In the near future, right after Ukraine’s victory, I’m about to launch a new series of military-historical tours called “Along the Warpaths.” Some of them will pass through regions where fortification structures have been located for centuries to defend the southern borders of Ukrainian lands from the Ottoman attacks, and today, ironically, have become the theatre of military operations to protect from the russian horde. Starting in 2014 with the occupation of the Ukrainian Crimea, and turning after eight years of armed confrontation in the east of Ukraine into a full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022, this war has resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, hundreds of cities and towns being completely destroyed, and forced millions of refugees to flee their homes. The world has not known such a catastrophe of civilizational values and World Order since the First and Second World Wars, the scale of human grief and destruction is really astonishing.
One of these fortifications, the Ukrainian Defensive Line, was built from 1635 to 1638 according to the project of German General Johann Weisbach. It blocked the Muravsky path to the Ottomans who attacked Slobidska and Left-bank Ukraine. It was an extension of the Izyum Line as a military-engineering system of earthworks, wooden structures, forest abatis, and bridges, total over 285 km long. The Ukrainian Line consisted of 16 fortresses and 49 redoubts, located approximately 20 km apart, and connected by a high earthen rampart with a deep moat. Each year, 20,000 Hetman, 2,000 Slobidskih, and about 10,000 Polish Cossacks worked on its construction. The Ukrainian Line lost its defensive importance in the 1770s when a new, the Dnieper Line, was built to the south of it.
Seeing multiple wars, in 2014, the location of the Ukrainian defensive line became a stronghold of defence against barbarism and infringement once again. Eight years of war with Russia escalated into a full-scale War with the horde invasion began on February 24, 2022, from three geographical directions. Failing their airborne operations at the airports of Gostomel and Zhulyany, dozens of kilometres of armoured vehicles rushed to Kyiv from the north, crossed the Crimean isthmus from the south, and started a massive offensive from the east.
Counting on the promised quick victory, the Russian military encountered fierce resistance from the civilians, territorial defence units, and the professionalism of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Unable to cope with planning and logistics, the enemy’s miles-long convoys of Soviet armoured vehicles and troops were quickly destroyed by mobile units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which had full real-time situational awareness. It was provided by units of radio, radar, and satellite intelligence, observation posts equipped with CCTV, and newly formed air reconnaissance units equipped with civilian quadcopters. As a result, the enemy shook and having suffered huge losses was forced to retreat in the northern direction, withdrawing the remnants of its troops from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv, shifting the emphasis to the eastern and southern directions.
Then there was a brilliant counterattack to liberate the Kharkiv and partially Luhansk regions, a two-month special operation to de-occupy the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions, and many other heroic pages of the Ukrainian liberation struggle. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers of the Russian occupation forces found their inglorious death on these lands, most of them remaining whole or storn to pieces lying in fields, forests, and agricultural grounds, turning into animal feed and fertilizer for the black soil of Ukraine.
“Whoever comes with a sword will die by the sword.”
Today, as I write this post, the Armed Forces of Ukraine and all Ukrainians are preparing for a major counter-offensive military operation to outright liberate the russian-occupied territories of Ukraine and restore internationally recognized borders in 1991 in accordance with the UN Charter and a number of other international legal acts. After the victory, as soon as the borders open, I’m going to provide our first military-historical tour across the places of military glory, the route and description I’ll post on this website soon. Follow my updates, and subscribe to my profile on Instagram and Facebook, you should definitely see the consequences of the most Modern Warfare of the 21st century.
Dmytro Kuleba presented an interactive online map with the most up-to-date information on visas, permits and restrictions in the context of the COVID-19. Even after the end of the pandemic, this map will remain a convenient tool for citizens when planning trips.
“This is a map for people. Governments around the world are imposing restrictions on movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rules of entry and transit are constantly updated. How to understand where you can go and where not? Our new map will allow the citizens of Ukraine to avoid confusion” – said the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
This interactive resource is a simplified cartographic model for displaying the peculiarities of entering the countries of the world in order to provide relevant information to citizens of Ukraine who are planning their trip abroad. The data is updated regularly, and three layers of the display allow you to check whether you can enter or transit the country.
