Upper mustang trek

Upper Mustang Trek : A Trek Beyond Imagination

Upper Mustang Trek is a remote and arid region in the north of Nepal, bordering Tibet. The region used to be an independent kingdom until it was integrated into Nepal in 2008. Upper Mustang is also known as the “Hidden Kingdom” because it remained isolated from the rest of Nepal and the world for centuries. Even today, the region is restricted and requires a special permit to enter. The Upper Mustang Trek is a unique trekking experience that offers a glimpse into a world that has remained untouched by modernization. The region’s landscape is stunning, with deep gorges, red cliffs, and vast valleys. The trek also lets you explore the ancient capital of the Mustang Kingdom, Lo Manthang, and its many monasteries, palaces, and chortens.

upper mustang trek temple

How to get to Upper Mustang Trek

Getting to Upper Mustang can be a bit challenging, but here are the different ways to get there:

  • By Flight: The quickest way to reach Upper Mustang is by taking a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara and then from Pokhara to Jomsom. The Jomsom airport is the closest airport to Upper Mustang, and it takes around 20 minutes to fly from Pokhara to Jomsom. From Jomsom, you can either trek to Upper Mustang or take a jeep.
  • By Road: Another way to reach Upper Mustang is by taking a bus or jeep from Kathmandu to Pokhara. From Pokhara, you can take a jeep to Jomsom and then trek to Upper Mustang.
  • By Trekking: If you have more time and want to experience the trekking adventure, you can trek from Pokhara to Upper Mustang via the Annapurna Circuit. The trek will take around 18-21 days, depending on your pace and the route you take.
  • By Helicopter: For those who want to avoid the long trek or don’t have the time to spare, you can take a helicopter tour to Upper Mustang. It’s a convenient and quicker way to explore the region, and you can customize your itinerary based on your preferences.

Best Time to Visit Upper mustang

The best time to go on the Upper Mustang Trek is from March to November. During this period, the weather is dry and mild, and the skies are clear, offering excellent views of the mountains. The region is closed to tourists during the winter months due to heavy snowfall, and monsoon season in the summer months makes the trails slippery and dangerous.

Permits and fees required for the trek

The region of Upper Mustang, located proximate to the border of Tibet, has been deemed a Restricted Area, resulting in a requirement for an expensive permit to gain admittance. A single permit will set you back $500 and provides 10 days of access, with an additional $50 charge per day for any time spent beyond that threshold.

The Restricted Area Permit (RAP) remains in effect from the moment you depart from Kagbeni until the moment you return. Thus, on this mesmerizing journey through the magical terrain of Nepal’s Upper Mustang, a 10-day RAP is all that is necessary.

It is worth noting that a $20 fee for the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) is also required from each individual participating in the trek. This permit shall remain valid for the duration of the trek.

Please take note that an individual is not authorized to embark on this trek without a companion. A minimum of two trekkers, accompanied by a recognized trekking company, is a requisite.

Day-by-day itinerary  of upper mustang trek

Day 1: Kathmandu to Pokhara (Drive)

Pokhara – 830 m / 2723 ft – 7 hrs

Day 2: Pokhara to Jomsom (Flight) to Kagbeni

Kagbeni – 930 m / 9186 ft – 3 hrs

Day 3: Kagbeni to Chele

Chele – 3050 m / 10006 ft – 6 hrs

Day 4: Chele to Syangmoche

Syangmoche – 3475 m / 11400 ft – 6 hrs

Day 5: Syangmoche Ghami

Ghami – 3500 m / 11482 ft – 5 hrs

Day 6: Ghami to Charang

Charang – 3560 m / 11679 ft – 4 hrs

Day 7: Charang to Lo Manthang

Lo Manthang – 3770 m / 12368 ft – 5 hrs

Day 8: Day Trip to Chhoser Cave

Lo Manthang – 3770 m / 12368 ft – 6 hrs

Day 9: Lo Manthang to Dhakmar

Dhakmar – 3800 m / 12467 ft – 7 hrs

Day 10: Dhakmar to Ghiling

Ghiling – 3860 m / 12664 ft – 6 hrs

Day 11: Ghiling to Chuksang

Chuksang – 3050 m / 10050 ft – 6 hrs

Day 12: Chuksang to Jomsom

Jomsom – 2715 m / 8907 ft – 5 hrs

Day 13: Jomsom to Pokhara (Flight)

Pokhara – 830 m / 2723 ft – 15 min

Day 14: Pokhara to Kathmandu (Drive)

Kathmandu – 1300 m / 4265 ft – 8 hrs

Difficulty Level of the Upper Mustang Trek

Due to the altitude and dry atmosphere, there is considered a challenging trek. While you watch the locals whizz past you at speed, you are working hard to catch your breath and wonder ‘why?’

Remember that they were born at altitude. Like the Sherpas living in the Khumbu (Everest) Region, the Tibetan Buddhist origin locals of Upper Mustang were born to less oxygen content and the dryness of the air.

Like all treks in the Nepal Himalayas, there are ups and downs to challenge you. High passes to cross and steep descents to negotiate.

But then there are the wonderful mountains and the fact you are in the stunning Kingdom of Lo to compensate for you.

As far as weather is concerned, being that this trek is in the rain shadow, you can do this trek almost year-round.

