was fun, wait until you ride down the other side! It is 60 km of pure motorcycling nirvana as the roads are empty and the tarmac smooth. When we hit the Indus River, we turn left for 10 km and then right at Karu into a valley with some more amazing roads.
SAKTI TO PANGONG (120 km / 4 – 5 hours)
The last couple of days have been huge so we’ll have a slow start to the day and enjoy the serenity of Sakti before climbing 20 kilometres to the top of the second-highest road at Chang La. We’ll savour the views for a little while before we cruise down the mountain to the largest lake in the Himalayas – Pangong. It’s roughly the same area as Singapore and two-thirds of it is in Chinese-controlled territory. We relax lakeside, enjoy a BBQ and camp under a billion stars.
PANGONG TO DISKIT (160 km / 5-6 hours along the river or 225 km / 7-8 hours over the mountain pass)
It’s decision day. At breakfast, we discuss how everyone is feeling and if the weather is good, then we’ll give the group the choice of either riding along the Shyok River or up over a mountain pass into Diskit where the colourful 35 m statue of the Future Buddha looks down the valley towards Pakistan. Both routes will see us backtrack for around 40 kilometres until Durbuk where we’ll choose to go left or right. Going left sees us head back over Chang La and then into Sakti before heading directly North over the Wari La mountain pass towards the Shyok River and Diskit. If people aren’t up for the challenge then we suggest continuing straight ahead at Durbuk and following the river all the way to Diskit. Both choices have ridiculously good riding and different scenery so it’s your choice which way you’ll go.
DISKIT TO KHARDUNGLA TO LEH (120 km / 4-5 hours)
A relatively short day is ahead so we take our time and squeeze every bit of fun out of this most amazing adventure. We climb the north side of the pass, stopping once or twice for a military checkpoint to take photos before we reach the top. We have our fingers crossed that the clouds stay away and we secure some unforgettable memories in front of the two signs. The first sign proclaims it is the highest motorable road in the world and then an hour or so later after we’ve climbed a further 100 m up the mountain to get some great photos and have a shot of celebratory rum, we take pictures in front of the second sign that suggests staying at this altitude for more than 20 minutes can be injurious to your health.
We then make our way down the mountain into the valley below which the city of Leh is nestled in. It’s around 40 km and 99% downhill which has seen a few riders turn their engine off and successfully freewheeled all the way down into the city. For me, it is the highlight of the trip as one can reach speeds of over 70 km/h and slipstream past bikes that have their engines running. Have the mechanics check your brakes at the top first OK!
FLY LEH TO DELHI( 1.5 hours)
That’s it, folks, you’ve immersed yourself in the colourful cultures of Ladakh and just completed one of the most extreme motorcycle expeditions in the world. You’ve crossed three of the world’s highest motorable passes, seen huge hanging glaciers, visited an ancient palace, stayed at monasteries, been a guest at secretive villages and maybe you’ve even swam in a high-altitude freezing lake.
Time to board the flight back to Delhi and onward home. Back on home turf, you won’t be able to explain the scale of this journey; photographs and videos will fail to do justice to your adventure. Your memories of this epic adventure will stay with you forever.
INSURANCE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
(INDIA, NEPAL, BHUTAN, TIBET, MONGOLIA, MYANMAR and SRI LANKA)
In the countries we conduct adventures, commercial insurance on motor vehicles is either not available, or is of questionable value. 3rd party insurance will usually not cover foreigners and even if it does, it is generally worthless if one needs to make a claim. In the event of an accident in these countries, the situation is usually settled on the spot without the “assistance” of insurance companies. If insurance companies are involved, it can take days, weeks and even months before there is a resolution.
Damage Cap Option “DCO”
Himalayan Heroes offers its riders the option of capping the cost of your damage bill on the motorcycle you are riding. The cost of this damage cap option “DCO” is US$195, paid as a lump sum before the tour starts. In the event you damage the motorcycle, the DCO will cap your damage bill at US$200.
- If, like most of our riders, you do not damage the motorcycle then the total cost to you is only the cost of the DCO = US$195.
- If, like some of our riders, you put the bike down at slow speed and damage mirrors, levers, foot pegs etc and the damage bill is say, US$120 then you pay the US$120. The total cost to you is US$315 (US$195 DCO + US$120 damage bill)
- If you have a big off and damage the tank, forks etc and the damage bill is say US$750 then your damage bill is capped at US$200. The total cost to you is US$395 (US$195 DCO + US$200 damage bill).
The DCO is optional, so if you would like to carry the risk yourself, you are welcome to. At the completion of the tour, you will be presented with an itemised bill of the damage to the bike. Approximately 50% of our riders do not damage the bikes and of the 50% that do receive a damage bill, the majority of the bills are less than $300. Please send us an email if you’ve got any questions about the DCO.
The DCO is not an insurance policy and therefore any costs related to it cannot be claimed on a travel insurance claim.