MUSTANG: Cycling has become an attractive activity among tourists in Mustang district. It is not only the fuel shortage that has encouraged visitors to take to cycling; the lower part of the district, in particular, offers excellent terrain and stunning scenery for adventure seekers.
Bidur Bikram Kuikel, chief of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, Jomsom, said the region was becoming an increasingly popular destination for sight-seeing and cycling. As cyclists can stop at any place to take panoramic photos of the Himalayan region, the activity has been drawing an increasing number of tourists in recent days he said.
Michel, a visitor from Poland, said he had been attracted by the snow capped mountains and hair pin bends on the trails in the region. It is fascinating to ride a bicycle in the pleasant environment, said Michel, who was one of the participants of an eight member European team which plans to bicycle all around lower Mustang.
The present time being the main tourist season, the favourable climatic condition has also added to the enjoyment of the bicycle riders.
A bicycle trip around lower Mustang takes three to five days. Many tourists bring their own bicycles while some hire them in Pokhara before visiting the Himalayan region.
Dhruba Bahadur Thapa, an entrepreneur from Pokhara, said he had been renting bicycles to tourists for the last eight years. According to him, he has rented dozens of bicycles this year too. He added that he recently accompanied a group of cyclists travelling on the Jomsom Kagbeni Muktinath Magi route.
Thapa said most visitors who like to travel by bicycle choose the Himalayan region. The scenery and the trails are the main attractions, he added.
Meanwhile, the flourishing bicycle renting business has led to the establishment of more than half a dozen mountain bike adventure services in Pokhara, the gateway to Mustang. According to the entrepreneurs, the Jomsom Muktinath Marpha cycling route in lower Mustang is the most popular route among cyclists.
Pradeep Thakali, an entrepreneur from Thini, said tourists enjoy the snow capped mountains, lakes, traditional villages and wildlife along the cycling routes.
If we can manage the cycling route properly, we can attract a greater number of tourists, he said.
The growing popularity of cycling among tourists has encouraged the authorities in Pokhara to plan to develop it as a bicycle friendly city.
Apart from Mustang, Pokhara rural areas are also highly popular destinations among bicycle riders.