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Upper Mustang Trek

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15 days, 14 nights
Availability : April through October
Min Age : 12+
Max People : 12
UPPER MUSTANG TREK

The Upper Mustang trek goes to the north of the massive gorge between Himalayan giants Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. Historically Upper Mustang 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 of Mustang allied himself with Jumla (in Nepal) rather than Lhasa (in Tibet), the region was eventually absorbed into Nepal. If you are looking for a trek through alpine scenery, the Upper Mustang Trek is not it. Instead, we will be in the great Himalayan rain shadow on a wind-swept desert landscape. Located on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, Upper Mustang’s landscape includes implausible gorges, high passes and enormous vistas.

A point to note, is that the Upper Mustang trek now criss-crosses the jeep track to Lo Manthang. But our trail follows the trekking trail as much as possible. Even when hiking on the jeep tracks you will only come across a few jeeps. Unless your trek coincides with the Tiji Festival when lots of visitors drive up to Lo Manthang to witness the festival. Also, read our article on how to avoid the jeep tracks.

THE TREK

The Upper Mustang trek begins with an early morning flight from Pokhara to Jomsom. We follow the trail that goes up to Lo Manthang via the route east of the Kali Gandaki river. On the second day of the trek, as the only trail leading up to Chele is a jeep-track, we will take a jeep to Chele and further to Samar. From then on, we will hike to Lo Manthang criss-crossing the jeep track multiple times. We spend two full days (three nights) at Lo Manthang to explore the many monasteries and caves that lie north of Lo Manthang including Jhong cave, Konchokling monastery, Niphu monastery, Garphu caves etc. We will use a jeep to get to most of these places but will have to hike for a few hours too.

After exploring Lo Manthang, continue by jeep to Luri Gompa and the Tashi Kabum cave before driving back to Jomsom where the trek ends.

ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS

The Upper Mustang Trek is a lodge trek. Consequently, you will sleep and eat meals in local lodges along the trail. The quality of the lodges on this trek are comparable to those on the Everest Base Camp Trek. And a majority of the lodges on this route have en suite rooms with hot showers. Furthermore, meals are also quite varied with many options including rice with veggies, noodles, local breads etc. Read our article about food options on lodge treks. Also, do check out our visual blog to see what kind of lodges and meals to expect on the Upper Mustang Trek. Do note, lodges in this region have been upgraded since this blog was written. You can consider upgrades to Royal Mustang Resort in Lo Manthang and Maya’s Heritage Inn in Tsarang.

BEST SEASON

The best seasons for the Upper Mustang trek are late Spring (April to May), Summer/Monsoon (June – September) and early Autumn (October- early November). Because Upper Mustang lies in the rain shadow region, it is possible to trek here during the Summer/Monsoon. But during this time, the flight/drive to Jomsom (the start of the trek) can be affected by bad weather as the regions south of Mustang still experience the monsoons.

TREK RATING

The Annapurna Circuit trek is rated “MILDLY STRENUOUS”. It is rated 3 on a rating scale from 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging). The highest altitude reached is at Chogo La (4,280m/14,100 ft) and the highest overnight elevation is at Lo Manthang (3,840m/12,600 feet). Average daily hiking times is 4 to 5 hours with a couple longer days of around 6-7 hours. Regardless, it is important to prepare for any trek in Nepal. Read our advice on training for treks.

WHY TREK WITH US?

All our Mustang Treks are private treks for a minimum of two participants. We do NOT nickel-and-dime on services – all inclusions and exclusions are clearly listed in cost details. Some companies will advertise trips for very low prices but they have a lot of exclusions that is usually not clear. Do read this article “Is Crystal Mountain Treks expensive?” to learn more about this. We urge you to compare apples to apples. Most of our trekkers are either repeat clients or referrals. We have been in business for over 30 years and we employ only the most professional and friendly staff. We are also proud to give back to our community through our giving arm – 3 Summits For Nepal – managed by Crystal Mountain Treks staff.

