Upper Mustang Trekking – What You Should Need To Know
Upper Mustang Trekking

For those seeking an unforgettable and distinctive trekking experience, the Upper Mustang in Nepal is a destination that needs to be on a bucket list. This trek provides an immersive adventure with breathtaking landscapes, a rich cultural heritage, and a remote location. To assist you in planning your journey, we have compiled a comprehensive guide to Upper Mustang, including the top routes and accommodations and insider tips for maximizing your time during your Upper Mustang Trekking experience.

Prepare for adventure, mystery, and stunning views when you trek in the hidden kingdom of the Upper Mustang. From obtaining permits and planning your route to conquering high-elevation passes and crossing carved gorges, this guide will provide everything you need to know about the Upper Mustang Trekking.

Upper Mustang is a remote region in the Himalayas of Nepal, known for its breathtaking landscapes, ancient Buddhist monasteries, and unique cultural heritage. Trekking in Upper Mustang is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that allows you to explore this hidden gem and immerse yourself in the local culture.

The Upper Mustang Trek has astonishingly arid valleys that differ significantly from other parts of Nepal. In addition, upper Mustang Trekking was a restricted region of demilitarization until 1992, making it one of the world’s most preserved places.

There are so many ways of choosing what to do, so it’s a complete guide for Upper Mustang Trekking that will take you to something incredible!

For many, trekking in Nepal is synonymous with its beauty, culture, and diversity—but one of the best-kept secrets to upper Mustang is its pristine ecosystem and unspoiled nature. Upper Mustang offers travelers a rare opportunity to experience true Himalayan wilderness and experience authentic Nepali life.

A highlight of the Upper Mustang Trek

The Upper Mustang Trek is the essential gateway to the mysterious world of Mustang’s ancient Buddhist Kingdom. After decades of prohibition and isolation from the rest of the world, it has developed its distinctive culture and rich traditions.

Trekking to Upper Mustang is an intriguing trip and allows you to find the most beautiful holiday ever.

It is more comparable to Tibet in terms of culture and geography than Nepal, and it has formed its kingdom with its capital, Lo Manthang.

Situated in the Himalayas’ rain shadow and one of Nepal’s formally last forbidden areas, this trek is famous for its beauty and challenging cliffs.

  • A visit to Mustang’s hidden last forbidden kingdom
  • Trek through a wild desert with cliffs and spires.
  • Visit Lomangthang’s walled city and monasteries.
  • It is an excellent trip to escape the summer monsoon lying in the rain shadow.
  • Discover the hidden valleys and undulating landscapes.

Where is the Upper Mustang?

The Mustang region lies in Nepal; the northern Upper Mustang is isolated and shares a border with Tibet. Kagbeni is the gateway of the Upper Mustang, which lies in the South. Furthermore, Kagbeni connects the Lower Mustang and the famous Annapurna Circuit Trek trail.

There are the five best trekking routes available around Upper Mustang. The most famous route connects them via a short western path and a longer eastern trail.

All these trails give dramatically arid countryside with beautiful, colorful layers exhibited on high cliffs, often surrounded by caves, valleys, and distinctive rock formations.

Rivers, saltwater, apple groves, barley farms, unique Buddhist structures, and whitewashed settlements are located beneath these mountains.

The Upper Mustang trekking trail is not well defined, although no passes are over 4,300 meters, and a guide is compulsory.

How to get there?

Jomsom is the starting point for nearly all routes in the Upper Mustang region. Most people choose to take the 20-minute flight between Pokhara and Jomsom. But you can take a bus or Jeep from Pokhara to Jomsom if you are on a budget.

However, it will be a tiring and challenging journey by bus or jeep on land. Kagbeni is the restricted region’s official control point just north of Jomsom.

How can I organize a trek?

There are several phases in the organization of trekking to the Upper Mustang. These include having a trekking agency specialized in the trek, obtaining permits, and fulfilling the requirements.

