The first ever group to e-bike their way into the northern fringes of Mustang; experience thrill and adventure with Thamserku Trekking
Text: Mingma Sherpa
Nepal is known for many things including adventure sports like mountain climbing, trekking, wild water rafting, jungle safari and cycling. E-biking is relatively a new concept in Nepal and its unavailability in the market makes it all the more exclusive. In 2019, when we were planning to bring e-bikes into the country, we had only two trips in mind, The Lo Manthang and the Kathmandu to Pokhara route. I did a recce of both the routes myself along with some team members.
We had everything set up and were getting enthusiastic feedback for the e-biking trip to Lomanthang when COVID-19 struck, putting all our plans on hold. We were waiting for the country to reopen so we could welcome the first ever group to e-bike to Lomanthang.
This year, when the country opened up for tourists, we were eager to welcome a group of six from Basque Country to be the first ever e-bikers to reach Lo Manthang as everything had been meticulously planned and prepared for the event. We were going to be the first ever e-bikers to reach Lo Manthang and that too during the Tiji Festival.
We were very excited to welcome the group and flew to Pokhara the same day in order to catch the Jomsom flight the next day. Our crew had already transported the bikes to Jomsom.
Bike to Kagbeni via Phalyak
We started early from Pokhara for our flight to Jomsom. A 35 minutes scenic flight with vifews of Nilgiri and Tukuche peaks on the right as we approach Jomsom. This was the smoothest flight to Jomsom that I have ever been on. One week later we would hear the news of it crashing.
Upon arrival in Jomsom we prepare our bikes. Each numbered bike will be with us for the rest of the trip. We started through the busy town of Jomsom and biked towards Kagbeni, having Kali Gandaki river on our left and Nilgiri peak on the right. After 20 minutes we arrive at a long suspension bridge that takes us towards the village of Phalyak. We cross the suspension bridge and continue biking to Phalyak for a quick acclimatization and ride back through a few single tracks and arrive back at the suspension bridge that we cross and head right towards Kagbeni where we stop for lunch while the crew charges our bikes for the afternoon ride.
After lunch we start our ride towards Muktinath. The uphill ride through the nice black topped road brings us to the village of Khinga and then to another village at the elevation of 3509 mt. From here we ride down through the small alleys of the village until we arrive at the main road. We continued down crossing the river and further down to Kagbeni to experience the local people smiling at us as we rode through the small alleys and arrived at our hotel where we stopped for the night.
Kagbeni to Muktinath
After breakfast, we start our ride towards Muktinath on the black topped road to arrive at the selfie park and take the right to take the off route towards the Muktinath. We gradually ascend in the beginning as the trail slowly becomes more and more challenging until we arrive at the top of a hill with Lupra Village on our right to arrive at the elevation of 3700 mt. After this, we take a gradual descent to meet a jeep track and then continue to reach the top of a hill at 3800 mt and then we take a steep downhill ride until we arrive at Muktinath.
We have lunch at the hotel and then hike up to the Muktinath Temple for a quick acclimatization and return back to the hotel.
Muktinath to Samar via Thorong Phedi
After breakfast, we head north towards the Muktinath Temple and take a left before the staircase and continue ascending. We ascend until we arrive at a flatland but the gradual ascending continues through the loose rocks. We carefully biked our way to arrive at a suspension bridge and then continued uphill until we arrived at a small refuge at the Thorong Phedi at 4200 m.
We rode down after a quick tea and continued through the hills until we arrived at the beautiful ancient village of Jhong. We continue from here through gradual up and down to meet the Jeep track keeping Gyu la pass to our right. Another 13 km through the main road and we arrive at Chuksang where a hearty lunch awaits.
We gear up for Samar, starting the ride crossing a small river to arrive at a bridge from where the uphill ride starts. As the landscape starts changing, now we enter into the sacred Upper Mustang area. We continue until we see Gyakar Village on the left. We continued riding for another 30 minutes to arrive at Samar where we spent the night.
