Mountain biking in Upper Mustang - Reliving the first ever Buddha Odyssey tour

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Mountain biking in Upper Mustang - Reliving the first ever Buddha Odyssey tour


In this blog post, come with us on a trip down memory lane to read the story of the very first travel adventure organised by the Buddha Odyssey.

So we had an adventure travel business. But what next?

There we were – two guys with big ideas and great intentions, starting a fledgling adventure travel agency from a suburban restaurant and wondering what to do next.

We started with what we did best – talking to people who were adventurists and had been to Nepal recently. Before long we had plenty of volunteers who were keen to lead a trip to the Himalayas in their field of adventure.

We learned by trial and error

There’s no doubt that we learned through our mistakes. We were thrilled that so many Canberrans had said they’d assist with leading trips for the Buddha Odyssey. The problem was that we had so much interest that we couldn’t do everything.

All our trips had fundraising at their heart, but we tried to mix each one up with another activity. Some of the adventure ideas we pursued were yoga, tai chi, cricket and mountain biking. We were thrilled when many of these generated interest but with only the two of us, we realised we couldn’t do them all – yet.

It was all about the connections

We made some very strong linkages in those early days, and relationships are still at the heart of the business. One of our first supporters was Shane Wolki, from Pushy’s Fyshwick. Mountain biking has a strong presence in Nepal this was a very valuable partnership to establish.

After months of emails and discussions, we locked in the Buddha Odyssey’s first trip– a mountain biking expedition to the Upper Mustang Mountains of Nepal, with Shane Wolki& Raju Thapaleading the way.

The adventure begins

We knew that sightseeing would be a highlight of our trips, so the first trip, like most that came after, allowed participants time to visit and explore Pokhara and Kathmandu. The group then flew to Jomson (2700 meters) before heading to Upper Mustang (known as the forbidden kingdom) for some mountain biking and trekking before heading down to Beni. 

Of the eight participants, half wanted to mountain bike and the others wanted to walk the trip.  It was difficult to break the one trip into two parts, but we didn’t want to say no and went ahead with it.

We learned how to overcome challenges quickly

That amazing first trip was full of adventures – and each one was a learning experience. We told ourselves that no adventure could truly qualify as such without some surprises, and there were plenty of those.

From putting all the bikes into planes where each plane can only take two bikes, to managing groups of people mountain biking and trekking, there were plenty of obstacles, but we were proud to be able to say we got there in the end.

There were some unwelcome surprises

That first trip with the Buddha Odyssey certainly taught us to be ready for anything. We faced a once-in-a-lifetime avalanche in the Annapurna region and unusually severe snowstorms, which resulted in Nepal’s worst trekking disaster with 43 lives lost.

While there were casualties in the area, the Upper Mustang region, where we were, was free of injuries, but after that you can be sure we were prepared for absolutely anything.

It was wonderful to give back to the local community

As part of the trip, we visited a remote school to give donated essential items to children at a local school, which was very much welcomed by the group and the local community.

Spending time with earthquake-devastated communities, often helping with rebuilding projects, has been an integral part of all the Buddha Odyssey’s trips since then.

The business we have today was shaped by that first trip

It’s been four years since that first mountain biking trip. We’re grateful to Shane and the team at Pushy’s for believing in us and giving us the opportunity to work in the adventure travel space for the first time.

Since then, doors have continued to open and we look forward to sharing the journey with our supporters for many more years as the Buddha Odyssey continues to thrive. 

Lachhu Thapa

Originally from Pokhara Nepal, Lachhu has lived in Australia since 2002. He made his way to Canberra from Sydney in 2011, where he runs established successful Nepalese restaurant The Hungry Buddha.

Lachhu is also the co-founder/director of REACH for Nepal Foundation, which provides support to remote communities in Nepal.

With brothers Raju & Shiva, Lachhu runs multiple trips to Nepal each year. With massive local knowledge, you are sure to be looked after in Nepal.


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