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Upper Mustang Trek Ultimate Guide


Mar 12, 2021 | 1427 Views
Mustang Trek

The Upper Mustang trek is all about exploring the mysterious Buddhist Kingdom of Mustang. Enclosed by the walls of Annapurna, Dhauligiri, and Nilgiri to the north, the upper mustang is one of the best destinations to explore. Trekking to upper mustang is one of the fascinating journeys to the Himalayas. Besides, the upper mustang trek is the perfect combination of cultural exploration and Himalayan views. The upper part of the mustang district in Nepal gives you picturesque natural scenarios. However, the upper mustang was restricted. kingdom until 1992. It is one of the most preserved regions in the world with a majority of cultures similar to that of Tibet.

 

The upper mustang was open to tourism only after 1992. Foreigners need to have a permit to enter the upper part of the mustang. The natural scenario, the culture and tradition, the natural landscapes, and a close encounter with the Himalayan lifestyle as well as the mountain make Mustang a dream destination for most people. People who have always been living in a city area find Mustang more than an amazing place for refreshment and recreation. The lifestyle, culture, and scenario in Upper mustang are far more different than the regular city lifestyle. One will surely be amazed by how much upper mustang has to offer. Therefore the trek to the remote Trans-Himalayas region with the semi-independent Tibetian kingdom has a lot to offer to tourists.

 

The trek to Upper Mustang starts with a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom then from Jomsom we will trek to Kagbeni which takes about 4 hours. Then we will pass through several villages in Chele, Syangboche, Ghami, Charang, and finally reach the fascinating medieval walled kingdom of Lo Manthang. Li Manthang is the old capital of mustang. Here you will explore several ancient Gompas, stupas,  monasteries and catch a glimpse of Tibetan-influenced culture and tradition. Then from Lo Manthang we will hike to Drakmar, pass through another beautiful village in Ghiling, Chuksang, and finally to Jomsom. After exploring Jomsom we will catch an early flight to Pokhara and explore the tourism city Pokhara. 

 

Trip Highlights

  • Explore rich Tibetian influenced culture and tradition
  • Close view of mountains such as Annapurna, Nilgiri, and Dhauligiri
  • Four-story chooser cave
  • Old Buddhist monasteries built in the 13th century
  • Lo Manthang, an independent kingdom
  • Kali Gandaki gorge, the deepest gorge
  • Visit the forbidden kingdom of Lo.
  • Walkthrough several caves, monasteries, gompas, Chortens, rock paintings.

 

 Why the Upper Mustang trek?

Trekking in Upper Mustang is a wonderful opportunity to explore Tibetan culture as well as get to know the kingdom which was forbidden to foreigners until 1992. Here, you will feel the lifestyle of the people, who have been living on their own for most of the year. Till 1950 Mustang district was a separate kingdom inside the boundary of Nepal. With the natural scenario that catches one’s attention, with the stunning view of the high Himalayas, that reflects one’s mind and soul, with the amazing culture similar to that of Tibet, that lets one get a glimpse of Buddhist culture and tradition, Upper Mustang is the dream destination for most of the trekkers.

You can explore several famous places during this trek such as the Kali Gandaki gorge, the deepest gorge, Lo Manthang, the old capital of Mustang where the kings reside. This trek is not particularly difficult and the highest elevation is at 3800m.

 

The best time for the trek

The upper Mustang experiences various seasons according to the climate in Nepal. The weather and temperature of the upper mustang change as per the four seasons, winter, spring, summer, and autumn. However, the weather plays an important role in making the trek successful and memorable. Therefore, it is really necessary to know about the weather in Upper Mustang before visiting.

 

Upper Mustang trek in Autumn (Sept-Nov)

Autumn starts with September and ends in November in Nepal and it is one of the most popular seasons for trekking in Nepal. The weather in the upper mustang is usually dry and cool in Autumn. With the clear sky, you will be able to witness stunning mountain peaks such as Annapurna, Dhauligiri, Nilgiri, and many more. The temperature in Autumn ranges between 12-20 degrees Celsius in the upper and lower mustang which is very suitable for carrying out adventurous activities and trekking. If you visit upper Mustang in the Autumn season then you will have a very comfortable trek. The views are clearer and the temperature and weather will not be much of a problem.

