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! We will guide you along sinuous mountain trails, across plains and through jungles to the shadow of mighty Annapurna, on to Kathmandu, to the border with Tibet and back via Everest views. This trip is characterised by rides in places of incredible natural beauty. The Blazing Trails team has 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 can sometimes occur. For this reason, no itinerary is ever set in stone.
This tour will be run on two dates and in two directions (Bardia to Kathmandu and Kathmandu to Bardia), with internal flights supplied by Blazing Trails. On arrival in KTM, depending on which direction you are riding the route, you will either be transferred to the domestic terminal for your onward flight, or to your hotel in Kathmandu. On meeting up with the Blazing Trails team you be given a full briefing on the joys ahead, handed ‘your’ bike, an 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. Weather will range from ‘warm’ on the plains, to ‘nippy’ in the higher stations. 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; views of the Annapurna and Everest ranges – this is a trip full of fabulous contrasts and epic rides.
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 (now dissolved) 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 occupied Tibet 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 300ft 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.
In ten wordsJungles, mountains, culture and wildlife, via some stunning, twisty roads.
Riding LevelRoads are mainly good, with very little traffic. Climbing the pot-holed road to Kathmandu and following the ring-road can be challenging. Two long days in the saddle. Tarmac: 98%; dirt 2%.
Pillion RatingLonger days and tougher sections are manageable and the support vehicle is there if you need a rest.
Accommodation & MealsHotels are clean and in the most fitting locations we can find. Dining is tasty and extremely inexpensive. Included meals: all breakfasts; 1 lunch; 2 dinners.
Day 1: arrive kathmandu and on to bardia
Land in KTM following an overnight flight, to be met by a Blazing Trails representative and transferred to the Domestic Terminal to meet your flight to Nepalganj, from where you will be collected and driven (around 2hrs) to our jungle resort on the fringes of Bardia National Park. Here you will be greeted by our staff and briefed on the trip ahead. More on Bardia.
Day 2: In bardia national park
We will be transferring to rafts, which will carry us through the park to the most surprising of overnight stops, a camp on a riverine island, deep in the jungle. The evening’s entertainments are best left 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, crocodile and many other species.
Day 3: IN BARDIA NATIONAL PARK
The journey back from our overnight camp to the hotel near the park gates can be made either on foot, or by raft/jeep. It’s a stiff half-day on foot, but worth it as it’s rare to be allowed to walk in such places and the chances of seeing wildlife here are high.
Day 4: 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. More on Tansen.
Day 5: 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. Many also take the opportunity to do a tandem paraglide, with the huge mountains as a back-drop. 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 6: 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. More on Pokhara.
Day 7: pokhara to gorkha
The morning’s ride gets curvier and more interesting by the hour as it follows the main Kathmandu road through scenic river gorges. Turning off the main road, we will follow the road up to Gorkha (after which the famous ‘Gurkha’ Regiment takes its name). The afternoon can be spent visiting some very important Hindu temples and scaling 1700 steps to the palace of King Prithivi Narayan Shah, the founder of `Shah Dynasty’ which ran Nepal until recently. Around 300 years ago, he unified the 50-or-so states that comprised the area that is now Nepal into a single country. More on Gorkha.
Day 8: gorkha to chitwan
A late-ish set-off will allow those who want to explore Gorkha more time, before we wind down from the hills and back to the Terai plain, some 500km east of where we started. The aim is to hit Chitwan before sunset, so we can park ourselves in the most appropriately-named Sunset Bar to watch the event. It is not uncommon to see a rhino cross the river with a beer in your mitt, illuminated by the most spectacular of sundowns.
Day 9: 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 near 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 10: chitwan to nagarkot
An early start is needed as we’ve much ground to cover. The day will start with knocking out a few kilometres on the fast Mahendra Highway, before we head back into the hills for what is one of the most spectacular rides imaginable. We will climb and climb a twisty and near-deserted road until reaching the top of a pass at Daman (2600m) for lunch. From here, the views open up all the way to the Everest massif, hundreds of kilometres away (pictured left, through a 200mm lens). The ride down the other side is no less incredible, this time the Annapurna Range supplying the vistas. And then again we climb (though on a rough and busy road) to a small pass that is the gateway to the Kathmandu Valley. To reach Nagarkot means travelling a few kilometres on the Kathmandu ring-road, from where our hotel is but a short ride up to 2175m. More on Nagarkot.
