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Join the ride of a lifetime into one of the most unexplored regions of the Himalayas: Upper Mustang. It opened up for tourism in 1997 and only a limited amount of tourists are allowed into Upper Mustang per year. The Mustang provides experienced riders with an adventure that very few have done before, especially not on a motorcycle. It’s not an easy ride but the rewards are plentiful. Most of the route rides close to 4,000 meters on terrain, which regularly encounters landslides, snowfall, or rain; which is all part of the adventure. Explore360° is one of the very few tour companies to have a tour to this region. It is beyond doubt the most thrilling and unique Himalayan journey on two wheels. See you out there!
During your stay in Kathmandu and Pokhara, you’ll stay in beautiful 5-star boutique hotels. In Upper Mustang, the accommodation varies from basic to very basic and you need to bring a sleeping bag for those cold nights high up in the mountains. Single room will only be available in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Due to accommodation restrictions, Explore360° cannot guarantee single rooms when travelling in Mustang.
Namasté, meaning welcome / hello, is probably the first thing you’ll hear when arriving in the capital of Nepal with its chaotic traffic and busyness of people everywhere. You’ll be staying in Thamel in a beautiful boutique hotel, which feels like a quiet oasis in the middle of all chaos. Thamel is the area where most tourists stay and where sightseeing and shops are in the neighbourhood.
While the special permits for Upper Mustang will be finalized for you today, you can spend the day sightseeing Kathmandu. The Pashupatinath temple, the holiest temple for Hindus where cremations take place along the river and the Swayambhunath temple also known as the “monkey temple” are on the program. Before dinner, you’ll have the tour briefing so everybody knows what to expect.
Today, you get up early to get the morning flight to Pokhara, which takes about half an hour. In Pokhara, you stay in a lovely hotel close to the lakeside and here, you’ll receive your motorcycles. When done with all the paperwork for getting the bikes and had lunch, you’ll go for a ride in the surroundings to get used to the bikes and the left-hand side traffic and ride out of Pokhara up to Sarangkot for a beautiful view of the spectacular Annapurnas.
Once back in Pokhara, the evening is set-aside for the final check and packing of bags because tomorrow you are on the way! Last minute questions are answered over dinner and drinks and the excitement builds before hitting the road tomorrow.
Start early with the Himalayas on the back-ground. On a clear day, you can see from Dhaulagiri to the west. You’ll pass Nepal’s longest suspension bridge at Kusma on your way up. After lunch, you soon say goodbye to the pavement at Beni and hit the dirt. You ride along the Kali Gandaki river for a couple of hours before arriving at Lete, a village that looks like one in the Alps and will stay in a guesthouse.
Today, you will ride through the world’s deepest gorge which is more than 8,000 meters deep! Dhaulagiri (8,167 meters) is on your left and Annapurna I (8,091 meters) is on your right. The terrain is tough at times as you climb over rocky slopes and cross through waterfalls. At Jomson, you’ll have a beak and get your permit checked in Kaghbeni and then on to Upper Mustang! Once in Upper Mustang, you continue to follow the Kali Gandaki north passing through Chusang and pass an old regional salt mine.
Salt was one of the major trade stocks in times gone by and played a very important role in the development of the region. Just before Chele, you’ll cross the Kali Gandaki river by bridge, or through the river itself when not too deep. You will be staying in a basic guest-house with some beautiful views over the valley from the roof terrace.
After breakfast, you head north as the road climbs higher until you reach the Dojori pass. Don’t forget to look back once in a while, because the views on the Annapurnas will literally take your breath away. Then, on to the toughest sections on this tour and you might need to give each other a hand. It goes steep up loose rocks and vertical cliffs. You might get vertigo!
You continue on, admire the view at each of the high-passes (4,000 meters) before descending down to beautiful Ghami; a village which has managed to cultivate apple orchards in the dry climate and has incredible apple pie. When on time, you make a short loop to the coloured mountains of Dhakmar. Breath taking!
Deeper and deeper, you ride into Buddhist country, passing Nepal’s longest Mani-wall just north of Ghami, through the village Tsarang from where you’ll ride up to Ghar Gumba, one of the oldest monastery in the area (8th century). Then, on towards the ancient walled city of Lo Manthang. You’ll climb up the last pass and might encounter some fesh-fesh, the talk powder sand, so it might get dusty! But then, you'll be looking down into the valley, seeing Lo Manthang, the ancient walled city. Finally, you made it!