 

Upper Mustang Trek in Spring (March-May)

Spring is the second-best season for the trek to the Upper Mustang region. Spring falls in March, April, and May in Nepal. It is another peak season for carrying out adventurous activities and Trekking to the Mountains in Nepal. Likewise, Spring offers another favorable and comfortable environment for trekking in Mustang. The trek becomes unforgettable with the outstanding view of the upper part of Mustang in Nepal.

Tiji, one of the most popular festivals of Mustang, falls in May. The festival lasts for 3 days. So if you visit around this time, you can get a glimpse of the festivals and celebrations in the Mustang region. Different traditional dances and rituals are performed at Chode monastery during these festivals. Besides, the temperature of the Mustang ranges from 16-20 degrees Celsius during the spring season. The blooming of flowers and plants, the moderate climate and temperature make this season another best season for the upper Mustang trek. However, there may be some rainfall during late May in the Mustang region. 

 

Upper Mustang trek in Summer ( June, July, August)

Summer falls in June, July, and August in Nepal. When we imagine summer we usually think about the rainfall and the temperature. Most parts of Nepal receive heavy rainfall during these months. So, the number of trekkers is limited during these months in Nepal. However, the upper Mustang doesn’t receive rainfall during summer. This makes upper mustang one of the most favorable seasons for the trek. With the clear blue sky, the days in summer are longer. The temperature is suitable for trekking as it ranges from 13-20 degrees Celsius.

On the other hand, there may be slight rainfall in the lower region of Mustang which makes the trail slippery and muddy. But as everyone is aware, the beauty of nature after the rain is the most amazing and fascinating. The natural vegetation is at its best during this time. However, it is always best to check the weather before starting the trek as you may experience some flight delays in Pokhara due to heavy rainfall.

 

Upper Mustang trek in winter (Dec- Feb)

Winter falls in December, January, and February in Nepal. Winter is the coldest season among all and it is the same with the upper Mustang. Rather than winter, trekkers prefer the other three seasons for the trek in this region. The temperature decreases in minus during this season. The routes are covered with snow and sometimes the routes may be blocked because of snowfall. People of Mustang even descend to lower altitude during this season. Trekking to lower Mustang is still possible during this season however trekking to upper Mustang is relatively difficult. The trek will be challenging but not impossible. With proper gear and equipment, this trek will still be possible. 

 

Mustang trek permits

  • You cannot go on the upper Mustang trek independently. You need a group of at least two trekkers with a licensed guide issued by the Nepal government for the permit.
  • The trek to the upper part of Mustang costs USD 500.00 per person for the first 10 days. But if you spend longer than 10 days you need to pay USD 50.00 each per person for extra days.
  • You will need the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) that costs around Nrp 2000 per person.  ACAP permit cost only Nrp 2.00 for SAARC nation
  • For this trek, TIMS is not required.

 

Where can I get a trekking permit?

You can issue a Trekking permit for Upper Mustang Trek by the Trekking Department of the Nepal Immigration Office in Kalikasthan, Kathmandu. Similarly, Nepal Tourism Board also issues trekking permits for Upper Mustang Trek, but it does for other trekking treks like Annapurna Conservation Area Project and national park permits.

 

Difficulties of Upper Mustang Trek

We consider the upper Mustang a moderately difficult trek.  This trek passes through several terrains, frequent ups, and downs at constant high altitudes. Also, the image and weather are challenging. So, here are some of the difficulties of Upper Mustang Trek

 

Altitude

 When walking to a high-altitude place, altitude sickness is common. However, the part of Upper Mustang is still below 4000m that means even if you feel the symptoms of altitude sickness, it is not severe and complicated. You will feel several symptoms like nausea, and slight headaches. As altitude sickness starts from the elevation above 2500m. The higher altitude on Mustang is around 3800m in Lo Manthang. So, there may be slight chances of having difficulties in breathing, headaches, and vomiting. Therefore, one should be conscious of this and follow acclimatization techniques at higher altitudes. If you are not feeling like continuing your trek or your body is not supporting you to go to a higher altitude, you might take a break.

