Upper Mustang Trek- A Complete Guide
December 29, 2019
About the Trek
Upper Mustang Trek offers a rare adventure life experience. The Trek, which sits on the northern region of Nepal towards the Nepal-China border and is located at the Annapurna conservation area on the path to Upper Mustang, was open to tourists in 1992. After tourist s were allowed to explore the trip, Mustang attracted thousands of tourists across the globe every year. Now the trek has become one of the best treks in Nepal.
Why the trek is so special?
During the trip, you will enjoy the beautiful panorama of the mountains including Dhaulagiri (8167), Annapurna I (8091m) and Manaslu range (8163m), which you can enjoy on the way. You will view drylands with huge rocks containing thousands of caves and will have an opportunity to encounter and enjoy the multicultural society consisting of Tibetan, Gurung and Thakali people.
Upper Mustang, which literally translates to ‘fertile land’ is rich in natural and geographical, cultural and religious diversity and historical and religious monuments. You will have an opportunity to view and explore ancient monuments, ancient caves, holy fossil rocks, and deserted land territory. Upper Mustang boasts Tibetan culture particularly in the ancient capital, Lo Manthang. Built around the 1400s, Lo Manthang, once “the last forbidden kingdom” is a small beautiful village with around 150 houses. The area houses settlements of whitewashed houses, prayer flags, barley fields.
You can enjoy the trip even during monsoon as Upper Mustang is in the rain shadow. You will feel like reaching another world when you get to Lo Manthang. The ancient capital of Upper Mustang boasts a small settlement with around 150 houses, long walls of beautiful prayer wheels, prayer flags everywhere, and narrow alleyways. You can visit amchi (traditional Tibetan doctor) museum and Amchi School there.
You can learn about traditional healing practice and art and get an insight into stories about how these practices pushed their way into the life of the doctors.
Along with the palace, Lo-Manthang accommodates some of the oldest Gompa (Buddhist temple) in the region. The oldest of Gompas are JampaGompa which was built in the early 15th Century compared to ThubchenGompa built in the late 15th Century. Other gompas in the capital are ChodeyGompa which is now taken as the main Gompa and Chopra Gompa known as “New Gompa”.
For the trek, you can travel from Kathmandu to Pokhara by air or road. From Pokhara, you will take either private vehicles or flights to Jomsom and head towards Kagbeni, the gateway to Upper Mustang Trek. You will pass through various places like Chele, Syangboche, Ghyami, Tsarang, Ghiling and Lo Manthang. You can also explore famous Muktinath, a sacred temple to Hindus and Buddhists, on the way.
- You will have stunning views of Mount Annapurna, Nilgiri, Thorung Peak, Chulu west, LamjungHimal, Dhaulagiri, Tukuche Peak, Chulu east, Annapurna II and Chhanpurna IV
- You will have a sight of Tibetan culture and its influence on the activities of the local people
- You will enjoy the unique culture and tradition of local communities
- You will pass through yak pastures and see yaks grazing
- You will have sights of lakes, gorges, glaciers and waterfalls, monuments, ancient caves, holy fossil rocks, and deserted land territory
- You will view Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan lifestyles
- You will explore Lo Manthang, the ancient capital of Mustang, “the last forbidden kingdom”
- You will visit Muktinath, a sacred temple for both Hindus and Buddhists
- You will have a feeling of peace and joy as you will see prayer flags flying everywhere
- You can enjoy the trek even during monsoon as Upper Mustang is in the rain shadow
Best Season to go on the Upper Mustang Trek
The weather plays a significant role for you to decide a trek to Upper Mustang Trek. Winter and monsoon are the best suited seasons for the trek. Factors like storms, strong winds, and slippery roads make your trip a difficult one.
Winter reaches its peak at this time. The temperature can be extremely chilling. The temperature may drop to below zero degrees in much of mountainous Mustang. So you are not suggested to go on the trip.
This time is the best season to trek to the Upper Mustang Trek. During this time, the weather is very much favorable and calm with clear skies. You can see amazing views of Himalayan range and blooming rhododendron followers on the way. The temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius during the day.
This is also the best season to trek to the Upper Mustang Trek.
You can enjoy your trip during this time marked by monsoon as Upper Mustang is in the rain shadow. So it is also a preferred time to trek to Upper Mustang Trek.
This season is the perfect time for the Upper Mustang Trek. The tourist influx for the trek is high due to the favorable weather. The temperature is up to 20 degrees during the day, and it drops to below 7 degrees during nights. During this time, you will enjoy clear views of the mountains and beautiful scenes in the surrounding areas with clear skies.
