Walk an exploratory trek through the mysterious Buddhist Kingdom of Upper Mustang to discover its sky caves and their secrets of Tibetan culture in territory of Nepal. Situated in the rain shadow of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna range, Mustang is one of Nepal’s most varied and stunningly beautiful regions. Prohibited to travelers until 1992, Upper Mustang only half-opens its door to a small number of travelers motivated by the discovery of the amazing kingdom of “Lo Pa “.
Still categorized into restricted area, Upper Mustang sees limited number of tourists, and its able to hide the secrets of thousands of caves distributed sparingly its red cliffs. Carved canyons and fantastic rock formations, traditional, white-washed Tibetan-style villages, royal palaces, crumbling fortresses, unexplored cave complexes, Tibetan Buddhist fortified monasteries, ubiquitous chortens and Himalayan snow-peaks are the special characteristics of this region. The capital, Lo Manthang, a starkly beautiful region, home to Tibetan Buddhism as well as the remnants of the more mystical Bon religion which pre-dates Buddhism is home to the Loba people, and its walled city is considered by some scholars to be the best preserved medieval fortress in the world, a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage.
Our Deeper into Upper Mustang Exploratory trek is a journey along some of the least known routes to the more isolated villages in this sun-drenched region, often following the rocky Kali Gandaki river-bed, other times trekking on spectacular trails high above it, and descending through marvelously sculpted and multi-hued gorges. Upper Mustang is the realm of the last nomads of Mustang, still living their traditional migratory lifestyle on the high plateaus bordering Tibet.
We visit some of Upper Mustang’s most far-flung villages such as Tangge, Ghara, Yara, Samdzong, having salt-butter tea and bartering for locally-woven textiles with the villagers, have coffee and chat with the King of Mustang, Jigme Parbal Bista. We explore several caves like Konchok Ling Cave, Chungsi caves, Choser cave Tashi Kabum. We visit ancient Buddhist monasteries like Luri Gompa, Ghar Gumba, Namgyal Gompa, Gompa in Garphu and Niphu, three gompas of wall city of Lo Manthang and many others.
Deeper into Upper Mustang Exploratory trek is a long trek, off the beaten path trek, an exploratory trek and a cultural trek ideal for enthusiastic adventurous fellow interested in ancient Buddhist cultures, exploration of caves, Tibetan Buddhist cultures and want to discover the remotest part of Upper Mustang. If you are looking for a shorter cultural trek to Upper Mustang then our Upper Mustang Trek- 17 days would be suitable for you. Best time for Upper Mustang trek is from March to October (June to October most recommended). If you can get there in August, the tempting panorama of flowering buckwheat fields will cherish you.
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Deeper into Upper Mustang Exploratory Trek – 24 days Day to Day Itinerary
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu (1,338 m/4,390 ft)
Our representative will meet you at the arrival terminal of Kathmandu Airport. So as soon as finish your custom formalities (visa, etc.) and get to the airport waiting terminal, look for our representative who will be holding Icicles Adventure Treks & Tour signboard. You will be then transferred to your respective hotel in our private vehicle. You can either rest in your hotel or shop around Thamel for any gears for your trek. Accommodation: City Hotel.
Day 02: Kathmandu: UNESCO World Heritage sites Tour and Trek preparation
We explore the UNESCO World Heritage sites of exotic Kathmandu. We climb many steps to Swayambhunath (at 1420 m). Also known as the monkey temple, Swayambhunath with its whitewashed stupas sits on a hilltop that also gives commanding views of Kathmandu. Its unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism is noticeable. Way back, we visit Durbar Square, one of the old place complex of the Kathmandu valley, is a blend of Hindu and Buddhist temples, ancient architecture, and statues, and is often the site of festivals, and ceremonials. Teeming with images of gods and goddesses, crowded with temples and shrines, the city streets and country roads are like a museum without walls. Your guide will explain the religious puja (chanting), and its significance as part of everyday life in Kathmandu Valley. We next visit Boudhanath Stupa, the two overlooking eyes of whose attract pilgrims of Buddhist realm. In the midst of traditional gompas, and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, Boudhanath attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (koras) of the stupa. We also visit Pashupatinath, a most celebrated and scared Hindu temple complex on the bank of the holy Bagmati river where trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and saffron sit serenely meditating and the nearby forest resident, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats. Accommodation: City Hotel. Included Meal: Breakfast.
