FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
As we are on the road most of the time touring with our riders or exploring new routes, we may not always be in immediate contact. We have therefore compiled as much relevant information as possible to help you get ready for your upcoming adventure!
Please scroll down or click on the links provided for responses to most of the questions you may have. And if you do not find your answer please send us an email via the Contact Us section.
- When riding
- In the evening
- Riding style
HOW DO I PAY FOR THE TOUR?
Payment for your selected tour can be made by a variety of methods including credit card using our payment system powered by Stripe or wire transfer to either our Nepali or Australian accounts. Riders can book directly through this website by heading to the 'BOOK NOW' page or if it's a preferred an individual invoice can be forwarded.
To book your position on the tour we take a US$500 deposit payment with the remainder payable 90-days prior to departure. If you book within 90-days before the tour departure date then we require full payment at the time of booking.
For more information regarding our booking and refund policy, please refer to our Terms & Conditions which are emailed upon request and are also included on our payment invoices.
IS NEPAL SAFE TO TRAVEL?
The short answer of course is yes! Nepal is a friendly, fun, beautiful, sometimes chaotic, but otherwise safe country to visit. The Nepalese are soft-natured mountain people who live their lives according to Hindu (80%) or Buddhist (10%) religions. The Nepalese are very welcoming to tourists as they are genuinely hospitable whilst also understanding how important tourism is to their livelihoods. Nepal has one of the highest return rate for tourists anywhere in the world and you will no doubt have a great experience in Nepal!
Good question! All of our tours are inclusive of Royal Enfield or dirt-bike (depending on the tour), petrol, accommodation on twin-share basis, meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner), permits, guides (English speaking), mechanic (English speaking), support vehicle with driver (when there is 4 or more riders in the tour group) , riding gear (helmet, jacket, gloves - if required), t-shirt, and medical kit.
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
What's not included is your international flights, entry visas, travel insurance (mandatory), transport to Pokhara, tips, laundry, alcohol, drinks/snacks outside of meal times, and personal expenses. The final night when you return to Pokhara after the tour is also NOT included (except for the Upper Mustang tour) so to give riders flexibility with their ongoing travel plans.
WHERE IS HEARTS & TEARS LOCATED?
Hearts & Tears MC is located in the main tourist district of Pokhara in an area called Lakeside - SEE CONTACT US SECTION FOR MAP. 'Lakeside', as the name suggests, is next to the main lake (Fewa Lake) and home to the many bars, restaurants, adventure stores, hotels and shops. Pokhara itself is 200km west of Kathmandu and can be reached by tourist bus, private jeep or domestic flight. We have chosen to not be located in Kathmandu because quite honestly, Pokhara is much nicer! With great views over the Himalayas, access to Annapurnas, many surrounding forests, and a fun and relaxed atmosphere, there is no better place to start your motorcycle adventure.
Please scroll down for suggestions on Getting to Pokhara.
All foreigners require a tourist visa to enter Nepal. The visa can be purchased from the Nepali embassy in your country of origin or on-arrival at the airport in Kathmandu.
A 30-day tourist visa costs approximately US$40 at the airport and payment must be made in cash. Most major currencies are accepted. Also bring 4 x passport photographs with you. The process normally takes about 30-minutes to complete.
So you've now booked the tour of your dreams and you are getting very excited. What should I bring with me though!? A general mindset to get into is to consider yourself an explorer, from the 1920s, traversing the Himalayan foothills......with a yak in tow. You like this yak so don't want to overload the poor beast. A few changes of clothes are a good idea so you don't offend the locals, but don't plan on being clean shaven until you get back to Europe and report to the Duchess on your escapades in the lands beyond ;)
Boots - Strong and sturdy with waterproof properties. We recommend adventure motorcycle boots for Royal Enfield tours and if you are doing an enduro tour on dirt-bikes then MX Boots are recommended.
Trousers - We recommend motorcycle trousers with knee armour. Kevlar jeans are also fine for most tours except Upper Mustang and Enduro rides. Our speeds are kept relatively low but the temperatures are quite high, so leathers are simply too uncomfortable. If your trousers are not waterproofed, then a pair of overpants are a good idea if it does drizzle or the puddles get deep.
