Cycle the Annapurnas 2018

Itinerary

Day 1:  22nd October 2018  Maya Manor Boutique Hotel 

Depart Australia.  Arrive in Kathmandu and after obtaining your Visa and clearing Customs, you will be transferred to your hotel.  You’ll meet your guides and then have a few hours to rest or explore, before enjoying a welcome dinner.

Day 2:  23rd October 2018  Maya Manor Boutique Hotel  (B)

Settle into the Nepali way of life.  Wander the medieval backstreets of Kathmandu, visit ancient temples, catch a glimpse of the living goddess, sit down to a plate of steaming momo's, Dal Bhat or Gaykok and slurp the local Tibetan brew, Tongba, through a straw.  Haggle with shopkeepers, explore the museums and markets and soak up all of the exotic sights, sounds and smells.  

The back street maze of Thamel, where you can get everything and anything. 
Day 3:  24th October 2018  Maya Manor Boutique Hotel  (B)

After an early breakfast, we'll head due north into the Kathmandu valley with your local bike guide, to tune your bike and legs on the fantastic trails that this area has to offer.  After that, last minute shopping and then the difficult decision of which restaurant to eat in.

Day 3:  24th October 2018  Maya Manor Boutique Hotel  (B)

After an early breakfast, we'll head due north into the Kathmandu valley with your local bike guide, to tune your bike and legs on the fantastic trails that this area has to offer.  After that, last minute shopping and then the difficult decision of which restaurant to eat in.

Villages along the drive down the Tribhuvan Highway.
Day 5:  26th October 2018 Besi Sahar (800m) to Tal (1,700m).   Local Lodge (B,L,D)  

  

A big up and down day on the basic Manang-Dumre jeep track, avoiding vehicles, dodging around trekkers, pony trains and goat herds. You'll follow the Marsyangdi River upstream through terraced farmlands and rhododendron forests, past waterfalls and over suspension bridges.

 

When you reach Bhulbhule, the road inclines gradually until Syange, then the steep uphill sections start.  Past Chemche you'll hit a series of gruelling switchbacks and steep, rocky inclines, until you finally arrive at the Manang District welcome gate.  Near the gate, nestled at the base of a large waterfall on the sandy beaches of the river, is Tal, the first Buddhist settlement along the trail and your stop for the night

Today's lower stages through villages and forest, provides some protection from the elements, a good introduction to the tough riding in Nepal.
Day 6:  27th October 2018  Tal (1,700m) to Chame (2,710m).  Local Lodge (B,L,D)

 

Riding through a deep gorge, there are steep climbs out of Tal, which will feel harder as the air thins.  Always keep to the wall side of the road and take particular care when passing the donkey trains, as they often, suddenly change their course. 

 

Wooden and suspension bridges, possible muddy tracks and more gruelling climbs on 35 degree forested trails, will eventually bring you to Timang, a well earned lunch spot.   Leave the road behind as the trail descends into a pine forest.  When you reach the 3 chortens, the trail decends steeply into a side valley, only to climb straight back up the other side to the Tibetan style village of Thanchowk, where you will get  your first glimpse of the Annapurnas.   From where it is an easy pedal into Chame. 

Make sure you ride to the left of the mani wall and prayer wheels, as you enter the village of Chame.  For most of the trail you are never far from a tea-house for a quick carb re-load.
Day 7:  October 28th  Chame (2,710m) to Yak Ru (Ghyaru) (3,670m).  Local Lodge (B,L,D)

Our first acclimitisation day starts with some level riding, before climbing through dense pine forests past mani walls and Paungda Danda rock face.  This impressive curved slab of rock, rises 1500m from the river below, and you'll have your first amazing views of Annapurna II, Pisang Peak, Himalchulli and Ngadi Chuli.   

 

The trail continues across another suspension bridge over the Marsyangdi and through dense pine forests, to Upper Pisang. Here, you will leave the main trail and fork right, climbing through the pine groves with glimpses of the turquoise lake, Mring Tso, below.  Another long suspension bridge at Methang before the 350m ascent up a series of switchbacks to the medieval village of Ghyaru. 

The view is stunning, with the Marsyangdi valley below, the towering peaks of Annapurna in the south and a flat axe shaped mountain called Swarga Dwari (Heaven's Gate) in the east. 

