Upper Mustang Trek is not just a another ordinary trek in the Himalayas of Nepal. If you want to experience Tibetan culture and Tibet-like landscapes in Nepal, you should considering joining this trek.
In the central northern part of Nepal lies the Mustang region. Located near the border of Tibet, Upper Mustang is geologically connected to the Tibetan plateau and ethnically linked to the Tibetan people. Meaning ‘fertile plane’, this is the ancient Kingdom of Lo. Traditionally used by salt caravans crossing the Himalayas to enter Nepal, this northern region became a kingdom in 1380. Only in 2008 was the monarchy disbanded by Nepalese parliament. The region is mainly arid and desolate but boasts magnificent colourful rock formations containing thousands of caves. The inhabitants are mainly Tibetan, Gurung and Thakali, who have conserved their traditional cultures, lifestyle and arts. The Forbidden City or Little Tibet opened to foreign travelers in 1992 and the number of tourists allowed to visit the area remains highly regulated. So far, only around 800 tourists have gained access to the area, leaving many parts of the region unexplored by foreigners.
The Upper Mustang Trek starts in the beautiful city of Phokara at the banks of Phewa Lake nestled at the foot of the Himalayas. The route leads through the Annapurna Conservation area to Upper Mustang. After a short flight to Jomsom we will enter Upper Mustang through Kagbeni. Either way, the trek will take us along the holy river Kali Gandaki upstream to Lo-Mangtang, the capital of Mustang. On the trek you will have the opportunity to visit monastaries that are thousands of years old, as well as explore caves and experience the art and architecture of the local tribes. Not to mention the staggering beauty of the landscape. There is also the unique opportunity to receive blessings from Raja Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista, the last official monarch. The trail to Lo-Manthang will take us through the stunningly desolate landscape of Mustang and along steep rocky paths with incredible panoramic views of Nilgiri (7,061 m), Annapurna (8,091 m) and Dhaulagiri (8,167 m) as well as several other majestic peaks.
A typical day on the Upper Mustang Trek:
We usually aim for an early start. After you pack the bag for the porters, we will gather in the restaurant of the lodge and have breakfast. Breakfast is typically ordered the evening before, so that the lodge owner can plan everything. Remember she has typically only one stow, and has to cook breakfast for 20 or 30 people. During breakfast the guides will tell you a little bit about what to expect during the day. What plants and animals to look out for, and the name of the peaks that dominates the view of the day. It is also important to get a supply of water. Although you can buy water at the lodges, it is better bring water purification from back home, so the empty water bottles don’t pile up. Boiled water is also safe to drink. After breakfast the we start the days trekking. There will be sherpa guides both in the front and at the back to make sure no one gets lost. It is important that everyone walks in their own tempo. Around noon we stop at a tea house for lunch for about an hour. We typically reach the days destination lodge in the early afternoon, where you will be assigned you room. Again make sure to order dinner in good time. The rest of the afternoon is all about enjoying the view from the lodge and take pictures and maybe do a little shopping. Dinner is served on time and the rest of the evening you spend reading a book, or in conversation with you fellow trekkers, or playing cards.
Upper Mustang Trek: Itinerary
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu
Day 02: Kathmandu Valley sightseeing and preparation for the trek
Day 03: Drive from Kathmandu to Pokahara
Day 04: Flight from Pokhara to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni
Day 05: Trek from Kagbeni to Chele
Day 06: Trek from Chele to Syanbochen
Day 07: Trek from Syanbochen to Ghaymi
Day 08: Trek from Ghaymi to Charang
Day 09: Trek from Charan to Lo-Mangthang
Day 10: Exploration in Lo-Mangthang
Day 11: Trek from Lo-Mangthang to Ghar Gumpa
Day 12: Trek from Ghar Gumpa to Ghiling
Day 13: Trek from Ghiling to Chele
Day 14: Trek from Chele to Jomson
Day 15: Flight from Jomsom to Pokhara
Day 16: Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu
Day 17: Departure from Kathmandu
Upper Mustang Trek: Detailed Itinerary
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmadu
Arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. You will be picked up at the airport. Look for our representative holding a sign with your name. On the drive from the airport to the hotel, you will have a chance to experience the chaotic and bustling charm of the capital city of Nepal. At the hotel you will check-in and then have the rest of day to yourself to explore Thamel, the central area of the city.
