A couple of months ago, Manish and I were sitting at our favourite mo:mo place (Royal Saino – Bella Momo @ Durbur Marg) when we first met Mike, a lively yet interesting British character who owns a motorcycle tour company here in Nepal (interestingly, he also manages the coffee station at the restaurant). The name of the motorcycle tour company is OTT (Over The Top) Motorcycle Tours.
Side note: Manish and I regularly meet up here at least once week to catch up on various things – and whenever we were there, Mike was there. Soon after that, our new friend was a regular fixture at our table, often contributing to our random discussions about India/Nepal politics, Nepali culture, globilisation, and whatever else was the hot topic of the day.
One day at the restaurant, Mike was fuming at his laptop computer. As someone working in IT, I was instinctively inclined to help but it wasn’t a virus or operating system problem – it was one of those typical online discussion board arguments that can seemingly go on forever. The argument between Mike and another community member of GTA Motorcycle.com was about the legitimacy of Mike’s proposed tours and essentially his company (do a search on the GTA Motorcycle.com web site for “India” and “Nepal tours” and you should find the original thread).
Now, I haven’t known Mike that long but I do know that his tours and his company is the real thing. I know this because Mike, if you let him, can spend unending hours talking about Motorbikes (which ones to buy and use here in Nepal, the motorbike terrain in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, all the ins-and-outs, etc.).
As someone who personally doesn’t own or ride a motorbike (although I have taken many back seat rides across the districts), I thought I would grill him on some general issues like:
- What kind of bikes do you rent, and from where? A: Mike has a good relationship with motorbike rental companies in Katmandu.
- What happens when bikes break down? A: Mike hires a mechanic to come along on the tour and during the tour, they are usually no more than 3 hours bike ride from a parts store.
- How do you accommodate tourists coming in and dealing with VISA’s? A: Mike has various options.
- Is there insurance? A: Of course
- How’s your Nepali? A: Mike has been living in Nepal for almost 3 years now.
I can definitely see that Mike is very passionate about what he does. His Americano coffee making skills isn’t that bad as well.
Finally, if anyone is concerned about tour prices (who isn’t), Mike’s prices are very, very competitive as he is essentially the sole entrepreneur of the company with low-overhead costs and has a vast Nepali network (supposedly, there is another Australian-based Motorcycle tour company that charges at least twice as much).
Still having doubts? Here is a photo of us at the first ever meeting of Nepal’s intercontinental motorbike aficionado club.
One of Mike’s best tip/rants: if you are visiting Nepal for only a few weeks – don’t WASTE it all on a 3-week trek to Everest basecamp or the Annapurna’s (unless hardcore trekking is really your thing). How many times can you see another mountain side again, again anyways? Mix up your trip with perhaps only a 4-5 day trek coupled with rafting (I suggest The Last Resort or Borderland Resorts), a safari trip at Chitwan or Bardia National Parks, go see the temples and monasteries, or go paragliding in Pokhara, and more!