Nowhere in the world will all your senses be tested like they will be on this motorcycle adventure. As us bikers know, when you travel in a car you are in a compartment and what you see is just like seeing it on a TV. You’re just a passive observer and it’s all moving by you boringly frame by frame. On our tours on the classic Royal Enfield 500 Bullet, the frames are gone and you are in the scene. You’re not just watching anymore and that sense of presence is overwhelming.
India has so much diversity and every day your eyes will be opened to something new. From abject poverty to amazing wealth and everything in between, you will hear, see, smell, taste and experience it all. From bustling crowds in the capital, to the vast expanse of space as we cross the magnificent Himalaya mountain ranges. So much contrast on one tour it will still be sinking into your thoughts months later. Like many clients, you will probably want to do it again.
Apart from the overall experience of just being in this amazing part of the world, ( which would be enough for most people!!), we also show you some amazing sights and stay in some unique places like the houseboats on the Dal Lake in Srinigar, the capital of Kashmir.
India/Himalaya 2020 dates
August 12th to September 1st
- Dates ( as mentioned above)
- Tour Starts/Ends : Delhi
- Rest Days: Manali, Leh,Srinigar, Mcleodganj
- Daily Rides: 100 to 200Km ( 60 to 120 miles)
- Highlights: Taj Mahal, House-boats on Dal Lake, riding highest road in the world, staying at the home in exile of the Dalai Lama.
- Accommodation : We stay in comfortable, usually 4 star hotels, and one night in a tent which does have its own toilet and shower area!
|| Arrange your flights to arrive in Delhi today/tonight
|| Early train to Chandigarh; collect bikes.Short ride to Parwanoo
|| 30 km
|| Parwanoo climbing 1/2 day to Shimla at 2200m;explore Shimla
|| 90 km
|| Shimla to the old market town of Mandi ; 750m
|| 155 km
|| Mandi to the picturesque resort town of Manali; 2050m
|| 125 km
|| *Rest day exploring Manali and acclimatising to altitude
|| Manali to Keylong at 3350m ( via Rohtang La 3978m)
|| 125 km
|| Keylong to Sarchu at 4200m ( via Baralacha La 4830m)
|| 105 km
|| Sarchu to Leh at 3500m ( via Taglang La 5328m)
|| 270 km
|| *Rest day in Leh, sightseeing and acclimatising
|| *Morning at Thikse monastery, afternoon to Khardung La;5600m
|| 100 km
|| Leh to the1,000 year old monastery of Lamayuru then on to Kargil
|| Kargil to Srinigar, the beautiful, troubled capital of Kashmir
|| 200 km
|| *Rest day in Srinigar, on the houseboats of Dal Lake
|| Srinigar to Patnitop via the 2.5km Jawarhalal tunnel
|| 190 km
|| Patnitop to McLeodganj in the evergreen hills of Himachal
|| 260 km
|| *Rest day in McLeodganj, home-in-exile of Tibet’s Dalai Lama
|| Descend from the hills and complete the loop back to Chandigarh
|| 250 km
|| Chandigarh across the plains for our final ride back to New Delhi
|| 250 km
||*Day trip to Agra, visit Taj Mahal and Agra Red Fort;return to Delhi
|| Final day in Delhi , farewell dinner, tour finishes. Flight Out
|| 2370 km
* Indicates consecutive night in the same hotel, allowing for laundry etc.
Please be aware that this itinerary is a guide only and may need to change due to weather , road conditions or other factors. Please be flexible, but rest assured your tour leader will make the final day to day decisions only after consultation with our agent in Delhi, local authorities and group members.
Our Himalayan and India motorcycle tour price, including airfares and joining in New Delhi, is US $ 6,250. Riders must have a valid and unrestricted riders licence. Pillions are more than welcome and we also have a limited number of seats available in our support vehicle, a 15 seater minibus which accompanies the riders for the tour- price for pillion or passenger is US $ 4950. Please note that our prices are subject to exchange rates and we reserve the right to alter any pricing, pursuant to Clause 9 of our terms and conditions, up to the date of the final payment.
- Return economy airfare from nearest capital city airport.
- Full motorbike rental for the duration of the tour ( 500cc Enfield Bullet )!
