The Upper Mustang trek is the ultimate gateway to the mysterious world of the old Buddhist kingdom of Mustang, also called Lo. Once forbidden and isolated from the rest of the world for decades, the area was able to evolve within its own distinctive culture and rich traditions closely tied to Tibet. This moderate, lesser-known trek passes through one of the driest regions of Nepal and provides spectacular mountain scenery.
The Mustang trek is not particularly difficult, the highest point reached being only 3,800 meters, but the conditions at times can be arduous. Mustang is cold in winter and is always windy and dusty through the year. Winter treks are best avoided due to harsh weather. Lo Manthang, the old capital, is reached in four days and at least one extra day should be spent here to soak in the sights and sounds of this unique walled settlement. Ponies are available for hire if you so desire. The spectacularly tanned red cliffs and the endless variety of grey rolling hills of the Mustang will be engraved in your memory long after your return home.
Day 01 – Drive to Pokhara from Kathmandu
Early in the morning, we will travel to the beautiful valley of Pokhara via Prithvi Highway. You will see the Western Himalayas during this scenic 6-to-7-hour long bus ride. Upon arrival you will have the opportunity to explore Pokhara, the beautiful city by the lake. Alternatively, you can go boating in the grand Phewa Lake. We will spend the night at the local hotel.
Day 02 – Fly to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni (2800m)
We will catch a plane from Pokhara to Jomsom, one of the main towns in Mustang. It will take around 20 minutes to get there We will fly North-West from Pokhara towards a great portal between Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. You will enjoy beautiful views of the hills and mountains during your flight. From Jomsom, we will trek uphill for 3 hours alongside Kali Gandaki before we reach Kagbeni, the gateway to Upper Mustang. The village is located at the bank of two rivers. We will spend the night in a guesthouse.
Day 03 – Trek to Chele (3050m)
We will continue our journey towards the east bank of the Kali Gandaki climbing through numerous ridges, and then head north for the Tangbe village. This picturesque town is a labyrinth of narrow alleys amid white-washed mud and stone houses, buckwheat fields and apple trees. The majestic Nilgiri dominates the southern sky of Kagbeni. From there, we will hike to Chhusang village for 2 hours before we cross the dwindling Kali Gandaki. We will climb up to a huge red mass of sedimentary rock that had fallen from the cliff above, forming a tunnel through which Kali Gandaki flows. Crossing the Kali Gandaki Valley, we will climb uphill to Chele. You will witness the slow transition in culture, from Manangi culture to Tibetan. We will spend the night in a guesthouse.
Day 04 – Trek to Syangbochen (3800m)
Our trek today goes along a steep barren land, alongside the copper-red canyon. We will make a gradual descent to some Chortens on a ridge, and after hiking downhill for some more time we will reach the beautiful village of Samar. From there, we will climb a ridge and descend into a giant gorge. We will keep trekking through another valley and cross a stream and before we will climb up a ridge which lies at 3,800m. We will climb yet another pass, go through another ridge before we can finally descend to Syangbochen.
Day 05 – Trek to Ghami (3520m)
From Syangbochen, we will gently hike uphill until we reach a pass at 3770m and trek downhill to reach the village of Geling. From Gheling, we will go uphill passing through fields to the center of the valley. Then we will climb a tough terrain across the head of the valley to the Nyi La pass (3840m). From there we will descend for half an hour until we reach a trail junction, the right trail is a route to Charang while the left one leads to Ghami. It is a village of clustered whitewashed mud and stone houses canopied by an overhanging cliff. This is a great place to spend the night.
Day 06 – Trek to Charang (3560m)
We will trek to the driest part of Mustang today. It will be a tiring trek crossing fairly rough terrain. But upon reaching our destination, we will be rewarded with splendid views of the remote countryside, and we will be able to see mountains in all directions. When reaching Charang, a large village at the top of the Charang Chu Canyon, we are due for some rest. On the east of the village, you can find a medieval fort and a red Gompas which house a spectacular collection of statues and thangkas.
