Upper Mustang Trekking 18 Days
Upper Mustang Trek Overview
One of the trekking destinations behind the Himalaya of Nepal, Upper Mustang Trek is trekking to the forbidden kingdom of Nepal. Mustang is a famous hidden kingdom behind the Himalaya, in the land of the federal republic of Nepal. The people, their lifestyle, culture, tradition, cave on the trail and the surrounding nature gives, trekker plenty to see in their trekking to Upper Mustang. Daily life of people living there is simple, unique and interesting for trekkers; herd of cattle coming back home in the afternoon, yaks grazing In the field, horses and mules carrying supplies up and down the trails.
This part of Nepal is geologically located in the Tibetan Plato, a completely deserted area within Nepal Himalaya - resembles Tibetan Landscape. If you want to explore the lifestyle of people living in the upper Mustang region of Nepal, and if you are interested in the culture, different side of Nepalese nature and outstanding scenery rather than just the tall mountains of Nepal, Upper Mustang is the perfect destination for you.
Relationship between Tibet and Upper Mustang
As famous Dalai Lama said, Mustang is one of the good reflectors of Tibetan culture and landscape, in Nepal - we completely agree with this statement. Visiting Tibet may be challenging and expensive, but Upper Mustang Trekking offers an easier opportunity to experience similar landscape. Local people and culture and their welcoming hospitality inside their own kitchen area with dry mountain views from their windows - makes every trekker happy. Getting towards Korola border (border with China) during the sightseeing tour around Lo Manthang, visiting Choser cave and multiple forts in the area will give you a real taste of Tibetan paradise, in Upper Mustang.
History of Upper Mustang
Upper Mustang was a part of the Tibetan Kingdom of Gungthang until 1830’s, and thus it has a lot of interesting history and antique cultural traditions preserved by then. Today you can also pay a visit to the four storied building at Lo Manthang where the king used to live. Until very recent, King of Lomanthang used to be recognized by government of Nepal. The prince, however, is in hotel business at present and King is no more alive. Walking around the kings palace and the whole village will be an awesome experience during Lo Manthang village tour.
The King of Lho
The king of today does not have the power to rule the people anymore, but his people still love and respect him. Apart from the king and his palace, trekkers doing the Upper Mustang Trekking can visit many monasteries and Gomba along the trail; for instance Gomba Thungsen that was built on the 15th century B.C., and Ghar Gompa that was built in the 7th century B.C. are iconic among many of the Monastery in Upper Mustang.
Ghar Gomba is regarded as one of the oldest in the region and is believed to be built for successful construction of Potola palace in Tibet.
As told in this statement “Mustang is one of the few places in the Himalayan region that has been able to retain its traditional Tibetan culture unspoiled, authentic and alive. Tibetan culture now survives only in exile and a few places like Upper Mustang, which have had long historical and cultural ties with Tibet, are preserving culture of Tibet inside Nepal." by (The Dalai Lama). The quote alone gives enough reason to go to Upper mustang trek to experience the secret Himalaya region of Nepal.
By the side of Kaligandaki river where we can still find fossils of ocean creature, the dry valley of Mutang is in Himalayan ran shadow zone. That is why this restricted trail of Upper Mustang is regarded as the best recommended trekking for Monsoon, in Nepal.
Best time for Upper Mustang Trek
Upper mustang trekking is famous as the best trekking for Monsoon season. With that being said, best time for trekking to Upper Mustang is none other than rainy season of Nepal. Rainy season of Nepal starts from the end of May and last almost till the beginning of august. As Upper mustang is by the Kaligandaki River but behind the hills of Annapurna and Dhaulagiir Mountian range, this is rain shadow zone in Nepal Himalaya. People travel to Upper mustang almost all over the year except in the winters. Winter in upper mustang is not recommended for trekking.
Few reasons to justify; why upper mustang trek is recommended in the rainy season? Firstly, In the monsoon, people in upper mustang will be working in their field, they have family functions, community functions and festivals; because of all this happenings in upper mustang, it is better to travel this destination in the rainy season. Secondly, in the rainy season trekking to Langtang, Kanchenjunga, Annapurna & other trails of Nepal is not recommended; because of leech, cloudy sky and majorly the wet trekking trail with rain landslides or flooding. At the same time Upper mustang being famous as a dry part of Nepal Himalaya will be nice and dry. For travelers from all around the world, who has time off in the month of May to August and looking for a trekking in Nepal Himalaya – trek to upper mustang in its best season; when the villages along the trekking route will be happening and rain shadow zone will serve your trekking with a best experience.
