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Adventure

An Unforgettable Journey to Mustang during Lockdown

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Though we did not get to reach Lomanthang, we discovered the hidden gems of Lete, Lake Titi and Sekong.

The country was suffering from Covid-19 lockdown and there were restrictions. But I missed traveling. So, I decided to go to Lo Manthang, Mustang to capture the uniqueness of the Tiji festival which happens in May month. I called my team members, told them about the plans, and they all agreed instantly. We managed to get all the papers needed to travel from one district to another. And we were so excited to go to Lo Manthang as we all were missing traveling.

Tiji Festival is the most auspicious festival in the Upper Mustang region of Nepal. Celebrated in May, the festival has its own importance. It is celebrated for three days at the beginning of the harvest season, which is believed to be celebrated to dispel demons.

Click here to see some images of the Tiji festival in Lo-Manthang. 

Tiji Festival, Lo-Manthang
At the last day of Tiji Festival, Monk preparing last ritual. Photo: Samde Sherpa

After managing all the documents, and gears, we went to Lo Manthang in our Honda XR 190L and Toyota Hilux.

Check out our Mustang Video Here

Day 1- Kathmandu to Pokhara

Today’s destination was Pokhara. We were all set and made our way towards, Pokhara. I was on my Honda XR 190L and the remaining were in Toyota Hilux. The chaotic Kathmandu city was quiet and silent, and there were barely any people and vehicles on the road.  We were stopped by the police personnel and eventually they let us go. After telling our destination to police personnel at Nagdhunga, we left the silent Kathmandu city behind and headed towards, Prithivi Highway.

Mustang is my favorite destination. I have been to Lo Manthaang a couple of years ago. But this time, I am more excited because I am going to ride my bike in Trans-Himalayan land and witness the beauty of the Tiji Festival in the Upper Mustang.

We stopped at Naubisey for breakfast, but unfortunately, every hotel was closed. Luckily we found one and the owner told us that he will prepare food for us. After eating we continued our journey.

We happened to meet a kind aunty and learned their day-to-day living style. For me, traveling is not only about going to places and capturing the moments, it is also about knowing the culture, people, and traditions of a specific region. It reminds us who we are and also our existence.

Nepali-Lifestylev, nepal8thwonder

The busy highway was empty.  All the shops and hotels were closed. So, this traveling experience was different as there were no places to eat. We happened to knock on every door of the hotels and ask them about the food. Getting no response and hunger made us seek more hotels. And, thank God, one sister said Yes. We were happy and seated ourselves without wasting another moment. The food was tasty, did not know the hunger or the food, but it was delicious. Bidding goodbye to her we headed ahead.

The cooling breeze and riding on the Trisuli river bank were thrilling.  You can see in the video too, and probably analyze how thrilled I was. Planned to take a quick tea break, we stopped at a small hotel run by a beautiful family. A girl asked me about our channel and I told her about our channel and suggested our Manang videos. Further wasting time, we paved our way to Pokhara.

Finally, we reached Raniban Retreat, Pokhara.

Situated at the hillock of Raniban Forest, Raniban Retreat is an eco-friendly boutique hotel. From there you can see the unobstructed view of Annapurna Range, majestic Fewa Lake, Peace Pagoda, and Pokhara Valley. They have 10 clean and comfortable rooms, delicious food and services like spa, traditional hospitality, and 24-hour solar power backup.

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It was dark and seated for candlelight dinner. Pokhara has always been beautiful. Saying good night to city lights, stars, and the mountains and hoped for a new adventure for the following day, we end our day 1 journey over here.

Day 2- Pokhara to Lete

Raniban Retreat, Journey to Mustang during Lockdown, Nepal8thwonder

We woke up early in the morning to see the sunrise over the Annapurna Range. I have been to Raniban Retreat many times, but this was the first time I am seeing such a view from here. We and Peace Pagoda were above the clouds. Clear mighty Annapurna and Macchapuchre, Phumdikot village, Sarangkot, Pokhara valley, and sunrise made us lose in the tranquility of mothers natures magic.

येस्यो अनुभव भयिरहेय्को थियो मानौ दुइटा आकाश को बीच हामी कतै हरयिरहेय्को थियौ
जुइदै स्वर्ग देखेनु भनेय्को येही होला

After having a heavy breakfast, we headed towards Lete. Unfortunately, my bike got punctured, and quite worried whether the workshop was open or not. Finally, we found one and they repaired it and headed towards the road.

