Upper Mustang Trek
The region is also known as the ‘Last Forbidden Kingdom’ (organised treks only started visiting the region in 1992, and numbers are restricted with an average of less than 1,000 visiting each year) and it is steeped in undisturbed Tibetan Buddhist culture with ancient monasteries, traditional villages and cave dwellings high up on the cliffs, as well as the stunning architecture on view at the walled city of Lo Manthang (capital of Mustang region).
The Upper Mustang trek in to the remote Trans-Himalayan Region of this semi-independent Tibetan Kingdom offers an adventurous 14 day itinerary with spectacular trekking through striking semi-arid desert with colourful rock formations, deep ravines and snow-capped peaks surrounding you. The history, culture, myth and legend blends perfectly with the stunning scenery.
In common usage, the name Mustang refers to the arid Tibet-like region at the northern end of the Kali Gandaki (known to its inhabitants as Lo). Mustang has a long, rich and complex history that makes it one of the most interesting places in Nepal. The early history of Lo is shrouded in legend, myth and mystery, but there are records of events in Lo as early as the 8th century. It is quite likely that the Tibetan poet Milarepa, who lived from 1040 to 1123, visited Lo. In Lo itself the countryside is similar to the Tibetan plateau with its endless expanses of yellow and grey rolling hills eroded by wind. There is more rain in the lower part of upper Mustang and the hills tend to be great red fluted cliffs of tiny round stones cemented together by mud. Villages are several hours apart and appear in the distance almost as mirages; during the summer season, after the crops are planted, they are green oasis in the desert-like landscape.
Below is a short clip from independent traveller and film maker Yannick Calonge which perfectly captures the essence and beauty of the people and region.
SUMMARY OF UPPER MUSTANG TREK ITINERARY
Days 1 & 2: Arrival into Kathmandu, trek preparation, rest day and sightseeing
Day 3: Fly to Pokhara and spend the afternoon exploring the vibrant town
Day 4: Fly to Jomsom and start trek ascending to Kagbeni
Days 5 to 11: Enter the Upper Mustang region and trek up to Lo Manthang and Namgyal, returning along the trail to Jomson
Day 12 & 13: Fly to Jomson and on day 14 onward to Pokhara, overnight in hotels.
Day 14: Flight back to KathmanduDay 15: Onward travel or start new adventure
It is also possible to amend your itinerary to descend via a different route to that used on the ascent. It is also possible to bolt this itinerary onto a longer Annapurna Circuit trek as after the Circuit crosses the Thorong La Pass it also reaches Kagbeni, the point at which you enter into the Upper Mustang. It is also possible to forgo internal flights and travel by road from / to Kathmandu, Pokhara and Jomsom. Please fee free to contact us with any personalised requests.
UPPER MUSTANG TREK MAP
UPPER MUSTANG TREK LENGTH AND TERRAIN
The main itinerary above is approximately 100 kilometres but as mentioned this can also be adapted if you prefer. Each day the trek starts after breakfast at about 8.30am and there are many opportunities to stop, absorb the views, take photos or have a cup of tea along the trail. The pace is slow and the itinerary allows for excellent acclimatisation though the beauty of this trek is that we don't go to any particular height. Most days trekking are for 6 or 7 hours and generally finished by mid afternoon.
The terrain is along well trodden and defined paths which can be sandy and desert like in places and at other times rocky. There is no need for crampons or any technical equipment or skills, it is purely a trek. The Mustang is un-spoilt with a rich Tibetan culture due to it having been closed to the rest of Nepal and elsewhere until the early 1990's, however you will find a warm and friendly welcome. The valley is essentially a large dried up ravine which is also in the Himalayan monsoon shadow, so it is possible to visit for most of the year, however we would suggest you avoid mid winter and consider any time from March through to late November.
People who enjoy hill-walking, trekking, stunning scenery, fascinating cultures and who are moderately fit will love this adventure.
Click image above for a larger version
ACCOMMODATION ON THE UPPER MUSTANG TREK
Accommodation throughout our trek is in basic but comfortable lodges which are run by local Mustang families. Each lodge has a central communal area with a large stove that provides heat and a cosy atmosphere. The bedrooms are unheated and generally have two beds with mattresses, pillows and a blanket. You will need to bring a sleeping bag (3 season is fine) and we'd recommend a pillow case.
