At some point of time or another, you must have come across people who don't understand the travel bug, people who just can't comprehend as to why you're hitting the road again. So, next time you meet such sad souls, tell them the story of these two friends who took the term wanderlust to a whole new level, when they decided to intentionally purchase motorbikes to travel around north India. After the journey was over, Raf Horemans and Thomas Philippaerts were left with some heartwarming memories, beautiful photographs, and two motorbikes which they eventually sold in Delhi, because their job was done.
We impulsively purchased two Indian-made 'Hero Impulse' motorbikes in New Delhi's chaotic Karol Bagh district. With little to no previous motorbike experience, we set out to cut through the Indian Himalayas on some of the world's highest motorable roads. Conditions can be extremely dicey: glacial-melt floods and landslides are common, and the Himalayan weather is unpredictable. Fatal accidents occur every year and local medical care is wanting. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a serious risk on this route. Symptoms can include headaches, sleeplessness, breathlessness, loss of appetite, and if ignored, AMS can be fatal. When venturing on this route by motorbike be sure to have proper protective gear and mechanical know-how. Don't go with gardening boots, kitchen gloves, flammable plastic rain suits and duct tape like we did.
Here are some of the breathtaking pictures captured during the journey:
"The start of the Manali-Leh Highway. The bikes are two 'Hero Impulses'. One's a 2012 and the other a 2014. We paid around 450 euros for each in Delhi's Karol Bagh district."
"Preparing for a freezing cold night in Sarchu. In the morning we could only drink tea because all our water froze."
"Had a collision with an oncoming truck which was driving in the wrong lane. Luckily It only hit my right-hand side luggage rack. And luckily the fuel canisters were empty. People were happy to see we were okay and were offering help. As soon as I hit the truck people started praying. Also, the area is getting more and more militarised as we near the Pakistan border. The bike still ran fine, as always."
"Further south-west in the state of Punjab we visited Sri Harmandir Sahib, also Sri Darbar Sahib and informally referred to as the "Golden Temple", is the holiest Gurdwara of Sikhism, located in the city of Amritsar. This a place of great beauty and sublime peacefulness. One of the nicest places I have visited! Our bikes had free parking in the temple parking, and like thousands of others there we got accommodated and fed for free."
"Back in time in New Delhi to celebrate Diwali and sell the motorbikes. (sold for 350 euros each)"
See the complete album right here.