Essential things to carry on a bike trip to Ladakh

Bike trips to Leh and Ladakh are gaining popularity year on year. Loads of enthusiastic bikers make a bike trip to Leh Ladakh every year during different times of the year. Note that the best time to plan your bike trip would be between June and September for first timers. Experienced bikers who have already done a trip here can try doing a bike ride in the off-season between October and April.

However, even they should avoid the winters as many roads are closed and travelling on those open is pretty risky on account of snow and ice on the roads. Ladakh is very attractive in terms of beauty. Here you can enjoy exciting things. Snow falls here in the months of January and December. So, you can also enjoy snow skating here.

In a road trip to Leh Ladakh, the journey is what you must make the most of. The scenic natural beauty all along the route is breathtaking. A 10-day road trip to Leh Ladakh from Delhi should preferably be via Manali – Leh highway. It is important to remember that a Ladakh bike trip may not be suitable for everyone.

While the high-altitude journey makes for amazingly beautiful landscapes, it also brings with it the difficulty of facing the harsh cold weather. The low oxygen levels in the air makes the view literally breathtaking.

A trip to any location requires preparation. Most times the preparation is with reference to travel planning, itinerary, stay etc. However, a lot of more preparation and planning is required for a Ladakh trip especially for a Ladakh bike trip. Most of Ladakh is a barren heaven. Through a Ladakh bike trip, there are times when you don’t come across human habitat for 100s of kilometres.

If you run into trouble on the way, it is very difficult to find help. Low or no network signals in most locations can leave you stranded with no means to reach out for help. Hence, a Ladakh trip requires a lot of preparation for yourself, physically as well as mentally; and for your vehicle to get ready for the adventurous journey ahead.

Acclimatization, day travel duration, overnight stay locations, preventing AMS, fuel re-fill stops, ATMs, permit requirements etc. are some of the most important aspects to consider while planning and preparing for the Ladakh bike trip.

'Prevention is better than cure', and that here is only possible if you are fully prepared.

leh ladakh bike trip preparation

Important points to consider are:

1. Start working on your physical fitness atleast a month before the trip. You need to build up a good stamina in order to cope up with the low oxygen levels at high-altitude.

2. Take time to acclimatize properly on your way to reduce the chances of getting hit by AMS.

3. People suffering from asthma, heart problems or high blood pressure should take doctor’s advice before planning a trip to Leh Ladakh.

4. Low oxygen levels can lead to breathlessness and even unconsciousness. So, refrain from too much physical exertion such as running around and games.

5. Carry preventive medicines to aid acclimatization and treat altitude sickness. Garlic soup also helps.

6. Headache, dizziness, fatigue and nausea are symptoms of high-altitude sickness. Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking on high altitude to prevent AMS.

7. Stop at Keylong, Jispa, Darcha on the Manali – Leh highway and avoid Sarchu in case of the above symptoms.

8. Stay hydrated through the journey. Recommend increase of water consumption by not more than 1 litre per day.

9. Keep your head and ears covered with something warm to protect from cold weather.

Things to pack for Ladakh trip

1. Soaps, towels, general medicines, bandages etc.

2. 4-5 pairs of socks (must for bikers)

3. Protective wear to carry – Biking gear – Carry all type of protections like gloves, elbow pads, knee pads, helmets, bandana, balaclava, UV sunglasses and sunscreen lotions

4. Clothing – Waterproof winter jacket, thermal inners, woolen gloves and socks, woolen/fleece upper layer, quick dry t-shirts and pants, water resistant trekking shoes

5. First Aid medicines for bandages, fever, headache, cold, cough,ointments handy always. Avoid painkillers when at high altitude cold locations. Carry mustard oil and lip balm for moisturizing the skin and lips.

6. High nutrition food – Carry multiple packets of nuts, energy bars, biscuits, other glucose and food items that quickly energize the body. Appetite reduces at high altitudes, hence frequent snack of these helps keep the body charged.

7. Carry one warm sleeping bag if you are planning to camp along the route

8. Documents and IDs – The roads on this route may not require specific permits for bikers but sometimes they do. In either case, please keep your personal IDs and bike’s documents with you at all times through the trip in case of checking by local authorities or military.

9. Mobile, camera and gadgets – BSNL network has a good coverage in Leh Ladakh. Use a BSNL SIM if available, in your mobile phone.Carry additional power banks and batteries for the phone. It would be wise to save some of the major routes and directions from Google Maps in the mobile phone.

Leh-Ladakh Bike Ride Itinerary

Here’s a quick itinerary of that will be best help you plan and make your bike trip from Delhi to Leh an experience of a lifetime. This will give you an overview of planning your day by day travel, overnight halts and places to visit on route.

Day 1: Delhi to Manali – 520 kms

Take the NH1 from Delhi to Ambala, NH22 to Chandigarh and then NH21 to get to Kullu and Manali. Start early to spend a pleasant evening and rest the night in Manali.

Day 2: Manali to Sarchu – 230 kms

Rohtang Pass, Keylong, Jispa, Darcha, Zingzing Bar, Baralacha La

Check in at Sarchu in the evening and stay overnight

Day 3: Sarchu to Leh – 260 kms

Take only restroom and snack/lunch stops

Reach Leh early in the evening

Day 4: Leh City Tour

Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery, Shey Palace, Shanti Stupa

Retire early for the day and relax through the night in your hotel

Day 5: Leh to Nubra Valley – 160 kms

Khardungla Pass – Highest motorable road in the world

Reach Nubra Valley and stay overnight in tents

At Nubra Valley, you can do local sightseeing, Desert Safari, Star Gazing and Camping experience

Stay overnight at Diskit or Hundar village

Day 6: Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake – 276 kms

Pangong Lake

Local sightseeing

Arrive at Leh for overnight stay

Day 7: Leh to Kargil – 218 kms

Magnetic Hill

Zanskar River + Indus Confluence

Zanskar River Rafting

Stay overnight at Kargil

Day 8: Kargil to Srinagar – 202 kms

Drass Region (Kargil War Memorial), Pathar Sahib, Zojila Pass, Pahalgam, Sonmarg

Spend night at Srinagar

Day 9: Srinagar sightseeing and ride to Udhampur – 200 kms

Shikara ride on Dal Lake

Shalimar Bagh Mughal Garden, Nishat Bagh, Tulip Garden, Chashme Shahi, Pari Mahal

Stay overnight at Udhampur to spend the night recollecting the beautiful and fun moments from the trip.

Day 10: Udhampur to Delhi – 615 kms

Start early morning to take NH44 returning to Delhi.

While the above 10-day road trip to Ladakh itinerary covers most major attractions, there are many more less explored locations that you may want to include here. You may skip a few listed above and make time to squeeze them into your schedule.

Leh Ladakh road trip is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful journeys in India. Have fun and enjoy it to the fullest!
Kalyan Panja