The Best Motorcycle Journeys: Manali-Leh Road, India

Jul 9, 2012
Outside Magazine
Buddhist monks as seen from a Royal Enfield in Ladakh India

Buddhist monks, as seen from a Royal Enfield, in Ladakh, India    Photo: Timothy Allen/Aurora

From chaotic megacities to some of the most isolated terrain on earth, India is a never-ending adventure for two-wheeled travelers. Grab a Royal Enfield from Bikes on Rent in New Delhi (from $95 per week) and follow the 1,500-mile Grand Trunk Road northwest into the jungled Himalayan foothills. Watch for monkey crossings in the hippie mecca of Manali before snaking over 18,000-foot passes to Ladakh, a.k.a. Little Tibet—a high-altitude moonscape dotted with Buddhist monasteries. Warm up with momos (Tibetan dumplings) and yak-butter tea in Ladakh’s capital city of Leh, then ride all the way to the Himalayan snows of Khardung La. At 17,582 feet, the mountain pass is nearly as high as Everest Base Camp.