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The day before starting the Leh to Turtuk bike ride, it seemed like maybe my cousin and I couldn’t make it. Because when we came from Pangong Lake, we both got fever after unintentionally getting wet in the rainfall.

Straightforward that day, I spoke, we’ll see how the body is feeling in the morning, and then take a decision—I ate Crocin at nighttime and went to sleep.

The next day, I woke up at around 8:30 a.m. The body felt ideal for a 200km ride from Leh to Turtuk Village. Though my cousin needs to drive the bike, it’s crucial that he also feel well—Correspondingly, he also feels perfect!

We commenced a little late from Leh, around 10:30 a.m. But, notably, the body was responding flawlessly.

Things to Carry for Turtuk Before You Leave Leh

I stayed at Jig Gyas Guest House in Leh, and upon enquiring, they allowed us to keep luggage in the house.

Since I spent the first 48hrs in Leh and the same homestay, a trustful factor was also there—I felt safe keeping the bags there.

So, I saved the necessary items in a single bag and the oversized hiking bag I kept in the homestay.

Carrying luggage on a bike was a big issue, and two people’s entire luggage was unbelievable on the bike. So, keeping big bags in the homestay was the problem solver.

The things I kept for my Turtuk stay turned out perfect for a 2 days visit.

Also, the nighttime remains cold in Turtuk, and the morning has bright, scorching sunlight. Therefore, I advise you to keep mixed clothing for summer.

  1. Jacket
  2. Cap
  3. T-Shirt, Shirt & Sweat Shirt
  4. Woolen Socks
  5. Trekking Shoes/Sports Shoes
  6. Sunglasses
  7. Sun Screen

If you intend to stay for 1-2 days, 1 single set of the above things would be excellent.

Moreover, please don’t carry all your backpacks; it would be troublesome for you when 2 individuals are there on a single bike.

Aha! Most Importantly.

  • You can get a Permit for the Khardung La Pass by applying online, and the Biker’s association slip from where you rented the bike will provide you with that.

In addition, 

  • You must share your itinerary with the bike rental providers so they can guide you better if anything more remains required on the route you’re planning to go, like any paper or document.

Leh to Turtuk Bike Ride – The Drive Begins

Leh to Turtuk Bike Ride

Initially, I want to share an issue I faced during the bike ride.

  • Keep the visor of your helmet closed all the time. Otherwise, your half-face would tan. In addition, the desert dust would stick to your face. That’s what happened to me—Indeed, my helmet didn’t have a visor!

The Leh to Turtuk Village drive would be roughly 200kms.

Knowingly, I started late from Leh to Turtuk Ladakh, though the motive remains to reach Turtuk before the darkness.

Leh to Khardung La Pass

Before driving to Khardung La, you are required to show your permit and that Biker’s association slip on the way.

If you drive sincerely, you’ll reach the Khardung La Top within 1.5hrs – 2hrs from Leh.

When you arrive at the Khardung La Top, pat yourself on reaching the highest motorable roads—click a picture and proceed to descend.

There may be a possibility you spot thousands of people on the Khardung La pass, as I encountered. Hence, I decided not to spend more than 3-4 mins on the top because the overcrowdedness of vehicles has already created a traffic jam situation. Also, if you stay longer, you can face breathing problems.

The road of Khardung La pass is much better than Chang La pass. However, you’ll find some patches of the bad road, but the overall road status would be satisfactory.

While descending from Khardung La, my cousin noticed the bike brake was not functioning. Thankfully, the bike’s speed was slow, so it stopped quickly.

To find the solution, we stopped the passersby bike riders, and one of them conveyed that the brakes had stopped applying due to overheating—throw the water on the brakes and start after 10 mins.

Exactly my cousin did, and the bike was ready again.

Phew! Relieved.

Food Options on the Leh to Khardung La Drive

The options are limited. You’ll spot a few areas where you can have your meals. Mainly North Pullu & South Pullu.

You can expect lightweight eateries like Momos, Maggie, Chips, and Cold drinks from South Pullu to the North Pullu route.

While coming from Leh, the route will be South Pullu 🠮 Khardung La Top 🠮 North Pullu.

Vansh Tiwari took a halt at North Pullu before proceeding to Turtuk
Vansh Tiwari halted at North Pullu for a Quick Bite.