Day 03: Kathmandu to Pokhara (820m/2,690ft)
We set off for Pokhara after breakfast. Driving today is adventurous and pleasant as it winds down hugging the mountain side through terraced fields. Following the side of Mahesh River we come to the Trishuli River. We follow Trisuli River side all the way up to Mugling where Trisuli River confluences with the Marshyangdi River. After crossing a bridge over Marshyangdi River we head further west to Pokhara. If you are on the right pane of your vehicle the journey today provides plenty of opportunity to view cultivated terraced fields, rivers, streams, green valleys, rocky gorges, farmlands and typical rural life of Nepal. We take lunch break in a restaurant along the way. Upon arrival in Pokhara, the naturally beautiful city with many crystal clear lakes you may take time to spend leisurely at Phewa lakeside or just hang around the market. Driving Time: 6 hrs. Accommodation: City Hotel. Included Meal: Breakfast
Day 4: Fly to Jomsom (2700m/8856 ft) and trek to Kagbeni (2850m/9350 ft)
We wake up early for our spectacular mountain flight to the district headquarters of Mustang, Jomsom. Flight to Jomsom is scheduled to happen early morning to avoid any wind that is prominent in Jomsom starting late morning. Once on the ground at one of the world’s most scenic airstrips, sound of tinkling horse bells greet us as the Mustangi people pass by with their horse caravans. Upon landing at the airport, we have a implausible panorama of Himalayan peaks: Dhaulagiri, followed by Annapurna South, Hiunchuli to the far west with Annapurna I in back, the sacred Machhapuchhre (Fishtail), Annapurna III, Annapurna IV, Annapurna II, Lamjung Himal, Himlung Himal and perhaps, on a clear day, Manaslu, Peak 29, Himalchuli, Boudha Himal and Ganesh Himal to the distance to the far east. After sorting out gears we trek up the breezy Kali Gandaki valley to Kagbeni which is the last village in Lower Mustang that guards the entrance into Upper Mustang. The spacious track along the sandy riverbed filled with saligram provides views of the surrounding peaks of Dhaulagiri, Tukuche and Niligiri, 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 a sanctuary of green, hodgepodge fields amidst rocky, arid mountains, with Niligiri looming majestically behind. This ancient, partially ruined castle town with its narrow alleyways and tunnels, irrigation canals, green fields of barley and its massive, newly-restored brick-red 800 year old Sayka monastery provides us with a hint of scenes to come in upper Mustang. We also wander past the ancient, crumbing, 100-room King’s Palace. We enjoy the implausible views down-valley to Niligiri in the late afternoon which seems alien with the pinkish alpenglow. Walking Time: 3-4 hrs. Accommodation: Local lodge. Included Meal
Day 05: Kagbeni to Muktinath (3760 m/12464 ft)
Leaving historic castle town of Kagbeni and heading east, we trek along the Annapurna trail to beautiful and traditional Jharkot (3350m). We continue to Ranipawa, and to the Muktinath complex. . Muktinath means place of Nirvana and is home to the Muktinath temple as well as several monasteries. Muktinath is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Hindus situated in a tranquil grove of trees, and contains a wall of 108 waterspouts in the shape of cows heads spouting sacred water, and the pagoda-styled Vishnu Temple, all of which make up the auspicious combination of earth, fire and water. Another attraction nearby is the Jwala Mai Temple with a perpetual spouting flame fueled by natural gas. We spend the night at the scared site of Muktinath or nearby village Walking Time: 3-4 hrs. Accommodation: Local lodge. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 06: Muktinath -cross Gyu La (4077m) to to Tetang (3040m/9970 ft)
We follow the main village route that looks gorgeously beautiful in the bright morning light with fluttering prayer flags. We get down to a bridge over the intersecting river and start climbing gradually up towards the pass. In about two hours, after several long contours with increasingly spectacular Himalayan views, we summit the flat pass and take a rest at the cairn which marks the border between the Annapurnas and Upper Mustang. We descend into a green grazing valley that is interspersed with local doksas, we pass a verdant spring, soon afterwards reaching a slightly exposed section of trail on good scree. The landscape becomes more Mustang-like as weathered canyons open up ahead of us, and we continue to descend steeply on a sandy trail. We pass through a stream where we might stop for lunch. After a while Tetang comes into view, which sits 1000 meters below our pass. Finally we reach the many colorful chortens which mark the entrance to Tetang and are treated to expansive views down over the terraced fields and the ancient Tetang Dzong. After stopping for photos we follow ancient mani walls to the labyrinth of Tetang village. Tetang is an incessantly fascinating, fortified village with massive houses pock-marked with old scaffolding holes. The ruins of an ancient, collapsing dzong stand majestically on a ridge at the northern end of the village, with several families living in this ancient monument. This village looses sun before 5 pm but its extremely photographic village. To be noted is the extensive number of caves in the massive rock face across the Kali Gandaki. Historian Gucci believes that these caves were the homes of the earliest Lo-pas, later used by hermit-monks as retreats. Many anthropologists believe that the caves were the Neolithic sites of early man from a time when there was much more water and large forests. Walking Time: 6-7 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 07: Tetang to Pa (4010m/13152 ft)
