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Upper Mustang Trek

Upper Mustang Trek

Trip at a Glance

  • Country

    Country: Nepal

  • Trip grade

    Trip grade: Moderate

  • Destination

    Destination: Mustang region

  • Activities

    Activities: Trekking

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation: Hotels/Lodges

  • Meals

    Meals: Included on trek

  • Transportation

    Transportation: Private vehicle/Plane

  • Maximum altitude

    Maximum altitude: Lo Manthang (3730m)

  • Group size

    Group size: 2 pax min

  • Trip Start / End

    Trip Start / End: Kathmandu - Kathmandu

  • Best Season

    Best Season: Feb-Jun, Sep-Nov

Upper Mustang often also called ‘the forbidden Kingdom’ is a remote and isolated region in the Himalayas of Nepal, located near the Tibetan border. Upper Mustang trek is a popular trek to the remote and restricted region of Nepal offering a unique cultural experience and stunning scenery. Trekking to the Upper Mustang was allowed and open to foreign trekkers only in 1992.

Upper Mustang trek will take you to the ancient kingdom of Mustang at Lo Manthang situated at 3,730 meters. Lo Manthang is the ancient capital of Mustang and is a beautifully preserved walled city where people still live even to this day. The Tibet Autonomous Region of China is located towards the northern border of the city whereas Dalome Rural Municipality of Mustang is in the south.

The trekking trail of Upper Mustang passes along traditional villages, age-old Buddhist monasteries and ancient caves, all set against the backdrop of the spectacular Himalayan mountains. Witness the traditional way of life of the local people who are of Tibetan descent, as you hike along to the ancient walled city of Lo Manthang.
Upper Mustang trek starts after a scenic short flight to Jomsom from Pokhara then you need to trek to Kagbeni following the Kali Gandaki River Valley. Thereon the trail passes through beautiful traditional mountain villages, barren cliffs, and windy valleys, offering panoramic views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains like Nilgiri, Annapurna, and Dhaulagiri.

Eventually, you will reach the ancient and popular walled city of Lo Manthang. Explore around the city where time has stood still for ages visiting it’s age-old Buddhist monasteries like the Namgyal Gompa, King’s palaces and the narrow streets and alleyways. To make is even more interesting you can take a hike to the mysterious Jhong cave in Chhoser about 2 hours walk from Lo-Manthang. They are often called sky caves located on hillsides, which are multi-story man made caves attracting archaeologists from around the world.

Upper Mustang Trek is an exclusive journey and culturally rich travel experience in the Himalayas offering a glimpse into a hidden region of Nepal with remarkable scenery, ancient culture, and an astonishing Himalayan panorama.

Upper Mustang Trek Highlights

  • A scenic flight to Jomsom with the splendid views of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna mountains simultaneously.
  • Discover the picturesque northern Himalayan region of Nepal, its multifarious landscapes & its diverse range of floras and faunas.
  • Visit Kagbeni, a gateway to the restricted zone of Mustang and a major trading route between India & Tibet.
  • Explore Lo Manthang with it’s age-old Buddhist monasteries & ancient caves.
  • Plentiful cultural encounters with the ethnic people of Tibetan descent.

 

Itinerary

Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu (1400m)
Day 02: Drive or fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara
Day 03: Fly from Pokhara to Jomsom (2750m) and trek from Jomsom to Kagbeni (2800m/3 – 4 hours)
Day 04: Trek from Kagbeni to Chaile (3050m/5 – 6hours)
Day 05: Trek from Chaile to Geling (3510m/6 hours)
Day 06: Trek from Geling to Charang (3620m) via Nyi La Pass (4020m/5 – 6 hours)
Day 07: Trek from Charang to Lo Manthang (3730m/5 hours)
Day 08: Excursion day in Lo Manthang
Day 09: Trek from Lo Manthang to Ghemi (3490m) via Lo Gekar (3822m/5 – 6 hours)
Day 10: Trek from Ghemi to Samar (3150m/5 – 6 hours)
Day 11: Trek from Samar to Kagbeni (2800m/6 – 7hours)
Day 12: Trek from Kagbeni to Jomsom (2750m/3 – 4hours)
Day 13: Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara (820m/20min)
Day 14: Drive or fly back from Pokhara to Kathmandu
Day 15: Final departure

Upon arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu, you need to accomplish your entry/visa formalities. You will then be received by a representative from Marron Treks and transferred to your hotel in Kathmandu. Welcome drinks will be served at the hotel and then we will have a quick pre-trip meeting. You can then spend the remaining time resting or as you please. In the evening you can stroll around the vicinity of your hotel just to get the feel of this wonderful city. 

Hotel

Flying is the quickest option, taking around 25 minutes compared to several hours by road. The flight offers stunning views of the Himalayas, including the Annapurna and Langtang ranges. The road journey is longer (6-7 hrs) but allows you to experience the scenic beauty of the countryside. The Prithvi Highway offers picturesque views. 

