The itinerary for our 12-day mountain bike tour Nepal has been designed so that we gain altitude very gradually, allowing your body to acclimatise before gaining further height, thus minimising the potential for altitude sickness.
If you’re travelling a long way or across several time zones to Nepal then we suggest arriving into Kathmandu a day or two early to allow your body to adjust and to make sure any flight or luggage days don’t spoil your trip.
We recommend Hotel Ambassador in the Lazimpat area of Kathmandu as a good place to stay pre-trip. It is well located and within walking distance of central Kathmandu. It’s also where we’ll be meeting on the afternoon of day 1, so if you’re not staying at the Ambassador you’ll need to make your own way there for pick-up.
On the first day of your mountain bike tour Nepal you’ll be met by our guides at Hotel Ambassador and transferred to your accommodation in the beautiful hill-top village of Nagarkot, located 1.5 hour East of Kathmandu at an altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level.
When we arrive you’ll be welcomed with a glass of Sherpa beer and a view to die for. You’ll be introduced to your support crew and will have time to build bikes and get settled into your rooms.
With bikes built, tuned and readied for a prompt roll-out the following morning, we’ll settle down to dinner on the terrace around the fire, looking over the valley far bellow us. Suitably fed and watered we retire to rest up for tomorrow for the start of our shared adventure!
After a delicious breakfast we’ll ride straight from our ridgetop home climbing up towards the summit of Nagarkot Hill. Winding our way up initially on a paved road and then on a dirt track at a fairly grunty gradient, climbing all the way to 2,150m.
Once we’ve caught our breath and taken enough photos, we’ll peel onto a fast and flowy descent through pine forests, and local houses. A short mid-descent climb later, we will ride through the forest again, all the way down to the valley floor. This will warm up the legs, lungs and brain in anticipation for the rest of the adventure.
We will catch a van ride back to our hotel for a scenic lunch before venturing out to an afternoon ride, where we’ll be introduced to the famous Nepali steps. Popularly known as the Eco Trail, it features a combination of flowy singletracks and steep steps down to Kartike Bhanjyang. What goes down must go up, and the day will end with a 30 minute climb back to our lodge.
Following our first full day’s exploring we will be treated to an evening meal giving us a taste of the local flavours up on the terrace and end the day by watching the sun set over Kathmandu.
Today we pack our kit into the van and bid our hill-top home farewell as we ride to the medieval city of Bhaktapur. There is no need to be too sad though; although this wonderful trail signifies the end of our adventure in the Kathmandu valley it heralds the beginning of our two-wheeled fun in the high mountains.
After a short but steep climb to Nagarkot summit, we set off on a fun forest singletrack descent that continues through villages (watch out for hens and ducks!). There are a couple of rocky sections before we’re dropped out onto the road, and start a 20-minute climb on gorgeous forest singletrack.
This will give us a spectacular view from the summit, out over the valley, and the monastery, which is our next goal.
The final leg of our ride takes us through villages and rice paddies, all the way to Bhaktapur. Here, weary legs can rest in a fabulous local guest house, or go for a guided walk and soak up the daily life that is bustling around this ancient city.
Bleary eyes abound as we take a very early morning flight to the lake city of Pokhara.
Once in Pokhara, we will get into our 4×4 vehicle and start our journey into the Mustang Valley on one of the most scenic yet challenging drives in the world.
During a day of serious off-roading along the Kali Gandaki River, we travel through the world’s deepest gorge to reach the picturesque town of Kalopani by sundown.
A small, family-run mountain lodge will provide another warm Nepalese welcome for us this evening on our first night in Kalopani.
Waking up in one of the most beautiful villages in the Himalayas nestled in the laps of the two mega giant Dhaulagiri (8,167m high) and Annapurna (8,079m high), we will be transported by our trusted 4wd into Jomsom, the starting point of today’s ride.
What then follows will be one of the most spectacular and emotional mountain bike rides of your life as we climb to the small town of Kagbeni at 2,900m.
You’ll encounter your first of many long suspension bridges, and have your first experience of climbing at real altitude.
In keeping with our approach to local and cultural immersion, we will visit a local villager to join him for tea on his rooftop mid-ride.
After tea, we’ll make our way back along the valley, crossing over our suspension bridge again, which will be slightly more ‘interesting’ than before, as the wind will have picked up in the afternoon.
We’ll roll into Kagbeni mid-afternoon and check into our mountain home for the next three nights, then enjoy a delicious and well-deserved lunch.
A shuttle ride to Muktinath provides a slightly slower start to the day, but with the ever present nervous anticipation that comes with any day of riding in Nepal.
