Nepal Tour

, Nepal, Asia

Nepal Tour

Some of the best riding, views and food you'll find anywhere, all amid the fascinating culture of  Nepal - motorcycle touring does not get much better than this! From Northern India we will guide you along sinuous mountain trails, across plains and through jungles to the shadow of mighty Annapurna, on to Kathmandu, and back. This trip is characterised by rides in places of incredible natural beauty. Blazing Trails have been running Himalayan tours since 2000 and it is this experience allied to precise organisation that allows us to guide riders to such places. As with all our trips an experienced leader and support crew are with you every mile, providing expert guidance and mechanical or medical assistance if required. But despite our local knowledge, any Himalayan ride is going to present its challenges and surprises...

While we will do everything in our power to make your trip as safe and enjoyable as we can, there are challenges implicit in travelling in the world's mightiest mountains that we could not remove if we wanted to. While the roads we're taking are in pretty good condition, the Himalaya is still growing and collapsing - possibly overnight and across our route. Nepal also throws up some extra logistical challenges due to its ever-shifting political landscape, as road-closing strikes are common. For this reason, no itinerary is ever set in stone. As a participant in this tour you will fly to Delhi, before being directed aboard a coach to Haldwani in the Himalayan foothills, where you be given a full briefing on the joys ahead. From there you'll be moved to within a few miles of the border and handed 'your' bike, a 500cc Enfield Bullet (with a front disc brake fitted) and given instruction on its eccentricities.

Whenever riding there will be a leader and 'outrider' guiding and trouble-spotting. A 'sweeper' rider, a support vehicle with spares and an extensively-equipped medic will travel at the rear. The trip includes some long days in the saddle, both on easy cruising roads and very challenging mountain chicanery. These day-long rides will require skill and concentration, so we ask that you have a minimum of two year's riding experience before taking on this tour. There will be little traffic, but that which we do encounter is likely to be behaving 'erratically'. The general condition of the roads is, however, very good for this part of the world.

Nepal has recently (2006) emerged from a long internal conflict. Although the country is now largely stable, there are still political problems. These generally manifest themselves as 'bandhs', general strikes that can close the roads. Tourists, however, are generally left out of local disputes as it is understood that the welfare of the tourism industry is critical to the country's foreign exchange, being its biggest earner. On May trips, weather will range from 'very hot' on the plains, to 'very warm' in the higher stations; in November things will be a deal cooler. We would not expect rain at the times of year that we run tours in Nepal, but it's always possible.

Nepali jungle and Himalayan valleys with views of the Annapurna Range - this is a trip full of fabulous contrasts and epic rides.

About Nepal

Nepal's recent past has been a turbulent, intriguing and bloody. More than a decade of insurgency by Maoist forces against the ruling monarchy cost over 11,000 lives, before the warring left-wingers and royalists laid down their arms and in 2006 agreed to move toward democratic elections. The Maoists won, formed a government and dethroned the less than popular King. Having turfed out the monarchy, the parliament's next major job was to thrash out a new constitution - a process whose deadline is expired. There remains tension over this and other issues, usually manifesting itself in 'bandhs' (paralysing strikes).

Nepal is a landlocked country, a little larger than England. It is bordered to the north by China and all other sides by India. For such a small country, Nepal is incredibly geographically diverse. Eight of the world's ten highest mountains rise from Nepali territory, including of course the biggest of them all. The south of the country, on the edge of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, is just a few hundred feet above sea level (abv). Thus, the mountains that cover two-thirds of Nepal rise incredibly steeply and it's possible to be standing at 1000ft abv, looking up at the summit of Annapurna 26,500ft abv. The southern plain is known as the Terai and covers some 20 per cent of the country. It is geographically identical to much of northern India, but has suffered from less 'development'. Once a malarial swamp, there is much pristine wilderness. It is while in this area we will visit the wildlife reserves.

'Nepali' is the official language, with around 60 per cent of people using it day-to-day. English and Hindi (to which Nepali is similar) are widely understood in places visited by tourists. The Nepali Rupee is not an independent currency, but is linked to the Indian Rupee at a rate of 1.6 Nepali Rupees to each Indian Rupee, making it incredibly good value for visitors.

Organised by Blazing Trails

Nepal Tour


Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Delhi
Land in Delhi following an overnight flight, to be met by a Blazing Trails representative and put on board a taxi to your comfortable Delhi hotel. You will have most of the day ahead, so once rested there will be the chance to explore this historic capital city. Bustling Old Delhi is especially interesting with its Moghul architecture and famous sites such as the Red Fort and the magnificent Jama Masjid mosque. Alternatively, just wander the street markets. The motorbike market in Karol Bagh is quite something - or relax above the crowds in a roof-top bar. If you wish to do an organised sight-seeing tour, we can help you make the arrangements.

Day 2: Delhi to Haldwani
You will be collected from the hotel by air-conditioned coach and transported (approximately eight hours) to Haldwani, a nondescript little town in the Indian sate of Uttranchal. Haldwani is the closest point to the Nepali border that has a reasonable hotel, so it is here we will stay before making a break to the border crossing.