Do contact us (info@crystalmountaintreks.com) if you have more questions. We are happy to help!

 

Brief Itinerary - Mustang Trek

Day Description Overnight Altitude
Day 1 Arrival in Kathmandu Kathmandu 1,340m/4,300ft
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu. Afternoon, fly to Pokhara. Pokhara 1,340m/4,300ft
Day 3 Fly Pokhara to Jomsom. Drive to Muktinath (3,800m). Descend to Kagbeni. Kagbeni 2,808m/9,215ft
Day 4 Drive Kagbeni to Samar. Explore. Samar 3,650m/11,975ft
Day 5 Samar to Giling. Giling 3,520m/11,600ft
Day 6 Giling to Drakmar Drakmar 3,444m/11,300ft
Day 7 Drakmar to Ghar Gompa/Tsarang Ghar Gompa 3,921m/12,800ft
Day 8 Hike over Chogo La (4,280m/14,100ft) pass to Lo Manthang. Lo Manthang 3,840m/12,600ft
Day 9 Explore Lo Manthang Lo Manthang 3,840m/12,600ft
Day 10 Explore Lo Manthang Lo Manthang 3,840m/12,600ft
Day 11 Lo Manthang to Luri Gompa to Yara. Yara 3,650m/11,975ft
Day 12 Drive to Jomsom Jomsom 2,700m/8,850ft
Day 13 Fly Jomsom to Pokhara Pokhara 827m/2,713ft
Day 14 Fly to Kathmandu Kathmandu 1,340m/4,300ft
Day 15 Final departure    
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Detailed Itinerary - Mustang Trek

Day 1Arrival in Kathmandu

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 2Exploring Kathmandu. Afternoon flight to Pokhara. (827m/2,713ft)

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 circum-ambulate 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. After lunch, continue tour of Patan Durbar Square before heading to the airport for a short flight to Pokhara. (Breakfast and Lunch)

Day 3Pokhara to Kagbeni (2,808m/9,215ft.)

Board an early morning flight to Jomsom. The flight is around 20 minutes. The plane navigates up the Kali Gandaki gorge between Annapurna (26,538 feet) and Dhaulagiri (26,788 feet) to the Jomsom airstrip.

After breakfast and coffee at Jomsom, drive on the newly paved road to Muktinath (3,800m/12,464ft). Enroute we head up to Lubra village to explore the Bon monastery. At Muktinath, explore the village and the temple while enjoying views of Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri. Also, drive towards Ghyau la pass for better mountain views and also your first views of the Upper Mustang region.

View from near Muktinath
Mountain views from near Muktinath

After lunch, descend to Kagbeni. Kagbeni is the gateway to Upper Mustang and was formed in the 14th century as a checkpoint to control travel. Today should allow you some time at high altitude to make things easier the next day.

Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

Day 4Kagbeni to Samar (3,650m/11,975ft)

Today, we drive from Kagbeni to Samar (1.5 to 2 hours). Heading north along the river, snowy Nilgiri (22,431 feet) will dominate the skyline behind us. We will pass villages with 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. At Chusang, visit the monastery cave. Cross the Kali Gandaki River, then climb up to the village of Chele, perched on a ridge above the gorge.

Continue to Samar village, our stop for the evening, and where we finally get a chance to stretch our legs. Hike down to the Guru Rimpoche footprints.

Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

Day 5Samar to Giling (3,520m/11,600ft)

From Samar, instead of trekking via Bhena, we take the eastern route through Chungsi caves to avoid the jeep track. Navigate over two ridges to Syangbochen, a small cliff-side settlement with a panoramic view of the Annapurnas.


