The Upper Mustang trek brings you into the hidden world of the old Buddhist kingdom of Mustang, also called Lo. Lo used to be part of the Tibetan empire and is therefore closely tied to Tibet in culture, language and geography.
The regions isolation from the outside world has contributed to a highly preserved Tibetan culture and unspoiled nature. Mustang lies in the rain shadow of the Dhaulagiri massif creating a ruggedly arid land surrounded by rocks in all kind of colors and impressive formations. This barren landscape is dotted with settlements of white washed houses, barley fields and chortens festooned with prayer flags which add a splash of color to the landscape.
The trail follows the ancient salt caravan route through which the people of Mustang traded Tibetan salt for grain from the lowlands. The goal of the Upper Mustang trek is the capital of Upper Mustang, Lo Manthang. From the pass Lo La (3950 m) you can see the walled medieval capital in the distance, the white-washed 6-meter tall wall sticking out in sharp contrast to the barren landscape.
Entering Lo Manthang through the town gate is like stepping into a different world. A world of narrow alley ways, hidden chortens, long walls of beautiful prayer wheels and herds of farming animals sauntering in from the fields in the afternoon to adjourn to their sheds inside the city.
Points of interest in Lo Manthang are the royal palace, a few beautiful monasteries like the Thugchen Gompa built in the 15th century. Or visit the amchi museum and amchi school. An amchi is a traditional Tibetan doctor. There are 2 amchis living in Lo Mangtang, which are also the official doctors of the king. They founded a school to preserve this ancient wisdom. For an excursion outside the city you can hire Tibetan ponies for a ride to Chhoser where you can visit a small monastery and a century old cave dwelling situated high in the rocks.
The most convenient way to get to Upper Mustang is to fly from Pokhara to Jomsom and start the trek from there. The flight is an adventure in itself flying through the deepest gorge in the world, the Kali Gandaki, which runs between the Dhaulagiri and the Nilgiri mountains. You follow the famous Kali Gandaki River upstream, partly walking in the river bed itself, to Kagbeni. From Kagbeni the restricted area of Upper Mustang starts. However, it is worthwhile to pay a visit to the famous pilgrim destination of Muktinath before heading north into Upper Mustang.
From Kagbeni the trek goes norhtwards and leads to Lo Manthang in 4 to 5 days. You cross pass after pass, which are all between 3,500 and 4,000 m. You can return partly by a different way via Dhakmar, crossing 2 passes of around 4,200 m. Close to Dhakmar you can find the oldest Tibetan monastery in the world, the Lo Gekar Monastery. Lo Gekar Monastery was built in the 8th century by the famous Tibetan magician Guru Rinpoche. It is said that he killed a powerful demon and the blood of the demon has painted the rocks around Dhakmar bright red.
Upper Mustang is a restricted area and up till 1992 it was forbidden for foreign visitors to enter the kingdom. Nowadays foreigners are welcome to Upper Mustang for a permit fee of US$ 500 (to be arranged through a trekking agency and valid for 10 days, each additional day costs US$ 50).
These days accommodation in guesthouses is possible along the whole trek. While staying there you are welcome to sit with the owners in the kitchen. In Tibetan culture the kitchen is the center of the house and built like a kind of living room. So there is no better way to learn a bit about the daily life than spending time .
Day 01: Arrive at Tribhuban International Airport (TIA) (1345meters).
Day 02: Kathmandu to Pokhara (823m) By tourist bus.
Day 03: Fly to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni (2858m) 3 hrs trek to Kagbeni.
Day 04: Kagbeni to Chele (3050m) – 5-6 hrs
Day 05: Chele to Syanbochen (3475m) – 6-7 hrs
Day 06: Syanbochen to Ghaymi (3520m) – 5-6 hrs
Day 07: Ghaymi to Tcharang (3500m) – 4-5 hrs
Day 08: Tcharang to Lo-Mangthang (3700m) – 5-6 hrs
Day 09: Explore Lo-Mangthang by horse.
Day 10: Lo-Mangthang to Drakmar (3810 m) – 6-7 hrs
Day 11: Dhakmar to Ghiling (3806m) – 5-6 hrs
Day 12: Ghiling to Chhuksang (3050m) – 5-6 hrs
Day 13: Chhuksang to Jomsom (2700m) – 6-7 hrs
Day 14: Early Fly back to Pokhara and Sightseeing around Pokhara.
Day 15: Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu
Day 16: Shopping day in Kathmandu
Day 17: Departure to International airport
4 domestic flights,
3 meals on trekking days,
Breakfast and room in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Jomsom/Kagbeni (private, single using),
Single tent (if camping) or lodge with 2 sharing (lodge trek which is more basic),
All fees, permits etc.
Guide and helpers (cook and camping gear on camping trek).
lunch and dinner while in hotel.