Mustang is the hinterland enriched with mainly barren ridges, deep canyons, eroded cliffs and Moraine valleys. Its landscape is unrivaled for it has a stupendous wilderness, pristine scenery, snow capped peaks, spectacular monasteries dating back 8th and 15th century and many other unique attractions. The view of wind swept Kali-Gandaki valley, vast spaces around Kagbeni and vast ridges that straggle high mountains provide a mind-blowing experience.
Nepal’s Mustang region preserves a life almost unchanged for centuries. It lies hidden behind the Himalayan giants of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna at the very roof of Asia on the arid Tibetan plateau. It has long been isolated from the outside world (and only opened to trekking groups since 1992!). As you make your way through this secluded land, you’ll pass brightly painted chortens (Buddhist shrines) and tiny villages guarded by enormous monasteries. Vistas include unusual and arresting views of the snow-covered Himalaya to the south, and desolate high plateaus, deep canyons, and an ocean of windswept hills the colors of a desert sunset to the north. Once at the walled capital city of Lo Manthang, you’ll absorb a great sense of timelaps and appreciation for an ancient culture as you discover the ruins of old forts, monasteries rich in art and history, and caves replete with magnificent religious statues.
Mustang is the old kingdom of Lobas(The natives of the region). Actually the capital of the Mustang district is Jomsom, but the real Tibetan style district lies north of Kagbeni and is usually referred to as Upper Mustang. The Lo Manthang, where the present king lives, is a fantastic square-walled town sitting on the ‘Plain of Prayers’. The small kingdom of Mustang, closed to westerners until 1992, is an enchanting land of windswept vistas, red walled monasteries, and feudal towns. This tiny kingdom was not only a major corridor of trade from the 1400's to before the Chinese occupation of Tibet, but also figured importantly into early Buddhism in Tibet. Local legend tells the tale of the great founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava, who before building Samye (the oldest monastery in Tibet) came to Mustang to stand guard against and do battle with the evil powers out to destroy Buddhism. The temple of Lo Gekhar construceted in the 8th century in eastern Mustang was built by Padmasambhava after his triumphant battle and still stands guard today.
|Activity||Trekking in Nepal|
|Max Altitude||3879 m|
|Final Dest||Upper Mustang|
|No. of Days||15|
|Activities Per Day|
You depart for the six hours drive to Pokhara (915m,), 200 km west of Kathmandu. As you climb out of the Kathmandu valley, only to quickly descend again to the Trisuli River, you follow upstream to its junction with the Marsyangdi River. You follow the Marsyandi gently up through heavily terraced fields and small hill towns to the Seti River that takes you directly into Pokhara. Having pleasant weather, Pokhara is tourist's paradise with full of natural as well as cultural heritage sites such as lakes, caves, temples of Buddhist and Hindus along with mountains. You can observe views to the north across the hills and Phewa Tal (lake) to the white peaks of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. This drive will take most of the morning, leaving much of the afternoon to fall in love with its beauty. You can also fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara which takes about 25 minutes.
Fly from Pokhara to Jomsom (2700 m.) and it takes about 25 minutes and trek from Jomsom to Kagbeni (2810 m.) which takes about four hours.
Directly north of Jomsom is the pretty village of Kagbeni, There are about 80 families living here, most of them traders who are the link in the chain between modern Nepal and the Tibetan-type people of Mustang. Just out of Jomsom you cross a small hanging bridge and then walk along the banks of the Kali Gandaki. The trail is quite barren with craggy rocks and sand and is mostly flat, which makes it very easy going. This very easy, enjoyable start is at the same time picturesque, with views of big peaks all around such as Dhaulagiri (26,794ft), Tukuche (22,703ft) and in the west the awesome mountain above Kagbeni, Nilgiri (22,769ft). Over to the south and south-west can be seen the entire Annapurna Massif. You are more than likely to meet Indian pilgrims on their way to and from Muktinath on this stretch, and other Europeans for an hour or two who will be on the world-famous Annapurna Circuit. Upon reaching Kagbeni there is a taste of scenes to come in Upper Mustang, what with its narrow alleyways and tunnels, irrigation canals, green fields of wheat and barley and a large red gompa. At the police check-post at the north end of the village there is a sign saying ‘Restricted area, tourists please do not go beyond this point’. Here you will complete your paperwork formalities for you to enter this long-forbidden region of Nepal. ACAP have set up a very interesting information post here with displays of Mustang artifacts and photos.
You trek right up the river valley, but you use a combination of the high trail and the riverbank pathways.
The old town of Kagbeni
The trail then widens significantly revealing an endless stretch of sand but the path is kept interesting by the passing of mule trains bearing goods from Mustang and Tibet. On the west bank of the river are some caves and Gompa Kang. Unlike most monasteries in Upper Mustang which are of the Sakyapa sect, Gompa Kang is of the Nyingmapa sect. You stop for lunch at the village of Tangbe, where you come across the first black, white and red chortens that typify Upper Mustang. The little town is a labyrinth of narrow alleys among white washed houses, fields of buck wheat and barley and apple orchards. Nilgiri Peak continues to dominate the southern skyline. Chusang village is only about 2hrs walk beyond Tangbe at the confluence of the Narshing Khola and the Kali Gandaki. There are three separate parts to this village and some ruined castle walls on the surrounding cliffs. Across the river from Chusang are some spectacular red, orange pipe eroded cliffs above the mouths of some inaccessible caves.
