Upper Mustang Trek - Desert to Mountains

Upper Mustang Valley view
At a Glance
  • Duration17 Days
  • Difficulty Level Moderate
  • Max Altitude 3840m
  • Group Size 2 - 20 Person
  • Start City Kathmandu City
  • End City Kathmandu City
  • Trip Type Private and Group Joining
  • Activity Trekking and Hiking
  • Best Season March - December
Trip Highlights
  • Trekking through the Kali Gandaki Valley – the deepest gorge in the world
  • Cultural beauty of local Tibetan Buddhist villages
  • Religious experience at Muktinath Temple
  • Tiji Festival in Lo-Manthang
  • Sacred caves, fascinating rock formations and desert landscape
  • Massive Himalayan peaks visible throughout the trek
  • All-year trekking

About Upper Mustang Trek

The undisturbed land of the former Lo Kingdom is surrounded by caves, extraordinary rock formations, and a desert landscape. Upper Mustang Trek is truly like no other journey on Earth. It is a dry, desolate land, yet full of character. From desert caves to snowy peaks to pockets of a green oasis, this journey is quite surreal. The traditions of Tibetan Buddhism bestow the feeling of peace and joy that fills our hearts and minds. This caravan trade route was opened to foreigners only in the year 1992.

The Upper Mustang Trek commences with a thrilling flight to Jomsom. Here, we explore the Tibetan terrain, just north of the Annapurna massif. The 'off-the-beaten path’ goes above Kagbeni in the upper section of Kali Gandaki River Valley.

Wandering in the brown sands of the desert for a couple of days, we finally get to Lo-Manthang, the capital of the upper Mustang. From the long stone walls, and ancient monasteries, to the hidden caves, Lo-Monthang has everything delightful. Here, we might also get to celebrate Tiji, the three-day colorful festival. Then, we trek back via some more classic settlements to the village of Jomsom. Finally flying to Pokhara, we walk back to Kathmandu.

Few trekkers experience this magical place, full of extraordinary rock formations, white Himalayan peaks, and a virtually undisturbed cultural heritage.

Best Time for Upper Mustang Trek

The best time for the Mustang trek is between July and October. The Upper Mustang Trek is situated in a rain shadow. For this reason, the monsoon season is also a suitable time to trek in the Upper Mustang. However, Spring (March to April) and Fall provide the clearest skies. Winter is relatively colder due to a thick layer of snow up to Jomsom. Trekkers can enjoy the beauty of the Upper Mustang throughout the year, but the winter trek demands some more preparation.

Itinerary

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Welcome to Nepal! A representative from Breeze Adventure will welcome you to our hotel.  We will prepare you with information and gear for your trek. Overnight at hotel.

  • Max Altitude: 1400m
  • Accommodation: 2/3 Star Hotel
  • Meals: Breakfast

Have breakfast and start sightseeing around Kathmandu in a private vehicle.  We will see several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  We will learn about each site’s historical, religious, and cultural significance.  Overnight at hotel.

  • Max Altitude: 1400m
  • Accommodation: 2/3 Star Hotel
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Transport: Car/Van

We drive about 6-7 hrs along the Prithvi Highway to the gorgeous lakeside city of Pokhara. The scenery along with the drive, full of terraced hilly rice fields and valleys builds excitement within us for the upcoming trek. Pokhara is a relaxing town, a nice contrast to Kathmandu’s busyness. Overnight at hotel. 

  • Max Altitude: 820m
  • Accommodation: 2/3 Star Hotel
  • Time: 6 Hours
  • Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
  • Transport: Tourist Bus

The exhilarating 20-minute flight brings us to Jomsom - the district headquarters of the Mustang region, linking Nepal to Tibet via an ancient salt trade route. The flight provides awesome views of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges. Moving along the Kali Gandaki River, we get panoramic views of Nilgiri, Dhaulagiri, Dhampus, and Tukuche. Then, we descend to Kagbeni, an ethnically Tibetan village located at the confluence of two rivers. Overnight at guest house.

  • Max Altitude: 2858m
  • Accommodation: Tea House
  • Time: 3 Hours
  • Meals: BLD
  • Walking Distance: 6km
  • Transport: Flight

The trail proceeds further along the eastern edge of Kaligandaki River and climbs uphill towards Tangbe Village. Weaving through the alleys between houses and fields of apples and wheat, we will arrive at Chuksang village. A little later, we cross the Kali Gandaki River on a steel bridge before we climb a hill to the village of Chele, located on a ridge above the gorge. Overnight at guest house.

