The world famous three weeks long Annapurna Circuit trek has been reduced to just one week after the jeep road reached Manang from Besi Sahar and Muktinath from the other end, Pokhara. Trekkers enjoyed crossing the Thorong-La pass (5416 meters) after walking and acclimatizing for a week when they started on either starting point of Dumre or Pokhara before the roads invaded these age old mountain villages. Crossing over the 5416 meters tall pass situated at the border of Manang and Mustang district is still the highlight of this trek for many as this truly tests one's mental and physical abilities. On this side of the pass, in Manang, the traditional village of Ghyaru inhibited by Manange people gives the visitors a sense of being in the medieval times. Time seems to have remained in a capsule for this village. On the other side of the pass, across Muktinath in Mustang, lies another stunning village of Lubrak, equally ancient looking and away from civilizations. These are the villages worth protecting from the modern ills of road access. For most of the other beautiful villages such as Pisang, Braka, Manang, Kagbeni and Marpha it is already too late to protect the old charm. This stunning trekking trail called Round Annapurna was pretty much the backbone for the communities alongside the trail. In the eighties, nineties and most part of the millennium, this trail saw huge influx of trekkers. The tourism brought much needed prosperity and opportunities to this beautiful but hard to reach land.
The tourism development brought several opportunities in terms of improved sanitation, schools, better living condition through improved trade opportunities, employment opportunities for the locals. Now the very physical development of road access is also threatening to reduce the tourism opportunities in this beautiful region. Trekkers cut short their holidays in this region by more than half as the road access has cut down several days of trekking. The rapid pace of hydropower development through activities of building massive river dams is also threatening to keep tourism away in large areas of this region. The river Marsyangdi which has been the life line of the civilizations in the Manang and Lamjung districts has now been dammed and diverted via tunnels in many places threatening the natural and fragile mountain eco systems of the region.
What can be done to mitigate the risk of losing tourism from this region all together? We pondered hard and came up with the simplest of ideas. That is to start the age old trend again! People came to this region to walk and be with the nature. So we decided to reintroduce them these forgotten trails. These walking trails were abandoned after the introduction of the Jeep roads. We decided to run our Mountain biking races via these forgotten trails to highlight and reintroduce these trails to trekking communities. We hope our race will garner enough awareness regarding these trails and the lost trekking charm will be reestablished in this region again. We are also devoting our race to one of the most unspoilt village enroute Annapurna trail, Yak-Ru. It is now called Ghyaru. We dedicate our upcoming extreme mountain biking stage race in 2014 to this village and call it YAK RU.
Come join our race and be the pioneering band of harbinger of change for a good social cause.