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Upper Mustang: Exploring the Hidden Kingdom of Nepal

16 Days

Upper Mustang is a region in the north-central part of Nepal, lying in the rain shadow of the Himalayas. It is also known as the Kingdom of Lo and was a restricted demilitarized area until 1992, which helped to preserve its unique culture and traditions. Trek through the ancient Kingdom of Lo, where medieval culture meets breathtaking landscapes. Our experienced guides lead you through dramatic canyons, hidden caves, and picturesque villages, offering a journey back in time. Immerse yourself in the unique Tibetan-influenced traditions and explore the hidden treasures of Upper Mustang, making this trek an extraordinary and culturally enriching experience with Amazing Nepal Adventure.

Overview

Upper Mustang is famous for its “Sky Caves,” a series of ancient caves carved into the cliffs of the Kali Gandaki Valley. These caves contain Buddhist murals, manuscripts, and artifacts dating back to the 12th century, providing insights into the region’s history.

Upper Mustang was historically an important trade route between Tibet and India. The region played a crucial role in facilitating the exchange of goods and cultural influences between these two regions.

The main entry point to Upper Mustang is through Jomsom, and the trek to Lo Manthang takes several days. The journey offers breathtaking views of the Himalayas, including Annapurna and Dhaulagiri.

Upper Mustang continues to be a fascinating destination for those seeking a blend of adventure, cultural exploration, and natural beauty in a unique and remote setting. Its distinctiveness lies in its ability to offer a glimpse into a bygone era while adapting to the challenges of the modern world.

Here are some key points about Upper Mustang:

  • Geography and Climate: Upper Mustang is situated in the rain shadow of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges, resulting in a dry and arid climate. The region is characterized by barren landscapes, deep canyons, eroded cliffs, and vibrant rock formations.
  • Cultural Significance: Upper Mustang has a rich cultural heritage, and its history is closely tied to Tibet. The region was once part of the Tibetan Empire and has strong cultural and religious ties to Tibetan Buddhism. The traditional Tibetan culture and architecture are well-preserved in Upper Mustang. The capital, Lo Manthang, is known for its ancient monasteries, chortens (Buddhist stupas), and palaces.
  • Lo Manthang: Lo Manthang is the walled capital of Upper Mustang and is home to the King of Lo. The city has a unique architectural style with whitewashed buildings and narrow alleys. The King of Lo is a ceremonial figure, and the monarchy in Mustang has historical significance.
  • Trekking and Permits: Upper Mustang is a popular trekking destination, attracting adventurers and those interested in experiencing its distinct culture. Due to its sensitive border location, trekkers need a special permit to enter Upper Mustang, and there are restrictions on the number of visitors allowed.
  • Challenges and Preservation: The region faces challenges related to environmental degradation, as the fragile ecosystem is susceptible to erosion and other forms of damage. Efforts are being made to balance tourism with the preservation of the cultural and natural heritage of Upper Mustang.
  • Religious Sites: Upper Mustang is home to several ancient Buddhist monasteries, such as Thubchen Gompa, Chhoser Cave Monastery, and Ghar Gompa, which are of great religious and historical importance.
  • The Kali Gandaki River: The Kali Gandaki River flows through the gorge in Upper Mustang and is one of the world’s deepest river canyons. The river has contributed to the erosion of the region’s landscape, creating unique formations.

Visitors to Upper Mustang are often captivated by its unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical significance. The controlled tourism policies have helped in preserving the integrity of the region while allowing a limited number of visitors to experience its charm.

CONSIDERATION

When planning a trek to Upper Mustang, there are several important considerations to ensure a safe, enjoyable, and culturally respectful experience:

