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MUSTANG TREK

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Duration: 21 days
Minimum Age: Min Age : 15+
Grade: 4 - Strenuous
Max Elevation: 4114m
Accomodation: Lodge

North of the massive gorge between Himalayan giants Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, lies the legendary kingdom of Mustang. Historically it dominated the trade along the ancient route connecting Tibet with Nepal and India. The inhabitants of Mustang (the Lobas) are Buddhist and culturally Tibetan, but as the king allied himself with Jumla rather than Lhasa, the region was eventually absorbed into Nepal.

For political reasons travel into Mustang was strictly forbidden and the region remained isolated from the modern world. In 1992 it was decided to allow outsiders in on a very limited basis. This isolation has helped maintain a way of life almost unchanged for centuries.

If you are looking for a trek through alpine scenery, this is not it. Instead, we will be in the great Himalayan rain shadow on a wind-swept desert landscape of implausible gorges, high passes and enormous vistas. We will pass brightly painted chortens, climb a series of canyons and ridges and discover caves used by monks dating back to the 14th century. The altitude on this route is not extreme by Himalayan standards, the highest point will be approximately 14,000 feet. The area is home to snow leopard and blue sheep, lammergeier, yaks, and nomads, ammonites and medieval villages. The king (a direct descendant of the original founder 25 generations ago) just might welcome us to tea at the palace if he is at home. Watch the PBS documentary on the discovery of the lost caves of Mustang.

Trip at a glance

Brief Itinerary

Day Description Overnight Altitude
Day 1 Arrival in Kathmandu Kathmandu  1340m
Day 2 Exploring Kathmandu Kathmandu  1340m
Day 3 Kathmandu to Pokhara Pokhara 827m/2,713ft
Day 4 Pokhara to Marpha Marpha 2,667m/8,750ft
Day 5 Marpha to Kagbeni Kagbeni 2,808m/9,215 ft
Day 6 Kagbeni to Chele Chele 3,032m/9,950ft
Day 7 Chele to Syangbochen Syangbochen 3,627m/11,900ft
Day 8 Syangbochen to Drakmar Drakmar 3,444m/11,300ft
Day 9 Drakmar to Tsarang Tsarang 3,505m/11,500ft
Day 10 Tsarang to Lo Manthang Lo Manthang 3,779m/12,400ft
Day 11 Lo Manthang Lo Manthang 3,779m/12,400ft
Day 12 Lo Manthang to Dri Dri 3,383m/11,100ft
Day 13 Luri Gompa excursion Dri 4,114m/13,500ft
Day 14 Dri to Tange Tange 3,368m/11,050ft
Day 15 Tange to Pa Pa 4,053m/13,300ft
Day 16 Pa to Tetang Tetang 3,017m/9,900ft
Day 17 Tetang to Muktinath Muktinath
Day 18 Muktinath to Jomsom Jomsom
Day 19 Jomsom to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 20 Full day sightseeing Kathmandu
Day 21 Final departure
Detailed Itinerary

Day 1Kathmandu

Arrive Kathmandu. You will be met on arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport. Transfer to Hotel. Day Free. Enjoy welcome dinner. Briefing during dinner. (Dinner)

Day 2Kathmandu

Full day of sightseeing in Kathmandu. You will be accompanied by our in-house city guide. In the morning, visit Bodhanath, the Stupa of a Million dew drops, to watch monks and devotees circumambulate the largest stupa in the world. Then visit Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, with its two-tiered golden roof and silver door. Drive to Patan for lunch in the garden of the Patan Museum Café. After lunch, visit the well-maintained Patan Museum storing ancient Nepali artifacts, followed by a tour of Patan Durbar Square. Drive back to Kathmandu. (Breakfast and Lunch)

Day 3Kathmandu to Pokhara (827m/2,713ft)

Board a thirty-minute flight to Pokhara. Day free in Pokhara. (Breakfast)

Day 4Pokhara to Marpha (2,667m/8,750ft)

Board an early flight to Jomsom. The plane navigates up the Kali Gandaki gorge between Annapurna (26,538 feet) and Dhaulagiri (26,788 feet) to the Jomosom airstrip. Hike one hour downhill to the charming town of Marpha for a night of acclimatization. Here you will meet your trekking staff, who will have brought all your gear up by road. Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

