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Upper Mustang trekking, leads you to Nepal Far North Western Himalaya close to Dolpo-Dhaulagiri and west of Annapurna Himalaya range, on route Tibet border Karo-la pass located on old Trans-Himalaya Salt and Caravan Trail of Nepal and Tibet. Upper Mustang trekking where you feel as you are into Tibet due to its scenic landscapes and similar cultural villages interwoven with Buddhism and old practice Bon sect religions (a pre Buddhism).
Upper Mustang once a forbidden kingdom with its walled city / town of Lo-Manthang ruled by late Raja / King of Mustang, the area was open for outside visitors since last three decades where you can travel and witness its great treasures of old magnificent custom, culture with tour of impressive monasteries. Starting this marvelous journey Upper Mustang Trekking taking a swift scenic flight from picturesque Pokhara, a renowned touristic city blessed with Annapurna Himalaya and lakes where our adventure begins.
After a panoramic flight landing at Jomsom the headquarter town of Mustang district and the hub of native Thakali people who have been in trade with Tibet since past hundred of centuries. Walk leads into restricted areas to Upper Mustang after Kagbeni where trekkers requires special permits to enter into this Far North Himalaya around Upper Mustang and the kingdom of Lo, as journey progress heading into lovely villages lined with prayer walls and spinning bells with large agriculture fields where few trees exists.
Adventure continues crossing over passes with super views of snow peaks to reach at former walled kingdom in Lo-Manthang, with tour of historical and cultural sites of Lo-Manthang, with four grand monasteries of Namgyal Gompa, Champa Lakhang (God House), Red Thubchen Gompa, Chyodi Gompa and its Great Entrance Hall. A special permission required to enter late Raja palace and visit its interior of old palace if possible, after fascinating times around Upper Mustang walks leads back to Jomsom with visit of holy Muktinath facing glorious panorama of Dhaulagiri and other peaks range.
At Jomsom taking a short flight back to scenic Pokhara where our marvelous and exciting adventure Upper Mustang Trekking completes.
Day 01: Welcome to Kathmandu (1,350 meters / 4,429 feet)
Day 02: Full day in Kathmandu with half day guided tour N trek preparation
Day 03: Fly or drive to Pokhara (825 m / 2,706 ft): 20 minutes flight N 7 hours drive
Day 04: Fly to Jomsom (2,720 m / 8,923 ft) N commence trek to Kagbeni (2,810 m / 9,219 ft): 4 hrs
Day 05: Trek to Tsaile (3,050 m / 10,006 ft): 6 hrs
Day 06: Trek to Ghiling (3,570 m / 11,712 ft): 6 hrs
Day 07: Trek to Dhakmar (3,820 m / 12,532 ft): 6 hrs
Day 08: Trek to Lo Manthang (3,810 m / 12,500 ft) via Lo Gekar (3,950 m / 12,959 ft) -7 hrs
Day 09: Free day at Lo Manthang for local excursion N explore the village town
Day 10: Trek to Yara (3,650 m / 11,975 ft): 6 hrs
Day 11: Rest day at Yara N excursion to Luri Gumpa (4,000 m / 13,123 ft):
Day 12: Trek to Tangbe (3,240 m / 10,629 ft): 6 hrs
Day 13: Trek to Tetang (3,040 m / 9,973 ft): 9/10 hrs
Day 14: Trek to Muktinath (3,760 m / 12,335 ft): 6 hrs
Day 15: Trek to Jomsom (2,720 m / 8,923 ft) via Lupra (2,790 m / 9,153 ft): 5/6 hrs
Day 16: Early morning fly to Pokhara (825 m / 2,706 ft): 20 minute air journey
Day 17: Fly or drive to Kathmandu (20 minutes flight and 7 hrs drive)
Day 18: Leisure day in Kathmandu for sightseeing, relaxing N shopping
Day 19: Transfer to airport for onward destination
Please Note: That as Upper Mustang trekking includes short local drives in jeeps or four-wheel drives with walks, as the area at present due to construction of motor able road possible with drive and treks to maintain the itinerary days of about two weeks.