Upper Mustang Trek vs. Upper Dolpo trek
1. Physical Requirements/ Upper Mustang Trek Difficulty
Upper Mustang trekking is similar to Upper dolpo trek in many ways. Landscape, people, culture and tradition of people from Upper Dolpo and Upper mustang are similar. In the history – during 6th to 8th century, Upper Dolpo used to be a part of kingdom of Lho. Kingdom of Lho used to have its palace at Lo Manthang village and Upper Dolpo was once captured by King of Lho. This historical proof alone is enough to prove, why upper mustang and upper dolpo are similar?
Apart from similarity in between these 2 rain shadow zone of Nepal Himalaya, there are differences in between Upper Musntag trek and Upper Dolpo trekking. Firstly Upper dolpo trekking has high passes and it is physically demanding trekking Nepal, whereas Upper mustang is an easy flat trekking in Nepal. Altitude of Upper Mustang trek do not rise and fall quickly but it has a constant increase on ascend and similar in descend. In case of Upper Dolpo trek there are two high passes in route. Trekking to Upper dolpo need high pass trek over Saldang La pass (4,785m) and Jeng La pass (4,369m) whereas; highest altitude on trekking to upper mustang is 3840m.
One of the major differences in between these two famous trekking destination; Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpo is trekking accommodation. Upper Mustang trek is a tea house trekking whereas Upper Dolpo trekking is mixed with Camping trek and homestays. Another major difference is the development of road and use of jeep in need. Upper Mustang has wide road for Jeep and if trekkers need to be rescued then it is not an issue, however the trekking trail has alternative route. In contrast Upper Dolpo trek is a remote trekking with no road facility.
As the trek to Upper mustang already start from 2600 meters and do not rise above 3840m above the sea level, clearly states its level of difficulty. In a day, trekkers trekking to upper mustang need to walk 5 to 7 hours in average, which means trekking is normally flat terrain and upper mustang trekking is not challenging but outstandingly beautiful.
2. Beauty of Upper Mustang Trek
In comparison to the rest of the trekking destinations in Nepal, Upper mustang is completely different trekking from many prospective. Geographically, Upper Mustang lies near to Tibet and it is a part of the Tibetan plate, thus the mountains of this region are similar to Tibetan dry mountains. Unlike to trail of Everest base camp, Annapurna Base camp and Langtang valley; Upper mustang has no jungle. But the dry landscape with brown mountains looks awesome.
But still, Upper mustang trekking also serves the beauty of snow-capped mountains to the far end. Trekkers can see Mt Nilgiri, Dhaulagiri mountain range, Annapurna mountain range as well. This combined view of dry landscape with White Mountain is admiring view. Upper mustang trek is not comparable with beautiful trail of Everest or famous Annauprna base camp trek. Landscape is different and the people we see in route to upper mustang are different. Sherpa’s of Everest are also Tibetans in the far history, but people from Upper Mustang have very young history to prove themselves in relation to their Tibetan ancestors. Also because of the isolated geological boundary, Upper mustang is still untouched and culture and tradition of the region is still preserved to its purity.
Solo trekking to Upper Mustang
Upper Mustang trekking is a restricted trekking trail in Nepal. To trek to Upper mustang trail, you must have to be 2 people at least, and then only the government of Nepal issue special trekking permits for Upper Mustang. As a restricted trekking destination, you must have to hire a trekking guide for this trekking.
Thus, solo trekking to upper mustang is not recommended and possible. However, some people pay for 2 special trekking permit and do solo trek to Upper Mustang. For your information, Special permit to Upper mustang is expensive - but if money is not an issue, there are benefits of solo trekking to Upper Mustang. With your guide, in this expensive trip to Nepal, you will have opportunity to visit as many monasteries as you want, visit more than hundreds of cave as per your choice, stay in the local village with exclusively welcoming people and trek off the beat or twist the destination as per interest.
Upper Mustang Trek Altitude
Upper Mustang trekking is in between 2600 meters to 3840 meters above the sea level. This 1240 meter altitude does not fluctuate in high scale. Trekking trail of Upper Mustang is gentle and flat. Uphill and downhill are rare and trekking trail does not go higher than 3800 meters altitude. Neither high passes are involved in Upper mustang trail - nor the trails has straight uphill trekking, Upper Mustang is low altitude trek for easy going trekkers
The last and famous village of Upper Mustang trek is Lho Manthang and it is situated at 3800 meters above the sea level. In this altitude, trekkers need to spend 2 nights for rest and exploring different forts, Monastery, villages and caves. Highest altitude of Upper Mustang read as 3800 meters above the sea level proves Upper Mustang trek as fairly low altitude trek for the outstanding view in rain shadow zone of Nepal Himalaya.