Good news awaits us this new year: in the updated list of countries from the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, Turkey has returned to the “green zone” and after returning from Turkey you have not to go to self-isolation or PCR test:
“Allowed. 25.12.2020 The Ministry of Health of Turkey has decided that from 29.12.2020 entry into the country by air and sea, as well as by land is possible provided with a certificate of a negative result of the PCR test for COVID-19, made no more than 72 hours before crossing the border, this rule does not apply to children under 6 years of age.
Persons who have been in the UK, South Africa, Denmark, Brazil and arrived in Turkey by land, air and sea in recent days must present a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours before their entry. to the country, as well as undergo a 14-day quarantine in places designated by the competent authorities of Turkey.
From July 1, 2020, entry is required subject to the mandatory availability of an insurance policy for COVID 19, which can be purchased online, from the tour operator, when purchasing tickets, as well as directly at the airport in Turkey upon arrival.“
Based on this encouraging information, we have already started recruiting groups for April in the historic enduro moto tour “Sea 2 Sky: the Lycian Way” along the paths of ancient Lycia. Join our historical moto trip!
Among the many types of leisure activities, traveling on “horseback” has its roots in very ancient times. The spirit of such wanderings is also alive today, only the horses have become steel. A motorcycle, like a horse, needs to be loved, cared for, fed; when riding on a motorbike, like on a horse, you feel alive, truly, the world around.
We invite you to the world of enduro-moto-tourism. Dirtbikes and off-road adventures are in our blood, our greatest passion in life.
We were the first in the world who managed in the absence of roads not only penetrate the Kingdom of Mustang with a motor but also completely ride it up to the Tibetan plateau on the China border.
We were the first who ride the route along the ancient pedestrian trail the Lycian Way on motorcycles in the Mediterranean region of Turkey.
Enrich your life traveling with us with unforgettable experiences – let’s ride, explore, discover with #motopilgrims #adventours!
In one of the most remote, inaccessible, most beautiful, unique and inimitable corners of the Himalayas, on the Tibetan plateau behind impassable passes, far from tourist routes, there is the Tibetan kingdom of Mustang, which is called the “lost kingdom” for a reason. Remote from civilization, it is part of Nepal and is geographically isolated from the rest of the country. It is the last land of pristine Tibetan traditions.
The Kingdom of Lo (which everyone calls Mustang, although it is more correctly to say “Monthang”), is translated from the Tibetan “Moon Tan” as “fertile plain”, but this is not true at all. Life here is possible only along the channel and tributaries of the Kali Gandaki River, along which from the 15th to the 17th centuries a trade route passed between Tibet and India, which lost its significance after the opening of the so-called “Friendship Road”. As a result, the local population was so impoverished that it was forced to go down the riverbed into the depths of Nepal in order to feed itself. And today, the inhabitants of this region survive mainly due to rare tourists, so you should not skimp and bargain when buying souvenirs, and charity is welcome here. The entire population, represented by the Thakali and Tibetans is about 10 thousand people living in three cities and about 3 dozen villages. there was royal authority, leading a centuries-old genealogy, which in fact no longer has administrative significance in Nepal.
The entrance to this amazing Buddhist region was opened for foreign tourists only in 1991. And I was very lucky to be the first motorcyclist in the world to enter this area with a group of motorcyclists from Ukraine in the spring of 2012. It was me who came up with, organized and conducted such an unusual, unique and amazing expedition. At that time, roads through the Himalayas in this region did not exist at all, and a weak likeness of rocky dirt roads appeared only in 2016. That is why off-road vehicles are necessary for the expedition to the Upper Mustang.
I always choose spring for motorcycle tours because in winter months, due to the harsh climatic conditions, the passes are simply impassable. Our guide in Lo Manthang is a terrific person, a real Buddhist monk, my close friend Phuntchok Gurung. He is a real monk of Tibetan Buddhism from Lo Manthang – Phuntchok, Khyentse Lama. A gorgeous and unique person. Such meetings happen once in a lifetime. And Phuntchok will accompany us the following days throughout the Mustang.
