If you are reading this, I see that Leh-Ladakh has been on your mind since quite some time now. I have compiled a comprehensive itinerary to the dream land Ladakh - The Land of High Passes. I am writing this post from a perspective of a rider, who has completed this circuit successfully. The itinerary starts from Manali and ends at Jammu.
Day 1: Manali
This is the day when you arrive in Manali. You are probably driving from Delhi or planning to ride from Manali itself. Since this drive is gonna be long enough it is advised to have a rest day at Manali if riding from Delhi. Get your bikes checked for issues if any. Make sure you double check everything about your bike here, unless you have hired a mechanic for your trip, who will come along. Most importantly, get your permits ready!
Day 2: Manali to Keylong
With the opening of the Atal tunnel (aka Rohtang Tunnel) along the Leh-Manali highway, the time and distance between Manali and Keylong has been significantly reduced. The road which was once dreaded among bikers and travelers alike has just become a journey of fewer than 2 hours compared to over 6 hours before.
Day 3: Keylong
This is the most happening day of the trip. You would find everything from simple streams running across the roads to some deadly ones, to the turquoise blue waters of some of the most beautiful lakes like Deepak Tal and Suraj Tal.
Day 4: Sarchu
The Day of High Passes. This is the longest you will ride on a single day during this journey. This ride is difficult. Although there is an overall drop in altitude from Sarchu to Leh, you would pass through some of the highest passes along ranging from 15,500 ft (at Nakeela Pass) to 17,500 ft (Taglangla Pass). The Gata loops and the Moore plains along the highway from Pang to Leh is the highlight for today.
Today is the rest day. After riding for 3 days non stop and covering close to 500km, both you and your bike needs rest. You would need to acclimatize for at least a day before you continue the onward journey.
Day 6: Magnetic Hills
Enjoy a lazy ride in the city of Leh and visit some of the nearby monasteries and other places. You would witness some of the calm and serene regions of Ladakh when you visit these monasteries. If you are a shutterbug like me, ask no more! The mesmerizing calmness in the air makes you forget everything for a while.
Day 7: Nubra Valley
Khardung La was once deemed the Highest Motorable Road at 18,379 ft. There were lot of debates about the incorrect altitude measurement. Many reports proved that the altitude was actually 17,582 ft. However, with the new road to Umling La Pass at 19,300 ft built by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in November 2017, has put a rest to all the discussions about whether Khardung La was really the highest motorable road. Nubra Valley is a beautiful valley along the Nubra river, which offers a picturesque view of the sand dunes at the valley.
Day 8: Pangong Lake
Pangong Tso - Tso meaning Lake, has gained a lot of popularity after the ending sequence of the Bollywood movie 3 Idiots. Since then, the place has seen more travelers and tourists than ever. Nonetheless, the place is a must visit if you are in Leh!
The blue turquoise waters of the lake against the mighty mountains in the backdrop is a sight you would cherish forever!
Day 9: Changla Pass
The road from Pangong is good for about 10-15 kms, after which the condition deteriorates. The road near Chang La pass is pathetic, and there will be streams near Chang La. Again, after Chang La, the roads are better near Sakti village.
Day 10: Dras
Today you would witness the best views of this entire trip! Be prepared to be blown away by the picturesque landscapes and views! Also, the War Memorial at Dras simply cannot be missed.
Day 11: Srinagar
Get ready to be blown away by the beauty that is called Jannat meaning Heaven, another name for Kashmir! Beautiful fields, valleys, and mountains! Also, today you will cross the dreaded Zojila Pass. Since you reach Srinagar in the afternoon, you can book a boat house and enjoy a beautiful evening on the boats at Dal Lake.