Before you trek to Upper Mustang, you need two official documents to address the criteria:

  • Restricted Area Permit
  • Annapurna Conservation Area Project
  • TIMS (Trekkers Information Management Systems)

You must have a compulsory guide for Upper Mustang Trekking. You must also belong to a minimum group of two persons. All of the above must be processed through a trekking company in Nepal.

You may check below in the FAQs section, where we produced some questions that travelers generally ask.

When is the best time to go?

When you visit Nepal during the rainy season (May through September), you’ll find it difficult to access the trekking trails in the Himalayas, but not in the high season.

Many hotels close during the monsoon, but some options are still available. The best time to trek to Upper Mustang is from March through May, especially between June and September.

The weather is generally moderate, though there is often heavy rain in the summer. Upper Mustang is the Himalayas’ rain shadow area, making it an excellent monsoon trek and open year-round for trekking.

The most crucial aspect of winter is when most people leave the capital to prevent snow. Therefore, the upper Mustang is generally the best time to visit from March to the beginning of November.

The best time to visit Upper Mustang is spring and autumn. From March to May, the weather is mild, and the flowers are in full bloom, making it an excellent time for photography enthusiasts. From September to November, the skies are clear, and the weather is dry, making it ideal for trekking.

However, be prepared for cold temperatures at night, especially at higher altitudes. It’s important to note that Upper Mustang is closed during the monsoon season from June to August due to heavy rainfall and landslides.

How do I get a Permit?

The Upper Mustang Trekking can be described as one of the world’s most extensive treks. Unfortunately, the area was entirely closed off until the 1990s.

While trekking in the area, very few trekkers come into contact with sights, places, and people. The Upper Mustang Trek is one of Nepal’s most spectacular treks and one of the most privileged parts.

The only way is to apply through the registered trekking company, which maintains a USD bank account. However, the online application form is available on the official website of the Department of Immigration, Nepal.

Upper Mustang Permit
Upper Mustang Trekking Permit

Details on the passport, pictures, itinerary, and valid visas for trekkers are necessary. The permits can be issued only in Kathmandu or Pokhara by the Department of Immigration.

Permits and fees are required for Upper Mustang Trek. As the Upper Mustang is restricted, trekkers must obtain a special permit from the Nepal government. The permit costs $500 for the first ten days and an additional $50 daily for each day after that. In addition to the permit, trekkers must have a licensed guide and travel with a registered trekking agency.

The cost of Upper Mustang Trek will vary but expect to pay around $25-$30 per day for the guide and $20-$25 per day for the porters. It’s important to note that these fees are subject to change, so check with the Nepalese government for the most up-to-date information.

What packing list do I need?

You will have to adapt your trekking equipment according to the year you go, e.g., you will need more warm clothes in the winter. The following items are generally necessary for an Upper Mustang trek:

Clothing:-

  • Hat or cap
  • A windproof style jacket or raincoat
  • Long sleeve shirts: avoid cotton, as it takes a long time to dry.
  • Trekking pants, lights
  • Hiking Socks (1 pair for 2- days of walking) Avoid very long to dry-type socks, tennis (cotton), and high risk of blisters.
  • A pair of gloves (Nov. – Mar.)
  • A good pair of hiking boots (preferably with good grips)
  • Rubber sandals
  • Sleeping bag (-20°c for winter (Dec. – Feb.) and 0°c for comfort temperature in other months. Everest: -20°c.

Equipment:-

  • Water bottles (water purification system)
  • Map
  • Sunglasses
  • Head torch and its spare batteries
  • Set of first aid kits with personal medicines
  • Sunblock cream (skin + lips)
  • Toiletries: Bio-degradable products.
  • Toilet paper + lighter.
  • A pocket knife (Swiss knife preferable).

Trekking poles can be helpful, mainly if you are on the western or eastern paths of the Mustang. Dust masks help prevent dry air from recovering and dust from the wind. Note that the above is an essential list.