Before telling about our motorcycle expedition, I’ll go a little ahead and tell you about its culmination – the forbidden city of Lo Manthang, which is located at an altitude of 3800m. above sea level. The northern gates are decorated with brass rings, polished by the callused palms of Buddhist monks, which sparkle in the rays of the sun that is especially bright in the highlands. The city is an impregnable fortress and is surrounded by a stone wall. We were the first motorcycle riders in this area and the local residents had never seen motorcycles before. For many hundreds of years, nothing has changed here, the harsh conditions of existence have made this region an ideal place for those who want to retire from the “benefits” of civilization. Even the Chinese Communists’ invasion of Tibet in 1949 and the 1950s did not affect the Kingdom of Mustang, and after the suppression of the anti-Chinese uprising in 1959, the entire Tibetan government, led by Dalai Lama XIV, was forced to find political refuge in India. Then, in the 50s, Mustang was formally annexed to Nepal and this action contributed to the preservation of the existing Tibetan way of life for centuries.
The capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, is the starting and finishing point of our motorcycling expedition to the Kingdom of Mustang. We will also visit the famous tourist region of Kathmandu – Thamel. Our city tour will begin here. We will visit the Pashupati temple complex, where cremations are held, we will see the magnificent stupas of Bodnath and Swayambhunath, as well as golden Buddhas. On the same day, we will receive all necessary permissions before the motorcycling tour that is scheduled for the next morning.
We will set off from Kathmandu and take a 200-kilometer road along the paths at the foothills of the Himalayas to the tourist mecca – the tropical city of Pokhara. We will definitely get a stunning panoramic view of the majestic Himalayan ridge there. In fact, before I conducted the world’s first motorcycle expedition to Lo Manthang, one could reach the remote areas in one of two ways – on foot by mountain trails and this way takes weeks to conclude, or by helicopter, while the flight conditions here are considered one of the most difficult in the world due to strong winds, clouds of sand and dense clouds in the afternoon. As a result, all flights are carried out exclusively in the early morning.
The next morning we will rise to Sarangkot, an overwhelming observation point. We will also cross one of the longest suspension pedestrian bridge in the world. In the evening we are going to bathe in the thermal springs.
The next day will be very eventful and will please our eyes with the views of the eight-thousander Daulagari and the seven-thousander Nilgiri. We will cross the Himalayan ridge along the deepest gorge in the world, moving along an extreme mountainous dirt road. After a really hard enduro trip along the full-flowing channel of the Kali Gandaki River, we will arrive in the village of Kagbeni, which is the starting point of our off-road motorcycle tour to the Upper Mustang.
In Kagbeni, the Tibetan monk Phuntchok Khyantsa Lama will join and accompany us in Mustang. Everywhere we will meet eerie charms over the entrances to the houses – goat heads and horns of yaks, brooms and clay seals. People actually live mainly on subsistence farming, meat is dried hanging down from the ceilings, and tsampa based on flour and tea with butter from yak milk make up a meager food ration. A checkpoint is located here, warning black and yellow shields are installed with the warning: “Attention! You are entering a closed territory! ”
On the sixth day, we will arrive at the beginning of the trail to the Torangla Pass at an altitude of 4500m and from this point, we will take the road to Muktinath. But first, we will have a walking tour around the village of Kagbeni and visit a temple. We will ride up to the Torang La hiking pass at an altitude of 5450m. and cross another pedestrian bridge over a deep gorge. We will spend the night with friends Maitreya and Nira in their guest house.
On the last day of the first week of our motorcycle tour, we will ride through the territory of the Upper Mustang. The mountains around are amazing, and the sky is so blue that you begin to doubt the reality of what you see. Little has changed over the past centuries. At the kilometer depth of the gorge, the Kali Gandaki river runs. The road is difficult as there are a lot of steep ups and downs, cliffs, rocky tali. We will see clear signs of an ancient ocean floor. You can even find fossilized mollusks (100 million years old) there. In the evening we will reach the village of Gami and stay overnight in the best guest house available.
Early in the morning we will be on our way to the capital city of the desired kingdom. Militarized patrols will check our documents, permits and passports carefully, and also warn us about the consequences of unauthorized entry. The Windy pass at an altitude of 4000m. is ahead. At the pass we will get the magnificent view of the forbidden city of Lo Manthang. We will spend the night in the best hotel in Lo Manthang. It is going to be a relaxing and peaceful evening.