Today’s first task is the 300m ascent to the breath-taking trail through the Lupra Pass at 4,100m. This starts off on pristine singletrack that will make you wish you had the lungs to ride it hard. Then the gradient really ramps up and for 20 mins makes riding a real challenge.
At the top you’ll be gasping for air but, fortunately, the unbelievable view will be what really takes your breath away. After a series of photo calls it’s time to drop the saddles and settle in for one of the main trail highlights of the trip as we drop more than a vertical kilometre down to the Valley floor.
The first part of the descent from the top is fast, flowing and amazing fun. Then things get a bit trickier as the trail becomes steeper and looser, with a series of tight switchbacks to keep you on your toes.
We drop all the way down to the river and then into the riverbed, for some rocky riding back to the road, which will lead us to Kagbeni where we’ll have the chance to re-fuel with lunch.
With Kagbeni’s finest dal bhat in our stomachs, we’ll board the vans to Muktinath for another climb back up to the Lupra Pass. This time, about 10% into our descent we will veer off the trail, and ride down what is the signature descent of the trip. A fast, flowy, thin ribbon of singletrack with the massive Dhaulagiri towering high in the background. Riders will almost reach supersonic speeds, riding over Rampage-like terrain in spots. Simply an amazing descent!
After a shuttle ride to the 3,800 metre-high holy site of Muktinath, we will spend the morning gaining the last 500 metres to the highest point of the trip at 4,300m.
Having wiped the sweat and dust from our brows and fuelled up, we will be appropriately ‘switched on’ for the unbelievable trail that follows; a stunning singletrack descent that twists and weaves through tight Nepalese villages, past grazing buffalo and workers in their fields.
We then drop onto a fast, open and sometimes technical descent back down the valley, along to Kagbeni and afternoon coffee and cake in Appleby’s cafe, where you will have a direct view into Upper Mustang.
Today gifts us a beautiful ride, leaving the arid, open landscape of Kagbeni and leading to the lush high alpine forests of Kalopani.
Meandering through ancient villages, alleyways, apple orchards and some of the most pristine forest singletrack’s in the Himalayas, we follow the mighty Kali Gandaki River all the way to the Thakali village of Tukche. A spot which also happens to be home to the most famous apple crumble in Nepal.
After lunch, the ride continues along the Kali Gandaki through more undulating singletrack all the way to Kalopani – the designated exit of the Lower Mustang Valley.
A day of dirt trails today in what are our last few hours on the bike in the Mustang region of Nepal. It may be a dirt road, but in Nepal everything on the bike seems bigger, better, more involved and it is a place where dirt roads are fun!
This is one of the biggest no-shuttle / minimal climb descents most people do in their lives. Waking up in the gorgeous town of Kalopani, we will exit the Mustang today and head back to Pokhara. We’re not using planes this time, however, so it’s bikes all the way down!
We will start the ride with beautiful pine forest singletrack that will pop us into what is probably the most fun ‘road’ mountain bike descent in the world! With a great mix of dirt roads and cobbled village trails littered with children and animals running alongside us, this is a true highlight of our Nepal trip.
2.5 hours of non-stop descending over 24 kilometers, will take us to Tatopani for lunch. Then after lunch and a couple more hours of swooping, shredding, chatting and laughing we reach the town of Beni. It’s time to quickly pack the van, and transfer back to the comforts of our Pokhara hotel (3 hour drive away).
Our last day of riding is a short one as we give some time for our bikes to be transported by land to Kathmandu.
After a leisurely breakfast, we will drive to the famous World Peace Pagoda, perched on a hill across the lake from Pokhara overlooking the city. One quick ‘kora’ of the Pagoda later and then we’re descending on a fun, flowy, yet tricky forest singletrack back down to the base of the hill. If time permits, we might be able so squeeze in a second lap as well!
At the end of the trail, we will ride all the back to our hotel for some relaxing by the pool.
After the last morning flight of the tour we make it back to Kathmandu, transfer to our hotel, and make sure all kit and bikes are safely tucked away for our respective return journeys.
The rest of the day revolves around hitting the town for our private dinner, drinks, exchanging stories and cementing new friendships. The ideal way to finish a tour that is so spectacular that only those you shared it with can truly understand its majesty.
On your last morning in Nepal we will transfer you and your kit to Kathmandu airport in good time for your flight and with a little bit spare to allow for long and fond farewells.
Please note: Our mountain bike tour Nepal is a living thing, being influenced by multiple factors such as changing weather conditions, group riding abilities, trail damage, to name a few. Your local guides are experts in guiding mountain bikers in the Himalayas of Nepal and will be continually assessing these factors and making tweaks to the itinerary where necessary to ensure that every member of the group has the best possible experience.