Trekking Into the Forbidden Kingdom Upper Mustang
Also known as the Kingdom of Lo, Mustang existed as an independent state as early as the 5th century but later absorbed into Tibet in the 7th century. Later it achieved a degree of independence and became an important centre of the Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Ame Pal (1380-1450) founded a dynasty that has survived until the present day, even if the country got integrated into Nepal in the 18th century. The recently abolished king, Jigme Palbar Bista, the 25th after Gyalpo Ame Pal, was born in 1930 and is still regarded as the king by the Mustangi population, which consists of about 6,000 people.
The inhabitants of Mustang are culturally a Tibetan people, speaking the Tibetan language and following Tibetan Buddhism.
Until 1992 Mustang was closed except for to a few royal guests. The first legal trekkers were allowed in only in March 1992, upon payment of a high royalty, minimum $700 for ten days, which is changed now ($500 for a ten days permit).
For these reasons, trekking to Upper Mustang/Lo is a rare privilege. Not many foreigners go there, but those that do discover a traditional way of life, landscape, architecture and art so enthralling that it cannot forget.
To the south of Mustang live the Thakalis, which provide a cultural and geographical bridge between Mustang and the middle hill tribes of Gurungs and Magars. A famous place of pilgrimage in this area for both Hindus and Buddhists is Muktinath, also known as Chumig Gyatsa (One Hundred Springs), located 18 km northeast of Jomsom.
If you extend the trek from Jomsom to Beni, you’ll end up back in Gurkha country a midst typical Nepalese scenery. The fauna and flora become more prosperous as you descend from alpine to temperate and finally into subtropical forests. The views and the backdrop of the Himalayas are stunning throughout.
If you are Trekking to Mustang, then you must coincide Tiji Mask dance Festival in Lomanthang
The beating of drums and singing fill the air as the ancient thangka (religious painting) of Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhism’s Lotus-born Saint) is brought from the Palace of Lo Manthang into the square. The people of Lo (Upper Mustang) eagerly await its arrival through clouds of incense, and with great clamor and anticipation, the monks place the thangka on display by rolling it down a massive wall. The festival commonly celebrated by the people of Lo Tso Dhun (the seven provinces of Upper Mustang).
Day 01 : Arrive in Kathmandu, Nepal
Our personnel will be waiting at the Kathmandu international airport to receive you with a traditional welcome. After checking into the hotel and refreshment, your guide of the circuit will inform you about the necessary formalities and the upcoming program. Depending on arrival time, you will have the choice of visiting nearby shrines or resting.
If you arrive in the morning flight then we take a late afternoon visit; we’ll visit Boudhanath, possibly the world’s largest Buddhist stupa and a site of great veneration and Tibetan Buddhism. If you arrive in the late afternoon or evening flight, then we will include this visit on day two.
Day 02 :In Kathmandu / visit UNESCO sites
The rich tapestry of the Buddhist heritage of Nepal is synthesized in Kathmandu Valley. After breakfast visit UNESCO site Soyambhunath stupa on a hillock overlooking Kathmandu valley. Well known as ‘Monkey Temple’ the golden spire crowning, Soyambhunath is the most ancient and vital of Buddhist shrine in Kathmandu valley.
After visiting all these places, return to Patan city. Believed to have been founded in the third century B.C., and later expanded in the sixth century, the ancient town of Patan renowned for its rich Buddhist heritage, was one of the significant Buddhist cities in Asia by the 7th century as Buddhist pilgrims, scholars, and monks from India, Tibet and China visited the city. In its one period, the entire population of Patan City was comprised only with monks and artisans. We will visit major Buddhist temples of Patan such as the Golden temple founded in the 12th century, Mahaboudha (Temple of thousand Buddhas) of the 17th century and other important Buddhist sites.
At around the end of the tour, we’ll also visit the Museum of Patan. Located inside the medieval palace, the Patan Museum is a must for anyone interested in Asian Art, history of Nepal, curatorial science, or religion. It is a world-class museum that displays the traditional sacred art of Nepal in an illustrious architectural setting. Its home is an old residential part of Patan Darbar, one of the royal palaces of the former Malla Kings of the Kathmandu Valley. Its gilded door and window face one of the most beautiful squares in the world.
The museum also exhibits a long span of Nepal’s cultural history and some rare objects. Their meaning and context within the living traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism are explained in extensive labels. Finalize the trip and drive to the hotel.
In the afternoon, visit another UNESCO site of Boudhanath - the vast dome-shaped monument representing the Mind of the Buddha. Boudhanath is the primary pilgrimage destination for Buddhists of the Himalayas and a major draw for Tibetan Buddhists from all over the planet.
Day 03 :Drive to Pokhara.
