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Complete Guide to Upper Mustang Trek: Hidden Mountain Kingdom in Nepal

  • 14-Apr-2017
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With quite similar topographical, cultural and natural setting of Tibet, Upper Mustang region is one of its kind of trekking adventure that blesses us with quite a surprises. It was not opened for any foreigners until 2006 and had its own kingdom popularly known as hidden valley across the mountains. This place used to have its own kingdom and Lo Manthang was its capital. Still it is less visited and restricted trekking trip in Nepal. Diversification of nature from greenery, to deserted and alpine settings, this complete guide to Upper Mustang Trek is prepared so that it will be helpful for you to make this happen.

Best seasons for Upper Mustang Trek

Upper Mustang lies in the rain shadow of the Himalaya, making it a great monsoon trek and also all year round trekking trip. The main consideration is the winter, when the heavy snowfall can cause the route impossible. Generally, best time for embarking in Upper Mustang trek is from March to November.

Upper Mustang got its name ‘the valley across the mountains’ for the reason. Actually this region lies at rain shadow area of Himalayas besides Dhaulagiri massif. So, this trip can be made during monsoon time too as the clouds rarely gets formed here bringing negligible rainfall. It makes Upper Mustang Trek all year round trip however during the winter months due to snowfall, the local residents travel to lower altitudes and some areas may be impassable. Therefore, months from March to November can be taken as the best time for this trekking adventure.

Tiji festival days are also the best days for Upper Mustang Trek


Tiji festival is mainly celebrated for three days during spring time that usually falls on month of May. There is also the mythological story behind this festive celebration that mentions about the deity Dorjje Jhomo that fought with demon king to save this Mustang valley. Actually the word Tiji is derived from the Tibetan word “Ten Che” that refers to the prevailing of Buddhism across the world and celebrated during the spring time. This beautiful walk across the hills and mountains, valleys and landscapes also offers plenty of spiritual insights while walking across its trekking trails.

Walk through magnificent local settlements, Buddhist monasteries with continuous views of grand Himalayas and mountains and also do enjoy the three day of Tiji or Tenchi festival at Lomanthang. The major site of the festival is filled with spectators along with masked men dressed as demons and deities dancing and slashing the swords in the air. Enjoy the overall cultural insights while explore the amazing highlights during this Tiji festival at Upper Mustang.

This year, Tiji festival lies on 22, 23 and 24th of May 2017 at Upper Mustang. So, plan your trip itinerary accordingly.

Getting into Upper Mustang

Although there are other options available via jeep, it is highly recommended that you take a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom and being your trek from there. Flying through the Kaligandaki gorge across the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massif it gives you amazing flying experience. The trekking journey begins as you follow the Kaligandaki River and arrive at Kagbeni. In this way exploring the Mustang region, within 4 to 5 days you will arrive at Lo Manthang. Along the trek routes, you cross the Himalayan pass which are approximately not more than 4000 meters of altitude. Visit the monasteries at Dhakmar, Lo Gekar monastery where it is believed that Guru Rinpoche killed the demon and his blood painted the rocky mountain into red color. Following the way back to Jomsom and finally to Pokhara brings this trip to conclusion.

Points of Interest at Lo Manthang

Along with Buddhist shrines and temples, LoGekar Monastery at Dhakmar, the royal palace is another major point of interest at Lo Manthang. In the similar way, the Thugchen Gompa built in 15th century and Amchi museum are other highlights. Amchi is a traditional Mustangi medication therapy and practice who are also the official doctors of local King.  There is also Amchi School built for preserving this traditional medicine practice. You can also hire Tibetan horse or ponies for a ride towards Chhoser, visit the local monastery and get insights into local Tibetan influenced Buddhist tradition and culture.

Permits Required

As Upper Mustang is restricted trekking area, along with ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) permit, you need to have special permit for Mustang that costs 500 USD for 10 days per person. There is a checkpoint at Kagbeni where you need to show your permitwhile entering and exiting. Your local trekking company like we (Icicles Adventure Treks) will arrange all your trekking permits required for this trip. You just need to enjoy and explore the hidden valley of Upper Mustang.