Baselayers - Thermal underwear is needed if you are doing the Upper Mustang tour in October or November, or any tour that takes place between December to Februar. Otherwise the conditions are strangely warm in Nepal.
Jacket - Riding jackets are a must. The textile variety are recommended as they breathe better and can be zipped up (or down) to be comfortable in a variety of temperatures. If you are riding during the winter months (December to February), make sure you also bring the winter-liner. Hearts & Tears has several jackets that can be used but sizes are limited so we do recommend bringing your own. Once again, leathers are not needed (unless you want to get that perfect Wild One shot ;)
Helmets - All riders must wear a helmet. Wether you ride half-face, full-face, or MX style is up to you. Of course a full-face helmet is safer (and can provide more comfort from dust and wind), but we're all adults so riders are free to choose. Hearts & Tears has a variety of helmets in stock but sizes are limited so if you are exceptional small or large, please bring your own helmet.
Hydration - Hydration packs are a good idea when riding to keep your fluids up. When riding at altitude your body dehydrates faster so it is important to remember to keep drinking. Hydration packs are a handy reminder to keep sucking in the H2O - about 3-4L/day. We do stop regularly however (about every hour) at a photo-point or tea stop where water can be bought. Most riders will also throw a bottle in their small day-pack or panniers so you can get by without a hydration pack.
Buff - Buffs are highly recommended and we will provide each rider with one. For those who don't know what a buff is, it is a material scarf-like loop that slides over you head (face and neck) and is used to keep out the dust whilst also providing protection from the wind and sun.
Gloves - Gloves are a must. Textile adventure gloves are the best in our opinion but each rider has their preference. Unless you ride to Upper Mustang or during November, you do not need winter gloves. Hearts & Tears has a variety you can choose from but we do recommend bringing your own as they are a small item and can easily fit in your kit.
Luggage - On all tours (with more than 4 riders), a jeep is provided to carry your luggage. There is not a lot of room though so please pack light. A duffle bag or small carry-on sized suitcase is acceptable. The jeep is not always directly behind the riding group though so any items that are needed during the day's ride should be kept on your person. Most riders therefore wear a small day-pack for their camera, money, sunscreen, rain coat, and a water bottle. If you have a tank-bag, they are also very handy for the small items and keep you free from wearing a pack on your back.
Sunscreen & Sunglasses - Super important. At altitude the sun beats down with ferocity and can wipe the skin off even the most coconut-oiled sun-bather. Go SPF 30+ (at least) and buy it before you leave as it is hard to find in Nepal.
Cameras - Keep it simple. Nothing beats the quality of a SLR but lenses can be bulky so if you do bring a large camera, remember that you must carry it as the jeep will not always be directly behind the riding group. Conditions can also be rough so expect to get items knocked around. A smart alternative is a compact camera which can fit into your pocket. You'll be able to take photos easily and quickly and the standard of compact cameras these days is exceptional.
GoPro - Hearts & Tears does not rent GoPro's but we always have one with us on tour. Riders a free to download the footage at the end of the trip or wait until we upload to Dropbox for download. If you bring your own Go Pro, you are more than welcome to stick mounts onto the bikes or use existing mounts from previous tours which are on numerous bikes and helmets.
Medical kit - Every rider should bring their own personal medical kit. We have a comprehensive kit with us but it is not considered a mobile-pharmacy! In the kit riders should bring any personal medication, rehydration salts, band-aids (plasters), compression bandage, paracetamol, ibuprofen, antiseptic cream, alcohol swabs, and Imodium.
Bungee cords, zip-ties and duct-tape. Never leave him without it!
IN THE EVENING
We rendezvous for aperitivo at 5pm sharp. Tweed jackets for the men and heels for the women. Ha, just kidding ;)
In the evening after the days-ride is finished, most riders will settle in to their rooms, freshen up, and then enjoy a beer or two. It's a relaxed affair and the important thing is to be comfortable. A clean pair of trousers, T-shirt, sweater and some comfortable shoes (or sandals) are all that's needed. Down-jackets are a good idea in the winter months with a beanie and scarf. At some locations there are natural hot-springs or rivers for swimming so throw in a pair of shorts or bathers.
