We’ve started driving early in the morning, still having concerns about the weather. It was cloudy and after 30 minutes driving towards Beni, on top of the ridge, strong wind with rain stoped us in a small local tea house for a while. Luckily it was the only rain that we got that day. After delicious masala tea we continued our ride.
Road to Beni was paved, winding and in a poor condition, but we did not expect anything then that. But after Beni it was a muddy, dusty, unpaved road actually total off road that goes all the way up to Muktinath.
Muktinath is a pilgrimage site for Buddhist and Hindu, it is a temple built on natural springs on the height of 3,800 m above sea level. Just 10 km before Muktinath there are towns: Jomsom – administrative center of the region and Kakbeni – entrance to the Mustang old kingdom. On the way from Tatopani to Muktinath the road follows the deepest canyon along Kali Gandaki river with magnificent views of Dualgiri and Annapurna range.
We have been trekking in this area 10 years ago, during our Annapurna circuit trek, coming down from Thorong La pass. By that time it was still a mule trail, the road was under construction, though it still is.
We were expecting off road, but we definitely did not expect the mud mixed with stones and boulders. It is a killer road for a passenger and for a bike with such a low clearance. Traffic is quite annoying also as the road sometimes is so narrow that only one vehicle can pass. Quite scary, because you are getting into situations when it is a solid rock from one side and a steep cliff from another. There are couple of places where you had to cross some small rivers without bridges, which gives you another portion of adrenaline.
It took us 2.5 hours to ride 25 kilometers from Beni to Tatopani. Tatopani is a well developed village getting it’s name from a hot springs near by. We’ve got a room in Dualgiri Lodge and parked the bike on a small street in front of it. After the super bumpy ride hot springs with cold beer were a great treatment. In the evening, when clouds cleared, we enjoyed wonderful views to Dualgiri peak.