We can’t include everything you’ll see and do during your exploration, but the text below outlines our daily route and some of what you’ll experience on your beautiful ride through Nepal. Our fresh, new model Enfield 500 EFIs are low weight and have a very manageable seat height of 790mm.
When you arrive in Kathmandu Peter (from FreeSpirit Adventure Tours) and one of the Overland team will collect you from the airport and bring you to our hotel in the Thamel district, right in the heart of Nepal’s famous capital.
With flights arriving throughout the day, the arrival day is useful to allow you to acclimatise to the minor chaos that is Kathmandu. It’s an opportunity to browse the shops and sights in the bustling Thamel district and absorb a little of what the coming adventure will offer. There’ll be a pre-ride briefing in the hotel’s leafy courtyard garden before we sample some great Nepali food at a local restaurant.
Having transferred your belongings and loaded the bikes with the ‘tour-proven’ motorcycle panniers and tank bag you’ll be using, it’s an early brief breakfast to ensure we leave the city before it’s fully awake to avoid the traffic mayhem! The ride westward is stunning and you’ll soon realise the majesty of the surrounding Himalayas.
We ride the Prithvi Highway – named after the uniting king of Nepal, Prithvi Narayan Shah. It may sound grand, but don’t worry, it’s no four lane expressway! It’s an easy ride this first day and we’ll stop for a better breakfast when we’re clear of Kathmandu. You’ll quickly get used to the Enfield and the local road conditions.
En route we’ll visit the hill town of Gorkha from where the name originated. It has fantastic views of the mountain ranges to the north including both Manaslu and Himalchuli and here we’ll visit the 16th century royal palace, but there’s a road to the top so you don’t need to climb the 1,700steps. It’s a great place to savour a cup of tea…
We carry on down the Prithvi Highway as it follows the course of the Marsyangdi river until we reach our turning. About 5kms up a steep narrow road we arrive in Bandipur a beautifully preserved Newari village, built on the wealth of the Indo-Tibet trade that passed through these hills. No vehicles are permitted through the tiny village streets, so we leave the bikes for a short walk to the market where we split into small groups and spend the night with villagers in their homes. It’s a wonderful opportunity to gain some real insight into Nepali life and experience their incredible hospitality.
After a simple breakfast we’re back on the bikes, through orange groves and down the hill to the highway. We’ll ride towards the road junction at Pokhara where we’ll take the highway north towards the mighty Annapurna Range.
The road actually goes all the way past Jomsom to the high mountains of Upper Mustang, and will eventually link to a highway running across Tibet, though its upper reaches are quite treacherous and not yet metalled. We’re not going quite so far, only 150kms to the town of Beni where we’ll stay in an excellent small Thakali family-run hotel. The Thakali people are also renowned for their hospitality and excellent food and historically they served travellers crossing the high mountains. Nepal is still very much a trekking nation and the road network is not well developed. Many roads shown on the map don’t actually have vehicular bridges, making the speed of travel in Nepal a good deal more pedestrian than you may imagine. The road to Beni is a visual delight, but depending on the ferocity of the previous monsoons, it may offer quite a riding challenge.
The following morning in Beni you can relax, or choose from a host of one or two hour walks. All these are next the world’s second deepest gorge, the Kaligandaki river gorge and provide an opportunity to experience a little of the trekking for which Nepal is renowned. Beni is near the start of the famous Annapurna Range Trek.
We’ll have a ‘spot of lunch’ and then an early afternoon ride down the road to Dhampus.
Dhampus is principally a Gurung village and another we cannot ride through. With a population of about 2,700 and 540 households, it’s a lively and prosperous village and the altitude of 1,750m is perfect for viewing the main peaks of the Annapurna Range, well over 6,000m; like the ‘Fishtail’ – Machapuchhre Peak. The venue where we’ll sleep and enjoy a candlelit dinner, was built on the proceeds of a British Army pension. This is the home of the Gurkha Regiment, and there’s a strong bond between Nepal and the British Army. The boys who join the Gurkhas come from villages like this and Gurungs are a Mongolian caste favoured by the army selectors. Having reached Dhampus via its rough stone track and witnessed a little of the simple living environment, it’ll be easier to understand why these soldiers are so revered within the military.