Please read this blog for a detailed equipment list and practical information about Nepal.

What are the attractions?

Upper Mustang is an ideal destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. This region perfectly blends natural beauty and cultural heritage, making it a must-visit place. Upper Mustang boasts from towering peaks to arid deserts, allowing trekkers to experience the best that Nepal has to offer. From ancient caves to breathtaking landscapes, this region has something for everyone.

The royal palace is the main attraction of Lo Manthang, alongside Buddhist monasteries and temples; the LoGekar Monastery is another attraction in Dhakmar. Likewise, Thugchen Gompa and Amchi are other highlights built in the fifteenth century. Amchi is the traditional medical practice of the Lo people. Amchi School has also been established to preserve the conventional method of medicine.

Hiring horses or ponies to visit the local monastery and learn about the Buddhist tradition and culture in Chhoser is also available. Luri Gumpa is an attraction using the eastern routes from Lo – Mangthang, which connects Kagbeni or Muktinath.

Upper Mustang Trek Map

These maps help you to discover three different Upper Mustang Trek itineraries. But note that this map is not a handy trekking map.

The main Upper Mustang trekking itinerary is the same and varies according to side trips, road conditions, weather conditions, natural events, and physical changes in trips. It applies especially to the western and eastern routes.

Altitude graph
Altitude chart of the upper Mustang trek

Trekking routes and itinerary

The Upper Mustang Trek offers a variety of routes and itineraries to choose from, depending on your preferences and time constraints. The Jomsom to Lo Manthang trek is the most popular way, which takes around 12-14 days to complete.

Other popular routes include the Upper Mustang Trek, which takes around 17-21 days to complete and consists of a visit to the remote village of Luri Gompa. In addition, the Tiji Festival Trek takes place in May and offers a unique cultural experience.

Therefore, choosing a route and itinerary that suits your fitness level and interests and allows for acclimatization to the high altitude is essential. 

In Upper Mustang, there are several routes and itineraries. But most trekking companies displayed the diluted program on extended days outside the central area.

The reality is that in Upper Mustang. Here, we’ve compiled three notable routes for your reference. But there are the five best itineraries for Upper Mustang that can be combined in places. No matter which routes you choose, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Himalayas and the unique culture of the Upper Mustang.

Classic Upper Mustang Trek route

DaysDestinationAltitude in MetersDuration
1.Fly to Jomsom then trek to Kagbeni28003h00
2.Kagbeni – Chele30506h30
3.Chele – Syangbochen – Gheling35707h00
4.Gelling – Dakmar35306h00
6.Dakmar – Tsarang 35604h00
7.Tsarang – Lo – Mangthang.38004h30
8. Lo – Mangthang – Dhakmar38206h00
9. Explore the Chhoser Cave 35706h15
10. Lo – Mangthang – Yara 38205h30
11.Yara – Tangge 32406h30
12.Tangge – Chhusang29808h30
13.Chhusang – Muktinath 38007h00
14.Muktinath – Jomsom28005h00

Western Upper Mustang Trek Route

DaysDestinationAltitude in MetersDuration
1.Fly to Jomsom then trek to Kagbeni28003h00
2.Kagbeni – Chele30506h30
3.Chele – Syangbochen – Gheling35707h00
4.Gelling – Dakmar35306h00
6.Dakmar – Tsarang 35604h00
7.Tsarang – Lo – Mangthang.38004h30
8. Lo – Mangthang – Dhakmar38206h00
9. Explore the Chhoser Cave 35706h15
10. Lo – Mangthang – Yara 38205h30
11.Yara – Tangge 32406h30
12.Tangge – Chhusang29808h30
13.Chhusang – Muktinath 38007h00
14.Muktinath – Jomsom28005h00

Eastern Upper Mustang Trek itinerary

DaysDestinationAltitude in MetersDuration
1.Fly to Jomsom then trek to Kagbeni28003h00
2.Kagbeni – Chele30506h30
3.Chele – Syangbochen – Gheling35707h00
4.Gelling – Dakmar35306h00
6.Dakmar – Tsarang 35604h00
7.Tsarang – Lo – Mangthang.38004h30
8. Lo – Mangthang – Dhakmar38206h00
9. Explore the Chhoser Cave 35706h15
10. Lo – Mangthang – Yara 38205h30
11.Yara – Tangge 32406h30
12.Tangge – Chhusang29808h30
13.Chhusang – Muktinath 38007h00
14.Muktinath – Jomsom28005h00

How To Book a Trek?

