BIKING IN UPPER MUSTANG - THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM OF NEPAL (20 D / 19 N)
Mountain biking offers an environmentally sound way of exploring this magnificent country, its landscape and living heritage. There are plenty of roads and trails in Nepal to meet every mountain biker's wildest fantasy. Mountain biking is specially recommended if you wish to explore the countryside. Adventurous souls may plan extended trips to such exotic locales as Namche Bazaar, and western Nepal. You can even do the entire length of Nepal across the plains. Mountain bikes are available for rent by the day or longer in many of the bicycle rental outlets in and around the city.
Upper Mustang is more than just a challenging mountain bike journey; it’s a path of discovery, of culture, of breathtaking scenery, friendly heart-warming people and so much more. Many people we take on this path are moved to tears by the feeling, the views and the hospitality of the people and the sheer immensity of the environment and landscapes, it’s not often we see grown mountain bikers cry but it happens.
So yeah we know the permit fee is a lot, but for US$500 you will get 5 million times worth of wonder, pleasure and experience out of this trip. We are sure. Venture into a land where Nomads herd yaks in the high pastures, ponies carry your luggage, rosy cheeked robust toil the arid soil to earn a living, where Tibetan culture is almost untouched by civilization, add to this some of the BEST and most Challenging mountain biking terrain in the world and you have a simply unforgettable journey.
DAY 01: ARRIVAL IN KATHMANDU
Touchdown in the Himalayan Capital. We will collect you from the airport and you will get you first dose of the hectic streets of Kathmandu as we drive to the Hotel. Take some time to check the bikes, chill out and recover from your flight.
DAY 02: KATHMANDU SIGHTSEEING
A lazy start to the day and a stroll down to Kathmandu Durbar Square. If you are up to it we can go for an afternoon ride exploring some of the single tracks and trails in the North of the Kathmandu Valley.
DAY 03: DRIVE TO POKHARA
Depart early from the Hotel in Kathmandu. Leave behind the valley and drive down along the Trisuli River and into the tropical lowlands to Pokhara. In Pokhara take the afternoon to rest and explore the tranquil lake side, or perhaps an afternoon ride around the edge of the lake.
DAY 04: POKHARA FLY TO JOMSOM & BIKE TO KAGBENI (2810M)
Wake up for sunrise and hopefully catch a glimpse of the mountains before we head to the airport. It’s about a 22 min flight to Jomsom, above the Pokhara valley and deep into the heart of the Himalaya, take a peek out of the window for fantastic views of Dhawalagiri and beyond. The flight is simply breathtaking as the plane’s wingtips almost touch the snow capped peaks, fly right between the Himalayan giants and you feel your adventure has really begun as the small plane banks left and touches down in Jomsom. In Jomsom, we have breakfast and spend some time getting the bikes ready for the journey. From Jomsom we cycle along the Upper section of the Kaligandaki River to Kagbeni. It’s a mostly flat and steady ride of about 2 hours. Kagbeni is a delightful Buddhist village, a great place to explore in your free time. Get yourself lost amongst the cobbled lanes and willow trees along the crystal clear mountain streams. Stay overnight in the lovely Red House one of the oldest and best tea houses in the region.
DAY 05: KAGBENI TO MUKTINATH (2760M)
A day for uphill! Leaving behind the warm hospitality of Red House we peddle up hill on a jeep trail. We leave the valley far below, there are great views of Kagbeni and into the restricted region of Upper Mustang. It’s important to ride slow as this is part of our acclimatization for the trip. We take the left side of the steep gorge, avoiding the jeep traffic that ferries pilgrims to the Holy Temple at Muktinath. We arrive in a tiny Buddhist Settlement of Jhong, a good place to rest and eat an early lunch. Spend some time exploring the cliff top Monastery and soaking up the views of Jharkot and Muktinath across the gorge. The last climb is gentle and crosses a short section of single track to reach to Muktinath. Muktinath is a very holy place and many Hindu Pilgrims come here every year to visit the Shiva Temple, bath in the 108 icy cold water fountains and see the “Fire on Water”. Stay overnight in Muktinath.
DAY 06: MUKTINATH TO CHELE (3050M)
Today we enter the restricted region of Upper Mustang. It’s an uphill stretch from Muktinath through Chhyonggur and up to the Gyu La Pass at 4077 meters to the pass is 80% ride able and single track. Here there are 180 degree panoramic views of the snow capped mountains. A short section of steep downhill and we follow an undulating ridge trail down to Tetang at 3040 meters, more than a 1000 meter descent on suburb single track. Pass an ancient Mani Wall and cycle on down to Chhusang. From here there is a slight climb and river crossing to reach Chele on the opposite river bank where the river passes through a rock tunnel. Stay overnight in Chele.
DAY 07: CHELE TO SYANBOCHE (3800m)
A short but hard day of riding, leaving behind the river bed we climb in to the hills. Four passes lay between us and Syanboche, so yeah there will be a few ups and downs today as we cross Taklam La 3624 meters, Dajori La 3735 meters, Bhena La 3860 meters and finally Yamda La at 3860 meters. Halt below Syangboche La on the Syangboche River. This days riding consists of mixed jeep track, single track and steep downhill with some sections of carrying and pushing (Maximum half an hour).