- Clean , friendly, mid-range accommodation throughout the tour, nights 1 to 20 inclusive!
- Twin-share basis; ( single room supplement, additional US $ 900)!
- All breakfasts and dinners except on rest days.!
- Experienced guide, local agent and Enfield mechanics!
- Minibus support vehicle and driver, for luggage transport and assistance!
- Spare parts, tools, medicines, first aid equipment!
- All maintenance costs and repairs, third party insurance for the bikes!
- Airport transfers!
- A complimentary Zenith Motorcycle Tours long-sleeved shirt! “
Accommodation is provided on a twin-share basis and if you’re on your own we will do our best to bunk you in with an acceptable roommate. But if you’re the last person to book, there is obviously a 50-50 chance you will have to take a room on your own and will therefore be liable for the single room supplement. So the moral of the story is, book early or bring your own roommate with you. Or preferably both.
- Fuel and most lunches
- Travel insurance policy covering use of motorbike ( approx. AU$207 for 24 days ) #2
- Tourist visa for India ( currently AU $ 75, valid for 6 months )
- Medical examination and vaccinations before departure ( recommended )
- Expenses of a personal nature such as postage, laundry, souvenirs and all drinks
- Tips for staff at tour completion.Optional but always appreciated. AU $100 suggested #3
#2 Please note that a motorcycle tour overseas must be considered one of life’s more adventurous pursuits therefore personal travel insurance is mandatory. if you wish, we can arrange comprehensive travel insurance for you ( Australian clients only) for approximately AU$207 ( single, 24 days ). Be Aware, however, that any travel insurance ceases immediately on return to your own country , even if ongoing surgery is required. Private health cover or government Medicare resumes at that point.
#3 A note on tips. We recognise tipping is not generally part of the Australian way of life but it pretty much expected in most parts of the world. Daily hotel porters will expect a small reward for carrying your bags to you room, and our mechanics , drivers and support staff anticipate reasonable tips to supplement their modest wages whilst on our tour with us. We suggest something like AU$100 is affordable for your three weeks ( only about $5 per day ) distributed amongst the crew. If you have had a good time we would encourage you to donate generously. (If you haven’t , please let us know.)
- Day 1 of our tour involves the logistics of having all of you fly in from different starting points at different times to all somehow meet up in Delhi. From your first glance at the sprawling metropolis you will immediately begin to appreciate that India is a land of contrasts, a land of diversity and variation unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Abject , squalid slums sit incongruously alongside amazing modern buildings of stunning beauty, like the lotus shaped Ba’hai temple. Five star hotels are served by 1950s vintage Morris Oxford taxi cabs with engines the same size as their batteries. At times confusing, at times challenging and at all times chaotic. Delhi is never still, never restful and never boring.
- Day 2 has us on an air conditioned train, the Shatabdi Express, heading north to the Haryana state capital of Chandigarh. This relatively small city is a much better place than Delhi to jump on the Royal Enfields and ease our way into Indian traffic. We deliberately break you in gently, with a short casual ride of only around 30km to Parwanoo where your hotel has a swimming pool and a cable car to take you to your rooms.
- Day 3 sees us proceeding another 90km along a hilly and winding road to the Himachal state capital of Shimla, frequently alongside the railway track where the “Toy Train” runs on the narrow gauge line through more than a 100 separate tunnels in less than 100km, up to the picturesque hill station. Shimla was the summer national capital in the days of the British Raj, when the entire government would relocate up here for the three months every year to avoid the sweltering heat of Delhi. The main street is still called The Mall where the locals enjoy a daily hawakhanna , their evening stroll. We arrive with plenty of time for you to have a look around and explore this beautiful town.
- Day 4 and we are on our way to Mandi, along twisting roads above stunning terraced slopes such as might be seen gracing the cover of travel magazines in Bali. Densely wooded hillsides flank the many streams of the area. We cross the turbulent Sutlej River in the morning and arrive in Mandi in the afternoon on the banks of the boiling Beas ( Bee-Ahs), a popular river for rafting or angling for India’s famous Mahseer, that monstrous freshwater fish weighing in at 30 kilos
- Day 5 brings us to the wonderful Kulu Valley, a spectacularly beautiful region of lush green hills alongside the Beas. The narrow , winding road clings to the side of the sometimes steep gorge, with the river at times 300 meters directly below us. We encounter a rather daunting tunnel along the ay, 3km through a hillside and without lighting! Make sure you know where the Enfield’s headlight switch is, and slide your sunglasses down your nose.