Day 5 and 6
Dhampus offers exquisite sunrise views over the mountains and we’d recommend you wake early, but it’s your choice of course.
We’ve tasted a little of village life but today it’s time to ride the zig-zags to the ‘bright lights’ of Nepal’s second city, Pokhara. There are four Tibetan Refugee camps in and around Pokhara and on the way down we’ll visit a Buddhist monastery within one. The Tibetan Tashi Palkhiel Monastery was built and is managed by the refugees and their benefactors, but these sadly displaced people are also known for their carpet weaving, producing some beautiful specimens. You may wish to see the weavers at work and try to politely explain that travelling by Enfield precludes your making a purchase…
If you would prefer to forego the monastic experience and rather jump off a mountain on either a wire rope or a para-glider, we’ll take you straight on down to Pokara where you can enjoy some of Nepal’s adrenaline fuelled extreme activities.
Pokhara’s lakeside social hub is only a short ride and it’s here we can regroup, over a chilled beer at ‘The Bullet Base Camp’ bar. Our hotel is hidden in the middle of Lakeside and we’ll be here for two nights so you can browse the shops or take a boat ride across the lake and walk up through the jungle to the Peace Stupa. (It’s very steep, but the view is fantastic).
Pokara is Nepal’s well loved ‘post-trekking recuperation zone’ and it contains everything for the weary trekker, or motorcyclist.
Lunch and dinner is your choice while we’re hear as the choice is endless in the many restaurants on Lakeside.
The show’s back on the road today as we head south for Tansen. It’s a narrow mountain road, one of only three that connect the southern wetlands – the Terai – with the middle and northern regions of Nepal. The Siddartha Highway is probably one of Nepal’s most scenic and definitely one of the most spectacular. It’s 130kms of non-stop bends, steep sided gorges and breath-taking views. It may be a challenge, but you may find it rating as one of your world favourite rides.
Once a Magar Kingdom, Tansen regained its fortune as a Newari trading post, but during the civil war in Nepal (1996-2006) it was subjected to numerous attacks by the Maoists and the Rana Palace was all but destroyed. Now there’s a mission hospital there serving thousands of patients each year. Tansen is also renowned for the Dhaka cloth that is woven there and used, amongst other things, for the traditional Nepali topi, or cloth cap. It’s a small town and its location is midway between Pokhara and our next destination making it perfect for our night stop. Stories from the day’s amazing ride will no doubt be recounted over dinner, conveniently served in our hotel.
After breakfast we’ll set off for the last section of the Siddhartha Highway. At the busy town of Butwal we meet the main East West Highway and enjoy a good blast to the east. We’ll be out of the mountains and riding across the Terai, Nepal’s hot fertile wetlands and home to a wide variety of wildlife, some of which is unique to Nepal.
We’ll stop for refreshments and lunch on the way and by early evening will arrive in the small but lively village of Sauraha in Chitwan National Park. Here we’ll leave our motorcycles and take a short walk through the village centre for sundowners at ‘The Beach’. We’re going to spend two nights here in a quiet jungle resort, so we can take time to browse the shops and mix with the locals.
Today is a rest day. We swap motorcycles for elephants and canoes and explore the Chitwan National Park for tigers, rhino’, sambar and wild boar. After elephant rides you are welcome to wash the elephants in the Rapti river so bring your swimwear!
Dinner and drinks will be ‘On The Beach’ beside the Rapti river, reflecting on a very different side of Nepal. The locals are Tharu people who have a unique culture, special for its complex and lively traditional dances. Interestingly they have become immune to malaria which exists in some parts of the Terai during the hottest months of July and August, but is rare in Chitwan. Our air-conditioned rooms will have mosquito nets and many travellers who stay only briefly in the area find a good application of anti-mosquito cream is generally enough to provide protection from any bites.
