THE NEPAL EXPERIENCE – Ride to Lower Mustang & Muktinath

DURATION – 13 Nights / 14 Days

This is our signature trip.
This means: – this trip is the one you should choose to do first if you want to experience what Nepal has to offer.

We take you from Kathmandu, through the hill country, (at the base of the high Himalayas), through the deepest gorge in the world, following the Ghandaki River. We test the natural hot springs (at one of our stops). We ride through villages that operate as they did hundreds of years ago. We climb higher and higher alongside a rushing river, until we reach the Tibetan plateau. The scenery becomes stark and windswept, and the air is thin, so breathing can be a challenge.

In the past few years Nepal has become a popular destination for motorcyclists from around the world as the terrain offers off road riding challenges and access to areas that cannot be reached by 4-wheel traffic.

On this trip, we follow part of the famous Annapurna trekking circuit. This route is also part of the ancient route for the salt traders from Tibet to India. We pass through ancient authentic Thakali Tibetan villages, and climb to the ancient and very sacred Hindu/Buddhist pilgrimage city of Muktinah that sits at nearly 4000m.

Some of the riding is challenging over rocky landscape, through mountain streams and river beds, but the Royal Enfield easily copes with all of this. From there, we descend to the hot, humid and tropical Terai Plains in the south, near the Indian border. Culturally, this area is very different from where we have just been, as it is very much influenced by India. Most of the inhabitants are Hindus, rather than Buddhist. It is much more populated as the lush plains and vegetation provide a much easier way to live.

SKELETAL ITINERARY
Day 01: Arrive KathmanduDay 01: Arrive Kathmandu
Day 02: Sightseeing tour of Kathmandu
Day 03: Ride Kathmandu to Pokhara (approx. 210 Km)
Day 04: Ride from Pokhara to Kalopani (130 Km) Day 05: Ride Kalopani to Muktinath (3710 m) (approx. 46 Km)
Day 06: Ride Muktinath to Kagbeni to Marpha (approx. 26 Km)
Day 07: Ride to Marpha to Tatopani (approx. 50 Km)
Day 08: Ride Tatopani to Pokhara (approx. 105 Km)
Day 09: Free Day in Pokhara
Day 10: Ride Pokhara to Chitwan (approx. 160 Km)
Day 11: Jungle Activities in Chitwan
Day 12: Ride Chitwan to Kathmandu via Kulekhane Dam (Approx. 180 km)
Day 13: Free Day in Kathmandu
Day 14: Final Departure

FEATURES

Region: Nepal Himalayas.
Region: Nepal Himalayas.Duration: 13 Nights / 14 DaysBest
Season: March, April, May—Sep, Oct, Nov.
Highest elevation: 3710 meters.
Rivers: Trishuli, Kali, Marshyangdi, Seti, Kali Ghandaki, Rapti, Narayani, etc
Mountains: Fish Tail, Annapurna Ranges, Nilgiri, Tukuche, Dhaulagiri etc.

Arrive Kathmandu

At the airport, you are met by one of our team, then transported to Manaslu Hotel. A gorgeous oasis in the middle of the chaos of Kathmandu. It has beautiful gardens and a swimming pool.

Evening: we give you a brief introduction of the trip then take you to a welcome dinner at a typical Nepali Restaurant that includes a cultural show.

Sightseeing tour of Kathmandu

After breakfast, the crew will introduce you to the Motorcycles. Make sure you are ready to ride. There will be a short briefing about safety with some tips on how to survive on the Nepali roads plus what the road captain expects of us.

After the briefing, everyone will be handed the keys to the motorcycles and taken for a ride around the city to familiarize themselves with the bikes.

Later, we proceed for a sightseeing tour on the bikes. We will ride to Nagarkot (32 kms) via the ancient Bhaktapur Durbar Square (approx. 12kms from Kathmandu).

Bhaktapur is an ancient city. It is full of temples, shrines, pagodas, and many peaceful squares to wander through. No traffic is allowed here so it easy to imagine how it was hundreds of years ago.

Durbar Square: The main square of the city contains innumerable temples and other architectural showpieces like Lion Gate, the statue of Bhupatindra Malla the Picture Galley, the Golden Gate, The Palace of 55 windows, the Bastille temple and the Bell of barking dogs, etc. The statue of Bhupatindra Malla in the act of worship is placed on a column facing the palace. Of the many statues available in Nepal this is considered to be the most magnificent.

The National Art Gallery: Contains ancient and medieval paintings belonging to Hindu and Buddhist schools and depicting Tantrics of various periods and descriptions.