Welcome to the Himalayan country of Nepal. It’s a panoramic thrill flying into Kathmandu on a clear day. The views of snow-capped mountain peaks sprawling down below you are almost ecstatic, beginning a whole chain of memorable experiences that stay with you for a long, long time. And as your plane hits the tarmac, our waiting support team will meet and greet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. Welcome drinks will be served and after time in getting refreshed, that evening you will be invited to a welcome dinner in a typical Nepalese restaurant in the heart of Kathmandu. You will also receive a trip briefing before retiring for the night at the hotel. Overnight at a hotel. Included meals: Welcome Dinner
Today after breakfast if you wish you can go to visit several of the most historical and spiritual attractions in Kathmandu. Some of these landmarks are considered World Heritage Sites; including the historic Durbar Square, the famous ‘Monkey Temple’ (Swayambunath), Buddhists shrine (Bouddhanath) which is one of the large Stupas in the world and sacred Hindu temple of Pashupati Nath, In the afternoon, there will be a pre-trip discussion for tomorrow as well as provides us opportunity to ask any questions we may have regarding our upcoming adventure. Overnight at a hotel. Included meals: Breakfast
Early morning at around 7 am, we set off for Pokhara on a tourist bus. Enroute we will see more of countryside of Nepal that offers greeneries, rivers, villages, farms and beautiful mountain sceneries. Afternoon, we reach Pokhara. Pokhara offers magnificent views of Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Machhapuchhare, five peaks of Annapurna and others. Pokhara is city of lakes and has numerous beautiful lakes. We can explore the most accessible and beautiful, Phewa Lake during the afternoon enjoy boating too. You can even do some shopping during evening hours. Overnight at a hotel. Included meals: Lunch & Dinner
We are up early this morning for our spectacular mountain ﬂight to the district headquarters of Mustang, Jomsom. Once on the ground, at (2,720 m), we look forward to being greeted by the sound of jingling horse bells as the Mustangi people pass by with their pony caravans we have even seen yaks in the main street! After sorting out gear, meeting our crew and loading up, we trek up the windy Kali Gandaki valley to Kagbeni (depending on the ﬂight time and time to get gear sorted, we usually have lunch in Jomsom before we hot the trail). The wide trail along a rocky, saligram ﬁlled riverbed provides views of the surrounding peaks of Dhaulagiri, Tukuche and Nilgiri, and to the south the entire Annapurna Massif.
Kagbeni, spectacularly situated atop a cliff overlooking the conﬂuence of the Kali Gandaki and the Jhong Khola rivers, is the last village in Lower Mustang and guards the entrance into Upper Mustang, an oasis of green ﬁelds in the midst of rocky, arid mountains, with Nilgiri looming grandly behind it. We will have time to explore in the late afternoon as the light fades and herders bring in their livestock to corrals for the night.
This ancient, partially ruined citadel town provides us with a taste of scenes to come in Upper Mustang, with its narrow alleyways and tunnels, irrigation canals, green ﬁelds of barley and its massive, newly-restored brick-red Gompa, 800 years old. We’ll also wander past the ancient, crumbing, l00-room King’s Palace. At the police check post at the north end of the village where a sign reads ‘Restricted area, tourists please do not go beyond this point’, we will complete our paperwork to enter Upper Mustang tomorrow. Overnight at a Local Guest House. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
After breakfast, we enter the restricted area of Upper Mustang! We will be on rough jeep trails for most of today and we ﬁrst head high up to a ridge, where we have wonderful views of the patchwork ﬁelds at Kagbeni and all the way to Nilgiri down the valley. We continue along the eastern side of the Kali Gandaki, climbing high up onto a plateau above the river-bed, all the time with magniﬁcent views from all sides. We plunge down to a stream and have a short climb to the village of Tangbe (3,030 m), a labyrinth of narrow alleys and white-washed houses, apple orchards and ﬁelds of buckwheat, barley, wheat.
We contour out of Tangbe and then plunge down again before some ‘Nepali Flat’ into the village of Chuksang (2,950 m), dominated by a crumbling Dzong or fortress and from where, across the Kali Gandaki river, we see clusters of ancient caves high up on the dramatic rock face. We’ll have lunch here in a little tea house.
After lunch we cross a small river and continue on up the dusty valley, crossing the Kali Gandaki river on a narrow bridge just below a naturally-formed tunnel through which the river ﬂows. We have a short but steep climb from the river up into Tsaile, a lively village with several guest houses and extensive wheat and barley ﬁelds and orchards.
Note: The culture from Tsaile north becomes more Tibetan; sheep horns adorn the houses, and there are protective amulets in the shape of a cross on the walls of the houses. These ‘zor’ do what they look like they might do, capture evil spirits in their web and protect the inhabitants of the household. Overnight at a Local Guest House. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
After a hearty breakfast we hit the trail, ascending steeply to a ridge above the town. The scenery is awesome, the classic high altitude desert of the Tibetan plateau. We trek past the river valleys leading into the Kali Gandaki River until we reach the spectacular, steep canyon-side trail leading towards the Daj ori La (3,600 m) which is marked by rock caims and should take us 2 -3 hours to reach.
