I completed my dream route on 24 Th July 2012.
It took me one complete month, from 25 Th June2012 to 24 Th of July 2012.
I covered 3,950kms on my bike Hero-Honda CD100SS, 18 year young (no problem at all). I was alone (I am 63 running) and I enjoyed it completely without any bad incident (Thanks for the Tourist-Friendly atmosphere from Jammu to Leh to Manali).
I was carrying about 42kg luggage of which 50% was never used, I could have survived without 75% of it (good lesson for me for the future trips; yes you require many things- just in case - but you can do without them if you learn to manage and ready to take some risks).
1. Pune to Jammu > by rail with my bike in Luggage van.
I have recorded my route on my GPS and have complete recording of route with time and elevations. I took over 1,500 photographs and 850 of them are geotagged.
1. Route Srinagar to Leh is easy.
2. Route Manali to Leh is challenging and more interesting.
3. On Srinagar to Sonmarg is Greenery.
4. From Keylong to Manali is Greenery.
5. Rest all Himalaya looks deserted except in the valleys, you can see life and farming in the valleys only and that too very small population.
6. Life here is harsh, the climate is worst, survival is difficult.
7. From Jammu till Kargil the population looks like Muslim dominated and From Kargil to Leh till Tandi bridge it looks like Buddhist dominated.
8. Military Presence is remarkable and yes they are very cooperative with tourists. Amarnath Ytra route is very well and heavily protected by them.
9. From Jammu to Leh to Manali Route and the surrounding valleys are Tourist Friendly and so solo riders just don’t worry, because I did it all alone on my motorbike. However, be alert and be quick to leave or avoid the sensitive areas in and around Kashmir Valleys.
10. Enough ATM on the route, so you need not carry much cash. Also I did not have any problem with 500 and 1000 rupee notes. But the currency-notes you get back as change are so soiled and in bad condition that you better keep your change with you.
11. Also you find sufficient Petrol Pumps, petrol is of good quality. Keep your tank always full wherever you see a petrol pump. Also bikers should keep a spare can of 10 liters in spare even though they may not need it on the highways but if you venture in the valleys like Suru/Zanskar/Nubra/PangongLake the spare can of Petrol is must.
Petrol available on Dhabas is double the original rate, e.g. 150 to 200 Rs a liter and I have no knowledge about the quality.
Beware of your motorbike average Petrol Consumption. My bike CD100SS was in totally good condition and was giving me average ot 70kms in Pune, when I went to Suru Valley from Kargil (after Sanko) to Rangdum my average came down to between 15 & 20 kms per Liter, I had to return and could not go to Zanskar Valley further. Otherwise also your Petrol consumption is too high because of 1st & 2nd gear driving and low oxygen for combustion at high altitudes.
13. Taking your own tent and sleeping bag with you is bad idea for solo riders or otherwise also because you don’t need it. Since the whole region is Tourist business oriented, you get shelter of your budget (between Rs 100 & 1500 per person per day). Besides finding a location for pitching your tent is difficult and risky due to landslides and unfriendly environment.
14. Your bikes should be in excellent conditions and tested for long and rough road rides. If you face bike failure or flat tire it is your bad luck, even your spare parts won’t help. You are on a adventure mission so be prepared for the worst, even a puncture can cost you 2/3 days in remote places. My advice is to keep the eatables with you always along with spare water bottles. But Puncture is very very rare, I did not face it or even did not check the air pressure during my almost 4000kms. I had fitted a pair of new button tyres with new tubes.
15. Food: God bless you. Just adjust yourself for whatever you get. Maggy is a regular dish available along the route and at every corner and eating it regularly is again a bad idea, leads to constipation. Try eating something raw like cucumber, green peas, carrots, Aloo-bukhar, Aaru fruits, Khumani, water melon or something like that with lot of moisture, juicy and fibrous food. You don’t get bread in Laddakh region (except Leh), instead you get roti and rice, see how long you can eat it. In Leh you can get good food options, Kargil is also better for non veg options. Also you have to spend substantial on bottled water, the normal drinking water quality is good everywhere but better to add chlorine drops for purifying it. I did so.
16. High altitude sickness: I was taking dimox tablets twice a day right from Sonmarg to Leh to Manali and I did not face any HASicness at all. Even at Khardungla I was at ease and comfortable.
17. Beware of truck drivers, let them go first. Especially if they are climbing, they don’t stop even if you are in front of them because they don’t want to lose their momentum.