November is the best month to trek to the Upper Mustang trek. This season is the busiest month for trekkers to the trek with clear days. The temperature during the day is stable and constant. As a result, you can see clear view of blue skies and the mountains. But December is a cold month as the snow starts falling beginning this month. So snowfall and cold may make your trip tougher.
Day 01: Arrive at Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) Kathmandu (1350m)
Day 02: Preparation for Trek.
Day 03: Kathmandu to Pokhara (850m)
Day 04: Pokhara to Jomsom(2720m) flight(20m) and Kagbeni.
Day 0 : Kagbeni to Chele(3100m) 5hrs.
Day 06: Chele to Syangboche(3800m) 6hrs.
Day 07: Syangboche to Ghami (3510m) 4-5hrs.
Day 08: Ghami to Tsarang(3560m) 5hrs.
Day 09: Tsarang to Lo –Manthang(3840m) 5hrs.
Day 10: Lo-Manthang(3840m)
Day 11: Lo- Manthang to Yara(3671m) 6h30.
Day 12: Yara to Tangge(3240m) 6hrs.
Day 13: Tangge to Chhusang(2980m) 6hrs.
Day 14: Chhusang to Ekle Bhatti(2740m).
Day 15: Ekle Bhatti to Jomsom(2720m) 3hrs.
Day 16: Jomsom to Pokhara flight(20m) 850m.
Day 17: Pokhara to Kathmandu (1350m) 7hrs on A/C tourist bus.
Day 18: Departure Day to your destination.
Day 01: Arrive at Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) Kathmandu (1350m)
Our team members will receive you at the airport and transport to the hotel. After checking in, you will be given a briefing about the whole program and schedule and collect paper documents for the trekking permit. Enjoy your overnight stay at the hotel. B/B
Day 02: Preparation for the Trek
Preparations for trekking permit and short visit around Thamel or Kathmandu Durbar Square. In the evening, the guide will visit the hotel and give a detailed briefing about the trek. Overnight stay at the hotel. B/B
Day 03: From Kathmandu to Pokhara (850m)
Kathmandu to Pokhara (850m) on an A/C tourist bus (about 7 hours drive). In Pokhara, our guide will take you out around the Lakeside. Overnight stay at a hotel there. B/B
Day 04: From Pokhara to Jomsom (2720m) flight (20m)
Pokhara to Jomsom (2720m) flight (20m) in the morning, and after breakfast, we start trek to Kagbeni along the Kaligandagi river bank where you will see fossils and Shaligram (2800m) (3 hours trek). Overnight stay at a guest house. B/L/D
Day 05: From Kagbeni to Chele (3100m) (5 hours)
At the end of this village, there is an entry point to the Upper Mustang trek and we walk to Chhusang for a lunch. Just before we reach Chele, we cross the river from where you will see the beautiful landscape of this region. Overnight stay at a guesthouse. B/L/D
Day 06: From Chele to Syangboche (3800m) 6h.
The trail follows steep up from Chele for about 3 hours before we reach Samar where we take lunch with the stunning views of Mt Annapurna and Nilgiri range in the background. After lunch, we continue our journey to Syangboche passing through a village called Bhena. Overnight stay at a hotel, B/L/D
Day 07: From Syangboche to Ghami (3510m) 4h 30mins.
The trail passes through NyiLa (4020m). You will see Mt Annapurna and Nilgiri range on the way. You will also see a long Mani wall and monastery in Ghami. Overnight stay at a hotel, B/L/D
Day 08: From Ghami to Tsarang(3560m) 5h
We can use two different trails to go to Tsarang, one goes through Dhakmar and another is a direct way to Tsarang. We will take the trail through Dhakmar. Going through this village, we will take a pass called MuilaBhanjyang (4170m). We will continue our trip to GharGumba at an altitude of 3920m. This Gumba (Monastery) is one of the oldest in this region where we will see scriptures of Padmasambhava (Bodhisatwa or enlightened one). Then the trail goes along the TsarangKhola to Tsarang through Marang village. When we enter this village, you will see a monastery, an old palace, housing the greatest library in this region. Overnight stay at a guest house. B/L/D
Day 09: From Tsarang to Lo -Manthang(3840m) 5h
On the way, we will pass through a beautiful chorten called Sungda. Then our journey continues to Lo La (3960m) pass, from where you will view Lo -Mangthang village. And the trail goes down to Lo – Manthang.
