Nepal | Nov'19 | Motorcycle Trip

foadbear

Pirates Skulls and Bones
We hired it from Kathmandu. NPR 2000 per day. No deposit. But I guess if you don't carry a pillion, don't travel to Muktinath or visit the place during offseason the charges marginally differ. Charges from Pokhara I guess will be slightly expensive but then Feb is an off season.

By Feb either it will be completely covered in snow (after Jomsom) and also cloudy or the snow would start to melt. If it is later, then I wish you the best :)

Visit Nepal, irrespective. Its a lovely nation !!!
I have made the bookings in Pokhra to stay. I will be going with my parents, wife and brother, and in laws. Two cars, eight people.

I will be taking my Ecosport to Muktinath (Jomsom, since after Jomsom, cars are not allowed till Muktinath).

Do post about the hotels where you will be staying in Jomsom with rates.
 
I have made the bookings in Pokhra to stay. I will be going with my parents, wife and brother, and in laws. Two cars, eight people.

I will be taking my Ecosport to Muktinath (Jomsom, since after Jomsom, cars are not allowed till Muktinath).

Do post about the hotels where you will be staying in Jomsom with rates.
You can take the car to Muktinath, there is no restriction. One can take a car right to the Muktinath parking lot (500mtr from Temple) and then walk for the rest. Bike can go further up for another 200 mtrs.
We didn't stay in Jomsom but Lete (36kms before Jomsom). Rooms in Jomsom would cost ~ NPR 1000/1400 (incl attached toilet) during Feb. There are many hotels in Jomsom, so booking should not be an issue.
You can also book a room in Marpha.
There are road works happening between Beni and Jomsom due to which the road remains closed for few hours post lunch. Take that into consideration before you book hotels in Jomsom, you may not reach Jomsom before 8 pm, the day you start from Pokhara.
Besides, if you have not driven in that kind of terrain before, then safely assume a speed of 10-12 km/hr max. On a motorcycle we could do max of 15km/hr. With Parents & aged family members it will get tiring very soon.
 
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Day 3 : Kathmandu to Pokhara
Plan : Reach Pokhara by 2 pm and then do some local site seeing.
Reality : Terribly late :) (nothing unexpected) had to skip Pokhara. Details mentioned below.

The alarm rang at 6:30 and we were prompt enough to get ready by 7:00.

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By 7:20, were at the outskirts of Kathmandu. The road was reasonably wide two lane and smooth too (this being part of the national highway). Additionally with FZ25s smooth engine, we were maintaining an average of 50 km/hr.
This is also the same road we took while coming from Siliguri to KTM.

Break 1: After an hour or so, we stopped for a short breakfast break at Dharke, post which the climb started building up and the roads getting worse (not to the extent that it would jeopardize our schedule).

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Today is supposed to be a smooth easy ride of 201 km, having read all the reviews on various forums. We stopped referring to google map after first few experience. The road is scenic and every now and then you can see a hanging bridge. BTW most of the villages in Nepal is connected via these hanging bridges. Also if you have an affinity to experience different things, you can take many detours to lovely villages.

Break 2: Around 45 mins after Dharke we found this hanging bridge. You can do river rafting for NPR 1500 per person (kayak). But river Gandaki seemed very subtle at this section, compared to the ones in Hrishikesh. So we skipped. BTW Gandaki and/or its tributaries runs along the entire stretch of Kathmandu to Kagbeni.

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Break 3: By now the view was getting better and better. The weather perfect for a slow paced vacation ride. Finished our lunch while we enjoyed this view.

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Break 4: We took a detour to a small village which had this amazing hanging bridge.

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As you would guess, all our adventures and detours were taking toll on our plan and by the time we were at the outskirts of Pokhara, it was 3:30. We didn’t have any bookings done in Pokhara which meant by the time we find something, freshen up and do some site seeing it will be dark. Not worth it. We decided to continue our journey ahead of Pokhara and stay wherever it gets dark. We would cover Pokhara on our way back. Before we left Pokhara, we also decided to fill some mobil and get basic chain cleaning etc while we sipped tea. As soon as you cross Pokhara, you can easily relate that things are going to change, the road, the view, the mountains and how you tackle the roads.