“Suna Saili Saili Pardesh Bata Ma Aula”, a song singed by a local guy in Kaskikot entertained us while having a meal in kaskikot. Without wasting time we move to our destination. Since it was the rainy season, the weather was gloomy and foggy. Sometimes bumpy road, pitch road and sometimes green forest, riding on the bike in such environment was chilling and relaxing. That’s the beauty of monsoon season. Rain is part of it and the green environment is a different level of beauty.

Best Mosoon Treks in Nepal

Life is also full of uncertainties, ups, and downs. So does a Journey. A journey is not a journey without any challenges and difficulties. That’s what makes us motivated and strong. First, flattened tire, and now, our drone got crashed. One prop got damaged and the remaining functions were working nicely.

Beni to Lete

“Beni ko bazar, jata maya utai cha nazara tirey mirey jali rumala”. As we were about to reach Beni, this song was humming in my mind. Beni is a more central hub of Myagdi and Baglung district. Since it is the gateway to most of the trekking destinations of Nepal; the place is packed with the hotel, lodges, ticket counter, and vehicles.

We took a few shots of silent Beni and entered the Myagdi district. Now we’re riding through the banks of Kali Gandaki river, and a completely off-road trail. This was the time, I felt like I am actually going for Mustang. The Kali Gandaki Gorge is one of the deepest gorges in the world. We used to stop for videos as soon as we see beautiful landscapes.

The more we moved further the more roads were muddy and slippery. I am so much thankful to Toyota Hilux and Honda XR 190L for making such a comfortable machine that protected us from falls, back pain, and head bumps.

Check out our Mustang Video Here

Though we did not see the mountains, the river’s green landscapes and shooting sounds made me feel like I am in Nirvana. I was physically tired because I am not an Ironman, but mentally motivated. This pain and challenges kept me motivated and energized throughout the journey. This is the real beauty of the journey which further encourages me to reach every corner of Nepal and present it to the audience.

Lete, Mustang- nepal8thwonder

It was dark when we reached Ghasa. This was where we actually faced a huge problem. Police personnel stopped us at the checkpoint and prohibiting us to enter the Mustang region due to surging cases of corona in the Jomsom area.

We were so saddened and did not know what to do next. We waited for 2 hours and been talking with our brothers in the Mustang region to manage to make things feasible to move ahead. Heard, there was a high chance of canceling the Tiji festival.  We were a bit tensed as there was no place to eat or sleep. Either we have to return or move forward. All of us were hoping for the good, thinking to capture at least the beauty of Lete village, if things work as per our plans.

Hopefully, they permitted us to go to Lete. We reached there at 10 pm and stayed at Kalopani Guest House. All of our team was quite saddened as it did not go as per our plans. Sometimes, things will be not in our hands. But we were happy that at least we stepped into the Mustang region.

Day 3- Lete

The morning view of Lete was amazing. Since it lies in the Lower Mustang Region, you can see the green landscapes, high hills, forests, the Kaligandaki river, etc.

Since it was our rest day, we took our Manaslu Guitar, our musical partner, and enjoyed the surroundings while single a few Nepali pop songs.

We had our meal. Kalopani Guest House serves the best Dal, Bhat, and Tarkari.

Kalopani Guest House lies in Lete, the lower Mustang region started in 1950. Run by the 3 generation family it has been in the hospitality business for more than  7 decades and providing excellent services, accommodation, foods, and authentic experience to its clients. 

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We roam around the guest house and few things caught my eye. Few photos were hanging on the wall. Upon asked we came to know that the photos show the ancient history and lifestyle of the Mustang people.

We planned to move around Lete to see the scenic beauty. Later at night, we did bonfire, Yarchagumba whiskey to heat our body, soothing sound of the guitar, and dancing with locals. It was a memorable night and I still vividly remember how amazing and full of laughter it was.

archagumba-Whiskey, Journey to Mustang during Lockdown,

Day 4 – Lake Titi and Sekong

As I woke up in the morning and to my surprise, Mount Nilgiri was right in front of my eyes. After observing the beauty, we planned to visit Lake Titi and Sekong. Having a sweet little chitchat with a small girl from the guesthouse we headed towards Titi lake.