Day 3: Haldwani to Bardia (Nepal)We'll be up early to catch a bus that will take us most of the 75km to the border at Banbassa (Indian side). After meeting up with the bikes, we need to check ourselves and the machines out of India, then complete the formalities to enter Nepal. Visas will be bought ($40 US per person) and bike paperwork processed. This is likely to take a while, so lunch will also be eaten. Once clear of the border bumf, a swift three-hour cruise takes us to Bardia National Park, along the smooth Mahendra Highway. It's hardly the Isle of Mann, but the change in culture keeps things interesting. The last 20km into the park's 'buffer zone' is a little more fun, with dirt roads and a river crossing. On arrival there will be cold beers, hot grub and traditional, clean Nepali accommodation.

Day 4: In Bardia National Park
We will be transferring to rafts, which will carry us through the park to the most surprising of overnight stops, deep in the jungle. It's a surprise. This National Park is one of Asia's great secrets, situated as it is away from the usual tourist circuits. The park holds tigers, leopards, elephant, great Indian one-horned rhinoceri, crocodiles and many other species.

Day 5: In Bardia National Park
We will leave the forest for another night around the bar in the pleasant ambience of our jungle resort. And yes, that is a rhinocerous in the middle of the picture.

Day 6: Bardia to Tansen
This is a long ride - around 200 miles. After leaving the park's rough roads we're back onto the Mahendra Highway. Most of the ride is fast and smooth, but towards the day's end we will turn off into the hills and begin a steep climb, which ends in the charming and historic regional capital of Tansen. Our hotel has great views all the way to Annapurna and there's a fantastic restaurant in town.

Day 7: Tansen to Pokhara
A half-day of twisty, twisty, twisty riding, through huge gorges, with rivers frothing beneath us and stunning snow-peaked Himalayan vistas opening up along the way. We should be in Pokhara in time to spend the afternoon checking out Nepal's second largest city. Pokhara is a trekker Mecca, from where those without engines head out for the 'Annapurna Circuit' trek. Due the the city's popularity with adventurers, there is a very lively nightife on offer, with live rock bands and hundreds of resaturants and bars from which to choose. From the Lakeside area in which we will be staying it is possible to see most of the Annapurna range on a clear morning.

Day 8: In Pokhara
A day to do some boating on, or take a walk beside, Lake Phewa, over which our hotel looks. For the more adventurous, it is also possible to go paragliding in the most majestic of settings (we would advise that you book your flight the evening before). For the less energetic, there is also plenty to do, like shopping, eating and drinking. For those who want some more bike-riding, we will have a ride-out into the local hills on offer.

Day 9: Pokhara to Kathmandu
Another great day's ride through the hills, that takes us to Nepal's capital city. As we near Kathmandu, the traffic gets heavier and once in the city, automotive chaos will undoubtedly ensue. Thamel, the area in which we'e staying, has a rocking nightlife and we'll arrange for a good band to be playing in our preferred bar.

Day 10: In Kathmandu
A day to explore this amazing city. There are several large temple complexes, both Buddhist and Hindu on the city's edges and Durbar Square (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is just half an hour's walk from the hotel. Every street of central Kathmandu is full of shrines shops and unusual sights and if you want to buy dodgy-quality, moody outdoor gear, then this is the centre of the universe. In the evening there are a huge number of eateries to choose from, with good Continental cuisine to back up the local fare. We will again make sure there's a good band playing in 'our pub'.

Day 11: Kathmandu to ChitwanA very long ride, but a staggeringly beautiful one, taking a rarely used backroad. For the first many hours, there is barely a straight to be seen and rarely another vehicle on the road. As we climb to the highest point of the ride (and the tour) the wooded mountain scenery gets better and better until we stop at the charming little village of Daman (2400m) for tea. From here, if the weather is reasonably clear, we should get a view all the way to Everest, several hundred kilometres away. After Daman, the road tightens further and plunges down towards the Terai where we meet up with the east-west highway once more before turning off to Chitwan, where a rather nice garden hotel awaits.

Day 12: In Chitwan
Chitwan is a little more developed than Bardia, but is still incredibly beautiful. It is possible to indulge in rhino-tracking on elephant-back and you have very good odds of seeing one of the horny fellows (the picture here was actually taken from the riverside bar), plus many smaller creatures. The tigers and leopards in this park are much rarer sightings. There are also opportunities to walk in the 'buffer zone', take boat rides and visit local Tharu tribespeoples' villages. Once you have finished with your activities, sidle down to the riverside again, where you will doubtless find the BT staff down by the river watching the sunset, glasses in hands.

Day 13: Chitwan to Gorakpur
A quick ride to the border and then the paperwork begins at a different check-post to the one through which we entered Nepal. It shouldn't take so long, though, as you already have an Indian multiple-entry visa and the bikes are Indian-registered. Once through the formalities, we will scarper back to our nice hotel in un-charming Gorakpur.

Day 14: Gorakpur to Delhi
Relax on either the overnight A/C train to Delhi, or a short flight to the same destination (we are still looking at timings and availabilty of latter).

Day 15: Fly from Delhi
Chill on an aircraft, savouring your memories of riding some of the best mountain roads in two of the world's most interesting countries. And what a bargain!

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