Trekking to Upper Mustang is unlike trekking to any other part of Nepal. The climate, culture, traditions, and landscape you will encounter during the Upper Mustang trek unique to this region. This adds a unique touch to the Mustang trek in Nepal.
The altitude of the Mustang region also varies greatly from 1,372 meters to 8,167 meters. So while trekking in Mustang, you will be able to see several peaks that are well over 7000 meters
Mustang trek will also give you a feel of how it will feel like to trek in Tibet as the some of the routes of the Mustang trek is a part of the Tibetan plateau.
Upper Mustang also preserves its rich heritage of the many ancient traditions and culture of the region. This is due to the fact that the Mustang trek was open to foreign trekkers only in 1992.
One of the most popular places in the Mustang region trek is the ancient city of Lo Manthang. It is a walled city that has its own charm, which is largely down to the customs, traditions, as well as the mystery surrounding this city.
Mustang trek starts after a sightseeing tour in Kathmandu. You will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu and then drive to Pokhara. From there, you will take a scenic flight to the wonderful valley of Jomsom and start your trek.
The trek will take you along some of the most beautiful villages in this region like Kagbeni, Chele, Syanboche, Ghaemi, Charang, and finally reach Lo Manthang. You will explore this wonderfully walled kingdom that has an arid landscape as well as some of the most sumptuous mountains that surround it.
On your trekking trail to Upper Mustang, you will be able to see the mountains of Annapurna as well as Nilgiri range. Dhaulagiri at 8167 meters (26,795ft) and Annapurna I at 8091 meters (26,545ft) are the highest mountains visible during the Mustang region trek. In addition, 35 mountains over 6000 meters (19,680ft) high surround Mustang.
Upper Mustang Trek Highlights
You the first glimpses of the Nepalese Himalayas during a scenic flight from Pokhara to Jomsom. The flight is merely 25 minutes long. But in this flight, you will be able to see the various mountains of the Annapurna as well as the Dhaulagiri region.
Annapurna Conservation Area
You will be trekking in the Annapurna Conservation Area region quite a lot. This conservation area houses a lot of exotic plants and animals of Nepal. You will also be able to see various birds and mammals. The rhododendron forests in the conservation light up the trekking trails in lush red color.
Explore the ancient kingdom of Lo Manthang
Lo Manthang is a walled city that has a history that dates back to 1380 A.D. There is also a royal palace in this ancient kingdom where the local king of Mustang resided until a few years back. The panoramic views of mountains that you get from the walled kingdom of Lo Manthang are simply stunning.
Wonderful Mountain Views
You will become mesmerized by the 35 mountains that surround Mustang including the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. During your trek, you will also be delighted to see the deepest gorge in the world- Kali Gandaki Gorge. This gorge is carved out by the Dhaulagiri as well as the Annapurna Ranges.
The thrilling exploration of the sky caves
There are hundreds of sky caves located in Upper Mustang. These sky caves can be seen on the lofty hills that surround the Upper Mustang. There are 10000 man-made caves in Mustang. These caves were found to harbor mummies that dated back some thousands of years back.
Upper Mustang Trek itinerary
Day 01: Arrival
Day 02: Sightseeing around Kathmandu valley and preparation for the trek
Day 03: Drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara
Day 04: Fly from Pokhara to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni (2858 m) - 4 hours of trek
Day 05: Trek to Chele (3050m) 5-6 hours
Day 06: Trek to Syanbochen (3475m) 6-7 hours
Day 07: Trek to Ghaymi (3520m) 6 hours
Day 08: Trek to Charang Trek (3500m)- 5-6 hours
Day 09: Trek to Lo-Manthang Trek (3700m) 6 hours
Day 10: Exploration of Lo-Manthang
Day 11: Trek to Drakmar (3810m) 6-7 hours
Day 12: Trek to Ghiling (3806m) 6 hours
Day 13: Trek to Chhuksang (3050m) 5-6 hours
Day 14: Trek to Jomsom Trek (2700m) 7 hours
Day 15: Flight back to Pokhara
Day 16: Drive back to Kathmandu
Day 17: Departure
How to reach upper mustang trekking?
The Upper Mustang trek starts from Jomsom. But in order to reach Jomsom, you need to first head out to Pokhara. There are two ways of reaching Pokhara. You can either take a flight to Pokhara. This is the swiftest way to reach Pokhara. You also have the option of taking a bus to Pokhara. The bus ride to Pokhara is around 6 to 7 hours long.
From Pokhara, you can either take a flight to Jomsom or head out on a bus. The flight from Pokhara to Jomsom is also 25 minutes long. The bus ride from Pokhara to Jomsom is also around 6-7 hours long.
