Ladakh is a paradise nested in the northern part of India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The pristine Himalayan beauty is a must visit for travel enthusiasts. I have provided details of my ride across Ladakh in previous blogs. Here is a short itinerary plan of a 7 day Ladakh ride. I am assuming that you will reach Leh, the capital on Day 0. Leh is easily accessible by air from anywhere in India. You can alternatively take the long route from Manali in Himachal Pradesh or Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir (Detailed road blog- Click here).
Let check out the itinerary :
Day 0: Reach Leh. You will usually reach in the afternoon if you are travelling by road. It is better to rest for the day since you are in an altitude of around 3500 meters. You body needs to acclimatize to the low oxygen level in the atmosphere. In the evening you can head to Shanti Stupa in your/hired car. Do not take the stairs from the market as it is steep and you can get breathless.
Day 1: Acclimatization and getting permits. The day will also be spent acclimatizing in the thin air. You can head to the D.F.O office to get the Inner Line Permit for visiting sites like Pangong Lake/ Nubra valley. You can get the permit for a maximum of 7 days. It is a very convenient process and will hardly take an hour. You can head on to the Leh palace across the road. In the afternoon if health permits visit the other local spots such as Thiksey monastery or take a short drive to Magnetic hill. Bikers can use this day to service their bikes.
Day 2: Heading to Nubra valley. Today you will be driving to the world’s highest motorable road (accessible to civilians). It is better to start early to avoid traffic jam. It is a 45 km drive along a steep road with the panoramic view of the city of Leh on your left. In 2-3 hours you will reach Khardung La. The descent towards Nubra valley will take around 3-4 hours if there is no road block. You can either stay at Diskit or head to Hunder. Some tourist attractions include exploration of the sand dunes and riding a double hump camel. You can also visit Diskit Gompa/ monastery to get a panoramic view of the Nubra valley.
Day 3- You can return back to Leh retracing the same route. Chill out at Leh market and have a traditional Tibetian dinner. You can head to Shanti Stupa to get a panoramic view of the Leh city.
Day 4– Head to Pangong Lake. On the way to Pangong there are several monasteries where you can stop over for a break. The ascend to Chang La pass is much steeper than that of Khardung La and the roads are mostly bad. You will reach Spangmik in 5-6 hours. You can either stay on the road side tent accommodations or in luxury Swiss tents. If time permits in the afternoon I would recommend you to head towards Merak village on the road along the Pangong Lake. It’s an amazing experience to drive right along the Pangong Lake. The color of the lake changes frequently. It is breath taking.
Day 5– For adventure lovers I would recommend to head towards Hanle. The first 40 km of the journey is just along the Pangong Lake. The road to Hanle passes through the village of Man, Merak, Chushul, Rezang la. The route is not commonly traversed but provides a spectacular scenery of the Changthang plateau. You can spot Himalayan marmout and wild horses on the way. You will not encounter too many tourists. The last leg of the journey passes through Loma checkpost, Rongo to Hanle. Hanle has the world’s highest observatory and a monastery on a cliff. It was my favourite place in Ladakh. It will take around 6-8 hours. Read more
Day 6- Head to Tso Moriri lake (Korzok). The road retraces back from Hanle to Loma and deviates towards Tso Moriri Lake. On the way you will cross Sumdo village where you can see the Puga hot springs. Kyagar Tso/lake is also present on the way to Korzok village. Read more- click here
Day 7- Return back to Leh. The long 220 km road way is mostly in good condition and can be easily traversed in a day
I should definitely recommend to keep at least two days extra in case of any road blockage or bad weather. If you are short of time you can skip Tso Moriri as you have already seen one high altitude lake (Pangong Lake journey-read here)
If you are travelling from Manali/ Srinagar side you can add two to three days on each travel side and make the itinerary accordingly.
The individual distance and route pictures are given in detail in my Ladakh series blogs (Link here)
Other place to see (not included in the current itinerary):
In Nubra valley-
- Turtuk- 100 km north of Diskit, it is the northernmost village of India. It is home to people of Baluchi origin and had been a part of India since 1971. It had a fort/ palace where you can meet the descendant of the Chhorbat dynasty. (Full story- Click here)
- Panamik- around 60 km from Diskit has monastery and hot springs
There is a direct road from Nubra valley to Pangong lake via Agham and Shyok. It is rugged road with several thrilling water crossings. Extreme off-road enthusiasts can definitely try out that route. During our ride, the road was closed as the Shyok river was flowing over the road and swept away a huge part of it.
Zanskar valley and Suru valley- I definitely wish to visit in the recent future
Things to carry for BIKERS–
A puncture repair kit, clutch cable, accelerator wire, chain lube and cleaner, M-seal, spare bungee cords, plastic sheets, ropes . Hope and pray to god that none are needed. If you are riding a bike from Delhi or Manali you must service you bike and change the engine oils at Leh before venturing into remote areas of Ladakh. There is a service center of Royal Enfield in Leh. There is a superb guy near Zorawar fort where many of the riders had gone to fix their issues regarding Royal Enfield. They however do not repair Yamaha and Pulsar’s. I had to go to Stanzangling near Angling where there was a Yamaha specialist. He repaired my leaking shocker and fixed my disc brake issues. The acclimatization day in Leh is used for bike care.
Current road conditions- Click here