By Nikhil Thakuri
Exploring Nepal riding a motorcycle is a big challenge especially when you are on the single, hidden trails in search of the unexpected scenes of the mountains.
In this journey, I teamed up with five people, three clients, a mechanic and a driver (for our backup jeep).
We picked Muktinath as our first destination for two obvious reasons: Firstly, the terrain is a bit easier than Manang and Upper Mustang. The second was to make my clients feel comfortable with the motorcycles we used.
Since their main agenda for visiting Nepal was to explore the country and feel the adventure, we took four days to reach Muktinath. In these four days, we rode through trekking trails to reach the destination. Among them, TT lake and Yak trails were the most challenging, but, sadly, none of the riders could complete these trails.
High hills, rocky sections, loose soil and numerous switchbacks were fun to play around. Even though we had to go through hard trails and make great effort to reach the destinations, it was worth it when we saw beautiful landscapes of the Himalayas. After resting at Muktinath for awhile, we hit the trail of Thorong La Pass on the same day. We almost did around 1.5 km up straight and finally got to rest as we had exhausted our energy.
Day 5 of our journey and our next destination was Syangboche. It is mid-way to Upper Mustang where you can find just 3-4 houses and some camping areas. We reached there by afternoon and rode to some of the outskirts to capture the sunset from atop a nearby hill.
The next day, we rode 50 kms to reach Upper Mustang. The tracks were dusty but were open because of which the ride felt short and quick. After reaching Lo Manthang for lunch and a good rest of an hour, we wanted to try some altitude riding at 5000 meters so we rode to a place called Yak Kharga located at the height of 4850 meters. We did not stop there and rode on the hills of Yak Kharga during which we reached 5200 meters.
With the inner trails of Upper Mustang next on our itinerary for day 7, we explored different places of Upper Mustang like Korala (Nepal-China Border), hidden caves, Royal Palace in Mustang and others. We also made ourselves familiar with places around Lo Manthang to explore its ancient history and Buddhism.
After penetrating through the treacherous Upper Mustang trails, it was time to head to the place famous for its hot water springs, Tatopani. Riding through the hidden trails, we first stopped at Jomsom which is almost 140 kilometers from the city of Lo Manthang. After a brief halt, following jeep track trails, we continued our journey towards Tatopani. Everybody was tired and we relaxed in the hot pool.
The next day, we headed back to Pokhara enroute for our next destination, Manang. We stopped at Pokhara for a day to relax – boating, visiting the lakeside pubs and sharing our riding experience and skills with one another.
On day 11 of our journey, we moved towards Manang. We were on an off-road ride for the last ten days but to reach Besisahar, we had to ride 112 kilometers of tarmac road.
The following day marked midway of our journey. We started riding from Besisahar, rode through Chame and reached Bhratang, Manang where we stayed at a resort called Farmhouse which houses the largest apple farm in Manang. Bhratang is popularly known as ‘Apple Heaven’. The riding trails in this region were different to those in Mustang. The 70 kilometer arduous ride had its own prize – several waterfalls and the beautiful scenery.
Passing through the staggering Sworgadwari monolith, also known as the gateway to heaven was one of the many highlights that we had on day 13 of our tour. Plain roads and leaving behind many villages we finally reached Manang at noon. After lunch, we had a quick ride towards Khangsar and then rode back towards Gangapurna lake and glacier which was another highlight of that day.
Leaving Annapurna Himalayan region on day 14, we rode back towards a place called Taal, a village deep down from the tracks on a river bank.
Done with the Annapurna circuit, it was time to head towards the lower region of Nepal. After completing 30 kilometers off-road from Taal, we found the tarmac back at Besisahar and continued our journey till Kurintar River Side Resort.
We reached Sauraha, Chitwan on the same day and relaxed there for two days. In these two days, we visited different parts of Chitwan National Park. We took a jeep jungle safari, elephant ride on the banks of the Rapti river and took a canoe ride.
Next on our tour was hitting the trails of Shivapuri National Park for which we left Chitwan and chased the Khulekhani trails to hit the jungles of Shivapuri National Park. We reached Shivapuri National Park on the same day, which is almost 25 kms from Kathmandu and stayed at Shivapuri Village Resort.
Day 19 was interesting because of technical hidden trails. My clients were exhausted because of the non-stop ride from the day before, as a result, as soon as we started to ride the technical section, our arms started to pump up.
After completing the exceptional 19 day tour, we headed back to Kathmandu at our base – Bikers Nepal – following the trails of Nagarkot, Sakhu and Kapan.
Though the whole tour was about exploring the many adventurous trails, it was also a test of endurance.