The Golden Gate: The Golden Gate is the entrance to the main Palace of 55 windows. Built by King Ranjit Malla, the gate is one of the most beautiful and richly carved specimens of its kind in the entire world. This gate is embellished with intrinsically carved deities and monsters.

The Palace of 55 Windows: was built in the seventeenth century by King Bhupatindra Malla. The balcony is a masterpiece in wooden carvings.

Natyapola Temple: This five story pagoda was built in 1702 A.D. by King Bhupatindra Malla. It stands on a five-terraced platform. On each of the terraces, squat a pair of figures, two famous wrestlers, two elephants, two lions, two griffins, Baghiani, Singini – the tiger and the lion goddesses. This is one of the tallest pagodas and is famous for its massive structure and workmanship.

After lunch, we ride approx. 20kms to Nagarkot.

Nagarkot is situated in a strategic location; It was an ancient fort of the Kathmandu valley. Built to monitor the external activities of another kingdom. Later, it became a summer retreat for the royals, before becoming popular as an international hill station. From here we get a great view of the Central and the Eastern Himalayas, including five of the world’s 10 highest Peaks- Mt. Everest (8848 m), Mt.Lhotse (8516 m), Mt.Cho-Oyu (8201 m), Mt.Makalu (8463 m), and Mt.Manaslu (8163 m).

Nagarkot also offers one of the best sunrise and sunset views. In the late afternoon, we go for a jaunt to the vantage point to see the sunset. After riding back to Kathmandu, our evening is free to relax and explore around the city.

Ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara (210 Kilometers)

After breakfast, we hit the road to Pokhara. Negotiating the traffic out of the Kathmandu city is challenging, but our road captain will keep us bunched up and safe. We ride out of Kathmandu Valley and over a spectacular hill with lots of twists and turns and heavy traffic.

After the town of Naubise, (26 kms), the road becomes much larger and smoother. Just past Kurintar, (103 kilometers from Kathmandu.) we come across the Manokamana Temple.

At the outskirts of Pokhara, we get great views of the Annapurna Mountain range including the famous Fish Tail Mountain.

Pokhara is a holiday paradise with its crystal-clear lakes, gentle climate and surrounding mountains and rivers. We will be spending two nights here on the way back, so the rest of the day is free for you to look around, decide on what activities you would like to do on your free day on the way back.

It’s a good idea to book some of the adventure activities well ahead of time.

Upon arrival check into the hotel

Ride Pokhara to Kalopani (approx. 130 Km)

An early start today as we will be riding half this distance on more challenging road conditions. After we leave the main highway just before the large, bustling town of Beni, the scenery will change dramatically. We are now heading north into the high Himalayas.

The riding becomes more challenging: – The road is unpaved and dusty, with potholes, slips and the occasional water crossing. And, if it has rained recently – lots of mud.

We climb gradually through the Kali Gandiki gorge. The deepest gorge in the world. The scenery is spectacular and the terrain becomes more arid and stark.

We pass through Tatopani where the natural hot springs are situated. (We will stay here on the way back). After Tatopani, the road becomes steeper and more challenging as we ascend to Ghasa (6600 ft./ 2012m).

The scenery is spectacular.

There are fantastic views of the Mt. Dhaulagiri (8167 m), Tukuche (6920m), and Nilgiri (7061m). As we pass between the Dhaulagiri and the Annapurna mountain range, there is a dramatic change. Vegetation gives way to dry arid desert. The Thakali’s are the dominant tribe of the valley. They are related to the Gurung and Magars of the southern slopes. We pass through many of their villages clinging to the edge of the road above the river.

There is a surprising amount of farming and agriculture up here.

As we are now riding on the famous Annapurna trekking circuit, we may come across Western Trekkers. Don’t expect them to be friendly. They mostly now resent the fact that this once foot track has now become a road. Happily, most of them choose to fly out of Jonsom now, so we won’t have to be subjected to their glares as we pass.

Kalopani, where we stop for the night lies at (2530m/8349feet). Some of you will be finding that you are short of breath at these altitudes. From here we can enjoy a magnificent view of Mt. Nilgiri and Mt. Tukuche.

After checking in at the lodge for the night the rest of the evening is free to explore.

Ride Kalopani to Muktinath via Jomsom (approx. 46 Km)

After an early breakfast, we set out on the trail again. Still following the Kali Gandaki River, we pass through the Thakali and Magar villages of Kokhethanti and Tukuche on our way to the bigger settlement of Jomsom.

Jomsom (2713 m) is more correctly known as Dzongsam or New Fort. It spreads over both the banks of the Kali Ghandaki.
The towering peaks of Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri form an attractive backdrop.

