Get Leh’d in Ladakh – Maximum Leh

This post is based on a road trip through Ladakh, in Jammu & Kashmir. This region is considered by many the jewel of the greater Himalayas and this itinerary allows one an insight into this remarkable region.

Karma Yatri is a travel company, that specializes in motorcycle adventures across India and offers immersive encounters for solo travelers, groups and families. We organize trips to Ladakh and you can find more details at “Get Leh'd in Ladakh“.

Through all our trips leading into and out of Leh, we realised that both, the approach from Manali and from Srinagar, takes quite a toll on the rider as well as the days. Whilst this is to be accepted considering the roads you are passing through and the rewards are equally spectacular, but once in Leh, the body already bears signs of fatigue. And with half the trip time already over, there remains but a few days to explore the splendors of Leh & Ladhak.

This itinerary has been devised to give you a,”Maximum Leh” experience. Yes you will have to fly in and out of Leh but what this trip will give you in return, will be beyond compare. We cover 3 radially different directions keeping Leh as our convergence point. A road trip through the enigmatic region of Ladakh. A focus on the diversity of the region, allowing a deeper insight into centuries old culture that has remained unchanged through years. The past 3-4 decades show the imprint of modernity fast approaching, but it’s still nascent in this wide open expanse of seemingly inhospitable land. Remote regions still exist with barely a trace of human civilization, but these regions are dotted with settlements that have survived and thrived over centuries of times passage.

While the classic approach to Leh is from Manali, the road serving as the backdrop of decades of motorcycling adventures, the last 5 years have seen it change and in many ways not for the better. Yes the infrastructure has gotten better but Every day, 100’s of bike groups, budget travelers zooming past in crammed mini-buses, innumerable traffic jams and crowded stops on the way, litter everywhere just take away the feeling of being in this pristine landscape. The Srinagar- Leh route serves as a perfect alternate but we all know the volatility of the situation in Kashmir and the uncertainty surrounding the start of the trip makes this option, often enough, nonviable.

In our opinion, one of the best ways to explore Ladakh is to fly in/out of Leh. Booking the flight ticket early helps but in-spite of the increased cost of flying in and out of Leh gets balanced by the time saved and the predictability of the trip start & end. The following is a video log of an indicative itinerary that can be used to explore Ladakh and its surrounding areas.

Day 1 & 2

Arrive in Leh, spend time on acclimatization, refraining from any activity on day 1 apart from exploring Leh town, the markets and views of the SHanti Stupa & Leh palace dominating the skyline. Start spotting sovienirers you would like to take back, selecet a few stores you will come back to and generally take in the vibe of this buzzing capital, which serves as a transit point for all travelers traveling in Ladakh. Take another day to acclimatize and stay around Leh, there being enough attractions in the vicinity to explore. Monastaries such as Phyang, Spituk, Thiksey, Stok are easy and convenient visits as are the Leh Palace, Stok Palace & Shanti Stupa. Whether in a car or motorcycles, this can be completed with 6 hours and allow a good orientation into the diversity of this region and the influences of centuries of intercultural trade.
Day 3, 4 & 5

Travel towards Khardung La to attemp the higest motorable road in the world. The customary photo at the pass, various check post formalities later, you will enter the enchanted Nubra valley, with its sand dunes and the Shyok & Siachin rivers cutting across a dusty, dry landscape dotted with oases of green. Small self contained settlements separated by impossible distances, its beauty lies in the starkness of the landscape. Towering mountains surrounding this comparatively low valley (3000 M) and the presence of 2 major rivers allows life to flourish, albeit in small measure, maybe decided by nature and its ability to sustain a limited number.
Ride towards Panamik, through prayer flag draped villages and numerous water crossings. Return to Tirith or Sumur for the night. Start early the following day and head toward Turtuk and Balti Ladakh. This region has recently opened to tourists and remains one of the most untouched parts of Ladakh. With a distinct ethnography from rest of Ladakh, this region has historical importance, a political marriage in the 15th century between the King of Ladakh & the princess of this region.The remaining story is part fact and part legend. The roads are fantastic and the scenery gorgeous. Return to spend the evening at the sand dunes and the night at Hundar. Check if Wari La is open and if so, return to Leh on day 5 via this incredible slice of Ladakh which remains less explored due to the fickle nature of this remote pass where the vagaries of nature render it inaccessible on whim.
Day 6 & 7

To Pangong and back. The much sung jewel of Ladakh, the azure waters of this remarkable geographic phenomenon leave one speechless and neither photographs nor descriptions can ever compare to the feeling of the first view and then the journey along its shores. Your journey here is on relatively well maintained roads but ensure care for your night at this high altitude lake. Cold winds, an elevation of 4300 m and a tiring journey behind you, can cause AMS to hit and it does quite suddenly, so ensure you remain warm and hydrated.
Day 8

Take a half day rafting trip on the Zanskar river. Conclude your shopping in Leh, walk through the market, sit in one of the numerous cafes and revel in the past days of adventure and discovery

Day 9 & 10

The past days have taken you through remote stretches on roads that test both man and machine, but these last 2 days are a delight allowing you to see a side of Ladakh which is remote in location and sparse I population but its geographical location makes it of strategic importance and thereby the roads are fantastic. Travel on NH 1 before diverting to Hanu at Khalsi and explore the small village settlements of pastoral Brokpas. Cross the Aryan valley via the Hamboting La and ride into Kargil to spend the night. Depart the next day for a high paced return to Leh, via the moonland of Lamayuru.

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