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

Nepal’s picturesque mountain is known all over the world. The mighty Mount Everest is mainly well known, and many visitors from all over the world have an impression of the highest peak in the world. However, Mount Everest is only a small fraction of what is to discover in Nepal. You will come across some of the world’s most spectacular teahouses, monasteries, and friendly locals in the Upper Mustang Trek. 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!

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

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.

The Upper Mustang trekking offers sights of the Nilgiri, Annapurna, and Dhaulagirí, giving an overview of the Trans-Himalayan region. The Mustang is an arid river valley that goes to the north-south of the Annapurna circuit and is often referred to as “Upper Mustang.”

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 within its own distinctive culture and rich traditions. Trekking to Upper Mustang is not only an intriguing trip but also this trek allows you to find the most beautiful holiday of all time in your life.

It is more comparable to Tibet in terms of culture and geography than Nepal, and it has formed a kingdom of its own with its capital, the 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.
  • An excellent trip to get away from 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 isolated and shared 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 popular 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, of course, give dramatically arid countryside with beautiful colorful layers exhibited on elevated 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 there are no passes over 4,300 meters, and a guide is compulsory.

How to get Upper Mustang?

Jomsom is the starting point for the Upper Mustang region for nearly all routes. 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 budget. It will tiring and difficult journeys by bus or jeep on land. Kagbeni, just north of Jomsom, whereas the official control point of the restricted region.

How can I organize a trek to Upper Mustang?

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

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 needs to be processed through a trekking company in Nepal. You may check below in the FAQs section where we produced some questions that the travelers generally asked.

When is the best time to trek to Upper Mustang?

When you visit Nepal during the rainy season (May through September) you’ll find that it can be difficult to access the trekking trails in the Himalayas, but not in the high season. Many hotels close during the monsoon, but there are still some options available. The best time to trek to Upper Mustang is from March through May, and especially between June and September. The weather is generally moderate, though there is often heavy rain in the summer.

Upper Mustang is the Himalaya’s 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. Upper Mustang is generally the best time to visit from March to the beginning of November.

Please read this article on the best time to trek to Upper Mustang.

How do I get Upper Mustang Trek Permit?

The Upper Mustang walk can be described as one of the world’s most extensive treks. 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 not only one of Nepal’s most spectacular treks, but one of the most privileged parts also.

It is only possible to apply through the registered trekking company, which maintained a USD bank account. The online application form is available on the official website of the department of immigration, Nepal. Details on the passport, pictures, and itinerary are necessary as well as valid visas of trekkers. The permits can be issued only in Kathmandu or Pokhara by the Department of Immigration.

What packing list do I need to do a trek?

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 season. 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, very 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 useful mainly if you are on the western or eastern paths of the Mustang. Dust masks help to prevent dry air from recovering as well as 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’re the meals and accommodations like in the Trek?

There are several tea-houses at every stops along the upper Mustang trek route. So, there is no necessity to carry tents as accommodations. Clean and basic service is provided by the limited number of tea houses with friendly staff, while the tea houses offer delicious local food too.

However, you need to pre-book for accommodation and food during the Tiji festival. Because many trekking companies offer fixed departures for Mustang Tiji Festival Trek at the same time. Alternatively, you can carry a tent of your own. Accommodation costs are ranging from $4 to $6 in the trekking routes . Also, a single meal’s price is about the same scale like that.

What are the attractions of Upper Mustang?

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 that were built in the fifteenth century.

Amchi is the traditional medical practice of the Lo peoples. Amchi School has also been established to preserve the conventional method of medicine. There are also available to hire horses or ponies to visit the local monastery and learn about the Buddhist tradition and culture in Chhoser.

Luri Gumpa is an attraction while 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 routes. But note that this map is not a handy trekking map. The main Upper Mustang trekking route 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.

Upper Mustang Trek Map
Upper Mustang Trek route maps on Google.
Altitude graph of Upper Mustang Trek
Altitude chart of the upper mustang trek

Upper Mustang Trek routes and itineraries

While Upper Mustang Trekking routes have been recognized for many years, the region’s history has remained a long way off. The main classic hiking trail is now relatively easy to find, but it stays only challenging routes to the west and east.

In Upper Mustang, there are several routes and itineraries. But most of the 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 5 best itineraries for Upper Mustang that can be combined in places.

Classic Upper Mustang Trek route

  • Fly to Jomsom, then trek to Kagbeni
  • Kagbeni – Chele
  • Chele – Ghelling
  • Gelling – Tsarang
  • Tsarang – Lo – mangthang
  • Hike around the Lo – mangthang
  • Visit Lo – mangthang
  • Lo – mangthang – Ghami
  • Ghami – Samar
  • Samar – Kagbeni
  • Kagbeni – Jomsom

Western Upper Mustang Trek Route

  1. Fly to Jomsom then trek to Kagbeni (2810 m)
  2. Kagbeni – Chele (3050 m) 6 hrs
  3. Chele (3050 m) – Syangmochen (3800 m) 7-8 hrs
  4. Syangmochen (3800 m) – Tsarang (3560 m) 7 hrs
  5. Tsarang (3560 m) – Lo Manthang (3800 m) 4-5 hrs
  6. Lo Manthang (3800 m). Rest day and explore heritage sites.
  7. Day hike to Nyiphu and Garphu monasteries/caves and villages in the north of Lo Manthang.
  8. Lo Manthang (3800 m) – Dhakmar (3820 m) via Ghar Gumba (Loghekar Monastery) 6 hrs
  9. Dhakmar (3820 m) – Ghiling (3570 m) 6 hrs
  10. Ghiling (3570 m) – Samar (3550 m) 6 hrs
  11. Samar (3550 m) – Kagbeni (2810 m) 6-7 hrs
  12. Kagbeni (2810 m) – Jomsom (2750 m) 3 hrs

Eastern Upper Mustang Trek itinerary

  1. Fly to Jomsom(2700m) then trek to Kagbeni(2900m).
  2. Kagbeni (2800m) – Chele (3100m).
  3. Chele (3100m) – Syanbochen – Ghiling (3570)
  4. Ghiling (3570) – Ghami -Dhakmar (3520m)
  5. Dhakmar(3520m) – Tsarang (3560m).
  6. Tsarang(3560m)- Lo-mantang (3840m).
  7. Explore around Choser Cave
  8. Lo-manthang(3840m) – Yara Ghara (3820m).
  9. Explore around Luri Gumpa.
  10. Yara (3820m) – Tangge (3240m.
  11. Tangge (3240m) – Chusang (2980m)
  12. Chusang (2980m) – Muktinath (3760m).
  13. Muktinath (3760m)- Jomsom(2700m).

Some Common Frequently Asked Questions

Did the road destroy Upper Mustang?

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

What is the cost of the Upper Mustang trek?

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

Why is Upper Mustang Trek so expensive?

The Upper Mustang Trek is not as expensive as Everest Base Camp Trek if you remove the Upper Mustang permits cost. So, it is mandatory to have those things while trekking to Upper Mustang.

Wrapping Up

The ultimate guide on trekking in Upper Mustang is a must read for anyone who’s planning to travel through Upper Mustang. Not only does it cover all the important details about trekking in this region, it also includes some helpful tips and tricks that you can use in your next trekking trip to Upper Mustang.

Hope you enjoyed it? 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. Tell me in the comments section below what else you’d like to know, 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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