The lodges generally have showers which are powered by gas and they mostly use sit down flush toilets (some lodges do also have squat toilets). Food on the Upper Mustang trek is very good quality and a mixture of local Nepali / Tibetan and western food. A common, tasty and fulfilling local meal is dal bhat with rice. Along the trail it is at times also possible to source other items and here you'll find a Nepal price guide.
We don't provide hotels in Kathmandu as there is such a huge range available but of course happy to recommend or book hotels if required. We do provide accommodation in Pokhara and Jomsom on a twin room basis.
PACKING LIST FOR UPPER MUSTANG TREK
The basic idea of the clothing you will take is to keep you warm, dry, protected from the sun, able to move comfortably in the mountains and able to be comfortable in the evenings and night. The main points to cover are as follows:-
- Bags - Rucksack or duffle bag for a porter to carry plus a day pack to be carried by you. Dry bags inside to store clothes.
- Rain protection - Top and bottom waterproofs to keep off wind/rain, also an umbrella
- Layers - Shirts, trousers, shorts, T-shirts, jumpers and jackets, hat and gloves.
- Walking - Comfortable boots with a good sole and ankle support. Lighter footwear to change into in the evenings. Trekking poles
- Sleeping - 3 or 4 season is enough in the lodges where there are beds and mattresses and blankets
- Water - Water bottles should be hard plastic (Nalgene), not throwaway bottles. Water can be boiled or treated.
- Personal hygiene - wash kit, towel, small first aid kit
- Sun protection - sunglasses, sunhat
- Miscellaneous - head torch, camera, books, music, power bank and leads
The Upper Mustang does get cold at night, but not as cold as other regions and by that time you'll be in your lodge. Overnight temperatures outside of winter in Lo Manthang can drop to -8C and day time can reach 25 - 30C, so you need a range of clothing. Late in the afternoon it can be windy and with the desert environment - dusty, so a buff is glasses are a good idea.
Kathmandu has an area called Thamel which is full of hundreds of equipment shops, each one an emporium of new, used, quality and fake equipment all very reasonably priced for rental and buying. You can buy almost anything needed for any trek. The same can be said in Pokhara where any kit or western treats are in abundance.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS) FOR TREKKING TO EVEREST BASE CAMP
WHY WAS THE UPPER MUSTANG REGION RESTRICTED?
WHY IS THE UPPER MUSTANG TREK MORE EXPENSIVE THAT OTHER TREKS OF THE SAME LENGTH?
Our price is based in using 4 internal flights, however it is possible to travel by road, which will drop the price, however the main reason the trek is more expensive, than say a 14 day trek to Everest, is due to the permit which is currently $500 per person.
IS A PRIVATE TREK OF THE UPPER MUSTANG POSSIBLE?Yes! Our team are in Nepal all year round and we run many private or bespoke treks and climbs all over Nepal. The only restriction in place for a private trek of the Upper Mustang is that we must have a minimum of two people.