Sleeping bags - Are not necessary as all hotels will provide clean sheets and blankets. We have selected the best possible local hotels with western toilets and clean facilities. On some occasions however, the 'best available' hotels are limited in the service they can provide due to their remote locations, so a light-weight sheet (or sleeping bag liner) is a safeguard against any standards which may not be quite up to scratch.
Electronics - Nepal suffers from intermittent power supply due to technical and political issues. All the power in Nepal is derived from hydro-power which more or less means that when the damns are full, there is power for most of the day, but in the drier months, there may only be 12 hours of power per day. A power-bank is therefore recommended to charge cameras and phones. An international power adapter is also needed in Nepal to plug into the wall. A torch is also a good idea although most phones these days have decent spotlights.
Wifi - Every hotel has WiFi but in the remote locations it can be slow (to say the least!) so factor in being without internet for at least one night during your trip. For the Upper Mustang tour, factor in having NO WIFI for the duration of your trip.
TRANSPORT TO POKHARA
Tourist buses leave Kathmandu every morning around 7am and cost between US$10-25. The first hour or two is congested, but the chaos is fascinating. The road winds its way through beautiful scenery. Buses normally arrive in Pokhara mid-afternoon at the tourist bus park – a 20-30 minute walk from Lakeside.
Jeeps can be organised for around US$150 one way. It’s cost effective for 2-5 people, and much more comfortable than a bus. Depart when you like, stop when you like, and get dropped off at your hotel. The downside to any form of road transport is that you can be delayed by traffic jams, accidents, or the occasional strike.
Flying from Kathmandu to Pokhara is recommended if budgets allow. Tickets cost around US$125 each way and the flight takes approximately 25 minutes. We can organise tickets on your behalf and email you the e-tickets. Check in is one hour prior to flight time. If possible, get a seat on the right as you face the front of the plane for stunning views of the Himalayas.
THE BRIEFING SESSION
The briefing session kicks off the evening before the tour starts at 5pm at the Hearts & Tears clubhouse located in Pokhara. The briefing session is factored into the tour dates. Therefore if your tour runs from March 10 - 16 for example, the briefing session is on March 10, at 5pm. Accommodation is also included on the night of the briefing session.
The briefing session gives you a chance the meet the Hearts & Tears crew, your fellow riders, and your bike! We meet in the clubhouse which is a short walk from your hotel, enjoy a beer, and then get even more excited for the upcoming ride. A welcome package is provided to every rider which contains the itinerary, route map, buff, some stickers, and a Hearts & Tears t-shirt.
Matt usually conducts the sessions, and over some local snacks he will go through the tour details and explain how it all works. It's a time to ask any questions you may still have, but more importantly it's a time to get familiar with everyone (and place bets on who's going to come off first!).
By about 7:00pm the session is over, giving you a chance to head out for dinner and explore Pokhara before the riding starts the following day.
We ride in convoy, single-file, with a sensible amount of space between bikes. The road captain leads the group and the mechanic rides as sweeper at the rear to assist with any mechanical issues. The support jeep then follows the pack carrying major tools/spares and your luggage. The support vehicle does not chase the tail of the pack and is normally about 30mins behind.
Our trusty steeds are the infamous Royal Enfield. It's history is incredible and some quick googling can give you good insight into this vintage bike. We mainly ride the Himalayan 400cc these days but also have the 500cc and 350cc Bullet models in our fleet. We also ride 250cc dirt bikes on our Enduro tours. They command a much different style of tour as compared to the Royal Enfield so we don't usually mix the bikes within the same group.
Petrol is included in the price of our guided tours. A full 14 litre tank provides a range of 250+ kilometres on high-way roads and about 150km's on mountain roads. The petrol on sale is normally 87 octane; less potent than the 95, 98 or even 100 octane fuels available in other parts of the world. Only use petrol from trusted sources, as there have been cases of people mixing in kerosene to make a quick profit.