Our next day we will devote to excursions and communication with local residents and our steel horses will be serviced by mechanics. It is one of the few places where you can buy authentic Tibetan culture items, amulets, various medicines based on herbs and resins that cannot be found anywhere else. Night in the royal palace of Lo Manthang.
On the tenth day, we will reach the border with China. We will ride up to the Tibetan plateau with stunning panoramas of the Himalayas. Our friend Phuntchok will perform an ancient Tibetan ritual ceremony. And we will take part in this mystical rite. On the way back we will visit Chhoser village with the temple and school of young monks. And our group will also ascend to the oldest man-made multi-storey complex of caves which dates back over 2800 years! We will stay overnight again in the royal palace of Lo Manthang.
It might seem that we have already seen everything possible, but it is not without reason that our motorcycle expedition is the most extensive and long-lasting one.
On the 11th day, we will reach the yak shepherds’ camp and there we will be treated with real Tibetan medicinal tea, dairy products and meat of these majestic artiodactyls. And the culmination of the day will be one of the most mystical rites on the planet – Heavenly burial (jhator or bya gtor). It is also called “giving charity to birds,” because according to Tibetan beliefs, at the time of death, the soul of a person leaves the body, and since a person at all stages of life should benefit the outside world, the body of the deceased is dismembered and fed to birds as the last manifestation of true charity. This is the only possible burial rite for most Tibetans, an exception is made only for Dalai and Panchen Lamas, whose bodies are embalmed and covered with gold.
It will not be the last surprise of the day as in the evening the monk will present a unique experience to each member of the group – he will conduct an individual ritual of Puja that will fill our bodies and souls with a stream of great grace.
On the twelfth day, we will leave this highly spiritual and mystical land. We will say goodbye to Phuntchok and set off. Despite the fact that we will ride along the same road we will see the surrounding beauty of nature from a different angle. On the following days, we will visit 108 holy sources and a huge statue of Buddha.
We will end our motorcycle journey in Pokhara. There we will have enough time for activities which are not included in our motorcycle tour cost – paragliding, flights on small planes to the Himalayas and others. We will visit the mountain museum in Pokhara and enjoy the views of the highest mountain peaks in the world again. Then we will fly back to Kathmandu and have souvenir shopping in Thamel’s shops. You have done it. And a tiny part of the Himalayas and Tibet will stay in your mind and your heart forever…
The author’s motorcycling tour to the Tibetan kingdom Mustang is the longest of the proposed adventure tours to this uninhabited region of the Tibetan Highlands. Unlike a week-long enduro trip to the historical sites of the Lycian trail in Turkey, an expedition to the kingdom of Upper Mustang requires more thorough equipment. Due to the significant number of necessary things, as well as the need to transport a spare motorcycle and a supply of fuel, tools and spare parts, we will be accompanied by a jeep with a mechanic. For convenience, I divided the lists of necessary things into categories of their application. So, let me start with the main thing – motorcycling outfit:
Due to the large difference in altitude and the duration of the expedition the list of necessary clothes for our motorcycling expedition to Tibet is quite extensive:
Some additional equipment:
And, of course, each rider needs a category “A” driver’s license, as well as five passport-format photographs, one of which will be needed to get a tourist visa at Kathmandu Airport.
A motorcycle expedition to the Kingdom of Mustang will also require some additional costs:
Also, in the absence of off-road motorcycle driving skills, we recommend that you take a driving course in advance at any motocross or enduro school, or with a personal trainer. MTB skills will be a significant plus in mastering an enduro motorcycle. Most of our participants after the motorcycle tour become fans of cross-country, enduro, rally and other classes of off-road motorcycle trips and competitions.
These recommendations are generalized, the list of items and equipment will be individually agreed with each participant of the trip. Let’s ride, explore and discover with #MotoPilgrims Adventours!
the organizer reserves the right to make changes to the motorcycling tour program if the safety conditions of the participants require it due to such circumstances as difficult weather conditions in the highlands, emergency situations on the road or any other force majeure circumstances. Also, we cannot be responsible for the actions / or inaction of third parties, such as airlines, local authorities and local residents, including for compliance with the laws and legal regimes of the countries visited by the tour participants.