upper mustang trek
At a Glance
  • Duration16 Days
  • DestinationNepal
  • Difficulty Level Moderate
  • Max. Altitude4500M
  • Group Size15 Max
  • Trip StyleTea house
  • StartsKathmandu
  • EndsKathmandu
  • Best TimeMarch to November
Highlights
  • Discover a one-of-a-kind mountain desert escape with strong geospatial ties to Tibet.
  • Gain firsthand knowledge of Tibetan influence on residents’ daily activities and culture.
  • Visit the Last Forbidden Kingdom, Lo Manthang, an exceptional blend of Buddhism.
  • Pony rides through medieval alleyways to explore Lo Manthang-royal palace, surrounded by a massive town wall.
  • Explore centuries-old monasteries and caves.
  • Indulge in the warm hospitality, authentic cuisine, and panoramic views of Mt. Nilgiri, Dhaulagiri, and Annapurna.
  • Indulge in the Tibetan-influenced culture and lifestyle of Upper Mustang.

OVERVIEW

Upper Mustang Trek is a breathtaking trekking adventure through the magical landscapes and Tibetan way of life. It is a gateway to the mysterious world of Lo Manthang, the hidden Buddhist kingdom. Lying in the rain shadow of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri range, Upper Mustang, at the average altitude of 4000m, has a diverse range of rare landscapes with cliffs and rock formations. Earning the title of the Last Forbidden Kingdom, Upper Mustang was a limited demilitarized zone until 1992, making it one of the world’s best-protected areas. In contrast to other trekking destinations, you must obtain a special permit to enter the area. Foreign travelers were first allowed to visit Nepal in 1992.

The Upper Mustang trek starts in Jomsom and proceeds upstream until Kagbeni. This fascinating journey includes exploring caves, steep gorges, rock paintings, and panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, including Nilgiri, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and other mountains. The tour concludes with a visit to Upper Mustang’s confined territory Lo Manthang. As an isolated society that has remained untouched for centuries, this trek emphasizes the cultural exploration of several ancient monasteries and long-lasting Buddhist Mandalas dating back to the fourteenth century.

With steep slopes and altitude concerns, this trek is moderately difficult. The dry air in Upper Mustang magnifies altitude sickness, making it a potential risk for any trekker. Trekkers can enjoy this trek during the monsoon season (June – September) with clear days and dry weather. Planning ahead of time and integrating moderate workouts with lots of cardio before the climb can make the moderately challenging uphill hike more accessible.

EXPLORING THE ROAD TO UPPER MUSTANG

Upper Mustang, a mystical and remote region in Nepal, calls out to adventurous souls with its ancient culture, rugged landscapes, and captivating history. The journey to this remote region is an adventure in itself.

Starting from Pokhara, the quickest way to reach Jomsom is by flight, which takes less than half an hour. This flight takes you soaring through the deep Kali Gandaki Gorge, surrounded by the rainshadow of the Himalayan range. However, flights are often canceled or delayed due to unpredictable weather conditions, and early morning flights are recommended to avoid strong winds later in the day.
If flights are unavailable or canceled, the overland route is an alternative, though it requires preparation for a long, uncomfortable journey. The 96-mile (155-kilometer) road from Pokhara to Jomsom is often unsealed and in poor condition due to landslides. Private vehicles offer a more comfortable option, while buses and shared buses are slower and less safe.

From Jomsom, many trekkers choose to reach Upper Mustang (Lo Manthang) on foot, a journey that takes approximately five days, excluding the return trek. This route is chosen for the authentic experience it offers. The trail from Jomsom to Lo Manthang takes you through a landscape, unlike most other parts of Nepal, as it receives little to no rain. Your destination, the ancient walled town of Lo Manthang, awaits you, wrapped in sand and frozen in time. This journey to Upper Mustang is indeed a tale of adventure.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL OF UPPER MUSTANG TREK

Despite the seclusion and remoteness of the Upper Mustang trek, the region’s hiking trails are not demanding. Because you’ll be strolling along the trail that leads right to the gorge’s deepest point, the Kali Gandaki gorge path is one of the most demanding and stressful aspects of the entire journey. This trek takes roughly 17 days or less.

