About The Trip
Upper Mustang is located in an arid river valley that runs north-south off the upper corner of Annapurna Circuit. Lying in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, this trek is one of the restricted trekking areas of Nepal and opened for tourists in 1992. This trek is renowned for the barren land beauty with harsh, cliff-faced landscapes. Upper Mustang is located in an isolated area and forbidden kingdom with historical importance. This trek is beautiful in both culturally and geographically way.
Upper Mustang Trek in Nepal carries you into the concealed universe of the old Buddhist kingdom of Mustang. This secluded trans-Himalayan mountain area border has a distinct Tibetan feel. You also experience the arid landscape of high cliffs and rocks, unusual formations, and colors. The walled city of Lo Manthang is used to be a part of Tibet until the 1830s. The early history of Lo Manthang is decorated in myths and legends rather than recorded facts. Even though this area is changing, you will still be surprised to see stunning vistas and the stubborn way it sticks to its unique culture.
Trek to Upper Mustang is a rare privilege where you will get to experience the way of life of faithful mountain people. They have little contact outside Nepal and retained their own rich cultural heritage. Until recent times, they have their own King, officially recognized by the Government of Nepal. Explore caves, rock formations, paintings, and gompas and learn about the culture of this area. The panoramic view of Annapurna Range, Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, and other beautiful peaks excites you. Within Lo Manthang, you can visit Namgyal Gompa and Tingkhar, which are the last main village on the northwest of the area, as well as the King’s palace.
Situated in the grand rain shadow cast by the Himalayan ranges, mainly the Annapurna massif and Dhaulagiri, the Mustang region is a dry land of severe earthen colors. Upper Mustang Trek is best in monsoon season. We can take Pokhara-Jomsom-Pokhara to avoid the lower rainy section in the Annapurna region. The best advantage of doing this is, you can see the culture of Mustang, and also the region is full of the fabulous bloom of hills and cliffs. Despite harsh conditions, you may also witness wildlife like musk deer, wild ass, gazelle, and snow leopards thriving in the area.
Unlike the majority of the trek in Nepal, Upper Mustang Trek offers a rare glimpse into a regional capital of historical and cultural interest. This region was long the royal stronghold, and the monarchy has been abolished. The sturdy palace still remains behind the medieval walls. Most of its parts are damaged during the 2015 earthquake. You feel like as you are steeping through a window in time to an era from centuries ago. You will also get to know the Amchi (traditional Tibetan doctor), where tourists can understand the ancient healing art. Cave paintings, Buddhist manuscripts, sculptures, and many artifacts are slowly being discovered in this region. You will also see the sky caves into the cliffs above the village for burial purposes. Sky funeral and polyandry practice still remains in the Upper Mustang region.
In addition to this trip, other fantastic alternative trekking routes are seeking more significant challenges. You can choose any trip from Wilderness Region Trekking like Saribung Pass Trek via Upper Mustang. For more Annapurna Trekking Package, you can explore more exclusive Himalayan Odyssey tour packages.
Upper Mustang Trek Route
The Upper Mustang Trek route kicks off in Jomsom and trek to reach Kagbeni, a short walk from Jomsom, a large market with an airport connecting to Pokhara. Kagbeni is a charming small village with covered streets and strange clay figures. Climb up the Kali Gandaki River valley to the rid, barren landscape. The air and the land are dry and naked, with rock hills with puzzling high cave and rock paintings. Enter Lo Manthang, which is surrounded by a high stone fence, the seat of the King of Lo until lately when Nepal became a Republic. Immerse into Namgyal Gompa and the King’s palace within this walled city. Also, visit a few hours away, Gyakar with its famous monastery, Ghar Gompa, which is over 1,200 years old. Devoted to Guru Rinpoche, another traveling Buddhist teacher many centuries ago, the Gompa is renowned for its rock paintings.
