A Road Trip to Ladakh and back

A Road Trip to 18000 feet and back

Not always does a road trip of 3000 odd kilometers come around asking you to join and be a part of. Not always does it happen in the Indian Himalayas. But when you do get that call, you know you just pack your bags and leave. No questions asked. Especially when the road trip is going to take you to the “Highest Motorable Road in the World“. Yes! In double bold.

Khardung La Pass

Khardung La, The World’s Highest Motorable Road

Out of 500 bloggers from all of India, I had the chance to be one among the 20 to be part of the First and Highest Bloggers Meet at Khardung La. Gold!!! At the beginning of this year in an interview with Livingit, I mentioned I wouldn’t rule out a trip back to the Himalayas. And I’m nothing short of joyous today at the fact that this dream of mine came true for the fourth time in 3 years. I think the best solution is to pack and move to the Himalayas like I always wanted.

This road trip to the Highest Blogger Meet and back took 10 days, 5 SUVs, 7 scouts and 20 bloggers covering 4 States and 2 Union Territories of India breaking two new records and stamping our names in the India Book of Records. I don’t think this feat would have been possible without the meticulous planning by the organizers to make this a resounding success in a place where everything could go awry.

I’m going to break this down to let’s say a series of posts to make it easier for me to write and for you to read. Fair enough, right?

Bloggers at Khardung La

Bloggers celebrate at Khardung La. Photo courtesy: OYO

 

Also read  Tawang - A Himalayan Tryst
The Road Trip

We traversed across 4 states and 2 Union Territories in Northern India, namely Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh covering 3000km (Refer to the map above for the GPS coordinates and locations for technical proof) making it a circuit trip that people generally die to go on. The trip evoked fond memories of my backpacking journey on the very same route 2 years before when I took it the other way around. This route from Delhi through Srinagar to Leh through Manali and back is usually a motor biker’s dream haul. The road trip was organized by OYO, a technology company redefining the hospitality industry in India and abroad and Scout My Trip, the Ultimate Road Trip Planner.

The Scouts

The entire caravan of 5 SUVs was carefully coordinated by 7 scouts some of them who happen to be bloggers as well as outstanding motorists having immense knowledge of the requirements for such a trip. Yes, one of them actually forgot to carry a wrench to change punctured tires. But hey, no harm in making the trip more exciting. There’s no fun when all goes according to plan on a road trip. And it did turn out that the scout (the one who forgot to carry a wrench) actually took not one but two punctures to the chest. Thankfully with the little help from the ever helping Indian Army, the wheels were back on. Please buy a wrench if you plan to go to Ladakh, it makes things awfully easy.

Here they are:

  • Deepak Ananth from Kerala, Co-founder, CEO, Scout My Trip, Mr.Cool Executive Officer.
  • Vineet Rajan from Tamil Nadu, Co-founder, CMO, Scout My Trip, the Joker would love to ask him, why so serious??
  • Neeraj Sinha from Uttar Pradesh, CTO, Scout My Trip, also a living-walking and talking encyclopedia of Ladakh.
  • Samarth Sankhla from Maharashtra, unofficial Bollywood dance buff when not on the wheel.
  • Amit Nikam from Maharashtra spends time as a doctor when not road tripping.
  • Shakeel Khan from Delhi, a scientist with only one aim in life, “Need for Speed”!!
  • Pratik Jain from Odisha, a doc in the making and the youngest person on the trip.
Also read  Leaving my comfort zone

Don’t get me started on their nicknames but that’s coming soon in another post.

Scouts from Scout My Trip

Highest Blogger Meet

As part of the road trip, we passed through Khardung La, the Highest Motorable Road in the world and also held the first and highest blogger meet in history creating two records in one go. All bloggers and scouts gathered at this pristine alpine location and shared stories and experiences at a whopping altitude of 18000 ft. for two hours. Beat that!! Which was then followed by a session of everyone’s favorite high altitude snack, Maggi.

Bloggers at the Highest Blogger Meet at Khardung La

Bloggers at the Highest Blogger Meet at Khardung La. Photo courtesy: OYO

The big OYO reveal

Little did we know about this grand OYO reveal. But at the Highest Blogger Meet OYO decided to treat the blogging community and the world. OYO launched the OYOnauts program, a one-of-a-kind platform that intends to be the definitive site where travel enthusiasts, bloggers, photographers, and writers can share their travel tales in the form of pictures, blogs or stories to earn an expenditure free adventure to the destination of their choice across India, Nepal, and Malaysia. All expenses paid is always cool, right?

OYO has certainly pushed up a notch with their competitors inspiring people to travel and share experiences.