Though the Upper Mustang trek is always done below 4000 meters, acute mountain sickness is possible due to the constant high-altitude pressure. Nevertheless, the likelihood of severe complications is low. Trekkers must cross high passes and descend steep slopes. It is not necessary to have exceptional fitness levels or prior hiking expertise.

However, training for the trek a few months ahead of time improves your stamina, which can benefit you on the walk by reducing shortness of breath and weariness. With an average walking time of roughly 6 to 7 each day, it is estimated the trek will be moderately challenging.

BEST SEASON TO TRAVEL UPPER MUSTANG

Spring (April to May) is the ideal time to start trekking in Upper Mustang to unleash its unique attraction. The weather is warm and pleasant, making long treks delightful. Because of the clear skies, the trekkers can view the spectacular Himalayas. During this season, trekkers even get a chance to see Mustang’s most significant and most colorful event, the Tiji Festival.

Located in the rain shadow zone, Upper Mustang is dry for most of the year. Thus, trekking is also possible during the monsoon season(June – September) without the fear of rain and muddy trails. Winter trekking is not recommended because the snow is deep, and the weather is bitterly cold. Many teahouses and restaurants are closed during winter as most locals descend to the south to escape the frizzy snow and the crisp weather.

COSTS AND PERMITS FOR UPPER MUSTANG TREK

Upper Mustang is a Restricted Area since it is so close to the Tibetan border. All trekkers entering the Upper Mustang must obtain a USD500 per person Restricted Area Permit (RAP) valid for ten days. After that, the extended stay will cost USD50. This RAP is suitable from when you leave Kagbeni until you re-enter Kagbeni. Each trekker must also acquire the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), which costs USD20 per person. Trekkers who do not have a guide with a valid license granted by the Nepalese government are not allowed. Because the Upper Mustang expedition is too challenging to complete on your own, single permits are not issued. As a result, at least two trekkers traveling with an authorized trekking company are required to obtain the permit.

The price of the Upper Mustang trek varies depending on the services you select. A shared room is less expensive than a single, double, or triple bedroom. So the cost of your accommodation is determined by the type of rooms you select for yourself. Because it is harder to get things to higher altitudes on this journey, the cost of food and lodging may be higher. On the Upper Mustang journey, meals cost between USD5 to USD20 per person. Trekking to the Mustang region could be demanding due to the trip’s entire length of 17 days. Hiring a porter is thus recommended. You can hire a porter for roughly USD20 to USD25 per day.

ACCOMMODATION DURING UPPER MUSTANG TREK

Along the entire trek in Upper Mustang, the trail is studded with friendly and welcoming teahouses. While the location is primarily barren, the trekking trail is lined with tea houses and lodges, giving the trekkers housing and other basic amenities.

Most tea houses offer clean and sanitary shared rooms or separate rooms, depending on your preference. In several settlements along the way, you’ll discover places to eat and drink. However, many trekkers opt to camp as well. Camping is mainly observed in restricted areas, where there aren’t adequate facilities to accommodate many people.
 

HAT Representative will be waiting with your name plate just outside the International Airport in Kathmandu. After your arrival, we will organize your transportation to the designated hotel in Kathmandu. Spend the afternoon browsing the beautiful streets of Thamel or visit the nearby Kathmandu Durbar Square. In the evening, we will meet for welcome dinner and tour briefing.

  • Max. Altitude:1300m
  • Accommodation:3-Star Hotel in Kathmandu
  • Meals:Dinner

After breakfast, we will join guided tour to visit various sites in the valley - most of them listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get off and browse the famous Pashupatinath Temple, Durbar Square, Swayambhunath and Boudhanath. Come back to hotel and prepare for the morning flight, drive and short trek the next day.

  • Accommodation:3-Star Hotel in Kathmandu
  • Meals:Breakfast

                              We are back where we started in the capital city. Pack your bags and make sure you have brought some sovereigns to take back home to friends and family. Enjoy your breakfast in relief. Hiking Adventure staff will arrange your transfer to the Tribhuvan International Airport according to your departure schedule.