There is a jeep track to Giling. Our trail will criss-cross the jeep track. Take a gentle ascent toward a pass (12,800 feet) east of 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

Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

Day 6Giling to Drakmar via Ghemi (3,444m/11,300ft)

Today, trek over Ghemi la pass. Ghemi Village, built on the edge of a steep cliff, appears in the distance. Explore and lunch at Ghemi (4 to 5 hours). Continue for 1-2 hours to Drakmar with its prominent red-cliffs. These cliffs are home to blue-sheep.

Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

Day 7Drakmar to Ghar Gompa (3,921m/12,800ft)

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. Smaller groups can stay at the monastery lodge but bigger groups will need to descend to Tsarang which is an hours descent from Ghar Gompa.

Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

DRAKMAR TO GHAR GOMPA:
Distance – 3.37 miles/5.42 kilometers
Ascent – 1,191 feet/363 meters
Descent – 628 feet/192 meters

Day 8Ghar Gompa to Lo Manthang (3,779m/12,400ft)

From Ghar Gompa, hike over the Chogo la pass (4,280m/14,100ft) to Lo Manthang. Though not very steep, if it is a sunny day, this will be a grueling climb. Then descend through a pasture to the walled city of Lo. Today’s hike is all on trekking trail – NO jeep track.

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.

Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

GHAR GOMPA TO LO MANTHANG:
Distance – 7.05 miles/11.34 kilometers
Ascent – 1,345 feet/410 meters
Descent – 1,642 feet/500 meters

Day 9 and Day 10Explore Lo Manthang (3,779m/12,400ft)

Mustang palace
Mustang palace

For the next two days, we explore monasteries and caves north of Lo Manthang taking a bumpy jeep ride to visit Garphu and Niphu monastery, Choser caves, Namgyal monastery and Jhong cave. We will also drive about hour and then hike another hour to Konchokling cave which was discovered in 2007. This houses some fascinating old paintings.

Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

DAY 11Lo Manthang to Yara (3,650m/11,975ft)

Strange formations in Luri Gompa - Upper Mustang Biking
Strange formations in Luri Gompa – Upper Mustang Biking

Drive to Luri Gumpa and explore the monastery and the Tashi Kabum cave which houses some exquisite murals and a stupa. Return to Yara for the evening. 

Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

DAY 12Drive to Jomsom (2,700m/8,850ft)

Drive back to Jomsom (4-5 hours) via Tsarang. Tsarang is an impressive village that boasts a huge five-story white dzong (fortress) and an imposing red gompa – Dorje Dhen.

Overnight Lodge. (All meals)

Day 13Jomsom to Pokhara

Fly to Pokhara. Day free in Pokhara to explore the lake-side, buy souvenirs or just relax. Alternate activities include hiking to the Peace Stupa and/or visiting the International Mountain Museum.

Overnight Hotel. (Breakfast)

DAY 14Pokhara to Kathmandu

Fly to Kathmandu. Day free in Kathmandu for final shopping and exploring. Farewell dinner.

Overnight Hotel. (Breakfast and Dinner)

DAY 15Final departure

Transfer to airport for final departure (B)

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Cost Information - Mustang Trek

Per person price (valid until December 31, 2025)

2 – 3 persons: $3,250 USD per person

4 – 8 persons: $3,000 USD per person

9 or more persons: $2,800 USD per person

Single Supplement: $300 USD

 

Price Includes

  • All airport transfers
  • One full days sightseeing in Kathmandu as indicated in the itinerary and entrance fees to monuments
  • Two nights twin sharing hotel accommodation at Hotel Tibet (3 star) in Kathmandu
  • Two nights twin sharing hotel accommodation at Big Pillow Inn (2 star) in Pokhara
  • Airfare: Kathmandu to Pokhara to Jomsom and Jomsom to Pokhara to Kathmandu
  • Chartered Jeep transfers in Mustang as indicated in the itinerary
  • Supplemental oxygen
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Lodge trekking as indicated in the itinerary
  • Boiled water for your bottles two times a day
  • Use of Steripen to sterilize water
  • Guide and staff wages, equipment and meals
  • Guide and staff insurance
  • Mustang Restricted Area Permit
  • Annapurna Conservation Area Permit.