Day 5Marpha to Kagbeni (2,808m/9,215 ft)

Begin your trek up the windy Kali Gandaki valley to its confluence with the Jhog Khola. Kagbeni is the gateway to Upper Mustang and was formed in the 14th century as a checkpoint to control travel. Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 6Kagbeni to Chele (3,032m/9,950ft)

Heading north along the river, snowy Nilgiri (22,431 feet) will dominate the skyline in sharp contrast to the river canyon below. Enter Tange Village, a labyrinth of narrow alleys among whitewashed houses with fields of buckwheat, barley, wheat, and apple trees. Then continue toward Chhuksang along a trail lined with chortens (Buddhist wayside shrines) painted the traditional colors of red, black, and white — colors made from local rocks and minerals. Eventually cross the Kali Gandaki River on a steel footbridge, then climb up to the village of Chele, perched on a ridge above the gorge.Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 7Chele to Syangbochen (3,627m/11,900ft)

Today will begin with an unrelenting climb — the trail often hewn out of the canyon wall — continuing more gently to your lunch stop at the pleasant village of Samar. In the afternoon, navigate over two more ridges (highest pass is about 12,500 feet) to Syangbochen, a small cliff-side settlement with a panoramic view of the Annapurnas. Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 08 Syangbochen to Drakmar (3,444m/11,300ft)

Start uphill to another pass of about 12,500 feet. The trail then descends with two drops into small canyons, and then continues with a gentle ascent toward Chyunkar and the Nye La (12,720 feet). From this pass, you’ll have incredible views of the Annapurnas and Nilgiris as well as sweeping views of Mustang. Ghemi Village, built on the edge of a steep cliff, appears in the distance. After lunch, continue to Drakmar with its prominent red-cliffs. These cliffs are home to blue-sheep. Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 09Drakmar to Tsarang (3,505m/11,500ft)

Soon after leaving camp, climb over Mui La and proceed to Ghar Gompa (Lo Gekhar). Lo Gekhar contains one of the oldest gompas in Nepal (built in the eighth century — even older than Samye in Tibet), a great red-and-white structure surrounded by trees. At Marang turn to follow the drainage to Tsarang, the impressive village that contains a huge five-story white dzong (fortress) and well as the imposing red gompa, Dorje Dhen. Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 10Tsarang to Lo Manthang (3,779m/12,400ft)

The trail follows a gentle but unrelenting climb for increasingly beautiful views of the mountains to the south, past numerous caves in the cliffs adjacent to Lo La (pass) at 12,800 feet. From here, you’ll have our first view of the impenetrable fortress of Lo Manthang. Enter this walled city through the imposing main gate.Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 11Lo Manthang

Explore the maze of narrow streets winding through approximately 150 houses, and three important gompas built in the early 15th century. These temples (along with those in Tsarang and Lo Gekhar) have been rescued from the ravages of time by the efforts and heart of local people (Lo Gyalpo Jigme Foundation in collaboration with the American Himalayan Foundation) — with stunning results. If you are very fortunate we may get an audience with the king or queen at the four-story palace. The king, Raja Jigme Parbal Bista, although his duties are mostly ceremonial, is well loved and respected throughout the region.Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 12Lo Manthang to Dri (3,383m/11,100ft)

Our route south is unusual; most groups return the same way they came, but we will make a loop following remote trails on the east side of the Kali Gandaki. Back over the Lo La, head southeast to the Tholung Valley, with terrific views of Nilgiri as we climb higher. Tsarang will come into view across the way, and finally descend steeply into the bowels of the canyon to the village of Dri, one of the most prosperous villages in Mustang. Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 13Luri Gompa excursion (4,114m/13,500ft)

It is a whole day’s trip to Luri Gompa and back via Yara and Ghara villages. The landscape here contains strange, fluted pinnacles eroded by wind. At 13,500 feet, Luri sits like an eagle’s nest in the cliffs. This mysterious cave monastery dates from the 13th century. The central chamber is carved directly into the rock. The domed ceiling is covered with murals, and in the center of the chamber there is a large and finely crafted chorten. Luri is a true jewel in a most unbelievable setting — the artwork here is considered to be some the finest and most unusual in the Himalayas. Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 14Dri to Tange (3,368m/11,050ft)