DAY 11: NAGARKOT to THE LAST RESORT
Early risers will get the chance to see sunrise striking the Everest Range, before we head out after an early lunch. Today’s roads and views are again stunning, as we head north-east, closer to Tibet and the Everest region on the Chinese-built Arniko Rajmarg (Friendship Highway). We should reach our tented resort, set besides the Bothe Kosi River in the early afternoon. More on the Arniko Highway.
DAY 12: AT THE LAST RESORT
A day in which to engage in bonkers activities, or just chill. Possible foolishness includes bungee jumping into a 160m gorge, white-water rafting and canyoning. Less adventurous types may instead opt to relax at the resort with a massage or in the sauna. Another option is to take a ride 20km up to the Kosari Bridge, the centre of which is the border with Tibet. More on The Last Resort.
DAY 13: LAST RESORT TO BHAKTAPUR
A reverse of yesterday’s ride will take us back in the direction of Kathmandu. Some 25km short of the capital, we will be stopping for the night in Bhaktapur, one of the three cities in the valley. Packed with historic, religious and cultural (World Heritage) sites and sights, a fine afternoon can be spent investigating the squares and temples. More on Bhaktapur.
DAY 14: BHAKTAPUR TO KATHMANDU
Up early to catch the short bus-ride bus from Bhaktapur to our hotel in the Thamel district of KTM – where most of the climbers and trekkers hang out. Spend the remainder of the day exploring 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. If you want to buy dodgy-quality, moody outdoor gear, then Thamel is the centre of the universe. Kathmandu also has a huge number of eateries to choose from, with good Continental cuisine to back up the local fare. Later in the evening you should be able to track down a busy bar with live music. More on Kathmandu.
DAY 15: FLY FROM KATHMANDU
Relax on an aircraft, savouring memories and accidentally deleting pictures of the jungles, mountains and towns that make up fascinating Nepal. Bask in the satisfaction that you have ridden some of the best mountain roads in one of the world’s most interesting countries. And what a bargain!
WHAT THE TOUR PRICE INCLUDES
- International Flights
- Bike with Mechanical Back-up, Spares & Repairs
- Medical & Luggage-carrying Support
- All Internal Transfers
- First Tank of Fuel
- Accommodation on a Bed & Breakfast Basis
- Most Lunches & Evening Meals
- Entry Fees
- Fuel Subsequent to First Tankful
- Bungee Jump (Last Resort); about £50
- White-water rafting day trip (Last Resort); some £35
- Park entry and guides (Bardia & Chitwan) £10-ish
- Elephant safari (Bardia & Chitwan); around £45
- Paragliding (tandem flight, Pokhara) £70, or thereabouts
Despite the ongoing peace process, the political situation in Nepal remains a little fragile. Problems involving tourists are extremely rare, but we will be monitoring the security situation on an ongoing basis and an alternative itinerary will be put in place if we judge the situation at the time to be too dangerous. For current Government travel advice, check: Foreign Office Website.
You will need a passport with valid visa, appropriate travel insurance and an international driving permit. While visas can be obtained on arrival, the queues can be long. Better to get a visa from the Embassy of Nepal in London.
The Nepali Rupee (NPR) is fixed against the Indian Rupee (INR) at an exchange rate of 1.6 NPR to each INR. However, the daily price given by foreign exchange wallahs in Kathmandu, is set as a cartel and you’ll have difficulty getting the full rate. Thus, we would suggest you check the rate before flying, so you do not get ripped off at the airport. In the major towns (Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan), there are cashpoints and any hard currency (UKP/USD/Euro) cash is easily changed, as are travellers’ cheques in these currencies. If you don’t go crazy in the shops, then changing around £350 should see you through the trip. Please, though, check out (above) the cost of any additional activities in which you wish to participate.
Even at moderate altitude the Himalaya can be surprisingly warm in summer. But nothing can be taken for granted and although rain is rare there is always the chance. Evenings can get quite chilly, but the rest of the time it should be warm/hot. The maximum temperature likely to be encountered is around 30ºC; the minimum 6ºC (rarely, at night).
We advise riders to consider their kit in terms of layers. Good quality gear can also prevent a minor spill causing a trip-ruining injury, so we require that you ride with no exposed skin (except your face). More on kit.