A 6 hours’ drive
A scenic drive passing through several small towns and farmlands will take you to Lake City Pokhara where eye-opening views of Himalayas welcome you. Located beneath the Himalayas, the lush natural beauty of Pokhara is a place of “Dream Holiday”. The site is famous for its tranquil lakes, natural beauty, and superb scenery. We stop at Pokhara for lunch and walk around the lake. Then we continue further 30-minutes’ drive to Yoga Meditation centre. Get checked into the rooms – dinner and overnight in the hotel.
Day 04 :Pokhara to Jomsom 2,750m. (by air) & trek to Kagbeni 2,847m.
A 22-minutes flight and 2 hours trek.
Early in the morning, a flight leaves for the region north-west of Pokhara, towards the great chasm between the snow-covered peaks of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. You’ll enjoy splendid views of the towering massifs, each more than 8,000 meters and the river below, which has created the deepest gorge on this planet.
Jomsom is the district headquarters of Mustang. On arrival there, you’ll meet the rest of the trekking staff (the guide will be with you from Kathmandu) and start the trek to Kagbeni, the main gateway to Upper Mustang, there you’ll camp overnight.
Kagbeni has been one of Nepal’s important trading centres for centuries. The village was formed around the 14th century as a check post for traders between Nepal and Tibet, and there is still a checkpoint to control all groups departing toward Muktinath and Mustang. There are a monastery, a police check post and an ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) office in this village, which is well worthy of visiting.
Day 05 :Trek to Chhusang.
A 4-hour trek
The trail leads up north over several ridges toward the east bank of the Kali Gandaki River and Tangbe village. The town is a labyrinth of narrow alleys amongst white-washed houses, fields of buckwheat, barley and wheat, and apple orchards. Nilgiri peak, dominating Kagbeni’s southern skyline, can be enjoyed in its different shapes. From here it is another one and a half hours to reach Chhusang. Stay overnight in a teahouse lodge.
Day 06 :Trek to Samar.
A 4 hours trek.
We cross the river and continue north up to a huge red boulder of conglomerate that has fallen from the cliff above, forming a tunnel through which the Kali Gandaki flows. The trek now leaves the Kali Gandaki Valley and climbs steeply up a rocky gully to Chaile, which marks the cultural divide between the Manangis and the Tibetans of Lo.
The climb continues over steep, treeless, dry terrain, along the side of a spectacular canyon to a pass and cairn of rock at 3,540m. Then the trail makes a gradual descent to some chortens on a ridge, and on further along a pleasant stretch to Samar village, where we will camp and visits its villages and chortens. The Annapurna, still dominated by Nilgiri, is visible far to the south.
Day 07 :Trek to Geling 3,500m. & Gami 3,520m
A 6 hours trek.
We climb above Samar to a ridge and then descend into a large gorge, where the trail emerges out into a broad field, crosses a stream and climbs up to a ridge at 3,800m. The route goes over yet another pass, follows a ridge and then descends to Shyangmochen. From there we gently climb to a pass at 3,770m and descend to Gelling village. From Geling the trail climbs gently up to an exciting pass, Nyi La, and then descends beneath blue, grey and red cliffs at Gami.
Day 08 :Trek to Charang 3,620m.
A 4 hours trek.
After crossing a steel bridge over the Tagmar Chu (river), we arrive at a Mani wall, perhaps the longest and most spectacular such wall in Nepal. After negotiated another pass, at 3,600m, the route makes a gentle descent to Charang village. A huge five-story white dzong and red gonpa are the main attractions there, featuring statues and thangkas (many of them large paintings of seated Buddhas).
Day 09 :Trek to Lo-Manthang 3,810m.
A 4 hours trek.
From Charang we will descend about 25 minutes and cross the bridge and continue with a gentle climb. While on the trek we’ll view some ancient stupas and the monasteries of Charnag and its Valley.
Finally, there is a view from a hill ridge of the walled city of Lo, Nambyal, and Chhosar villages. After a short descent, we cross a stream and then climb up onto the plateau of Lo Manthang.
Up to the end of the 18th century, Mustang (Tibetan sMon-thang) was the main town of a provincial district known as Lo, which extended down the valley of the Kali Gandaki River as far south as Kagbeni.
Lo was a dependency of Nga-ri (Western Tibet), which in the 10th and 11th centuries consisted of three kingdoms (in the north-west corner of present-day Nepal).
There was a chain of strongholds (all now in ruins) the whole length of the Kali Gandaki Valley from Kagbeni to Mustang. The lords of these castles seem to have ruled as absolute masters, and each in his small domain. At the end of the 18th century, the Gurkhas took control of the whole Kali Gandaki Valley.
