Upper Mustang Trek

16 Days




Upper Mustang Trek
Upper Mustang Trek a pretty tough journey into the hindmost world of obscurity & history as old as the mountains in Mustang…as you hike into one of the most isolated high countries on earth, amidst beauty so Raw, but yet so divine, and full of bliss. Upper Mustang Trek is easily identified with the Tibetan plateau, with similar Tibetan customs, Bon (pre-Buddhist) and ancient Buddhist traditions. This region was closed to the outside world for over a decade; the theatrical landscapes, welcoming local folks, and the medieval city of Lo Manthang with its old but high strong walls that date back for centuries, with sublime views of silver grey snowcapped peaks that rise into the clouds seem to stand like ancient warrior guards watching over this old kingdom of yore.
Mustang is the medieval kingdom of Lo. Jomsom is the capital of this once independent country that now been given the status of a district, however, the true Tibetan approach of this district actually remains north of Kagbeni and is commonly called ‘Upper Mustang’’.

Mustang’s altitude is said to be approximately 13,000ft with its physical settings wonderfully placed to the north of the mammoth peaks that are Dhaulagiri and Annapurna and is placed north of the central Himalayan range; this area is physically connected to the high country of Tibet. The region is a huge elevated valley, parched and waterless, identified by tattered canyons, with jagged rocky settings and looks like a barren desert stretching for miles. One unique identity of Mustang is the numerous cave dwellings, and many of them are seemingly impenetrable. Archeologist state that these were inhabited in times as old as 8-10,000 BC when Mustang was probably more verdant and at the peak of its powers.

Upper Mustang Trek is now more of a myth rather than noted archives, but it seems clear that Lo was once part of Ngari, which is now some of Tibet and was a rather wobbly group of warring factions. It was incorporated into the Tibetan Empire under the most famous of the Tibetan kings Songtsengampo. This was the only way by going across the Himalaya from Tibet to Nepal, and this is the ancient route of the old salt bandwagons that clambered through Mustang. On conclusion of the 14 Century, Ngari was drawn into Malla Empire, with its capital Sinja based in western Nepal. Factually, the independent kingdom took its own shape according to its own rights, under the rule of Ame Pal, who was the rightful king of Lo in 1380. Mustang’s current royal family can dig its roots by going back 25 generations to Ame Pal, and the city of Lo manthang, became the crux of their power. This history will make our visit to Lo Manthang even more interesting.
It was during the 1960’s; when Mustang was used to train Tibetan freedom fighters who conducted raids against Chinese forces in Tibet. The CIA played a covert role and the Tibetan Khampas were discreetly taught and trained in America to fight the Chinese. After the USA’s then president Nixon’s dropped into China in the 1970’s, the CIA stopped playing an active role and the Nepalese army removed resistance fighters from Mustang soil

Upper Mustang Trek itinerary has been designed with much contemplation and it does not waver on the basis of the period given to you when touring the kingdom. You do get deep insights into the main town, Lo Manthang, and one or two of the villages beyond. Our experience tells us that early autumn {September/October} is definitely the best time to visit this ancient kingdom, which is not much affected by the monsoon.
Recognizing the special nature of this old, tiny kingdom, the government of Nepal charges all visitors a fee for anyone who seeks to hike past Kagbeni, the border of Upper Mustang. Trekking groups were legally processed to visit this land of yore for the first time in March 1992; you would be part of a small fortunate minority to visit this remote outpost of Nepal.

Includes and excludes :

  1. All meals as specified for trek (breakfast, lunch, dinner with tea/coffee).
  2. Arrival pick up & departure.
  3. All internal local transport as per the itinerary.
  4. Internal flights
  5. All trekking arrangements including trekking permits, climbing permits, National Park entrance fees.
  6. Accommodation in twin sharing local lodges or best available places for accommodation,
  7. Trekking & Climbing leader & porter (salary, insurance, food, accommodation & other allowances).
  8. Basic first aid kit is carried by your leader.
  9. All hard ware gears
  1. Kathmandu food lunch & dinner,
  2. International flights to Kathmandu,
  3. Tips for Porter, guide & other
  4. Personal climbing gears and climbing boot, clothing & equipment
  5. Personal expenditure, all bar bills, laundry, telephone calls, hot shower in the mountain region, mineral water, snacks, desserts.
  6. Medical examination (if required) & vaccination costs
  7. Optional trips. Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond our control
  8. Visa fees & Travel insurance. Airport taxes
  9. Meals or drinks except the 3 main meals specified in itinerary
  10. Anything else not specified in the ‘included costs’ section above

