4600 highest altitude ( korola boder )
Summary An epic journey through remote and stunning stretches of the country. It’s a challenging and technical ride, suitable for experienced riders only. There are teahouses on this route.
The first obstacle is forking out the US$500 permit to visit the restricted region of Upper Mustang (applicable for 10 days). Furthermore, you’ll need to be part of an organized tour – but this can be as simple as employing a guide, which in the long run is a good idea to make sure you’re on the right path. With the number of hills you’re about to tackle, a porter is highly recommended too.
Flying into Jomsom (unless you’re nuts and want to ride there from Pokhara, an increasingly popular uphill assault), the journey begins with a gentle two-hour ride that’ll take you to the first night’s stop at the Buddhist village of Kagbeni (2801m). Day two is a mostly uphill ride along the jeep track to Muktinath, taking things slowly to get acclimatized to the altitude while allowing you to take in stunning mountain views. The next day takes you into the restricted region of Upper Mustang, starting with an uphill climb to Gyu La (4077m). This involves carrying your bike at times, but you are rewarded with a 1000m descent along a single track. The final stage is a slight climb and river crossing to reach Chele (3050m), where you spend the night.
The next day is shorter but no less taxing, as you head up into the hills taking on no less than four passes, all exceeding 3600m. You’ll be following jeep and single tracks, with a mix of steep climbs and descents, and once again you’ll have to lug your bike uphill at times. Stop for the night below Syangboche La (3800m) on the Syangboche River.
While day five begins with more climbing (sigh), once you’ve cleared Syangboche La and Nyi La (4010m), rest assured the remainder of the day has mostly flat tracks. It also has some of the best scenery you’ll see on the trip, with great views of the Himalaya, valleys and bright-yellow mustard fields. Overnight in Charang (Tsarang), with its 400-year-old Gulpa Sect Monastery.
Day six sets out to the crowning jewel of the journey, the walled kingdom city of Lo Manthang. You’ll catch your first glimpse of it as you cross the ‘Windy Pass’ of Lo La (3950m). Today is a bit of a climb, but riding is mostly easy along a jeep track, with a 25km total riding distance. Arrive in Lo Manthang at lunchtime, and take a well-earned break. Spend a day or two here taking in the atmosphere of this amazing medieval kingdom. An option for your ‘rest day’ is a side trip up to Garphu following the Kali Gandaki River to Ghom cave.
After giving your legs a day off, it’s time to leave Lo Manthang, starting with a challenging climb over Pangga (Samduling) at 4090m, a 75% rideable singletrack. From here it’s a thrilling downhill road to Dhakmar, with dramatic landscapes. Head on to Ghemi (Ghami) for the night; it’s your last stop in Mustang.
Heading back, on day nine you retrace the same trail with a single-track climb followed by a downhill to Syangboche, spending the night in Samar. Day 10 takes you over Dajori La (3735m) and Taklam La (3624m), passing sky burials en route. Next, you cycle downhill to spend the night in Chhusang. From here you leave Upper Mustang and head back into the Annapurna region, a steady ride along the river taking you back to Kagbeni. You have the option to overnight or continue down the valley to Jomsom, where you either fly to Pokhara or Kathmandu or otherwise complete the ride through to Pokhara.