 

Walking hours

The walking hours in Upper Mustang differ according to the destinations. Someday you have to walk for 3-4 hours whereas someday you have to walk for almost 7 hours. The trekking time for the Upper Mustang ranges from 15-18 days according to the itinerary. So for almost 15-17 days, you will be walking for an average of 5-6 hours. However, you must be aware that walking for 6 hours a day for 17 days regularly is not a joke. It is very challenging and very painful for beginners as well as experienced ones. So, you must be physically and mentally fit.

 

Trekking trails

Most of the trekking trails of mustang are wide.  However, some segments are difficult and rough. The route over the Kali Gandaki is one of the difficult and frustrating paths. The road is narrow and small and you may feel dizzy just by looking downhill. Kali Gandaki gorge is the deepest gorge in the world. You will find yourself trekking by the side of the Gorge. Sometimes, because of the windy climate, the whole routes become dusty and you will be unable to identify the routes. Sometimes during the winter season, the temperature falls below freezing and the routes may be blocked by the snow. Therefore, the trial to the mustang is somehow challenging.

 

Climate

 Climate is another factor that makes the Upper mustang trek challenging. Like in the rest parts of the country, Mustang also has four major seasons. Trekking can be done every season but there are some factors one needs to consider before trekking. During summer, monsoon overlaps summer with rainfall, and the trails become slippery and challenging to cross through. On the other hand, winter is highly frosty. The temperature falls below freezing during winter seasons in Upper Mustang making it difficult for the trek. Thereforecomfortsrtness of trekking even depends upon the climatic factor of that place.

 

Roads conditions in Upper Mustang

The upper Mustang region is a dry valley where the trails are full of rock. The road is not pitched and smooth like in the City area. The road is graveled,  dusty, and may get slippery in rainy seasons. You will have to walk alongside the riverbank sometimes through the dusty and desert mountain trails. However, you will pass through small villages and vibrant green patches between the arid trails.

 

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu

Day 2: Kathmandu sightseeing

Day 3: Fly or drive to Pokhara

Day 4: Fly from Pokhara to Jomsom/ trek to Kagbeni

Day 5: Kagbeni to Chele

Day 6: Chele to Syangboche

Day 7: Syangboche to Ghami

Day 8: Ghami to Charang

Day 9: Charang to Lo Manthang

Day 10: Trek to Chooser cave

Day 11: Lo Manthang to Drakmar

Day 12: Drakmar to Ghiling

Day 13: Ghiling to Chuksang

Day 14: Chuksang to Jomsom

Day 15: Fly to Pokhara

Day 16: Drive to Kathmandu

Day 17: Departure

 

Packing list for Upper Mustang trek

Packing plays an important role in making your trek less challenging and comfortable. Good packing is always the best idea to avoid any problems when trekking to a higher altitude place like Upper Mustang. Therefore you need to make sure to carry the following basic packing for your upper Mustang trek:

  • Warm jackets with hood breathable and waterproof
  • Hiking pants breathable, waterproof and windproof
  • Hiking shorts
  • Full sleeve trouser
  • Thermal trouser
  • Hiking boots (waterproof)
  • Woolen hat and sun hat
  • Gloves
  • Headlamps
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Sunscreens
  • Trekking poles
  • Sleeping bags
  • Large duffel’s bags
  • Socks
  • Padlocks and duffle-kit bags

 

Tips for Mustang trek

A lower mustang trek is possible throughout the year. However, for the upper Mustang trek consider the season before trekking.

It is always safer to carry appropriate gear while trekking to Upper Mustang 

If you love festivals and want to explore the culture and festivals of upper Mustang then you should visit the month of Autumn and spring especially in May

If you want to explore Mustang peacefully without a crowd, then visit upper Mustang in the off-seasons.

Be physically and mentally prepared for the trek

Pack your list accordingly as good packing can make your trek much more comfortable and convenient.

 

Accommodation on Upper Mustang Trek

There are several lodges and teahouses in Upper mustang which are run by the locals there. Most of the lodges and tea houses offer accommodation with western toilet facilities. Comparatively, accommodation in Upper The facilities of hot showers are provided by the lodges but one has to pay extra for that. The guest houses are on the walking trails. The accommodation in Mustang is quite expensive because of expensive transportation and isolation as well as less population.