Price Excludes

  • Your international airfare
  • Nepal Visa
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees to caves and monasteries
  • Photography fees
  • Horse charges
  • 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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Map
Mustang map
Mustang map
Trip Gallery

Options

As the name suggests, this is a fast-paced itinerary. So you must be in good shape and willing to hike up to 8 hours on a couple of days. There are many routes in the Upper Mustang area (going into Lo Manthang and returning to Jomsom) and we are happy to customize this itinerary to suit your needs. Another option is a circuit trek going into Luri Gompa which will require a few more strenuous long days of trekking. A more relaxed paced camping trek to Upper Mustang is also possible.

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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

When is the best time to do the Mustang Trek?

Mustang falls in the rain shadow region of Nepal and hence the standard weather pattern for Nepal does not apply. The area receives very little precipitation but Winter does arrive early (November through February). It is possible to trek in this region in Spring (March through May), Summer/Monsoons (May through September) and early Autumn (October and early November). Expect a big variation in temperature. In these months, day time temperatures can range from the 50’s to the high 70’s (10 to 30 Centigrade) while night-time temperatures dip to the high 20’s and 40’s (0 to 5 Centigrade). While the Upper Mustang region does not receive much rain, it is still very wet in the lower Mustang region in July and August causing flight cancellations due to bad weather and road blockages due to landslides.

How much does the Mustang trek cost?

Unlike most lodge treks in Nepal, an individual CANNOT organize their own trek to Upper Mustang. Your permits have to be procured by a trekking company registered in Nepal. And there must be a minimum of two participants in the group. The Upper Mustang permit is US$500 per person for 10 days. This is the minimum. Add $50 for each extra day.

You can: A) choose a Nepali company or B) choose a western guided trek. If you’re doing Upper Mustang trek with a Nepali outfitter, expect to pay anything between $1,500 – $3,000 with varying inclusions and exclusions. Make sure you understand what is included and what is not included in the package. The best way to choose a Nepali company is to ask for references. Option B would cost above $3,000.

How fit do I need to be to do the Mustang - fast paced trek?

Anyone who is reasonably fit and can hike 10-12 miles a day can sign up for this fast-paced Mustang Trek. Expect substantial elevation gain/loss on a few days and also a couple of long days of up to 7-9 hours. The hike from Drakmar to Lo Manthang would be the longest. What allows for a fast-paced trek is that the elevations reached on this trek does not exceed 14,000ft. That said, the better shape you are in, the more you will enjoy the trek. It is advised that anyone with a pre-existing condition consult their doctor before signing up for a trek.
We rate the fast-paced Upper Mustang Trek a 4 on a scale of 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging).

Can I drink tap water on the trek? How can I get water that is safe to drink?

Nepali tap water is NOT safe to drink. Even if you see the locals drinking water straight from the tap, never drink water before boiling or sterilizing. Bring water purifying tablets or other water purifiers. At higher elevations during the coldest times of year the water will freeze, so you’ll need to buy boiled water from teahouses. If you plan to use a STERIPEN, bring wide mouth water bottles. You would need at least 2 one-liter water bottles for the trek. Even if you plan to bring a hydration pack, bring 1 one-liter water to sterilize the water before pouring into your hydration pack.

Crystal Mountain Treks will provide you with a Steripen to use on the trek for no charge.

Do read our blog on safe drinking water options: Hydration on treks in Nepal

What kind of food should I expect?

Meals on the Mustang trek start out being quite varied especially at the beginning of the trek in Jomsom and Kagbeni. But it becomes sparser as you ascend to the Lo Manthang. In general, expect porridge (Oatmeal), toast, eggs (any style), muesli, hash browns, sausages etc for breakfast. And sandwich, pizzas, momos, noodles (dry and with soup), rolls, fried rice, Indian bread with vegetables etc for lunch and dinner. And expect Nepali dal-bhat (rice-lentils with vegetables and/or meat) at all the lodges.