Today, you can either have a resting day or a short ride in the surroundings where there are many sights of interest. Some of the most fascinating are the caves at Chosur. These caves are carved high into the cliffs and are a labyrinth of small rooms and tunnels; even up to 5 floors and 85 rooms! You then take the long way home via several small villages along the east of the river to Lo Manthang. In the afternoon, you will have a guided tour through the town and visit the three monasteries in Lo Manthang by one of the monks.
You can take a slow morning and get ready to descent again. You say goodbye to Lo Manthang and start your journey back. The Annapurnas grow in size as you ride towards the Himalayas and drop from the Tibetan plateau. You’ll visit Tsarang shortly. It’s home to the king’s winter palace and one of the regions' largest functioning monasteries. After a coffee break, you descend further, pass the steep roads at Samar again, and luckily, you go downhill this time. You’ll pass the town of Geling which you bypassed on the way north, and will stay a bit south of it in a very basic guest-house.
No trip to Mustang would be complete without a visit to the ancient Hindu city of Muktinath. There is a sacred Hindu temple that pilgrims from all across the sub continent try to visit at least once during their lives. The temple houses an ancient shrine surrounded by 108 water fountains fed by glacial water. To cleanse your sins, you must run through each of the water fountains and then take a dip in each of the two pools. You’ll be ending the day in charming Kaghbeni, the gateway to Upper Mustang.
Down you go! From nearly 3,000 meters, you drop to 1,200 meters at Tatopani; where the taste of the cold beer and a dip in the hot springs await, after a long day avoiding buses, pilgrims, hikers, and pot-holes.
You will leave Mustang behind you today and head back to Kathmandu. After lunch, you go on and ride to Bandipur; a gem of a village on top of a mountain and former hub on trading routes. You’ll be staying in a guesthouse with a beautiful view of the mighty Himalayas, which you passed just a couple of days ago.
It’s time for the last stretch and it’s all tarmac to Kathmandu. The traffic will get busier the closer you approach the city; cars, buses, scooters, motorcycles, and people everywhere! But, you take your time to get into town back to your hotel where you started your adventure 2 weeks ago. In the evening, you’ll have your last dinner together and maybe you’ll even end up in Sam’s bar. It’s the last night of the tour tonight, you know.
All good things come to an end, so it’s time to fly home again. But, you will carry an experience of a lifetime with you. You rode Upper Mustang and there are not many others who can say so.
This tour is suitable for drivers with intermediate / advanced off-road experience and you need a good general fitness. The route goes mostly over (tough) gravel roads, to more bumpy tracks with stones, sand, and rocks and the majority of the routes are on high altitude (between 2,500 and 4,000 meters). Total distance is approximately 1000 kilometers whereof 80% is off-road, not in distance but in time.
It’s mandatory to have experience with gravel riding, or you must have joined an advanced off-road course before (like the ORS in Wales). If you have joined a tour with Explore360° (for example: to Morocco or Iceland), your riding skills are probably good enough. Just get in touch when in doubt!
Driving on asphalt as well as on gravel, passes with narrow switchbacks (paved and gravel) are no problem for you. Off-road (gravel) riding experience is mandatory. The off-road part is mostly over 30 % of the total distance. Challenging sections with bigger stones, steep climbs/descents and/or sand are possible.
This tour is not applicable for participants without any off-road / gravel riding experiences. You are experienced with off-road / gravel riding, and/or have had a 1- or 2-day training course.
This tour is suitable for drivers with advanced off-road experience and good fitness. The daily routes can be pretty long. The tour consist mostly of off-road parts including demanding and difficult routes with single-tracks, sand, big stones, mud, and water crossings.
This tour is not recommended for participants without any off-road experiences. You must have an extensive experience with off-road / gravel riding and/or have had an advanced off-road course.
The Upper Mustang area is close to the border with China and only a few tourist per year are allowed in this truly undiscovered area. This tour leads you to places where not many tourist have been on a motorcycle. With the Annapurna mountains and its 8,000-meter peaks, it’s hard to keep your eyes from those breath-taking Himalayas.
The food is very much Indian-orientated. Spicy if you like, sometimes basic but good. Try local dishes like Daalbat (rice with some vegetables and chicken) or some delicious Mo Mo (dumplings with different kind of fillings and a spicy sauce).
Tribhuvan International Airport
Transfer not provided
Please book your flight to arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM).
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