You can also take a bus that runs directly from Kathmandu to Jomsom. The bus leaves Kathmandu at 2:30 pm in the evening. The bus will go through via Munglin, Pokhara, Beni, Tatopani, Ghasa, Kalopani, Marpha, and finally to Jomsom.
Upper Mustang trek permit
You will need two different permits for the Upper Mustang trek. One of them is the permit to trek in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). This will cost US$ 20. Another permit you will need is the Restricted Area Trek permit. This will cost US$ 500 for the first 10 days of the trek If you are looking to stay longer, you need to pay an additional US$ 50 per day.
In order to get a permit, you need a passport that is valid for at least six months. In order to obtain the permit for ACAP, you will also need one printed passport sized photograph.
In order to trek to Upper Mustang, you will need a minimum of two trekkers in the group. All trekkers who want to trek to Upper Mustang must go with a registered guide.
If you are looking to trek in the lower regions of Mustang, you can obtain all the permits yourself in the office of Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu. But you can’t obtain a Restricted Area Permit yourself. You need to get it by consulting a registered trekking company.
Important places in upper mustang trekking
The ancient kingdom of Lo Manthang is one of the best places you will get to see in the Upper Mustang trek. The kingdom has a history that dates back hundreds of years to 1380. The settlement of Lo Manthang is a beautiful one that oversees hills and mountains draping it. The Royal Palace of Lo Manthang is a place of equally rich history.
Jomsom is the starting point of your trek and it is a scenic valley. It is surrounded by lofty mountains. From Jomsom, you can go to Kali Gandaki River, which forms the deepest ravine in the world.
Best time for upper mustang trekking
Autumn (September, October, and November) is the most popular time to trek in Nepal. Spring (March, April, and May) is the second most popular trekking season. These seasons are characterized by a mild amount of sunshine and low probability of rainfall.
Apart from these seasons, Summer (June, July, and August) is also popular for trekking to Upper Mustang. This is because the trekking trail to Mustang is quite rocky and devoid of rain. The arid climatic conditions of Upper Mustang is one of the reasons it is also popular in the summers.
If you pack appropriately, you can also complete the Upper Mustang trek in the winter season as well. Mustang region is not as cold as other high-altitude treks in Nepal like Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Base Camp. So with appropriate packing, you can complete the trek to Upper Mustang in all seasons.
Mustang is one of the driest parts in Nepal. The lofty hills that surround Mustang block much of the clouds that bring about the onset of monsoon. It is one of the reasons why the Mustang trek is a popular one even in the summers. This is despite the summers being the wettest season in Nepal.
There are four seasons in Mustang- summer, autumn, spring, and winter. Summer, Autumn, and spring are the most popular months for trekking to Upper Mustang. But winter trekking in Mustang is also possible as the highest point along the Upper Mustang trek is merely 3800 meters.
The amount of sunshine received in Mustang region is also quite significant. Sun beats down almost all year round. So the days are long and perfect for trekking. This is because you can also explore the villages you will trek to in the evening after you have completed your trek.
Mustang trek difficulty
Upper Mustang treks start from the lower altitudes of Jomsom. This means that you will start your trek from an altitude of 2743 meters. The highest point along your trek to Upper Mustang is the village of Drakmar, which lies at an altitude of 3800 meters. So the trek to Mustang is moderate in terms of the altitude you will encounter.
Mustang trek has a moderate amount of difficulty in terms of the number of walking hours and days. During most days, you will trek for an average of 6 hours. So trekking to Upper Mustang is quite moderate.
Mustang’s terrain is mildly difficult. There might be daily ascent and descent but with enough physical preparation, you will be able to complete quite comfortably.
People and culture of upper mustang trek
Upper Mustang is a trek that lies in the Himalayas of Nepal. As with all other Himalayan areas of Nepal, the trek to Upper Mustang is also full of the culture of Tibetan Buddhism from Sakya lineage. This region also has a sect of the rare Bon religion. The Bon priests along with Tibetan Lamas organize various festivals and rituals in this region.
The ethnic people of Upper Mustang region are called Loba (Lo Pa). If you are a student who wants to learn subjects like religion, anthropology, Asian studies, mythology, art or antiquity, Upper Mustang can provide you with a wonderful opportunity for a field study.
Mustang trek Distance
You will cover a total of 75 miles while trekking to Upper Mustang. This is equivalent to 125 kilometers. Since you will trek for 10 days, you will cover around 12.5 kilometers in a day. The trek does take you along some uphills and downhills.
In these 10 days, you will trek for almost 6 hours a day. When the trails are too steep, you might trek for more than 6 hours a day depending upon your strength and stamina.