The open road, stunning scenery and the breeze in your face – there’s nothing like a motorbike road trip in unexplored country. And there’s nowhere like the Himalayas to do it. Normally hidden beneath a thick layer of ice, the region’s roads thaw out between July and September, allowing access to some of the highest, most stunning roads in the world.
Eager to put that new Yamaha cruiser you rode out of Metropolis Motorcycles to a serious test? Here are just a few of the reasons you might want to consider planning the trip of a lifetime to Nepal and Northern India.
If you feel you were a little hasty in thinking you would risk your Yamaha, leave it in the garage. Instead, hire the local alternative: the Royal Enfield Bullet. Barely changed since the mid-1950s, when the Indian government ordered 800 of the bikes to equip its police force from the then British manufacturer, the Bullet is now very much an Indian machine and is even exported back to the UK. It’s cheap to hire and run, incredible to look at and, crucially, tough.
Take the high road
Head to Kardung La, on the outskirts of the ancient Indian city of Leh, and you’ll discover the highest road in the world. As you’d expect at such high altitude, the temperature drops to well below freezing so thermals and weather-proof gear are essential.
You won’t break the bank
India and Nepal are both inexpensive to most westerners. Fuel, sustenance and accommodation are all incredibly cheap, and usually come with the added bonus of meeting and befriending locals. You’ll get insider tips and a close look at the way of life in this extraordinary region.
You can’t fail to take a good photo
Scale. Sky. Mountains. Ancient customs. Everywhere you look, you will see an unmissable photo opp. And since you’re on a motorbike, you can go anywhere in your own time to get the shots that’ll make your after-dinner invitation to sift through holiday snaps a pleasant surprise for your guests.
Access all areas
Since you’re travelling under your own steam, you can go where most tourists don’t. Take the town of Bandipur, for instance, some 45km from Pokhara in Nepal. Hidden high up in the hills overlooking the Marsyangdi Valley, you’ll be treated to a spectacular backdrop to your ride and a glimpse of Newari culture as it has been for hundreds of years.
You’ll definitely beat your vertigo
When the road ahead is snarled up with traffic fighting to find a way past each other, you tend to forget the 1,000-foot sheer drop to your immediate left. Keeping moving can often take your mind off the incredible heights you reach. And when you stop, to perform essential maintenance or take a few shots of the incredible vista before you, any fear of heights will have long evaporated.
It’s a road less often travelled, but there are still plenty of useful tips and experiences to call upon. OutboundApp.org has a detailed account while MotorbikeWriter.com suggests an alternative way to take in incredible sights.