Though Tibetan in culture and language, Lo supported Nepal in its war with Tibet in 1860, thus affirming its right to its ancient feudal system of rajas and serfs. Serfdom got abolished in 1956. The title “Raja of Mustang” was borne until 28 May 2008. Finally, on 28 May 2008, the kingdom was officially abolished by the 1st Constituent Assembly, and the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal was declared. The sub-national monarchies in Mustang, Bajhang, Salyan, and Jajarkot got also abolished in October 2008.
Day 10 :Visit Lomanthang
Chhoser is an exciting cave town where you can see all its neighbouring villages, where they recently discovered ancient wall paintings. On the way to Chhoser we visit the villages of Nyaphu and the Nyaphu monastery on the cliff, Gharphu and Nedar, and also the Thubten Monastery. The villages in such an isolated landscape are incredible and the monasteries, erected inside caves, dating from before the thirteenth century are incredible. The main building of the Thubten Monastery, located under a cliff, rests on an interior wall, while the prayer rooms are located far inside the cave. End the excursion and return to Lo Manthang.
Day 11 :Trek to Logekar Gonpa and Drakmar 3,820m.
A 6 hours trek.
We leave the mud-city of the forbidden Kingdome and treks back toward the Gami via Logekar Monastery. The trail climbs steadily up till a small hill ridge, from where we can view the Lo Gekar Monastery, Charang and Mornag villages. Then the trail continuously descends until Lo Gekar (Ghar Gompa). We visit the Lo Gekar gonpa which is older than Samye gonpa in Tibet, and one of the oldest gonpas of Nepal.
Finalize the visit and our lunch at Logekar Monastery. After lunch, we’ll continue our trek with a steady climb up to a small pass. After this pass, we descend of about 500 meters with a view of Dagmar village, one of the most interesting villages with ancient caves in its red sand cliff.
Day 12 :Trek to Shyangbochen 3,850m.
A 5 hours trek.
In one and half hours further trek will bring us to Gami. The trail requires only some minor descending and climbing to reach Gami. From Gami we retrace the trail, which we walk while climbing up.
Day 13 :Trek to Tetang 3,850m.
A 7 hours trek.
In the morning we’ll pay a visit to a cave below the Shyangmochen village. This is a Cave of the Self-Emanating Buddha (Rangjyung cave), a not to miss place.
We then retrace the trail to Samar and continue, mostly downhill, to Chhuksang village, where we will cross the River Kaligandaki and continue with minor climbing to the village of Tetang. The trail provides some fine views of wind-carved hills and the village of Tetang. Tetang village is formed between 2 hills; they should have found it a safe place to avoid the strong wind that hits the entire Kaligandaki valley. Tetang is the upper village of the Chuksang, which we visit on the first day entering to Mustang from Kagbeni. From Tetang village it takes one day to go to Jomsom and a day to arrive at Muktinath.
Day 14 :Trek to Ngyu La Pass 4,135m. and Muktinath 3,800m.
A 7 hours trek.
From Tetang village the trail climbs till the Gnyu Pass, which takes around 3:30 hours. The entire route provides a beautiful panorama of the Himalayan range and green Valley with many kinds of Himalayan flowers (Aug-Sept). From Ngyu-La Pass, you can see the whole Muktinath area at a distance of 2 hours’ gentle walk.
You’ll arrive in Muktinath, tired but with a sense of accomplishment. Muktinath, the Lord of Salvation, is a holy place both for Buddhist and Hindu, which attracts thousands of devotees from Nepal, India, and Tibet every year. The Muktinath region, facing Mt. Nilgiri and Mt. Tilicho to the south-east, Dhaulagiri to the south-west and Thorang Peak and Yak Kawa Kang to the north, is a living museum of old villages, such as Dzar, Dzong, Khingga and Purang.
Muktinath, also known by Chumig Gyatsa (One Hundred Springs) is situated some 18 kilometres north-east of Jomsom. The Muktinath temple was constructed in 1815 A.D. by Queen Subarna Prabha, the wife of Rana Bahadur Saha, king of Nepal after she had a dream. The main temple is built in a Tibetan pagoda style containing a huge brass image of Vishnu or Chenrezig (in Buddhist) as Tibetan Buddhists call him.
Nearby is another temple, where gushes out of rock considered very holy. There is also a Buddhist monastery (Salamebar Dolamebar monastery) in the eastern corner of the Muktinath precinct; dedicated to Jwala Mai, the goddess of fire, shielded by curtains, are burning eternal flames. Hindus believe the flame, to be Agni, the god of fire.
There are two other sites of worship within a single structure nearby; the Shiva-Parvati temple and a Narsingha gonpa (Monastery). The lower story is the gompa, while the upper floor is the temple. At the back of the temple are 108-waterspouts, Chu-Mig-Gya-Tsa, fashioned in the shape of boars’ heads, the boar is one of the ten incarnations of Chenrezig (Buddhist) / Vishnu (in Hindu). This water is channelled from a spring above the temple.