To go on a trekking holiday to Upper Mustang, research the company you will hire. Make sure that you look into their experience and their track record.

Several companies you can find online and on social media offer trekking holidays in Upper Mustang. However, go for a reputable company for peace of mind.

Certain conditions must be met before a company can become licensed to operate in Nepal. These conditions include the following:

  • Firstly, the local government needs to allow them to register their company.
  • Secondly, they must be registered with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of Nepal.
  • Thirdly, they must be associated with the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN).
  • Fourth, they must be insured and licensed.
  • Finally, they must have a good reputation and track record.

Accommodation and food options during the trek.

Accommodation during the Upper Mustang Trek ranges from basic teahouses to more luxurious lodges, depending on your route and itinerary. Most teahouses offer shared rooms with basic amenities like a bed, blanket, and pillow.

Some teahouses may also have attached bathrooms, while others have shared bathrooms. It’s important to note that hot water and electricity availability may be limited in some areas. As for food, most teahouses offer a variety of Nepali and Western dishes, including daal bhat (a traditional Nepali dish), noodles, soups, and momos (dumplings).

It’s recommended to bring some snacks and energy bars for the trek, as well as a water purification system or tablets to ensure safe drinking water. Several tea houses are at every stop along the upper Mustang Trek route. So, there is no necessity to carry tents as accommodations.

However, you must pre-book for accommodation and food during the Tiji festival because many trekking companies simultaneously offer fixed departures for the Mustang Tiji Festival Trek. Alternatively, you can carry a tent of your own. Accommodation costs range from $4 to $6 on the trekking routes. Also, the price of a single meal is about the same scale as that.

Some Common Frequently Asked Questions

Did the road destroy Upper Mustang?

No, at least not yet. However, the road disturbs the hiking trail in a particular place. It makes for an unpleasant walk while connecting the streets in the area, although you may still skip it in some manner. We recommend alternative trails that combine with classic, eastern, or western routes.

What is the cost of the Upper Mustang trek?

The upper Mustang Trek cost depends on the packages you choose. Generally, Nepalese or international operators conclude the all-inclusive packages they offer.
Therefore, according to the services, the Upper Mustang Trek ranges from US$1800 to $2500. As a local operator, we provide this trek for US$1999 based on two trekkers in a group.

Why is Upper Mustang Trek so expensive?

The Upper Mustang Trek is less expensive than the Everest Base Camp Trek if you remove the Upper Mustang permits’ cost. So, having those things while trekking to the Upper Mustang is mandatory.

Wrapping Up

This ultimate guide on trekking in the Upper Mustang is a must-read for anyone planning to travel through the Upper Mustang. Consult with our team of experts at Himalayan Exploration before booking a trip to Nepal for the Upper Mustang Trek, and we’ll take care of the rest.

Are you looking for a unique and unforgettable travel experience? If so, Upper Mustang in Nepal is the perfect destination for you! Our ultimate guide to Upper Mustang covers everything you need to know to plan your trek, from permits and logistics to the best time to visit and what to expect on the trail. Here are some top reasons you should go on an Upper Mustang trek.

In the comments section below, tell me what else you’d like to know, and I’d love to hear about it!

About Author

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Kumar Lama
Kumar Lama is a founder of Himalayan Exploration Treks Pvt. Ltd. He is leading a team of travel professional offering tailor made travel services across Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.

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