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Upper Mustang Trek Nepal Guide

Mustang, Nepal
Mustang, Nepal

 

Upper Mustang Trekking Guide

Upper Mustang Trek, just like its name suggests, is one of the most popular trekking routes in Nepal. Upper Mustang is also known as the Kingdom of Lo or “Little Tibet.” It is a remote and rugged area of the Himalayas in Nepal. The region has been largely untouched by modern development and its people are predominantly Tibetan Buddhists.

The Upper Mustang District was restricted to the general public and tourists due to its fragile ecosystem, sparse resources, and lack of infrastructure.The Upper Mustang Trek is a new trekking route that was opened in the year 1992, which has helped make it one of the most preserved places in the world. It hasn’t been long since visitation has been allowed, making it a remote & isolated region that’s still firmly rooted in Tibetan culture.

Trekkers visiting Nepal cannot go without hearing about Upper Mustang trek. It’s not as widely advertised and therefore more of an authentic experience. The region feels like a different world with a lot more peace and solitude which is what most people want when they go trekking in Nepal.Trekking towards Upper Mustang is no less than a privilege as the raw and intact beauty of this region is a sight to behold.

The whole region is largely influenced by Tibetan culture and tradition, and the ultimate isolation from the rest of the world helped preserve the fair bit of Tibetan culture.

The Upper Mustang is located in the north western part of Nepal, occupying one third of Mustang area.

Places to visit in Upper Mustang

There are many places to visit in Upper Mustang. One such place is the Khardung La Pass, which is a mountain pass at an elevation of 5359 meters. The pass connects India with Tibet and Nepal and it is one of the highest motorable roads on Earth.

Another interesting place to visit in Upper Mustang is the Muktinath Temple. It was built to commemorate the victory of Buddhism over Hinduism during a famous battle that took place here centuries ago.

The Muktinath Temple is one of the most important Hindu temples in Nepal. It is located near the border with Tibet and is a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus from India and Nepal. The temple is situated at an altitude of 3,710 meters above sea level on top of a hill covered with snow all year round. The temple has a natural hot spring that emanates from a sacred pond at its base and has been worshipped by Hindus for centuries as “the source of purification”.

Another must-visit place in Upper Mustang would be Jomsom village – one of the most popular tourist destinations in this region as it offers some amazing views of Annapurna Range peaks like Annapurna I (8,091 m) and Dhaulagiri (8,167

Treshing Khola is one of the most popular trekking routes in Upper Mustang and it offers spectacular views of Himalayas including Mt Annapurna II, III, IV, Gangapurna, Nilgiri North Peak (7th highest peak in Nepal)

What are the Upper Mustang trek, Nepal routes?

Trekkers of Upper Mustang follows the typical route of flying off from Pokhara to Jomsom and start the trek. The stops and overnight stay can be different, but the trail follows the same route.

The trekking route starts in Kathmandu, then onwards to Pokhara.Then, taking a flight from Pokhara, we land on Jomsom and start our trek to Jomsom.The route goes through the Khumbu region of Nepal before entering Tibet.

The trek to Upper Mustang begins with an ascent to the Tibetan border at Jhong La (5,300 meters). From there it goes westward for about two weeks to reach Lo Manthang, a medieval capital of Upper Mustang Kingdom that has been preserved as a museum town since 1649 CE. It then continues southward for about two weeks before returning northward to rejoin the main valley at Muktinath (3,800 meters).

The route goes through many villages like Chaile, Syangmochen, and Tsarang before reaching Jomsom. Read here for the total breakdown of tour cost and itinerary.

Upper Mustang trek takes maximum 14 days of walk and if you use jeep, then it can be accomplished in just one week. Check here for your overland trip guide.

How difficult is the Trek?

Upper Mustang Trek is a long trek that can easily take around 20 days, but you can also customize the itinerary and shorten it as per your preference.

The Upper Mustang Trek is the most popular trekking route in Nepal. The trek is a challenging one with high elevation and rough terrain.On an average you would be walking 6-7 hours a day.

The trek starts from the ancient capital of Lo Manthang and follows a loop on the northern edge of the Annapurna Himalaya, passing through Jomsom before returning to Pokhara.

It is a difficult route to walk on, with lots of steep climbs and rough terrain. The scenery along the way varies from barren rocky hillsides to lush green valleys, with villages scattered .

The trek is not for the faint-hearted and it is advisable to go with a guide or hire a porter if you are not an experienced trekker.

It’s important that you know your limits before attempting this trek.

Best season for Upper Mustang Trek

The best time for Upper Mustang Trek is the end of March to the beginning of April and from September to November.This is when the weather is perfect, and it is not too hot or cold.

There are many factors that go into selecting when to go on a trek in Upper Mustang. The best time to go depends on what you are looking for. If you want a more relaxed trek with less chance of being caught in snow and rain, then late March-early April would be your best bet. Also, the weather from september to November is ideal with clear skies and relatively cool temperatures. The days are long and there are plenty of opportunities to explore the area.