For more details

Itinerary breakdown

Upper Mustang Trek


On arrival at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, you will be received by our representative who will escort you to your hotel. After getting refreshed, one of our trek leaders or a senior Sherpa guide will give you a brief orientation of the Hotel, Kathmandu, Trek / Camping, things you should do & ought not to do and other related information that you might require while in Nepal. After this is done, get settled in & it’s your first overnight in the valley of the gods.

DAY 02: FLY or  DRIVE TO POKHARA – 30 mins flight

After your first night in Kathmandu, you will be well informed about the program related to your trip & any trek equipments that you may have forgotten & may need. As per the flight schedule, we transfer to the domestic airport for our flight to Pokhara. This half hour scenic flight brings us to the stunning Pokhara Valley. On arrival at Pokhara, we hang around and enjoy ourselves by Pokhara’s cream of all lakes, the lakeside; this is where your hotel will also be based, close to the lake. You can do some window shopping, make any last minute arrangements that you may have forgotten for your trek and get all prepared for your flight to Jomsom and your odyssey which will also start tomorrow. Have an early supper and get to be for an Overnight in this gem of a town, or a small city.

Day 03: FLY JOMSOM & trek to Kagbeni {2810m} – 3-4 hrs walk – O/N teahouse lodge.

After b/fast, we drive to the airport and hop our flight to Jomsom. We touch down at Jomsom in 20-30 minutes & From Jomsom we begin our trek; the trail leads on to the Kaligandaki plains in the rainy season. The road diverts to the right bank of the river plain, & the walk is pleasant with few ups and downs most of the way to a place called Ekali Bhatti (lonely inn) where there are three or four tea-houses at present. Earlier, it used to be the only tea-house in the area when it got its namesake, ‘Ekali –Bhatti’. From here, the path splits into two ways, the one higher up leads to Muktinath & the other route takes us to upper Mustang and Tibet via Kagbeni.

Our trail leads past Eklai-bhatti towards North West, & the walking gets much easier on a gradual winding route as the road widens & you walk further on the river bed towards the windswept village of Kagbeni for the overnight. The famous film ‘Caravan’ was shot in this area some years ago.

DAY 04: TREK TO CHUKSANG. (2,920m) approx. 6 hrs walk

After we hike out of Kagbeni village, the walk is uphill for half an hour as we leave the Kali-Gandaki River behind for a while. The path leads to harsh barren countryside all the way with occasional stops, passing through a few small villages; as the walk progresses, arriving at the village of Tangbe, another hour of good walk brings us to our overnight stop at the Chusang line with a few trees amidst the red earth surroundings. Chusang lies at the confluence of the Narsang stream and the Kali Gandaki River.

DAY 05: TREK TO SAMAR. (3,290m) approx. 6-7 hrs walk

Today’s walk leads first to Chele village after crossing the stream through broken canyons and ruined castle walls on the surrounding cliffs, across the river from Chusang are some spectacular red eroded cliffs above the mouths of inaccessible caves. After crossing the small bridge, an uphill walk for 45 minutes brings us to Chele village. From Chele village the walk gets steeper for an hour up to the ridge at 3,130m, from here you can get a good view of Gyagar across a huge canyon. The trek continues with a slow climb on the windswept terrain till the pass is reached at 3,540m. From here a gradual descent brings us to Samar for the overnight stop.

