3 of us were planning this road trip for a quite some time by now and the biggest motivation to go for it over other destinations was that this region of Leh Ladakh is getting modified/destroyed/ urbanized and losing its natural beauty so we didn’t want to miss it.
There are 2 famous routes for this road trip: (Travel time is ref from google maps however in actual it can exceed 20 to 30% sometimes up to 50% additional time)
- Manali-Leh (473 km, 13 hours 17 mins)
- Srinagar-Leh ( 421 km, 10 hours 38 mins)
We decided to go with the option 2 simply because its easier than Manali-Leh route, Manali-Leh route has more streams and highway faces uncertain landslides thereby causing closure. whereas the other option is less risky and more scenic due to Jammu and Kashmir beauty. We planned the whole trip to be for 8 days.
Flight: Pune-Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar (8.5 hours)
Time: August 20- August 28, 2018
This is an extremely important thing as the RoadTrip is going to test to your fullest potential. we packed the following things, each serving a purpose.
3–4 Trousers with 7–8 t-shirts, A sweet-shirt and a sweater, Jacket for driving, gloves, transparent and polarised goggles, ankle long shoes, raincoat, dental kit, medicine for high altitude sickness (Advised to consult your doctor, Do not underestimate this problem as we faced a lot of problem on the way to Pangong and at Pangong Lake), Volini spray (extremely necessary as your body will face cramps and pain. we used them every night. :D)
Things you will get there: Helmet, Fuel cans, bungee etc.
Day 1 (Srinagar Local)
Landed in Srinagar City at 9:30 AM took a cab from the airport to the hotel ( You might find the cab rates more but those are standardized by the taxi union and don’t be rude while bargaining they might not like it, remember this throughout the trip) The hotel we stayed in was in a well-connected area called Rajbaug and had good food too. link: Comrade Inn Srinagar
First half was spent in Jetlag and then we went looking for the bikes on rent. We got two options which were very good and friendly people. (You’ll find the contacts on the webpage)
After getting the bikes sorted we visited a place called Winterfell cafe near Dal Lake to chill. Quite surprised to see so much GOT Love.
Dinner was at a Restaurant called Stream Restaurant near dal lake which serves authentic Kashmiri cuisine.
Day 2 (Pahalgam to and fro)
We decided to go to Pahalgam (Earlier we had decided Gulmarg but it is more beautiful in snowfall which is typically from Nov-Feb) which is 86 Kms by google but took us 110 km (Via Anantnag) as few roads were closed due to military activities, this happens quite regularly so don’t panic and keep your bike tanks full.
We started our journey at 11 AM and got back at the hotel by 8:30 PM so it was a full day for us. Recommend to do one spot/destination a day as you may require additional time than google maps and in case if bike faces any problems.
Day 3 (Srinagar to Kargil)
Always recommended to leave early every day so that you can make it early thereby get extra time to bargain a good hotel and get enough time to enjoy the views.
In between the Zoji la pass will give you a tough time, which takes around 1–1.5 hours and you will have to maintain a speed of 20–25 there.
On the way, you’ll find a beautiful place called Sonmerg where we stopped for lunch. Its also known as mini Switzerland.
Do take pitstops every 40–50 km as it gives bikes a necessary time to cool down to avoid breakdown. Recommended eating more of veg food than non-veg as it becomes heavy on digestion. Carry protein powder to maintain your daily macros.
if someone suggests visiting LOC which is nearby, highly recommended “NOT to do it” as the path is small and dangerous and LOC has a high danger/risk overall. Kargil city on other hand is very safe.
Day 4 (Kargil to Leh)
Kargil is 2nd biggest city in Ladakh Province and looks beautiful in the morning. Make sure you fill your tanks full as fuel pumps are not available till Leh city.
The best food you’ll get is Maggi noodles!
On the way, Lamayuru village is the best lunch pitstop and has few good restaurants to go to. Lamayuru monastery is also a destination which can be visited.
The roads from Kargil to Leh were the best and got us there in optimum time but as suggested earlier, do keep the tanks full and don’t trust google maps fully as it may take 20–30% up to 50% more time.
Day 5 (Leh Local)
Permit: Leh city and other places onwards(Nubra, Pangong, Hanle, Tso moriri) that need a mandatory permit which can be issued online with payment confirmation but needs sign and stamp from the local office without which you can’t proceed further from the various checkpoints. (Recommended to finish this online before the trip and mark all the district as it costs the same.) link: http://www.lahdclehpermit.in/
If you’re coming from Srinagar or Manali you might face problems in taking the same registration bikes ahead, as it might not be allowed as Leh as a city is highly dependent on the tourist income. If you arrive by evening you can bargain and get a good deal on hotels.
Leh is the largest city in Ladakh province. Leh seems quite crowded as you enter the city but gets sparsely populated as you go ahead. try to choose hotels away from the main market as it will give you enough freedom and space.
Leh city as pretty awesome food and comfy cafes to choose from. The shopping there is a must!
Nearby (20–22 km ) is located Thiksey Monastery and is a must visit. The mesmerizing views deserve a chance.
Leh city is quite cozy and cold and safe but roads go empty after 9–9:30 so to avoid any problems recommended to get to the hotel.
Day 6 (Leh to Pangong Lake)
We decided to leave early to keep enough buffer time. the first 45 km patch of Leh-Manali highway is amazing to ride but then the road becomes tough for next 30–40 km. You need to keep your tanks full and carry extra cans as fuel will not be available at Pangong (total of 400-450 km)
The patch of 12–15 km before and after Changla cafe point is a challenging road and can face a landslide. Drive safe and do not forget to wear helmets.
Pangong Lake has all the accommodation in the form of tents and might get a bit cold so take extra thermals to wear.
Day 7 (Pangong Lake to Leh)
Again try to leave early as the buffer helps for a variety of reasons like bike failure, photos, lunch, and good bargain once get back at Leh city.
The streams will be less if left early and can help mini heart-attack moments :P
Day 8 (Leh Local)
After the debate, if to do just Khardungla pass we decided to stay in the city and chill before we leave.
Shanti Stupa is a perfect evening ‘chai’ destination with a view.
Leh-Ladakh road-trip is something which will not cost that much and will give you the highest amount of satisfaction come peace to you. A must go destination will create memories for the lifetime.
- Planning - https://www.bruisedpassports.com/india/leh-ladakh-road-trip-itinerary-planning
- Leh-Manali highway - https://www.dangerousroads.org/asia/india/96-leh-manali-highway-india.html
- Zojila-Sonmerg -https://www.tripadvisor.in/Attraction_Review-g2282345-d3682486-Reviews-Zojila_Pass-Sonamarg_Ganderbal_District_Kashmir_Jammu_and_Kashmir.html