While your main luggage will be carried in a support vehicle, you may wish to bring a small rucksack or tankbag in which to carry articles you need on the road. Your main bag must be ‘soft’ and not a suitcase.
While you don’t have to be an athlete to join us on this adventure, we would not recommend this tour to those who cannot, for instance, climb a flight of stairs. Please note that there are some long days in the saddle. We do not reach any great altitude on this tour, but if you have any existing medical condition, please consult both Blazing Trails and your doctor before booking.
While we insist those joining us have a full motorcycle licence, and recommend a minimum of two year’s riding experience, time in the saddle and miles ridden are of more relevance to an adventure like this. Riding in India is very different from Europe and although the speeds at which we travel are relatively low, demands on planning and observation are high. Other factors making demands on riders are the heat (and possibly cold), conditions of the road – including sections of unpaved dirt – and getting used to the bikes’ reversed foot controls
HEALTH & HYGIENE
Although there is always the chance of getting a ‘holiday tummy’, following a few simple guidelines keeps the chances of this to a minimum. The tour will be accompanied by a medic with extensive kit to deal with any problem. If you have any pre-existing medical condition, it is essential that you consult both Blazing Trails and your physician before booking.
To check out our suggested packing list.
How To Make A Booking
Holiday bookings can be made by phone, via email, or over the internet.
Contact us by any of the means above.
Upon deciding to book, please pay a deposit of £700 into our bonded account (or the full balance if within two months of the departure date). This can be done by credit/debit card through our website or over the phone, by bank transfer, by over-the-counter payment, or by sending a cheque to our UK representative.
Having booked with Blazing Trails, you will be sent all the necessary information on timings and meeting points. You may also like to use our website, or Facebook group, to liaise with others.
PLEASE NOTE: A maximum of one week (seven days) will be allowed for your deposit payment to reach and clear in our bonded account. Should this not happen, we can suspend your booking and may have to give your place on tour to somebody else.
Are flights included?
Yes, (if you are booking from the UK) all flights, international and domestic are included in the price of your tour.
How do I book?
The tours can be booked online, by email, or over the phone on: +44 (0) 7494 050404. To secure a place you will be asked to put down a deposit of £700 and payment can be made by card, cheque, or bank transfer.
Where do I get a visa?
To visit Nepal you will need to obtain a valid tourist visa. Your passport must have at least six months of validity remaining at time of application. Visas are available on arrival at Kathmandu Airport, but the queues can be very long. Better to obtain your visa from the Embassy of Nepal. Currently a 15-day visa costs £20.
What other paperwork do I need?
You will need a valid certificate of travel insurance and an International Driving Permit.
Where do I get an International Driving Permit?
Obtain one through the Post Office service, at major branches. All you need is your UK Driving Licence and some six of Her Imperial Majesty’s Pounds.
can i book from outside the UK?
Yes. If you are booking from outside the UK, please contact us and we will provide you with a non-flight price.
CAN I take a different flight?
You can, but we may have to add a surcharge if you are not on the group flight. Please contact us for details.
DO I NEED INSURANCE?
Yes, you need travel insurance to cover you for the period of the tour. This insurance must cover you to ride a bike of over 50cc while away. Recommended by past guests are The Post Office and Tesco, both of whom do reasonably priced policies with the requisite cover. The bikes are insured, so bike insurance need not concern you.
Where should I change money?
We would advise that you have some idea of the Nepali Rupee exchange rate before you leave, to avoid getting ripped-off. We would advise changing around £100 at the airport. In many major towns, there are cash-points that will accept major credit and debit cards. In Kathmandu and Pokhara you will be able to use money changers and banks. Further advice to this will be given in the tour briefing.
Can a lady with a wooden leg change a pound note?
No, she’s only got half a knicker.
How much spending money will I need?
About £250 should cover food, drink, petrol and sundries.
Will I have to share a room?
Yes, unless you pay a supplement. Even then, single rooms may not be available at some stops as the hotels we use are popular, or in some cases small, and we have to book our accommodation some time in advance.
What standard is the accommodation?
It varies widely, but is always clean and the best we can find in the area for a reasonable price in a suitable setting. Mostly we are in clean, comfortable hotels. In one place you will be staying in a comfortable tented camp; in another, camping rough in the wilderness – it’s all part of the adventure experience.
Will we have electricity?
