Ladakh Preparation Guide (reference)

CLIMATE
MANALI : Manali is predominantly cold. The months of April & May have clear skies with day temperatures ranging from 20-25 degrees Celsius. Night temperature can drop to 8-10 degrees.
June/July signals the onset of monsoons and by August, it rains heavily. Temperatures range between 15 to 25 degrees Celsius.
September has clear crisp skies and temperature ranges between 15-20 degrees Celsius.
October starts to get chilly as autumn sets in.
It can snow any time December onwards and January & February can receive 3-4 feet of Snow.
 
LADAKH : Ladakh is a high altitude cold desert. Summer temperature ranges from 15-25 degrees during the day to about 10-15 at night.
It starts to get chilly from September. Although Ladakh is a desert, in recent years, it has received a lot of rainfall during the months of August.
ACUTE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS
Acute mountain sickness or AMS is caused due to a lack of oxygen at higher altitudes. Headache, nausea, disorientation & breathlessness are symptoms of AMS. AMS can affect anyone regardless of age or fitness. The only cure for AMS is to descend to a lower altitude or to inhale oxygen from a cylinder.
 
There are various ways to try and prevent AMS. The best advice is to rest in Manali for 2 days to be able to acclimatise to a higher altitude. Shanag Village, Manali is at an altitude of 2200 meters which is a good altitude to acclimatise at before going further up.
 
Make sure you are well rested and have enough warm clothes. Drink a lot of water as the climate is extremely dry and could lead to dehydration which in turn could lead to AMS. Avoid consuming alcohol and smoking. Avoid exertion at high altitudes. Take a medicine like Diamox to lower your chances of getting AMS. However, it has side effects such as numbing of fingers and toes and tingling sensations.
MANALI-LEH HIGHWAY
There is a famous saying – It is not the destination but the journey that counts.
 
This is so true when it comes to the Manali-Leh highway. This is by far one of the best roads in the world for any adventure motorcycle enthusiasts. From slush to rocks, stones to water crossings and high altitude mountain passes to smooth tarmac roads fit for a flight to land upon – The Manali-Leh highway has it all. But the best part is the views and vistas that the route has to offer. It is a view one can not get enough of. The landscape magically changes with the weeks and months. Where there are ten water crossings today, there could be only four a week later. The level of snow, the colour of the mountains – everything changes every week.
 
It is best to ride slow and soak in everything this magnificent and mesmerizing road and landscape have to offer. A couple of years ago it would take three days to get to Leh from Manali. However, with the recent improvement in the roads. the 475 km stretch can be covered in two days riding at an easy pace. We recommend spending two days in Manali before riding up to acclimatise to the higher altitude.
 
Depending on the time available you can break the journey in 2 to 3 days. If you are covering the distance in 3 days, then 1st night stop should be Keylong or Jispa, second night at Sarchu and third day in Leh. If you are covering the distance in 2 days, then the first night should be spent in Darcha or Sarchu and second night in Leh. Avoid staying in places like Zing Zing Bar and Pang as these are located at a higher altitude and staying here could increase chances of AMS.
 
The Manali Leh highway is open only for a short period of time during summer between mid May to mid October. The road condition on this route keeps changing. However, here is a gist of what to expect and how to prepare yourself for the ride. Start your ride from Ride Inn and you will get a 6km head start and beat a lot of the traffic in Manali. In the months of May & June we advise starting at 3:00 a.m. as most tourists visiting Manali go to Rohtang Pass. All tourist vehicles leave at 4:00 am, so you can imagine the sheer volume of tourist traffic at Rohtang Pass. July onwards tourists reduce and it is no longer necessary to leave that early in the morning. The road up Rohtang, when clear and not covered in clouds, is by far one of the most scenic rides in the greener parts of the Himalayas. From Marhi village (3,300m), the view of the entire Beas valley is just breathtaking.
 
Post 2013 the road up Rohtang is well paved and one no longer needs to face the nightmare of climbing up the 3950 meter hight pass. At Rohtang top is where one leaves all the crowds behind. Along with the crowds you also leave behind the greenery. Post Rohtang one enters Lahaul District of Himachal Pradesh, a tribal high altitude region with barren landscapes. After Rohtang one will cross a junction called Gramphoo. From there one road goes straight (the Manali Leh Highway) and one goes to the right (Spiti valley). Do try out the meat chawal at the Dhaba at Gramphoo which is to die for.
 
