Motorcycle ride to Manang, Annapurna Circuit, May 25th 2015
May 5, 2015 – June 4, 2015
Even before this trip, my Nepali friends were concerned and warned me about dangers on the way….landslides, avalanches and tough road. In the morning I was about to start the western route from Pokhara to Jomsom, I received a call from Ananada my Nepali friend in Kathmandu: “Hi Alan, you can’t go to Jomsom, there was a landslide and the road is blocked”. I replied: “Well I have a good dirt bike, I may pass….” he answered: “The mountain fell into Kali Gandaki river around Totopani, river rose 15o meters, I don’t think you will pass”! That is how the eastern route from Besisahar to Manag via Chame was chosen. Sometimes we end up in most amazing places by chance, not a choice….this is a story of the most beautiful, most demanding, most dangerous ride of my life….with unforgettable reward waiting on top!
The road after Chame really was easier and the land structure changed. Elevation of Chame is 2650 meters and next 30 kilometers to Manang (3650 meters) were not so steep. What opened few kilometers after was the most magnificent rock formation I have ever seen. The name is “Gateway to Heaven”. It lays between Chame and Pisang and it looks like a giant skateboard ramp. Sloped rock that curves at 90 degree angle, however I estimate it is about one kilometer high and some three kilometers long. On top it has a rock formation that looks like a palace, and that is where it got its name. After Pisang, the scenery becomes really magical. The road is almost horizontal, while mountains are all around you peaking up to 7000 meters. The nature here is so beautiful…and so huge!!! Since that part is flat, there is an airport in Humde, some 10 kilometers from Manang. Unfortunately it was closed at that time so I could not see planes land or take off. it started to get dark and I had to proceed. For the last 20 minutes I rode in pitch darkness, only seeing what was in the reach of my front light. Road was flat and easy and I relaxed doing 40 km/h…and that is when I crashed….bike went left, i fell to the right and rolled few times in the dirt….ground was soft and it was an amazing luck both me and the bike were left unharmed except a few bruises and scratches. A lesson learned….I got relaxed before reaching the destination, and that is when accidents happen. I got back on the bike and in 5 minutes I was in Manang. Temperature around zero degrees. I got a room for the night in a hotel “YETI” (I love the name) and fell asleep without the slightest idea how the scenery looks around me as I arrived in the dark. That surprise waited for me in the morning. I woke up to a crystal clear sunny day, visibility perfect, sky was as blue as it can be. And there was IT! The mountain you hear about since you are little, an object of dreams and one of those places that are so powerful that they border with legends. Annapurna dominating over Manang. It is truly majestic in every sense…normally we observe nature. Here we experience it, because the effect of it is so powerful it touches a person beyond just the eyesight. There is small temple some hundred meters above Manang. I took a walk there just to get a better view of the town and sit and just take it in. As I sat down there thinking it can not get any better than this, it did. There is a glacier formation I was looking at in a distance….and in that moment the lower part started to tear off and begun to fall down the mountain. This was followed by a deep rumbling sound and then it all went quiet again. Beautiful sight. But these sounds came quietly from a distance few more times, reminding me that Himalayas are alive. There are tectonic moves, glacier glacier breaking, avalanches, landslides…all that is happening there. I remained there for two or three hours just taking it all in, and having a hard time believing I was actually there. Around 2 PM I started my descend from Manang. The views were again amazing but from different direction. I reached Syange again by the evening and stayed at the same place that was hanging over the river. Next day, I got back and by the evening I was in Kathmandu. My face was dirty, my body was covered in dust, I lost weight during the ride, I was exhausted….but happier than ever. I felt like my body and mind are reset and even as am writing this, and reliving it all again I can’t believe I actually did it in a way I did. And again I have witnessed all along the way the amazing amazing amazing kindness and hospitality of Nepali people.
Places described here are a part of Annapurna Circuit trekking route that takes around 12-14 days walking. Altitude sickness can be an issue at Thorung La pass, but fast descend to lower elevation should take care of the problems.
This is only one in hundreds of attractions Nepal offers. Many are adventurous, many are more relaxed, historical, cultural….Nepal offers so much. I am finishing this article with a thought….I am wishing the best for the people of Nepal, and I wanna go back ASAP!!!