Having ‘conquered’ our ﬁrst pass, we enter a greener valley and contour down into Samar with its lovely poplar grove, formerly a staging post for Khampa raids into Tibet. Here we can relax over lunch and try some Tibetan style salty butter tea if you are up for it. Passing through the village’s charming exit chorten we descend on a switch back trail to a stream and then up steeply to the Chungsi La (3,810 m). From here we descend to the spiritually signiﬁcant Chungsi Cave (3,425 m), a meditation cave of the Guru Rinpoche where we can see images of deities ‘self-emerged’ from the rock and a ‘self made’ form of the Guru Rinpoche.
From this sacred place we continue on up the valley and climb into the small hamlet of Shyangmochen (3,765 m) where we can rest with a cup of tea. From here we have a short climb to the Shyangmochen La, where the trail intersects a wide east-west valley, and it’s an easy descent on a jeep trail and a short climb to the picturesque village of Geling (3,570 m). There is an old gompa above the village, ancient meditation caves in the eroded cliffs visible above and traditional Mustangi houses surrounded by barley ﬁelds. Overnight at a Local Guest House. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
This morning we have a good heart starter as we have a good climb on a steady trail to reach the Nyi La (4,000 m) from which we descend and contour around to the Ghemi La and then continue contouring down to the large village of Ghemi (3,570 m), marvelling at the red oxide and silver hues of the towering cliffs across the valley. This is yet another stunning village, with tiny streets and high walled houses creating the ‘forti-ﬁed’ feeling so characteristic of this region.
After lunch in beautiful Ghemi we head down to a bridge crossing the river and have a short climb to the ridgeline. From here, the trail looks across the valley to ochre, blue and steel- grey cliffs and the tricolored chortens so characteristics of the Kingdom of Lo. We also see what is said to be the longest mani wall in Nepal and a cluster of gigantic, ancient chortens, backed by dramatic, sculpted cliff-faces, an awesome sight!
Looking past the chortens we look up the valley towards Dhakmar, our destination for the evening. The cliffs are bright red and this spot is a signiﬁcant part of the ancient history of Tibetan Buddhism as it is where the Guru Rinpoche fought battle with demons which plagued the building of the ﬁrst monastery in Tibet. The cliffs around are said to be this bright red color as they are stained by the blood of the demon, the mani wall is said to have risen from the entrails of the demon and the Lo Gekar monastery (which we visit tomorrow) pins one down. This is where the battles took place to pave the way for what we know today as Tibetan Buddhism!
We have a stunning walk up the valley to the beautiful village of Dhakmar, with its ﬂat roofed houses set in against blood red cliffs and looking down to the high peaks of the Himalayas. Overnight at a Local Guest House. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
We have another great day ahead as make our way up the valley and pass through a tunnel like gateway onto the ridgeline; the Views down the Dhakmar Valley are breath-taking, as is the experience of cresting this eerie, tunnel-like pass. We drop back down and then climb yet again through high meadows by a meandering, rocky stream to the Mui La, before dropping down to our lunch spot in Lo Ghekar, ‘Pure Virtue of Joy’, sitting majestically in the valley below us. It is truly humbling to be in this sacred location, knowing its signiﬁcance to the history of Himalayan Buddhism it seems a bit mundane to eat our lunch here, but we will savour every bite!
From here we have a short drop to the Tsarang Khola and then we climb a rocky trail to a ridgeline and then climb steadily through a big grassy valley to the the Chogo La, at (4,325 m), our highest point on the trek. From here we contour down and around through a wide valley well off the main trading trails and into an area crisscrossed with herders’ trails. We climb to a small pass with a cairn at (4,000 m) from where we catch our ﬁrst sight of the famed city of Lo Manthang and the aptly named ‘Plain of Aspiration”, below us.
We have an easy descent down and across the plain into Lo Manthang, where we’ll stay in a family owned tea house and start exploring the city and its many gompas. You can now get a coffee in Lo and there are some tourist shops in the very centre, so it’s not as pristine in this sense as it used to be, but just as mystical in the golden light of dusk as the local people bring their sheep, cows and horses inside the city gates for the night. Overnight at a Local Guest House. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
In the mornings of our days in Lo, it is recommended Visit or revisit the monasteries in the old city mom-ing light is the best time to see the artworks, as it gets much darker once the sun is high in the sky. You should take a torch with you as it’s dark inside these ancient buildings even in the mornings when the light is considered the best please remember that photos are not to be taken inside monasteries (unless express permission has been given).