From Gramphoo 43km ahead lies Tandi (2,570m), a must stop to refuel as the next gas station is 300km away in Karu. Another 8 km after Tandi, situated at an altitude of 3,080m is Keylong, the only town on the Manali Leh highway. 25 km after Keylong is Jispa (3,200m), a beautiful quaint settlement with just a couple of hotels and camps. Jispa is followed by Darcha (3,360m) and Zing Zing Bar (4,080m). Do not be fooled by Bar, it is actually the name of a place where an army settlement is present. From there you start your ascent to Baralacha La at an altitude of 4900 meters. Enroute to Baralacha La, you will see the first high altitude lake at Suraj Tal.
 
From Baralacha La you descend to Bharatpur City,  which is not a city but just a couple of Dhabas with LCD tv sets, serving food and providing bedding for a night’s rest. After Bharatpur and 30km from Baralacha La top comes Sarchu. Sarchu is the last point of Himachal Pradesh before you enter Ladakh. It has some decent options for a stay, most of them being tents. Accommodation in Sarchu ranges from basic alpine crawl-in type tents to luxury swiss style tents with attached bathrooms and chaddar/tin structures offering dorm type accommodation. We suggest staying in the tin structures as Sarchu can get extremely cold and windy and your tent could be flapping all night leading to a sleepless night. Sarchu is at an altitude of 4290 meters and adjusting to this altitude is difficult. Reach Sarchu by evening and your body will acclimatize even better. After Sarchu the chances of getting AMS is low and if in Sarchu one feels any symptoms then one can go to the army camp where oxygen is available. Getting a good nights sleep in Sarchu is a bit difficult. However, when one wakes up to one of the most stunning landscapes at dawn, one automatically feel fresh and ready to ride.
 
Soon after crossing Sarchu, a sign board reads Welcome to the paradise of India. You are now in Ladakh. Next come the Gata loops, a series of 21 hair pin bends at an altitude of 4190m. After Gata Loops are two mountain passes at Nakee La & Lachung La at an altitude of 4,740m & 5,060m respectively. Lachung La is followed by Pang, an army settlement at an altitude of 4600 meters. There are stay options here but due to the high altitude, one should avoid staying here. Between Pang and Debring lies a 45 km stretch of clean crisp tarmac fit to race on. This area is called More plains and back in the day this used to be a dirt track. From Debring you begin a 25 km ascend to Tanglang La (5,330m), the third highest motorable road in the world. A 52 km descent from Tanglang La leads to Upshi. Another 14 km from Upshi is Karu, which has a gas station to fuel up. Karu to Leh is another 35km.
 
Note : Every year & every month the road condition changes. The number of water crossings and level of water keeps changing. This is the beauty of the Manali-Leh Highway and this is exactly why one can never get tired of riding on this mesmerizing road. For latest road status updates please follow us on www.facebook.com/rideinnmanali
 
There are a couple of check posts on this route where one has to register with the authorities. Indian nationals need to show their ID proof such as drivers license. Foreign nationals need to show their valid visa & passports. These check posts are in Koksar, Darcha, Sarchu, Pang, Upshi.
INNER LINE PERMITS

HIMACHAL PRADESH

As of 8th July 2015, All motorcyclist need to obtain a permit to cross Rohtang pass to get to Lahaul & Ladakh. To obtain the permit, one needs to fill out a form along with a photocopy of the registration certificate of the motorcycle, drivers licence and PUC certificate and submit them to the SDM office on Mall Road Manali. The SDM office is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The permit is given free of cost.

 

LADAKH

Ladakh being a sensitive region, Inner line Permits or ILP are required for visiting certain areas. Permits are issued from The District Magistrate Office in Leh at a nominal fee and can be obtained in a days time. The DC office timing is from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, however forms need to be submitted before 3:00 pm. For permits, a self attested photocopy of identity proof is required.
As of 2014, Indian nationals do not require permits to visit the following regions. ID proof such as Driving Licence/PAN card/Aadhar card/Voter ID will be required to be shown at various check posts.
  1. KHALTSE SUB DIVISION : Khaltse, Domkhar, Skrubuchan,Hanu,Biama, Dha.
  2. NYOMA SUB DIVISION : Karu, Chang La, Dubruk, Tangtse, Lukung, Spangmik, Manmerak (Pangong Tso), Upshi, Chumathang, Mahe,Puga, Tsomoriri, Karzok,Loma bend.
  3. NUBRA SUBDIVISION : Khardung La, Khalsar, Diskit, Hunder, Turtuk, Panamik.
Foreign nationals are not allowed beyond Spangmik (Pangong tso Region) & Mahe in Changtang region. No permits are required for Zanskar and Suru valley. Indian Nationals require permits to visit places such as Chushul, Hanle, Chumur and other small lakes of the Changthang region. While applying for permits in Changthang, do mention all the villages en route so that one is not sent back from any check post.