Samar to Charang
An early morning walk to the viewpoint for uninterrupted views of Dhaulagiri, Annapurna 1, Annapurna 3, Nilgiri, Thorong Peak, was as pleasant as could be. After breakfast we started our ride uphill towards the Bhena pass. From here we descend riding down till Syangmochen until Bhena, an adventure for regular and. advanced riders. We descend further from here until we arrive at Ghami where we stop for lunch and charge our bikes.
After lunch we go uphill about 6 km and then descend to Charang, a small beautiful village which will be our last stop until we reach Lo Manthang.
Charang to Lomanthang
A new dawn broke and we started our ride through the village towards Lo Manthang. We descend shortly after until we reach a small river to take a right to take a long uphill through the desert like jeep trail. Passing through as the horses carried load, trekkers walked through the dusty jeep track and the isolated stupas. We keep at it until we arrive at a spot from where we can see Lo Manthang.
We descend through the dusty road and a short uphill to reach the gate of Lo Manthang. We ride to our lodge and after lunch we strolled around the walled city of Lo Manthang.
The Chossar Loop
The ride that day was pretty simple, after breakfast we began our journey to Chossar cave. We passed through the city and descended until we crossed the river and took left and ascended. We continued until we arrived at the Namgyal village, continuing further to arrive at the Namgyal Monastery.
We returned back and took a left passing the small settlements of Phuwa, Kimling and Namdo. We crossed the river and continued to arrive at the Chossar Cave. We took a look around and continued down to the main junction and took a left towards the small lodge built in the cave. We called it a day and returned back.
Lomanthang to Chuksang via Ghar Gompa and Dhakmar
The next day, we started bright and early with a drive up to the view point from where Lomanthang is visible and started our ride from there. We continued on the flat until we arrived at a spot to take a right and ride uphill to arrive at Ghar Gompa. We took a quick look at the oldest monastery and later started riding uphill towards Dhakmar. The long uphill ride is to the top of the pass at 4100 mt, from there it was all riding down until we arrived at Dhakmar where we had our lunch.
We received unfortunate news of the Tara Airlines crashing. A colleague of ours, Shyam, who was supposed to be on the same flight dodged a big one. He had decided to drive that day, and it was probably the best decision of his life. We were thankful for Shyam but still devastated by this horrible accident.
We expressed gratitude for our own lives and went on after lunch to Bhena Pass. From there it was all downhill till Chuksang; one of the most interesting rides until Chuksang, where we spent the night. Shyam arrived late in the evening and we welcomed him with a big group hug.
Chuksang to Jomsom with The Nilgiri Loop
After breakfast we started our ride through the Jeep track following back the same way to Kagbeni with a view of Nilgiri right in front of us. After about one and half hour we arrived at Kagbeni and continued through the side of the river to arrive near Jomsom and take left to head towards the Thini Village from where a long stretch of uphill ride starts right above the village until we reach 3700 mt. We turned right to head into the single track Nilgiri Loop. We rode down the amazing single track until we arrived at Thini village and continued to Jomsom where we had a big lunch. Later, we walked down to the popular eatery, Om’s Home, for dinner.
Jomsom to Lete
We began our journey riding into Lower Mustang. We crossed a suspension bridge and rode a gradual uphill by the side of the river to Dhumba Lake. After a few quick photos around the lake, we continued to ride through the small hill and ride down and pass through the single tracks, through Marpha and other small villages along the way. That day was possibly one of the best rides of the trip until we arrived in Lete.
Lete to Beni
From Lete onwards it was pretty much riding on the dusty road until we arrived at Beni where we stopped for lunch and then drove to Pokhara. We couldn’t wait for the comfort and luxuries of a massage, hot shower and our last night in Pokhara.
We flew back to Kathmandu the next day and received a warm welcome at the Aloft Kathmandu Thamel with a cake.
This first ever e-biking trip to Lomanthang was a huge success and what’s more interesting is the people. The group didn’t let their age get in the way of this great adventure. The oldest member, Karolo, even had titanium placed in their hips. People from the ages of 50 to 68, managed to do the 350 km experience of a lifetime.
Basecamp, Basundhara, Kathmandu
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