In the afternoon we can get out and explore the amazing land and culture around Lo, or if you prefer, then you can of course just relax or wander the intriguing streets of Lo. There is an Amchi (healer) who runs a fascinating Tibetan herbal medicine clinic and school, a school, all the monasteries and even a coffee shop along with an increasing number of souvenir/antique shops to Visit.
A suggested excursion is to head up along the valley north west of Lo to Namgyal Gompa (the Monastery of Victory), set spectacularly on top of a desolate ridge and the newest and most active gompa in Lo, with the Village of Namgyal spreading out past it. The monastery is the most modern 1n the area and has a different style of decorations than the ones we see in Lo. Down a steep drop to a stream and then up through an extensive, irrigated system of ﬁelds. 1s the sprawling Village of Thinggar, where the King has his summer palace and where there are also many ancient ruins, some gompas and old fortresses. If heading to Thinggar, be prepared to leave earlier and have a quite a walk. Overnight at a Local Guest House. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Sadly, we must leave magical Lo Manthang, but new adventures await us on our route south as we take the higher, less travelled route on the eastern side of the Kali Gandaki to Muktinath and down to Jomsom.
We head out from the gates of Lo and up to the Lo La pass where we have one last glimpse back down to this myth-like, walled city. We trek back down the main trail for a while until we reach the intersection to Dhi and Yara, and then we veer left (east) off the trail and head to Dhi along the eastern, winter route. We follow the trail along the western side of the Mustang Khola, contouring around tiers of high, arid slopes, a spectacular walk high up in the expansive, colourful canyons and gorges. Once over the Dhi La (4,090 m), the really interesting trail begins; heading straight down a narrow, sandy trail, we reach the intersection to Tsarang, but continue straight down a steep, dramatic trail towards Dhi, eventually visible as a green swath far below us, with Yara and Ghara in the distance.
Dhi is one of the best preserved villages in Lo Kingdom and as it is rarely visited by trekkers, so it is well worth the time to go for a walk and get a taste of old Mustangi life.
Take your lunch at a Dhi. After lunch from Dhi, we cross a bridge over the Kali Gandaki and take the trail leading to Surkhang. We follow small trails along the riverbed for about an hour, and then climb a bit to reach the lovely, shady village of Yara, with a small gompa and a few small teahouses. This is a great day through the dramatic gorges and canyons of the Puyang Khola, stopping at Yara, where we will spend the night. Overnight at a Local Guest House. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
After breakfast we descend back down to the Puyang Khola on a narrow trail, then head east past fantastic, sculpted canyons where we see the remains of a network of ancient caves, now eroded enough to be inaccessible. It takes us approximately 2 hours to reach the fabled Luri Gompa of the Kagyupa sect and its complex of caves, some of which are accessible. There is a small gompa in the lower section and we may be able to visit the upper prayer-room and the famous ‘Kabum Stupa’ painted with wonderful murals and caves.
The Luri caves are ﬁlled with simply stunning Buddhist frescos and large, intricately painted chortens. Historians estimate them to be from the 13th or 14th century, and linked to the Tashi Kumbum caves, one of a group of connected cave dwellings throughout this region. The style of painting is said to be similar to the Newar tangka style (of the Kathmandu Valley) and art historians speculate that the work was done by Nepali (possibly Newar) artisans, commissioned by Tibetans. Unfortunately, or fortunately, most have been rendered inaccessible due to the intense erosion in Mustang, so will remain hidden throughout history.
On the way back, we take the high trail through the interesting village of Ghara, surrounded by terraced ﬁelds, before reaching Yara again.
Overnight at a Local Guest House. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
After a hearty breakfast and ﬁlling all our water bottles we head well and truly off the beaten path towards Tange. From Yara the trail follows the river for about 2 hours and then crosses a river that ﬂows from Damodar Kunda, a sacred lake high above us to the east. There is no bridge across this river so we will need to get our tevas/ sandals out and get our feet wet!
