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 that made it one of the world’s most preserved places. The Upper Mustang trekking offers views of 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.” 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 rain shadow of the Himalayas and one of Nepal’s formally particular areas, this trek is famous for its beauty and challenging cliffs.

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 an intriguing trip to find the most beautiful holiday of all time in your life.

A highlight of the Upper Mustang Trek

  • 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 the North-west of Nepal; the northern Upper Mustang isolated and shared a border with Tibet. To the South is Kagbeni border town in Lower Mustang, passing through the Annapurna Circuit.

Three trekking routes are available around Upper Mustang. The most famous is the classic route that connects them via a short western path and a longer eastern trail. All three trails 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 to save time and to prevent difficult journeys by bus or jeep on a 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 Upper Mustang. These include having a trekking agency specialized in the trek, obtaining permits, and fulfilling the demands.

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

  • Restricted Area Permit
  • Annapurna Conservation Area Project

You also must have a compulsory guide to your choice, and you must belong to a minimum group of two persons. All of the above needs to be processed through a trekking company in Nepal.

How do I get Upper Mustang 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 an itinerary are necessary as well as valid visa of trekkers. The permits can be issued only in Kathmandu or Pokhara by the Department of Immigration.

When is the best time to trek Upper Mustang?

Upper Mustang is the rain shadow area of the Himalaya, making it an excellent monsoon trek and open year-round for trekking. The most crucial aspect in the winter, when most people leave the capital to prevent cold and snow. Upper Mustang is generally the best time to visit from March to the beginning of November. Please read this article the best time to trekking to Upper Mustang.

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

What’re the meals and accommodations like in the Trek?

There are several tea-houses in every stops along the upper Mustang trek route. So, there is no necessary 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. Alternatively, you can carry a tent of your own. Accommodation costs in the trekking route range from $4 to $6. 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 built in the fifteenth centuries. 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 learned about the Buddhist tradition and culture in Chhoser. Luri Gumpa is an attraction while using the eastern routes from Lo – Mangthang which connects either 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.

Altitude graph of Upper Mustang Trek

Upper Mustang Trek routes and itineraries

While Upper Mustang Trekking routes have been recognized for many years, the history of the region 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. The vast majority of trekking companies displayed the diluted itinerary on them into extended days outside the main area. The reality is that in Upper Mustang, there are three major routes or itineraries that can combine in places.

Classic Upper Mustang Trek route

  • Jomsom – 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

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

Eastern Upper Mustang Trek itinerary

  • Jomsom(2700m) – Kagbeni(2900m).
  • Kagbeni (2800m) –Chele (3100m).
  • Chele (3100m) – Syanbochen – Ghiling (3570)
  • Ghiling (3570) – Ghami -Dhakmar (3520m)
  • Dhakmar(3520m) – Tsarang (3560m).
  • Tsarang(3560m)- Lo-mantang (3840m).
  • Explore around Choser Cave
  • Lo-manthang(3840m) – Yara Ghara (3820m).
  • Explore around Luri Gumpa.
  • Yara (3820m) – Tangge (3240m.
  • Tangge (3240m) – Chusang (2980m)
  • Chusang (2980m) – Muktinath (3760m).
  • Muktinath(3760m)- Jomsom(2700m).

Some Common Frequently Asked Questions

Did the road destroy Upper Mustang?

No, at least not yet. However, the road makes disturb 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 would like to highly recommend you that to use alternation trail 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 provide 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 that expensive than 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.

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.