DAY 06: TREK TO GHILING. (3,600m) approx. 6 -7 hrs walk

The walk today leads to a short climb above Samar village to a ridge, with a downhill hike leading to a large gorge past a chorten painted red, black, yellow and white – all the colors are made from local rocks. The journey continues into another valley with juniper trees, & after crossing the stream, the walk follows an uphill path to a ridge at 3,800m, where the trail climbs over to another pass, & from here the route descends to Shyangmochen, a small settlement with few tea shops at 3,710m. After a good break here, the trek continues to a gentle climb onto a pass at 3,770m entering towards a huge valley, from here taking the right downhill path, we head towards our overnight stop at Geling with its large fields of barley on the outskirts of the village.

DAY 07: TREK TSARANG (3,520m) approx. 6-7 hrs walk. 

From Geling, the route climbs gradually through the fields up the centre of the valley, passing below the Tama Gung settlements, the walk continues along a climb across the head of the valley to the Nyi La pass at 3,950m, the highest point of this trek. The pass itself happens to be the southern boundary of Lo. From here a gradual descend for half an hour brings us to a junction; the right path leads direct to Tsarang while the left goes to Ghami village, one of the main areas of the Lo region. Our route drops below the blue, grey and red cliffs across the valley to a steel bridge across the Tangmarchu River, the path then climbs past to the long and magnificent stretch of a Mani wall, probably the longest one in Nepal. From here, the final climb of the day brings us to a 3,600m pass, after the last pass a gentle descent leads to our overnight halt at Tsarang, an interesting village with a maze of fields, willow trees and a huge five storey white Dzong and a red gompa perched on the edge of the Kali Gandaki gorge. Tsarang has its own electricity system. This is an interesting area to camp out in

DAY 08: Trek to LO MANTHANG (3,780m) the capital of Mustang – approx. 4-5 hrs walk.

Today’s walk takes us to our destination at Lo Manthang, where the trek begins with a short descend crossing the Charangchu River with a steep climb on a ridge, then passing through the Tholung valley. The trail diverts north with a gentle climb as the valley ascends to a large chorten, which marks the boundary between Tsarang and Lo, the climb follows to the stream, coming to a great wide windswept landscape, finally reaching the ridge at 3,850m, where a grand view of the large walled village of Lo Manthang can be seen from this top. A short descent brings us to the stream that outlines the walled village, from here; a short climb on the plateau leads us to the southern wall of Lo Manthang village. As this is the only entrance to the village from the northeast corner, one has to circumbulate the wall to the main entrance gate sometimes. This is where we crash out for the night

DAY 09: A day for Rest & some local excursions of LO MANTHANG. 

This large village contains about 150 houses plus a number of residents for the lamas, the houses are closely packed, and the palace and monasteries are in the bottom portion in this vertical part of the L shaped houses. The school, health post, police post and several important chortens are located outside the walls to the north of the gate and east of the monastic part of the city. Despite the apparent squalor of Lo Manthang, the village is prosperous and maintains a strong sense of community. Though the people here call themselves Lobas, or so are the people from Lo known, they are very much Tibetan and practice an economically kind of practical culture for their survival due to the harsh terrain. Before a strong trade with Tibet was disrupted by the Chinese government, all of the salt and wool trade on the Kali Gandaki passed through Lo Manthang, and this brought a substantial amount of money to this great village town. The Mustang raja’s palace stands tall as an imposing 4 storey structure in the centre of the city. It is the home of the present raja, Jigme Parbal Bista, and the rani (queen), who is a lady from the noble family of Lhasa. Overnight in camps at Lo Manthang

DAY 10: Trek to GHAMI 3,440m approx. 6-7 hrs walk

Today’s walk is more of a descent with a few short climbs all the way to Ghami, once outside the walled Lo Manthang village-town the path leads to a steady climb to a pass which offers the last glimpse of Lo Manthang, & the walk from here on is more or less gradual on the downhill slopes most of the way to Ghami village. Ghami is another important village in this once upon-a-time thriving region.