 

Food in the Upper Mustang region

As for the food in Upper Mustang, local as well as international dishes breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in the guesthouse. Some of the most popular dishes in upper Mustang are 

 

Teas 

Milk, black, lemon, ginger, mint, jasmine, masala, and also black coffee, milk coffee, hot chocolate, hot lemon are served.

 

Cold Drinks

Can juice, Coke, Fanta, sprite, dew, sea buckthorn juice, can bear

 

Breakfast item

Oatmeal’s, cornflakes, muesli with milk, muesli with Apple, bread, with honey or jam, porridge, boiled and fried eggs, etc.

 

Lunch item

Tibetan bread, pancake with jam or honey

 

Dinner item

Dal, Bhat, Tarkari, Pizza, Noodles, Pasta, Sandwich, Momo’s, Spaghetti, Vegetable and Salad, Potatoes items.

 

Snacks 

Papad, popcorn, prawn

 

Soups

Vegetables, tomato, chicken, garlic, potato, mushroom, noodle soup are famous in Upper mustang.

 

Documents required for trekking permit for Upper Mustang Trek

  • Original passport with a valid visa
  • Photocopies of passport and visa
  • Passport size photos
  • Hand cash

 

Some frequently asked questions

 

How is the safety measure?

The trek to Upper Mustang is a Grade B or a moderately difficult trek. Trekkers with any level of fitness can go on the trek. However, the one with medical conditions like heart and lung disease should be careful regarding the trip. We don’t recommend this trek for medical patients.

 

How fit should I be for the trip?

One should be physically and mentally prepared for this moderate-level trek. As the trekking hours are average of 5-6 hours and walking for 5 hrs a day is challenging to everyone. So, any person with a fitness level can complete this wonderful trek. However, people with some medical difficulties are not recommended to this trek.

 

Is the sleeping bag necessary?

Yes, a light sleeping bag is necessary for the trip. 

 

Can I hire porters or guides?

Yes, hiring a porter and guide adds completeness to the trek. you can hire porters or guides on this trip. As a guide take care of your routes, your accommodation in lodges and hotels, and porters help to reduce your burden of the backpack. However, you can also go on the trip alone or in a company without a guide or porter.

 

Are there any associated risks?

This is a high-altitude trek where the highest elevation of the trek is around 3800m. So there may be a problem of high altitude sickness and one may suffer other events including sudden climate changes. So take safety measures. You can hydrate your body by drinking lots of water. If you go on the trek during the winter or rainy seasons, the paths are slippery and dotted with hills. So you must walk with caution. You need to take a first-aid kit with you in case of some slight injuries.

 

What about visa and insurance policy?

Citizens of all countries except India need to obtain a visa to enter Nepal. The Visa policy of Nepal is liberal, which allows citizens of almost all nations to obtain a tourist visa on arrival. Therefore, tourists are allowed to stay in Nepal for a maximum of 150 days in a calendar year. On the other hand, the insurance policy is as per the rule of the concerned trekking company.

 

What about additional expenses?

Trekkers will have to bring personnel money to cover the costs of visa processing, travel insurance policy. Besides, they need to have an extra amount for their personal expenses beverages, snacks during the trek, and tips to the trekking crew members and souvenirs.

 

What about the ticket cancellation policy?

It is as per the policy of the concerned trekking company.

 

What about internet access?

You will have internet access in most of the places during the trip. However, sometimes, there might be some technical problems, and connection loss causing the speed internet to slow or sometimes even stopping the service.

 

What about change and extra money?

We suggest you carry some hand ash in case you want to buy something from the Upper Mustang. You are recommended to bring with your change and extra money as finding an ATM booth is very hard here. Keeping extra changes will help you to pay for things you may buy on the way.

 

Upper Mustang gives you a lifetime experience in the upper parts of Nepal. It evaluates both Nepalese and Tibetan culture and lifestyle. If you are really into nature and natural landscapes then the upper mustang is heaven for you. Besides, cultural exploration and exploration of several caves, gompas, monasteries are another prime attraction of Mustang. The stunning view of Mt. Nilgiri, Dhauligiri, and Annapurna, the old capital of Lo Manthang makes mustang worth visiting. 

 

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