 

Ride Inn does not arrange for Inner Line Permits.

SPARE PARTS & TRIP ESSENTIALS

Spare Parts

1) Break cable
2) Accelerator cable
3) Headlight bulb
4) Spare motorcycle key
5) Spark plugs
6) Clutch plates
7) Air filter. ( In Ladakh its extremely dusty and air filter must be cleant after every 500km so the motorcycle can breathe well. Its always best to carry a spare air filter as such parts are not easily available in Ladakh.
8) Chain link
9) Wheel bearings
10) Tyre leaver
11) Puncture repair kit and spare tube
12) Foot pump
13) 500ml engine oil
14) Electrical tape
15) Fuse
16) Plastic ties
17) Small piece of wire
18) OEM tool kit.

 

Trip Essentials

1) Complete riding gear : Jacket, pants, gloves, balaclava.
2) Good quality waterproof riding boots. A good alternative is gum boots as it is ideal during water crossings (use the light weight gum boots made of same material as crocs floaters).
3) Thermal inners
4) Monkey cap
5) UV protect sunglasses
6) Head lamp torch
7) Extra pairs of socks and warm gloves
8) Medical essentials such as first aid kit provided with motorcycle, a nasal spray for blocked nose, paracetamol for fever/headache, medication for gas, vomiting and stomach upset
9) Lip balm, cold cream and lots of sunscreen lotion. Neutrogena SPF 50 works excellent.
10) Glucon D & electoral
11) Protein/ nutribar to keep you energized in case of breakdown or if stranded due to road block/landslide.
12) Plastic or water proof bags to pack all your clothes in before putting in your saddlebags/backpacks.
MOTORCYCLE TRANSPORTATION

The 2 most common ways to transport bikes is by train or truck.

TRAIN :

There are 2 ways in which one can book the bike in the train – As a parcel or Along with the train ticket.
 
As a Parcel : You need to book the bike way in advance as it can take 7-10 days to reach the destination. The bike will be dropped off at the parcel office of the destination station from where the consignee can collect the bike.
Along with train ticket : it is best recommended to reach the station 3-4 hours prior to scheduled departure of the train. This is the best way to ship your bike in the train as the bike is in the luggage compartment of the same train you are travelling in.
When booking the bike as parcel or along with ticket you will need the following documents.
1) Copy & original registration certificate of motorcycle
2) Copy & original of insurance policy of motorcycle
3) Copy & orginal of ID proof such as driver’s license.
4) Copy & original train ticket (only required when traveling with bike in the train)

IMPORTANT TIPS

Avoid going through an agent while booking your bike on the train. First go to the parcel office, fill out the form and pay the required fee for which a receipt will be given. While filling out the form you will have to declare the value of the motorcycle. 10% of declared value will be charged as insurance fee. You can mention whatever value you want to and not necessarily the value on your insurance policy. Then look for an agent who will pack and load the motorcycle onto the train. Loading fees are included in the parcel fee however it is best to pay an agent a little more so that it is handled carefully.
For packaging the motorcycle, an agent can pack it with gunny bag and cardboard cartons. You can also get your own packaging material and ask an agent to pack it for you. A good option is to go to your motorcycle dealer and ask them for old packaging material. Make only a part payment in advance to the agent and pay him the balance only once the motorcycle is loaded onto the train.
The fuel should be completely drained out of the motorcycle before packing it.
At some railway stations they make it compulsory to disconnect the battery and put a metal plate on the packaging, mentioning consignee name, destination and contact number.
Always remove the motorcycle mirrors as these may get damaged during transport.
It is best to carry an original and photocopy of all required documents.

 

TRUCK:

There are various transport companies all over India who will transport your motorcycle with their facilities varying from door to door delivery, to loading and pickup from various transport warehouses. The best option is door to door delivery.
Documents required are a photocopy of the registration certificate of motorcycle, insurance copy of motorcycle and a letter by the sender stating that it is a personal vehicle not for sale.
 