DAY 11: Trek to SAMAR. 4-5 hrs walk – O/N Camp

The trek today follows a straight route to the Nyi La, with a climb to the ridge and then contouring upwards and encountering the road from Tsarang. From the top of the ridge a steep descend awaits us all the way to Geling Valley. The trail continues bypassing Geling to a lone teahouse and then a gentle downhill to a small settlement of Tama Gung. A steep switchback trail leads to a stream, and the trail climbs to a large painted chorten. From hereon, it is a straightforward route to our overnight camp at Samar. We finally settle for a well earned rest at historical Samar

DAY 12: Trek to YAK KHARKA. 3,845m – approx 5-6 hrs walk

Our route from Samar diverts to a lesser known area by westerners, our first portion of the walk leads downhill on the same trail for 2-3 hours through Chele village and then reaching to the Mustang Khola, from here our walk leads uphill for another two hours towards the remote village of Chhomang at 2,940m. Passing through this village our walk climbs further up to the ridge, on leaving the village way down below the walk is more less on the gradual uphill trail, then coming to our overnight camp near the pass at Yak Kharka, depending on the time of our arrival and the availability of clean water, we camp before the pass on a nice lush green, grassy field.

DAY 13: Trek to MUKTINATH. (3,710m) approx. 4 hrs walk

After spending some time in the less frequented upper part of Mustang, you’ll be seeing more of fellow trekkers coming from the other region of northern Annapurna via Thorung-la and from Kagbeni onwards; the walk from the camp leads to a slow climb for less than an hour towards the pass at 3,970m, after the pass the trek goes on a downhill slope most of the way to Muktinath on a much wider trail overlooking superb views of the Mt. Nilgiri and Tukuche  peak in the far eastern and the plains of the Kali Gandaki Valley. As we get closer to Muktinath after 2-3 hours of hiking,  we cross the stream in the gorge & then its uphill walking for an hour or so, till we reach the village of Dzong; from here, the path is almost gradual all the way to Muktinath, and the walking gets much easier to the holy place of Muktinath for our overnight camp with ample time to visit the holy premises of Muktinath and its 108 ancient water spouts, believed to be the very source of the Kali-Gandaki River.

DAY 14: Trek to JOMSOM {2713m} 3-4 hrs walk

From Muktinath onwards, it will be one of the most pleasant walks as we will loose altitude day by day. The trek follows an easy descent towards the Kaligandaki River Valley passing through the old village of Jharkot after an hour or more of this good walk. On reaching the river bed at Ekale-bhatti, we reach a small settlement with about 3-4 teahouses, where we can take a breather for some time. From here onwards, it can get very windy in the afternoon time, as our walk follows a gentle trail for another two hours till the large town village of Jomsom is reached for our overnight camp. Jomsom, a large village town is the headquarters of the Mustang region with a small airstrip just above by the river Kaligandaki. Here, we will have sufficient time to celebrate with the local apple products like cider, brandy and pure apple juice. This area from Kagbeni to Larjung is famous for its delicious apples and its by-products. A few swigs of the apple brandy could set our moods on a high after a wonderful memorable trip we just completed. We bunk out at Jomsom on a wonderful high.

DAY 15: Fly from JOMSOM to POKHARA & drive back to KATHMANDU

The flight times to Pokhara are generally scheduled for the morning normally because of the powerful winds in the afternoons. Sometimes, the flight time can be delayed due to bad weather and other reasons beyond our control. As we get hold of the boarding pass depending on our flight time, we make our way to the terminal for a security check. This scenic flight from Jomsom takes about 25 minutes to Pokhara, a panoramic view of the snowcapped peaks can be seen from the plane. From Pokhara, a 6-7 hours drive through a real lovely scenic highway where we get to see Nepal’s true rural & colorful landscapes as we view the local folks about their farming chores with cows splattered with vermilion on the foreheads; you get to see all this right from the windows of your tourist bus & it will be wise to take out some great pictures as we cruise down the highway to kathmandu, our hotel & a much sought after warm & comfortable bed Overnight at your hotel in Kathmandu.

DAY 16: Transfer to Airport for your International departure.

Today, as per your international flight time, keep your confirmed air ticket, and your passport handy. Our office staff will take you to the airport for your final departure from this wonderful country, Nepal.

Destination Map