Hotel
Breakfast included

We will take an early morning flight from Pokhara to Jomsom. The breathtaking 35 minutes on board tosses us above the Kali Gandaki gorge, the world’s deepest. The towering snowcapped peaks of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna stand formidably adjacent to us as we peek through the small glass windows of our aircraft. Not just that, looking underneath, the views of waterfalls, canyons, and terraced fields are simply magnificent. This is truly one of the world’s most spectacular scenic flights! Upon arrival at Jomsom, we’ll meet the rest of our trekking staff for lunch. Today, we commence our trek on a fairly easy section of the trail, following the Kali Gandaki River to Kagbeni, which happens to be the gateway to the restricted zone of Mustang and one of the major trading routes between Tibet and India . The traders brought salt from Tibet and barley, spices and clothes from India . After the Chinese invasion of Tibet , trade came to a halt and many of the rich villages lost their revenue, subsequently causing the number of inhabitants to dwindle. Nowadays, though some trade has resumed, majority of the village income comes from tourism. According to a legend, while entering this dusty settlement, we should only think about the good things, quitting all bad thoughts outside the town gate.

Mountain Lodge
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included

From Kagbeni to Tangbe (3020m), the trail winds along the east riverbank and occasionally ventures out into the rocky river bed. Initially, the trail climbs steeply to the top of the hill but we’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of prayer flags, stupas, and villages. After crossing several windblown plains and passing through a canyon, we arrive at the Mustang village of Tanbe . This small village is filled with whitewashed adobe houses nestled against each other and is surrounded by beautifully terraced fields of wheat, barley, and buckwheat, as well as small apple orchards. On the lower side of Tangbe, we’ll see three elegant chortens and the remnants of an old abandoned fort. As we continue our walk, be on the lookout for black ammonites, small fossils of coiled sea molluscs that inhabited the Tethys Sea and covered the Tibetan plateau millions of years before the Himalayas were formed. They are considered to be holy by many local people. Continue on to Chaile. 

Mountain Lodge
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included

From “Chaile” we make a fairly steep climb to a cairn at about 3150m, which offers a great view of “Gyagar village” across the canyon. The trail, which is literally carved into the side of this spectacular canyon, continually renders scenic retreats. We cross a mountain pass, and then make a long gradual descent along a pleasant trail to Samar. Finally, after passing through several small canyons that are home to cool streams and shady juniper trees, we arrive at Geling (3510m). This largest village before entering Upper Mustang is a rarely visited gem, set among numerous poplar groves and a central stream, housing one of the oldest Gompas of the region. Spend the evening relaxing in front of the central field, where you can observe the grain being threshed, animals grazing, and children playing. 

Mountain Lodge
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included

From Geling, the trail climbs gently through fields of barley and groves of poplar trees up the center of the valley, passing below the settlement of Tama Gaun and an imposing chorten. After rejoining the direct trail, it becomes a steep slow climb across the head of the valley to the Nyi La pass at 4020m, the highest point reached on the trek. Charang is a maze of fields, willow trees and houses separated by stone walls at the top of the large Charang Cho Canyon . The huge five story white dzong and red gompa are perched on the edge of the Kali Gandagi gorge on the east end of the valley. 

Mountain Lodge
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included

Today we’ll move slowly but steadly up a rocky trail to a cairn on a ridge opposite the village at 11,841 feet. The trail turns north and climbs gently to a large isolated chorten that marks the boundary between Charang and Lo. After a rest break we’ll travel across a desert-like landscape painted in every hue of grey and yellow.. Finally, we reach our destination- the whitewashed walls of the city of Lo , which sits among fields filled with horses and yaks.

Mountain Lodge
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included

This is a well earned rest cum an excursion day at one of the most mystique regions. We explore the surrounding areas visiting the Namgyal Gompa and Tingkhar. Namgyal Gompa, situated on a hilltop, serves as an important monastery of the local community and also as a local court. After visiting Namgyal Gompa, we proceed towards Tingkhar, the last major settlement to the northwest of Lo-Manthang. Fully content with these enticing explorations, we hike back to our teahouse.

The other viable options for excursions at Lo Manthang could be visiting some of the attractive landmarks like- the astoundingly tall Champa Lhakhang (God house), the red Thugchen Gompa, Chyodi Gompa, and the four- storey building of the King’s palace. 

Mountain Lodge
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included

We have the opportunity to vary our return route and visit two villages that we did not see on the trek northwards. At Ghemi we’ll visit Gar Gompa, the oldest archive gompa in Nepal . Ghemi is also known for its many hectares of beautiful fields and for its white- washed houses. The trail to Lo Gekar is not a main trading route and is crisscrossed with herder’s trails, so our local guide is particularly useful here. Today’s trek will cross several valleys, some lush and others barren. Near the end of the hike the trail then makes a long rocky descent down a ravine to a grassy valley, where Lo Gekar is situated within a group of large trees by a stream. Lo Gekar, which means “Pure Virtue of Lo,” is also known as Ghar Gompa, or”House Temple”.

