The most beautiful leg of your motorcycle tours in Ladakh?
I love the Nubra Valley and its special atmosphere, particularly Sumur, an idyllic little village. I never get tired of walking along the canals, taking in the peculiar vegetation and snow-peaked mountains in the background. And, of course, crossing Wari Pass, not Khardung, to get there, which is the more scenic and less-frequented road.
The most legendary pass?
The Saach pass (4,420m) because size doesn’t always matter, it’s about stamina... Jokes aside, this pass is the most challenging for me and Pangi Valley on the other side is still remote and little visited, just how I like it!
The most beautiful monastery in Ladakh?
I love the view over Indus Valley from Thiksey monastery, which stretches out across the horizon. The view of Diskit monastery from the Nubra Valley is equally as stunning. But my favourite is Basgo monastery, the former capital of Ladakh, which is nestled in a fantastic natural setting and home to some spectacular mural paintings.
The most charming night’s stay after a day of biking?
Without a shadow of a doubt, there is one guesthouse that stands out during our Luxury Tour in Ladakh: Nimmu House, a place with a rustic feel about it. What’s more, they have the best chocolate cake in the whole of India there! It’s the type of place that makes you want to unpack the book you’ve been carting around and park yourself in a deckchair in front of your luxury tent.
Any memorable encounters?
One time, we were riding across the vast Morey plains (4,500m) and a drove of wild donkeys (Kyangs) galloped alongside us in the distance. It really was something! I love meeting elders whose faces are all wrinkled by the elements and time. And I find those old Tibetan-looking ladies gathering the apricots under the sun in Nimmu’s oasis so adorable.
Any anecdotes about travelling in a group to Ladakh?
There are so many! For example, the time we got stuck in a sudden snow shower on Tanglang pass and tried to warm up around a small fire in our hotel-cum-tent. Or when a raging glacial river spilled over onto a section of road in Shyok Valley. We took 45 minutes to travel 500 m that day, trying to gradually get through it with one rider carrying the bike and two supporting on either side. Two of the riders were American, an uncle and his nephew. They didn’t think they would be able to get the bikes through. I remember how they cried with joy, “yeaah man!” when they finally managed it! It really was an unforgettable motorcycle tour!
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Photo credits: Mathias Depardon - Sophie Squillace - Shweta Jain