Grade : Hard Off Road | Max Altitude : 4600m | Accomodation : 6
A challenging bike ride into the Tibetan Plateau | Visit the kingdom of Lo | Explore an ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture
IMA Upper Mustang Mountain Bike Ride is a spectacular and challenging bike ride to the remote Tibetan kingdom of Lo. First of all, the IMA Upper Mustang Bike Ride is a semi-technical adventure at high altitude. Hence it requires a good level of fitness and skill. Notwithstanding, it will take you along a jeep road and some scenic single trek village trails. In addition, the bike ride is a cultural experience of a Buddhist culture hardly touched by western civilization. The experience of the Bike Ride with the incredible Himalayan scenery, will inspire you to renew your Life Quality.
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Apr 26 May 15 (Tiji Festival)
The IMA Upper Mustang Mountain Bike Ride starts in Kathmandu.
We will take a scenic road trip to Pokhara. This will be followed by an exciting mountain flight to Jomsom, the capital of Lower Mustang located at 2800m. Within two days, cycling gradually to the elevation of 3500m, we reach the Upper Mustang with its capital Lo Manthang.
We will spend 10 days in Upper Mustang at an altitude above 3500m, crossing 4000m passes. This powerful visual experience will improve your fitness and wellness.
The pace has been designed to prevent the AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Because the AMS can be triggered by exhaustion, we will moderate the pace visiting ancient villages and Buddhist monasteries.
The accommodation standard differs along the route. In Lower Mustang you will enjoy comfortable lodges with attached bathrooms and hot water. However, in Upper Mustang the lodges are basic with shared shower facilities. There is a comfortable lodge in Lo Manthang where we spent 3 nights. In the remote part, at Tangge village, you will experience even more basic conditions. There will be a choice of a bucket wash-up or a facility of outdoor fountain. Upper Mustang undergoes development and new lodges and hotels are being build and improved.
The food is generally good and fresh. Where we feel that the cook may not deliver, our staff will be at hand to help and deliver a nice meal.
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu | Transfer
Day 2: Preparation in Kathmandu
Day 3:Drive Kathmandu-Pokhara
Day 4: Jomsom Flight | Ride to Kagbeni
Day 5: Ride to Chele
Day 6: Ride to Syangboche
Day 7: Ride to Tsaram
Day 8: Ride to LoManthang
Day 9: Ride to Kora La | LoManthang
Day 10:Explore Lo Mantang
Day 11:Ride to Yara
Day 12: Visit to Yara Gompa and Cave
Day 13: Ride to Tangge
Day 14: Ride to Chhusang
Day 15: Ride to Muktinath
Day 16: Explore Muktinath
Day 17: Ride to Marpha via Lupra La
Day 18: Ride to Tatopani Springs
Day 19: Ride to Beni/Drive to Pokhara
Day 20: Flight to KTM | Farewell Dinner
Day 21: Airport Transfer | Departure
Your adventure price includes:
To undertake this adventure one must be fit, enjoy trekking, mountain bike riding and exploring other cultures.
We provide the most comfortable accommodation and the best food available during the ride. Accommodation standard differs along the route and we provide the best lodges possible. In Lower Mustang you will enjoy comfortable lodges with attached bathrooms and hot water. In Upper Mustang there is very comfortable lodge in Lo Manthang. However, lodges on the way are basic with only common shower facilities. Finally, in the remote part, at Tangge village, you will experience very basic conditions with bucket wash-up. Alternatively you may choose a facility of an outdoor fountain. Food is generally good and fresh. However, where we feel that the cook may not deliver, our staff will be at hand to help deliver a nice meal.
Our clients find the Upper Mustang ride challenging due many high passes, some as high as 4200m. In Upper Mustang you will sleep at about 3500m. Therefore climbs are relative short. However, the altitude and 16 days riding on unpaved road is challenging to any bike rider. Our pace is comfortable and designed by an exercise physiologist to prevent AMS (Acute Mountain sickness). The ride, higher during the day and sleeping lower forms a perfect acclimatization sequence.
There are 2 hard riding days in the middle of the ride. This is where we will have to push bikes up to the pass. From Lo Manthang we will take high altitude trip to Tibetan Plateau riding from 3500m to 4600m.
The trip is an adventure designed to get you slightly outside your comfort zone. However, the ride is designed within safety margins for the western tourist.
Genuine local experience will be delivered by trained local Tibetan team.