Although we don’t recommend doing it in the winter when the snow is deep, and many locals leave for Pokhara or Kathmandu to ride out the winter. You can do this trek in the monsoon (June – September) without fear of rain and muddy trails.

Like all treks in Nepal, we recommend you have a good fitness level and put in a bit of extra gym or hiking time before you come! Work on both cardio and those leg muscles! And don’t forget to mention high-altitude trekking when arranging your travel insurance.

Upper mustang trek

Food option in upper mustang

A variety of soups,Thukpa ,Tibetan bread, Momos (packets of vegetables or meat Tibetan style), Fried macaroni with vegetables, Pasta, Dal Bhat ,Fried rice, Custard , Rice pudding, Stewed, apples or apple pie (in season), Beer/ spirits (we recommend you limit your consumption while on the trek) tea/ coffee/ Tibetan salted tea.

Culture and traditions of Upper Mustang

The customs and conventions of the Upper Mustang inhabitants are exclusive and distinct, attributed to their seclusion from the rest of Nepal. Due to the proximity of the region to the Tibet border, Tibetan culture has had a notable impact.

Religious belief has a momentous influence on the daily life of the Upper Mustang populace, with a significant proportion of the community adhering to Tibetan Buddhism. The area is dotted with monasteries and small shrines known as chortens. The Lo Manthang region’s Tiji Festival, a prevalent cultural event, offers a glimpse into the region’s distinct religious customs.

The Upper Mustang residents boast a long history of skillful craftsmanship, with numerous adept artisans creating customary handicrafts, including pottery, jewelry, and textiles. The region’s construction is also unique, with many buildings erected in the conventional Tibetan fashion utilizing mud bricks and stone.

The Upper Mustang inhabitants possess a profound sense of solidarity, with communal gatherings and functions playing a vital role in everyday life. Agriculture and animal husbandry are the principal sources of livelihood, with the rugged terrain and severe climate necessitating perseverance and hard work.

On the whole, the culture and traditions of Upper Mustang are an essential component of the area’s identity, and its residents take great pride in preserving and communicating their unparalleled heritage with visitors.

upper mustang trek village

Safety and Security in Nepal and on the Upper Mustang Trek

In general, Nepal is a very safe country.  But please check your home government’s website for the latest information.  There may be demonstrations – if you see one, please avoid it.  Theft is unusual, but it does happen.  Ensure all your valuables are hidden from sight.  You can leave any valuables in our office locker while on your trek.  

It is unlikely, but if there is any landslide, avalanche, flooding or earthquake on the mountain, please follow instructions from your guide.  Similarly, if you feel unwell at all, please advise your guide.

Trek Difficulty and Physical Fitness Required for Upper Mustang Trek

It is considered a moderate trek, but a good fitness level is still required.  Particularly as you will be walking at altitude.  Cardio exercises and walking at home will help you prepare for your trip.

Will I Suffer from Altitude Sickness on Upper mustang Trek?

Going above 3,000m-3,500m can cause some people to feel some effects of altitude.  However, with plenty of time to acclimatize, there should be no problems. The first two trekking days are done at relatively low altitudes, giving our bodies time to adjust.  

All Magical Nepal guides are well experienced (with an average of 7 years of trekking experience each) and know what to look for and do if anyone is feeling unwell.  Please tell your guide if you feel unwell at any trek stage.

How to Prepare for Upper Mustang Trek?

The Upper Mustang Trek is a challenging trek that requires a good level of fitness and endurance. Before embarking on the trek, it is essential to prepare both physically and mentally. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the trek:

Start training at least three months before the trek. Focus on cardio exercises such as running, cycling, or swimming.

Invest in good quality trekking gear, including hiking boots, a warm jacket, and a sleeping bag.

Acclimatize properly to the altitude. The highest point on the trek is 4,200 meters, so it is essential to take your time and not rush the ascent.

Pack light and bring only the essentials. The trek involves long days of walking, and carrying a heavy backpack can make it more challenging.

In conclusion Upper Mustang trek is a remote and arid region in the north of Nepal, bordering Tibet. The region used to be an independent kingdom until it was integrated into Nepal in 2008. The trek is challenging and requires a good level of fitness.

You will need to obtain a permit to enter Upper Mustang. The trek can be expensive, as you will need to pay for permits, accommodation, food, and a guide.The best time to do the trek is during the spring (March-May) or autumn (September-November) when the weather is mild.If you are prepared for the challenges, then the Upper Mustang Trek is an unforgettable experience that you will cherish for a lifetime.

FAQ

How High Will I go on the Upper Mustang Trek?

This is a relatively high-altitude trek, although it may not be considered so in the Himalayas! There are some passes to cross, the highest being Yamada La Pass at  3,850m. 

Trek Difficulty and Physical Fitness Required for this Trek

It is considered a moderate trek, but a good fitness level is still required.  Particularly as you will be walking at altitude.  Cardio exercises and walking at home will help you prepare for your trip.

Will I Suffer from Altitude Sickness on this Trek?

Going above 3,000m-3,500m can cause some people to feel some effects of altitude.  However, with plenty of time to acclimatize, there should be no problems. The first two trekking days are done at relatively low altitudes, giving our bodies time to adjust.

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