May 14, 2023
The Upper Mustang Trek is a popular hiking destination in the Annapurna region of Nepal. Also known as the “Forbidden Kingdom”, Upper Mustang is a remote and isolated region that lies in the rain shadow of the Himalayas. This trek provides a unique opportunity for hikers to explore the rich cultural and natural heritage of this area.
The Upper Mustang Trek is a moderate to difficult trek that typically takes around 10 to 14 days to complete. The trek starts in the city of Pokhara and takes hikers through various picturesque villages, ancient monasteries, and barren landscapes. The maximum altitude on the trek is 3,800 meters, making it a great option for hikers who want to experience the high altitude without risking altitude sickness.
One of the main attractions of the Upper Mustang Trek is the unique culture of the people living in the region. Upper Mustang is home to the Loba people, who have their own language, customs, and traditions. The area was also once an important trading route between Tibet and Nepal, and the influence of both cultures can still be seen in the architecture and art of the region.
Another highlight of the Upper Mustang Trek is the stunning natural landscapes. The region is characterized by red sandstone cliffs, deep canyons, and eroded rock formations, giving it a surreal and otherworldly feel. The trek takes hikers through the Kali Gandaki Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world, and past the stunning Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges.
In terms of logistics, hikers need to obtain a special permit to trek in Upper Mustang, which can be obtained through a licensed trekking agency. The permit costs around $500 per person and is valid for 10 days. Hikers also need to be prepared for the weather conditions in the region, which can be extreme at times.
The best time to trek Upper Mustang is during the months of March to May and September to November. During these months, the weather is generally dry and stable, making it easier and safer to trek through the region.
In March to May, the weather is warm and dry, with temperatures ranging from 8°C to 25°C. The skies are clear, and the mountain views are stunning. This is also the time when the region comes alive with flowers and greenery, making it a beautiful time to visit.
In September to November, the weather is also dry and stable, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 20°C. The skies are clear, and the mountain views are equally breathtaking. This is also the time when the region celebrates several festivals, such as Tiji Festival and Yartung Festival, providing a unique cultural experience for hikers.
During the monsoon season (June to August), the region receives heavy rainfall, making the trekking trails muddy and slippery, and the risk of landslides increases. The winter season (December to February) brings cold temperatures and heavy snowfall, making the trekking trails inaccessible and dangerous.
It’s important to note that the Upper Mustang region is in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, so it’s generally drier than other parts of Nepal. However, weather conditions can be unpredictable, and hikers should be prepared for sudden changes in temperature and weather patterns.
A special permit is required to trek in Upper Mustang, as it is a restricted area. The permit is issued by the Nepali government, and hikers are required to obtain it through a licensed trekking agency. The permit is valid for 10 days and costs around $500 per person.
In addition to the special permit, hikers are also required to have a TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System) card, which helps track hikers and ensures their safety. The TIMS card can be obtained from the Nepal Tourism Board or the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN).
It’s important to note that hikers are not allowed to trek in Upper Mustang independently, and must be accompanied by a licensed trekking guide. The trekking guide will help hikers navigate the region, provide information about the culture and history of the area, and ensure their safety.
Altitude sickness is a common condition that affects hikers and climbers who ascend to high altitudes too quickly. The symptoms of altitude sickness can range from mild to severe and can include headache, nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, and dizziness. In severe cases, altitude sickness can lead to cerebral or pulmonary edema, which can be life-threatening.
To prevent altitude sickness, it’s important to acclimatize properly by ascending slowly and spending a few days at lower altitudes before going higher. It’s also important to stay hydrated, eat a high-carbohydrate diet, and avoid alcohol and sleeping pills. If symptoms of altitude sickness occur, it’s important to descend immediately and seek medical attention.
In addition to prevention, medication can also be used to treat altitude sickness. Acetazolamide & Diamox is a medication that can help prevent and treat altitude sickness by increasing the body’s rate of respiration, which can help reduce symptoms. Dexamethasone is another medication that can be used to treat severe altitude sickness, but should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.
When preparing for an Upper Mustang trek, it’s important to pack light but also be well-prepared for the changeable weather conditions. Here are some essential items that hikers should pack:
It’s important to remember that packing light is key to a successful trek, so only pack what is absolutely necessary. Additionally, it’s a good idea to check with your trekking agency for any specific equipment or gear recommendations for the Upper Mustang region.
Accommodation options in Upper Mustang are limited, but there are a few choices available for trekkers. The most common form of accommodation is teahouses, which are basic lodges that offer a bed and a shared bathroom. Teahouses are located in villages along the trekking route and are a convenient option for hikers.