Jomsom is the Administrative center of the Mustang region and consequently very busy. It is the gateway to the Annapurna region. This is where most of the trekkers of the Annapurna Circuit end their journey as the region’s only airport is situated here.

It also has a hospital, many guesthouses and restaurants, a visitor’s center, the Royal Nepal Army High Altitude Warfare training center, and government offices.

It is a bustling town where government officials, trekkers and the local Thakali people all mix and mingle.

Not far past Jomsom, the valley opens very wide. After about 20 minutes, arrive at the small village of Ekklaibhatti. The road divides here. The left will lead to Kagbeni while the right one leads to Muktinath. We take the right trail and continue to ascend slowly to the settlement of Jharkot, which has a fort “Kot”.

From here, another 15 minutes ride on the desert plateau brings us to Muktinath, where we check into our accommodation for the night.

Late PM: Visit Muktinath Temple

Muktinath Temple is a very sacred pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists alike. It is located at an altitude of 3,710 meters (12,243 feet) at the foot of the Thorong La Pass. For most of us Kiwis that means we are nearly as high as our highest Peak –
Mt Cook (Aoarangi).

You will see Tibetan traders here as well as sadhus from as far away as South India. Also, many pilgrims from all over the world.

The shrines, in the grove of trees, include a Buddhist gompa, a Vishnu temple and the Jwalamai (the Goddess of Fire) Temple which shelters a spring and natural gas jets that provide Muktinath’s famous Eternal Flame. It’s the combination of Earth, water and fire in close proximity. This accounts for Muktinath’s great religious significance.

The Hindus call this sacred place MuktiKshetra, which literally means “Place of Salvation”.

After the sightseeing tour of Muktinath Temple we descend back down to Ranipauwa (Main Bazaar of Muktinath).

This day’s journey is a tough one, but the scenic views of the rugged landscape, beautiful cascading waterfalls, orange and apple orchards, scattered roadside villages, ancient Buddhist monasteries all make it ‘One Hell of a Ride”.

Rest of the day is free to relax or explore around the town.

Overnight at the guest house

Ride Muktinath to Tatopani via Kagbeni (approx. 26 Km)

Kagbeni, at an altitude of 2840m, is a fascinating medieval village with closely packed mud brick houses, dark alleys and imposing chortens. This is the gateway to Upper Mustang.

Upper Mustang. (check out our ride to this region “the Hidden Kingdom”)

The village stands in a little green oasis dominated by its red monastery. Though the village has a very medieval look, it can provide all the modern amenities that a traveller requires. This is the only village after Jomsom where there is an internet facility for communication with the outside world.

The monks, in the monastery, are of the yellow hat or the Gelukpa Sect and have only recently opened their monastery to visitors with an entrance fee of Rs 100, which they collect for the maintenance of their school.

After spending some time at Kagbeni, we continue our ride back through Jomsom (approx. 11 Km)

then continue 5 more kms to Marpha.

Marpha, at an elevation of 2670 meters, is famous for its apple orchards and apple products. This large Thakali village exhibits the typical ThakKhola architecture of flat roofs and narrow paved alleys and passageways. It also has a monastery.

Overnight at the Guest House

Ride Marpha to Tatopani (approx. 50 Km)

After a leisurely breakfast we retrace the route until we arrive at Tatopani.

Tato” means ‘hot’ and “Pani” means ‘water’. A name earned courtesy of the hot springs. This is a popular place for trekker’s and motorcyclists to relax and dip their weary bodies in the natural hot springs.

 

Upon arrival, we check in to the Guest House. The rest of the day we can enjoy a beer at the Hot Springs

Ride Tatopani to Pokhara via Beni (approx.105 Km)

After breakfast, we retrace our route until we arrive at Pokhara.

Lunch at Beni / Nayapul.

Upon arrival at Pokhara check in to the hotel and the rest of the day is free to relax and explore.

Overnight at Hotel.

Rest Day in Pokhara.

Pokhara is my favorite place. There is so much to do and see. You may want to chill by the hotel pool or cruise round the many shopping opportunities or, do one of the following:-

Optional Activities in Pokhara:- 

⦁ PARAGLIDING, BUNGY JUMPING, ZIPLINING, MICROLIGHT FLIGHT

The paragliding flight lasts about an hour. You ride in tandem with your instructor and you can ask them to do some acrobatics if you are an adrenaline junkie. They will be only too happy to oblige. Of course, the views are stunning, and you should be able to give your camera a good workout.