It can’t be guaranteed. In some places there’s no power; in all power cuts are possible. Thus, if it’s vital you need electrical power every night, please speak to us before booking. Don’t forget a travel adaptor if you need to recharge your electricals.
How much riding experience do I need?
We would recommend only booking a tour with us if you have a full licence (compulsory) and have at least two years’ recent riding experience. The main criterion, however, is confidence. If you’re happy to zip through a London rush hour, then you’ll be capable of dealing with road life in Nepal.
Is riding in nepal dangerous?
Riding anywhere carries with it a degree of risk, as does riding in Nepal. For more information on the riding side of things see ‘Riding’ in the ‘About Nepal ‘ section of this site. If any rider joining us rides in a manner we suspect will endanger themselves, or others, or indeed displays antisocial behaviour, they will receive one warning. If they continue to display a threat to the safety or enjoyment of others on the tour, they will be excluded from the remainder (with no refund given, see terms and conditions).
How fast will we be riding?
Due to road conditions and other traffic, vehicles tend to move a lot slower in Nepal than they do in the West. We will do likewise. There are also constraints on speed enforced by the bikes. These are not high-revving sports bikes and so we will lead the tour at a maximum speed of around 70kph.
Can I use the bike in the evenings?
No, you can’t ride independently of the tour group, sorry.
How fit do I need to be?
Reasonably so. What’s ‘reasonably fit’? If you can’t jog up stairs without panting, then Nepali bike tours probably aren’t for you.
Can I take a pillion?
Yes (full price, less £300), but please be sure they know what they’re letting themselves in for: some long days in the saddle, bumpy roads and, in the mountains, some pretty shocking drop-offs. We have limited space in our support vehicles, so pillions may not be able to hop off on a whim. Likewise, if riders have any doubt over handling the extra weight, then we’d advise they ride solo. It is possible to book a place in a support vehicle (full price, less £300) for those who want to join the tour, but not to ride or travel as a pillion passenger.
How much luggage can I bring?
You are limited to 20kg by most airlines. However, we suggest you pack as lightly and in as compact a form as possible. As support vehicle space is tight, we insist you bring soft luggage if you turn up with a suitcase we will ask you to buy a soft bag and repack.
How much luggage should I bring?
Keep it minimal. One set of riding kit for the tour and a couple of sets of clothes for the evening. You can always pick up cheap clothing locally and there are laundry facilities at two-night stops.
Isn’t nepal A Dangerous commie hell?
Not really. Nepal values its tourist industry and foreigners are generally treated very politely. Like anywhere, there is a low-level risk of crime, but you will be given a briefing on sensible behaviour before we set off.
Do I need a towel?
If you’re wet, yes. One small travel towel. Although most of our hotels provide towels, there may be the occasional night you need your own.
Is food included in the price?
Only breakfast (and lunch/dinner in the jungle). We prefer that you make your own choices on where you eat and you will find Nepali food substantially cheaper than meals at home.
I don’t like curry, what can I eat?
We would firstly suggest that you avoid too much curry, purely on the grounds that you don’t like it. Nepali cuisine has much more to offer than what we in the West are offered in most ‘Indian’ restaurants. In many destinations, Western-style food is available and where it is not, less spicy food can be arranged. As an alternative, it is possible to bring your own pre-packed camping meals and add hot water.
I hear that they eat rats in nepal – is this true?
Yes, but they pickle them for a few days first.
Are laundry facilities available on-tour?
They are, but not every night. Check the itineraries of Tours you will be able to get clothes cleaned at two-night stops, so consider this when packing.
Do I require a pollution mask?
Not specifically. Pollution is not a problem except in the major cities, but some roads are dusty so a facemask, snood, or scarf can be useful.
Do I need waterproofs?
Yes. If your riding kit isn’t waterproof, then bring some light waterproofs.
Do I need to bring a sleeping bag?
Yes, a light, compact bag will add to your comfort.
What medication should I bring & what inoculations are required?
Consult your GP/travel clinic for immunisation and malaria advice. Bring enough of any prescribed medication you take regularly. A basic first aid kit is useful (plasters, antiseptic cream, bite/sting relief, plus insect repellent). Any serious medical problems will be dealt with by the tour medic.
Should I bring a seat pad?
Gel or air pads add comfort on long days in the saddle, but are not necessary.
I hear that elephants are the most dangerous animal in nepal – is this true?
Yes, don’t mess with elephants.