There is only 1 state-run petrol company – the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC). At around US$1.10/litre, petrol is incredibly expensive for local people. For many years, NOC has subsidised petrol across the country, selling it at a loss. When NOC is unable to pay its Indian suppliers, they suspend deliveries until the bills are paid and the pumps run dry. When NOC tries to raise the retail price to break even, there are widespread protests and political back-lash. Invariably NOC backs down, only to face the same financial problems again.
In October 2015, Nepal experienced a blockade on the border of India which lasted for 5 months. Nepal was literally shut off from its southern neighbour which provides access for all commodities, including petrol. It was a very difficult time for the country and the only method to purchase petrol was via the black market. Prices went up as much as 1000% during this period! In the event of a similar incident occurring in the future, Hearts & Tears reserved the right to add on a fuel surcharge so that it is feasible to continue running booked tours. We attempt to stock petrol around the country to minimise the impact of these problems.
Accidents are rare and we have not had a serious incident to date. However, in the event of an incident, treatment will depend of the degree of the injury. Our staff are 1st aid trained and we carry a first-aid kit with us so treatment on location may suffice. We also have an excellent understanding of the hospitals located enroute so depending on the injury, their services may be utilised. In the event of a serious injury, we will call for an emergency helicopter evacuation, which will take you to CIWEC clinic located in Pokhara – a western medical clinic. Payment for helicopter evacuation is made via your travel insurance policy.
Nepal is the most bio-diverse country on Earth. The world’s highest peaks, many over 8000m, lie along the northern border with China. 150km to the south, at the Indian border, the scorched flatlands are near sea level. That’s the steepest incline anywhere and accordingly, the landscape and climate change dramatically with altitude.
Few people realise that Nepal is the world’s second biggest water-producing nation, after Brazil. This sustains an incredible abundance of life. Woolly yaks trudge through Himalayan snow and ice, while rhinos and elephants forage in sweltering jungles below. Despite being a land-locked country, there are even fresh water dolphins. New species of flora and fauna, previously unknown to science, are discovered on a regular basis.
Nepal only stretches about 800km east to west, but maps fail to convey the scale of the scrunched-up mountainous landscape. The sheer size is hard to describe or capture in photos, but perfect for exploring by motorbike.
Nepal is home to around 30 million people, but nobody knows the actual number. Vast areas of the country are inaccessible to anyone but the locals. Centuries of cultural separation have led to the evolution of over 30 different languages (not just dialects). With few roads in remote areas, walking is the only option. Goods are carried in by mule to places where it’s not possible to ride, even on a dirt bike.
Nepal is a land of extremes. The climate varies dramatically with altitude and the seasons. Luckily, the weather changes are mostly predictable so we can schedule tours in advance. We spend most of our time in the mid-hills (wait ‘til you see a Nepali “hill”!), where the climate is perfect for riding. With bright sunshine, few showers, clear roads, fresh air and stunning scenery, it’s motorcycle Nirvana.
Between mid November and February, early mornings can be chilly and it can get cold at night when we ride over 2000m. In the south of the country, at low altitude, it gets seriously hot from about May. Between June and August the wet season takes hold. Monsoon rains have to be experienced to be believed. It’s warm, the rivers are in full flow, and vegetation grows rampantly. However, landslides are common and journeys can be unpredictable.
IDEAL RIDING TIME
Typically we suggest that mid September through to December, and between March and June are ideal times to ride in Nepal. This way you miss the stifling heat and rain of the monsoon period, and the icy chills of riding during the winter. Mid to late February is also a great time to ride Nepal. It's too cold for trekking, but with a decent riding jacket, the crisp air and clear skies make for great riding conditions.
Ask your doctor about immunisation jabs and prophylactic treatments before travelling to Nepal. It is mandatory to obtain travel insurance that covers you for motorcycle riding. If you take regular prescription medications, or suspect you might require a certain treatment during your trip, please bring these to Nepal and on your ride and let Matt know. There are reasonably well-stocked pharmacies in most towns, however there is no guarantee that what you require will be available.