Mountain Lodge
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included

The moment we kiss goodbye to Ghemi, we embark on a constricted path and continue thereon until we reach Geling. We then cross a small stream and finally arrive at Samar, a village that literally emanates the Tibetan way of life.

Mountain Lodge
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included

Trek from Samar to Kagbeni is frequented by descents. We trail along a downhill route and arrive at Chhuksang (2920m). Crossing the suspension bridge over the roaring Kali Gandaki River, we continue walking along the bank of the river relishing the view of apple orchards and natural vegetation alongside, until we finally get to Kagbeni, a typical, stone built Mustang village. Its history dates back to the 14th century when it was formed as a check post for traders of Nepal and Tibet. This checkpoint still exists and is in operation, controlling the groups departing towards Muktinath and Mustang. It is also the main entry/exit point to the restricted area of Upper Mustang. The village has a monastery, a Police check post and ACAP (Annapurna conservation area project) office. 

Mountain Lodge
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included

Trek from Kagbeni to Jomsom is fairly flat and along the riverbed. We trail along the banks of Kali Gandaki and pass through the settlement of Eklebhatti before we finally arrive at Jomsom. The last trek and the shortest one of course! 

Mountain Lodge
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included

We take a scenic 20 minutes’ morning flight from Jomsom to Pokhara. The flight from Jomsom to Pokhara is relatively short but offers breathtaking views of the Himalayan mountains, including the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. Make sure to have your camera ready! Once in Pokhara, take advantage of the various attractions it has to offer. You can visit Phewa Lake, Devi's Fall, Gupteshwor Cave, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Hotel
Breakfast Included

After beakfast, either take a flight to Kathmandu or go for an overland drive back to Kathmandu.

Hotel
Breakfast included

Final departure: Today is your final day in Nepal. It is advisable to reach the airport three hours prior to your flight. A representative of Marron Treks will escort you to the airport for your final departure. If you wish to extend your trip, we have other adventurous tour packages like Bungy Jumping, Mountain Biking, Jungle Safari, White Water Rafting, Golfing & Paragliding etc. Please let us know about your desire for trip extension so that we can make the necessary arrangements.

Breakfast included

What is included?

  • Airport pick-up and drop services.
  • Hotel accommodations in Kathmandu & Pokhara with breakfast.
  • Kathmandu/Pokhara/Kathmandu transfers by private vehicle or tourist bus.
  • Pokhara/Jomsom/Pokhara round airfares.
  • All trekking accommodations with Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner at local lodges.
  • Four seasonal sleeping bags (to be returned after trip completion) & Marron Treks duffel bags.
  • A comprehensive medical kit (will be carried by the trekking guide). 
  • Experienced Government licensed English Speaking Guide & Porter (1 porter for two people) including their food, accommodation, salary & insurance.
  • Permits for Annapurna Conservation Area, TIMS (Trekkers' Information Management System) & Special Upper Mustang Permit.
  • Farewell dinner with a live Nepalese cultural program.
  • All government and local taxes. 

What is not included?

  • International airfare
  • Nepal entry visa fee – Visa can be obtained upon your arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu. (USD30 for 15 days)
  • Lunch & dinner in Kathmandu or Pokhara
  • Personal travel insurance.
  • Emergency rescue evacuation (to be covered by the client's travel insurance).
  • Excess baggage charges (luggage allowance for domestic airlines in Nepal is 15 kgs.)
  • Other expenses of a personal nature (phone calls, laundry, battery recharge, extra porters, bottle or boiled water, hot shower etc.)
  • Cost incurred due to the addition of extra days or change in the itinerary due to bad weather, political turmoil or any other unforeseen contingencies.
  • Bar bills, alcoholic drinks & beverages.
  • Tips for Guide & porters 

Route Map

FAQ's

1. What is the Upper Mustang Trek?
The Upper Mustang Trek is a popular trekking route in the remote and restricted Upper Mustang region of Nepal. It takes you to the ancient walled city of Lo Manthang and offers a unique opportunity to explore the preserved Tibetan-influenced culture, stunning landscapes, and historic monasteries.

2. What is the starting point of the trek?
The trek usually starts from the town of Jomsom, which is accessible by a short flight from Pokhara. Alternatively, some trekkers may choose to start from Kagbeni, which is reachable by road.

3. Is the Upper Mustang Trek difficult?
The Upper Mustang Trek is considered a moderate trek, suitable for trekkers with a basic level of fitness. The trail involves some uphill and downhill sections, but it does not reach extremely high altitudes, making it accessible to a wide range of trekkers.