Our guides are experienced young local Tibetans from Mustang area. They are familiar with the Tibetan Buddhist traditions and spirituality. IMA provides an extensive training to our staff in technical bike riding. We also provide training in English, customer relationships and outdoor First Aid. Therefore you can expect warmth and genuine hospitable Tibetan culture. Your host is locally born Tashi Pasang. Tashi was educated in India with a Dalai Lama scholarship. These are available for Tibetan diaspora youth living outside Tibet.
Our staff is young, energetic and experienced with technical mountain biking through our training program. Your guide owns the adventure and organizes entire program for you through our network of partners. Hence, there is no middle man sitting in Kathmandu collecting commissions and exploiting staff and you the tourist.
Simply click on SERVICES TAB, where you find all inclusions. If this is insufficient please send us e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Absolutely not, we employ porters as a part of your package deal. The porter will to carry your gear from lodge to lodge, most of the time on the jeep.
Yes, we will have two hard consecutive days in the middle of the trip. First day from Yara to Tangge and the following day to Chhusang where we cross Paha La 4200m pass. Please check Map TAB for details. At this stage we will be well acclimatized and accustomed to physical activity.
It may be challenging for some individuals. Therefore our staff will assist you, when required.
Your guide will carry appropriate spares, tools and experience to be able to repair a reasonable bike damage.
Absolutely! All your food as well as accommodation is included. In Kathmandu and Pokhara your breakfast is included. However you will bear the cost of any other meals to allow you a personal choice.
All foreign visitors to Nepal with exception of Indian nationals require Nepali visa. Passport holders of Australia, New Zealand, United States and all European countries are eligible for the visa on arrival. In spring 2015 Nepali Immigration has introduced computerized automated visa system. Hence, making the arrival Immigration process fast and convenient. For Upper Mustang mountain biking adventure you will need to apply for 4 weeks visa.
Yes our representative will meet you at the International airport. We monitor time of your arrival and we will be there on-time. All you need to do is to collect your luggage, clear customs and proceed to the outside of the terminal. Kathmandu International terminal is very small. Our representative will wait for you outside the building and will transfer to the hotel.
In Kathmandu we use newly built hotels located in a quiet part of Thamel, which meets the earthquake proof building code. In Pokhara we a comfortable 3 star hotel with private bathroom. All these hotels are new with high cleaning standards and very good hot water solar shower systems.
Yes you need -10°C sleeping bag for some lodges in Upper Mustang for personal comfort. In all hotels in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Muktinath and Marpha accommodation includes great shower and fresh clean bedding.
No specialized gear is required for Upper Mustang Mountain Biking Adventure. We recommend cycling in your trekking boots for safety and comfort. The area is semi-desert, but due to climate change you may encounter nonseasonal rainfall and at higher altitude snowfall so you must be prepared. In the desert with clear sky you will experience big temperature difference between day and night. Therefore a light down jacket will be essential. We recommend purchasing down gear as well as fleece and Gore-Tex jackets in Kathmandu. There are many trekking shops and we recommend Kaemp8848.
The quality of your trekking gear is important for comfort, safety and long term savings. Nowadays the quality doesn’t have to be expensive. The outdoor gear has become a commodity, and this creates competition and lower prices. In Kathmandu there are 100's of trekking shops selling outdoor gear and clothing. You should consider purchasing your Gore-Tex riding/trekking jacket, Gore-Tex over pants, Fleece jacket and down jacket in Kathmandu. The only thing you need to understand is quality and functionality of the gear.
While biking and trekking in any mountainous high altitude environment you are subject to rapid weather changes. Therefore, you need to adopt the layering principle with clothing to regulate body temperature. This means that one needs to ensure that the body temperature stays in a comfortable range. This will prevent excessive sweating followed by rapid cooling.
You should start your day with number of layers to feel warm and comfortable. While you warm-up remove layers on the go quickly to prevent unnecessary overheating and sweating.
For layer one garments we recommend Merino Wool from Icebreaker. This is because the company understands needs of climbers, mountaineers and outdoor adventurers. Merino wool performance matches cotton with softness and polypropylene with insulation and breathing-ability.
The process of taking the moisture away from the body is called wicking. Wool and synthetic fabrics are very good wicking materials. Hence they are appropriate to wear for hard physical activity. Due to its natural construction wool has also antibacterial properties. Therefore, so it stays usable for much longer. Using cotton shirts for high altitude biking, trekking or climbing is unwise approach. This is because cotton doesn't wick and stays moist for long time. As a result, wearing cotton at high altitudes can lead to hypothermia.
Typically, We ride typically 10-20km per day. One the day when we ride from Marpha to Tatopani we will cover a longer distance of 40km. However this will be one of our easiest days.