After leaving this excellent village, we will go ahead to Yara. Today we will cross the Dhi La Pass (3,400 m) and reach Yara after 7-8 hours of trek. Early morning we will hike toward our next destination Luri Gumba. Then head towards the riverbed of Dhechyang Khola to Tangge. We will cross the river and then reach Tangge village. The next day we then head toward Chussang, traveling through the challenging trial of numerous small passes. Today we will trek to Muktinath from Chussang, which takes around 5-6 hours of trek. Our trek will ends after we head back to Jomsom, return to Pokhara, and then Kathmandu.
Upper Mustang Trek Weather
March to May
March, April, and May in Nepal are spring seasons, so it is greener than ever during these times. It is also the windiest season of all year in the Upper Mustang region. So wear more than one layer of clothing despite the warm weather. It is relatively warm during the days and cools during the morning and night.
Dust levels will be low, so you will see clear views of the mountains surrounding the region. Many trekkers come for the Upper Mustang Tiji Festival Trek, which falls in the May season. All in all, it is one of the best times to visit the Upper Mustang.
June to August
June, July, and August are summer and monsoon in Nepal. Mustang lies in the rain shadow area. It infrequently encounters rain making it one of the suitable places even during monsoon. And the weather remains warm during the day and chilly at night.
On the whole, it is one of the auspicious occasions to trek in the Upper Mustang. Hot days may be uncomfortable, but overall it is an excellent time for trekking.
September to November
September, October, and November are autumn seasons in Nepal. This season is one of the best times to trek in Nepal. The weather throughout this season is excellent, and you will get to see clear blue skies and the crystal clear picture of the Trans Himalayas and Annapurna range along with Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, and Nilgiri. It is one of the most suitable climates for trekking in Nepal. It receives massive traffic amongst other seasons.
December to February
December, January, and February are the winter seasons in Nepal. Weather gets cold, people of the upper region descend to lower regions where the weather is at least tolerable. So, the cold season will be almost difficult to trek because of snow-covered trails and cold weather.
Therefore, Upper Mustang Trekking during winter is not recommended. The temperature ranges around 0- 5 degrees during daytime and drops to -15 to -20 degrees during night time.
Upper Mustang Trek Difficulty
Upper Mustang Trekking trails are wide and not that harsh. However, some sections on the trials are challenging because it is narrow and requires walking the paths created on the sides of the cliffs. The trail over the Kali Gandaki gorge is one of the complex paths on the entire trip.
Recurring wind during April and May will get challenging the people in moving forward in their journey. Some people may experience a new and fantastic experience, but we advise you to wear two or three layers of cloth.
Upper Mustang Trek Cost
When you are thinking about exploring the Himalayas like Upper Mustang, there will be many factors to consider. It includes the best route, best, how fit do we need to be? But one of the most important confusion will be, “How much does Upper Mustang Trek cost?”
The cost of the trek depends on the plan and route you are taking with. This trek can be done in a short or long time with the combined Annapurna and Manaslu area. The number of days and facilities you are taking in trek also determines the cost of the trek.
Upper Mustang Trek cost is a little higher than other normal trekking in Nepal. The area lies in a remote and restricted area, so we need a special permit. You need to travel with a registered company and need a guide this makes your cost a little high.
Upper Mustang Trek will generally be 15-19 days, and the cost is generally between $1600 to $1940. This price covers transportation, trekking permits, meals, professional trekking guides, porters, accommodation, entry fees, and others. You will get some discounts if you are in groups. The cost of the Upper Mustang Trek highly depends upon traveling in private or in a group.
Upper Mustang Trek Permit
Everyone entering the Upper Mustang area requires a special permit and conservation area entry fee. Entering the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) requires USD 20 per person for a single entry and valid as long as the trek takes.
In addition, if someone is planning to visit Upper Mustang (from Kagbeni), it requires a special permit for a restricted area. The cost of the special permit is USD 500 per person for 10 days. If you plan to stay more than 10 days, you have to pay USD 50 per day additional. You do not need a Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card as a special permit is sufficient.