Trekking in Forbidden Land of Mustang
Season: Spring, summer and autumn
Important Note and Optional activities
Please note: all the trekking itineraries are flexible and can be revised in order to best meet your requirements i.e. your time, interests etc. Please make contact us if you have any special requirements or interest.
Upper Mustang is a remote desolate and extremely fascinating almost moon like region of Nepal set amongst wind eroded hills on the borders of Tibet. The region preserves a very strong traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture in Nepal. The number of tourists allowed to visit is strictly regulated and it is open to only a few select trekking groups each season. The trek follows established trails laid down centuries ago through some substantial villages that once served a thriving trade route between Nepal and Tibet. The whitewashed settlements are set amid fields of barley in the summer time and the many impressive chorten and simple monasteries only go to reflect the strength of Buddhist culture here. The terrain is striking a semi-arid desert with deep ravines and rock shelves that are flanked by snowy peaks. Without doubt the highlight of the Trek in Upper Mustang is the visit to Lo Manthang where the once king of Mustang reigns over what was his tiny kingdom until recently. And whilst he has now (only in the last few years) surrendered his title he is still revered as a king by the region inhabitants.
Life in Lo-Manthang has continued much the same as it has for century’s people are steeped in religion with numerous Gompas, Mani walls (prayer walls) and chorten adorning the king’s palace and surrounds. Prayer flags flutter above each household spreading good blessing to all corners of the world and the universe beyond.
It is possible to trek here all year round regardless of season as the region li9es within the ‘Rain Shadow ‘summer months are very pleasant with August being the mildest month of all. However, in winter time there can be 30 to 40cms of snow to negotiate. The people are well adapted to the region with many centuries of experience of surviving the harsh climate. They survive by practicing a form of s agro-pastoralism and seasonal migration with farming done whenever irrigation is possible and then only one crop (barely) can be produced. The barely supports the local population for around 6 months of the year and there is a severe food shortage for the rest of the year. As a result, during the winter months around 70 percent of the local people emigrate to either the lower part of Mustang or further to Pokhara, Kathmandu or even India for employment and trading.
If you are planning a visit to Mustang you need to be reasonably fit. The tour commences with a flight from Katmandu to Jomsom via Pokhara or if you want to extend your time you can trek in for nine days from Pokhara. The trekking route crosses the villages of Tangbe, Samar, Geling to reach Tsarang considered as one of the highlights of the tour, a day before Lo Mangthang.
In ancient Tsarang a set of human hands remains said to belong to the site’s master builder. According to legend the King cut the builder’s hands off to stop him from constructing another masterpiece to compete against it.
It is expensive to visit the region, a single permit cost $500 U.S. for ten days, extendable at a further $50 U.S. a day. All provisions must be carried in; accommodation is in a tented camp with full Nepali support staff.
Mustang is a very popular trekking region in Nepal and has been described as “desert in the mountain”. The trek to this region is a very rewarding one for those who want to experience the hospitality of the people living in this remote region. Department of immigration issued only a small number of special permit since 1991. This is a perfect destination where ample scope is offered for visiting Buddhists monasteries. This semi autonomous and heavily Tibetan influenced region was “described by Tilman as fascinatingly ugly country, the more fascinating for being so little known” indeed, the trek to LO – Manthang is through an almost treeless barren landscape, a steep rocky trail up and down hill, panoramic view of Nilgiri, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and several others peaks make your trek memorable. A liaison officer is needed for this trek. This trek begins from Jomsom – accessible by air, Pokhara – accessible by road or Besisahar – accessible by road (If starting from Besisahar includes Annapurna circuit too).
|Day 1||Arrival in Kathmandu.
Welcome and receive from Airport and transfer to Hotel. Introductory program and briefing about the tour.
|Day 2||Sightseeing Kathmandu valley
Sightseeing Kathmandu valley which includes the visits to many historical and architectural monuments, Temples, Stupas etc.
|Day 3||Drive to Pokhara by luxury tourist bus.
Explore around and enjoy your time.
|Day 4||Fly to Jomsom from Pokhara.
About 30 minutes flight from Pokhara. Upon arrival at Jomsom, meet the crew & set for the first day’s walk towards Mustang. The trail to Jomsom to Kagbeni is other worldly experience & through the Kaligandaki River Bank. Now the landscape changes into barren, the wind blows very heavily. After 3 hours walk you reach to Kagbeni for the night halt.
|Day 5||Kagbeni-Chusang 2850m.
The trail widens significantly an endless stretch of sand, pebbles and bounders. Vegetation is almost non- – existent except for small shrubs and thorn bushes. The Kaligandaki canyon is awe-inspiring. However, the trail is kept lively with several passing mule trains and horsemen bearing wares from after. This day is uphill, quite steep at times up to the little village of Tangbe 2900m where we stop for lunch. The path flattens out up to Chusang a fairly large settlement inhabited mostly by a mixed ethnic group of Gurungs, Thakalis and some families from the land of Lo. There is a small Buddhist Gompa constructed out of stone and mud across the river, which can only be reached during the colder months when water is low. By itself Chusang is a very interesting village with narrow covered alleys running through the center.
|Day 6||Chusang-Samar (3050 M) 4 hrs.