Nepal is a very safe country to travel even for single tourists. However the nature is unpredictable, so one should not travel alone in particularly at high altitude. We train our guides in high altitude safety and Outdoor First Aid. Therefore, they are capable to respond to any emergency.IMA promotes a quality recreational and non-competitive style of adventure with the emphasis on safety.
Our Upper Mustang bike ride is an exciting and culturally enriching experience. This is because we operate with the local well trained staff. With plenty to see and experience, we stop to visit local temples, ancient Tibetan Buddhist gompas and monasteries. There will be plenty of opportunities to take photographs at spectacular vistas.
We will ensure appropriate pace to prevent AMS and any physical injuries. However, in a case of accident we carry essential First Aid Kit and your guide will be familiar with its content and application.
The risks during the ride are potential to develop AMS, gastric problems or physical injury. Therefore, IMA maintains programs and procedures to prevent these. We have an appropriately equipped First Aid Kit and our staff are trained how to use it effectively.
We provide good quality new mountain bikes which are maintained after each adventure. This minimizes any bike failure.
We require each group member to have a valid Travel Insurance, which allows Medivac. We treat AMS, gastric issues and bleeding. If required, we activate emergency evacuation by helicopter.
There are some risks associated with natures’ activities such as an excessive non-seasonal snowfall or a landslide and potential earthquake. Therefore, we developed emergency and evacuation procedures to ensure safety on our adventure.
Yes, all biking adventure participants are required to purchase adequate Travel Insurance, which DOESN'T EXCLUDE helicopter emergency evacuation.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the reaction of the body adjusting to increase of altitude. The higher the altitude, the less oxygen is available for the body to carry on normal functions.
Altitude sickness most commonly occurs from above 2,800m. However, this is different for every individual. Therefore, there is simply no way of predicting individual AMS susceptibility prior to reaching the altitude. Hence, it is vital to being fit and to monitor your own health constantly. In principle, a higher endurance decreases susceptibility to AMS.
It is important to note, that symptoms of AMS may be mild and go away after a days rest. However, if ignored it could lead to serious health issues including death. Therefore, all biking adventure participants are required to purchase adequate Travel Insurance, which DOESN'T EXCLUDE helicopter emergency evacuation.
Symptoms can appear within 1-2 hours. However, most often they appear 6-10 hours after ascent. Generally, the symptoms subside in 1-2 days as the body adjusts to altitude. They may reappear as you continue to go higher. Symptoms of AMS usually occur gradually and can be one or a combination of the following:
Symptoms generally associated with more severe Acute Mountain Sickness include:
At high altitude all people will experience some of the above symptoms in a mild form. However, if the body is unable to adjust to altitude these symptoms will persist. Furthermore, if they are left untreated, altitude sickness may progress to High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) or High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). Edema means simply fluid accumulation in your lungs or brain. Both HACE and HAPE can be fatal if ignored.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HAPE (fluid in the lungs)?
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HACE (fluid in the brain)?
Certain medical conditions (such as respiratory disease) or medications (such as sleeping pills) can increase the risk of altitude sickness. Therefore, it is important that you inform your guide of any medical conditions or medications before ascending to altitude.
You can help your body to acclimatize and avoid altitude sickness by:
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT?
Most travelers are able to successfully acclimatize by following previously mentioned guidelines. However, there are instances where medical treatment is required. Ultimately, the best treatment for AMS is to descend to a lower altitude and rest. Early diagnosis is important. This is because it is easier to treat AMS in the early stages.
Our guides have training and experience in AMS symptoms recognition, prevention and treatment. Therefore, the guide will monitor your all the time for symptoms and will pace you appropriately to minimize your exposure to AMS.
We ask you to cooperate with the guide by reporting any above described symptoms. As a result, this will allow your guide to undertake appropriate and timely action. These could be as simple as take a rest and have a drink or snack. The guide can also help you to carry your day pack or change a pace, take extra day rest or descent if necessary.
Your Guide will carry some medications in First Aid Kit and may suggest medication. Typically, Ibuprophen, Paracetamol, combination of them or specific AMS medication can be taken depending on severity of symptoms. Standard and effective medication for prevention of AMS is Acetazolamide (Diamox). It may be taken to help improve breathing and reduce mild symptoms. The side effect is an increased urination. Therefore, you should drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol when taking this drug.With severe cases of AMS our guide will contact our Kathmandu office and arrange your evacuation by helicopter. Before we accept you on the ride, we will require that you purchase travel insurance which DOESN'T EXCLUDE helicopter rescue and hospitalization.
