The Upper Mustang is one of the most unique trekking regions in all of Nepal. Lying in the rain shadow of the Himalaya its landscape is strikingly arid and desert-like, similar to its neighbor Tibet. In fact, even it’s roots and culture resemble Tibet more than anywhere else in Nepal.
Entry to the former Kingdom of Lo was forbidden to foreigners up until 1992 so the Upper Mustang has had little influence from the outside making it one of the most authentic cultural regions in the world. The trails you trek are the same ones used by salt traders as far back as the 15th century.
The landscape of The Upper Mustang is simply breathtaking. It’s vast Kali Gandaki Gorge is considered by many to be the deepest on the planet with dramatic cliffs holding caves that were once dwellings. Today many have still been unexplored.
Because this is a dry region relatively unaffected by the monsoon the Upper Mustang can be trekked almost any time of year. However during the very cold winter months, beginning in early November and running through February, many residents leave the region for warmer climates making guesthouse accommodations scarce.
The trekking permit of $500USD is included in the price of your trek however if you wish to customize your trip with additional days inside the region the permit fee is an additional $50USD per day. We can also arrange more trekking days outside of the Upper Mustang region to include the lower Mustang and or a portion of the Annapurna Circuit where only a standard permit is required.
Welcome to Kathmandu Valley. Upon your arrival we assist you from airport to our hotel. Rest overnight.
Today is a preparation day for the trek. We will also organize a wonderful sightseeing adventure of Kathmandu visiting some of it’s historical sites with a guide. We will visit Durbar Square, with it’s ancient pagoda buildings, Swayambhunath otherwise known as the Monkey Temple and Boudhanath, The Tibetan Village, home to one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world. You will have a wonderful selection of restaurants for dinner tonight within walking distance of the hotel.
Early morning scenic flight from Kathmandu all the way the city by the lake-Pokhara. Explore Lakeside, have lunch and gaze at the Himalaya peaks that tower over Phewa Lake. Do some last minute shopping for trekking supplies. Enjoy a dinner from the huge array of restaurants in the Lakeside area.
Today after breakfast we fly from Pokhara to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni. Jomsom is the center of the Mustang and Annapurna trekking regions. The trek is approximately 3.5 hours. We’ll try to arrive in Kagbeni before the strong winds of the late morning, early afternoon. Kagbeni is a wonderfully atmospheric town that still practises the ancient Bon religion with Khenis or “ghost-eater” statues at the entrances to it’s inner village. It’s also the gateway to the restricted Upper Mustang region. Rest overnight.
Kagbeni to Chele, ( 3050 m) 6 hours
For the Mustang trek it’s important to leave fairly early in the morning so as to get most of the trekking done by midday due to the windy environment. The stronger winds typically start by the midday. Having a face cover is helpful to protect yourself from dust and sand on this trek. After our guide has cleared us through the checkpoint station to the restricted Upper Mustang region we start trekking up the immense Kali Gandaki Gorge with Nilgiri, 7061 m, behind us. This trail follows the historic salt trade route used by Tibetans to journey to the lowlands to trade salt for grain. We’ll pass through the village of Tangbe, known for having wonderful apple orchards. We overnight in Chele.
Chele to Geling, (3440 m) 5-6 hours
Like with most mornings we’ll start early with a hearty breakfast. Because Mustang was once part of Tibet and was isolated from the world until 1992 it’s culture is authentic as it gets in a modern world. Try local food for breakfast like Tsampa, a porridge made from barley flour or Tibetan bread made to order. Coffee and tea and we’ll start moving closer to Lo Manthang passing through Ekle Bhatti. We’ll reach the Taklam Pass at 3624 m where there’s splendid views of Damodar Danda and Tilicho Peak, 7134 m. This walk will include lots of ascents and descents passing through the village of Samar before reaching Geling. Many of the teahouses or guesthouses of the region are Tibetan in style so you’ll notice the dining hall is set up with benches that sit against the wall facing both sides of the room, tables running along each bench that’s covered with Tibetan carpets. It’s an informal setting that makes everyone immediately comfortable and allows for easy conversation amongst strangers. You’ll easily meet and make friends throughout your journey, maintaining your connections with your Facebook and Instagram accounts. You’ll also may have the option of sitting in the kitchen that doubles as a living room allowing you to experience a real Tibetan family setting.
Geling to Charang (3620 m) 5-6 hours
Today we start early as usual making our way to one of the most picturesque villages of the Upper Mustang, Charang. We’ll traverse rocky, sand trails, surrounded by limestone cliffs reaching the Nyi La Pass, 3950 m. Descending down and crossing the Tangmar chu, (river), where we’re met by one of the longest mani walls of the Upper Mustang. Mani walls are Tibetan walls often found at the entrance to villages made of carved stones with the “om mani padme hum” mantra inscription. Passing through a maze of fields we arrive in Charang. There should be time to walk around the village and take pictures of the beautiful Gompa, (temple), and look out at the amazing dry high desert like landscape of the Upper Mustang.