Upper Mustang Trek in December
Trekking in Upper Mustang is nearly impossible. Upper Mustang trekking in December is a big No. As a rain shadow zone of Nepal Himalaya Upper Mustang trekking trail has no vegetation at all, it is a dry mountain & landscape is deserted. So imagine, what happened if it snows in the desert, you will get lost easily.
In December very few people of Upper Mustang stays in the village, whereas most of them migrate to the lower altitude and thus most of the tea houses in route of Upper Mustang trek will be closed. No tea house, no locals, nothing happening, snow covered dry mountains and extreme cold are supportive reasons for not recommending Upper Mustang in December.
Upper Mustang Trekking Cost
Cost of Upper mustang trek is not cheap and if you compare Upper Mustang trekking price with other regular trekking routes of Nepal, it will look even worse. Upper Mustang trekking route has highest cost for its special trekking permit among all the restricted trekking in Nepal. Because of this reason, total trekking price for Upper Mustang is higher than other trekking package.
One person trekking to Upper Mustang must pay 50 US dollar per day for his/her special trekking permits to Upper Mustang. For a complete trekking experience of Upper Mustang a trekkers must have, at least 10 days of Special permit for upper Mustang. This is the main reason for high cost of Upper Mustang trekking package in comparison to other trekking trail.
Apart from price for special trekking permit, guide and porter for Upper Mustang trek – cost of accommodation and food is higher than in other route. This is because of less trekker visiting this restricted trail. But this price difference has always kept Upper mustang trekking trail as the peaceful, less crowded and highly hospitable trekking.
Upper Mustang Trek itinerary
Day to day itinerary for Upper Mustang has wide flexibility but the interest and number of holiday determines the trekking days for Upper Mustang trek. Our suggested Upper Mustang itinerary can always be customized according to the interest and time frame. Interest of visiting village, caves, Monasteries, spending time with locals, visiting to the boarder, visiting the fort of Upper Mustang and taking the optional trekking route change the itinerary of Upper Mustang.
In general people trek up to Lho Manthang via Charang Village and get back down to Chhusang via Dhakmar, visitng Ghar Monastery, Ghar Gompa is the oldest Monastery found in Nepal, so far. Apart from this famous Upper Mustang trekking route, Upper mustang trek trail has an optional itinerary. This optional itinerary takes you to hidden villages of Yara Ghara. This Yara Ghara trail of Upper Mustang trekking can be an interesting experience but you must have fitness level to walk more than 10 hours from Yara village to Chhuksang, as there is no tea houses in between till 2021. Upper Mustang trekking route with yara Ghara village is visited by very few people. The trekking trail is not marked properly and an experienced guide is in need.
Upper Mustang Trek Highlights
Upper Mustang trekking is famous for its geological location in the Tietan plateu. Antique culture of Tibetan still preserved to its pure form, life of the locals and the tradition and cultural aspect of Lho village are major attraction of Upper Mustang trek. Apart from the contrast of dry Himalaya and White Mountains, Upper Mustang trekking is famous for caves, forts and fortifies villages. Monastery like Ghar Gomba built in the 7th century is archeological proof of Upper Mustang and entire Nepal.
The hidden kingdom of Upper Mustang is famous for the existence of Kingdom and their sacred King, palace of sacred majesty of Lho Manthang recognized by government of Nepal; can still be visited in Upper Mustang Trek.
Upper Mustang trek In April
Trekking to upper Mustnag in April is not hard as trekking in December. April is spring season for Nepal and in spring, Upper Mustang trek is fairly okay but still is not the best season for trekking this hidden kingdom of Nepal. If you are trekking is spring it is better to keep mini spikes for downhill trek, in need. However, heavy snowfall might block the trail and alternative route could be used.
Below is a suggested itinerary for Upper Mustang Trek, it can be customized as per your wishes.
Please note! Upper Mustang is a restricted region; therefore, we need your original passport, to arrange for a special permit - prior to your Upper Mustang Trekking. Saying that, 2nd day in Kathmandu or early arrival on the 1st day is mandatory for upper Mustang Trek.