Leh on Wheels - Plan the Perfect Road Trip to Leh

One of the most precise sayings about the trip to Leh is

Getting there isn't easy; and thats the best part.

Both bewildering and enticing, Leh journeys are more about discovering the ethereal beauty in this hidden bounty of nature.

The capital of Trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India, Leh lies on the intersection of the historic trading routes of Kashgar, Tibet and Kashmir on the momentous Indus River valley. Tourists with the itch for escapades flock to Leh every year. Leh road trips are one of the things on every adventure travellers bucket list and given its proximity with the Himalayas; they assure a great experience.

Triphobo chalks down a list of essential travel tips and things to do in Leh before your get Lehd.

1. Routes to Leh:

 

 

When planning a road trip to Leh, the most important step is to choose the route. The Manali-Leh and Srinagar-Leh are the most popular and scenic routes accessible by tourists.

The Manali-Leh is a mountainous stretch of 434 kilometres and the Srinagar-Leh is 473 Kilometres long. Although you can pick any one of the routes, to explore this rustic bounty of nature, you can pick one route to get to Leh and return from the other!

Gripping natural backdrop, the BRO (Border road organisation) sign boards that greet you at every mile and the diverse geography of this road trip are all set to enthral you.

2. Pick your ride:

 

A road trip to Leh is best enjoyed on a bullet. Riding a classic Royal Enfield with its thundering charisma on the adventurous roads of Ladakh will make you feel like a rock-star!

Here are few snippets to keep in mind before picking your ride:

  • Although there are many options to choose from, Bullet Electra 350 CC (5S or 4S depending on which side you want your gear and brake to be) is the best pick. A Thunderbird is also a good option and can easily carry a weight of 150 kilograms.
  • In case you have a pillion rider, opting for a 500 CC bike will be ideal.
  • Make sure that the bike has a traditional kick start and drum brake design rather than the fancy self start and disc brake system. The former is more reliable and simpler to use.

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3. Renting a bike:

Delhi has a lot of rental companies offering bikes especially for the Leh Expedition. Stonehead Bikes is one such reliable name in Delhi where you can get a good bike and all the necessary paperwork without a hassle.

You can also rent the Biker accessories and riding gear from Delhi which will save you money in case you dont want to buy them.

  • Prep up your bike:

Before you embark on a journey to remember by, here are few things that you need to get checked by a Bike doctor to make it road ready:

  • Clutch Plates (make sure that they are not worn out)
  • Engine Oil, Filters & Piston Rings
  • Tyres and wheel alignment, Handle alignment
  • Electricals & Battery
  • Clutch & Accelerator Wires
  • Carburettor Tuning
  • Drive chain and Sprockets
  • Swing Arm & Timing Chain
  • Air Filter & Spark Plug
  • Brake oil and Brake pads
  • Head light, tail light, break light and indicators
  • Tyre conditions (New tyres are a safe option)

4. Bike Accessories:

 

The route is less ridden and comes with a few surprises; make sure you carry the following bike accessories: 

  1. Helmet: Choose a full face helmet with transparent visor that will provide a better vision while riding.
  2. Back rest In case you have a pillion rider accompanying you.
  3. Spare Tube
  4. Petrol Cans -2 (6 litre each). There is no petrol pump for a long stretch of around 300 kilometres and you need to carry fuel.
  5. Resin Pannier. You can preferably use the iron panniers; make sure that wields are strong. Scroll down to check out the Petrol cans held together by the Iron Panniers
  6. Engine oil: Make sure you carry enough quantity from Manali itself as it is no available en-route Leh. Funnel and Paper Funnel
  7. Motorcycle Jumper Cables
  8. Clutch cable
  9. Brake Cable
  10. Replacement Fuses
  11. Puncture kit including manual air pump and pressure gauge.
  12. Head light Lamp
  13. Tool Kit with extra Spark plugs

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5. What to Pack:

Road-trips can be overwhelming, especially when you have to pack everything you need in something that fits on your back; but thats the point of going on a road trip anyway. This frozen loveliness has unpredictable climate all round the year and the travellers should always be prepared for surprises!

Heres the ultimate packing list for Leh road trip:

Clothing:

 

  1. Balaclava/ driving Mask: Protection against cold winds
  2. Biker Jacket 1: Try and buy a semi-water proof to absorb excess sweating. With in-built Shoulder and arm guards.
  3. Water proof Jacket- 1. Can be replaced by a modest rain-coat, cheaply available in Manali.
  4. Winter jacket 1. Ideal if it can double up as a rain jacket
  5. T Shirts 6 to 8. At least two long sleeved in-case its freezing.
  6. Sunglasses- 1 Pair. Polarization preferred
  7. Night goggles 1 Pair (Optional)
  8. Sports shoes- 1 Pair
  9. Muffler- 1 (Optional)
  10. Bandana 1. You dont want a messy hair in your selfies
  11. Full Gloves (Textile) - 1 Pair. One with good padding on knuckles and base of the palm and Synthetic material. Leather gloves are a strict No-No.
  12. Winter gloves- 1 Pair. Light weight, offering good grip and waterproof.
  13. Socks 5 sets including 2 woollen pairs for the cold.
  14. Tarpaulin- These sheets will keep your luggage dry.
  15. Synthetic long underwear 10. Only 3 if they are antibacterial.
  16. Waterproof Pants
  17. Thermals-2 Sets
  18. Night clothing- 4 sets
  19. Jeans 1 pair. And the one you are wearing.
  20. Shin Guards 2 Hard plastic with steel caps
  21. Gum Boots- 1 pair. For the rustic rides through slush and mud. 