Charang to Lo Manthang. (3700 m) 3-4 hours
The day starts with a descent down a canyon before crossing a river where we’ll ascend to the pass of Lo, 3850 m. It’s here where the ancient Kingdom of Lo and it’s capital, the walled city of Lo Manthang is first revealed to us. We’ll also have awe inspiring views of Nilgiri, Tilicho and Annapurna I, 8061 m, the 10th highest mountain in the world. We’ll then descend into Lo Manthang. We can get settled in our guesthouse and have lunch before we start exploring this amazing village that very much feels like a piece of “Old Tibet”. We will have two full days to explore the city and region.
Today after our Tibetan breakfast, or toast and eggs with hashbrowns, coffee and tea we can leisurely explore Lo Manthang with lots of options. We could walk to the village of Tingkar located northwest of Lo Manthang and the last village in the Upper Mustang before the border of Tibet/China. There are also lots of monasteries to visit in the village starting with the most important one that also serves as the local court, Namgyal Gompa. The God House and Chyodi Gompa as well as the King’s Palace.
Today we could do what we didn’t have time for yesterday. There’s also an option to hire horses and take a ride to the Khampa soldier caves, where men from the Tibetan army hid while fighting the Chinese after the invasion of Tibet. This is an amazing experience. Imagine riding a horse with the Himalaya as your backdrop approximately 50km from the border of Nepal and Tibet/China. There’s an additional cost for this that’s not included in your trek. Please let your guide know if you’re interested in hiring a horse. As there are a limited number of horses this excursion is subject to availability. There’s also the possibility of being in the town when a puja is performed by one of the monasteries. Your guide will ask around.
Lo Manthang to Chami, (3460 m) via Lo Gekar. 5-6 hours
After two full marvellous days experiencing the undisturbed Tibetan culture and the jewel it is, we leave Lo Manthang for the trek back to Jomsom. Today our destination is Chami, but we’ll first we’ll descend down two valleys making our way to Lo Gekar, considered the birthplace of Tibetan Buddhism. Ghar Gompa, the village monastery is believed to be the oldest of it’s kind in all of Mustang. We’ll pass by giant vertical red cliffs with Nilgiri in the distance with more ascents and descents before arriving in Chami. Tonight we could have pasta, or dal bhat with extra helpings of rice and lentils, delicious momos and or fried potatoes. You also may want to sample the local “moonshine”, Nepali raksi!
Chami to Samar, (3480 m) 5-6 hours
After our early morning breakfast we’ll leave Chami heading for our climb up the Nyi La Pass, 3950 m. We’ll once again marvel at the stark beauty of the Upper Mustang landscape and the snow capped peaks of the Himalaya before descending down to Samar , our home for the night.
Samar to Kagbeni, (2810 m) 5-6 hours
We’ll start trekking early so as to avoid as much wind as possible. We will stay in Kagbeni for the night admiring the great Kali Gandaki Gorge, considered one of the deepest on the planet. Kagbeni is a fascinating town with ancient Bon beliefs and Khenis or “ghost-eater” statues. They also practise farming without pesticides. We’ll have an opportunity to sample their delicious food for dinner. They also grind their own grains for flour making for delicious breads and tsampa porridge.
Kagbeni to Jomsom (2743 m) 3-4 hours
This is a short walk enjoying more spectacular views of the Kali Gandaki Gorge and Nilgiri, 7061 meters. We’ll overnight in Jomsom so we can catch an early morning flight to Pokhara. Flights only depart in the morning due to the windy conditions that occur in the late mornings and afternoons. You can wander around Jomsom in the afternoon taking in the local market, perhaps watching the sunset over Nilgiri. Tonight after dinner you might want to sample the famous apple brandy of the region.
Early morning flight from Jomsom to Pokhara. 20 minutes
We will be transferred to our hotel from Pokhara airport after which you’ll have time to check out the views of Phewa Lake and if the skies are clear, the Annapurna range. After you have lunch we’ll meet with our guide for a hike up to the Peace Pagoda for the best views of the lake and the Annapurnas. There are fantastic restaurants in Pokhara around Lakeside. You’ll have your pick tonight from Korean, Japanese, Italian, Indian and more!
Pokhara –Kathmandu flight. 25 minutes
We are transferred from our hotel to the airport where we’ll depart for Kathmandu. Upon arriving at Tribhuvan Airport we will be taken back to our hotel in Thamel. You’ll have time to wander around for some last minute shopping or to enjoy some of the sites including Durbar Square if you choose. We will host a farewell dinner tonight.
We will transfer you to the airport.
*As per trekking rules of the Upper Mustang Restricted region we need a minimum 2 persons per group. If you are a single trekker we will do our best to fit you into another group.
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