  • Permits: Obtain the necessary permits for the Upper Mustang trek. This includes the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP), Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card, and the special permit required for Upper Mustang.
  • Guides and Support Staff: Consider hiring an experienced guide and support staff, especially if you are not familiar with the region. Local guides can provide valuable insights into the culture, navigate the trekking routes, and assist with logistics.
  • Acclimatization: Allow for proper acclimatization to the high-altitude conditions. The gradual ascent and acclimatization days in Lo Manthang help reduce the risk of altitude-related illnesses.
  • Timing: Plan your trek during the best weather conditions. The preferred trekking seasons for Upper Mustang are spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is relatively stable.
  • Tiji Festival: If possible, plan your visit during the Tiji Festival, a major cultural event in Lo Manthang. The festival typically takes place in spring and is a unique opportunity to witness traditional rituals and celebrations.
  • Physical Fitness: Ensure you are physically prepared for the trek, as it involves several days of walking at higher altitudes. Regular cardiovascular exercise and strength training can be beneficial.
  • Packing: Pack appropriately for varying weather conditions, including warm clothing for cold nights and layers for daytime trekking. Don’t forget essentials like a good pair of trekking boots, a hat, sunglasses, and a comfortable backpack.
  • Cultural Respect: Respect the local culture and traditions. Ask for permission before taking photographs of people, especially in villages. Dress modestly, particularly when entering monasteries or religious sites.
  • Altitude Sickness Awareness: Learn about the symptoms and prevention of altitude sickness. Be aware of your own health and the health of your fellow trekkers. If symptoms of altitude sickness develop, descend to lower altitudes.
  • Environmental Responsibility: Follow the principles of “Leave No Trace” to minimize your environmental impact. Dispose of waste properly, avoid single-use plastics, and respect local efforts for conservation.
  • Communication and Connectivity: Be aware that communication and internet connectivity may be limited in some parts of the trek. Inform family and friends about your itinerary and expected communication gaps.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Carry a basic first aid kit and be aware of emergency evacuation procedures. Familiarize yourself with the location of health posts and emergency services along the trekking route.

By taking these considerations into account, you can enhance your overall experience and contribute to the responsible and sustainable tourism in Upper Mustang. Always stay informed, be flexible with your plans, and prioritize safety and cultural sensitivity throughout your trek.

EQUIPMENT AND GEARS

When trekking to Upper Mustang, it’s crucial to be well-prepared with the right equipment and gear. The region’s high-altitude terrain and varying weather conditions demand careful consideration of what to bring. Here’s a comprehensive list of equipment and gear for a trek to Upper Mustang:

Clothing:

  • Moisture-Wicking Base Layers: These will keep you dry and comfortable.
  • Insulating Layers: Fleece or down jackets to stay warm.
  • Waterproof Jacket: Protects against rain and wind.
  • Waterproof Pants: Keeps your legs dry during rain or snow.
  • Trekking Pants/Shorts: Lightweight and quick-drying.
  • Trekking Shirts: Lightweight, moisture-wicking shirts.
  • Thermal Underwear: For higher altitudes.
  • Hiking Socks: Multiple pairs of moisture-wicking and warm socks.
  • Gloves and Mittens: To keep your hands warm.
  • Sun Hat: To protect your face from the sun.

Footwear:

  • Trekking Boots: Sturdy, waterproof, and comfortable hiking boots with good ankle support.
  • Sandals/Trail Shoes: For wearing in teahouses in the evenings.

Accessories:

  • Backpack: A comfortable daypack for carrying essentials on the trail.
  • Sleeping Bag: Suitable for low temperatures (3-season or 4-season).
  • Trekking Poles: For stability on steep or uneven terrain.
  • Headlamp/Flashlight: With extra batteries.
  • Sunglasses: UV-protective sunglasses with side shields.
  • Water Bottles/Hydration System: To stay hydrated.
  • Water Purification: Water purifying tablets or a water filter.
  • First Aid Kit: Including basic medical supplies.
  • Toiletries: Including toilet paper and personal hygiene items.

Other Essentials:

  • Trekking Permit: Ensure you have the necessary permits.
  • Cash: Local currency (Nepalese Rupees) for expenses along the way.
  • Trekking Map/Guidebook: Useful for navigation.
  • Camera: To capture the stunning scenery.
  • Power Bank: To charge your electronic devices.
  • Duffel Bag: For porters to carry your main luggage.
  • Trekking Gaiters: To keep dirt and debris out of your boots.
  • Down Jacket: Extra insulation for cold evenings.
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm: Protect your skin from the sun’s harsh rays.
  • Towel: Quick-drying and compact for hygiene.

