Mustang Trek- 13 days
The Mustang District can be considered as an extension of the Tibetan plateau and its traditions, culture and its landscape with its inclination towards the Tibetan side. This area was forbidden for foreign visitors until a few decades ago. However, things have changed for good today and it’s now one of the most commonly visited districts of Nepal.
Yet, while the number of visitors is quite high around traditional centers like Jomson and Muktinath, most other places in the districts are still fairly secluded and unspoilt. One of these hidden gems of Mustang is the Lo Manthang village which lies in the Upper Mustang region. But of late, the region has been attracting and charming more visitors.
The town of Jomsom serves as the headquarters of Mustang, which also served as the capital of the kingdom of Lo in the middle ages. Much of the authentic Tibetian settings still exist north of the Kagbeni region, which is often referred to as Upper Mustang today. The district is located north of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna mountains and is also often referred to as kingdom behind the mountains. Mustang, in general, can be called a big arid and dry valley with characteristics of colorful stratified rock formations eroded canyons and has a barren, cold desert-like appearance.
Acknowledging the specialty of this ancient, small kingdom, the locals impose a surcharge to visit north past through Kagbeni, with the proceeds used for the preservation of the local culture and ecology. Area past through Kagbeni was only opened to visitors after 1992. So if you wish to take this trip, you will be a part of a special group of visitors who have dared to trek in this beautiful, yet moderately challenging trek.
Mustang is one of the most secluded regions in Nepal. The locals of the region are proud of their rich culture and tradition. The geography of the place is also quite amazing as it lies at the rain-shadow area beyond the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna range. As it was opened to visitors only fairly recently, the natural ecology is still very pristine and unspoilt. There are many natural trails in this region with ample passes ranging from 3500m to 4200m.
Accommodation in the local lodges owned by indigenous locals. You can expect a mix of amazing culture and landscapes with views of towering Himalayan peaks. You can also see traditional villages and ancient Buddhist monasteries that are still keeping the centuries-old traditions alive. The Mustang trek will give you the opportunity to get a glimpse of the forbidden kingdom with a dry and arid river valley, colorfully painted mud brick house lying beyond the great Himalayan range.
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Note: Accommodation, meals in Kathmandu and Pokhara will be covered by the client themselves.
Early breakfast, then a bus ride to Pokhara on a scenic highway. The ride is an interesting one along the lush foothills following the banks of Trisuli and Marsyangdi rivers past several roadside settlements that give nice glimpses of Nepal’s rural life. The road has been greatly improved in recent years so you can read, chat or look out the window in total comfort. On arrival in Pokhara, hotel transfer by the large and beautiful Phewa Lake for the night stay.
Early morning transfer to Pokhara airport for the flight to Jomsom. On reaching Jomsom our trekking crew and guides will receive for the short trek to Kagbeni and onwards. The walk is pleasant with few ups and downs most of the way to Ekale Bhatti (lonely inn) on the Kaligandaki riverbed. Here, the trail splits into two different ways, with the upper trail leading to the famous Muktinath while the other one leads to Upper Mustang via Kagbeni. Our trail leads past Ekale Bhatti northwest further along the wide riverbed towards the windswept village of Kagbeni for the overnight halt.
Our early morning walk leads follow the upstream of Kali Gandaki river along the terraced fields to reach Tirigaon village. From here, we can enjoy the stunning landscape with red cliff canyon. Along the way, we pass through several small villages like Tangbe and Tsungsang until reaching our overnight destination at Chele.
Our trek begins with gradual uphill towards Gyakar village, then walk along the barren dry land to reach the beautiful village at Samar. From here onwards, the landscapes are dry, barren and arid with cold and dry climate. The trail slowly leads uphill to Yamda La pass at 3860m offering a breathtaking panoramic view of mountains of Dhaulagiri and Mustang region. After another hour of walk from the ridge, we reach our overnight destination at Geling village.
From Geling, the route climbs gradually through the fields up the center of the valley, passing below the Tama Gung settlement. Then it's a long ascent across the head of the valley to the Nyi La pass 3950m, the highest point of this trek. Next, we descend for about another half an hour to reach a diversion; where one leading to Tsarang and the other one to Ghami village. Our route drops below the blue, grey and red cliffs, visible across the valley, to a metal bridge over the Tangmarchu river and climbs past the long and magnificent stretch of mani wall, probably the longest one in Nepal. From here it's the final climb of the day to a pass at 3600m then a gentle descent leads to the overnight Tsarang, an interesting village with a huge five-storeyed white Dzong and a red gompa perched on the edge of the Kaligandaki gorge. Interestingly Tsarang has its own electricity system.
Today's walk leads to Lo Manthang, the trek begins with a short descent across the Charangchu river followed by a steep climb on a ridge, then a walk through the Tholung Valley. The trail climbs gently northwards to a large chorten, which marks the boundary between Tsarang and Lo. Climbing further ahead we come to a great wide windswept landscape, finally reaching a ridge at 3850m/12631ft with a grand view of the walled village of Lo Manthang. A short descent to the stream and a short climb to the plateau leads you to the southern wall of Lo Manthang village. As the only entrance to the village is located in the northeast corner, one has to circumambulate to the main entrance gate.
This large village has over 150 closely-packed households and a number of residences for the lamas. The palace and monasteries are in the bottom portion and the school, health post, police post and several important chortens are located outside the walls. Despite the apparent squalor of Lo Manthang, the village is prosperous and maintains a strong sense of community. Though the people call themselves Lobas, people from Lo, they are very much Tibetan and practice a practical economic culture. Before its strong trade links with Tibet was disrupted, all the salt and wool trade in the Kaligandaki valley passed through Lo Manthang bringing a substantial amount of money to this great village town. The palace of Mustang's Raja is a formidable four-story building in the heart of the city.
Enjoying the day in Lo-Manthang with memorable moment, morning walk leads back on the same route for few hours with gradual walk up to Marang village, from here turning right towards west using the an old path to reach the overnight stop at Dhakmar village, around this area afternoon time is very windy with dust so starting early in the morning is highly suggested.
After an early morning breakfast, we walk along the trail that passes through a long series of Mani walls. We then cross over Ghami Khola through the suspension bridge to reach the village of Ghami. After walking south for next couple of hours, we reach the village of Ghiling for the overnight stop with a visit of Ghiling monastery and water-driven prayer wheel.
Morning walk starts with a gradual climb to Syangboche village, then walking for a couple of hours towards a small pass of Yamda La at 3,860 m offering a grand vista of the peaks and the sensational landscapes of Mustang region. We then descend towards the small settlement Bhena and Samar. Next, the trail follows a stream that leads us to Chusang village for overnight.
The last day walk of this fantastic journey to Jomsom and enjoy the walk at your own chosen pace, soon after breakfast walk leads descending towards Kali Gandaki valley to Jomsom, following the Kaligandaki River downstream to Kagbeni village which is at 2,800 meters, stopping here for a while or for lunch break, after Kagbeni retrace the journey back to Jomsom by the same route, on reaching Jomsom check into nice cozy lodges, with afternoon free for short walk around the market of Jomsom.
Morning transfer to Jomsom airport for a short scenic flight to scenic valley of Pokhara. The 25-mins flight is one of the most scenic flight one can experience. Pokhara valley is another highlight of this trip as it offers sensational mountain views and natural surrounding with tranquil Phewa Lake.
We have an option to either drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu through the scenic highway or we can also catch an early morning flight to Kathmandu.