  • Max Altitude: 3050m
  • Accommodation: Tea House
  • Time: 5 Hours
  • Meals: BLD
  • Walking Distance: 14km

Our trail leads through the hilly and arid landscape before heading down a small hill. Then, we climb the Taklam La Pass (3624m), enjoying a panoramic view of Tilicho Peak and Damodar Danda. Soon, the route spirals downward as we pass Chhortens to Samar Village. Here, the trail drops further to a large ravine. Another 3 hours of walking brings us to Ramchung Cave, which we explore for some time. We arrive at Syanbochen shortly thereafter. Overnight at guest house.

  • Max Altitude: 3475m
  • Accommodation: Tea House
  • Time: 6 Hours
  • Meals: BLD
  • Walking Distance: 14km

After breakfast, we proceeded through Tibetan-styled houses and Buddhist monuments all the way to Yamda La. Take your time and appreciate the scenic beauties that the trail offers. Move slowly through the fields of barley to climb the Nyi Pass (4010m). The steep descent from Nyi Pass will take us to Ghami, nestled in the rugged mountains. We cross the Ghami River and soon reach Tsarang village (3540m) at the top of Tsarang Chu Canyon. The village is mostly inhabited by Lhobas - the natives of the area. Overnight at guest house.

  • Max Altitude: 3500m
  • Accommodation: Tea House
  • Time: 7 Hours
  • Meals: BLD
  • Walking Distance: 16km

After a gentle descent from Tsarang, we cross the Tsarang-Chu and climb uphill on the rocky path with views of Nilgiri, Tilicho, Annapurna I, and Bhrikiuti Peaks throughout. Later, we move up and then down the hill to another plateau to reach Lo-Manthang. Overnight at guest house.

  • Max Altitude: 3730m
  • Accommodation: Tea House
  • Time: 6 Hours
  • Meals: BLD
  • Walking Distance: 15km

Today we take a well-deserved rest and exploration day.  This allows us to be re-energized for the trail ahead. We explore the historical village of Lo-Manthang which includes a visit to the western valley of Tingkhar, where the summer palace of the Raja exists. The place offers majestic views of Kimling, Phuwa, and the Namgyal Gompa, which we visit later. Overnight in the guest house.

  • Max Altitude: 3730m
  • Accommodation: Tes House
  • Time: 3 Hours
  • Meals: BLD
  • Walking Distance: 7km

Today we begin our descent back to Jomsom. We take a slightly different route this time to keep things fresh.  On the way, we stop at Drakmar and visit the Ghar Gompa, which is supposedly 1200 years old.  The wind starts to pick up in the afternoon, so it is best to start early in the morning.  We have lunch and continue until we reach Ghiling. Overnight in the guest house.

  • Max Altitude: 3806m
  • Accommodation: Guest House
  • Time: 7 Hours
  • Meals: BLD
  • Walking Distance: 16km

After breakfast, we begin our hike to Samar. Today’s trail is not too difficult, just lots of mild ups and downs.  There is plenty to see, so try and look up and around at the beautiful scenery. Before you know it, we’ll arrive in Samar. Overnight in the guest house.

  • Max Altitude: 3700m
  • Accommodation: Guest House
  • Time: 6 Hours
  • Meals: BLD
  • Walking Distance: 16km

Our trail today leads south, joining up again with the Kali Gandaki River. You’ll find some people selling Shaligram along the way, which is worth a purchase. Keep descending and soon enough we arrive at Chuksang for the night. Overnight at guesthouse. 

  • Max Altitude: 2980m
  • Accommodation: Guest House
  • Time: 5 Hours
  • Meals: BLD
  • Walking Distance: 12km

Today is a most memorable day on our trek.  We reach Muktinath, a village with a spiritual essence high in the hills.  Immediately surrounding us is the unique, desolate landscape of the Mustang region which is enveloped by a distant wall of snowy peaks. We stop at Muktinath Temple, a sacred place that people from all over India and Nepal come to visit. Overnight at guest house.

