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Old 9th June 2021, 11:54   #16
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

When travelling extensively in the deeper Himalayas, the vehicle needs to have certain features that we don't think about at other times.

1. Must be reliable enough not to have frequent niggles or breakdowns;
2. Must be able to run on bad fuels, whether petrol or diesel (fuel in the deeper Himalayas is not as clean as in our metros) - I'd prefer petrol today due to the ease of starting in sub-zero temperatures;
3. Must be easily repairable locally, preferably with authorized service centre and spares support;
4. Must have sufficient ground clearance (at least 180-190 mm at the diff / sump);
5. Can be 4x2, but 4x4 with low range transfer case gets one going past awful roads which 4x2 cannot negotiate. Freshly cleared landslides and streams with boulders are cases in point;
6. Must have sufficient luggage space to carry anticipated essentials and spares;
7. Must run common tyre sizes with higher profiles of sidewalls (not less than 60-65% profile) which are easily available in the Himalayas.

Based on the above, some of the vehicles that perfectly fit the task are:
- Mahindra Bolero (including 4x4 option)
- Mahindra Scorpio (including 4x4 option)
- Toyota Innova
- Toyota Fortuner
- Suzuki Gypsy (and the to-be-launched Jimny)
... and the list can go on, as long as the criteria above are met.
Quote:
Originally Posted by YD14 View Post
...you can cover 99.9% of all the Himalayas with an Alto 800 stuffed with 5 people and luggage.
This is very true, but short runs in a small car are fine. When it comes to extensive touring in that region in all seasons, a bigger, tougher car would certainly lead to a lot less stress while driving.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 9th June 2021 at 11:59.
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Old 9th June 2021, 12:33   #17
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

If you like to stick to main tourist attractions, any high ground clearance car would suffice. If you like to explore, 4x4 is such a confidence booster. While the larger 4x4 are capable, for place like Himalaya, I would pick a compact 4x4. Compass/Duster 4x4 are probably best best. While Thar and Gypsy are good, they are not comfortable once you hit plains. Fortuner/Endeavour are great offroaders, but tad too big and on expensive side.
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Old 9th June 2021, 12:38   #18
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

Thanks Guys,
Yes this will be my primary car. Plan to sell my Santro before I invest in this. My base is Bangalore and will travelling from Bangalore. The plan is to make 1 trip a year to different parts for the next few years(age is catching up). I have always had a 4x4 or AWD in Dubai so comfortable with the same. We will be 2 of us, just the wifey and me(my 2 boys have absolutely no interest in cars or trips like this)
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Old 9th June 2021, 12:53   #19
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

One doesn't need a specific car to drive in Himalayas, it's the company and the journey that makes the entire experience more enjoyable, having a nice ride surely adds to it. I've covered Leh-Ladakh, Himanchal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, North Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan in my humble Mahindra Bolero. Almost each trip was around 10k kms to and fro from Bangalore with a stop over at hometown in Uttar Pradesh. It wasn't that comfortable but it was super fun, all these hilly regions have vast majority of Mahindra Bolero's/ pickups running in, so availability of spares in case of breakdown has never been a problem. If I were you I would chose a ride which ticks all the right boxes (comfort/power/4WD) for such adventure drives plus has the reliability factor of the brand and it's presence in and around these regions. Jeep may have decent service/spares coverage in these regions. However you may want to look at the upcoming XUV500 AWD, New Thar, Isuzu Vcross and a preloved Fortuner if that interests you. Besides factor in your daily /monthly usage requirements, as it would form almost 90% of your rides total life on road, it would help you make a better suitable choice. Cheers!