The trail follows the river for a while, and we’ll negotiate five or six fairly shallow crossings of tributary streams (wading shoes will be necessary). This is a very good time to look for spiral fossils (saligrams) scattered among the rocks along the shore. Cross the river that is coming down from the sacred lakes of Damodar Kunda, and then over desolate terrain up to a pass of 12,600 feet. This is a long day, but finally the fields of the prosperous village of Tangye will appear below, and we’ll arrive at camp after passing a series of large chortens.Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 15Tange to Pa (4,053m/13,300ft)

After another river crossing ascend steeply to a higher plateau. You’ll have increasingly fantastic views of not only much of the Mustang we have traveled through, but of Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, Tukche, Tilicho, and Annapurna. You’ll look for blue sheep and enjoy the wildflowers as we traverse to a shepherd’s camp by the stone hut near the pass. Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 16Pa to Tetang (3,017m/9,900ft)

Ascending and descending, travel through the vast and silent world of the wild uplands. Along a ridge, again have views of Mustang, the wind carved hills all around, and the snow peaks stretching from Dhaulagiri in the south to Tibet in the north. Care must be taken on this path that contours along and into a steep and contorted canyon. Tetang is on the Narsing River above Chhuksang, which we passed our first day out of Kagbeni.Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 17Tetang to Muktinath

It will take about five hours to reach the pass, Gnyu La, at 13,000 feet. It is a rewarding route providing fine views the entire way and wildflowers. From the pass one can see Muktinath, and within a few hours we will arrive at the final stretch where the trail goes through a grove of trees, across a bridge, past a nunnery, and finally joins the main trail from Manang. Here officially exit the restricted area of Upper Mustang. Muktinath is a holy place, the destination of thousands of Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims every year. We’ll have time to visit the many fine temples and shrines.Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 18Muktinath to Jomsom

On the last day of trek you’ll be on the main Annapurna circuit route. Enter the village of Jharkot and visit the monastery and the traditional Tibetan medicinal center. Heading west to the Kali Gandaki, we’ll pass Eklobatti, then south along the river to Jomosom. While still beautiful, Jomosom will be quite a culture shock compared to where we have been with all its busy activity — perhaps including a newly arrived highway (which may even have some internal combustion vehicles plying the gravel and spewing exhaust). Overnight Camp. (All meals)

Day 19Jomsom to Kathmandu

Fly Jomsom to Pokhara and change plane for flight to Kathmandu. Overnight Hotel Tibet. (Breakfast)

Day 20Full day sightseeing

Full day of sightseeing in Kathmandu: visit Swayambhunath, the monkey temple. Then drive to Bhaktapur, the city of Devotees, for lunch and a tour of the royal palace square. Overnight Hotel Tibet. (All meals)

Day 21Final departure

Transfer to airport for final departure. (Breakfast)

Detailed Cost Information

Per person price (valid until December 31, 2018)

Lodge-to-lodge trek:

  • 2 persons: $3,595 USD per person
  • 3 – 4 persons: $3,395 USD per person
  • 5 or more persons: $ 3,195 per person
  • Single Supplement: $250 USD

Camping trek (tent):

  • 2 persons: $3,995 USD per person
  • 3 – 4 persons: $3,745 USD per person
  • 5 or more persons: $ 3,595 per person
  • Single Supplement: $300 USD

 (Contact us for GBP and Euro quotes)

Price Includes

Expert pre-trip advice and detailed information, Motivated, well-cared-for staff
All airport transfers, One full days sightseeing in Kathmandu as indicated in the itinerary and entrance fees to monuments., 3 nights twin sharing hotel accommodation at Hotel Tibet (3 star) in Kathmandu., 1 night twin sharing hotel accommodation at Hotel Temple Tree (4 star) in Pokhara, Chartered Transfer: Kathmandu to Besi-Sahar, Airfare: Pokhara to Kathmandu, Meals as indicated in the itinerary, Lodge trekking as indicated in the Annapurna Circuit Trek itinerary, Three meals a day, Boiled water for your bottles three times a day, Guide and staff wages, equipment and meals, Guide and staff insurance, Annapurna Conservation Area Fee, Trekkers Information Management Card

Price Excludes

Your international airfare, Nepal Visa, Meals not indicated in the itinerary, Tips and gratuities, Personal equipment (a suggested list will be mailed to you), Travel insurance (Required), Other expenses of a personal nature

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