Day 10: Lo-Manthang (3840m)
This is the day full of activities since this village has about 7 monasteries which all belong to Gelukpasect (A Buddhist sect). You will explore Lo- Manthang Palace and visit some monasteries and interact with local communities. You will enjoy a walk around the village.
Day 11: Lo- Manthang to Yara (3671m) 6h 30mins
On this day, the trip is quite normal. We walk down uphill. We will stop at Dhigaun for lunch and then continue our journey to Yara. Overnight stay at a guest house. B/L/D.
Day 12: From Yara to Tangge (3240m) 6h
We continue our journey. You will see and enjoy and take photos of the beautiful landscape on the way. Overnight stay at a guesthouse, B/L/D
Day 13: From Tangge to Chhusang (2980m) 6h
Our journey passes through a quite normal pass called Paha (4218m), then we walk down to Chhusang. Overnight stay at a guest house. B/L/D
Day 14: From Chhusang to EkleBhatti (2740m)
We continue our trip along the Kaligandagiriver passing through Tangbe village where you will see black, white and red chortens. We will take lunch at Kagbeni. After lunch, we will walk around 45m to Ekle Bhatti. Overnight stay at a guesthouse. B/L/D
Day 15: From Ekle Bhatti to Jomsom (2720m) 3h
We walk along the riverbanks enjoying the view of Jomsom valley and mountains. We also try to find the stone fossils( Shaligram on the way). We will have lunch in Jomsom and walk through the village where a small museum called the Mustang Eco Museum is located. Overnight stay at a hotel. B/L/D.
Day 16: From Jomsom to Pokhara flight (20m) 850m
This is a short flight just through the deepest Kaligandagi Gorge. You will enjoy the spectacular views of the mountains. After lunch in Pokhara, you will have free time to explore this beautiful city. Overnight stay at a hotel. B/B
Day 17: From Pokhara to Kathmandu(1350m) 7 h drive on an A/C tourist bus
You will enjoy the views of beautiful landscapes, villages, and rivers on the way. You will have dinner at a typical Nepali restaurant. Overnight stay at a hotel. B/B
Day 18: Final departure day
Departure day to your destination or your home country.
Upper Mustang Trekking Altitude Map
Trip cost includes
- Pickup and drop on a private vehicle from the airport.
- Hotel accommodation in Kathmandu and Pokhara in B/B basis.
- Tea house accommodation during the trek.
- Hot soup in the high places.
- Three times meal during the trek.
- Farewell dinner in Kathmandu.
- Transportation as per the itinerary.
- A professional guide for the trek and sightseeing.
- Porter service (2 trekkers: 1 porter).
- Insurance for guides and porters.
- Food and accommodation for guides and porters.
- All necessary documents (Permits and TIMS including special permits).
- Two-way flight: Pokhara-Jomsom-Pokhara.
- Airport taxes.
- All government and local taxes.
- Medical kit.
- Trekking map as itinerary.
- T-shirt from the company.
- Trip completion certificate.
Trip cost excludes
- Visa for Nepal.
- International flight to and from Kathmandu.
- Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
- Travel and rescue insurance of clients.
- Personal expenses: Hot shower, battery charge during the trek, bar bills, laundry, and mineral water.
- Extra night accommodation in Kathmandu and Pokhara, not mentioned in the itinerary.
- Entrance fees to monasteries, museums and temples.
- Tips for guides, drivers and porters.
Equipment Checklist Necessary equipment for Upper Mustang Trek
Carrying with you basic clothes and equipment will make your trek easier. So the following equipment is necessary for the trip. You can buy them in the local market. You can also hire them. The weight of the main luggage should not be more than 20 kilograms as a porter carries weight not exceeding 20 kg.
- Hiking boots
- Hiking shirts
- Thick wool socks (You should carry extra pairs)
- Fleece jacket
- Lightweight wool T-shirt
- Polypropylene underwear
- Waterproof jacket and pants
- Headlights and extra batteries
- Winter hat
- Sun hat
- Face wipes
- Sunglass with UV protection
- Trekking pole
- Thermal bottle
- Water purification
- Sleeping bag
- Drying towel
- Nail cutters
- Small mirror
- Bath soap
- First aid kit
- Photocopies of passport and extra passport photos
- Mobile phone
- A waterproof map of Upper Mustang Trek
You will be offered the best accommodation during the trip. You will spend two nights in a hotel in Kathmandu and two nights in Pokhara. Likewise, the rest 14 nights at lodges on the way to the destination. You will be provided with basic facilities and warm hospitality at the lodges where you stay. Hot showers will also be available at an extra cost.