Another option is camping, which allows hikers to set up their own tents and camping equipment in designated camping areas. This option provides more flexibility and allows hikers to stay in more remote areas, but requires more preparation and equipment.
It’s important to note that accommodation in Upper Mustang can be basic, with limited amenities and sometimes unreliable electricity and hot water. Hikers should be prepared for rustic conditions and pack accordingly.
Food and water availability on the Upper Mustang trek can be limited due to the region’s remote location. The majority of food is sourced locally, and menus at teahouses typically feature Nepali and Tibetan cuisine, including dal bhat (lentil soup and rice), momos (dumplings), and tsampa (roasted barley flour).
It’s important to note that fresh produce and meat can be scarce in Upper Mustang, so it’s recommended to stick to vegetarian options to avoid any foodborne illnesses. Additionally, hikers should bring water purification tablets or a water filtration system to ensure access to safe drinking water, as bottled water may not be available along the trekking route.
Getting to Upper Mustang can be a bit of a challenge, as the region is located in a remote part of Nepal with limited transportation options. The trekking trail begins in Jomsom, which can be reached by either a 20-minute flight from Pokhara or a several-day jeep ride from Kathmandu.
Flights to Jomsom are operated by several airlines and are generally reliable, but flights can be delayed or cancelled due to bad weather conditions. The jeep ride from Kathmandu is a long and bumpy journey, but it offers an alternative to flying for those who are looking for a more scenic option.
Once in Jomsom, hikers can begin the Upper Mustang trek on foot or by horseback. It’s important to note that hikers must have the appropriate permits and a licensed guide to trek in Upper Mustang. Trekking agencies can help arrange transportation and permits for hikers.
The cost of the Upper Mustang trek can vary depending on several factors, including the length of the trek, mode of transportation, and accommodation type. Here is a breakdown of some of the typical costs associated with the Upper Mustang trek:
Trekking permits: The permit fee for Upper Mustang is USD 500 per person for the first 10 days and an additional USD 50 per day beyond that.
Guide and porter fees: Hiring a licensed guide and porter is mandatory for the Upper Mustang trek, and their fees can range from USD 20-30 per day for a guide and USD 15-25 per day for a porter.
Accommodation and food: The cost of accommodation and food can vary depending on the type of lodging chosen. Teahouse accommodation typically costs around USD 10-20 per night, while camping can cost around USD 5-10 per night. Food costs vary depending on the menu, but a typical meal can cost around USD 5-10.
Transportation: The cost of transportation to Jomsom, the starting point of the Upper Mustang trek, can vary depending on the mode of transportation chosen. A flight from Pokhara can cost around USD 120-150 one way, while a jeep ride from Kathmandu can cost around USD 150-200 per person.
The total cost of the Upper Mustang trek can range from USD 1500-2000 per person, depending on the trek’s duration, itinerary, and level of comfort desired.
Upper Mustang is a region rich in culture and history, and there are many cultural attractions to explore along the trekking route. Here are some of the top cultural attractions of Upper Mustang:
Upper Mustang is a unique region in Nepal known for its distinctive geography and landscape. Here are some of the geographical features that make Upper Mustang a popular trekking destination:
Upper Mustang is home to several religious sites that are an important part of the region’s cultural and spiritual heritage. The area has a strong Buddhist influence, and many of the religious sites are Buddhist monasteries or gompas. One of the most famous monasteries in Upper Mustang is the Lo Gekar Monastery, which is believed to be the oldest monastery in the region. Another important site is the Thubchen Gompa, a 15th-century monastery that is known for its beautiful murals and ancient artifacts.
In addition to Buddhist sites, Upper Mustang also has several ancient cave complexes that are believed to have been used by pre-Buddhist Bonpo practitioners. The most famous of these cave complexes is the Chhoser cave complex, which has more than 40 caves that were used for meditation and other spiritual practices. The caves are decorated with beautiful murals, and some of them have ancient Bonpo scriptures inscribed on their walls.
Overall, the religious sites on the Upper Mustang Trek offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience the rich spiritual and cultural heritage of the region. Visitors are encouraged to be respectful of the sites and to follow local customs and traditions when visiting them.
The Upper Mustang Trek is considered a moderate to challenging trek, with a high altitude, rugged terrain, and long days of walking. The trek is suitable for experienced trekkers who are physically fit and have previous experience trekking in high altitude environments. The trek involves several steep ascents and descents, and trekkers will need to cross several high mountain passes, including the Thorong La Pass.