Day 07 – Trek to Lo-Manthang (3770m)
We will trek to one of the major attractions on this trip: Lo Manthang. This was the walled capital of the Kingdom of Lo. The city consists of around 150 households and residences for lama gurus. We will trek through Lo-Gekar, which is the oldest Gompa in Nepal and older than the Samye Gompa of the Tibet. On reaching the walled city of Lo, you will have the opportunity to visit the ancient temples and monasteries of the region and the periphery of the King’s impressive palace, where the King and Queen of Lo- Manthang reside. You will have the chance to guide horses on a lease and see the beautiful valley.
Day 08 – Exploring Lo-Manthang
We will explore the mystical town of Lo-Manthang, starting with a 2-hour visit of the Namgyal Gompa. This beautiful Gompa is situated on a hilltop, which is of high social, religious as well as legal importance as it serves as a local courthouse. After that, we will visit the village of Tingkhar, northwest of Lomanthang with its 40 households. We will also visit Champa Lhakang where you have a chance to admire a large Buddha statue and intricate Mandalas painted on the walls.
Day 09 – Trek to Dhamkar (3820m)
We will leave Lo-Manthang taking the upper highland trail. It will reward us with splendid views of Lo-Manthang and the Charang Valley, with snow-capped mountains in the background. We will cross the Dhi Pass at 4,100m and reach Dhamkar. Here we will spend the night.
Day 10 – Descend to Syangbochen
With Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri among other giants standing tall in the background, we will hike down to Syangbochen. On the way, we pass through Rachen Gompa, mystical Gompa which grew by itself at the lap of a rocky cave. We will spend the night in a guesthouse in Syangbochen.
Day 11 – Trek to Chhusang (2980m)
We will continue our trek over steep ridges and over hills. We will trek to Tetang, the upper village of Chuksang which lies between two hills. It is a safe escapade from the fierce wind that hits the Kali Gandaki valley frequently.
Day 12 – Trek Jomsom (2720m)
On the last day of this memorable trek, we will pass Jharkot village and visit the local monastery, the grand Tibetan Herbal Medicine Center and see an ancient fortress which once was a palace. During our descent to Jomsom we will enjoy the view of Kali Gandaki Valley and Kagbeni Village. This is the gateway to Mustang.
Day 13 – Flight to Pokhara and Exploring the City
After taking a 20-minute flight to Pokhara, we will spend the rest of the day in the city to explore and relax. If you haven’t yet, go boating in the exotic Phewa, Rupa and Begnas Lakes, visit the beautiful hilltop monastery or go explore the mystical caves. You will have the chance to buy some souvenirs and enjoy the nightlife in the vivacious city.
Day 14 – Drive back from Pokhara to Kathmandu
After breakfast, we will travel back by road to the capital via Prithvi Highway. Once again, the scenic bus ride will keep you refreshed throughout the journey.
- Trekking Guide
- Trek Briefing
- Permit Fee
- Additional Luxury Expenses
What to Pack for the Upper Mustang Trek?
Your gear is your best friend while being out in the mountains. In fact, it doesn’t matter where you are going, your equipment is key. In extreme cases, gear can make the difference between life and death. In every case, the right equipment can make the difference between you having a good time and ending up miserable.
How do I get fit for the upper mustang trek?
If you live anywhere else other than the Himalayas, it will be hard to get your legs ready for higher altitudes. After all, it doesn’t get much higher than Nepal. This is why we have to be clear upfront: Unless you have hiked at a higher altitude before, it will be difficult to get a 100% ready for your adventure. If that sounds bad to you, then comfort yourself with the fact that there is absolutely no need to be 100% ready.
Why was the upper mustang region restricted?
Upper Mustang was a restricted demilitarized region until 1992, which makes it one of the most preserved areas in the world due to its relative isolation from the outside world. The valley runs south to north from the top of the Annapurna Circuit and reaches to the border with Tibet, hence the majority of the population still speak traditional Tibetan languages.
Can I charge camera batteries along the trek?
Yes, most of the places, you can charge batteries along the trek (per hour USD 2-3 for charging).
- What to Pack for the Upper Mustang Trek?
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