Upper Mustang Trek in a nutshell
Upper Mustang is 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 the restricted trekking. This trek is open to outsiders since 1992. This trek is best for the barren land beauty with harsh, cliff-faced landscapes. Upper Mustang is an isolated area and forbidden kingdom with historical importance. This trek is beautiful in both cultural and geographical ways.
Why Upper Mustang Trek?
Upper Mustang Trek in Nepal carries you into the hidden universe of the old Buddhist kingdom. This secluded trans-Himalayan mountain area border has a distinct Tibetan feel. You also experience the arid landscape of high cliffs and unusual formations of rock.
The walled city of Lo Manthang once is a part of Tibet until the 1830s. The early history of Lo Manthang is full of myths and legends that may have recorded facts. Even though this area is changing, you fill surprise to see the stubborn way it sticks to their 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, recognized by the Government of Nepal.
Explore caves, rock formations, paintings, and gompas and learn about the culture. The panoramic view of Annapurna Range, Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, and other beautiful peaks excites you. Within Lo Manthang, you can visit Namgyal Gompa and Tingkhar. Those are the last main village in the northwest of the area, as well as the King’s palace.
This region is in the grand rain shadow cast by the Himalayan ranges of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. This region is a dry land of severe earthen colors. Upper Mustang Trek is best in monsoon season. We can take Pokhara-Jomsom to avoid the lower rainy section in the Annapurna region.
The best advantage of doing this is, that you can see the culture of Mustang, and the region is full of the bloom of hills. Despite harsh conditions, you may also witness wildlife like musk deer, and gazelle snow leopards thriving in the area.
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 abolishing. The sturdy palace still remains behind the medieval walls. Most of its parts are damaged during the 2015 earthquake. You feel as if 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 being discovered here. 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.
Besides 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 Trek packages, explore more exclusive Himalayan Odyssey tour packages.
14 Days Upper Mustang Itinerary
Upper Mustang Trek route kicks off in Jomsom and treks to reach Kagbeni. It is 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.
This monastery is devoted to Guru Rinpoche. He is a travelling Buddhist teacher many centuries ago. This Gompa is famous for 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. You will travel through the challenging trial of many 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.
How Difficult is Upper Mustang Trek?
Upper Mustang Trekking trails are wide and not that harsh. However, some sections of the trails 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 challenge 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, and 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 on the 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 travelling in private or in a group.
Upper Mustang Trek Permit
Entering the Upper Mustang area requires a special permit and conservation area entry fee. Annapurna Conservation Area requires USD 20 per person for a single entry.
Also, if someone is planning to visit 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 more. You do not need a Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card as a special permit is enough.