Eshan Wears: Alphaskin Tights, Black Shorts, Speed Trainers by ADIDAS – GIANT Bike, MTB Top and Helmet by HIMALAYAN SINGLE TRACK

In the remote Himalayas of Nepal, life can be challenging on a daily basis. Yet, there are certain tribes who are living in peace and harmony in these hostile environments. To find these tribes I’ve had to travel to the Manang district of Nepal sitting at 3519m.

Growing up, I’ve heard stories about the heavenly beauty of Manang and seen images too. However, little has been researched about its people and the region. Perhaps, the remoteness of Manang, the rocky mountains and the constant change in weather make it hard to access let alone research. Hence, it would only make sense for me to go and find out first hand, everything I can about Manang. Riding a bike in the high Himalayan rocky terrain is definitely on my bucket list of adventures. Annapurna Conservation Area is linked to Manang with a trail which was completed in 2011. This is the route we will be cycling up to reach Manang.


As with any project, planning is very important. This route was going to be challenging in terms of weather, altitude and the rough terrain of the Himalayas. After countless research and meetings with Mountain Bike Enthusiasts, I finally found myself in the store of Himalayan Single Track, located in Thamel. This bike store serve fully customised Mountain Bike Tours all around Nepal. They are also the only licensed distributors for GIANT Bikes in Nepal and have an authorised workshop for all kinds of repair and maintenance. Here, I met with the director of the company, Santosh Rai who is one of the nicest and aspiring guys I’ve met. A brief meeting led to couple hours of conversation. This really gave me an opportunity to understand his reason behind starting up this company and more importantly his dream to make Kathmandu a Go-Green cycling metropolis. To know more about Santosh Rai and his company, please click the link below.


First things first, I got myself a Giant MTB Trance 2 from Himalayan Single Track (more on this down below). A very light MTB with full suspension is the perfect match for the rough Rocky Mountain trails for a better ride compared to a hard trail bike in my opinion. I seriously recommend to get the Full Suspension MTB which makes a huge difference for a long ride on the Annapurna Circuit. I was also given a quick induction on the bike and with the repair tool kits.

Other support I received was from Switchback Apparels who provided me with cushioned tights, gloves and a cycling top. This company are the only licensed distributors for FOX gear and products, located in Sanepa, Laitpur.


Pack light, Pack Right would be my only words of advice.
From wearing lightweight basics in the green valley on the beginning of the journey to layering and puffer jackets up to the higher cold altitude in the rocky mountain is very important. A Cap, a pair of MTB gloves, riding sunglasses and wind/waterproof jackets and trousers are key pieces as they can double up for layering to keep warm. I took 3 sets of cycling outfits, one puffer jacket, one rain/windproof jacket, a pair of trainers and hiking boots. Cotton stays wet and extracts heat from your body. So I’d advise to leave it at home. Any extra clothing is strongly discouraged. The Weather changes within a matter of seconds as you incline higher. Hence, one main tip I’d give anyone is to always ask the hikers and cyclists coming downhill regarding the weather upwards towards your destination. This will keep you one step ahead in terms of preparation.


Where do I start? Going on an adventure of a lifetime like this, you want to make sure you come back with some excellent images. DSLR and light weight Mirrorless Cameras are highly recommended. However, my advice would be to take about 5 sets of camera batteries and 2 powerful power-banks. This is because the chilly weather of higher altitudes drain out the battery energy very quickly whether it be mobile phones or camera. Also, you are very limited to power sources once you’re up there. The teahouses and lodges higher up would only have one power socket attached to a multi-socket in the dining room. Moreover, there is no guarantee on the timing of the electricity. So be fully prepared and regardless of the situation, don’t forget to enjoy the beauty of the Himalayas.


The higher you go, the vegetation declines as the landscape changes into Rocky Mountains all around you with hardly any fertile land for agricultural activities. It used to be mainly Daal Bhaat, which is the traditional Nepalese cuisine. However, with new trails built, the villagers in the remote areas have been able to access some commodities of urban living to give you that bit of leisure whilst on your journey. There are Tea Houses and Lodges that serve Apple Pie, Pizzas, Pastas and other western food too.

The accommodation around the circuit are mainly Bed&Breakfast or Lodges and are very standard. Do not expect luxury around these remote villages as you’re very far away from urbanisation. However, you will still get a few lodges with an ensuite if you’re lucky enough to book early.

If you’re going higher past Manang, its always best to book accommodation in advance as the chances are very high they will be fully booked on arrival. The best part of these hotels and lodges is being around the wooden oven around evening. Everyone comes to get warm in the kitchen/dining area. This is when you get to socialise with people from different parts of the world. Every one of them have their own story to tell.

