Stunning panorama on the Singletrack Nomads 17 Day Upper Mustang trip
Epic singletrack trails around the Kali Gandhaki Valley in Mustang, Nepal
Upper Mustang is rich in history and as well as great trail biking, offers an epic cultural journey.
Rough, technical singletrack to test the best mountain bike riders in Nepal

UPPER MUSTANG SINGLETRACK MTB TOUR, NEPAL

This unique 17 day singletrack mountain biking tour explores the vast, forgotten and breathtaking Buddhist “forbidden kingdom” of Upper Mustang in the Nepali Himalaya, discovering a high altitude desert area where traditional Tibetan style villages and genuine, spiritual beliefs remain unaffected by western culture.

Biking on a wide variety of mountain bike trails that are often rough and physically challenging, we are led by Rakesh Manandhar (aka. Rocky), a leading and vastly experienced Nepalese singletrack specialist MTB guide, racer and UCI board member. From advanced technical sections and super enduro downhills, to epic climbs and easier going adventure touring, there are plenty of opportunities and the riding can be customised to suit all abilities from intermediate to advanced- just bring a sense of adventure and thirst for fun. But this is a mountain biking trip of outstanding cultural proportions, and is about so much more than the dusty trails that lead our way.

Nepal Upper Mustang Singletrack Tour Information

Once forbidden to foreigners, Upper Mustang has been opened for tourism since 1992 but the region is still wild, little visited and culturally true to the old, untouched Tibet. Lo-Manthang, ancient capital of the former Kindom of Lo and the ultimate destination of this route, is a remote settlement at 3800m that dates from the 15th century.

This is an area where only handful of foreigners ever visit and entrance is only possible with a special permit (included with this tour package). Here an expansive landscape of red cliffs are dotted with over 10,000 mystic man made caves, holding archaeological secrets dating back to at least 2000 years. Words can’t really describe this unique area and its importance in ancient Tibetan culture- a land where Nomads herd yaks in the high pastures, rosy cheeked locals toil the arid soil to earn a living and Buddhist customs are almost untouched by the outside world. On the tour your luggage is transported by pack animals rather than motor vehicle, a welcome chance to leave behind modern life and focus on the unforgettable biking journey of cultural discovery.

Upper Mustang is one of the two main divisions of the Mustang District in northwestern Nepal, situated on the northern rain shadow of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri and south of the Tibetan plateau and Chinese frontier. Our journey to reach it goes high onto the Tibetan Plateau at a maximum altitude of 4300 meters. As you leave Lower Mustang and venture deeper in to the Kaligandaki gorge you’ll leave behind the familiar Nepali greeting of “Namaste”, now replaced by “Tashi Delek” in the local reigional dialect. This area is the home of an ancient Tibetan Kingdom with a recorded history dating back 700 years. The culture of Mustang is distinctly Tibetan and Lo-Manthang is one of the last places where you can see this ancient culture, relatively untouched by modern influences, located in a province whose name translates as ‘Across the Himalayas”.

Trip Facts

Price: 2850 Euros
Trip length: 17 Days
Group size: 4-12 persons
Guides: Rakesh Manandhar, accompanied by second guide on groups of 8 or more.

Grading:

Smaller and private groups are possible- please ask about our group booking discounts.

We can also organise tours on other dates – please ask. The trip is sold excluding airfare, but we can help you with bookings if you wish.

Included in the trip

  • All airport transfers in Kathmandu
  • Kathmandu accommodation with breakfast in twin share basis
  • Domestic flights and transportation as per itinerary
  • All necessary permits including restricted area permit to Upper Mustang (currently $500)
  • Meals and accommodation during the ride in best available Tea Houses
  • Guides, mechanics and porters

Excluded from the trip

  • International flights
  • Meals in Kathmandu & Pokhara
  • Personals like laundry, phone calls, internet etc
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks
  • Personal insurance
  • Rescue and early departure from the group
  • Tips for the guides and porters

Map

ITINERARY

Your guide will meet you at your hotel in the morning to check your gear and organise details needed for the special park permit to visit Mustang. If any bicycle parts or travel gear is needed, you can shop for these with your guide in town. Otherwise you have the rest of the day to explore the chaotic wonder that is Kathmandu, including a spot of sighting seeing at some of Kathmandu’s seven world heritage sites.

  • Accommodation: 3-5 star hotel
  • Meals included: Breakfast

This morning we drive by private minibus to Pokhara on an extremely scenic 6 hour route that offers glimpses of traiditional Nepali hill villages and paddy fields along with distant panoramas of the impressive Annapurna Massif. Pokhara is a tourist town and is the entry point to the Annapurna mountain range and Mustang. On arrival in Pokhara, you can rest in the afternoon and enjoy activities around the lakeside.