Trek from Chuksang to Samar (3150 m.) and it takes about three and half hours. There is a distinct change here, not only in the topography, but also in the culture, lifestyle and people, and the settlements become more scattered, smaller and more basic. The people of Lo or Mustang do practice agriculture, but because of the lack of rain and fertile soil, cultivation is in sheltered plots of land, scattering the brown landscape with patches of green. Continuing north, you reach a huge red chunk of conglomerate that has fallen from the cliffs above, forming a tunnel through which the river flows. A steel bridge spans the river just in front of the tunnel and north of here the Kali Gandaki becomes impassable on foot.
The trek now leaves the valley and climbs steeply up a rocky alley to the village of Chele. Watch out here for the ferocious Tibetan mastiffs which are chained to many of the houses. From Chele you climb a steep spur and then continue ascending along the side of a spectacular steep canyon to a pass. Beyond the pass you descend on a pleasant trail to Samar, situated in a grove of poplar trees. This is a major stopping place for horse and mule caravans
Trek from Samar to Geling (3510 m.) which takes about five hours. You climb above Samar to a ridge and then descend into a large gorge past a chorten before entering another valley filled with juniper trees.
The Longest Mani wall of Ghemi, Dhakmar Cliffs on the backdrop
You then cross a stream and after climbing to a pass, you descend along a ridge to Shyangmochen a tiny settlement with a few tea shops. Nearby is Rangbyung, a cave containing stalagmites which have formed in the shape of chortens and one of the holiest places in Mustang. The trail climbs gently from Shyangmochen and you enter another huge valley before descending to Geling with its extensive fields of barley. As in all the settlements of Mustang, the white and ochre-painted houses are constructed using mud and stones, with roofs made of twigs, straw and a mixture of mud and pebbles.
Trek from Giling to Ghami (3490 m.) via Ghami La (3520m.) and it takes about five hours. From Geling the trail climbs gently through fields, up the center of the valley, passing above the settlement of Tama Gun and an imposing Chorten.
You then begin a taxing climb across the head of the valley to the Nyi La [3840m]. The descent from the pass is quite gentle and about half an hour further on we come to a trail junction; the right trail is the direct route to Charang, the left trail leads to Ghami. Ghami is a large white-washed village sheltered by overhanging cliffs.
Trek fram Ghami to Tsarang (3620 m.) which takes about five hours. Today's walk is through perhaps the driest part of Mustang, and much of your energy will be spent negotiating loose, dry soil.
Buck wheat feilds the major crop of the region.
However, the magnificent views of the countryside, from the gentle contours of the north to the rugged mountains in the east and west, are a source of inspiration. Finally, you come to Charang, a large spread-out village at the top of the Charang Chu canyon. At the eastern end of the village is a huge dzong (for tress) and a red gompa which houses an excellent collection of statues and thangkas.
Trek from Tsarang to Lo-Manthang (Mustang) (3730 m.) and it takes about three hours. You will spend part of the morning exploring the interesting village of Charang and its large monastery, before setting out for Lo Manthang. You climb gently above the valley to a large isolated chorten that marks the boundary between Charang and Lo. The trail then broadens and eventually you get our first view of the walled city of Lo Manthang. The city has only one entrance so you circumambulate the wall to the gate on the north east corner.
Rest day at Mustang. Today is free to explore the fascinating city of Lo Manthang, untouched since the 14th century. The city contains about 150 houses, as well as residences for its many lamas. There are four major temples within the city and one of these, Champa Lhakang, contains a huge clay statue of Buddha as well as elaborates mandalas painted on the walls. The king's palace is an imposing building in the center of the city and is occupied by the current King and Queen. Although his duties are largely ceremonial, the King is respected by the people and consulted about many issues by villagers throughout the kingdom.
Trek from Lo-Manthang to Ghami (3490 m.) which takes about six hours. You continue your journey on the highland route, crossing alpine meadows before dropping down a steep eroded alley to Dhakmar for lunch. After lunch, you walk through the pretty valley, climb to a ridge and descend from there back to Ghami.
Trek from Ghami to Chuksang (2900 m.) and it takes about six hours. You trek through wide and gentle path with some ascends and descends. The trail passes through desert like places though you can see some small thorny bushes. On the way, your trail goes along the river. You come across with some small streams. To reach from Ghami to Chuksang, you cross Kali Gandaki River.
Trek from Chuksang to Muktinath (3795m). which takes about seven hours. The trail follows gently ascend and winding path passing through almost desert like places. On the way, you see at a distance some agricultural fields, apple orchard and some human settlements. You can enjoy beautiful deserted landscape, Caves, old Tibetan Style Villages, apple Garden, Yaks Herds, Sheep Herds, straight up to the Muktinath, visit Monastery believed to be built in 15th century, walk about twenty minute to Muktinath Temple, where you can enjoy a holy bath of 108 Taps, Visit Monastery, Natural flaming and Hindus Temple. The people of Muktinath are close to the life style, culture, religion and idea of Tibetan people.
Trek from Muktinath to Jomsom (2713 m.) and it takes about five hours.
Easy day, trail gradually ascends to Eklebhati at Kali Gandaki River valley, walk another two hours along the wide sandy and windy valley. The way moves between two hills.
Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara which takes about 25 minutes and stay overnight at hotel in Pokhara. The flights are available during the morning time. The strong breeze blows during the after and frequent change of the weather prevent the flight being landed and taken off in the afternoon. During the flights in morning, the sky looks very clear which makes you able to enjoy the splendid views of different mountain peaks.
Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu by tourist mini bus and stay overnight at hotel in Kathmandu. While driving from Pokhara to Kathmandu, you head up to Damauli, Dumre, Muglin and Kurintar where the Nepal's first Cable car is operated to reach to Manakamana Temple. En route, you could enjoy the mountain views, green sceneries, rice terrace fields, vegetable fields and people being engaged in their daily life activities. From Naubishe you climb up to Thankot, the gateway to capital city. You can also fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu which takes about 25 minutes.