Riding across the valley floor, towards Paungda Danda rock face in the distance.
You will really start to feel the altitude on the switchback climb to Ghyaru, take your time, this is great altitude training.
Day 8:  October 29th  Yak Ru (Ghyaru) to Manang (3,540m).  Local Lodge (B,L,D)

 

On a clear morning, sunrise is stunning.  Leaving this medieval village, you might have to walk your bike along the icy path for a bit before the trail becomes rideable again. The trail stays high and you pass the ruins of Bandi Lhama Durbar (or Ghale Dzong), a fort used by the Ghale family when it ruled this part of the valley seven to eight hundred years ago.  Ngawal

The rideable downhill trail goes through Ngawal, traverses the hillside to Portichhe, then levels out to the picturesque village of Bragha, where we meet the main road to Manang.  Bragha is worth a long stop or a visit back to it the next day.  The Gompa (temple), is estimated to be over 500 years old and the 200 or so houses are stacked on top of each other where one persons verandah is their lower neighbours roof.

 

The big wide jeep road follows the beautiful Marshyangdi River and only another few kilometres ride brings us to the village of Manang where we check into our lodge.  Manang village has all of the modern facilities you will need, an internet cafe and bakery!  Sweet deserts, few freshly baked bread and rolls and access to the outside world.  Manang is also our rest location. We rest an additional day in Manang and get acclimatized before ascending the higher altitudes towards Thorong-La.

Bragha Gompa is situated at the very top of the village and contains an outstanding collection of ancient thangkas, manuscripts and statues.
Day 9:  October 30th  Acclimatisation day Manang (3,540m).  Local Lodge (B,L,D)

 

Today is the chance to again improve your acclimatisation by climbing high, either on foot or bike, and sleeping low back in Manang. There are many stunning side trips to peaks, lakes and glacial moraines with views to the summits of Annapurna and Gangapurna, less than 8kms away.  

 

The Himalayan Rescue Association operates an aid post here, with foreign doctors available for advice and consultation, as well as free daily lectures on altitude sickness at 3pm.  Make sure you are back in time for the lecture, as they proudly claim that no one who has attended, has died from altitude sickness.

Situated in a high mountain valley, with six to eight thousand meter high mountains towering over it, Manang has its own microclimate, often impervious to the normal monsoon weather pattern the rest of the country experiences. 
You can buy almost anything in Manang, from warm socks to freshly baked bread and the restaurant menus offer a wide and ambitious variety including, yak steak, quesadillas, chocolate cake and filtered coffee.
Manang is an ideal base for exploratory day rides or hikes, climbing high for the day will speed up acclimatisation.
Day 10:  October 31st  Manang (3,540m) to Thorong Phedi (4,450m)   Local Lodge (B,L,D) 

Even though today is the shortest riding day, it is a very tough day!  The air thins as the trail steadily gains elevation, climbing out of the Marsyangdi Valley into the Jarsang Khola Valley.  

 

Riding past fields of yaks, well above the tree line, and possibly in snow, you'll have great views of Annapurna II and IV, to distract you from the pressure you feel on your legs, as you manoeuvre slippery, icy uphill trails.  Continue over suspension bridges and past mani walls, nearly always climbing, until you reach Thorong Phedi, where the basic accommodation keeps out the elements as you try to get some sleep in the high altitude.

Keep an eye out for any early signs of AMS, hydrate well and have an early night, it's another big day tomorrow.

With the tree-line now left well behind, the trail is short, but steep and unforgiving.
Day 11:  November 1st  Training ride - Thorong Phedi (4,450m), to Kagbeni (2,840m).  Local Lodge (B,L,D)

Long before dawn, shoulder your bike and start the 5km slow climb, in and out of moraine canyons, past the many false summits, to reach the top of Thorong La pass at 5,416m.  

 

The first 1,616m of descent is extremely difficult, regardless of the conditions, riding down endless switchbacks through either thick and melting snow, or on slippery loose gravel scree.  Then it's a fast and flowing single-track to the pilgrimage town of Muktinath, housing the temple of the eternal flame. 

 

The last 960m of descent is on jeep trails, ending in the ancient village of Kagbeni.  Many of the buildings in the old part of town around the fortress ruins have remained unchanged for centuries, with the Red Monastery founded in 1429.