Please take issues regarding Altitude very seriously. In you’re safety kit, please do include a file of Diamox. This helps to neutralise the effects of altitude sickness or prevent it completely. It reduces headache, dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath. Its best to get it from the city before you start your journey. Also, do not stay in a warm room when you have altitude sickness. This only makes it worse. Get fresh air.


I left from the hustle and bustle atmosphere of Kathmandu on a 7 hours bus ride to Dulegauda, Tanahun. This is where I was joined by my cousin Bivek, who I know is a very well trained Mountain Bike Rider and will be taking care of the mechanics of the bikes.  After overnight preparations we were ready early the next morning. We left at 7:30am for a 5 hour drive from Dulegauda to Besi Sahar which is the starting point of the bike trip. I’d advise to travel on the road early to avoid any traffic. We estimated 9 days for this trip to Manang. Cycling on Annapurna Circuit will take you through the journey of a lifetime of this beautiful landscape starting from the lower green valleys along side the Marshyangdi River to the majestic waterfalls and gigantic mountain bee hives unlike anywhere else in the world.  Moreover, you’ll have the company of some of the most beautiful Himalayan mountains as you cycle.  Such as Dhaulagiri (8167m), Manaslu (8156m), Nilgiri (7061m), Machhapuchhre (6993m), Hiunchuli (6443m), Lamjung Himal (6983m), Tukuche peak (6920m), Tilicho peak (7134m), and many others. This once in a lifetime experience can be overwhelming to plan, but shouldn’t stop you from checking the circuit off your bucket list.

There is also another side to the Annapurna Circuit. As beautiful as nature can get as you climb higher, you also meet different tribes of people living along the same line of the circuit. The population in Manang district according to  a recent census is only 6547. Gurungs, Tibetan Bhoteys, Manange and Thakalis are the tribes you’d encounter with whilst passing through this circuit. Each having their own traditions, culture and lifestyle.

This took me back to ancient times. This to me was a pleasant experience. Getting to hear their languages, eat what they eat, and see how they live at such high altitudes.

One of the major attraction was at the headquarter town of Manang, Chame. We were blown away on arrival to this town by their celebration of festival MAY-THA. ‘MAY’ meaning Bow and ‘THA’ meaning arrow. This archery festival was a privilege to watch with competitors coming from all over the district to win the prize money and status. The tribes here are Tibetan descendants and were singing away into dusk after the archery competition in their brightly coloured attire with beautiful textile embroidery on it. I would have asked if I could try one on, but I had to respect their hospitality for letting me join in their celebration.

Out of the blue, a man in his mid 40s came up to me and had a very serious conversation about his tribe and pointed out one very important issue. It was the Language. He had the fear of extinction of his language. This really affected me despite the celebration they had earlier that day. He said, the people have forgotten the village way of living ever since modern elements such as mobile phones and internet have been introduced to their villages. Its a good thing that it brings awareness and positive change in our lifestyle but one should not forget their roots. People have left for work to foreign lands and never returned. 20% of the houses in the villages have been empty for last 5 years and have been given free for labour workers to stay.

These young men and women who haven’t returned are the missing link to channel the tribal language skills to their young ones, he said. And failing to do so, would result to the extinction of his tribal language. Hence, he was very appreciative of me and keen to take pictures throughout the whole day of their festival to promote it.

Whereas, when I reached up higher to Manang, I had never seen such happier faces from the elders to the toddlers. These are the Managey tribes of Manang. I was once again lucky to arrive there on their similar archery festival too. Here too, they invited me to watch their archery festival and what a day it was. At the height of 3519m, drinking tea and eating dumplings, watching the archery festival has to go down as one of my highlights of 2018. At the start of the festival, the women dress up their fellow partners and wish them well to return victorious. And the show really comes alive when you see these people take the stage to hit the Bull’s Eye. Experiencing the different cultures around the Annapurna Circuit has been an eye opener for me. It has definitely inspired me more to look into different ethnicity in other parts of Nepal.

It has been 2 years now since Nepal was last effected by the  horrendous Earth Quakes that took the lives of thousands. However, the Nepalese have stood their ground and come together to bring one unified Nepal back on its feet again. Nepal is now safe, excited and ready to welcome all those adventurers from around the world to come explore the wild Himalayas of Nepal. Believe me when I say, its an Adventure of a Lifetime! – Eshan


Written  by Eshan Kali @eshankali
Shot  by Eshan Kali & Bivek Jwarchan @bivek355



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