Oyonauts

OYOnauts. Photo courtesy: OYO

The Bloggers

There wouldn’t have been a road trip without the bloggers. This trip was through and through a team event and everyone equally gave in their share of fun, entertainment and of course blogging and photography gyan (knowledge). It’s a blogger meet after all right.

Here’s a list of these bloggers and their respective blogs. I’m pretty sure you would want to see what the fuss is about. But remember to hit the back button to come back and read the rest of the story here, please. 😀

Bloggers at Leh

Bloggers before creating history at Leh. Photo courtesy: OYO

The SUVs

Yes, you can have organizers, scouts, bloggers, location, what not, but there’s really no road trip without wheels. So without further adieu here are the “transformers” of the trip.

Enroute to the Highest Blogger Meet

There ain’t no road trip without them wheels.

2 Mahindra Scorpios, 1 Mahindra XUV500. 1 Mahindra Bolero and 1 Mahindra Thar. Mahindra will be proud. No, seriously! Only Mahindra can take these roads up there. FACT!

The Experience

The road trip was not without its thrills and adventures of the road. But also exciting views, splendid vistas, passing through high altitude villages, war zones, fuel run outs, traffic tickets, police and army checkpoints, accommodation woes, high altitude sicknesses, LANDSLIDES, engine failures, tire punctures and wi-fi/network outages. We traveled across some of the world’s toughest terrains and scenic border locations on the planet. On a side note, the trip was even indirectly blessed by the Dalai Lama on his way from Khardung La.

The Dalai Lama in Leh July 2017

The Dalai Lama passing by

We hopped from one pass to another proving that Ladakh is indeed a land of high passes, a land of unimaginable beauty and only shows itself to the ones who actually make the effort to go there. From the map above, you could probably make out the route’s close proximity to borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China.

Now that you are sufficiently prepared to read the rest of the trip and a whole galore of photographs coming your way, I would like to stop this post here but I’ll leave you with this lovely video.

 More on this trip to follow soon but I would love to hear from you.

Pin this image!!!

A Road Trip to Ladakh and back

*This tour was sponsored by Scout My Trip and OYO.

*All views expressed here are my own.


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18 Comments

  1. SO here I am. Finally getting to be a part of this epic trip at least as an audience, as a viewer to that AWESOME, Terrific 40 sec video that gave me goosebumps, as a reader that travelled with you to those breathtaking sights and as a friend to whom you narrate and set the stage by introducing all the elements of this epic story. Johann, you really caught my attention and managed to keep it right till the end with your words and trust me that is an ability. An ability to make your reader give you all of her attention till the post gets over! 🙂
    Vineet has so wonderfully worded it. The passion can be seen right through. The passion for the trip, the passion for the event, for the group mates, for the location!

    Kudos 🙂

  2. Pingback: Picturesque pit stops en route Ladakh | escapinglife.com

  3. hey Johann,
    it was awesome meeting you and i cherish our black Scorpio conversations. hope to meet you on another trip real soon and yes, i really miss the banana chips.
    P.S.-reading your amazing post is pure nostalgia.

  4. The joker already asked me why I was so serious and he got a shiner. You asked a very pertinent question during the blogger meet as to why you were chosen as one of the twenty bloggers who set foot at Khardung La to create history. Blogging is a very passionate subject for me honestly. Famous bloggers didn’t get famous overnight and new ones get there eventually if they just keep blogging. They reach faster when there is a story about them to tell over and above everything else they see and do. I see that in you Johann. A lot of readers take inspiration from the fact that a person like them can do extraordinary things. It’s not running in More plains or at Pangong Tso or for that matter trek to the Everest Base Camp. You did that all, and came back winning. What I learned during biking still holds true here and I say that to everyone to steps out of the comfort zone. It’s not important as to how many times you fall, but how many times you keep getting up after the fall to complete what you started off with in the first place! Kudos to you and honored to know you. See you very soon on the next road trip! It’s also time you started learning to bike 😉

    • Thank you, Vineet for those really inspirational words. I’m going to come back here and read these encouraging lines each time I’m down and out. It has been such an honor to be part of the First and Highest Blogger Meet and the road trip to Ladakh. There is a lot I learned on the trip but I can easily say that I really admired your leadership throughout the trip. Looking forward to more road trips with you and the Scout My Trip team again in the near future. And yes, about time I got that license. Haha!

    • Neha, it was really awesome to meet you in person on this road trip. “No road is long with good company”. Looking forward to more such meetings in the future. I’m glad you enjoyed this post.

  5. Lovely write up Johann. It was great interacting with you. Fond memories. Thanks for mentioning me and social thanks for educating me about some cool music. Remember the Aawat Jawat fun.

    • Thank you Abhinav. For a long time I followed your posts on the digital space and it was really awesome to catch up in person. Good memories from the trip. Glad you had fun with my music. Let’s aawat jawat again sometime. 😀

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