Annapurna Circuit Biking -12 days

Experience Issue 168 Nov, 2015
Text by Anuj D. Adhikari / Photo: Anuj Adhikary

The Annapurna region is regarded as one of the best trekking destinations in the world; it’s also a great place to go biking!

Biking in the Annapurna region leads you through pristine villages inhabited by diverse ethnic groups, as you ride along the laps of, the beautiful Himalayan range. The region was opened to foreign tourists in 1977, and has since become one of the most popular trekking destinations. In recent years, however, mountain biking has also gained a strong hold, as bikers get to experience the perfect blend of nature, culture, and adrenaline. Crossing Thorung La Pass at 5,416 m, the highest point in this biking trip, will be quite a feat, while the pilgrimage to the holy Muktinath Temple will be one to savor for a lifetime. Tough climbs are well rewarded with spectacular downhill sections, which land you in the legendary hot springs of Tatopani, then eventually, to the serenity of Pokhara, to top off this great biking trip in the Annapurnas.

Day 01 Drive from Kathmandu to Besi Sahar. Bike from Besi Sahar to Khudi

Kathmandu (1,345 m) - Besisahar (830 m) - Bhulbhule (840 m) - Khudi (780 m)

Set off on a 5-hour drive in the morning to the town of Besi Sahar, the starting point of our trip. You can observe the local way of life, bustling local markets, the mighty Trishuli River, and the distant mountains during the drive. When we reach Besi Sahar, we will ready our bikes and ride to Khudi. The first views of the Annapurna range will be visible during the trip, with the Marsyangdi River (also called Khudi River) rushing below. The traditional Nepali way of life will leave you enchanted during the 22-km ride today on mostly jeep tracks. This is a great prelude to the exciting adventure in the days to follow.

Day 02 Bike from Khudi to Tal

Khudi (780 m) - Nadi Bazar (930 m) - Jagat (1,360 m) - Chamje (1,400 m) - Tal (1,700 m)

Leaving Khudi, we follow jeep tracks again, and reach the entry gate of Manang district en route. There are some steep and rocky sections here, where we’ll have to carry or push our bikes. The region starts to get more remote, and gives us a true taste of the marvelous Nepali life composed of different cultures. There is a fantastic waterfall along the way, and you should definitely enjoy the chilling water here.

Day 03 Bike from Tal to Chame

Tal (1,700 m) - Dharapani (1,900 m) - Thoche (1,900 m) - Timang (2,750 m) - Latamro (2,400 m) - Koto (2,650 m) - Chame (2,630 m)

Riding the ascending trails through pristine forests and passing Buddhist prayer walls, we ride along marvelous green fields of corn, barley, and potatoes. There is some pushing and carrying involved here, especially till the village of Danagu, from where the trail is more ride-able, also giving you better glimpses of the Himalayas. After almost 30 km of riding on a mix of jeep tracks, single tracks, and rocky trails, we reach the district capital of Manang, Chame, where we can relax along the hot spring set on the Marsyangdi River. We’ll explore the region and taste products from a popular bakery, and get in touch back home from an internet café. The majestic views of Lamjung Himal, Annapurna II, and Annapurna IV mark our stay at Chame.

Day 04 Bike from Chame to Manang

Chame (2,630 m) - Talekhu (2,720 m) - Bhratang (2,850 m) - Dhikuri Pokhari (3,060 m) - Lower Pisang (3,300 m) - Humde (3,280 m) - Manang (3,540 m)

As we climb higher, the increase in altitude can be felt. With trails that run through forests and a narrow valley, we cross several suspension bridges. There are enormous massifs along the way, which is the heart of the Annapurna region. The trails run through a wide valley, passing through Humde, a village with one of the highest commercial airports in the world. There are a number of monasteries along the way, and the famous Barga Monastery is worth a visit. Local peaks are another spectacle that will definitely draw your attention—there are several over 4,000 meters. The change in landscape and vegetation is very marked in Manang, the ancient and mystifying village with a very intriguing culture and lifestyle.

Day 05 Rest day at Manang

Manang (3,540 m) - Gangapurna Lake (3,750 m) - Manang
(3,540 m)

To acclimatize to the higher altitude, we’ll spend the day at Manang. The air thins out at this point, and it is necessary to let our bodies adjust to the change, so as to avoid high altitude sickness. Manang has plenty to offer for sightseeing, so today we’ll explore this amazing village. Visit Hundred Rupees Lama Monastery and hike to Gangapurna Lake. We’ll check the bikes and make sure they are ready for more adventure.

Day 06 Bike from Manang to Yak Kharka

Manang (3,540 m) - Tangki Manang (3,600 m) - Ghusang (3,950 m) - Yak Kharka
(4,000 m)

We leave Manang through a maze of narrow alleys between medieval houses. As we climb up steadily to the village of Khusang, we say goodbye to the Marsyangdi valley, and following the trails leading to Jarsang River, we reach Yak Kharka. Despite ride-able trails, the higher altitude takes effect, and pushing the pedals become an effort. We’ll take it easy and ride at a comfortable pace, enjoying the marvelous beauty of the otherworldly landscape and the giant Himalayan mountains. The settlements are sparser in this region, and along the way, we encounter yaks grazing in large numbers, as well as an old mani, a Buddhist prayer-engraved wall. After the day’s hard work riding mostly through single tracks, we reach Yak Kharka village in the early afternoon.

