With the first news of opening of Manali-Leh highway, the zest amongst the bikers to conquer the World's Highest, second highest and third highest motorable road droll their hearts. From reading blogs to detailed planning of every minute thing makes the journey so memorable that we count it as a lifetime achievement. No matter what hurdle come on the way, the journey and route is so mesmerizing that it leaves each and everyone speechless.
Manali-Leh highway, a 469 kilometer journey which is considered as the holy pilgrimage for bikers residing in India and abroad. Over the years and with the multiplying numbers of bikers in the country, it has become one of the most sought after routes. It is a journey which tests you as a rider, your abilities to brace odds throughout the way and but obviously your patience in hardships.
Ladakh is world renowned “coldest desert” across the world and is well know for its Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and surreal vistas. Since the region shares its international border with Tibet, it has huge influence of Tibetan culture on its lifestyle. We have listed some of the salient tips to plan your dream ride in a more joyful manner. Here they are:
1. Do your homework properly:
The first step is the utmost step. Alongside the adventure, the ride also brings many unpredictable surprises throughout to pump up the adrenaline rush into your veins. It is always suggested to do your homework responsibly and understand the area which would be a transforming experience of your life. The best way to prepare is to do a thorough research about the route, weather and places you plan to visit. Read as much as you can so that one is acquainted with all the essential information.
2. Physical fitness:
Your mental and physical fitness is as must as you will be riding in treacherous mountain conditions. Simply by sitting at home or in area that are not mountainous, one would be able to predict the weather conditions out there. At some places in the Himalayan region temperature does fall to minus digits. Hence, it highly suggested that prior to this trip, one should focus on building stamina and plus indulge in some breathing exercises that would help you cope better.
3. Medical Kit:
Because of high altitude, there are high chances of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) which affects your body due to low oxygen level. It also makes your body difficult to adjust and adapt properly to the weather conditions and altitude resulting in breathlessness, nose bleeding, headache, vomiting and nausea.
Little did people know about the weather, they make mistakes which sometime proves to be fatal. Don't forget to carry a basic medical kit with tablets for cold, fever, muscle & joint pains, glucose for energy and much more to keep yourself fit during the ride.
3. Route: Despite the Manali-Leh route being more captivating and challenging, Srinagar-Leh route is highly suggested especially if you are a first timer. This route gives you ample of time to acclimatize as the altitude increases gradually as the route and passes are not that treacherous. In comparison, the Manali-Leh route offers a short period of time to acclimatize and throws a bag full of hindrances. Due to this risk, many riders are faced with AMS and as result have to alter their itinerary to cope with deteriorating health condition.
4. Service of your bike:
Get you bike serviced before the ride and carry some extra engine oil of your preference as you might not get that in Leh. Also, keep a pipe to drain petrol, a funnel, cutter, petrol can and extra pair of bungee cords that would come in handy for refueling purpose or any other kind of servicing required for the bike. 'Tandi' in this case is the last filling station, so make sure to carry enough of extra fuel to reach Leh City. Besides these, you are also required to keep spare parts like a tool kit, clutch cables, tyre tube, spark plug, bike charger and accelerator cables for a hassle free ride.
5. Documents & Extra key:
During the ride, keep your documents handy as you would be crossing several military check posts that require one to fill in documents stating your place of origin and other details. Also, make sure to carry enough photocopies of your original document along with you. Documents in your possession must be an identity proof, valid driving license, registration papers for the bike along with insurance.
6. Number of days:
Always keep a few buffer days, since factors such as unpredictable snowfall/rain, weather, landslides and AMS can hamper chalked out itinerary. Sudden mechanical failure in your bike or even a flat tyre can push you back on time thus requiring an additional day depending upon the seriousness of the issue at hand. Riders planning to start from Manali side are required to seek a permit/Visa which takes an entire day to get done with all the formalities. Leh, too requires a Visa/Permit to visit all the places for instance- Pangong Tso Lake, Khardung La, Nubra (The coldest desert and the home of double hump camels), Marsimik La among others.
7. Clothes and Riding Gear:
Now, that you know you will encounter harsh climatic conditions during the ride, pack your stuff wisely. Keep extra thermal lining and jackets as you will experience bone chilling cold. Rain coat or a Poncho are must as the rain gods may accompany you throughout the day. List of things to pack –
* An extra pair of shoes as you will confront many nullah's across the ride.
* Toiletries for example toothpaste, brush, sunscreen and soaps.
* Proper riding gears such as riding jacket, riding shoes, riding gloves and so on.
* Carry a sleeping bag and tent as you might end up staying in the wilderness.
8. Essential things:
* Plenty of drinking water* BSNL post-paid number as Airtel and Vodafone work at some places only
* Chocolates and dry fruits in case you get stuck anywhere* A stove and food ration
* A small size oxygen cylinder
After all this is a one of an lifetime experience that should not be missed anyone especially an Indian. The vastness and grandeur of the Himalayas will always have you encapsulated each time you refer to the idea or look at pictures taken during this expedition that are bound to give goosebumps.