Personal Items:

 

  1. Cargo net (Optional)
  2. Earplugs
  3. Swiss-style Pocket knife: For the Ninja in you.
  4. Towels
  5. Trash bags: To separate used clothes from unused
  6. Safety pins: Little life Savers.
  7. Bungee cords (6 -8)
  8. Power Banks
  9. Duct tape: you can fix almost anything with a duct tape
  10. Sleeping bag/ mat: If you plan to camp under the sky including a flannel
  11. Travel tissues
  12. Zip-lock bags: To wrap liquid toiletries.
  13. Jars of Sunscreen
  14. Sanitizer
  15. Disinfectants and Mosquito repellents
  16. Face towels
  17. Basic toiletries 

Electronic Must-haves:


 Cellular phone with Post-paid SIM card, prepaid doesn't work in the state of Jammu and Kashmir

  1. Camera with extra batteries, chargers
  2. extra memory cards
  3. Power banks to keep your phone alive. A 10K mAh power bank will give your average smart phone up to 4 5 times charge.
  4. Flash lights 

Medications:

 

First Aid kit containing following medicines:

  • Analgesic (pain relief) medicine such as Paracetamols or aspirin.
  • Antihistamine tablets for bites, stings or allergies.
  • Cold and flu tablets and Nasal decongestant, Inhaler for people with asthmatic conditions
  • Motion sickness tablets.
  • Throat lozenges.
  • Antiseptic solution for cleaning wounds or bites.
  • Antiseptic ointment to apply to a wound.
  • Blister and wound patches, such as sticking plasters.
  • Medical adhesive tape, e.g. Micro-pore.
  • Wound dressings, e.g. a crepe bandage, gauze swabs and OpSite, and Steristrips, which can often take the place of stitches.
  • Safety pins, scissors and tweezers
  • Insect repellent containing DEET (Diethyl Toluamide).
  • Sting relief solution, e.g. Stingose (aluminium sulphate).
  • Diarrhoea medicine, e.g. Imodium (Loperamide).
  • Fluid and electrolyte replacement powder or tablets, e.g. Gastrolyte or HYDRAlyte.
  • Eye lubricant drops.
  • Thermometer
  • High altitude sickness medicines

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Food items:

 

Although you can find plenty of food stalls selling Maggi and a hot cup of Chai, it is always good to carry some food.

Keep calm and dont starve yourself. Some quick carry-ons:

  • Energy Drinks
  • Chocolates especially dark chocolate
  • Dry Fruits
  • Cuppa Noodles
  • Glucose Biscuits
  • Peppermints
  • Nut Chikkis/ Brittles
  • Granola Bars
  • Glucose powder
  • Rehydration salts

Documents to Carry:

Being an area under army surveillance, there are bunch of documents you should keep handy. In case of Emergencies, this also ensures that you are tracked and get all the needed help.

  • List of emergency contacts.
  • Photo ID proof.
  • Passport Size photos- 6. You need them for the various permits on the way.
  • Inner Line permits for international tourists
  • Valid driving License
  • Bike registration and insurance
  • Maps and driving directions -who would want like getting lost; unless intended
  • PUC- Pollution under control certificate for the Bike
  • Credit/ Debit cards, Cash and loose change
  • List of medical conditions and allergies
  • Prescription of Medications carried

Prep and Pack on the lines of this comprehensive list and you will be good to go!

Hang in there; we will be back with more tips to plan a Kick-ass Leh Trip Part 2 soon!

 

This list is compiled by Praveen Kumar- CEO and Founder of Triphobo. A meticulous planner and an avid traveller, Praveen just returned from his trip to Heaven (read Ladakh).

You may also like to read:

Bike Trip from Kanyakumari to Leh

Best Restaurants in Leh

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
RENUKA SHAHANE RENUKA SHAHANE

Living out of a carry-on and traversing through the labyrinths of Europe, exploring the wilderness of America, divulging the eccentric culture of the Latin world and re-connecting her roots that sprawl in the rustic villages of India is one dream that she sees every single night. Once Lost, Now Found; Renuka is still oscillating between the paths to choose and the dreams to chase. A believer of righteousness, she likes to trust that her life is in accordant with her favourite book.

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