Gati will deliver your motorcycle to and from Ride Inn to all major cities & towns. Their contact number for varous regions across India are –
Mumbai – 07738372191
Pune – 07709005232
Nagpur – 09561011711/01
Ahmedabad – 07600061423
Bangalore – 09741160122
Hyderabad – 08008559490
Cochin – 09567609526
Trivandrum – 09995804287
Goa – 07709005028
Kolkata – 09903002448
Guwahati – 09678002878
Mandi & Manali – 8894704138 / 9318068862
Transporting from Manali : Gati – 8894704138
Nitco transpoters : 0190 222344 / 9816025656
Transporting from Leh : Nitco transpoters : 9469177106
Transporting from Srinagar : Nitco Transpoters : 0941 2495192 / 09419010549
Transporting from Jammu : Nitco Transpoters : 0191 2476865
RIDING TIPS

1) It is always best to start early and arrive early. Make sure your bike is loaded and engine is warm, so you can head out at the break of dawn. By doing this you will avoid a lot of traffic. More importantly, the water level in the water crossing/glacial melts will not be high and will be easier and safer to cross. It also gives you a lot of buffer time in case of a breakdown or landslide en route.

2) It is important to have good quality waterproof riding boots. A good alternative is gum boots as it is ideal for water crossings (use the light weight gum boots made of same material as crocs floaters). If water enters, empty it out immediately, wear a new pair of socks and tie the wet socks to your motorcycle luggage rack or handlebar to dry. The worst thing one can do is ride with cold and wet feet. Wet feet will lead to the body getting cold which in turn may lead to AMS.

3) Your luggage should always be wrapped in a waterproof cover or tarpaulin to prevent clothes from getting wet during rain or while riding through a glacial melt/nallah/water crossing.

4) Being a cold desert, Ladakh & Spiti can be very cold at night and early morning. However post 8-9 am it can be extremely hot. Its best to wear a thermal layer and your riding jacket inners when starting to ride. Once it gets hot you can take them off and put it your tank bag.

5) Try and carry as little luggage as possible. Carry a tent & sleeping bag only if essential and if you are going to camp in areas where accommodation is not available. It really does not make any sense carrying a sleeping bag and tent just to camp for a night, Also, balance your luggage properly. Make sure the centre of gravity is forward and not at the rear of your motorcycle. Avoid excess weight at the rear as this will make the front end of your motorcycle jump up on even the slightest of gravel. Try putting most of your heavy stuff like tools etc in the tank bag/crash guard bags or side panniers.

ATMs, MOBILE NETWORK, PETROL PUMPS

MANALI-LEH HIGHWAY

ATM : Manali, Keylong & Leh.

PETROL PUMP : Manali, Bahang, Tandi, Karu, Leh

MOBILE NETWORK : Manali(all mobile networks) Keylong(bsnl & airtel) Leh (BSNL, Airtel, Aircell, Vodafone post paid only).
 

NUBRA VALLEY

ATM : Diskit

PETROL PUMP : A New HPCL petrol pump has been opened at South Pullu. There is a petrol pump in Hunder, however fuel is available only once a month. It is as good as non existent.

MOBILE NETWORK : BSNL post paid works in Diskit & Hunder.
 

CHANGTANG REGION

No ATM or Petrol pumps in this region. BSNL post paid mobile network works in Loma, Chumathang & Hanle.

 

ZANSKAR VALLEY

ATM : Kargil & Padum.

PETROL PUMP : Kargil & Padum

MOBILE NETWORK : BSNL post paid works in both Kargil & Padum. Airtel will also work in Kargil.

 

SRINAGAR LEH HIGHWAY

ATM : Srinagar, Sonmarg, Kargil & Leh.

PETROL PUMP : Srinagar,Sonmarg, Kargil, Mulbeck, Leh

MOBILE NETWORK : Kargil – BSNL & Airtel, Srinagar – all major postpaid mobile networks.
 

SPITI CIRCUIT

ATM : Manali, Kaza, Rekong Peo, Rampur & Shimla

PETROL PUMP : Manali, Bahang, Kaza, Rekong Peo, Rampur, Shimla

MOBILE NETWORK : BSNL post paid works in most parts of Spiti.
 

PANGI VALLEY

ATM : Manali, Bahang, Palchan, Chamba

PETROL PUMP : Manali, Bahang, Tandi, Chamba

MOBILE NETWORK : Airtel will work from Manali till little after Tandi. BSNL works through most of Pangi

Valley however signal strength may not be the best.

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