What about the weather and altitude sickness?

Upper Mustang lies in the lap of Himalayas and the weather there is chilly throughout the years. The annual temperature on average is around 10-degree Celsius and rainfall is about 307 mm.

The final height in Upper Mustang Trek is 3,900 meters, so altitude sickness is not much of a problem. But still, acclimatization in the lower region will be helpful in the journey.

What are the Upper Mustang Trek, Nepal permits?

Although Mustang now welcomes guests from around the world, there are few rules one must adhere to, and permits are an important one to follow. .

You will need to obtain a permit for Upper Mustang from the Nepali government if you are not a Nepali citizen or if you are intending to spend more than 15 days in this region.

Nepal Tourism Board has introduced an online permit system for foreigners who want to visit Upper Mustang. The process of obtaining this permit involves registering on their website and paying online through credit cards or PayPal account. Once the payment is made, you are given a printable PDF document with your permit number and password which can be used as proof of permission to enter Upper Mustang area.

TIMS card is obviously in the list, and others are:

-Upper Mustang restricted permit: $500 per person for ten days and $50 per additional days.

-Annapurna Conservation Area Project permits: NPR 3000 per person

Trek solo

The UPPER MUSTANG TREK trek solo is an excellent way to get away from the crowds and have a more solitary experience. It’s a great option for those who enjoy the solitude of the wilderness, but don’t want to go too far off the beaten path.

This trek is suitable for people who have a good level of fitness and some experience in climbing or walking in mountainous terrain. It is not recommended for anyone who has not done any climbing before or who has limited experience of walking in mountainous terrain.

Some people may find this trek challenging because they are not used to being alone in such an environment. But if you have the right gear and training, then you will be able to complete this trek successfully!

What are the highlights of Upper Mustang Trek?

Tibetan Culture and exotic festivals

It is always a wonderful experience to meet and greet new peoples who come from a different culture and background. And to experience the Tibetan culture, that has intrigued and has an interest in the whole world will be an exciting journey. Although Upper Mustang is not totally immersed in Tibetan culture, still, from dialect to their dress code, their practice to daily lifestyle, they all depict Tibetan influence.

Just like the culture, the festivals out here is so unlike and distinct. Tiji festival, the most celebrated one, which goes on for three-days lets you discover some bit of Tibetan rituals. The vibrant setting and intriguing tradition of this festival attract a large throng of tourists.

Interesting History

Mustang used to be an independent kingdom once, and since 1795, it came under the dependency of the Kingdom of Nepal. Although the monarchy has come to an end, many Mustang people still abide by it. The whole history of Mustang is very different than other parts of Nepal, where the King still lives, and people adhere to him.

Desert-like region

Another thing to look after in Upper Mustang Trek, Nepal is its quite desert-like area. The settlements are very thin and scattered with a very less sign of cultivation between villages. With very less amount of plants and fields, Mustang resembles a desert only with mountains and nuclear settlements in fertile areas. The region is also referred as semi-desert of Nepal.

Mysterious caves and buried treasure within

Mustang is also identified as one of the world’s great archaeological mysteries. The place is rough and remote, dusty, wind-savaged place, hidden within the Himalayas and cleaved by Kali Gandaki, and in this very place lies approximately 10,000 human-built caves. Nepali archaeologist and the University of Cologne carried out exploration and found stacked caves and dozens of bodies, all at least 2,000 years old. However, until now, the question of who built the caves are a mystery.

Also, in 2007, many buried treasures like ancient Buddhist decorative art, paintings, manuscripts, and pottery were found in Mustang cave near Lo Manthang. Most of them date back to the 15th century and cover varied topics form Tibetan Buddhist doctrine to legal matters.

Monasteries in Lo-Manthang

Lo Manthang is the ultimate destination and the major attraction of Upper Mustang trek. The place is technically a fortress with three monasteries. One of them has a huge image of Lord Buddha sitting in a meditation position, and others have statues of various deities. The monasteries are a quaint collection of old Thanka painting, painted walls with stories of Buddha and ancient statues. The whole setting of the monasteries and the belief relating to it is a matter of interest for every tourist visiting Lo-Manthang.

What do you need to pack?

Packing Essentials

  • Trekking shirts
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Trekking pants
  • Fleece jackets
  • Thermal wears
  • Trekking boots
  • Down jacket( can be rented in Kathmandu)
  • Warm woolen cap
  • Windproof jacket
  • Woolen gloves
  • Woolen trekking socks
  • Raincoat
  • Water purifying tablets
  • Anti-nauseant medication
  • Rehydration salts
  • Sunscreen
  •  Sunglass with UV protection
  •  Face/body wipes
  • Hiking Boots
  •  Thick wool socks 
  • rucksack or duffel bag

If you found this helpful, for more information on itinerary and trip inclusion you can read this.

 

Trip Map

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