For Hindus, the importance of Muktinath, besides its holy water, lies in the belief that Lord Vishnu takes the form of saligrams. Saligrams are fossils found in the Kali Gandaki River, just a few hours’ walking down from Muktinath. The traditional caretakers of Muktinath are Tibetan Buddhist nuns.
Day 15 :Trek to Lupra, Thini and Jomsom.
A 5 hours trek.
Today is the last day of the trek. We trek to Lupra Gonpa with some of the finest views of Dhaulagiri, Tukche, Nilgiri and Tilicho mountain and the Kaligandaki valley. At Lupra is a small but beautiful and authentic village visited by very few people. There we probably pay a visit to its monastery. The next village on the trail is Thini a big village opposite the Jomsom airport. We then shortly descend tp the Kaligandaki river to cross the bridge to Jomsom. After seeing extraordinary human effort in this corner of the World with such an isolation and solitude, we arrive at Jomsom, where we get a round trip of our trekking into Upper Mustang!
Day 16 :Fly to Pokhara 820m.
22-minutes panoramic flight.
In the morning, we board in a small aircraft (Twin Otter / Dornier or similar types). The flight offers fantastic views of Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri and Annapurna range of mountains on both sides of the plane.
A great mountain scenery lasts till it touches at beautiful Pokhara city airport. Once we get out of the plane, the panorama to the northeast of Pokhara, filled with high mountain rows, greet you back. Transfer to Pokhara Lakeside and get distributed your room. The rest of the day is free for rest and refreshment. In the evening, we stroll around the lake of Pokhara while choosing one of its best restaurants for a hearty dinner.
Day 17 :Guided tour and fly to Kathmandu.
40-minutes flight and 45 minutes drive.
Early in the morning, a short excursion to the Sharangkot viewpoint to enjoy sunrise views and the incredible mountain panorama. Return to your hotel and breakfast.
After breakfast, we will go to visit the International Mountain Museum in Pokhara, where we will see and understand the history of the mountain and mountaineering in the highest peaks in the world. We will understand the importance of the Nepal Himalayas and the benefits given by the Himalayas to billions of people and natural habitat where we will also know a bit of the different ethnicities of Nepal.
After lunch, we take a short drive to Pokhara airport to board out domestic flight Kathmandu, a short and beautiful flight of 40 minutes put you back to Kathmandu. We are back in the colourful city of Kathmandu. Arrive at your hotel and get checked into your rooms – dinner and overnight in the hotel.
Day 18 :Kathmandu
A free day / or optionally take a guided city tour.
Day 19 :Departure
Breakfast and free time till the time limit. In the indicated time, our office representative and vehicle arrive at your hotel to serve you till the airport. Drive to Kathmandu international airport to see off formalities and departure.
Number in Group Costs Per Person
3-Star Hotels 4-Star hotels
2-3 Persons US$2900 US $3082
4-5 Persons US $2722 US $2900
6-7 Persons US $2620 US $2800
8-10 Person US $2530 US $2710
Single Room Supl US $ 400 US $ 580
- Airport pick-up and departure services as per itinerary
- 4-nights of hotel accommodation at Kathmandu on twin sharing basis, breakfast included
- 1 Guide in the group and one porter, between every two members, for entire trekking period
- Insurance and all expenses of local staff
- A Trekking Map in group
- A good sleeping bag to each member
- A pair of a trekking pole to each member
- A duffel bag to each member
- A satellite mobile phone for communication in an emergency (Personal usage available with 4$ per minute call)
- A small Medial kit box for first add medical purpose.
- Kathmandu to Pokhara transportation in a comfortable private vehicle
- Annapurna Conservation Area Entry Permit and TIMS permit
- Special trekking permit for Upper Mustang
- Trek with all meals and accommodations in teahouse lodges
- Airfare Pokhara to Jomsom and Jomsom to Pokhara (tax and airport transfer included)
- Sightseeing tour of Sarangkot and International Mountain Museum in Pokhara with transport and monument entry fee
- 2-night hotel accommodation in Pokhara on twin sharing basis, breakfast included
- Airfare Pokhara / Kathmandu (tax and airport transfer included)
- Travel insurance, International air tickets, Nepal entry visa
- Lunch & dinner in Kathmandu and Pokhara
- Alcoholic and mineral beverages during the trek
- Tips and those, not mentioned in above price include section.
3-Star hotels 4-Star hotels 5-Star hotels
Kathmandu Marshyangdi Shanker/Malla Del’ Annapurna
Pokhara Lakeside Retreat Temple Tree Temple Tree
Treking Lodge Lodge Lodge