The altitude of the region is also a major challenge for trekkers, as most of the trek takes place above 3,000 meters. Altitude sickness is a real concern for trekkers, and it is essential to take proper precautions to avoid it. Trekkers are advised to acclimatize properly, stay hydrated, and listen to their bodies.
Despite the challenges, the Upper Mustang Trek is a rewarding and unforgettable experience. The stunning landscapes, ancient cultural sites, and unique cultural experiences make it a must-do trek for anyone seeking an adventure in Nepal.
Upper Mustang offers several trekking routes for visitors to explore the region’s unique landscape and cultural heritage. Here are some of the popular trekking routes in Upper Mustang:
Jomsom to Lo Manthang: This is the most popular trekking route in Upper Mustang. The trek starts from Jomsom and passes through several beautiful villages, including Kagbeni, Chele, Syangboche, and Ghiling, before reaching Lo Manthang. The trek takes around 8-12 days, depending on the pace of the trekker.
Upper Mustang Trek: This is a longer and more challenging trek that starts from Jomsom and takes trekkers through some of the most remote and beautiful parts of Upper Mustang. The trek takes around 14-18 days and passes through villages such as Tangbe, Charang, Lo Manthang, and Ghami.
Lower Mustang Trek: This trek takes trekkers through the lower regions of Mustang and is a relatively easier trek compared to the Upper Mustang Trek. The trek starts from Jomsom and passes through villages such as Marpha, Tukuche, and Ghasa before ending in Tatopani.
Damodar Kunda Trek: This is a more off-the-beaten-path trek that takes trekkers to the holy lakes of Damodar Kunda. The trek takes around 18-22 days and passes through remote villages such as Luri Gompa and Saribung Base Camp.
These are just a few of the popular trekking routes in Upper Mustang, and there are many more options available for trekkers to explore.
Upper Mustang is a photographer’s paradise, with stunning landscapes, ancient monasteries, and unique cultural experiences. Here are some of the best photography spots on the Upper Mustang Trek:
The Upper Mustang Trek is a challenging and rewarding experience, but it’s essential to take proper precautions to ensure your safety during the trek. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when trekking in Upper Mustang:
By following these safety tips, you can ensure that your trekking experience in Upper Mustang is safe and enjoyable. Remember to always listen to your body and take breaks when needed, and don’t hesitate to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms of altitude sickness.
The Upper Mustang Trek offers trekkers the opportunity to witness a variety of wildlife species in their natural habitats. Here are some of the wildlife sightings that trekkers can expect on the Upper Mustang Trek:
As of April 1, 2023, it will be mandatory to hire a guide for trekking in Upper Mustang. This new rule has been implemented by the Nepalese government to ensure the safety and security of trekkers in the region. While solo trekking has been allowed in the past, the new regulations require all trekkers to be accompanied by a licensed guide.
There are several benefits to trekking with a guide in Upper Mustang. A guide can provide valuable insight into the region’s culture and history, as well as help trekkers navigate the challenging terrain. Additionally, a guide can provide assistance in case of an emergency and ensure that trekkers are properly acclimatizing to the altitude.
While some trekkers may prefer the freedom and flexibility of solo trekking, it’s important to consider the risks and challenges of trekking in a remote and challenging region like Upper Mustang. With a licensed guide by your side, you can enjoy a safe and memorable trekking experience while also supporting the local economy.
In conclusion, while it may no longer be possible to solo trek in Upper Mustang, trekking with a licensed guide is a great way to explore this beautiful and remote region while ensuring your safety and security.
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu
Welcome to the land of the Himalayas, Nepal! Upon your arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport, our representative will receive you and transfer you to your hotel. You can rest and freshen up before meeting your trekking guide for a briefing on the Upper Mustang trek. In the evening, enjoy a delicious welcome dinner with your guide and fellow trekkers.
Day 2: Drive to Pokhara
After an early breakfast, we take a scenic drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara, a beautiful city located on the banks of Phewa Lake. The drive takes around 6-7 hours and passes through lush forests, terraced fields, and traditional Nepalese villages. Upon arrival in Pokhara, we check into our hotel and enjoy a leisurely evening exploring the lakeside area.
Day 3: Fly to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni (2,858m/9,375ft)
Today, we take an early morning flight from Pokhara to Jomsom, a small town in the Mustang district. The flight offers stunning views of the Himalayan ranges, including Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. After landing in Jomsom, we start our trek to Kagbeni, a scenic village located at the entrance of Upper Mustang. The trail follows the Kali Gandaki river and passes through barren landscapes and traditional Tibetan-style villages. We stop for lunch in Ekle Bhatti before continuing our trek to Kagbeni. We stay overnight in a local teahouse.
