For the young and adventurous travelers seeking solace for the body, mind and soul, adventure travel is proving to be an exhilarating and offbeat experience. Be it river rafting in the Himalayan rivers, hot air ballooning in Jaipur, or skiing in Gulmarg, the instant adrenaline rush that these trips provide is unmatched by any other.
Joining the list of adventure options are biking expeditions to dreamy places like Manali, Spiti, Leh-Ladakh and Rajasthan. These are capturing the hearts and minds of passionate bikers in a big way. And why not!? For the passionate biker, can there be a greater thrill than picking up a backpack, hopping onto the bike, and setting off on a journey into uncharted terrains?
Minus the window of the bus or the car, the bike offers an unfiltered perspective and an unfettered access to natural surroundings. One can stop the bike anytime, anywhere and admire nature’s beauty and bounty, and still manage to make up for lost time and cover good distance. Need we say more?
Leh-Ladakh: an awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping trail
Ladakh is one of the most sought-after biking trails around the world. It is the highest plateau in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, extending from the Himalayan Ranges to the Kunlun Ranges. Ladakh is a high-altitude desert (a large part of it is over 3,000 m) where the Himalayas create a rain shadow. The largest town in Ladakh is Leh.
This is a place where the mighty mountains will humble you in an instant, where the river runs with carefree abandon, where nature takes on a different hue at every turn across the rugged landscape. These trips are bound to leave you spellbound, shocked, and asking for more.
Srinagar to Leh(419 km) and Manali to Leh(470 km) are considered the two best biking routes with good roads and scenic vistas. Depending on factors like the route taken, the weather conditions, and your time, the biking trip would take 10-15 days. This will give you enough time to acclimatize yourself to the vagaries of nature.
Anyway, what’s the hurry? Ride leisurely, taking in all the wonderful sights—the colourful prayer flags fluttering in the wind, the glistening lagoons, the snow-capped mountains, and the ambling yaks and the scampering horses. Wave at the cheerful children and soak in the scattering rays of the sun.
Take the time out to stop by these magical places along the way: Pangong Lake in the heart of the Himalayas; Namgyal Tsemo Monastery in Leh district, which houses the golden statue of Maitreya Buddha; the scenic and serene valleys of Zanskar, Nubra and Drass; Shanti Stupa at an elevation of 4267 metres; Royal Leh Palace; and Magnetic Hill.
• The best time to go on a biking trip to Leh-Ladakh is from June to September.
• If you are a first-time traveler, do your homework well. Opt for an experienced tour operator that ensures a safe and healthy trip. Pick a specialized adventure travel solution provider who has access to the best bikes (like Royal Enfield, Bajaj Pulsar, KTM Duke) and has an expert teamthat puts together a package that takes into account individual needs.
• Make sure you are accompanied by a tour leader and a tour guide on the biking expeditions.
• Check the bike tyres ahead of the journey.
• Oxygen cylinders are required on these biking trips as the oxygen levelat thishigh altitudecan dip to really low levels.
• What to pack: sturdy helmet, bike spare parts, valid ID proof, driving licence, Inner Line permit, thick warm jackets, trekking shoes, riding goggles, gloves, comfortable clothes, first-aid kit, medicines, map, charger, torch, camera, Swiss Army knife, camping gear, medicines, basic toiletries, water bottles, sunscreen, insect repellant, extra petrol cans, sufficient cash
Be well-prepared and adequately stocked to make the best of thebiking trip, which is bound to leave you spellbound, shocked, wowed, and asking for more!
Author is Operation Coordinator at Cruise