Be prepared to shoulder your bike in the early morning darkness and endure little oxygen and a never ending 5km climb to the top of Throng La pass.
What more is there to say!
You have spent 7 days climbing, now it's time to descend.
Day 12:  November 2nd  Kagbeni (2,840m) to Marpha (2,650m) via Luprak Valley  Local Lodge (B,L,D)

Surrounded by 8,000 meter peaks, we avoid a lot of the jeep trail today by climbing on the lesser used single track out of Kagbeni, before descending to the traditional village of Luprak.  It is one of the few areas left where they still practise the animistic Bon religion, which pre-dates Buddhism, and continue to perform black magic.

Continue the descent through Jomsom, a district headquarters of Mustang, and onto the propserous village of Marpha, known for it's apple orchards.   

We then call it a day of on reaching Marpha, a picturesque village known for its apple orchards.  Spend the rest of the day wandering town, visiting the Gompa or seriously indulging in their incredible apple pies and warming apple brandy

The culture of the Lubra village is a highly complex affair in which the canonical Bon religion is intricately interwoven with folk ceremony.
Descending from Upper Mustang, Marpha is an oasis of apple and apricot orchards, and fields of barley.
Day 13:  November 3rd  Marpha (2,650m) to Tatopani (1,190m)    Local Lodge (B,L,D)

A fast and furious day which starts early, so you can ride through the Kali Gandaki gorge before the mid-morning, southerly headwind commences to howl, whipping up dust and sand. 

 

If your legs are feeling strong, and the water is low, there are chances to leave the jeep track behind and explore new side trails across temporary bridges and river-side gravel bars.  The rest of the time, you will be sharing the track with cars, trucks, bikes, pony trains and the odd sadhu.

At the end of the day, relax in one of Tatopani's, stone, hot-spring pools, where the water is around 37C.  And as it is your last night with some of the crew, they will organise a farewell ceremony with song, dance, laughter and alcohol.

A huge all-day descent that clears the arid landscape and immerses you back into the forest.
Day 14:  November  4th  Tatopani (1,190m) to Beni (830m) then drive to Pokhara   Mount Kailash Resort (B)

A hot and dusty ride to Beni, can be somewhat challenging after riding in the cool, high altitude.  Best to again start early, to avoid some of the heat on this undulating, final days ride. At Beni, we will catch a local bus to the resort town of Pokhara.

With all the climbs, the altitude and the cold behind you, Pokhara is a great place to kick-back, recover eat, shop and just take it easy.  Everything in this laid back version of Kathmandu, is within easy reach of Mount Kailash Resort.

Out of the saddle in Pokhara, there is time for reflections on your ride and the mountains you rode around.
Day 15-16:  November 5th - 6th  Mount Kailash Resort (B)

Your time is your own.  Chill by the lake or pool, eat every hour in a different restaurant, explore the shops, enjoy a massage or take a meditation or yoga class.  Your guide will be happy to direct you to the International Mountain Museum, Tibetan carpet factories and monasteries.

 

If you feel like a bit of movement, maybe spin the legs on some flatlands, take a walk up to Peace Pagoda, stand-up paddle or be rowed around the lake.  In the evening, explore the myriad of restaurants and bars mixed with a bit of late night haggling.

  

But, for those who don't want to rest just yet, welcome to the adventure-sports capital of Nepal.  Seek out an adrenaline-hit by tandem paragliding, bungee jumping, ultra light flying or travel120kmh on a 1.8km zip line.

The adventure is never over until you are back home.   
Day 17:  November 7th  Maya Manor Boutique Hotel (B)

Catch the early morning tourist bus for the 6-8 hour drive, back to the wonderful craziness and sensory overload of Kathmandu.  

Kathmandu and the gang is back in town.
Day 18:  November 8th  Maya Manor Boutique Hotel  (B)

A free day to wander and visit the medieval squares of Thamel, Bhaktapur or Patan, lose your way in the maze of back alleys and lanes, explore ancient temples, take a guided sightseeing tour or just eat, shop and rest.  

Kathmandu has more Unesco World Heritage sites than any other city in the world and Buddhism and Hinduism sit happily side-by-side.
Day 19:  November 9th  (B)

After breakfast and goodbyes, transfer is provided to the airport for your flight back to Melbourne.

Day 20:  November 10th  

Arrive back Australia.  

WLJ

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