4. What is the best time to do the Upper Mustang Trek?
The best time for the Upper Mustang Trek is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons. These months offer stable weather, clear skies, and pleasant temperatures, making the trekking experience more enjoyable.

5. Are permits required for the Upper Mustang Trek?
Yes, permits are required for the Upper Mustang Trek, as Upper Mustang is a restricted region. The required permits include the Upper Mustang Restricted Area Permit and the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP).

6. What are the highlights of the Upper Mustang Trek?
The Upper Mustang Trek offers a range of highlights, including exploring the ancient walled city of Lo Manthang, visiting historic monasteries like Lo Gekar and Choser, witnessing the unique Tibetan-influenced culture and traditions, and enjoying the breathtaking landscapes of the high desert plateau.

7. What kind of accommodation is available during the trek?
Teahouses and lodges are available along the Upper Mustang Trek route, providing basic accommodation and meals. The facilities may be more basic compared to popular tourist destinations, but they are sufficient for a comfortable stay.

Equipment

Below are the suggested items for the packing list and it also depends upon the season you are trekking. We shall provide 75 liters duffel bag and a sleeping bag. You can bring other items from your home country and if you are traveling light and don’t wish to overweight your luggage during international flights then many of them can also be brought in Kathmandu before the trek starts.

Clothing (Core & Lower body)
·         Water-proof (breathable fabric) jacket, Poncho or Umbrella
·         Hard shell pants (breathable fabric- 1 set), preferably that zips from top and bottom which can be worn over boots without getting undressed, in case of abrupt weather            changes
·         Fleece jacket or Pullover
·         Fleece windcheater jacket
·         Down jacket or a Down vest
·         T-shirts (2 – 3) and Long-sleeved shirts with collars ( 2- 3 pairs)
·         Nylon (cotton ought to be strictly avoided) hiking shorts ( 2- 3 pairs)
·         Hiking trousers- one that is detachable from the knees so that they it can be folded up as shorts ( 2- 3 pairs)
·         Thermal underwear as well as synthetic underwear (3 -4 each – avoid cotton)
·         Synthetic sport brassieres for women (2 pairs- avoid cotton)
 
Head/Eyes & Hand Gears
·         Sun hat/cap
·         Woolen hat or Balaclava
·         Sunglasses/Goggles (preferably the ones with 100% UV protection)
·         Liner, Synthetic or Thin wool gloves (1 -2 pair)
·         Warm gloves (designed to shield the sub-zero temperatures)- 1 pair
 
Footwear
·         Trekking boots (1 pair) and spare laces
·         Running shoes, Sandals or Thongs (flip-flops)- 1 pair each
·         Hiking gaiters (1 pair) to do away the rocks, dusts and moist feet
·         Liner socks- preferably synthetic (3 – 4 pairs)
·         Heavy or wool blend socks (3 – 4 pairs)

Equipment
·         Backpack/Rucksack
·         Duffle bag (will be provided by Marron Treks)
·         Pack cover (to protect your gears from getting wet)
·         Day sack/Nylon stuff sack
·         Sleeping Bag/ Silk liner (will be provided by Marron Treks but should be returned after the trip)
·         Water bottle
·         Good head torch along with spare batteries and bulbs
·         Maps, compass and a guidebook
·         Trekking poles

Miscellaneous Bits
The items below could seem trivial, but if you don’t have them, you might just find yourself sticky and stinky, which isn’t actually good for you!
 
Toiletries
·         Quick-drying camp towel
·         Detergent powder/bar
·         Toilet paper
·         Sunscreen Lotion (SPF 20+) & Lip balm
·         Pocket knife
·         Sewing/Repair Kit (for tent & mattress)
·         Emergency kit including a whistle, waterproof match/lighter
·         Padlocks for bags and lodge rooms
·         Stuff sacks
·         Earplugs

Medicament
It is important that you include the medicines prescribed by your doctor. Below is just the generic list of medications. We advise you to always consult your travel doctor as you might be resistant or allergic to some medicines

·         Anesthetics (Ibuprofen/Aspirin)
·         Broad spectrum antibiotics tablets
·         Metronidazole and Antacids (for diarrohea /indigestion)
·         Broad spectrum ointments (Neosporin/ Clotrimazole/Gentamicin)
·         Antiseptic liquids (Dettol/Savlon)
·         Assorted band-aids
·         Small gauge pad
·         Roll of adhesive tape
·         Iodine tablets

Optional Carry
Nothing hard and fast about carrying the items on this list as they are not the basics. Yet, though not all, if you still manage to squeeze in some of these items on your carry, you will not regret it as they might just come in handy during the trek

·         Camera, memory card and battery charger
·         GPS unit Altimeters
·         Binoculars
·         Pee bottle for men (leak proof/wide mouth) & Pee funnel for women
·         Books and magazines

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