Optional Items:

  • Sleeping Bag Liner: Adds extra warmth and cleanliness to rented bedding.
  • Thermal Insoles: To keep your feet warm.

Remember to adapt this list based on the specific season and weather conditions during your trek. It’s also advisable to consult with experienced trekkers or hire a professional trekking agency for personalized advice based on current conditions in Upper Mustang.

 

Itinerary

• Arrive in Kathmandu, Nepal. Trip preparation and trip briefing with welcome dinner
• Check-in to your hotel, rest.
• Trip preparation and trip briefing with welcome dinner

• Take a short flight to Pokhara, a beautiful lakeside city.
• Spend the day exploring Pokhara, visit Phewa Lake, Devi's Fall, and enjoy the lakeside ambiance.

• Take an early morning flight to Jomsom.
• Start trekking towards Kagbeni, the gateway to Upper Mustang.

• Begin the trek into Upper Mustang, passing through Chhusang and crossing the Kali Gandaki River.
• Reach the village of Chele.

• Trek through the scenic landscapes, crossing several passes and villages.
• Reach Syanbochen, a small settlement with teahouses.

• Continue the trek, passing by the ancient village of Geling.
• Reach Ghami, known for its red and white chortens.

• Trek to Charang, passing through a desert-like landscape.
• Explore the medieval Charang monastery.

• Reach Lo Manthang, the walled capital of Upper Mustang.
• Explore the city, visit the King's palace, monasteries, and the local market.

• Exploring the cultural and historical sites of Lo Manthang.

Day 10 :
Lo Manthang

• Spend a couple of days exploring the cultural and historical sites of Lo Manthang.
• Attend the Tiji Festival if your visit coincides with the event.

• Begin the return trek, passing through scenic landscapes.
• Reach Dhakmar, known for its red cliffs and unique rock formations.

• Continue the trek towards Ghiling, passing through picturesque villages.

• Trek back to Chele through Syanbochen.
• Depending on time and preference, either trek or drive back to Jomsom.

• Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara and then connect with a flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu.
• Spend the evening in Kathmandu or rest after the trek.

• Use the last day to rest and recover from your journey.
• Explore Kathmandu's cultural heritage with visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) and Pashupatinath Temple.

Day 16 :
Departure

• Depart from Kathmandu or spend an additional day exploring the city, shopping for souvenirs, or participating in cultural activities.

What is included in this trek package:

  • Three-night accommodation at 3-Star Hotel in Kathmandu
  • One-night accommodation at 3-Star Hotel in Pokhara
  • Domestic flights as itinerary
  • All ground private transport
  • Accommodation in Standard Hotels on Twin Sharing Basis during trek
  • Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners during the trek
  • Government licensed, experienced trek guide, assistant trekking guide (for a group of 10 or more trekkers), and porters to help trekkers' luggage (1 porter for 2 trekkers, combined porter weight limit -16kg.)
  • First Aids Kit.
  • Duffel Bags for porters to carry your main luggage
  • Guides' and porters' expenses - meals, insurance, salary, lodging, transportation, and other necessary equipment.
  • Upper Mustang Special Permit fee
  • Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) fee.
  • Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card fee.
  • All government, local taxes, and official expenses.
  • Rescue operations arrangement in case of complicated health conditions (funded by your travel insurance).
  • Welcome dinner at the end of the trek in Kathmandu.

What is excluded in this trek package:

  • All accommodation and meals in Kathmandu, before and after the journey
  • Lunch and dinner in Pokhara
  • Extra night accommodations, meals in Kathmandu and Pokhara due to early arrival or late departure, or early return from the trek.
  • Personal expenses - shopping, snacks, hot (tea, coffee) and cold drinks, bar bills, bottle or boiled water, shower, Wi-Fi, laundry, telephone call, battery recharge costs, extra porters, etc.
  • Personal clothing and gear
  • Travel insurance which has to cover emergency high-altitude rescue and evacuation compulsory
  • Additional costs or delays caused by circumstances beyond our control like landslides, bad weather conditions, itinerary modification due to safety concerns, illness, change of government policy, strikes, mass movements, etc.

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

Upper Mustang: Exploring the Hidden Kingdom of Nepal
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