For a list of recommended immunisations for Nepal please visit this link - WORLD NOMADS NEPAL JAB GUIDE.
ROADS AND TRAFFIC
Spectacular winding roads cling precariously to the sides of the mountains. With few bridges and no tunnels, there are virtually no straight sections of road. Corner after corner, hour after hour, a 200km ride is a long way in Nepal. It’s extreme terrain.
Bikes and buses are the most common form of transport in Nepal. Riding is great fun and very different to the aggressive car-focused road culture of the west. Local people usually stick to the left side of the road, but there’s a chaotic, anything-goes style thrown into the mix. Literally anything could happen anywhere, at any time. It seems crazy at times and you’ll witness stuff that defies belief.
Driving is a team sport, and everyone joins in. Truck drivers give various signals using the horn, lights, indicators and their hands. Buses employ a boy to hang out the side of the vehicle and wave signals. Motorcycle passengers help out too. If you use your indicators as you do at home, you will be sending the wrong messages. If you know the local way, it’s easy. We’ll show you how.
The local currency in Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (NPR). It is hinged on the Indian Rupee which is closely related to the US Dollar. 1USD gives you about 100NPR. As a guide, a beer will cost you about 400NPR, a main meal is about 500NPR at a local restaurant, the average taxi fare around town is about 500NPR and you can get a nice hotel in a good location for about 2500NPR.
In the bigger cities there are many ATM's which will charge about 350NPR for international withdrawals, and give you 35,000NPR (US$350) maximum withdrawal per transaction. The maximum daily limit is 100,000NPR (US$1000). The are also many money changers in town who will give you a good rate for your foreign currency. Most major currencies are accepted.
On tour, it is best to assume that there are no ATMS or money changers, so please bring enough cash with you. Souvenir, snacks and beer money is all you really need so about 3000NPR/day (US$30) is adequate. It is also wise to carry some US dollars in cash with you for emergencies, about US$200 is plenty.
PEOPLE & CUSTOMS
You will not meet a more humble, genuine and 'ready to laugh' bunch of people anywhere. The Nepali Way is an incredible testament to their resilience and good natured spirit. They have a brilliant sense of humour and are ready to smile at the drop of a hat, whether it be due to the catch of the eye as you ride past, a silly-joke made with gestures, or when you get a puncture! They will have a good laugh at the situation, and so will you.
It is customary to always use your right hand when passing money in a shop, an item to a friend, or when eating with your hands (as the Nepali's do). It is a sign of respect and is a good habit to get into early on in the trip.
If you are lucky enough to be invited to dinner, bring a small token of your appreciation. Nepali's LOVE sweets and chocolate, so that's a good place to state. Nepali men also enjoy Johnny Walker red label, so you can't go wrong with a locally bought bottle for the host.
The local language is Nepali, which is similar to Hindi in India. Nepali's can usually speak both Hindi and Nepali but an Indian won't necessarily understand Nepali. It is a simple language and the locals are forgiving if you make mistakes, so start with Namaste (Hello), Sanchai Hunchha (are you fine?), when getting your visa at the airport ;)
Nepal is all about daal baat, chiya, and momo's. Daal baat (literally meaning lentils and rice), is the main cuisine and is eaten twice a day by the locals. It is a large plate consisting of rice, lentil soup, a vegetable curry, mea curry, some pickles and sauce. It is delicious and each household or restaurant will prepare the dish slightly differently. It is normally eaten at about 11am and then again at 7pm. If you don't want meat you simply go without the meat curry dish, which is a small component of the meal anyhow. On tour we eat daal baat for most lunches as it is nutritous and easy to prepare for groups.
Between meals chiya (tea) is drunk consistently. It is similar to chai in India. Some tea, spices and lots of sugar and infused. In the winter time it is had with milk and in the warmer months kaloo chiya (black tea) is more common.