18. Lastly Khardung La is the easiest once you reach Leh. Just 39kms easily negotiable road. The only problem is High Altitude Sickness for you if you have not properly Acclimatized and for your bike if it is not properly tuned. By my opinion if you go to Leh from Srinagar you are properly(steadily/gradually) acclimatized but if you go from Manali to Leh your climb is fast and you get less time to acclimatize.
For your bike the timing, tappet setting, carburetor air setting should be perfect and the air filter should be clean. Also check the sparkplug gap and should be clean too.
Drive steadily and do not overload your engine, let it go by it’s own speed. Take no extra load on bike unless you are going further into Nubra Valley. Don’t forget to take Xerox copy of your permit.
Thermal wear and raincoat is must since the climate changes suddenly. It happened to me, when I was 9kms away the clouds started gathering, last three kms I travelled in clouds and last few minutes to reach it started snowing. I was so worried that was I reaching there or not and I did not have time to think about the raincoat I was carrying. The snow melted on me and soaked inside my thermal jacket and hand gloves. My fingers turned blue and back of the hand became blackish. I could not see through the helmet so I lifted the glass and the snow entered on my face and into the helmet. It happened fast and I came back fast, I was in the Khardungla Pass for just 10 to 15 minutes. Everything became normal once I climbed down, but it took some days for my fingers to come to normal colour. Anyway when I told this to others they said I was lucky to get such experience at Khardung La. Lucky me, lucky my fingers and lucky my face too (black turned white and then original again!).
But Belive me Kardung La is easy once you reach Leh. Don’t miss it.
Well there is lot you can ask and I can tell about my experience but here this seems enough, so write to me to [email protected].
Greetings to you all from Pune,
Ok this was not the exact trip I had in mind and as the title of this thread suggests. The following changes took place when I actually did it.
1. Pune to Jammu I travelled in train with my bike.
2. Vaisho Devi and Amarnath Yatra were not in my agenda, but I did it as soon as I started my Journey and it took me 5 days. But it was a great start, not only for acclimatizing to high altitude but also for the hardship that was to follow.
3. Amarnath Yatra is I think the toughest Pilgrimage and the adventurers should do it by trekking. It was a totally different lifetime experience for me and I still don’t believe that I have done it (recently I learned that about 100 people have died this time in this Pilgrimage). For me it was tougher than Leh Laddakh trip. Combined together it was more than I had dreamed a great and fantastic trip.
4. Well this was my first experience in life, alone in totally unknown territory continuously away from home for one month. At the end I was content, the Monsoon was almost at the footsteps of Himalaya, I was carrying too much of luggage and so I decided to come back and postponed my Hrishikesh-Chardham Plan. But I stretched it further and from Manali via Delhi I came back to Pune soaking in the rains for five days on my bike.
And what more a biker’s joy can be? I travelled in the heat of Jammu, the Greenery and beauty of Sonmarg and Manali, the high altitude passes like Taglang La, Fotu La, Rohtang La, Khardung La, between the ice walls of Zozi La, the rough and narrow roads of Leh Laddakh route, the thrilling drive by the edge of valleys, driving through landslide regions, pushing the bike through ice-cold overflowing dangerous streams on the way, challenging More Plains and it’s dust and desert, suffering in the chilled wind and snowfall, the blowing wind, the all alone aloneness, the lashing rain, the dust in Himalayas and chocking smoke on the highways, the dehydration, the hunger, the all time risks and uncertainties ahead, different food different culture, different people, different terrain, unfriendly continuously changing climate, rigorous day travel and restless nights in the tents. Man I had it all. The Joy descended upon me at the end ‘Oh my God I did it!’ It is the experiential thing, the Joy, and that is your reward that comes from within, no one’s praise is required.
Believe me you can do it too and fulfill the desire of thrill. Don’t you ever think that you are alone and you are the only one, you meet many likeminded crazy people in Himalayas. You meet people even more adventurous; people who travel on bicycle all alone, the trekkers older than you going for more dangerous treks and heights than Khardung La. I saw a man all alone who was walking in Himalaya. I met two girls who had come from Holland with their BMW motorbikes. I met bikers who had come even from south India. Never be in hurry, don’t plan too much, and accept whatever comes your way.
Amazing trip Sir. Waiting for the gpx/kml file of your route. Also like to see the geo tagged photos in google earth or any other pictorial web site. Do not forget to write a detailed log here. Congratulation for such a great trip.