By now all of my teammates have forgotten about the Lo Manthang because we were going to explore the unseen beauty of Lete village. I have always passed by the village but never had a chance to roam around. I thought this is the right time and make everything count.

Lake Titi, Lete, ,Journey to Mustang during Lockdown, Nepal8thwonder

Fresh air, cool weather, green landscapes, yaks graving, and praying flags were what we saw while we reached Titi lake. It was so beautiful and pleasing. I think it is rare in this world to find a person who is not attracted by a lake in the middle of the forest with such clean water. I cannot express our excitement in words. There is probably no world. Sipping tea and sitting on its shores was so surreal. We grooved ourselves like nobody’s watching. But actually, there was nobody apart from us. 🤪

We moved back hotel for lunch and planned to visit the Naurikot viewpoint. The weather was gloomy and there was less chance of visibility. Like I said earlier to make everything count in this trip we did not wait other minutes to move ahead Naurikot.

Naurikot

Naurikot, Journey to Mustang during Lockdown, Nepal8thwonder

After crossing the steep and rugged rocky road, we reached Nauikot Viewpoint. The locals said in clear days, we could see Dhaulagiri Icefall, Annapurna range, and other neighboring mountains. We did see the waterfall. On the day of the Nepali new year, locals of the Mustang region visit the place as it holds religious beliefs.

Day- 5- Back To Pokhara

It was a bright day and we were heading back to Pokhara.  But before that, we went around the surroundings to capture the beauty. While heading towards the hotel I slipped into the river and my bike was partially sunk. The water so so cold and my legs were freezing from it. 🥶 Down’s on my luck, my bike Honda XR190L  encountered a problem due to sinking and we have to carry the bike on our Toyota Hilux.

Honda XR, In Mustang

Our bags were packed and ready to go. We thanked Ram Dai from Kalopani guest house, for being an amazing host and helping us to make our travel more exciting and unforgettable. He is a really helpful person.

Bidding a farewell to him and other people of Kalopani’s guest house, we headed towards the road. It’s always sad to wave goodbye to the place and we have attached to the beauty of the Lete unknowingly. But we were taking back the sweet memories. While heading back to the unpaved road, we took a few pictures of the Rupse waterfall.

Toyota Hilux, Rupse Waterfall, Mustang, Journey to Mustang during Lockdown, Nepal8thwonder

I was in Toyota Hilux and was relaxed too. The comfortable seat was indeed confusing for me riding a bike back to Raniban Retreat, Pokhara. We were singing a song (I really love singing) and laughing and finally reached Raniban Retreat Pokhara.

Celebrating our last night of the trip, we camp fired on the rooftop, played our Manaslu guitar, Yarchagumba whiskey, delicious food, and city lights of Pokhara valley marking the end of our unexpected trip.

Raniban-Retreat-Manaslu-Guitar-and-Yarchagumba,

Day 6 Pokhara to Kathmandu

We woke up early morning to see the sunrise. Sunrise from Raniban Retreat was truly beautiful. If you are sunset love, that is the place where you should be while visiting Pokhara. I was completely lost in the serenity and almost forget that we have to go home. I happed to met Tori who is a flutist and has been to 100 countries.

Nepal8thwonder

Finally, it was time to go home and to be back into the same routine. The very first thing I did was repaired my Honda XR. Then bidding farewell to the amazing people of Raniban Retreat and headed towards Kathmandu.

It was 6 p.m and we were somewhere at Naubise. The police personnel told us that entry to the valley was restricted. After showing the papers, they allowed us to enter Kathmandu only after 8 p.m. We decided to travel in lockdown, so whatever the hurdles we faced we did not have any other choice than to be ok with the government rules. After spending a couple of hours there, we traveled to Kathmandu. Did not what was there for us. Luckily, there were not any restrictions and all. So we finally reached home.

As it was not the best time to travel, this was my biggest fear from the beginning; whether we would be able to reach our destination or not. Never mind, there is always a positive to every negative. We have explored that unhidden gems of Lete village. Since people are crazy about Muktinath, Kagbeni, Jomsom, or Lo- Manthang, these small settlements like Tukuche, Lete, Titi Lake are unnoticed. I just want to say from here that these places are equally beautiful and have a lot to offer. Add a day extra to your itinerary and indulge yourself in the beauty of Lete village.

Check out our Mustang Video Here

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