Upper Mustang Trek

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Price Per person USD $1,615 USD $1,800
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Starts at: Jomsom Ends at: Jomsom
Trek Region: Annapurna Transport: Flight
Duration: 14 Days Trip Grade: Moderate
Max Altitude: 4010 m / 13156 ft (Nyi La Pass) Accomodation: Teahouse

Upper Mustang Trek Highlights

  • Walk back to the history of Lo Manthang after exploring the palace of king
  • Walk freely without worrying about the rain as the region lies in the rain shadow area
  • Spiritual feel walking through many Gompas, chortens, flapping prayer flags, and caves
  • Catch a live glimpse of Tibetan influence on the everyday activities and culture of the locals
  • Enticing views of Nilgiri, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and other chains of mountains
  • Breathe the spirituality of the Tibetan like people and monks with their prayer flags
  • Witness everyday life and culture of the local people who live closely like Tibetan

The Upper Mustang trek winds its way to the hidden Buddhist world of the Kingdom of Mustang, also known as Lo. This remote trans-Himalayan mountain area borders Tibet and has a distinct Tibetan feel to it, both in its people and culture and in its arid landscape of high cliffs and rocks of unusual formations and colour.

The trek visits Kagbeni, the gateway to Upper Mustang, then on through a stark landscape in the rain shadow of the Dhaulagiri massif to Lo-Manthang, the seat of past Kings of the Kingdom of Lo.

Explore caves, rock paintings, monasteries, and gompa and learn something about the culture of this area. Panoramic views of Nilgiri, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and others, are very much part of this exciting trip!

Within Lo Manthang itself a visit to Namgyal Gompa and Tingkhar, the last main village in the northwest of the area, as well as the King’s palace, brings a further cultural understanding of the area.

There is also an amchi (traditional Tibetan doctor) museum and school, where visitors can learn about this ancient healing art and how it is being adapted to meet modern-day situations.

A few hours’ walks from Lo Manthang is Gyakar with its famous Gompa. Ghar Gompa is over 1,200 years old, is dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, who travelled these areas at that time.

The Gompa is famous for its rock paintings, and the fact it is believed that if you make a wish here, it will come true. So make a wish at the Ghar Gompa, and hope to return again someday!

The trek is a relatively high altitude (3,000m to 3,800m), which is somehow intensified by the dry air.

While it is no problem for those born at this altitude to travel at speed, visitors will be more leisurely in their hike to avoid any altitude related problems. On average walking takes place from 5 to 7 hours a day and some paths are particularly windy and dusty.

But this trek into the restricted area of Upper Mustang, which in part follows the ancient salt route, is something that will remain in one’s memory forever.

Difficulty Level of the Upper Mustang Trek

Due to the altitude and dry atmosphere, there is considered a challenging trek. While you watch the locals whizz past you at speed, you are working hard to catch your breath and wonder ‘why?’

Remember that they were born at altitude and like the Sherpas living in the Khumbu (Everest) Region the Tibetan Buddhist origin locals of Upper Mustang were born to less oxygen content and the dryness of the air.

Like all treks in the Nepal Himalayas, there are ups and downs to challenge you. High passes to cross, and steep descents to negotiate.

But then there are the wonderful mountains and the fact you are in the stunning Kingdom of Lo to compensate you.
As far as weather is concerned, being that this trek is in the rain shadow, you can do this trek almost year-round.

Although we don’t recommend doing it in the winter when the snow is deep and a lot of locals leave for Pokhara or Kathmandu to ride out the winter. What we really mean is you can do this trek in the monsoon (June – September) without fear of rain and muddy trails.

Like all treks in Nepal, we recommend you have a good level of fitness and put in a bit of extra gym or hiking time before you come! Work on both cardio and those leg muscles! And don’t forget to mention high altitude trekking when arranging your travel insurance.

Trekking Permits Required for the Upper Mustang Trek

Due to the fact Upper Mustang lies near the border with Tibet, it is considered a Restricted Area. This means that the cost of the permit to enter the area is high at $500 per person for 10 days, $50 per day thereafter.

This Restricted Area Permit (RAP) runs from when you leave Kagbeni (on this trek) to when you re-enter Kagbeni again. Therefore on this Magical Nepal Upper Mustang Trek, you only need the 10 days RAP.

Restricted Permit Cost: $500 per person for 10 days. $50 per day if the trek is longer than 10 days (within the Upper Mustang area proper)

In addition, each trekker needs to pay $20 for the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). This permit is valid for however long the trek takes.