Ours is an OPEN menu. Meaning we allow our clients to order anything from the lodge menu besides bottled beverages, specialty coffee and packaged snacks. We also don’t limit the number of items per meal as long as you aren’t wasteful. When choosing your trekking company, ask if meals are fixed or if you are only allowed to order one item from the menu. If this isn’t the case, costs can add up over 15/16 days.

Check out our article on food options for vegetarians.

What kind of gear do I need for the trek?

Layering is key. And it’s always recommended to trek with good branded gear. A good pair of hiking boots that’s been broken in is very important. Good top and bottom base layers, a mid layer (fleece or capilene), and an outer layer (Gore-tex or other material). If you tend to get cold quickly, bring a down parka especially for the evening at the lodge. On most days, you’d be hiking in a convertible hiking pant that can be converted into shorts and one or two top layers.

if you’re trekking with Crystal Mountain Treks, we provide a sleeping bag (rated to 0 degree F or -17 degree C), duffel bags, down jacket and Steripen for water purification to our clients for no charge.

It is possible to buy cheap and relatively functional gear in Kathmandu – convertible pants, down jackets, fleece, Gore-tex jackets. But remember, you get what you pay for. Wool gloves, hats, socks are available too.

There are quite a few branded stores too. North Face, Moutain Hardwear, Marmot and Sherpa. If you’re coming from Australia or Europe, items in these shops are probably cheaper than back home. But if you’re coming from the US, it’s better to buy branded gear at home.

How should I prepare for the trek?

The more physically fit you are, the more you will enjoy the trip. There are three aspects to training for any trek.

1) Cardiovascular Training will make your body more efficient in using oxygen. Running, walking, swimming or biking, or any combination of these are great for cardiovascular conditioning.

2) Strength Training by either using free weights or machines at the gym will build hiking strength. Walking stairs, especially with a pack will simulate the hiking environment. We also recommend practicing squats. Trekkers will encounter low hanging obstacles to duck under, and many toilets are at ground level, which requires a low squat.

3) Endurance Training is where you build endurance in the months leading up to your trek, slowly increase your length of training sessions. By the time you are 2 weeks from the scheduled trek date you should be able to ascend 3,000 ft. in a 3-4 hour period.

In the end, the more your training simulates a trek, the better off you will be. So hiking 4-5 hours outdoors, uphill and downhill, about once or twice a week in addition to other cardio vascular training at the gym or at home will greatly benefit and prepare you for the trek.

Check out our article on training for treks.

Is there mobile signal on the trek? Wi-fi?

Most of the places on the Mustang trek route now have cell coverage. You can also buy a Sim card with 5GB or 10GB data for under $25: do this in Kathmandu.

Are there ATM's in Mustang?

Only in Jomsom. Bring cash for expenses en route.

Is immunization required for trekking in Nepal?

No vaccinations are REQUIRED. There are some that are recommended. Check out websites of the following for immunization that are recommended:

1) CIWEC hospital in Nepal

2) CDC (Center for Disease Control)

2 Reviews
Sort By:RatingDate

Christopher Eager

Solo Traveller

My trek with Crystal Mt was fantastic. I would highly recommend the Mustang trek. Although my guide became ill during the trek, Crystal Mt acted quickly to get a replacement guide on site.

December 5, 2018

Josianne Robb

Family Traveller

We chose Crystal Mountain Treks to help us coordinate our first trek in Nepal.
My teenage sons and I wanted to be off the beaten track for 2 weeks, and the team delivered. In fact, they exceeded our expectations.
We absolutely loved Mustang – the landscape is simply breathtaking and its people, warm and welcoming.
There were very few tourists, in fact, very few people. Our guide and porters were kind, jovial, knowledgeable and made sure we had a holiday to remember. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Crystal Mountain Treks and would use this company again for our next trek in Nepal.

April 5, 2018