Upper Mustang Bike Ride is A physiologically hard adventure with over 12 high passes to cross. The ride will also require pushing the bike up hill on two occasions in the middle of the ride. The hardest day is from Tangge to Chhusang with 600m elevation gain with some 300m of pushing bike uphill. 16 days of continuous riding with only 3 days of rest in-between is also a demanding effort for most of our riders. Therefore, all this requires a high endurance level, and the ability to ride a mountain bike uphill on an unpaved road.
Generally our customers for Upper Mustang Bike Riding adventure are bike riders or recreational runners and many test themselves with occasional city fun run or bike rides. You don’t need to be competitive, just to be able to comfortably complete the run or ride within average event time. If you completed one of the above within last 6 months you are well pre-qualified for Upper Mustang Bike Ride adventure.
If you are in a good shape, a 3 month preparation before the adventure would be sufficient. You should aim to run or speed walk 10km 3 times per week or alternatively bike-commute to work. This will mean, that you can sustain continuous exercise. Furthermore, you should preference outdoor step training or riding hills at a minimum of twice a week. As a result, the more hills and steps you manage to get in, the more enjoyable the ride will be. In addition, you will also get more benefits out of the adventure.
WHY DO IT?... Part of doing the adventure is the aspect of motivation, and setting your goals and meeting them. The adventure participation will be beneficial to you in all aspects of your personal and professional endeavors. This exercise suggestion is designed for you to get fitter and will influence your healthy lifestyle. Please contact us for detailed advice.
The adventure is scheduled during the best weather period in the area. Upper and Lower Mustang areas are semi desert areas with low precipitation. However with dramatic climate change we see disturbance of weather patterns. Therefore you should be prepared for unusual precipitation and unpredictable cold weather snaps.
Lo Manthang's climate is classified as temperate (Cwc-type) by the Köppen-Geiger system. There is some snowfall in winter however, the main precipitation occurs in summers. The average annual temperature is 5.1°C and the precipitation averages 379 mm.
The least amount of rainfall, 4mm, occurs in November. In August, the precipitation reaches its peak, with an average of 69 mm.
The temperatures are highest on average in June, at around 11°C. January is the coldest month of the year with an average temperature of -2.2°C.
The variation in the precipitation between the driest and wettest months is 65 mm. The variation in annual temperature is around 13.2 °C.
Absolutely, we welcome individual travelers on our fixed departure but we reserve the right to cancel the departure due to insufficient participation. We require a minimum group of 4 participants. Naturally we will offer group prices for people joining as a group.
Kingdom of Lo is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist kingdom. It has always been a part Tibet and it always had a degree of autonomy.This is because it was located at the frontiers of Tibet and it extended up to today’s Tukuche. After Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet, the area of the kingdom has been absorbed by Nepal. Initially they had a high degree of independence and at the same time an isolation from the world outside. Gradually, it was politically absorbed and aligned with Nepal. Current king, a descend of 600 years old dynasty is still alive. However he lost his power in a political and economic struggle. Therefore, nowadays he is a symbolic figurehead but still excerpts considerable political and cultural influence.
The king is very old now in his 80’s but still gives audiences to foreign visitors when he resides in Lo Manthang.
Lo Manthang, the ancient capital of the kingdom is indeed interesting and amazing place, where live stands still like centuries ago. It is dominated by monastic Buddhism with people devoted to religious aspect of Buddhism. Therefore, you will experience a traditional Tibetan living like nowhere else in Tibet proper. This is one of the places on Earth, where you can observe traditions disappearing under pressure of modernity. You will visit 3 ancient gompas, walk on city walls and visit Royal palace. If the king is in residence we will try to arrange an audience.
Choser, located half way between Lo Manthang and Tibetan border, is another interesting place to see. It contains large complex of caves dug in to conglomerate rock. These caves are over 2000 years old. They are an amazing and mysterious place to visit. These caves were used by Tibetan nomads following summer-winter annual migration from central Tibet. We will ride through number of traditional villages with gompas integrated in case system and painted with Mustang colors. We also visit Chhoser monastery on the way to Tibetan border.
We will visit Ghar Gompa on the way from Tsrang to Lo Manthang. It will be a long day but it will be worth the effort. Ghar Gompa is the oldest monastery in Upper Mustang and has very significant cultural value. It is located on the hill with tremendous views on Upper Mustang and Himalayan range. It contains valuable wall painting on mud wall about 500 years old. They are exquisitely preserved by dry and cold climate.
Yara is a small village on the way from Lo Manthang to Tangge. It contains a worth visiting old Gompa and Luri Cave. We will stop in Yara for 2 nights to visit Luri Cave. It was a meditation cave, which was converted in to cave Gompa. There is a traditional Buddhist chorten inside which has a very high significance to Upper Mustang Buddhism. However, for western visitors the value is in ancient painting on the chorten and the Gompa itself. It is quiet spectacular place located in interesting valley shaped by the creek and wind erosion.
