I first heard about the kingdom of Lo Manthang (Mustang) a few years ago. The word on the street was that the Kingdom of Lo was untouched and amazing. And to top that, the road to the kingdom was beyond anything else you had ever seen or ridden on. I came across some photographs and instantly began the obsessing about the land that lay between Nepal and Tibet (China), that had opened its doors to the rest of the world when they officially became a part of Nepal, in the ’80s. From then on began the itch to ride up to see the Kingdom of Lo for myself.
Very few people venture to the Mustang valley because once you cross the village of Kagbeni, you need to have a permit that allows you access to the area. The permit is easy enough to get in the capital city of Kathmandu but it’s the USD 600 price that keeps most people away.
So finally, after many years of failed plans, I found myself on a plane to Nepal. As I landed in Kathmandu I didn’t know what the next ten days had in store for me. This was to be one of the hardest and most gruelling rides I have ever done. It makes Ladakh back in 2008 look easy and trust me that wasn’t a walk in the park either. The road itself is amazing. Think of terrain that scares you to ride over and the road to the Kingdom of Lo had oodles of it.
From riding in river beds to riding through deep silty sand, there was everything that an adventure biker will ever want. I have tried my level best to put the experience into words but have failed miserably, on many occasions. The ride to Mustang valley isn’t easy to describe. That’s why we have used as many pictures as we could.
If you have the urge for a mad mad extreme adventure, save up for that permit and head out to Nepal. Trust me, you will totally love it. Everybody who enters the Annapurna Conservation Area Project is required to get a one time permit which costs USD 20. There is no restriction on the amount of time you can spend in the area with this permit.
For Upper Mustang however, you require a separate permit called the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) which costs USD 500 per person and has a time limit of 10 days. Every extra day spent after that is USD 50 per person per day.
The USD 600 permit
We even got ourselves a TIMS card which is mandatory for trekkers to ensure their safety and security. What it does is helps pinpoint the position of a traveller in case there is an emergency and a rescue operation is required. The TIMS card costs USD 20. We heard the RAP card should cover everything the TIMS does but no one could get us a clear answer, so we got one anyway.
Images and words by Vir Nakai