Having entered this long and secluded valley one feels also a distinct change, not only to topography but there is a world of difference in culture, lifestyle and landscape. Settlements are more scattered, smaller and basic. The people of Lo or Mustang practice agriculture but because of the lack of the rain and fertile soil, cultivation is in sheltered plots of land making the landscape of a pattern of brown with scattered patches of shaded greens. A little ahead of Chusang we cross a small bridge across the Mustang Khola River, across which is colorful little village called Chaili. The trail then veers northwest along steep lines right up to the village of Samar, out campsite, making it a tough four hours walk. Samar is a very old and small village situated amongst a grove of trees with a stream running through the middle.
|Day 7||Samar-Gelling (3720 m) 5 hrs.
As in all desert lands, settlements in Mustang are in oasis village most houses are constructed out of mud and stones with roof cast out of twins, straw and a mixture of mud and pebbles. The trail descends crossing couple of mountain streams followed by a fairly flat stretch of two hours before we arrive into a wide valley. The Gelling village is located an hour walk away to the right of the main trail and in a valley between two hills. North of the village lies a Buddhist Gompa, that contains new exquisite wall painting.
|Day 8||Gelling-Charang (3520 m) 5 hrs.
The day walk is through perhaps the driest part of Mustang. Much of one’s energy is spent negotiating loose dry soil that give way every times you walk uphill, making it seem tiresome infertile at times. However, the magnificent views of the countryside the gentle contours of the north in contrast to the rugged mountain canyons in the east and west are the source in inspiration to walk on. A total walk of five good hours brings us to Charang, a large spread out village inhabited totally by the people of Lo who are of Tibetan origin. The old monastery and the adjoining Gompa are said to be some 500 years old and contain some of the finest religious wall paintings in the world.
|Day 9||Charang-Lo Manthang (3760 M) 4 hrs.
We spend part of this morning exploring this interesting village and its large old monastery. We then go a bit out of the way to see Dhakmar, a small-secluded village. Today’s walk is only for 4 hrs. But mostly uphill and then the trail flattens out till Lo Manthang, then capital of Mustang consisting of over two hundred houses. The entire village is walled and painted earth brown and white.
|Day 10||Lo Manthang
Today is the day to explore Lo Manthang. Visit the King’s Palace & the surroundings of Lo Manthang as well as the monasteries over there.
|Day 11||Lo Manthang-Lo Geker. 5hrs.
Today the trail climbs steadily to a pass marked by a cairn, offering a last glimpse of Lo Manthang. The trail contours across the head of a valley and crosses another ridge, then drop into another large desolate valley. After ascending to the valley floor, the route heads to the right, up the center of the valley to it head. Cross a ridge at 4070 meters & traverses across the heads of two more valleys to an indistinct pass. Cross the pass to some meadows & a stream. The trail then makes a long rocky descent down a ravine to a grassy valley where LO Geker is situated in a grove of large trees alongside a stream. Visit the Lo Geker Monastery, one of the oldest gompas in Nepal that is still active built between 775 and 787.
|Day 12||Lo Geker-Ghami (3550 m) 4 hrs
We climb to a ridge the across a valley to cairn and a pass 200 meters above Lo Geker. The route crosses some alpine meadows to a crest, and then drops down a steep eroded gully to the upper part of the village of Tahmar “Red Crag”. A large stream meanders through this village, making this a particularly pretty valley. Most of the surrounding hills are pastel shades of Grey & yellow, but a huge red fluted cliff provides a dramatic contrast. The trail descends alongside the stone walls and fields of the extensive village, and then climbs to a ridge. It is a short descent to Ghami at 3550 meters. Ghami is a large village of whitewashed houses situated above hectares and hectares of fields. Visit the Gompa in Ghami.
|Day 13||Ghami-Samar. 6 hrs
From Ghami, follow the direct route to the Nyi La, climbing to a cairn on a ridge and then contouring upwards to meet the trail from Charang. Continue to the pass and descend steeply into the Gelling to an isolated teahouse and descends gently to the three houses of Tama Gung. A steep set of switchback leads to a stream, then the trail climbs to a huge painted chorten. The trail rejoins the Gelling trail near the ridge, just below a chorten and the remainder of the days is on already traveled trails to Samar.
|Day 14||Samar-Kagbeni. 6hrs-Jomsom. 3 hrs
Today is the same way that you already had. The trail passes through Chusang & other major villages like Tangbe. After Tangbe the trail still continues through the bank of Kaligandaki River as well as the windy landscapes & reaches to Kagbeni.
|Day 15||Fly Jomsom to Pokhara.
Arrive Pokhara. Transfer to the Hotel.
|Day 16||Drive Pokhara- Kathmandu by luxury tourist bus.|
|Day 17||As per your flight schedule, transfer to airport and fly back to your next destination with beautiful memories of your trip.|