Upper Mustang is an unusual place from visual aspect. It is a high altitude desert with a very low precipitation. Its mountains, consisting of a fragile conglomerate rock have been shaped by wind erosion. They form incredible shapes like curtains, pinnacles and organ pipes. Its mysterious look inspired legends, believes and Tibetan Buddhist traditions of peace and contemplation. The isolation shaped a very peaceful, friendly and approachable culture so rare and unique in today world.
Mukinath is located at the foot of Annapurna at the edge of Tibetan plateau. It is a popular pilgrimage and an ancient trading post on Salt Trading Route. The temple complex still resonates today with many traders, gurus and Sadus finding their solace and purpose here. The pilgrims take their ritual bath in temple's pools and collect holy water from 108 water spouts of the temple. The temple complex is a mix of Buddhist and Hindu culture and religion. It is an unusual place, where both cultural traditions integrate with a peaceful collaboration and respect.
We will also visit nearby Chuming Dechen Buddist Nunery established in 1660. The original monastery still existing. There is also new monastery building to visit. It is an unusual example of Buddhist monastery designed by German architect and built with German donations. It is truly spectacular piece of architecture which combines modernity and tradition in a very sensitive and creative way. The monastery is on the way to an interesting Tibetan village of Chhongkhar with Bon culture monastery. Chhongkhar village is one of those places where time has been standing still for centuries.
Kagbeni is an old customs towns on ancient trading route from India to Tibet. One can still see signs of ancient prosperity of the town with its palace of 108 rooms and Red Gompa.The Red Gompa is a teaching monastery for young monks. You can visit morning chanting ceremony in the Gompa.
Kagbeni is perched on the banks of Kali Gandaki River with a spectacular view of the town from the other side of the river. We will also visit the oldest monument in the village, the temple dedicated to Guru Ripoche, who brought Buddhism from India to Tibet.
Lubrak is an interesting place both from visual and traditional aspects. It is only village outside Dolpo dominated by Bon culture. It contains two monasteries. The upper one fell into disrepair and it was reconstructed with support of Danish embassy in Kathmandu.
After Chinese invasion of Tibet the area was a training and operations ground of Tibetan Army until 1960's when Dalai Lama ordered disarmament. The ruins of the Spy Room or HQ building still exists and can be seen from the top monastery. The soldiers of the Tibetan Army settled in Refugee camps in the area. The issue has not been resolved for over 50 years. Their descendants still being stateless and with limited prospects. IMA supports Tibetan Refugees in a quiet and practical way with our biking operations. The business operates by young Tibetans with our support and couching.
Marpha is an apple capital of Nepal with extensive apple orchards around the town. There is a small industry producing dried apple and apple cider. The town is quiet scenic, perched on the hill with narrow streets and whitewash stone courtyard houses.
In 9th century a Japanese monk Ekwai Kawaguchi visited the area and travelled to Tibet and Lhasa via Upper Mustang. It was said that he was a Japanese spy. He was hosted by a wealthy merchant with the hose still existing today and marked with commemorate plate.
It is very simple. Complete the booking form on the adventure page, select size of your group and departure date and click on BOOK/INQUIRY button.
We will send you invoice for the deposit of 25% of the trip value. After paying deposit for the trip we will send you booking confirmation and a comprehensive trip information. The balance is due 2 months prior departure. The deposit as well as the balance may be paid by bank money transfer or by Credit Card via secure PayPal system.
Simply complete BOOKIG/INQUIRY form and specify information you require in the message. We will reply by e-mail or, if you prefer we will call you at a time convenient to you.
Upper Mustang is a high altitude desert. In addition, the IMA Bike Ride operates during the spring and autumn dry seasons. Hence, day temperature in Upper Mustang will be mild with mornings fresh to cold. While in Lower Mustang, it will be warmer in Kagbeni and Muktinath with mild and warm conditions in Marpha, Tatopani and Beni.
Because of the high altitude cold perception seems more pronounced. Hence you will require warmer wear than at lower elevations. Refer to Q&A for more information about weather and preparations.
The ride follows village treks with interesting monasteries. Hence, we will stop to visit interesting places and hike-up to spectacular Himalayan vistas. Because the ride is not competitive, we recommend light trekking comfortable boots.
Tap on button below to download the Gearr List.
If require more information please Email us any questions you may have.
Please note, that the Gear List is only a recommendation. You must choose the quantity of clothing sufficient to keep you warm and comfortable but without excessive luggage.