Accommodation and Meals

Like most of other popular Nepal treks such as Everest base camp and Annaupurna Circuit, Upper Mustang can also be done fully on teahouse basis. Teahouses are simply the local homes of local settlements offering basic accommodation and meals services. The room of typical teahouse will be on twin share basis and a communal dining hall.

Along with Dal, Bhat, there on the trek route, you can find Tibtetan influenced items like Syabhale and others on the menu. At Kagbeni and Jomsom, locally grown apple products are famous. Make sure you try an apple along with apple brandy and others.

Upper Mustang Trek Distance, Altitude and Walking Hours

The Upper Mustang Trek altitude in meters and walking hours in hours is shown in the following graph:


The above graphical representation is explained as below on daily basis:

Distance from Pokhara to Jomsom and to Kagbeni on Day 1:

During the first day of trekking activity, take a short flight from Pokhara 820 meters altitude to Jomsom at an altitude of 2700 meters and begin your trekking activity towards Kagbeni at 2850 meters above sea level. It will be total variation of approximately 1950 meters that includes Pokhara-Jomsom 20 minutes flight with free baggage of 20 kg and involves nearly 4 hours hiking before we arrive at Kagbeni.

Distance from Kagbeni to Chele on Day 2:

Second day of Upper Mustang Trek begin as you move forward towards Chele at an altitude of 3050 meters with altitude differences of 200m and walking hours of nearly 7 hours.

Distance from Chele to Geiling on Day 3:

Today rek from the point Chele 3050m to Geiling 3570 meters it will be nearly 520 meters of differences in elevation. While making your way to Geiling, it takes nearly, 6 to 7 hours of walking.

Distance from Geiling to Tsarang on Day 4:

Further hiking to Tsarang at about same altitude level, around 3570-80 meters elevation, it takes approximately 5 to 6 hours walking time.

Distance from Tsarang to Lo-Manthang on Day 5:

Continue your Upper Mustang Trek, and feel the change in altitude as you will be at 3810 meters above sea level at Lo-Manthang with difference of 230 meters in elevation. You will be walking for around 4 to 5 hours on this important day of Upper Mustang hike.

Acclimatization at Lo Manthang on Day 6:

Today celebrate an acclimatization day at Lo Manthang exploring the so called capital of hidden kingdom. The beautifully designed narrow walls, visit monasteries and take insights into local traditions and cultures, finally, stay overnight at Lo Manthang today.

Distance from Lo Manthang to Dhakmar on Day 7:

Walk for nearly 7 hours today from Lo Manthang to Dhakmar situated at 3820 meters above sea level. And from this point you will start to return towards from where it all began.

Distance from Dhakmar to Syangbochen on Day 8:

It will be a long valley descent towards Syanboche (3800m) along with climb to Nya la pass at 4090m. In this way you will encompass slight fluctuation in an altitude, however it will be total of 5 to 6 hours walking activity today.

Distance from Syangbochen to Chhusang on Day 9:

On the ninth day of your trek, it will be nearly 6 to 7 hours of walking activity as you will make our way towards Chusaang at 2980 meters elevation. However today you will also hike through Chungsi la at 3810m and witness great views of snow capped Himalayas.

Distance from Chhusang to Muktinath on Day 10:

You shall trek through 4077m Gyu La from Chusang before coming across towards Muktinath at 3760 meters. Walk for around 6 to 7 hours today and finally arrive at important pilgrimage site of Muktinath in Nepal.

Distance from Muktinath on Jomsom on Day 11:

It will be your final trekking day today and you return towards Jomsom 2700 meters from Muktinath with 1060 meters differences in altitude. You will do 6 to 7 hours of walking activity today.

Distance from Jomsom to Pokhara on Day 12:

On the final day of our Upper Mustang Trek, you will today catch a return flight from Jomsom to Pokhara at lowest altitude point of 820m.

Therefore while analyzing an overall altitude differences and daily walking hours, there is not so much of variations with an average of 6 hours walking per day. So, there should not be chances of altitude sickness too due to gradual ascend and highest point being just here about 4000 meters.

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