** Please note that you cannot do this trek along. You need to be a minimum of two trekkers travelling with an authorized trekking company.

Upper Mustang Trek Outline Itinerary

Day 1: Kathmandu to Pokhara (Drive)

Pokhara – 830 m / 2723 ft – 7 hrs

Day 2: Pokhara to Jomsom (Flight) to Kagbeni

Kagbeni – 930 m / 9186 ft – 3 hrs

Day 3: Kagbeni to Chele

Chele – 3050 m / 10006 ft – 6 hrs

Day 4: Chele to Syangmoche

Syangmoche – 3475 m / 11400 ft – 6 hrs

Day 5: Syangmoche Ghami

Ghami – 3500 m / 11482 ft – 5 hrs

Day 6: Ghami to Charang

Charang – 3560 m / 11679 ft – 4 hrs

Day 7: Charang to Lo Manthang

Lo Manthang – 3770 m / 12368 ft – 5 hrs

Day 8: Day Trip to Chhoser Cave

Lo Manthang – 3770 m / 12368 ft – 6 hrs

Day 9: Lo Manthang to Dhakmar

Dhakmar – 3800 m / 12467 ft – 7 hrs

Day 10: Dhakmar to Ghiling

Ghiling – 3860 m / 12664 ft – 6 hrs

Day 11: Ghiling to Chuksang

Chuksang – 3050 m / 10050 ft – 6 hrs

Day 12: Chuksang to Jomsom

Jomsom – 2715 m / 8907 ft – 5 hrs

Day 13: Jomsom to Pokhara (Flight)

Pokhara – 830 m / 2723 ft – 15 min

Day 14: Pokhara to Kathmandu (Drive)

Kathmandu – 1300 m / 4265 ft – 8 hrs

Day 1: Kathmandu to Pokhara

  • Drive time: 7 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel

After breakfast, we set off early to drive to Pokhara. The road winds its way out of the Kathmandu Valley along the Trishuli River until the point we stop for lunch when the road becomes flatter.

On the way, we can watch rafters tackle the rapid on the river (your next trip perhaps?), and catch glimpses of mountains in the distance. On arrival in Pokhara, there are even more stunning mountains to see. In fact, you cannot escape the gaze of Machhapucchre (also known as Fishtail) which towers over the city at 6,993m.

After checking into your hotel you have time to explore the lakeside area, boat on Fewa Lake, visit one of the many lakeside bars before dinner or simply relax.

*Note we normally use tourists buses which are to a high standard. But if you would like to hire a private vehicle please let us know.

Day 2: Pokhara to Jomsom to Kagbeni

  • Trek time: 3 to 4 hours
  • Accommodation: Tea House

This morning we get up even earlier to check-in to catch the short flight from Pokhara to Jomson. Sightseeing by plane! This amazing short flight takes through the mountains to the interesting market town for the Mustang area.

Set off through the town, over a small bridge then hit the trail proper to take an easy yet interesting hike to Kagbeni.

This afternoon there is time to explore the small and very unique village of Kagbeni with its walled passages and strange clay effigies decorating the walls.

If you like you can hike up the nearby hill to get a good view up the Kali Gandaki River to Upper Mustang and map out the zig zag trail that leads over the opposite hill to Dolpo.

Day 3: Kagbeni to Chele

  • Trek time: 5 to 6 hours
  • Accommodation: Tea House

After breakfast, we set off to enter Upper Mustang! The trail takes us along the Kali Gandaki River where the wind will challenge us as it whistles up the valley gorge. At Tangbe Village we notice how the houses are white-washed, set among fields of buckwheat and barley. Apple orchards also dot the landscape. Following a ridge, we reach the village of Chele.

Day 4: Chele to Syangmoche

  • Trek time: 6 hours
  • Accommodation: Tea House

Today the hiking becomes a bit harder as we cross the Taklam La pass (3,624m) and the Darjori La pass (3,735m). But there are amazing mountain views and intriguing caves along the way to keep our minds off our hard-working legs. The trail descends into Samar Village from where we walk to a ridge and down another steep trail on to Syangmoche.

Day 5: Syangmoche to Ghami

  • Trek time: 5 hours
  • Accommodation: Tea House

Today there is another big pass, the Yamada La, to cross (3,850m) as well as chortens and interesting villages with their barley fields to peek at. Trekking through forests we then have another pass to cross. Nyi Pass is 4,010m but from here we descend down to Ghami where we spend the night. Ghami is a large village for this area and is beautifully located and surrounded by fields.