  • Max Altitude: 3710m
  • Accommodation: Guest House
  • Time: 8 Hours
  • Meals: BLD
  • Walking Distance: 19km

A full day of descending along the Kali Gandaki River brings us back to Jomsom.  We trek through several charming villages before reaching Jomsom. If we have time and interest, we can go to Marpha for some apples, apple pie, or even apple brandy and head back to Jomsom.  It’s not too far of a walk and well worth it! Experience the hospitality of Thakali and other ethnic groups there. Overnight at a guest house in Jomsom.

  • Max Altitude: 2740m
  • Accommodation: Guest House
  • Time: 6 Hours
  • Meals: BLD
  • Walking Distance: 15km

The 20-minute flight from the Jomsom Airport through the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountains brings us to Pokhara. Have your camera handy for this gorgeous flight. There will be enough time to spare check out the laidback, beautiful city of Pokhara. Overnight in a hotel.

  • Max Altitude: 820m
  • Accommodation: 2/3 Star Hotel
  • Time: 25 Minutes
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Transport: Flight

After breakfast, we take a drive back to Kathmandu along the Prithvi Highway. Take in any scenery you may have missed along the way. After 6-7 hours, we reach Kathmandu and transfer you to the hotel. Take a rest and spend your day freely. Celebratory dinner in Kathmandu in the evening. Overnight at hotel

  • Max Altitude: 1400m
  • Accommodation: 2/3 Star Hotel
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Transport: Tourist Bus/Flight/Car

Transfer to Tribhuvan Airport.  Thank you for choosing Breeze Adventure as your trekking guide!  We look forward to your next adventure with us.

  • Meals: Breakfast
Cost Details
What's Included
  • Upper Mustang Permit
  • ACAP Permit
  • Transportation to and from Tribhuvan Airport.
  • Three nights in a 2-3 star hotel in Kathmandu, breakfast included.
  • All transportation for the trek.
  • Local guest house accommodation in the mountain.
  • Government-authorized experienced guide and porters
  • Insurance, food, accommodation, and wage for guides and porters
  • Hygienic meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) during the trek.
  • All equipment (sleeping bag, warm layers, etc.)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Maps
  • Service charge and government taxes
  • Post-trek celebration dinner in Kathmandu
What's Not Included
  • International airfare
  • Meals in Kathmandu (besides breakfast)
  • Your personal expenses, shopping, etc.
  • Shower and electronic charging fees at guest houses during the trek
  • Alcoholic drinks, chocolates, tea and coffee
  • Tips for guide and porter
  • Extra accommodation and meals outside of itinerary
  • Costs from unexpected occurrences (i.e. cancellations, weather problems, damages of property, illness, etc.)
Dates & Price
Select a Departure Month
Book Now
Jul 02, 2024From:Kathmandu City
Jul 18, 2024To:Kathmandu City
PriceUS$1800
StatusAvailable
Book Now
Jul 20, 2024From:Kathmandu City
Aug 05, 2024To:Kathmandu City
PriceUS$1800
StatusAvailable
Group Discount Prices
Number of peoplePrice per person
2 pax
US$1800
3 - 5 pax
US$1750
6 - 10 pax
US$1650
11 - 20 pax
US$1550

Essential Information

The most popular & beautiful places in Upper Mustang Trek

Lo-Manthang

The Mustang will keep on surprising you with its elegance. High walls surround the city of Lo-Manthang, the capital of the upper Mustang on all sides. Along with ancient architecture quaint like Gompas and monasteries, there are many scattered houses. Also, there's a unique village of Tingkhar. Most, importantly Lo-Manthang has a huge palace where the last ascendents of the Mustang kings still live.

Chungsi Cave

Chungsi Cave in the Upper Mustang is a beautiful landmark attached to the cliff. There's a local saying that the stones by which Chungsi cave is formed are actually a back pain medicine. This myth of Ancient Tibetan medication has been accepted by many individuals.

Ghar Gumba

Ghar Gumba is an exciting place to visit in Mustang. This monastery is home to the local monks. Here, they learn the Buddhist values and culture (also known as the Buddhist school). The colorful prayer flags, rotating wheels, and shorts make a wonderful stay in the Ghar Gumba. Also, there are wonderful views of the Himalayan flora.

