The forbidden Buddhist kingdom of Lo, known in modern times as Mustang, remains one of the last true bulwarks of traditional Tibetan culture, hidden away in its secluded and highly protected barriers on Nepal's northern border. Formerly an outlying province of Tibet itself, Mustang's entire culture, language and philosophical outlook on life revolve around the ancient ties to its near-mythical neighbor — even its geography reflects that of the Tibetan steppe which both share.
Caught in the formidable rain shadow cast by the Himalayan ranges, chiefly the Annapurna massif and Dhaulagiri, Mustang is an arid land of stark earthen colors and rugged canyons, with distant snow-capped mountains offering a tantalizing promise of life-giving waters that rarely touch the parched high-altitude plateau other than through the precious resource of the Kali Gandaki River. Other than basic subsistence agriculture, the Lopa inhabitants of the valley have traditionally herded yak and in times gone by prospered through trade with Tibet. Despite the harsh conditions wildlife abounds in the region, with animals such as musk deer, Tibetan wild ass, Tibetan gazelle and even the legendary snow leopard thriving in the area.
Unlike the majority of treks in Nepal the journey into Mustang offers a rare glimpse into a regional capital of historic and cultural interest that's as magnificent in its isolation as it is appealing to the camera lens. Lo Manthang was long the royal stronghold, and while the monarchy has been abolished the sturdy palace still remains behind the town's medieval walls, though much of it sustained considerable damage during the 2015 earthquake. To enter the gates and narrow winding streets is to feel as if one is stepping through a window in time to an era from centuries ago, like some latter day Marco Polo stumbling in through the mountain wilderness to find a remote outpost of humanity defying description or belief. Housed within the tall whitewashed walls are four monasteries of significance, the Gompas of Jampa Lhakchang, Thubchen, Chodey, and Choprang. Nearby Chhoser is not only home to another notable monastery, but has seen significant discoveries of major archeological importance made in the Sky Caves carved into the cliffs above the village for burial purposes. The cave paintings, illuminated Buddhist manuscripts, sculptures and numerous artifacts being found are slowly bringing international attention to the region.
The journey to Mustang typically starts with a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom, the popular trekking hub that's both a start and end point for a number of treks in the area, and leads from there northward through the stunning Kali Gandaki Gorge, the world's deepest. Kagbeni serves as the checkpoint for entry into the heavily restricted Manaslu region, and over the ensuing days numerous passes lead through the arid landscape and its vividly striated bands of color towards Lo Manthang, where we pause for a day to take in all that the centuries-old outpost of Tibetan civilization has to offer. The trek back to Dhakmar pauses at the 8th century monastery of Lo Gekar, then continues on across the windswept plateau past the foothills of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri to the sacred pilgrimage destination of Muktinah. From there the trail heads back to Jomsom, a well-earned rest, and the return flight to Pokhara.
Upper Mustang not only serves as an extraordinary adventure to a remote part of Nepal that's scenically distinct from the rest of the country, but also as a window to a highly preserved culture that seems a throwback to long-distant days in Tibet — at times it would hardly surprise to turn a corner and see the Potola itself perched high on a nearby hilltop. It's ready and waiting for you to explore, and the staff of Nepal Trekking Experts are on hand to help organize your trip to this fascinating region.
Day 01: Welcome at Tribhuwan international airport and transfer to the hotel.
Day 02: Free day for trekking Preparation and sightseeing around the valley.
Day 03: Kathmandu to Pokhara (823m,6 hrs drive)
Day 04: Fly to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni (2,858m, 3-4 hrs)
Day 05: Kagbeni to Chele (3050m, 5-6 hrs)
Day 06: Chele to Syanbochen (3475m, 6-7 hrs)
Day 07: Syanbochen to Ghami (3520m, 5-6 hrs)
Day 08: Ghami to Charang (3500m, 4-5 hrs)
Day 09: Charang to Lo-Mangthang (3700m, 5-6 hrs)
Day 10: Explore Lo-Mangthang
Day 11: Lo-Mangthang to Drakmar (3810m, 6-7 hrs)
Day 12: Dhakmar to Ghiling (3806m, 5-6 hrs)
Day 13: Ghiling to Chhuksang (3050m, 5-6 hrs)
Day 14: Chhuksang to Jomsom (2700m, 6-7 hrs)
Day 15: Fly back to Pokhara
Day 16: Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu
Day 17: Join next program or transfer to the international airport according your next destination.