Upper Mustang Trek itinerary
|1||1400m||n/a||Arrive into Kathmandu. You will be met by our staff at the airport and transfer to the hotel. Depending on your arrival time you can relax or explore Kathmandu.|
|2||1400m||n/a||Rest, briefing, see Kathmandu and gain permit|
|3||970m||n/a||Flight to Pokhara and overnight at hotel. Afternoon to explore Pokhara|
|4||2700m - 3250m||7hrs||Spectacular morning flight to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni along the bank of the Kali Gandaki river, through the small settlement of Eklo Bhatti (2740m) and across a number of bridges over tributaries to reach our lunch spot at Kagbeni (2810m), from here there are excellent views north to the Kingdom of Mustang. It's quite a long day but easy and flat. After lunch we trek on to Chuksang and the days trek will take about 7 hours in total. During the day we’ll walk following the Kaligandaki river and pass through Kagbeni, Yekle Batti and Tangbe villages. The views are very beautiful, stunning in fact, throughout the trek and in particular this first day. Jomsom is at 2780m and Chuksang is 3250m.|
|5||3250m - 3800m||7 hrs||Today we’ll cross the Kaligandagi river and climb up to Chele village and continue onto Samar village, where we’ll enjoy a relaxed lunch. Afterwards we drop down for about 30 minutes before starting our climb up (about 2 hours) to reach our destination of Syangboche village which is at 3800m. This day is a bit tougher and we’ll walk for around 6-7 hours.|
|6||3800m - 3570m||4-5 hrs||After a couple of longer days today is a shorter day coming in around 4 – 5hrs walk. We start down towards Geling for about 1:30 hours then climb up for about another 2 hours to our lunch spot which is then follows another 1 – 1.5hrs to Charang (Tsarang) at 3570m.|
|7||3570m - 3950m - 3840m||4-5 hrs||Our fourth trek day is again quite easy and straightforward. We trek up to 3750m high and followed by a drop down again of about 125 m which is then followed by mostly flat terrain. We then go over a small pass (3950m) called Lo pass, from where we have views of the walled capital of Lo Manthang (3840m) and it's a short descent to reach this fascinating city and start exploring. The days is about 4-5 hours in total and we should reach our destination by lunch time.|
|8||3840m||6 hrs||Today we explore the area and hire horses and go to Namgyal village where we enjoy the views, visit the monastery and the Milarepa Caves, which is fascinating and shrouded in myth. Travel time is around 2 hours going up and 1 hour back.|
|9||3950m - 3470m||5-6 hrs||Todays trek starts with about 2.5hrs climb and then a drop again to reach Ghar Gompa (3920m). After a visit to the Gompa we then climb up again for around 2 hours to Dakmar (3820m) for lunch and then on to Ghami (3470m). Today is little harder and finishes at 3200m.|
|10||3470m - 3050m||The following days route rejoins the familiar trail to Jomsom, which left on the 9th trek day. Today we cover Ghami to Chele|
|11||3840m - 2810m||Chele to Kagbeni|
|12||2810m - 2700m||Kagbeni to Jomsom|
Flight back to Pokhara, hotel
|14||1400m||Flight back to Kathmandu, hotel|
|15||Depart for home / onward travel or additional trek|
Upper Mustang Trek cost £1,995.00
- All in-country logistics & support
- English speaking trekking guide and climbing guide
- Accommodation, meals with a hot drink at lodges during trek
- National Park entry fees / Permit (currently $500pp)
- TIMS card
- Airport transfers x 6
- Staff insurances and food / accommodation
- Internal return flights* to Pokhara, Jomsom and back to Kathmandu (4 flights)
- Air fare to Kathmandu (~£500-700)
- Nepal tourist visa ($40 for 30 days)
- Accommodation in Kathmandu (~ £15 - £25pp/n) - we can book this for you. Click here for details or check out www.booking.com
- Travel Insurance (~£40-60)
- Additional nights in Kathmandu (£varies)
- Sightseeing excursions in Kathmandu (£ varies)
- Meals other than breakfast in Kathmandu (~£50)
- Mineral water, soft / hard drinks or extra drinks other than those at meal times (~£30)
A deposit of £100 is required to secure your place and we ask that the remaining balance (trip price minus the deposit) is paid in full 6 weeks prior to your departure. When you book with us you're given your own secure online account which you can access 24/7. Through this account you can edit your booking, add flight, health, insurance and dietary details and also make interim payments. We make payments as flexible as possible and you can choose, if you wish, to pay a bit off your trip fee whenever it suits you.
Adventure Alternative Nepal is the local provider for this trip and we can vouch for proper staff salaries, insurances, training and equipment. Our company invests heavily in our local companies and you will have full access to the staff handling your trip by email, phone or skype if you wish.
*These flights ‘fly by sight’ so if there is cloud cover or bad weather there can be delays. If necessary we can be flexible and adapt the itinerary to catch up on lost days, but if the planes can’t fly then there is little that we can do except wait. Occasionally the planes can’t fly but helicopters can, if you prefer this option we can organise it but there would be a supplemental charge. This doesn’t happen very often but you should consider possible impacts on your international flights. The good thing about the Upper Mustang trek is that flights are rarely cancelled and if they are, it's possible to travel by road in the same number of days.
Choose a scheduled date or contact us to set up private dates or a bespoke itinerary. The minimum deposit is £100.00 and the balance is due four weeks before travel.