Day 07 Bike from Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi

Yak Kharka (4,000 m) - Ledar (4,230 m) - Thorung Phedi (4,450 m)

Today, we climb to Thorung Phedi on trails that first drop, and cross Jorsang River at 4,310 m, before ascending steeply. We ride through the picturesque village of Tenki Manang, from where you get stunning views of Annapurna, Gangapurna, and Tilicho. Along the way, we cross several small wooden bridges over lively streams, and ride through a narrow path heading towards Thorung Phedi. “Phedi” means base of a hill or a mountain; and Thorung Phedi is the base of the massive Thorung La Pass, which we cross the next day.

Day 08 Bike from Thorung Phedi to Muktinath, via Thorung La Pass

Thorung Phedi (4,450 m) - High Camp (4,833 m) - Thorung La Pass (5,416 m) - Phedi Muktinath (4,200 m) - Muktinath (3,760 m)

We start very early in the morning, to dodge high winds, to reach the top of the Thorung La Pass (5,416 m). The feeling of accomplishment at the pass is one to savor for a lifetime. Marvel at the panoramic vista of a chain of virgin snowcapped mountains far and beyond. From the pass, we head down to Muktinath, coming across trekkers and pilgrims flocking from as far as India on their way to this revered Hindu temple. Once at Muktinath, we’ll spend some time exploring the religious site, and see the eternal flame that burns on a natural gas source. “Mukti” means liberation, and “nath” means a holy temple, so Muktinath is considered to be a temple of soul liberation. Besides Hindu hermits and pilgrims, we’ll see Tibetan traders as well.

Day 09 Bike from Muktinath to Tukuche

Muktinath (3,760 m) - Jharkot (3,550 m) - Kagbeni (2,810 m) - Ekle Bhatti (2,820 m) - Jomsom (2,720 m) - Marpha (2,670 m) - Tukuche (2,586 m)

From Muktinath, we ride along a very enjoyable downhill track, descending to the Kaligandaki valley floor. We’ll make a quick pit stop at Marpha, a village with lots of apple orchards. Make sure to taste some Marpha brandy, and a range of apple products like apple pie and dried apple skin. We call it a day at Tukuche village, an ancient Thakali settlement, and spend some time exploring the region, learning about its culture and history. Tukuche lies right beneath the Tukuche peak and Dhaulagiri, with amazing views of Mt. Nilgiri, and icefalls of Dhaulagiri’s east face.

Day 10 Bike from Tukuche to Tatopani

Tukuche (2,586 m) - Kobang (2,550 m) - Larjung (2,500 m) - Ghasa (2,010 m) - Rukse Chahara (1,650 m) - Tatopani (1,190 m)

We begin riding from Tukuche to Tatopani through some fantastic downhill sections. Tatopani translates to “hot water”, and rightly, the hot springs at Tatopani are quite a treat. This is a fabled place to relax your mind and body, so pamper yourself after a great day of biking in this fantastic region. Located besides the banks of the Kaligandaki River, the hot dip amidst the surrounding natural beauty will definitely help to unwind your muscles.

Day 11 Bike from Tatopani to Beni. Drive from Beni to Pokhara

Tatopani (1,190 m) - Thadi Khoriya (1,030 m) - Ranipauwa (1,100 m) - Galeshwar (1,170 m) - Beni (830 m) - Pokhara (900 m)

After a relaxing time at Tatopani, we ride for about 1.5 hours on jeep tracks to reach Beni, a small but vibrant market town. We’ll spend some time exploring the town, and then it’s onwards to Pokhara. It’s a bumpy 4-hour ride, but you’ll enjoy the scenic view along the away. Once we reach Pokhara, we can do some boating on the Phewa Lake, and have a pleasant time reflecting on our thrilling adventure in the Annapurnas.

Day 12 Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu

Pokhara (900 m) - Kathmandu (1,345 m)

We catch an early morning bus back to Kathmandu, and reach the capital after 5 hours on the highway. This concludes our mountain biking trip on the Annapurna Circuit.


Riding Time

Riding Distance


Route Composition


3 to 4 hours

22 km


Jeep track (100%)


3 to 4 hours

19 km


Jeep track (100%)


4 to  5 hours

29 km


Jeep track (100%)


4 to  5 hours

32 km


Jeep track (100%) /Single track (70%)


2 to  3 hours

11 km


Single track (100%)


2 to  3 hours

10 km


Single track (100%)


5 to 6 hours

11 km


Single track (100%)


3 to 4 hours

27 km


Jeep track (60%) /Single track (40%)


4 to  5 hours

40 km


Jeep track (100%)


1 to  2 hours

18 km


Jeep track (100%)