Last edited by Shanky_1002 : 9th June 2021 at 12:55.
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Old 9th June 2021, 13:16   #20
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangy62 View Post
...(age is catching up).
That is a very lame excuse. Check out this gentleman's profile and his travelogues.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangy62 View Post
I have always had a 4x4 or AWD in Dubai so comfortable with the same.
Perfect, then. Why consider the Jeep Trailhawk, a vehicle that is as rare in the Himalayas as EV charging points? Go for cars that are common in that territory.
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Old 9th June 2021, 14:28   #21
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

I see your curent location is Bangaluru. Considering you want to wander in mighty Himalayas, you would need to cover a significant distance of 3000+ kms along the plain highways. You would need a proper highway cruiser more than a proper 4x4. In my opionion you should be okay with the jeep if you are travelling with 4 person at max. Its a alrounder car and great highway performance. Also the compact size of Jeep will help manuever in those narrow roads on higher himalayas.
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Old 9th June 2021, 14:38   #22
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangy62 View Post
Hello, this is in the bucket list of mine! Reading a few travelogues posted here, I was wondering which would be the best vehicle to cover the Himalayas. My leanings are towards the Jeep Trailhawk. Any inputs would be welcome.
Thanks
A general observations from my brother who was posted in MZ, NL, MN, AS:
  • Only Boleros (Campers / Marshalls / pick-ups) and Gypsies with thinner tyres (mostly M+S treads) and leaf spring suspension is what functions on any roads/tracks which need an inner line permit.
  • Bigger rigs with wide tyres and high GC are not as much of a necessity as much as light weight cars with robust frame and suspension.
  • Road conditions are always changing. Some roads a re rebuilt twice every year (in sections of course).
  • One shower and the unpaved roads become slush pits. Recovery gear is essential.

Crucial Tip: You might also want to check on the RSA provided by the vehicle manufacturer you shortlist since many RSA and warranty packages are not applicable in the North East. A Compass or an Endeavor with the check engine light in Walong would be as useful as ...

Its better to have a simple bare bones car which has a robust build with good parts availability and increase the time you allot for the breaks to sleep off the exhaustion.

Stick to Scorpio / Bolero / Thar with 4x4 low ratio option.
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Old 9th June 2021, 14:47   #23
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangy62 View Post
Hello, this is in the bucket list of mine! Reading a few travelogues posted here, I was wondering which would be the best vehicle to cover the Himalayas. My leanings are towards the Jeep Trailhawk. Any inputs would be welcome.
Thanks
Quiet some time back when I was on my bike trip to Ladakh, I met people who there in an Alto, Nano, Activa and even a Bajaj Chetak. I hear that the roads have tremendously improved since then. Hope you get the drift!
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Old 9th June 2021, 15:29   #24
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

For me it is as simple as this; lightest possible vehicle or a Landcruiser V8

At the end of the day I would wager that driving a Wagonr through rough terrain would be easier than driving a Jeep Compass or anything of that nature since the light weight helps the car from not sinking and the short wheelbase prevents the chances of being beached. If one want luxury and all then pony up and go for the best; Landcruiser/Rangerover etc.
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Old 9th June 2021, 16:00   #25
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

In all honesty I prefer to drive a beater car like an old swift so you can rush through the extremely bad roads.

Would never take an expensive SUV to himachal. Most of the roads are under construction and wouldn't want unnecessary paint damage.

Also on narrow Himachal roads a hatchback or an old sedan, corolla, fiesta etc. perform the best.
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Old 9th June 2021, 16:25   #26
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

Any working vehicle can go almost anywhere provided the driver and occupants are willing to put in the work. Ive seen the occupants of altos jumping out to push when inclines get too steep or rearranging boulders to adjust for inadequate ground clearance or dropping stones behind one of the rear tires to prevent a rollback on a steep incline.

Since youíre on a pleasure trip, Iím sure you will have more interesting things to do.
So please choose a ďbody on frameĒ SUV from Mahindra or Toyota and it must be a 4x4.

They have a wide service network and spares are reasonably priced.

The roads in the Himalayas on most tourist circuits are metaled but it just takes one cloudburst to wash it all away with the accompanying landslides.
Then it resembles the surface of the moon with added slush!
AWD or 4WD is worth its weight in gold here as youíre not in a convoy. So youíll be forced to request strangers for a tow.

The added benefit of a proper 4x4 is you can get off the road and within reason drive to anything that interests you, be it a river or snow bank or nice picnic/camping spot. Grass greener on the other side of the river? No problem, check the water depth, engage in 4x4 and get to the other side!

