Cycling an arduous trek like the Annapurna Circuit meant we would be climbing from around 900m to 5,416m. Along the way, we would be experiencing distinctly different climatic zones with the accompanying change in temperature, vegetation, ethnicity of the people, their culture, and the ever-changing panorama of magnificent mountains.
In truth, the Besisahar-Manang Highway, in spite of the ‘highway’ monicker, is nothing more than a dusty, bumpy, boulder-strewn dirt road, some sections of which are ridiculously steep, and with the occasional stream or waterfall flowing right across it.
Yep, this was nothing less than challenging mountain bike country – just the way we like it, actually.
Welcome to the Besisahar-Manang Highway. Where the sealed road ends is the start of the glorious highway.
Some sections of the road are carved out of the mountain.
No lack of rivers to inspire you…
… including those you have to ride across
The scenery is interspersed by 4-footed porters on the way back to Besisahar.
Arriving at checkpoint #1 of the Annapurna Circuit.
It’s compulsory for every hiker…or biker, to check in. If you missed getting your permit in Kathmandu, you can get it here as well.
Checkpoint officer #1 … will they all be as comely?
Ok, just one more shot then we’ll get going.
A bit of a detour across the other side of the river, just for the heck of it.
The groom (with white headgear) is busy counting the gifts of rupees. The bride is nowhere to be seen.
Lunch break is at a very nice cafe overlooking a lovely river …
… served by an even lovelier waitress. Beauty is everywhere on the Annapurna Circuit.
Our lunch.. the first of many, many dal bhats along the circuit. Mostly vegetarian but very nutritious and healthy.
Our first day of riding on Annapurna Circuit was done when we arrived at the tiny village of Syange
Our stop for the night at Syange.
When it comes to accommodation along the Annapurna Circuit, there really aren’t many choices. Teahouse, lodges, inns, hotels – whatever they are called, all of them usually mean the same thing.
Single-, triple- or even quadruple-bedded, the rooms are usually appointed with very spartan furnishings. Room charges are cheap though, sometimes even free, conditional to our patronising their restaurant for all our meals. Quite fair, I suppose, seeing as this was their main source of income.
Inexpensive rooms with expansive views.
At the end of a hard day’s riding, I assure you this tasted many times better than it looks.
Portrait of the day #1
Next: Syange to Tal.