Note:- Above itinerary is just a guideline. If you are not satisfied please feel free customize your own.
Welcome at airport and transfer to the hotel.
Free day for final trekking preparation and enjoy with cultural diversity Kathmandu
Kathmandu to Pokhara by tourist bus. Time for sightseeing around Pokhara and its beautiful setting by Phewa Lake.
An early flight to Jomsom gives us our first taste of the magnificent mountain scenery that awaits us on this incredible journey through the long-hidden kingdom of Mustang. After our landing we head out through the astonishing Kali Gandaki Gorge and follow the river north until we reach the village of Ekle Bhatti, with Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri and Tukuche keeping us company on our hike. We finish the easy day with our arrival at Kagbeni, the traditional gateway to the Mustang region, with plenty of time to wander the village and explore its temples and monasteries.
Our day begins by checking in at the conservation area's office to have our permits checked, after which we head in to Mustang and walk by the Kali Gandaki to the quaint village of Tangbe, with its white-washed walls and unique red, white and black chortens. The scenic trail takes us through the region's famous apple orchards and onward to the day's final destination of Chele.
A series of scenic passes, including the highest, Taklam La (3624m) provide us an undulating passage towards the pretty villages of Samar and Syanbochen, with the peaks of Tilicho, Nilgiri, and Yakawa Kang standing tall over the valley. We pass by the Chungsi cave along the way, long reputed to have been a place of meditation for the legendary Guru Ringpoche.
The pass of Yamda La (3850m) greets us soon after our morning departure, and a series of villages and chortens mark our passage through the scenic and culturally rich and diverse valley, culminating in our climb over Nyi La pass (4010m) to round out our day before arriving at Ghami and its dramatic setting.
Our journey continues across a suspension bridge and climbs steeply along the trail towards a panoramic ridge top, after which we continue on a path by the Ghaymi Khola and a long series of fascinating Mani walls that mark our passage. The day finishes with our arrival at Charang, a historic village renowned for its imposing gompa and venerable palace.
We exit Charang and steadily climb to a ridge that presents us with our first views of the magical capital and former royal residence of Lo-Manthang, and as we descend towards the village a chorten greets us as a marker seemingly highlighting our passage into a distant time and place. The white-washed walls greet us from afar as we climb the plateau and approach the solitary entrance and enter within to find our accommodation for the night.
If one day on a journey of numerous highlights could be cited as the standout, this could possibly be the one. Walking through Lo-Manthang feels like a time portal has opened up and whisked us back through the centuries, leaving us wandering upon mysterious gompas and down myriad laneways lined with prayer wheels, stupas and chortens, the overwhelming feeling of an ancient Buddhist culture alive and well and greeting you with every step. At the village's heart lies the palace, modest by European standards yet exuding its own aura and sense of place in this mystical cultural outpost.
Leaving behind the legendary village we depart through the solitary entrance to Lo Gekar and on to Ghar Gompa, glancing back towards Lo-Manthang one last time from the top of a ridge before heading down to the monastery. From there we make our way to Drakmar for the night.
Our journey moves on through the semi-arid wilderness, passing numerous caves en route, with mani walls marking our passage as we head back towards the south. A climb takes us steadily upwards at day's end to Ghiling, with ample time left over to explore the village before bedding down for the night.
The day's hike offers up fine views of the Himalayas as we trek downhill over a rolling landscape of hamlets and picturesque scenery, the entire region exuding its Tibetan influences and culture. By mid afternoon we arrive at Chhuksang in plenty of time to explore the village at our leisure.
The final day on the trail returns us towards the familiar sight of Tangbe, with Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri fare welling us in the background. From Tangbe we make our way to Kagbeni and the last stretch to Jomsom, the regional Mecca of trekking. After we've checked into our accommodation we'll be able to relax, put our feet up, and look back on our journey in wonder — and perhaps a sense of disbelief at the mystery and old-world perspectives given us on the trek through Mustang.
We take an early morning flight back to Pokhara and explore the picturesque city. It's a free day to sit back and enjoy all that the city and its beautiful lakeside setting have to offer.
A long day's drive by bus that gives provides numerous scenic opportunities — and thrills — along the way.
Farewell and drop-off at the airport, or the opportunity to join another of our programs.