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The further we moved from Pokhara, the darker the clouds became and the roads worse. By now, we were 20 kms after Pokhara in a valley at a place closer to Phedi, sparsely populated and surrounded by huge mountains. We started to get an initial feel of the kind of roads that lay ahead of us. Any more adventure for today and we may have to struggle for our night stay, given the road was heading for a climb.

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We quickly looked for a homestay and arranged a room at Mrs Chandrasudha’s house. She does not run a homestay, but given our condition (& me speaking Nepali helped) she offered one of her rooms for a mere NPR 600 (INR 375) + food extra. It was a brand new room that they made for themselves. What a deal and that too now we can experience how a Nepali family lives in Nepal, possibly experience their food too. What else can we ask for? To top it up her house is right adjacent to a tributary of Gandaki river, what a view !!!

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As the sun set, we had a nice cup of Nepali masala black tea while having chit chat with Mrs Chandrasudha and her daughter. By 7 pm we even dared to take a dip in the ice cold river, trust me our blood pretty much froze within seconds. No pictures for the shower though ;-) Mrs Chandrasudha prepared a typical Nepali chicken thali. The dal was prepared in ghee with burnt garlic and burnt onion and tasted very unique. She also offered us Ruslan, a famous vodka brand of Nepal. If you ever visit Nepal do not forget to try Ruslan. Much closer to Absolut. I repeat do not miss Ruslan !!!

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Till this day, Nepal was reasonably predictable. But what we experienced from Day 4 onwards was beyond imagination.

DAY 4 : The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason !
More on day 4 by tomorrow.

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foadbear

Pirates Skulls and Bones
Excellent stay you got in your trip. Eagerly waiting for the next part. Road less travelled is less travelled for a reason :) agree.


I will not be taking my parents to Muktinath. I will go by bike, my brother and wife will be in the car. Parents will stay in Pokhra and visit Mankamna Mandir, while we go and come back from Muktinath.


Thanks for the info, if cars can go to Muktinath, then I will take it. I read that shared cabs also take you from Jomsom to Muktinath. Maybe I read wrong. I also read that there are ponies that people can hire to Muktinath from the parking lot.

One of the things that I always strive to do when ever I go out, is to have some local alcohol.

But I also read that the symptoms of hangover and AMS are same so maybe I won't drink. Will keep a small bottle, if I will feel better, I will drink some. Probably the vodka that you posted. :)

Did you got mobile network on the whole route from Pokhra to Muktinath?

I prefer booking on the spot but since I will be travelling with my parents too, I made the bookings for KTM and Pokhra earlier.
 
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Excellent stay you got in your trip. Eagerly waiting for the next part. Road less travelled is less travelled for a reason :) agree.


I will not be taking my parents to Muktinath. I will go by bike, my brother and wife will be in the car. Parents will stay in Pokhra and visit Mankamna Mandir, while we go and come back from Muktinath.


Thanks for the info, if cars can go to Muktinath, then I will take it. I read that shared cabs also take you from Jomsom to Muktinath. Maybe I read wrong. I also read that there are ponies that people can hire to Muktinath from the parking lot.

One of the things that I always strive to do when ever I go out, is to have some local alcohol.

But I also read that the symptoms of hangover and AMS are same so maybe I won't drink. Will keep a small bottle, if I will feel better, I will drink some. Probably the vodka that you posted. :)

Did you got mobile network on the whole route from Pokhra to Muktinath?

I prefer booking on the spot but since I will be travelling with my parents too, I made the bookings for KTM and Pokhra earlier.

Good that you have shared these details. I would suggest make few changes to your plan to make it less time consuming and so that all the family members enjoy together.