  • Accommodation: 3-4 star hotel
  • Meals included: Breakfast and Lunch

The early morning 20 minute flight to Jomsom is certainly one of the most amazing air journeys in the world- simply breathtaking as the plane’s wingtips almost touch the snow capped peaks. From Jomson, capital of Lower Mustang, there are awesome views to the mighty Annapurna range at 8091m, and after breakfast in the lap of Mount Nilgiri we set up our bikes and get ready to cycle.

The ride to Kagbeni is easy going on a rocky jeep track along the Kali Gandaki gorge (the world’s deepest valley). Also famous as a holy trekking trail, we may come across a handful of trekkers and pilgrims, mainly from India, on their way to the holy temple with the eternal flame in Muktinath that burns from a natural gas source. We spend the rest of the day exploring Kagbeni and its narrow alleyways, traditional tightly packed homes and colourful flagpoles.

  • Accommodation: Teahouse with comfortable, basic facilities
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Today our journey enters into the forbidden land of Upper Mustang. We continue the journey north along the Kali Gandaki river for 14km amongst incredible desert scenery, climbing to the Gyu La pass and descending to Chusang, where we will stop and rest for a while.

After lunch, we follow the banks of the river further up to arrive at the small riverside village of Chele. This is a nice little village which offers awesome views of Mount Nilgiri and the Kaligandaki Valley. Here, we explore some ancient buildings and a monastery before settling into our tea house for the evening ahead.

  • Accommodation: Teahouse with comfortable, basic facilities
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

We begin with an uphill start to the small village of Samar (3660m), part of the way carrying our bikes up steep stone steps. Heading further north into the Himalayas we work hard to summit no less than four passes in between Chaile and Syangboche, stopping at Samar for lunch then riding onwards towards Syangboche. Here it’s likely we’ll meet some village people, ponies and donkeys along the way. Shortly after the village of Syangboche (3880m), we cross Syangboche pass at 3850m before making a gradual singletrack descent to the large village of Ghiling, riding by barley fields and enjoying amazing views of Nilgiri, Annapurna and Mustang.

  • Accommodation: Teahouse with comfortable, basic facilities
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Today we start out with a gradual ascent up to Nyi La Pass at 4010m, again offering fine views of Annapurna and Nilgiri. Continuing along jeep tracks, we contour around Kail Danda to another pass of Ghami La at 3765m before riding down to Ghami village (3520m). We stop here for lunch and take a few moments to explore the old streets of the village. As we exit the village we pass the longest maniwall (sacred dry stone prayer walls) of Mustang and make a steady climb to Chinggel La pass at 3870m. We then ride down to Chrang, passing a small Chorten gate. The scenery opens up and there are fields of mustard and barley in which make for lush pockets of greenery, often with grazing Yaks. This is one of the most scenic days with the ever changing colours from yellows and browns to reds, greys and blues as the sun moves across the Himalayan sky. We have lunch in a local tea house and then ride on through farmland where yaks graze to cross a bridge by another Mani wall and an ancient Gumba monument.

The last pass is followed by an epic, super fun downhill that takes us towards Charang where can finally we can relax after the big day. Charang is beautiful village with a 400 year old monastery that’s home to the oldest library in the region of Lo- a great village to hang out and a photographer’s paradise.

  • Accommodation: Teahouse with comfortable, basic facilities
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Today we reach our main destination, the capital of Lo at Lo-Manthang, via a tough pass is also known as Lo La (meaning ”windy pass”) at 3950m. From here there are magical views of the ancient walled city, your first tantalising experience of the lost kingdom. The barren brown landscape is scattered with fields of vibrant green and gold rolling with the wind under the vivid blue sky- a truly memorable scene. Living mostly as subsistence farmers along an ancient Nepal-Tibet trading route, Mustangi people have a proud rich culture embedded in Tibetan Buddhism.

For the next two days we will explore the town and its surrounding area, visiting significant historical and cultural sites including four major gompas (monasteries), the palace and home of the king and queen of the Lo kingdom. In the Royal Palace we may have the privilege of having tea or perhaps dinner with the King of Lo himself- what an experience! One of the monasteries is over 900 years old and displays some of the most beautiful Thangka paintings found in Nepal. The intricate details and vivid colours of these paintings is a stark contrast to the wide open spaces of the region. All of this is the context of world class singletrack riding, don’t forget- it’s not just about the sights, there’s riding to be done too…

  • Accommodation: Teahouse with comfortable, basic facilities
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Our big day back to Ghami begins with an early start and includes some challenging climbing followed by a combination of single tracks, superb switchbacks and entertaining jeep tracks. Leaving behind Lo-Manthang, we bike over the 4090 meter Pangla Pass, on challenging (75% rideable) single track, with great views from the top. From the pass the road leads steadily down to Dhakma, and the descent is awesome- fast, challenging, smile wrenchingly fun. The landscape changes from red to blue and is especially breathtaking around sunset and sunrise. Around Ghami there are some interesting village ruins to explore as well as the longest Mani Wall in Mustang which is found near the Japanese Hospital.