                              • Meals:Breakfast

                              Service Details

                              Includes
                              • Airport pickups and drops via a private vehicle
                              •  3-star hotel accommodation in Kathmandu and Pokhara with breakfast
                              •  Best Lodge / Tea-house accommodation during the trek
                              •  All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) during the trek
                              •  Welcome and farewell dinners
                              •  All ground transportation on a comfortable private vehicle as per the itinerary
                              •  Domestic flight (Pokhara- Jomsom-Pokhara)
                              •  An experienced, English-speaking and licensed trek leader
                              •  Porter service (2 trekkers: 1 porter)
                              •  Salary, insurance, equipment, food and accommodation of staff
                              •  Duffel bag and sleeping bag (to be returned after trip completion)
                              •  T-shirt and trekking map
                              •  All necessary paperwork and permits (ACAP, TIMS) & Special Permit for Upper Mustang Trek 
                              •  First Aid kit (carried by your trek leader)
                              •  All government taxes
                              Excludes
                              • Nepal Tourist Visa fee
                              •  International airfare to and from Kathmandu
                              •  Excess baggage charges
                              •  Travel and rescue insurance
                              •  Personal expenses (phone calls, laundry, bar bills, battery recharge, extra porters, bottle or boiled water, shower, etc.)
                              •  Single supplement USD 150 per person
                              •  Tips for guide(s), porter(s) and driver(s)
                              Essential Information

                              What to Pack for Upper Mustang Trek 

                              • Windproof Hiking essentials (Pants, Jackets)
                              • Waterproof, sturdy boots
                              • Mosquito repellent cream
                              • Sun hat
                              • Thermal layer: Provide extra warmth
                              • Lightweight Gloves: To prevent freezing hands
                              • Torch or headlamps
                              • Reusable water bottles
                              • Rucksack and duffel bag
                              • Hiking poles: To climb through steep terrain
                              • Trek route map
                              • Quick-drying towel
                              • Water purification tablets
                              • Basic first aid kit,
                              • Sleeping bag: Comes handy if you want to camp outside
                              • An insulation layer

                              Upper Mustang Trek FAQs

                              • The Upper Mustang trekking area is severely restricted because of its open border with Tibet. Government policies demand a special permit to enter this isolated area. Additionally, border security has been increased to deter illegal activity along the two-country border.
                                Upper Mustang is Nepal’s historic hidden Buddhist monarchy. For decades, the territory was restricted and isolated from the rest of the world. This location is a sanctuary for Tibetan culture and unspoiled Himalayan scenery. Saligram, which are million-year-old fossils, can be found in the area along with a range of mine resources. To prevent these heritages, the government has ruled out tight restrictions in this area.

                              • No, Jigme Palbar Bista, the late king, died in 2016, and his descendant returned to the city. Although the late king lost his royal title in 2008, the locals still respected him as the ruler.

                              • Yes, you are welcome to attend the three-day lively celebration of good triumphing over evil. Tiji, the area’s annual festival, attracts many monks, villagers, and government officials, making Lo-Manthang incredibly vibrant. You can witness huge Buddhist murals, which will serve as a place of devotion and adoration for the locals.
                                 

                              • No, since Upper Mustang is a restricted area, a minimum of two people are required to obtain a permit. The Upper Mustang area is under the control of the Nepalese government and requires a special permit to enter. If you attempt the Upper Mustang Trek without a guide or access, the administration will detect an illegal entry and detain you for further investigation. Trek with a trekking company to avoid this problem.
                                 

                              • Some trekking options, such as Lower Mustang, do not require a permit and are easily accessible from the Annapurna Circuit trek. Nar Chu, a traditionally Tibetan district immediately north of the Annapurna Circuit trek, includes picturesque villages and arid slopes with a permit costing roughly USD90. Mustang Damodar Kunda trekking is another option in the region that takes you to the holiest pilgrimage. Meanwhile, lower Dolpo’s southern section offers a breathtakingly magnificent week-long trekking loop for roughly USD1000 per person.
                                 

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