East into the rising sun, we ride across broad monsoon river beds, riding with the overloaded Tata trucks plying their trade along the East West highway. We will stop for snacks and photo ops whenever you wish, until we reach the prosperous and tidy town of Hetauda for lunch. It’s an important junction between the east, west and north of Nepal and south to India.
Then we’ll strike north and quickly climb back into the cooler mountains and up to the pass at nearly 2,600m. From here on a clear day the snow clad peaks bordering Tibet can be seen. We pass through Daman the small village at the top and descend, eventually turning right for the hidden-valley village of Bajrabarahi. It’s another hugely rewarding day in the saddle spanning great cultural, architectural and physical variation, demonstrate the many sides of Nepal.
We’re heading back to the Kathmandu valley, which we’ll reach by a mixture of dirt track and slightly better surfaced road that passes through myriad tiny picturesque villages. This is one of those days when you’ll wonder just how the amazing views round every corner can continue to surpass the last and as some of the road surface is so terrible you’ll be blown away by how the simple Enfield beneath you continues to impress!
High on adrenelin from such an amazing ride, we then plunge into Kathmandu and experience riding in a city like no other, as we return to our hotel in the Thamel region. By now you’ll be well versed with Nepali road manners and will relish the ride through the bustle of the city.
Time permitting, in the early evening, we’ll ride to a nearby hilltop hydro-electric station and marvel at the ancient and still functioning British engineering! We’ll enjoy dinner in one of many popular Thamel restaurants, perhaps followed by a little dancing?
It’s the last day of the Tour which gives us a chance to explore the old city of Kathmandu, and browse through the busy lanes and markets of Ason and Basantapur, which are an amazing assault on the senses. You can visit the Garden of Dreams, the famous Durbar Square or the amazing Monkey Temple. There’ll be time to pick up the odd gift for friends and family in the busy markets and as well as a visit to the more famous city sights, there will be an opportunity to visit an educational project and refuge for young girls, where the Overland Magazine team will be gifting some desperately needed resources.
Alas, the tour is over and we’ll transfer you to the Tribhuvan International Airport for your flights home, unless you’ve decided to extend your stay in what is a truly magical part of the world.
OVERLAND EXPLORE Nepal Tour Package Pricing
Please note, all fuel and most meals and even bottled water is included in this incredible price!
£2,000 for riders and £1,200 for pillions.
Only £200 secures your place.
Once you’ve read the terms and conditions, please click here to place your deposit.
– Airport transfers in Nepal
– Information pack with maps etc.
– 10 Days Bike hire complete with comprehensive road traffic insurance
– Panniers and tankbag
– All fuel, oil and maintenance/spares
– Additional vehicle support when and where required
– 12 Nights accommodation
– 12 x Breakfast
– 7 x Evening Meals
– Professional Hosts for the duration of the tour
– Bottled drinking water
– Overland Explore Nepal tour shirt!
* Lunches are generally on the highway and you can pitch in to the kitty if you wish, to cover this and other snacks.
What’s NOT Included:
– Nepal visa (purchased at the airport on arrival, currently $25 for 15 days)
– Flights aren’t included as Overland Magazine readers come from all over the world, but we can certainly arrange them for you
– Travel Insurance isn’t included due to the wide variation in personal circumstance, but you must ensure that the policy you buy covers you to ride a motorcycle. Again, we can help
– Entrance fees for parks, sites of historic interest, personally chosen activities
– Hotel snack, laundry, telephone bills and any alcohol
– Any vaccinations or medicines necessary prior to or during the Tour
– Motorcycle clothing
– Motorcycle Security Deposit, a £250 non-returnable deposit, payable with your Final Payment
– Single Room Supplement should you not wish to share with another rider