- Day 6 we shall spend having a ‘rest day’ in Manali, which could mean trekking through the forest to check out a 500 year old temple. Or we can just wander through the markets, picking up bargains in the Tibetan bazaars. Today is also our first acclimatising day, before we start the serious business of climbing the Himalaya proper.
- Day 7 is when we really start getting into it! On with the gloves and jacket liner this morning. As we reach the snow-line the sundial begin to disperse the mists, revealing the most sensational views ever imagined. Endless valleys stretch out in every direction from the 3,978 meter Rohtang Jot, ( pile of corpses) where we enter the remote world of the Lahaul Valley. Your head will be swivelling from side to side in amazement all the way to the tiny village of Keylong, our home for the night.
- Day 8 Every turn into a new valley produces a breathtaking change of colour, texture, formation. Enormously deep river canyons combine with the wind, rain and ice to carve impossible sculptures out of rock and gravel. To paraphrase the English author Douglas Adams, one section resembles the remains of a hundred Gothic cathedrals collapsed on top of another. Several times today we may find water gushing across the road from glacier melt, causing us to dismount if deep; we push the bikes through with ignition turned off to prevent shorting out the spark plug. And yes, the water is cold…Our destination for today is a group of a dozen tents in a semi permanent ‘town’ just before the police checkpoints at Sarchu, ( 4,400m), which marks our entry into the state of J & K ( Jammu and Kashmir).
- Day 9 And it just keeps getting better. the day starts with us tackling the 21 switchbacks of the Gata Loops up the side of a rocky mountain, then zipping flat along a flat, straight, lunar-landscape plateau where nomadic peoples tend to their goats and yaks, which appear to have developed the ability to survive on a diet of gravel and sand! Then its up, up and more up as we climb to the Tagalong La, at 5,328m the second highest road in the world. ( Dont worry , we are doing the highest in a couple of days, beyond Leh) At this altitude the Enfield as well as ourselves may have difficulty breathing the rarefied air- there is not a lot of oxygen up here! Its also cold, so after the obligatory photographs we then proceed to legendary Leh, the Ladakhi capital and a stunning green oasis in this otherwise desolate area. Red coloured run off from the copper rich bulk of the Zanskar mountains ( zans means copper, Kar is white) feeds the sacred Indus river, source of all life in this region.
- Day 10 is a Leh-day ( pun intended!) to allow further acclimatising. Either today or tomorrow we will ride back long the Indus Valley a short way to the Thikse Gompa, a dramatic Buddhist monastery clinging to the side of a hill and eerily similar to Lhasas Potala Palace in Tibet. A little further on, Shey Palace houses a huge Buddha and fine collection of Thankas, ( Tibetan wall hangings). We can cross the river and ride back to Leh via Stok, where the Ladakhi royal family now reside.
- Day 11 has us heading further north. Our objective today is the Khardung La, at 5,600meters the highest road in the world open to traffic! We have the satisfaction of knowing that no-one anywhere has driven or ridden higher in the world than we are right now.This is as close to heaven as we will ever get on a bike! This whole area is actually a military zone and special permission is obtained from the authorities because it is fairly close to sensitive border with China, aka, Tibet. If anyone should happen to get shot, please advise your tour leader as soon as possible ;) We return to Leh again for the night.