Choser

Choser lies in the north of Lo-Manthang near Garphu and Nymphu. There are four caves in the Choser area. You can drive Choser via Jeep or on a horse. These caves were built many centuries ago and hold importance among the local people. A $10 permit is needed to visit these caves.

Luri Gumba

Luri Gompa lies a few km away from Mustang in the Saligram River. This Tibetan Buddhist cave is situated near the riverbank. There is an upper prayer room along with a fifteenth-century 'Kabum Stupa.' This was made in the 13th to 14th century when one of the Kings from the Lo-Manthang was married to the Bhutanese princess.

Upper Mustang Permit Cost

Three different kinds of permits are needed to visit the Upper Mustang region.

 

Permit

Cost

Issue place

Upper Mustang trek permit

USD 500/ person (10 days) + $50 per day after 10 days

Department of Immigration, Kalikasthan, Kathmandu

Annapurna conservation area ticket

US $25/ Person

Kathmandu/ Pokhara/ Jomsom

TIMS card

NRs. 2,000/ person (Group trekker); NRs Rs 2000/ person (solo trekking)

Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu/ Pokhara

Most Popular Festivals in Upper Mustang

Tiji Festival (chasing the demons)

The biggest festival of Mustang, Tiji, is three days long celebration in April or May. This colorful festival of Buddhists is celebrated in Lo-Manthang. The purpose of the festival is to pray that peace on Earth prevails. The festival is celebrated to mark the victory of Buddha's incarnation over the demon wreaking havoc in the region during ancient times. During the festival, Buddhist monks in the monastery perform an entertaining dance ceremony.

Yartung Mela (Horse Racing)

During the full moon of August/ September, the Yartung festival is a delight in the Mustang region. This is also a 3-day festival where men and women go for a horse race competition. The king, the monks, and the locals are the center of celebrations. The Gurung and Thakali people community enjoy local foods and drinks. Many foreigners join this festival in Mustang.

Weather and Temperature in Mustang

March to May has a daytime temperature in Mustang of about 14 to 20 degrees Celsius and -5 degrees Celsius at night. Summer is about 25 degrees Celsius, and the nights are also quite warm—the chances of rainfall are minimal in the Monsoon. The Autumn climate in Mustang is about 15 degrees Celsius while nights are below the freezing point (-5 to -2 degrees Celsius). The Winter season has a night temperature of -20 degrees Celsius. The day's temperature is 0 to 5 degrees. In January and December, most of the lower and Upper Mustang areas are covered in snow.

Accommodation During Upper Mustang Trek

Despite being very remote, Upper Mustang thankfully has a handful of great lodges for your stay. The lower area like Jomsom and Kagbeni even has restaurants and bars. Moving to the upper Mustang lodges, we get basic room and food. These tea houses made by locals are a cozy and comfortable place to spend the night.

Food and Beverages

Mustang has excellent choices of meals served in the local tea houses. Besides some national and international cuisine, you can enjoy the local Thakali khana, the best Nepali food which has been loved by the whole country. The other must-try foods in Mustang are a cup of salty tea and local wine made from apples. Dry apricots and apples are also quite delicious.

Guide & Porters

An experienced guide familiar with local culture and language can make your trek very pleasing. A guide helps you get the permit, book flights/ hotels, and find the route. Since Upper Mustang is a remote region, you need to carry everything you might need. Thus, having a porter is very important.

Acclimatization

The highest elevation of the Manthang trek is Lo-Manthang at 3810m. At such a height, the chances of altitude sickness are still high. You might develop altitude sickness in Mustang with symptoms like vomiting, headache, and hard breathing. Since our Itinerary is designed to gain less than 500m each day, you are likely to be okay. Gradually ascending, avoiding high passes, and drinking lots of warm water will be helpful.

Fitness level /Experience

The exciting Trek in Upper Mustang demands 6 to 7 hours of walking per day. Walking over 49 km needs some good physical and mental fitness. Some previous experience with the high-altitude trek is helpful, but even the newbie can easily make it to the top. Cardio-vascular exercises before the trek are very useful.

People and languages in Upper Mustang

Upper Mustang is very sparsely populated with about 2500 individuals. The Thakali, Gurung, and Tamang communities follow their century-old Buddhist tradition. They also speak a unique Tibetan language called Thakali or Thak.