1) Manokamana is exactly between KTM & Pokhara. Thus there is no reason for someone to stay in Pokhara and then visit Manokamana. I would suggest the following :
a) All of you reach Pokhara from KTM. Lets assume that as Day 1 evening. Don't visit Manokamana in between. Hire the bike.
b) Day 2 Parent take a car for the black circled area and you guys on motorcycle/ in-laws in a separate car. For people visiting Muktinath, you anyway have to take road 1. Similarly Sarankot view point is on this road 2. For your Parent, it will be a scenic circled tour of the valley (Pokhara to road 1 to road 2 to Pokhara), while you guys continue from Pokhara to road 1 to Beni.
But why should anyone take road 1 & 2? : The road 1 is the original route to Beni (slightly offroad but managable for all age groups). This gives a perfect first hands experience of the mountains and roads that lay head. There is a Selfie point (a view point) from where you can see the first glimpse of Mt Dhaulagiri and Mt Nilgiri. If weather permits, the view should be spectacular. For the ones visiting Muktinath, you would accompany this same view for next 2/3 days. For the ones returning to Pokhara it is a nice detour. Also while return (road 2) Parents are basically taking a fine road through the villages of Nepal and can also cover Kaskikot view point. Not many people visit this place. It worth the visit. Regular site seeing taxis may not take you to Kaskikot village. This would take a complete day out of your Parent's schedule, while you continue to Muktinath.
c) On your way back from Muktinath take road 2 and you guys also enjoy Kaskikot village / view point and Sarankot view point.
d) While you are away for Muktinath, Parents can visit other attractions in Pokhara.
e) Once back from Muktinath, all of you visit Manokamana mandir (take the cable car) and then back to KTM. Manokamana mandir would consume ~ 2/3 hr, if the rush is less.

I hope I'm not sounding too interfering, I'm just trying to give you better options to cover this beautiful Country?

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I also read that there are ponies that people can hire to Muktinath from the parking lot.
Yes you do get.

One of the things that I always strive to do when ever I go out, is to have some local alcohol.
But I also read that the symptoms of hangover and AMS are same so maybe I won't drink. Will keep a small bottle, if I will feel better, I will drink some. Probably the vodka that you posted. :)
Local alcohol : Apple wine @ Marpha. Must try!!!
Ruslan is a mild vodka, you would not get hangover.
AMS is real and it may not always lead to a hangover like situation. AMS can lead to irritated behavior for no reason. If all of you get this, then none of you would know what is happening :) while all of you have heated discussions. My cousin got it and I recognized. So I avoided getting into an argument with him for 2 days :) Have ample water and stomach always full to avoid AMS as much possible. Practically speaking medicine can only do so much.

Did you got mobile network on the whole route from Pokhra to Muktinath?
NCell connection is bad on most patches. So take the other one, I guess its called NCET. BTW connection is available only in towns. For most part of the routes, it wont work. It will work in Muktinath.
 
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DAY 4:

Plan: Phedi to Marpha
Actual : We could cover only 2/3rd of it. But we did enjoy all our detours, stops, photo sessions etc.

We knew the sunrise (as viewed from the river bed) would be astonishing, given that the river flows towards East. Besides why not spend an hour sitting by the river, given that we have got this opportunity?
So we woke up at 6:30 and I headed straight for river for a shower. We eventually finished the shower in river by 8 J (very predictable).

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The night before, while discussing with Mrs Chandrasudha, we requested her if she could prepare a typical Nepali breakfast for us, to which she agreed. By 9 we were having a sumptuous healthy Nepali breakfast comprising chana alu masala, sell roti (deep fried donut shaped dough), boiled egg and black tea with a pinch of Nepali spices. It cant get better than this, isn’t it ? She even picked corn from her farm on the river bank and made pop corn for us.

That's me in maroon t-shirt and my cousin in black jacket.

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It was already 9:30 and we had to leave. The itinerary for the day had already taken a back seat. After bidding adieu to the family, we continued our journey on ‘Baglung Highway’. 5 mins into the ride and the roads had turned into offroad patches and the climb began.

After ~ 20 mins of ride we reached a place called Kaski. The first view of Mt Dhaulagiri and Mt Nilgiri on a clear day was spectacular. The temperature was right about +/- 10 degrees. After some pictures we headed up.

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Further up, the roads were being repaired and full of gravel. Ours being a commuter bike with a round profile tyre, we could ride @ ~ 10km/hr max. While one would want one to keep staring at the spectacular views but the roads were forcing me to concentrate on the road. There are patches where though the road is plain (not tared) but it’s full of sand dust. This continued for another 15 kms, by end of which were completely covered with a white coating of sand dust. When all this ended the the real offroad started. First impression was “is raste mein chalake to aaj Jomsom pohuchna naa mumkin hai”.