Day 4: Trek to Chele (3,050m/10,004ft)
After breakfast, we obtain our trekking permits and start our trek towards Chele. The trail climbs uphill and offers stunning views of Nilgiri and Tilicho Peak. We pass through Tangbe village, known for its whitewashed houses and narrow alleys, before reaching Chhusang village. We cross a suspension bridge over the Kali Gandaki river and enter the village of Chele, where we stay overnight in a teahouse.
Day 5: Trek to Syanboche (3,475m/11,398ft)
Today’s trek is a challenging one as we cross two high passes, Taklam La (3,624m) and Dajori La (3,735m). The trail climbs steeply and passes through a rocky landscape, offering breathtaking views of the Himalayas. We stop for lunch at a teahouse in Samar before continuing our trek to Syanboche. The trail passes through several small villages and offers views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. We stay overnight in a teahouse in Syanboche.
Day 6: Trek to Ghaymi (3,520m/11,546ft)
After breakfast, we start our trek towards Ghaymi, a beautiful village located in the heart of Upper Mustang. The trail passes through several small villages and offers stunning views of the Nilgiri and Annapurna ranges. We stop for lunch in Geling before continuing our trek to Ghaymi. The village is known for its beautiful monastery and traditional houses. We stay overnight in a teahouse in Ghaymi.
Day 7: Trek to Charang (3,560m/11,680ft)
Today’s trek takes us to Charang, a beautiful village located on a ridge above the Tsarang Chu canyon. The trail passes through several small villages and offers stunning views of the Himalayas. We stop for lunch in Dhakmar before continuing our trek to Charang. The village is known for its beautiful monastery and traditional houses. We stay overnight in a te
Day 8: Trek to Lo Manthang (3,840m/12,598ft)
Today, we finally reach the walled city of Lo Manthang, the capital of Upper Mustang. The trail passes through a rocky landscape and offers stunning views of the Himalayas. We stop for lunch in Lo Gekar before continuing our trek to Lo Manthang. Upon reaching the city, we explore the ancient monasteries, palaces, and local markets. We stay overnight in a local teahouse.
Day 9: Explore Lo Manthang
Today, we explore the walled city of Lo Manthang, also known as the “Forbidden Kingdom.” The city is known for its ancient monasteries, palaces, and traditional houses. We visit the Jampa Lhakhang, Thubchen Gompa, and the King’s Palace. We also have the option to visit the nearby Chhoser Cave and Garphu Monastery. We stay overnight in a local teahouse.
Day 10: Trek to Drakmar (3,810m/12,500ft)
After breakfast, we start our trek back towards Jomsom. The trail descends downhill and passes through several small villages and traditional Tibetan-style houses. We stop for lunch in Ghami before continuing our trek to Drakmar. The village is known for its red cliffs and beautiful monasteries. We stay overnight in a local teahouse.
Day 11: Trek to Ghiling (3,806m/12,484ft)
Today’s trek takes us to Ghiling, a small village located on a hillside overlooking the Dhakmar village. The trail passes through several small villages and offers stunning views of the Himalayas. We stop for lunch in Charang before continuing our trek to Ghiling. The village is known for its ancient monastery and traditional houses. We stay overnight in a local teahouse.
Day 12: Trek to Chhuksang (3,050m/10,004ft)
Today is our last day of trekking in Upper Mustang. The trail descends downhill and passes through several small villages and traditional Tibetan-style houses. We stop for lunch in Samar before continuing our trek to Chhuksang. We stay overnight in a local teahouse.
Day 13: Trek to Jomsom and fly back to Pokhara
After breakfast, we trek back to Jomsom, where we catch our flight back to Pokhara. Upon reaching Pokhara, we transfer to our hotel and rest for the day. In the evening, we celebrate the successful completion of our trek with a farewell dinner.
Day 14: Drive back to Kathmandu
After breakfast, we take a scenic drive back to Kathmandu. Upon reaching Kathmandu, we transfer to our hotel and have the rest of the day at leisure. In the evening, we can explore the vibrant streets of Thamel and do some souvenir shopping.
Day 15: Departure from Kathmandu
Today is the last day of our trip. We transfer you to the airport for your flight back home, with lots of memories and experiences of a lifetime.
Upper Mustang and Manaslu are both popular trekking destinations in Nepal, but they offer different experiences for trekkers.
Upper Mustang is a restricted area with a unique landscape, culture, and history. The trek offers a chance to explore the former kingdom of Lo, where Tibetan Buddhism is the predominant religion, and visit the ancient monasteries and caves carved into the cliffs. The trek is relatively easy and suitable for all levels of trekkers.