Day 02: Kathmandu valley sightseeing
You will have the day in Kathmandu with time to do some sightseeing in the Kathmandu valley. Some notable sights include: Buddhist and Hindu shrines, the ‘monkey temple’ Swayambhunath and the great Boudhanath stupa in an area called Little Tibet. There is also the Pashupatinath Temple, a sacred Hindu shrine on the banks of the Bagmati River, where you can experience a traditional cremation ceremony. In the evening, you will be asked to join us at a restaurant for dinner, where you can enjoy Nepalese cuisine and where we will go through what to expect on the trek and provide some practical information for the trip.
Day 03: Bus drive to Pokhara
We leave Kathmandu at dawn to head west towards Pokhara where the trek begins. While it is a long drive, there is plenty to see along the way. The drive exposes trekkers to the traditional oxcarts and bicycles used for transportation, as well as the ornate, crowded buses and daredevil drivers. We arrive in Pokhara early in the afternoon and check-in to the hotel. You will have the rest of the day to explore the lakeside city of Pokhara.
Day 04: Flight to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni
After an early breakfast board a morning flight from Pokhara to Jomsom. This is a 20 minute flight with spectacular views of the Annapurna range. The Upper Mustang trek begins on arrival in Jomsom, the administrative headquarters of the Mustang area. The trail ascends the windy banks of the river Kali Gandaki for about 3 hours until we reach the village of Ekly Bhatti. We will have a long stop here before the final hour of trekking to Kagbeni. Kagbeni is a windswept village on the river bank along the old trans Himalayan salt route. We will stay in Kagbeni for the night.
Day 05: Kagbeni to Chele
The day begins with ensuring all permits are in order before we continue our journey up the eastern bank of the Kali Gandaki River. The trail undulates over a series of ridges and on the opposite side of the river we will pass the Kamg Gompa, a center for followers of Nyingmapa – the red hatted buddhists. When we are approaching Tangbe, we encounter black and white chortens or stupas. These chortens are typical for Upper Mustang. In the village, the white washed houses create an intriguing pattern of alleys. The village is surrounded by fields of wheat, barley and buckwheat interspersed with apple orchards. We cross the river and ascend to the village of Chele. The decorative houses here are evidence of the strong Tibetan influence on the culture of Lo. We stay in Chele for the night.
Day 06: Chele to Syanbochen
The trail today takes us across a series of large spurs before we reach Taklma La (3,624 m), passing through plateaus and narrow stretches. Today we will have spectacular views of Tilcho, Yakawa Kang, Nilgiri and Damodar Danda peaks. A further 3 hours walk brings us to Syanbochen, our goal for today. The valleys that cradle the trail here have streams of cold water and juniper bushes which provide comfortable spots to relax. We are not yet at altitudes where acclimatisation is a problem, but we still take our time to enjoy the walk.
Day 07: Syanbochen to Ghaymi
Soon after breakfast, the trails takes us up to Yamda La (3,850 m), where the high altitude will start to kick in. we pass a few small teahouses, chortens and local villages with typical Tibetan style houses with open verandas. We then cross a few more passes and trek through grand avenues of poplar trees and fields of barley. The trail then takes us across Nyi La (4,010 m), the first time we cross the 4,000 m mark and enter the southern boundary of Lo. From here we descend to Ghaymi, where we spend the night.
Day 08: Ghaymi to Charang
Todays we have a pleasant walk to Charang. The trail descends to Ghaymi Khola and passes a spectacular series of Mani walls, sacred stone walls of Buddhism, to reach the village of Charang. Charang is characterised by its huge white dzong (Tibetan for ‘fort’) and the red Gompa.
