Every country has its highlights. If you go to Paris, you visit the Eiffel Tower. In Canada, the Niagara Falls are a must and in Nepal, trekking should be part of your itinerary.
The classic routes are the Annapurna circuit and Mount Everest base camp. But what if you are a motorcyclist, and you are not keen on spending a month or so on foot?
The Annapurna circuit trek takes from one week to a month. The duration depends on one’s pace, level of fitness, acclimatization days and number of side treks done. Most trekkers start their way up from a small village called Besisahar, trek through the famous Thorong La Pass at 5416 meters and end up on the other side in a village called Beni.
On a motorcycle, you can ride up to both sides of the pass and reach either Manang, or Muktinath. You are required to get two permits; the ACAP and the TIMS. You can get these from either Pokhara or Kathmandu. Most areas in Nepal require a permit, so research well if you are traveling on a budget as some are quite costly.
Riding up to Manang is purely off-road. Up to this point, there is no hint of asphalt. The “road” is mainly made of rocks, boulders, gravel and mud on rainy days to make it more fun. As soon as you arrive, there are various trekking routes that you can opt for. Keep in mind that since you reach Manang (3519 meters) on the bike, you need to reserve some time to acclimatize before you start trekking. This is necessary to avoid troubles with Acute Mountain Sickness. One can also stay an extra day or two in Manang and trek to the ice lake, a challenging day trek which will get you acclimatized for the rest of the journey.
The following is a six-day trek that will get you up to the Thorong La Pass and back to Manang, without going through the same route.
|2||Churi Ledar||Thorong Pedi Base Camp||4.5km|
|3||Thorong Pedi Base Camp||Thorong Pedi Base Camp (There is another possible stop in between; the Thorong High Camp, but this can be easily skipped if you are well acclimatized and if you start the trek very early)||10km|
|4||Thorong Pedi Base Camp||Shri Kharka||17km|
|5||Yak Kharka||Tilicho Lake and down to Tilicho Base Camp||16.5km|
|6||Tilicho Base Camp||Manang||15km|
Muktinath offers a different experience. While in Manang, we met Simon Kring, a Dutch motorcycle traveler who rode up to both sides of the pass on his KTM 1090. He describes the road to Muktinath as a milder route than Manang. It is mainly made of loose gravel and sand. However, it is still challenging due to steep edges and sharp drops.
He prefers Manang due to its amazing landscape and the challenge it offers. However, riding Muktinath presents a lot of opportunities to ride through the river bed, and if the conditions are not severe due to heavy rain, it is still a lot of fun.
If you want to trek to Thorong La Pass from this side, you can do so in a day. However, it is a challenging couple of hours because you trek an elevation of 1657 meters compressed in around eight kilometers.
We met Akrosh and Ankit; two Indian bikers that were riding a Harley Davidson Street 750 and a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350. They rode up to Muktinath and trekked up to Thorong La Pass the following day. It took them five hours to trek up and two hours to go down. Akrosh describes it as an extreme challenge due to the lack of oxygen and the increasing altitude in such a short while. But if you are limited with time and wish to try to reach the Thorong La Pass, it is worth the struggle. One should keep in mind that it is not ideal to climb up to these altitudes without acclimatizing properly. Doing this might increase the risk of getting altitude sickness, which can be fatal.
Fuel: Fill up your tank in Besisahar (Manang side) or Beni (Muktinath side). There are no further fuel pumps from there onwards. Moreover, carry some extra with you.
Money: ATM’s are only available in Besisahar, Beni and Jomsom.
Water: As soon as you start going up, the prices go up with you! Carry water purifying tablets (easily found in Pokhara and Kathmandu) and extra bottles so you can fill up from the various taps along the trails.
Other sites worth a ride
The place to be after days of riding or to chill out after trekking. Pokhara is a hip village next to a picturesque lake and it is ideal for meeting travelers and for indulging in various cuisine and some booze!
Kushma – Gyadi Bridges
Suspension bridges are all over the country. However, in Kushma you can find three bridges close to each other that are the longest and highest in Nepal. Reaching them is only 57 kilometers west of Pokhara and they are worth the thrill!
52km from Besisahar.
A quiet village on a hilltop with nice guesthouses and restaurants and a great viewpoint.
28km from Kathmandu.
A hill station with awesome views, small market stalls and good restaurants ideal for a lunch stop. If you plan to stay instead of going back to Kathmandu, there are also a couple of nice wild camping spots!
15km from Kathmandu.
In between Kathmandu and Nagarkot, Bhaktapur is a traditional village that is worth a visit.
The BP Highway
If you crave a good twisty ride, awesome scenery and some pannier scraping action, this road is a must!