This package comprises three food items of 18 breakfast, 18 lunches, and 17 dinners. During the trek, you will be offered fresh, hygienic, tasty and nutritious meals by the hotels and lodges where you stay. You will savor a variety of food items including local, Asian and western cuisine. You can also opt to order and have food items according to your choice.
Trek in the company or alone?
You can trek to the Upper Mustang Trek alone or in the company or with the help of guides and porters. All these depend upon your choice. But you are recommended to take a guide or a porter to your trip to make your journey more fun-filled. A professional guide costs anything between USD 25 to 30 per day that covers the guide’s food, accommodation, and insurance. Likewise, a porter charges the same price per day for carrying a 15 kilograms weight.
Acute mountain sickness (AMS)
Acute mountain sickness (AMS), also known as altitude sickness, is the negative health effect of high altitude, caused by rapid exposure to low amounts of oxygen at high elevation. Anyone traveling 3,000 meters above sea level can suffer from this health problem. The symptoms may include headaches, vomiting, tiredness, trouble sleeping and dizziness. If you experience these symptoms, you should not ignore them, rather you should take a rest and stop ascending. Ascending slowly is the best option to avoid AMS.
Trekkers’ health condition?
The Upper Mustang Trek is a bit challenging. The trip routes comprise steep descents, steep trails, long climbs, and rocky paths and the journey through thick forests. You need to walk around 7 hours a day. So you need to be fit physically and mentally. Those suffering from medical conditions like heart and lung disease are not recommended for the trip.
Permit for the Upper Mustang Trek
The trip requires two different types of permit
Restricted permit: USD 500 per person for foreign tourists for 10 days and USD 50 per each additional day
Annapurna Conservation Area Project Permit: USD 27 for each foreign tourist and NRs 1,000 each for SAARC countries and NRs 100 for a domestic tourist.
Where can I get a trekking permit?
Trekking permit for Upper Mustang Trek is issued by the Trekking Department of the Nepal Immigration Office located in Kaliksthan, Kathmandu. For information, Nepal Tourism Board does issue trekking permits for Upper Mustang Trek, but it does for other trekking treks like Annapurna Conservation Area Project and national park permits.
Documents required for trekking permit for Upper Mustang Trek
- Original passport with a valid visa
- Photocopies of passport and visa
- Passport size photos
Some FAQs of Upper Mustang Trek
How is the safety measure?
Upper Mustang Trek is a Grade B or a moderately difficult trek. So any fit person can go on the trek. However, trekkers with medical conditions like heart and lung disease are not recommended for the trip.
How fit should I be for the trip?
Any fit person can trek to the Trek. However, those suffering from medical conditions like heart and lung disease are not recommended for the trip
Is the sleeping bag necessary?
Yes, a light sleeping bag is necessary for the trip
Can I hire porters or guides?
Yes, you can hire porters or guides on the trip. It will make your trip easier if you do so. But you can also go on the trip alone, or in the company.
Are there any associated risks?
The trek is high altitude trekking. So you may suffer from high altitude sickness and may suffer other events including sudden climate changes. So take safety measures. If you go on the trek during winter or rainy seasons, the paths are slippery and dotted with hills. So you must walk with caution. You need to take with you a first-aid kit. You must walk with caution.
What about visa and insurance policy?
Visa policy of Nepal is liberal, which allows citizens of almost all nations to obtain a tourist visa on arrival. Citizens of all countries except India are required to obtain a visa to enter Nepal. All tourists are allowed to stay in Nepal for a maximum of 150 days in a calendar year. Insurance policy is as per the rule of the concerned trekking company.
What about additional expenses?
Trekkers will have to bring personnel money with them to cover costs of visa processing, travel insurance policy, beverages, snacks during the trek and tips to the trekking crew members and souvenirs.
What about the ticket cancelation policy?
The ticket cancelation policy is as per the policy of the concerned trekking company.
What about internet access?
You will have internet access in most places during the trip. But, sometime, there might be some technical problems, causing slow speed internet or sometimes stopping the service.
What about battery charging for your gadgets?
You can charge batteries for your gadgets for free or by paying a certain amount of money at lodges or teahouses. For this, you should carry your chargers.
What about change and extra money?
You are recommended to bring with your change and extra money as you will not find any ATM booth on the way. Change money will help you to pay for things you may buy on the way.