The bus arrives in Manali by 7AM. Later, check in at the hotel and relax till lunch hour. After lunch, get ready for an introduction to the modern Royal Enfield-low-end torque and a lengthy pick-up time to contemplate the meaning of life. On this day, we will go on a Himalayan riding premier through a part-dirty road along the Kullu Valley. The road had some tricky stretches of mud and bends to help you familiarize with the torque characteristics of the bike. The ride is a beautiful one right through to the end of Kullu Valley. Later, return back to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
In the morning, around 6 AM, hit the road for a quick breakfast. The first challenge of the day is Rohtang Pass (3978 meters). Uncertain weather conditions, incredibly bad roads and potholes will make your journey a torment. The soul-torturing conditions are further compounded by the 2-million odd tourists rattling up the pass in cabs and vans to catch a glimpse of snow and ice. You will cross the pass into Lahaul Valley. There are barely any trees here and the mighty mountains are covered in snow. This is the last place where you'll see numerous shades of green along with a mountain dinner of steamed momos and thukpa. Thukpa is a traditional Himalayan soup made with a mixture of meat and vegetables.
Right after you cross Jispa and enter the Greater Himalayan landscape, whatever traces of greenery were visible, soon begin to disappear. The mountains get dramatically bigger in this part of Manali-Leh highway. In fact, big is a common adjective to describe virtually everything in these parts.
Later, you'll cross over the Baralachha Pass (5000 meters) towards noon. For the first time, you'll get a feel of staying on a different planet altogether, which involve man, machine, mountain and sky. Later, you'll hit the plains of Sarchu, the border point between the states of Kashmir and Himachal. Here, you'll get into Ladakh, and very soon you'll be standing on the Tibetan plateau. In the afternoon, you'll step into our camp at Pang. Now, Pang is a mixture of varying natural formations which include peculiar sandy formations and craggy roads. Later in the evening, you might feel a little sick due to the high altitudes. The only solution is to drink lots of water, fluids and keep off the tobacco and alcohol. Some of you may find it difficult to sleep due to dizziness.
The day 4 comes with immense challenges as you'll pass through the immense flatlands and disappears into the mountain-range-horizon. You'll see a long line of bikers with the odd truck coming down the other way. Today, you'll cross the Tanglang-La Pass, the second-highest motorable mountain pass in the world at 5300 meters. Later, you'll cross the pass and get to witness the first shades of Himalayan desert green at Gaya village.
The roads are much better here and we have a broad, well-maintained tarmac road, all the way to Leh, 60 kilometers from Upshi. On the way, we can see the monasteries of Thiksey and Shey, perched atop of a hill with desert oases at the bases where the local Buddhist populations live. Later in the afternoon, you'll arrive in Leh. It is a busy market town, where the clamor and congestion of any other Indian market is manifested. Later, check in at the accommodation in the leafy suburbs of Changspa. In the evening, chill out over a bottle of beer. Over the next few days, we will explore the unique geography and culture of Ladakh.
The day 5 is scheduled for a full day sightseeing tour of Leh- which has a mixed population of Muslim and Buddhist population. It also houses a large Masjid and a Tibetan Gompa. The main central street is lined with curio shops and has many eating places serving a wide range of cuisines.
We suggest you to give a well-deserved wash down to your dusty bikes and fix all the mechanical bugs that you've picked up along the way. We can take the opportunity to explore Leh on foot and check out the old fort that looks over the city. In the evening, take rest in the peaceful residential suburb of Changspa, in one of the many garden restaurants in the area. Later, enjoy a barbecue night under the star-studded sky, with huge glasses of beer or the local hooch-chhang.
The day 6 is scheduled for a visit to the Pangong Lake- the largest brackish water lake in Asia. The 2/3rd of this gigantic high altitude lake lies in China. We drive north from Leh and then turn left at Karu. The well-maintained Kashmiri tarmac gives way to patchy surfaces and dirt. You'll cross the Chang La (5500 meters) and descend to an army checkpoint at Tangse. We ride along the lake for a while and spend the night at Pangong Resort, a guest house run by the Ladakhi people.
Early morning, after breakfast, following a few quick walks alongside the lake, you will point the bikes back towards Leh. It is a relaxing ride today. Tonight is your last night in Leh so the rest of the evening is free to explore bazaars and visit Shanti Stupa, a huge structure overlooking Changspa. This stupa will let you a spent half an hour on the large terrace below the Buddha. A fantastic view of the Indus Valley and the Zanskar range will treat your eyes.
The day 8 is scheduled for you to get back on the track that will lead you back through the one that brought us in. During the journey, you will give Pang a miss and ride slightly longer to spend the night at Sarchu, exactly halfway between Manali and Leh. We camp out in the meadows, with a thick blanket of stars to mask out the same fuzzy headache we encountered in Pang.
In the morning, you may find us cranking our machines over a few times to get the oil to warm up- an overnight frost may have turned all the lubricants into chocolate syrup. You'll drive over the Sarchu plain and enter Baralaccha plain at noon. A cheerful ride up the handsome Lahaul ranges and it is time to face the great and wicked Rohtang Pass. Here we ride down the pass through potholes and mini-rivers of mud (and fog if we're lucky), through to our hotel in Manali for a good hot bath. Later, return back to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.