Day 09: Charang to Lo-Mangthang
We leave Charang and start to climb the ridge, reaching an altitude of 3,850 m at the windswept pass of Lo. This pass provides the first view of Lo Mangthang. On the other side of the pass, the trail drops down to a stream before climbing up the plateau where Lo Mangthang village is located. The only entrance is to this remote village is through the north east corner. The whitewashed walls enclose around 150 homes, Gompas and the palace. We stay at a teahouse and spend the rest of the day exploring the city.
Day 10: Exploring Lo Mangthang
We have the full day to explore this unique historical and cultural center of northern Nepal. The city features four main Gompas to visit during the day, and we will also have the chance to enter the palace: the home of the Raja (king) and his Rani (queen). This is a truly unique opportunity. Apart from being a rare cultural and historical experience, this mountain gem also offers splendid panoramic views of the Himalayas. This is indeed a unique place on earth and a great place to experience Tibetan culture. Although the Raja’s function is entirely ceremonial, he still still works actively to resolve local issues. The monasteries require entrance fees and it custom that visitors also give small donations.
Day 11: Lo Mangthang to Ghar Gumpa
After a a wonderful time in Lo Mangthang, we continue our journey to Ghar Gumpa. From a ridge we will have the final view of Lo Mangthang. We then descend into the valley towards Ghar Gompa. The wind picks up during the day, so it is recommended to make the trek during the morning hours to minimise the chance of dust.
Day 12: Ghar Gumpa to Ghilling
Today we follow the trail down the valley to Ghilling where we stay for the night. Again, dust is possible during the day, so be prepared to cover your mouth and nose with a scarf.
Day 13: Ghiling to Chele
We descend back down to Chele which will take approximately 5 hours. On this portion of the trek we have a spectacular view of the Himalayas. Once we arrive at Chele, we will check-in to a teahouse where we will spend the night.
Day 14: Chele to Jomsom
This is the last trekking day of the Upper Mustang Trekking trip. After breakfast we descend to Kagbeni and join the Annapurna circuit trail. After 6 to 7 hours, we will reach Jomsom where we can celebrate our achievement and look back on a truly unique cultural and historical journey into Himalayan history and culture.
Day 15: Flight from Jomsom to Pokhara
After breakfast we travel to the airport for our return flight to Pokhara. This is a spectacular flight out of the gorge between two of the world’s highest mountains, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. Upon arrival in Pokhara, we will be transferred to our lakeside hotel. The rest of the day we can relax and enjoy Phewa Lake and the city of Pokhara.
Day 16: Bus drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu
Today we drive to Kathmandu through a varied landscape. The drive takes 7-8 hours and upon arrival in Kathmandu we will check-in to the hotel.
Day 17: Departure from Kathmandu
You will be transferred to Tribhuvan International Airport in time for your flight home, with memories of a wonderful Himalayan adventure.
Please contact us for cost information.
The price includes the following services:
- Airports pick up and transfer by private vehicle as per the itinerary
- Accommodation in Kathmandu on twin/triple sharing basis
- Guided Kathmandu city tours inclusive of vehicle transfer
- World Heritage sites entrance fees during sightseeing tour in Kathmandu
- Local transportation (when applicable)
- Accommodation during the trek at guest houses/lodges on twin sharing basis
- Meals (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) with a cup of tea or coffee during the expedition
- A highly experienced and licensed guide approved by the government of Nepal and porters during the trek and their transportation, food, accommodation, salary, equipment and insurance coverage
- Trekker’s Information Management System (TIMS)
- All trekking permit fees for Upper Mustang Trek
- Government taxes
- Service charge
The price does not include the following:
- Any meals in Kathmandu
- Rescue & travel insurance, trip cancellation costs, accident or health emergency, evacuation, loss, theft or damage to baggage and personal effects. We strongly advise buy a travel insurance policy
- Extra night accommodation in Kathmandu because of early arrival, late departure, and early return from the mountain (due to any reason) than the scheduled itinerary
- Personal expenses (phone calls, internet, laundry, bar bills, battery recharge, extra porters, cold drinks, bottle or boiled water, hot shower etc)
- Tips for guides and porters