DAY 08: SYANGBOCHE TO CHARANG (3560m)
On Leaving Syangboche, there is a short climb to Syangboche La before undulating jeep track makes for an easy ride through the open valley scenery and Barley fields to Ghiling. From here we climb up to Nye La at 4010 meters this climb is rid able jeep track. From this pass there are inspiring views of Mustang, Annapurna and Nilgiri. The ride is a welcome change from the days of climbing and crossing passes. The scenery opens up and there are fields of mustard and barley in the right season which makes for lush pockets of greenery. It is also one of the most scenic days with the ever changing colors of the landscape form yellow and browns to reds, grays and blues as the sun moves across the Himalayan sky. From the pass til Gami is nice single track downhill and then back onto jeep track. This is a beautiful section of the ride and defiantly a day to get your camera out! In the village you can visit the friendly monks in the ghompa and explore the beautiful village. In Charang, you can find the greatest library in Lo and the 400 year old Gulpa Sect Monastery.
DAY 09: CHARANG TO LO-MANTHANG (3810M)
From Tsarang we have to cross Lo La Pass at 3810 meters, just before Lo- Mantang. This pass is also known as “Windy Pass” and from here you can view the walled city of Lo-Manthang, your first tantalizing view of this kingdom lost in time and your penultimate destination. In June and July, the time when the crops are almost ready to harvest makes for the most dramatic scenery. The barren brown landscape is scattered with fields of vibrant green and gold rolling with the wind under the vivid blue sky of the Himalaya, a truly memorable scene. The ride is easy if a bit of a long climb, about 25 km total riding distance. You will enjoy the open jeep track trail and should arrive in Lo-Manthang by lunch time, which gives us the afternoon to rest and soak up the atmosphere of this surreal place.
DAY 10: LO-MANTHANG REST AND EXPLORATION DAY (3810M)
Lo-Manthang is perhaps one of the most interesting places in the Himalaya and a couple of days spent here sightseeing is well worth it. Visit the Royal Palace where you have the privilege of having tea or perhaps dinner with the King of Lo himself, what an experience! In the afternoon there are three interesting Monasteries to visit, one of them is over 900 years old and displays some of the most beautiful Thangka paintings found in Nepal the intricate details and vivid colors of these paintings is a stark contrast to the wide open spaces of the region. One day there is also the option to ride up to Garphu. Follow the upper reaches Kali Gandaki River, crossing over several of its tributaries. Here you will find Ghom a cave tunneling into the mountainside which is the historical site of a Monastery and the cave of one thousand windows. The beautiful scenery and isolated Tibetan culture make this day trip a worthy experience. The way back from Ghom is beautiful single track through traditional villages. This truly is a place to lose yourself in the history, rustic architecture and mind blowing landscapes, one could easily roll back in time 100 years or more here.
DAY 11: LO-MANTHANG TO GAMI (3520M)
Leaving behind Lo-Manthang, cycle over the 4090 meter Pangga Pass, it’s a challenging climb about 75% rideable on single track, but you get great views from the top. From the pass the road leads steadily down to Dhakma. The downhill is amazing. Around Dhakma you can see some of the most dramatic scenery on offer, where the landscape changes from red to blue and is especially breathtaking around sunset and sunrise. Ride from Dhakmar and onto Gami for the overnight stop. Around Gami there are some interesting village ruins to explore as well as the longest Mani Wall in Mustang which is found near the Japanese Hospital. Following the river to Ghar Ghumpa at 3950 meters. From the Ghumpa, climb to Mui La (Pass) at 4170 meters, you have to carry for some distance and then it’s a great rideable downhill to Dhakmar before riding on to Gami.
DAY 12: GAMI TO SAMAR (3660M)
This route retraces the same trail as we passed on the way up. There is quite a bit of climbing involved today. We ride lots of single track sections climbing until 3800 meters and again downhill to Syangboche,
DAY 13: SAMAR TO KAGBENI (2810M)
Leaving Samar, we have two small passes, Dajori La (3735M) and Taklam La (3624M). Along the way the route passes the scared place where the ancient art of Sky Burial is carried out. Here you may see the rare Himalayan Vultures soaring in the sky. Cycle on downhill to Chhusang for our overnight stop.
DAY 14: CHHUSANG TO KAGBENI (2810M)
From Chhusang it’s a steady ride along the river back to Kagbeni. You can stay overnight here or proceed down the valley to Jomsom for your overnight stop. Today you leave the kingdom of Upper Mustang and head back into the Annapurna Region. Return to the cobbled lanes of Kagbeni and the warm hospitality of Red House.
DAY 15: KAGBENI TO TATOPANI (1190M)
Today is the longest ride of the journey, around 74km. The ride starts off flat along the river bed to Jomsom and then undulates to Marpha the best place in the Himalaya to get fresh apples and renowned locally produced Apple Brandy. Here the trail drops down along the roaring river all the way to Tatopani. We pass the Impressive Rupse Chhara on the way (waterfall), a nice place to stop for lunch. Tatopani is our resting place for the night, enjoy the therapeutic hot springs and a very cold beer, you deserve it!
DAY 16: TATOPANI TO POKHARA
An easy days ride, 18 km of mostly downhill jeep trail takes us to the main road and a town called Beni, here we will transfer for the three hour drive back to Pokhara by Jeep. There is the option to ride the last section downhill to Lake side from near the hill station of Sarangkot. A fitting end to a brilliant ride!
DAY 17: FREE DAY IN POKHARA
Welcome back to civilization, the place for hot showers, cold beers and great food. Pokhara is the chill out capital of Nepal, take your pick of lazy lake side cafes, strolling around the shops or perhaps some adventure is more to your liking, half day rafting trips, paragliding or Parahawking are other options to fill in your day.
DAY 18: POKHARA TO KATHMANDU
Take a midmorning flight from Pokhara along the Himalaya and back to Kathmandu. Your bikes will be transported back on the bus. In the evening we will clean and box your bikes for you while you take care of any last minute shopping.
DAY 19: DEPARTURE
We will transfer you to the Hotel for your departure home.
END OF THE TRIP