I stopped at North Pullu for a quick bite before proceeding to Turtuk Village.

Aye! Please don’t expect any shops at the Khardung La Top.

Moreover, when you pass that Khardung La stretch, you’ll get enough eatery places at Nubra Valley.

Crossing the Nubra Valley

The desert of Nubra Valley

We entered Nubra Valley at around 1p.m, but the end destination was still more than 100 km away.

The plan was to reach Turtuk directly and visit Hunder on the way when returning from Turtuk.

Beyond Nubra Valley Ladakh

As per the plan, we passed Diskit and Hunder straightforwardly.

Let me inform you; there’s a petrol pump at Diskit.

In addition, we also kept an eye on the bike’s petrol needle.

We got the bike tank full in the Leh and enquired about the distance the full tank could cover.

We got a response that,

You can cover Leh to Turtuk to Diskit with the full tank. Then, after reaching Diskit, you can fill the petrol accordingly to reach Leh.

Moving forward, shortly, I saw the White Desert of Nubra Valley & Shyok river accompanying—Mesmerising sight!

It got evening, and we were still 50km away from Turtuk Village. However, I could sense that we could genuinely reach Turtuk before the darkness.

For that, we reduced our frequent halts and took only when absolutely necessary.

Reaching Turtuk from Leh

Finally, the Leh to Turtuk journey came to a longer halt. At around 6:30p.m, we reached Turtuk.

The sunset happened, but the red and orange color were visible scattered in the atmosphere.

I started searching for my homestay—Sukoon Homestay. But, eventually, when I got, nobody was there.

Then, I glanced around nearby houses, but it was hard to spot anyone.

Ultimately, after waiting for approximately 45 mins inside. I decided to move to another place as it had already got dark and the chances of someone coming seemed less.

As I picked up the bag to move, I noticed a lady arrive at the homestay. 

She was polite and gentle, and I learned she was the homestay owner.

Immediately, she showed us the room for the stay. I found the room pretty maintained and nice.

As she said a word, I sensed that she could understand & speak Hindi though not fluently.

The night had already happened, and dinner time was inching closer. Therefore, she asked us whether we wanted to eat at home today or experience something else at the Restaurant outside.

I wanted to experience outside that day, so I skipped homemade food for dinner.

The first cafe that drew my eye was Friends Cafe & Restaurant. Hence, I went there to have dinner.

I noticed local Balti-Cusine on the menu: 

  1. Buckwheat Kisir with Tsamik
  2. Kisir with Maskot
  3. Balay
  4. Thanthuk
  5. Veg Thukpa

I tried Balay.

Balay - A local cuisine in Turtuk

The food was satisfactory.

Also, the reason to come to Turtuk was to capture the Milkyway.

  • Aye, you could spot the Milkyway where the skies are clear. Undoubtedly, Turtuk is amongst those locations in Ladakh.

First Time I Attempted to Capture the MilkyWay

After having dinner, we straightforwardly went to the rooftop. I didn’t bring my Tripod deliberately because my cousin was taking it. Also, the bike became so occupied that carrying anything additional wouldn’t be feasible.

I headed to the rooftop. The stars were visible, but a few patches of clouds were also present in the sky.

However, I learned that there’s no perfect setting to shoot Milkyway. Indeed, it’s tried and tested.

Firstly, I tried the following settings:

  • S- 60sec, F/2.8, ISO – 1000

I could see multiple starts from that setting, but the proper Milkyway was not visible.

Indeed, we have downloaded an app called Star Walk 2, through which we can spot where the Milkyway would take place in the sky.

However, we could locate the direction in the sky but couldn’t capture the Milkyway.

I shot the following photograph with the settings:

  • S– 50sec, F/2.8, ISO – 1000
Night Photography at Turtuk Ladakh

I tried different settings. Mostly I experimented with the shutter speed and ISO—I got some soulful shots but not the Milkyway I desired to shoot at nighttime.

Night Sky Photography at Turtuk

Honestly, I didn’t feel disappointed—as I tried my best.

So, my Leh to Turtuk journey was fabulous. Moreover, it was not tiring. Indeed, the mesmerizing surroundings would not let that even happen.

Hence, a fantastic drive awaits you!

About Author

Vansh Tiwari is a passionate traveler who explores every corner. Then, he presents his vision in images and writing. Further, he loves long walks along the roadside!

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