  • Accommodation: Teahouse with comfortable, basic facilities
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

This is an enjoyable reverse ride via the same technical hiking tracks we passed through on our way in. There is quite a bit of climbing involved today as we climb over Nyla Pass (4010m) followed by a downhill to Syangboche where we will have lunch. Nyla is one of the most scenic passes on the trip with stunning views of the entire Mustang Region and the Annapurna and Niligiri Mountain Ranges. After lunch head to Ranchung Cave along some pretty stunning single track in the gorge. In the caves lives one old monk who acts as the curator of the holy places. One and a half hours of push and carry follows before a sweet single track downhill takes us to Samar.

  • Accommodation: Teahouse with comfortable, basic facilities
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

We continue on technical downhill trails back to Chhusang (2980m) and then follow the undulating jeep trail by the Kali Gandhaki river to Kagbeni. Along the way the route passes the scared place where the ancient art of Sky Burial is carried out. Here you may see the rare Himalayan Vultures soaring in the sky. We continue cycling on down to Kagbeni where we can enjoy a nice coffee and some western home comforts for the first time in quite a while!

  • Accommodation: 3-5 star hotel
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

In the morning we will drive up to the holy pilgrimage site of Muktinath (3760m) and spend an hour taking in the scenes around the temple. We will then climb up to Lubra pass at 4200m, before enjoying a fun downhill to Marpha on semi technical singletracks and switchbacks via Jomsom and the Lubra valley. Marpha is an apple growing region and green, wooded terrain is a stark and refreshing contrast to the barren, rocky scenery of Mustang in the higher reaches.

  • Accommodation: 3-5 star hotel
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

The downhill continues as we ride fast on jeep trails and singletracks to the hot springs retreat of Tatopani. In the afternoon we can soak in the relaxing warm spring waters of the bath and enjoy a few beers- as you see, the riding is getting easier and home comforts are returning. Well, we worked hard for it… Still the riding is world class…

  • Accommodation: 3-5 star hotel
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Today is an easy day starting with a fast ride on jeep tracks downhill to Beni, our last biking destination. From here it’s a picturesque four-hour drive back to Pokhara.

  • Accommodation: 3-5 star hotel
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Today we take a 25 minute flight back to Kathmandu, and on our return catch some last minute shopping or sight seeing. Tonight we will have a final farewell dinner and celebration of the trip, but in the meantime there is time to relax, unwind, or go off on individual explorations…

  • Accommodation: 4-5 star hotel
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

The tour ends after breakfast today. We drive you to Katmandu Airport at a time convenient for your onward travel.

  • Meals included: Breakfast

Departures

Date: October 10th – 26th 2017
Place: Katmandu
Price: €2850
Guides: Rakesh Manandhar
Places available: Yes
Date:  March 25th – April 10th 2018
Place: Katmandu
Price: €2850
Guide: Rakesh Manandhar
Places available: Yes
Date: October 7th – 23rd 2018
Place: Katmandu
Price: €2850
Guide: Rakesh Manandhar
Places available: Yes

*We reserve the right for price changes that are outside of our control

GOOD TO KNOW...

Video

About the Area:
Upper Mustang is one of the two main divisions of the Mustang District in northwestern Nepal, situated on the northern rain shadow of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri and south of the Tibetan plateau and Chinese frontier. Our journey to reach it goes high onto the Tibetan Plateau at a maximum altitude of 4300 meters. As you leave Lower Mustang and venture deeper in to the Kaligandaki gorge you’ll leave behind the familiar Nepali greeting of “Namaste”, now replaced by “Tashi Delek” in the local regional dialect.

This area is the home of an ancient Tibetan Kingdom with a recorded history dating back 700 years. The culture of Mustang is distinctly Tibetan and Lo-Manthang is one of the last places where you can see this ancient culture, relatively untouched by modern influences, located in a province whose name translates as ‘Across the Himalayas. Lo-Manthang, the ultimate destination of this route, is an area where only handful of foreigners ever visit and only possible with a special permit. The town was constructed in the 15th century on a plateau 3800 meters above sea level. If you can visit in early May, the trip coincides with the spring Tiji festival where you’ll experience rich traditional displays of music, dance and costume to celebrate the arrival of spring after the harsh winter.

Grading:
To safely enjoy this trip you should be an experienced trail rider and prepared for properly steep cycling on narrow paths with some minor drops, large stones, stream beds and some exposed. Many harder sections can easily be walked, so we don’t wish to discourage careful, adventurous intermediate level riders. “Better safe than sorry” is a valid slogan in this context. Technical S3: Sections of challenging, steep and rocky singletrack with some exposure, requiring singletrack experience and good bike handling. However, the well used nature of the trails make them suitable for intermediate and improving riders. Physical Grade 4: Challenging- requires strong physical fitness

Getting There:
The tour starts and finishes in Kathmandu, Nepal, to where a huge range of international flights are available.

Practical Details and Further Info:
When you book the tour we’ll send you a detailed set of trip notes, explaining practical matters, how to prepare, what to bring etc, but in the meantime if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

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