Gradability and manoeuvrability are the other requirements for tight climbing hairpin bends.
For that Iím partial towards a Fortuner 4x4 with an automatic gearbox as it just makes all this a breeze, leaving you to enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

Please donít be carried away by the tall claims made by softroader manufacturers. Theyíre too soft i.e. they have fuel tanks and mufflers hanging too low waiting to get damaged. When fully loaded, they hang even lower.
The compass uses a space saver! Even the regular tires installed are of an odd size, near impossible to procure in the Himalayas. Last year I drove to Chandra tal in a convoy. A friend with a Compass damaged her tire sidewall. She had to cut short her trip and return to Delhi, only managing to get a matching tire in Chandigarh!

So my recommendations are Thar AT 4x4 and Fortuner AT 4x4. Donít recommend the Scorpio as they have discontinued the AT.
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Old 9th June 2021, 17:16   #27
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

As many have commented, go for a vehicle which is reliable and easy to mend should anything go wrong. It should also be easy enough for you to do the basic stuff. In the remote corners of the Himalayas even help is scarce to come by should you need it. So pick something you feel comfortable with. If not, spend some time knowing it before you venture out into the remote regions.

Lightweight RWD are the most fun on the hills. Omni, Eeco are probably the closest we can get to the #vanlife here. Being light, they can be literally "picked" out of trouble. And due to their narrow body, they are easy to navigate some old trails which are notoriously narrow. But yeah, on the plains they can be a bit of a pain to cover long distances.

Whatever you decide to buy, do wait for the Jimny as well. Could be a perfect tourer for your needs.

Last edited by BlackPearl : 9th June 2021 at 18:18. Reason: Minor typo. Thanks.
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Old 9th June 2021, 18:17   #28
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

I recently did a WB and Sikkim trip in March from Bangalore in my Jeep Compass Limited 4X4, trust me, 4X4 saves you from situations which you would never have imagined. We got stuck in Nathula Pass due to snow storm and 2 vehicles out of 4 had 4X4 which was easy to come out of the situation. 4X2 struggled and took hell lot of time, one of the vehicle got stuck and needed to be rescued by Army. Go for 4X4 if you are planning for some serious places in Himalayas.
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Old 9th June 2021, 18:27   #29
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangy62 View Post
Hello, this is in the bucket list of mine! Reading a few travelogues posted here, I was wondering which would be the best vehicle to cover the Himalayas. My leanings are towards the Jeep Trailhawk. Any inputs would be welcome.
Thanks
Ah, my favourite topic i.e travelling in the Himalayas! But there cannot be a single car that can be regarded as the best. For me the best car is my Bolero 4x4. The Thar is a close second or almost at par. But these cars might not suit you. In fact most of the people I know hate the Bolero. But I like it because it is cheap, reliable, extremely rugged, can be repaired anywhere if needed, Mahindra service centres in many places, can handle bad fuel with elan and the wheels do not need frequent alignment like the IFS cars when driven over bad roads day in and day out. So you will get a lot of options from a lot of people, but the decision has to be yours. I think SS-Traveller Da has summed up pretty well here and would recommend to get something based on this -

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
When travelling extensively in the deeper Himalayas, the vehicle needs to have certain features that we don't think about at other times.

1. Must be reliable enough not to have frequent niggles or breakdowns;
2. Must be able to run on bad fuels, whether petrol or diesel (fuel in the deeper Himalayas is not as clean as in our metros) - I'd prefer petrol today due to the ease of starting in sub-zero temperatures;
.....
7. Must run common tyre sizes with higher profiles of sidewalls (not less than 60-65% profile) which are easily available in the Himalayas.
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Old 9th June 2021, 18:29   #30
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Default Re: Best car to drive to the Himalayas?

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Originally Posted by Fusion2006 View Post
I've done a trip to Chandratal Lake in Spiti in my 4x2 Jeep Compass Petrol AT
A little OT but heard that FE of Jeep Petrol is very poor. Did you have to carry extra fuel or had any range anxiety?
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