We woke up around 6:30 in the morning, it was bit bright outside so we got up from our comfort zone to check out what Sarchu looks like. We were awestruck when we stepped out of our tents, snow capped mountains everywhere. The temperature was around 5-6 degrees, it was cold but we had our woollen clothes put on. We saw the name of our camp in the morning, it was called Goldrop Camp. I guess we were too tired the previous night to notice the name of the camp we entered. We just wanted a shelter to beat the cold, some hot food for the climate and a place to rest our backs. The staff gave a bucket of hot water for the morning rituals. There is water scarcity, so 1 bucket of hot water per room. Once we were ready we had good breakfast and it was time for us to leave to Leh!
Keep in mind - before we started riding we had to kick start 20-30times to start our bikes. Due to the temperature it's very hard to start the bikes in 1-2kicks. It is also necessary to 'open the lid of the petrol can and then close it after a couple of seconds'. Due to the altitude a pressure is created in the cans and the petrol erupts if we open all of a sudden. We do this 'everyday morning' before we mount the petrol cans on our bikes.
Today's route map:
Sarchu - Pang - Upshi - Karu - Leh! (260kms).
When we started riding we found out that there is a Tsarap river that flows next to our tents. So you could imagine the view of the place. Camps either side of the road, a river next to the camps and these two are situated between the mountains.
Our first stop was after the Gata Loops around 40kms after the camps. Going in and out of Gata Loops was thrilling as well as amazing. There are more than 20 hairpen bends, lot of curves, good roads and adding altitude to that is an adrenaline rush. We rode fast and sometimes slow to enjoy the scenery and stopped once to take pictures.
Our next stop was Lachulung La, a short tea break, which is about 20kms from Gata Loops. The view is beautiful and you can see the entire plateau from here. Since it was almost afternoon we did not feel that cold, all we had to do is sip some hot tea, eat some biscuits and change our socks as we had crossed a water stream just before the pass. We had purchased water resistant shoes and water proof shoes but it was of no use once the water gets inside. One benefit was it used to get dried up early when compared to other shoes.
We continued our journey towards Pang, where we had planned to have our lunch. We reached Pang around 3-3:30pm as the roads were terrible. The entire stretch was off-roading. We were hungry and tired by the time we reached Pang. We ordered rice and rajma masala as we did not have patience to wait for the food that needs to be cooked. The meals were delicious and we got the best hospitality here. The food tent was run by an elderly couple who came out running in folding hands and requested us to try out food in their tent when we were looking for some good looking food tents (that's how our mind thinks. Good Looking Food Tent = Good Food). There were no people inside, not sure of the reason and the other food tents were running full. Atlast we were very happy about the food, the way we were treated or greeted and we did not hesitate to pay some extra money as tips. They too were very happy seeing extra penny and told us to please stop here when we were returning to Manali. We all said "Yes" at once.
We started riding towards Leh! Each and everytime we stop the first thing we do is open Google maps to see how nearer we are getting to Leh, the numbers seems to be reducing slowly! The road is from Pang is slightly bumpy and can test your vehicle's suspension and your stomach. They are called as Moore Plains. There are no curves, hairpen bends, ascent or descent, just straight roads where your can take off your legs from the gear leaver and stretch them for a while. The roads are good and clean so that you can also take your eyes off from the road to see the scenery, this is the only place where we touched 100kmph in the entire journey. The next stop is Tanglang La, one of the highest passes and claimed to be the 2nd highest motarable pass. The ascent from Moore Plains is like driving towards the clouds given that you are so close as well. A small tea break, have some quick bites and get ready with your cameras to click some amazing photos of the mountains.
As we descent from Tanglang La, we head towards Upshi, a quaint and picturesque village, where we have planned to take some time off and have Maggie, nothing else comes to your mind at this time and the only food that suits the weather. Not much to ride as we are just 1hour from Leh.
It was around 7:30pm when we reached Leh! Since we had already booked rooms, we went straight to the lodge. We checked in to our rooms and went to the main bazar in Leh to do some shopping. It's a great place to buy woollen clothes and souvenirs. After shopping we went to a German Cafe to have our dinner, a very nice place to eat and the cafe was hardly 5mins walk from the Hotel Admiral - Leh, that's where we are going to stay for the next two nights. We will definitely need some extra sleep as we have travelled about 500kms in 2days.
Sarchu to Pang - Bad and Dirt Track
Pang to Tanglang La - Good and Little Bumpy
Tanglang La to Leh - Very Good.