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One peculiar thing about the journey from Phedi to Beni is you would experience all kinds of things....from good roads to worst roads to scary roads leading to a deep river gorges to spectacular views to water falls to river flat beds to scary inclines to hanging bridges, you name it. It will tickle all your senses. Adventurous in true sense !

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After a place called Dimuwa, the road continues up keeping Gandaki river on left. The views become even more spectacular but something else was brewing some other thought. Why not go to the river bed and enjoy some time there ? There we were headed for another detour to the bank of river Gandaki. It was serene and only two of us behaving like teenagers on the river beds. By the time we realized we had to move forward, it was already 1 pm and obviously we were terribly late.

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Few more kms head though the road became pathetic, but the views were .....simply awestruck.

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This is river Kali Gandaki, a tributary to river Gandaki.

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When one travels in this part of Nepal, measurement in Kms is irrelevant. Even locals understand distances in time. Though we were riding for almost 6 hrs now and were closer to Beni, but we simply were not able to maintain speed. On a junction before Beni, we asked a gentleman on how far is Jomsom, to which he casually replied another 6 hours if you go fast. BTW fast in these terrains means 15-20 km/hr. I was somewhat confused with the reply, we were already riding for last 6 hours and it was already 3pm and then this guys says another 6 hours, meaning we will possibly reach Jomsom by evening 6/7 even if we don't stop in between. Which is when we realized timing estimates of google maps in this region was thoroughly off and untrustworthy. Anyway after another small detour of Beni market, we stopped near Galeshwar bridge for lunch. The lady at Hotel Pratima served us hot 'Thakali set'.

An old school musical instrument shop @ Beni.
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Gundru

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Quickly finished our lunch and headed for Jomson (aspirational but not feasible). A full plate of rice and terrible offroad is something that don't go hand in hand. Thus within 90 mins into the ride we had to stop for a tea break. This is somewhere near Tiplyang. Here we met few other Nepali bikers who were returning from Muktinath. A short chat revealed that the roads further up are going to be even tougher. And we were like, "Aur kitna kharab hoga yaar". They also revealed that it might take long for a road work happening further up, which translate to for the night we have to stay at some other place than Jomsom.

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Knowing we were terribly late and may get further delayed due to road work, we skipped Tatopani Myagdi. Another 15 mins ride from Tatopani, after a hair pin we suddenly come across this massive incline with terrible offroad leading to what appears to be a road block. This is near Kabre. I'm not sure if you can figure out from the picture, but this is a short stretch of 1 kms but climbs almost 2000ft in that span. People on 2 wheels ask their pillions to get down and buses ask the passengers to get down and walk for 500 mtrs. I too asked my buddy to walk for the stretch while I park the bike in the q leading to the road block. On reaching top, I understood that a landslide has caused the road block and it would take another 2 hours to clear it. Here we also met few other locals who were visiting Muktinath for the second time. They suggested us to take a place in Jomsom and head for Muktinath the next morning. Jomsom was another 50 kms (~ 2.5 hours in day light) from Kabre.

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It got dark and the work was still continuing. The road was eventually opened up @ 6:30 pm. Without any plan in mind, we kept riding for next 50 mins when we reached Lete. Lete is a small village on the way but it has one or two nice hotels. Given that there were atleast 100 vehicles stuck in the road block and most appeared to be tourists, chances were all of them would try for an accommodation in Jomsom. Meaning things may get expensive and/or possibly we may not get a room at all. Instead we decided to take up a room in Lete and start the next morning for Muktinath. The hotel was really cozy and very well maintained considering it is a small village on the way. Recomended !!!

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Bad of me that I forgot his name. But the kid (hotel owner's son) was super fun. BTW he knows his hills by heart. He told me that Mt Dhaulagiri range was right behind our hotel (max 500mtrs) and Mt Nilgiri in front. I was like what, really?
What I saw next morning blew my mind away.... bliss and worth all the risks taken during this ride.

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DAY 5 :
Lete to Muktinath and back to Beni.
The longest and most tiring day of our ride. A 3 day slog was about to reap benefit. Eventually we realized Muktinath is worth the ride.

Our stay @ Lete. The hills you see behind are actually 500 mtrs from the hotel; part of the Mt Dhaulagiri range. More on Day 5 by tomorrow.

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