After crossing the river the trail climbs up to a pass at (3,850 m) where we ﬁnd ourselves in a desolate grass-less, treeless and waterless hillside. After the pass the trail again drops to Tange village at an elevation of (3,370 m), entering through the distinctive tricolor chortens that are such a classic part of the Mustang landscape. Tange is a small village of around 30 houses; most those being attached to each other. On the rooftops one can see piles of dry wood and branches, so hard to ﬁnd in this desolate landscape and carefully stock-piled for the bitter winters. There is a beautiful view point in the village where you can look across a mass of chortens to the high mountains in Dolpo in the wild west. Overnight at a Local Guest House. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
This morning we again make the most of a hearty breakfast as we have a long day ahead of us. Fill our water bottles, put a few energy bars in the pack and we hit the trail. We have a ﬁne trail for about an hour and then stop to put our tevas on for a river crossing- should be nice and chilly! After crossing the river our trail climbs high up to reach the Cha Cho La (4,200 m) from where we can revel in an incredible view to many towering peaks including Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, Tukche Peak, Tilicho Peak and Thorang Peak.
Strangely enough, this area is one where we can see many varieties of ﬂowers and if we are lucky we will see blue sheep. From the pass we plunge down to the Narshying Khola and down this river to Tetang, cleverly built between 2 hills to avoid the strong wind that hits the entire Kali Gandaki Valley on most days.
Tetang is the upper village of the Chusang, which we passed through on our ﬁrst day in Upper Mustang. Overnight at a Local Guest House. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Taking the remote back route to Muktinath, we head up high again to cross the Gyu La (4,075 m) for incredible views down to Lower Mustang and the surrounding peaks. Thankfully it’s pretty much downhill from here on in and we descend to Muktinath where we stay for the night with incredible views of Nilgiri and Mt. Tilicho to the southeast, Daulagiri to the southwest and Thorang peak and Yakawa Kang to the north.
Muktinath is a holy place where both water and ﬂames come from the side of the mountain, so that here we have the 5 elements in one sacred place earth, air, ﬁre, water and ether, as represented in the 5 colours of the Buddhist ﬂags we have seen in so many places in this journey. This is one of the most important pilgrimage sites of Nepal for both Buddhists and Hindus. It is a great example of a sacred place shared in harmony by devotees of two religions. The traditional caretakers are the Muktinath Nuns of the lineage of Lama Wangyal. Every year, thousands of devotees from Nepal, India and Tibet come on pilgrimage for puriﬁcation and salvation and it is said that throughout history many Kings throughout Asia did the same.
There is the option to complete a full loop by running to Jomsom (2-3 hours) or taking a shared drive back to the hotel. So far, 90% of people have chosen the latter. Overnight at a Local Guest House. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Today we will trek dawn to Jomsom via Lupra village (2,790 m) where there is a Bon Po Monastery. Bon Po is the ancient, pre- Buddhist religion of the high Himalayans and the Tibetan plateau and it is fascinating to visit this old monastery and learn about the Bon Po way. This is also a great route that trekkers on the Annapurna circuit don’t normally use, so we’ll be far away from the crowds and the jeeps on the main trail down to the Kali Gandaki river. On arrival we’ll celebrate our trek through ‘forbidden’ Mustang in style with our crew at our friendly local tea house! Overnight at a Local Guest House. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Today we have one of the most stunning mountain flights in the world! We bid farewell to the crew and to the high arid landscape of the mountains and fly down the deepest gorge in the world to the lush greenery of Pokhara. All the colours will dazzle you as we get out of the plane, as will the change in temperature and humidity! The rest of the day is free to relax or to explore this charming lakeside town. Overnight at a hotel. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Today after breakfast, we start our 200 kilometers drive back to Kathmandu along the banks of the Marsyangdi and Trishuli rivers with splendid views of green hills, mountains, farming terraces and villages on both sides of the road. To celebrate the successful completion of our journey we will head out to farewell dinner to sample the delights of Kathmandu’s best, very much welcome after our time in the remote wilds of Upper Mustang! Overnight at a hotel. Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Today is your last day in Kathmandu and is an opportunity to do all the bits and pieces you thought of doingover the past few weeks including any last minute shopping, returning to places that you enjoyed or didn’tget a chance to visit before your trek. Do let us know if would like help organising anything for today. Overnight at a hotel. Included meals: Breakfast, & Farewell Dinner
You are saying good bye to the mountains as your journey in Nepal comes to an end today! There is nothing to do but trade emails with travel companions and organize the photos. If you have more time you can do some shopping or sightseeing. We hope you enjoyed the tour with us, and are sure you`ll be back in your trip somewhere in the Himalaya again. We will take you to the airport approximately 3 hours before the scheduled flight. On your way home you’ll have plenty of time to plan your next adventure in the wonderful country of Nepal. Included meals: Breakfast
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