Manaslu trek, on the other hand, is a more challenging trek that takes you to the base of the world’s eighth highest mountain. The trail offers breathtaking mountain views, diverse landscapes, and a chance to experience traditional Nepali culture. The trek involves crossing the high altitude Larkya La pass, which can be physically demanding.
In terms of accessibility, Manaslu is easier to reach than Upper Mustang. Manaslu trek starts from the town of Soti Khola, while Upper Mustang trek requires a flight to Jomsom or a long drive from Kathmandu.
Both treks require a special trekking permit, and trekking with a licensed guide is mandatory. Ultimately, the choice between the two treks depends on the level of physical fitness, trekking experience, and interests of the individual trekker.
Upper Mustang is a restricted area, and trekking solo is not allowed. According to the Nepali government regulations, trekking in Upper Mustang requires a special permit and must be accompanied by a licensed guide. The purpose of this restriction is to ensure the safety and security of trekkers and to preserve the cultural and natural heritage of the region.
Having a licensed guide can be very beneficial for trekkers, as they can provide valuable information about the history, culture, and geography of the region. They can also help with navigation, arrange accommodation and meals, and provide assistance in case of any emergencies.
Trekking with a guide in Upper Mustang also helps to support the local economy by providing employment opportunities for local people. Additionally, having a guide can help to minimize the environmental impact of trekking by ensuring that trekkers follow responsible and sustainable trekking practices.
So if you’re planning to trek in Upper Mustang, it’s important to follow the regulations and hire a licensed guide. This will not only ensure your safety and security but also contribute to the local community’s economic development.
What is Upper Mustang trekking?
Upper Mustang trekking is a popular trekking route in Nepal that takes you to the former kingdom of Lo, a restricted area with a unique landscape, culture, and history.
How long does the Upper Mustang trek take?
The Upper Mustang trek takes about 12-14 days to complete.
How difficult is the Upper Mustang trek?
The Upper Mustang trek is considered a moderate trek with some challenging sections, such as crossing high altitude passes and steep ascents.
When is the best time to do the Upper Mustang trek?
The best time to do the Upper Mustang trek is from March to November, with October and November being the best months.
What is the cost of the Upper Mustang trek?
The cost of the Upper Mustang trek varies depending on the trekking company, but it typically ranges from $1,500 to $2,500 per person.
Do I need a permit to trek in Upper Mustang?
Yes, a special permit is required to trek in Upper Mustang, and it costs $500 per person for 10 days.
Can I trek in Upper Mustang without a guide?
No, trekking in Upper Mustang requires a licensed guide.
What is the maximum altitude reached during the Upper Mustang trek?
The maximum altitude reached during the Upper Mustang trek is 3,800 meters at the Dhakmar village.
What is the minimum age for trekking in Upper Mustang?
There is no minimum age for trekking in Upper Mustang, but children under 12 years old are not recommended to trek due to the high altitude and strenuous nature of the trek.
Is the Upper Mustang trek safe?
Yes, the Upper Mustang trek is safe, but it is important to follow the guidelines of the trekking company and take precautions for altitude sickness and other potential hazards.
Is there Wi-Fi and cell phone coverage during the trek?
Wi-Fi and cell phone coverage are limited during the trek, but they are available in some villages.
What kind of accommodation is available during the trek?
Basic teahouse lodges are available during the trek, offering simple accommodation with shared bathrooms and communal dining areas.
What kind of food is available during the trek?
Local Nepali cuisine, as well as some western-style dishes, are available during the trek.
Can I customize the itinerary for the Upper Mustang trek?
Yes, the itinerary can be customized to fit your preferences and requirements.
Is travel insurance required for the Upper Mustang trek?
Travel insurance is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended to cover potential medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and other unforeseen events.
What kind of gear and equipment do I need for the Upper Mustang trek?
Warm clothing, hiking boots, trekking poles, a sleeping bag, and a daypack are essential for the trek.
Can I rent gear and equipment in Nepal?
Yes, gear and equipment can be rented in Nepal, but it is recommended to bring your own gear for comfort and fit.
How do I get to Upper Mustang?
Upper Mustang can be reached by flying to Jomsom and trekking from there or by taking a long drive from Kathmandu.
What is the weather like during the Upper Mustang trek?
The weather during the trek varies depending on the season, with clear skies and moderate temperatures in the spring and fall and occasional rain and snow in the winter and monsoon season.
Can I trek alone in Upper Mustang?
No, trekking in Upper Mustang requires a licensed guide.
Is Upper Mustang a culturally significant region?
Yes, Upper Mustang has a rich cultural heritage with a strong influence