Momo's are also a favourite with everyone. They are similar to dumplings and originated from Tibet. They have a slightly thicker skin as compared to dumplings and are either filled with a chicken, buffalo or vegetable mix.
On the tour, all of your meals are included. For dinner and breakfast you can choose from an A La Carte menu at the hotel, and when riding we stick with daal baat. Any drinks and snacks between meals are not included.
Safe drinking water can be found in the mountains at the various 'safe-drinking stations', but to avoid any issues we recommend always using bottled-water. Before purchasing check the seal incase it has been tampered. A bottle of water costs 25NPR in towns and up to 100NPR in the mountains.
In the larger cities such as Kathmandu and Pokhara, there are many hotels to choose from ranging from budget backpacker establishments to high-end 5-star hotels . On tour however, the options are more sparse. We choose the best possible hotels though from years of touring experience which are clean, have appropriate facilities, delicious food, and friendly staff. We have stayed at the various hotels many times over the years, and therefore the staff and workers have become our friends. This friendship is transferred to our riders also who are welcomed like old-pals upon arrival.
Accommodation is on a twin-share basis (two people per room in a single bed each), with attached western bathroom. Toilet paper is provided at each hotel but it is wise to bring your own roll for stops during the day. If you would like to upgrade to a single room, then this can be organised for an additional cost which is referred to as 'single supplement' on the tour page.
Most major airlines fly into Kathmandu - which is the only international airport in Nepal. From Europe, either Turkish Airlines or Qatar often provide the best connections, and from Australia/New Zealand both Air Asia, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways are good options. Skyscanner is a great resource to search for the best flights.
Travel insurance is mandatory and we will ask for the details of your policy before riding. We have found that WORLD NOMADS & 1COVER provide comprehensive coverage for riding a motorcycle in a foreign country FOR AUSTRALIANS on both paved and non-paved surfaces. NAVIGATOR INSURANCE & VOYAGER is good for UK citizens. Just ensure that you upgrade the standard policy to cover you for non-paved surfaces if you are on the Into Thin Air tour or Upper Mustang tour. The bikes capacity is 500c at a maximum so please also ensure you are covered for this engine capacity which is normally determined if you are licensed to ride this sized bike in your home country.
Please also ensure that your policy is effective for emergency evacuation (helicopter evacuation) in case - touch wood! - it is required.
In Nepal an International Driving Permit (IDP) is required to legally ride a motorcycle in Nepal. These can be purchased for about US$30 in your home country before departing.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can affect anybody when at an altitude of 2500m or more. It does not depend on whether you are fit or not and even if you have been at altitude before, it doesn't mean you are immune to the effects upon your next visit into thin air.
On both our Into Thin Air tour and Upper Mustang tour, we ride up to 4000m and 5000m accordingly. We must therefore be careful of the risks. We have staged our tours to minimise the possibility of AMS and have not experienced any serious issues as yet. We carry Diamox with us to help treat to effects but we recommend bringing your own supply. It is also important to keep hydrated when at altitude. The symptoms of AMS are dizziness, nausea, headaches, and disrupted sleep. Vomiting is an indication of advanced AMS.
All of our staff are trained to identify the symptoms of AMS and treat it before it becomes a serious condition.
The Jana Andolan (People’s Uprising) of 2006 brought a long series of strikes or “bandhs”. Protesters brought the nation to a standstill by closing the highways. It was a blunt but effective weapon against the Kathmandu elite. Images of the subsequent military curfews made the international news.
Since then, the bandh has become something of a national pastime. It can be sparked by any issue, and usually follows the same pattern: a group of protestors place stones across the road, burn a tyre or two, wave some flags, and chant slogans. Most bandhs are good natured and short lived, but the resulting delays can upset people on package holidays with a fixed itinerary.
To mitigate this, we attempt to keep as well informed as possible of the latest situation, and can sometimes re-route to avoid possible demonstrations. A bit of slack in our plans ensures that a drama doesn’t turn into a crisis. And local knowledge allows us to settle in somewhere nice if it’s really not possible to ride. Some foreign Embassies have issued travel warnings, but we have not as yet experienced any hostility on our rides.