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Drove my BMW 330i to Ladakh: Vehicle prep, route & overall experience

I was confident I could navigate Ladakh – just that it carries a higher risk, in case the car broke down.

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Context:

Early this year, I started planning for a trip to an unknown place which would make it worthwhile for 2 weeks.

We then started to ponder where shall we go:

  1. Option 1: Plan a trip down the Konkan coast – start with Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar, then towards Goa, Hampi & Mysore. And as far as we can go. We had a bunch of friends with whom it had been ages since we met up. But this trip was always sounding like a filler for 2 weeks than excite us enough.
  2. Option 2: Ladakh! Drive up to Leh, Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake, and as much further as possible within the time limits we had set.

Option 2 it was! Option 1 could be done anytime via flights – wouldn’t be as much fun we figured. We had planned the Ladakh trip and cancelled it multiple times in the past due to numerous reasons, it seemed that the stars had aligned this time around for us.

Vehicle Considered

Nissan Terrano Diesel 85PS 2015 Make

Has clocked 95k km, and has started to show its age, multiple components were identified to be replaced including:

Steering rack, tie rods, shockers, shocker mounts, brake pads, clutch assembly

All of these findings let me double-check with my trusted mechanic – who confirmed the inevitable – he advised me not to take the vehicle in its current condition, and I was not very enthusiastic about carrying out these repairs as I planned to sell off this vehicle as soon as possible being in Delhi NCR.

BMW 330i Sport:

Bought in 2020 Dec, the car has clocked 30k km and has been a dream to live with. We have taken the 330i to places such as Chopta with snow all around, and driven to Ahmedabad in a single day. This machine provided me with supreme confidence in its capabilities. The only concern was the ground clearance but knowing that people have done this circuit in cars like Honda City 3rd Gen – 160mm clearance, I was confident I could navigate Ladakh – just that it would take more time and of course, it carries with it higher risk in case the car broke down.

I had hardly used the BMW 330i this year – clocked only 8000 km in the last 12 months. Taking a flight simply didn’t appeal to me, not when I had the beast lying underutilized.

I decided to go ahead with 330i to stick to the touristy frequented circuit of Leh, Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake. My wife anyhow saw little sense in going to Hanle or Tso Moriri (that’s for the next trip then!)

Vehicle Prepping

The car was due for service on August 1, serviced the car at BMW as part of the BSI package. Engine oil and oil filter were changed.

Wheel alignment and balancing are carried out at Pirelli Performance Center in Malviya Nagar, I’ve always preferred them over the BMW service centre – due to the stark difference in costs of ~4x. They have the data for the latest cars updated and have excellent technicians. Got the tires rotated as well.

Kept the following items in the car for emergencies:

  • Tire inflator
  • Tire puncture repair kit
  • Torch
  • Anti Freeze wiper liquid
  • Wiper for cleaning the windscreen – I generally clean the windscreen 2 times a day if the day involves long drives

Plan and Route for the trip:

Around 25th July, the Delhi Manali to Leh Route had suffered a lot of damage due to rain and landslides, based on this I ruled out this route for to or fro journey from Delhi to Leh to Delhi. And considering the low ground clearance of 330i – the only route that could be really taken would be the Srinagar Leh Highway.

Following is the itinerary planned:

  • 7th Aug Delhi to Jammu
  • 8th Aug Jammu to Srinagar, Picked up Wife and Kid from Srinagar Airport, stayed in CRPF Mess
  • 9th Aug Srinagar to Sonamarg – stayed at Hotel Village Walk
  • 10th Aug Sonamarg to Leh – stayed in The Saraha
  • 11th Aug Leh Local
  • 12th Aug Leh to Nubra Valley – stay at Nubra Sarai
  • 13th Aug Nubra Valley to Leh – stayed at The Saraha
  • 14th Aug Leh to Pangong Lake – stayed at Pangong sarai
  • 15th Aug Pangong Lake to Leh
  • 16th Aug Leh to Kargil
  • 17th Aug Kargil to Srinagar
  • 18th Aug Srinagar to Pathankot
  • 19th Aug Pathankot to Delhi

We had kept one buffer day and it was not needed as we didn’t face any issues in our plan except not being able to go from Nubra to Pangong directly (Agham Shyok Road was flooded and hence closed)

Continue reading BHPian kartikv1's travelogue for more insights and information.

 
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