Day 6: Ghami to Charang

  • Trek time: 4 hours
  • Accommodation: Tea House

Today’s trek starts off over rough and sometimes slippery ground as we descend to a suspension bridge over the Ghami Khola. The trail takes us passed mani walls (stone-built walls with Tibetan mantras carved into the stones) and over the Charang La Pass (3,870m).

At the top of the Charang Chu canyon lies the village of Charang. This village also has a fortress and red gompa to the east of it. There is plenty of time to explore after lunch!

Day 7: Charang to Lo Manthang

  • Trek time: 5 hours
  • Accommodation: Tea House

Dropping down into a canyon we cross a river and ascend to the Lo La pass (3,950m). From the pass we get our first look at the historic and beautiful village of Lo Manthang.

This walled village is the traditional home to the King of Lo and is still the scene of many interesting and colourful Buddhist festivals. The surrounding mountains – Nilgiri, Tilicho, Annapurna I and Bhrikuti Peak at to the atmosphere of the place.

Day 8: Day Trip to Chhoser Cave

  • Trek time: 6 hours
  • Accommodation: Tea House

Today we get to explore some of the mysteries of Upper Mustang. A short trek to the area of Chhoser is the beginning of a day you will not forget! Here we find what is known as the Jhong Caves or even Sky Caves.

What these are five-storey high caves built into the side of cliffs. Researchers are still puzzling as to who built these caves and why. It is assumed they were used as burial chambers, hiding places, places of meditation and later, monasteries.

But no one really knows the origins of these amazing caves. We can explore some of these caves, taking a packed lunch with us so we can enjoy the atmosphere of the caves, lunar-like landscape and mountains while relaxing also. Then we head back to Lo Manthang were we overnight again.

Day 9: Lo Manthang to Dhakmar

  • Trek time: 7 hours
  • Accommodation: Tea House

Today is a longer trekking day but as usual, there is plenty of interesting things to see on the way! Gyakar Village is home to the century-old Ghar Gompa which has stunning rock paintings. Here you must make a wish, as is tradition. We have time to explore the gompa before heading on to Dhakmar.

Day 10: Dhakmar to Ghiling

  • Trek time: 6 hours
  • Accommodation: Tea House

There are normally very strong winds on this part of the trail so we start early in the morning to descend through a dry plateau and some agricultural fields to reach the village of Ghiling. Although a challenging and tiring day because of the wind, we get great views of Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri to compensate.

Day 11: Ghiling to Chuksang

  • Trek time: 6 hours
  • Accommodation: Tea House

Today we pass through small villages, have time to observe how the local people live and take in the mountain views.

Day 12: Chuksang to Jomsom

  • Trek time: 5 hours
  • Accommodation: Tea House

Today we say goodbye to Upper Mustang and enter the lower regions (or Lower Mustang as it is also called) of the district at Jomson. On this, our final trekking day, we will have lunch at Kagbeni and perhaps this time explore the little monetary and look fondly up the Kali Gandaki gorge to where we have spent the last 10 days – the Kingdom of Lo. Our trek has in fact, rejoined the Annapurna Circuit Trek as we head from Kagbeni to Jomson.

Day 13: Jomsom to Pokhara

  • Trek time: 7 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel

Today we rise early to catch the morning flight to Pokhara. The mountains seem to have taken on a new meaning to us now that we have seen them from all angles.

After checking into the hotel in Pokhara you are free to enjoy the city and do a bit of shopping at Lakeside. With its vibrant bars and nightlife perhaps you wish to celebrate the end of your trek with a few drinks and a bit of dancing – Nepali or Western club style! Or simply enjoy the lights over Fewa Lake.

Day 14: Pokhara to Kathmandu

  • Trek time: 8 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel

Say goodbye to Fishtail and the Annapurnas as we begin the drive back to Kathmandu. Catch up on your sleep on the way as you will want to join us for an end of trek dinner tonight! Before that you have time to explore Thamel, do some more shopping, revive your body with a massage or sip coffee in one of the many cafes and restaurants in town.

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Plan Your Trip

Includes

  • 11 nights accommodation in mountain teahouses
  • 2 nights accommodation in Pokhara (Kuti Resort or similar)
  • Guide for 14 days
  • Kathmandu Pokhara Kathmandu tourist bus
  • Pokhara Jomsom Pokhara flight
  • Annapurna conservation area permit
  • Restricted area permit
  • 12 x breakfast, 11 x lunch and 11 x dinner while on the trek
    Vegan
    Veg
  • One Porter for 14 days USD 256
  • Lunch and dinner in Pokhara

Upper Mustang Trek Map

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