- Day 12 sees us follow the Indus Valley, home of one of the oldest civilisations known to mankind. We head west with the river , passing some amazing scenery until we arrive at possibly the weirdest of it all, a “moon-land” of lightcoloured composite rock wedged into a high little valley. We then proceed a little further to Lamayuru, a spectacular 1000 year old Buddhist gompa built in the traditionally accepted manner, i.e. clinging to an impossible hillside. this gompa is the oldest and one of the most important in Ladakh, but even more impressive is the medieval village beneath it. Its a little catacomb of dark passageways and stone dwellings virtually unchanged in over a thousand years and well worth more than just a casual glance. ! ”
- Day 13 will see us riding through Drass, whose main claim to fame apparently is being the second coldest town on the face of the Earth! We then climb yet another pass , the Zoji La at 3529m and continue to Sonamarg, a stunning green valley sometimes described as the Switzerland of India. We proceed through the Vale of Kashmir to arrive at Srinigar, the long troubled but exquisite capital of Jammu & Kashmir state, where accommodation consists of a couple of luxury houseboats moored on picturesque Dal Lake , which for centuries has moved men to poetry and music. Led Zeppelin fans may be familiar with Robert Plants haunting lyrics in Kashmir, “ I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been…”
- Day 14 Srinigar has been the centre of the dispute over Kashmir since the troubles began at the time of Partition, 50 years ago. Violence has peaked and ebbed several times, all but destroying the tourism industry upon which much of the city’s economy depends. In the mid 1980’s, 650,000 tourist each year flocked to the beautiful lakes of Srinigar to enjoy the decadence of lazing on a houseboat for a week. A decade later only 5,000 per annum were venturing to Kashmir, although the position has improved considerably in more recent years. We will spend a day here to judge the situation for ourselves, lounging around on our houseboats or paddling through the city’s quiet backwaters in a shikhara, the unique Kashmiri gondola-style paddled boat.
- Day 15 sees us heading south from Srinigar on a rather busy highway to one of J & K’s hill stations, Patnitop. En route we experience the rather impressive Jawahar Lal Tunnel, 2 1/2 km long, literally right through a mountain. Like the previous tunnel you’ve done earlier in Kulu Valley, it can be a little nerve-racking if you are at all claustrophobic, so the plan is to bunch up and ride in groups. Six headlights are better than one. But the scenery along the river valleys and through the hills is again very spectacular, and the hilltop location of Patnitop offers commanding views all round.
- Day 16 will take us to McLeod Ganj, back in the state of Himachal. Since Tibet’s spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was forced to flee in 1959 following the Chinese invasion of his homeland, this has been his home and the seat of the Tibetan Government in Exile. While the rest of the world seems to have forgotten that Tibet should be a sovereign state in its own right, the Tibetans have never given up hope that they will one day be permitted to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. ! “
- Day 17 gives us another rest day. We may be lucky enough to be granted an audience with the Dalai Lama, or we may have to make do with visiting the Tibetan museum and library . The two is actually in two completely separate sections; McCleod Ganjis where the Tibetan community has settled en masse whilst Dhamasala is the lower part, a 3km walk away. The nearby cemetery and church os St John in the Wilderness is worth a visit.
- Day 18 and we are starting to wind down the clock, as we head back through the foothills of Himachal to complete our loop of the Himalaya. We cross a few more swollen rivers and the latter part of the day sees us descending to the plains to where it all began at Chandigarh just a few short weeks ago. We may need to fortify ourselves tonight for our final days ride tomorrow to the nations capital, New Delhi.
- Day 19 The Grand Trunk Road, one of the great highways of the world and the busiest in India, described by Rudyard Kipling as “ that veritable river of humanity”, traverses the country from Calcutta in the east right through Lahore in Pakistan to the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan. The traffic consists of as many bullock carts, camels, cows and pedestrians as it does cars, buses and trucks , so keep your eyes peeled and your thumb over the horn. We ride the 250km back to our hotel in Delhi, where a couple of celebratory beers are in order.
- Day 20 Today we get to view the road from the opposite prospective. We charter a bus to take us 200km south to the one time Mogul capital city of Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. The magnificence of the Taj Mahal cannot be overstated; it is simply the most superb building and is a must for anybody visiting the north of India. We will also take in the impressive red-sandstone Agra Fort before heading back to Delhi on our air conditioned bus! “
- Day 21 CONGRATULATIONS!! You have completed an epic 2,500km trans-Himalayan expedition! We may have time for some last minute souvenir shopping, then we farewell you this evening with an early meal in one of the popular restaurants in Connaught Place before transfer to the airport for those on the night departure to Singapore or wherever you are headed. It has been a lot of fun! Home sweet home; please tell all your friends.