The Microlight flight is best done early morning or late afternoon. Once again, your camera will get a good workout.

 

The Zipline is reputed to be the longest, fastest, and highest in the world. You speed along at 160kms/hr for 2kms.
If you are brave enough to open your eyes, you will get some stunning views.

On the Bungy jump you can opt to do the “water touch” if you are brave enough. Be prepared to get a water dunking, if they have not judged you weight correctly!

BOATING ON PHEWA LAKE

There are lots of choices here:

Hire a paddleboat and cruise around the lake, or paddle across to the tiny island where you can very a very old and very sacred temple

Hire a canoe that is faster than the paddleboat. You can cross the lake to the track that takes you up to the top of the mountain where you can explore the Peace Temple.

The grinding climb is worth it once you see the stunning views from the top.

You can hire paddleboards as well. Or you can cycle or walk around this beautiful lake.

TIBETAN REFUGEE VILLAGES
There are two main ones. These are worth a visit if you want to buy gifts (missing out the cost of the middleman in his shop in town) and observe the women working at creating some of their beautiful crafts.The wool carpets are stunning and they sell at bargain prices.

MUSEUMS
There are lots of choices:- The Mountaineer Museum, the Gurkha Museum and the Pokhara Museum.

CAVES AND WATERFALLS
You can cycle or walk to the closest

SPAS, YOGA AND MEDITATION
Lots to choose from

SHOPPING, SHOPPING, SHOPPING Need I say more!!

 

Overnight at the Hotel

Ride to Chitwan (Approx. 167 Km)

Chitwan National Park, is the oldest national park in Nepal situated in the subtropical inner Terai lowlands of South Central Nepal. The park has an area of 932 square kilometers and was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1984. Chitwan National Park is just a short detour off the Prithivi Highway.

The name Chitwan means heart of the jungle.

In recent years this park has risen meteorically on the lists of the “Things to do in Nepal”. The park covers a pristine area with a unique ecosystem of significant value to the world. It contains the Churiya hills, ox-bow lakes and flood plains of Rapti, Reu and Narayani rivers. The Sal forests dominate the vegetation of the park. The grasslands form a diverse and complex community with over 50 species, the Sacchurun species, often called elephant grass, can reach 8m in height.

The park boasts more than 43 species of mammals, 45 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 450 species of birds in the park. The park is renowned for endangered animals along with many other common species.

We check into our hotel at the village of Sauraha.

Choose whether to chill by the hotel pool or bar, stroll down to the river and the bar/restaurant there where you can watch the sunset over the jungle. If you are lucky, you can spot wildlife coming down to the river to drink.

You can also take a canoe ride at dusk with a spotlight, or just cruise round the shops in the local village.

Overnight at the Jungle Resort and decide on tomorrows activities

Jungle activities in Chitwan.

There is a big choice of what to do here:-

  • Take a 5-hour jungle jeep safari where you will see a huge variety of wildlife and hopefully the allusive one-horned rhino. And, if you are really lucky, you may come across a tiger.
  • Take an elephant safari in the jungle
  • Visit the Elephant breeding center
  • Take part in the elephants bath time. You will get very wet.
  • Take a canoe ride along the river banks at dusk with a spotlight to catch wild animals coming to the water to drink.
  • Or just chill at the riverside restaurant/bar watching the wildlife and tourists

Overnight at the Jungle Resort

Ride to Kathmandu

We set out on the Mahendra highway, across the flat plains of the Terai, through forested areas and small roadside settlements to arrive at the boom township of Hetauda (77 kms 1 ½ hours).

We take a small detour here to visit the Khuleykhani Dam and Pharping. We are required to pay the toll tax for crossing over the narrow curvy and steep road up to the Kulekhani Dam.

Kulekhani Reservoir is also known as Indra Sarobar and the security guards do not allow people lingering along the dam area. So, after a short break for some quickly taken photographs, we continue on the ride to Kathmandu.

Some of the road we cover is still under construction so we need to be alert and wary of crazy speeding drivers. There will be a lot of dust!

This section of the ride provides beautiful scenery of the mountains, rolling forested hills, deep gorges and typical Nepali village scenery. Our arrival at Pharping brings us to the city limits and an 18 kilometer rides brings us to the city center

Bid farewell to the Road Captain, mechanic and the team and check into the Hotel.

Overnight at the Hotel

Free Day in Kathmandu

Free day to relax or explore around the town (check with ride leader about sights to see) for final souvenir shopping.

EVENING: Farewell Dinner

Overnight at the Hotel

Final Departure

Free until final departure.

***END OF ARRANGEMENTS***