Today is a beautiful day, a longer and relatively challenging too. Leaving camp at Tetang we ascend on a trail hewn into the sedimentary hillside of baked sand, passing through a world of hoodoos, often on exposed but safe trails and always far above the valleys below us. We spend the day trekking on top of a roller coaster of a ridge line trail which follows the Siyarko Tangk Danda, the cairns being recorded as 4015m, 4080m and 4165m. There is no water along this route, so be prepared. We crest several small cairn-topped ridges, stop for many photos breaks, eat lunch choosing one of the spectacular spot and finally reach our shaded and chilly camp at Pa in mid-afternoon. Walking Time: 7-8 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 08: Pa to Tangge (3240m/10627ft)
This shorter and easier day to Tangee starts with climbing a small ridge pass Pa La at 4185m marked with Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags, and continuing with a steep descent most of the way to the Tangge Khola far below. To reach the village, we turn north to a bridge straddling the river and then hike another 15 minutes. Tangge is a cultural and amazingly spectacular village surrounded by terraced barley fields with long mani walls, monumental ochre and white chortens perhaps largest chortens in Mustang, over 50 feet high. Tangge now is a small village with few houses and many sheep, goats. According to locals, Tangee was a bigger village, but a huge mudslide some years ago swept away many houses and barley fields on both banks. We have now reached the real Upper Mustang, the culture becomes more Tibetan; sheep horns adorn the houses, and there are protective talismans in the shape of a cross on the walls of the houses. They call it ‘zor’ and they believe it captures evil spirits in their web and protect the inhabitants of the household. We can see woman wearing the Tibetan decorative turquoise, coral and amber as well as ‘dzis’, ancient protective amulets of agate, which Mustangis believe came from lightening when it falls onto the mountains. At the far end of the village is the high route to Yara. Look to the south for views of the snow-peak called Ka Karru by locals. Walking Time: 4-5 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 09: Tangee to Dhey (3920m/12857 ft)
Leaving Tangge, heading northeast, we climb briefly out of the village and continue on an undulating trail through a fantastic moonscape, colored by ochre, weathered rocks which have been chiseled by centuries of wind and water erosion. We stay high, climbing gradually until we reach a small pass which we called the Sertang La (4240m), decorated by a cairn of saligrams, a tribute to Vishnu and the local gods. A short descent through another bit of contorted landscape, past tricolored chortens, leads to the remote village of Dhey, one of the most isolated in the Himalaya. The inhabitants are planning to migrate in a few years to relocate just northwest of here as there are serious water issues in Dhey. Still, it’s a lively village with an old gompa to explore, and the villagers are friendly and welcoming as trekkers here are scarce. Enjoy the afternoon and get out exploring this beautiful village. Walking Time: 5 – 6 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 10: Dhey to Dhechyang Khola to Yara (3650m/11972 ft)
Climbing out of the village, we pass over more eroded canyon and walk on a high trail for a while, soon passing through an old mudslide that looks like a muddy glacier. Now we come to a point where to our right a distant trail heads east to Damodar Kunda and ancient clusters of cave dwellings appear dramatically in the cliff faces far above us. We cross a small river and after few ups and downs before descending rather steeply to the riverbed below at just over 3400 meters. We ramble down the Dechyang Khola. We ascend the steep switch backing trail from a settlement called Phangyakawa. Upon reaching the plateau, we’re treated to a feast of eroded canyons and hoodoos, so we take some time to admire the landscape and capture them in our camera. We walk across the plateau on a little-used trail through more fantastic landscapes, and finally we can see the lovely, green village of Yara below, across the Puyung Khola. We descend to the rocky river bottom, cross the river and get into the village. We have a walk above the village in the afternoon, lovely with the sun shining through the willow leaves illuminate the village. There is a gompa and school in the lower section of the village for those wanting a short walk. Walking Time: 6-7 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 11: Yara to Ghara (Luri Gompa)
Heading northeast out of Yara, we pass incredible, sculpted canyons with the remains of a network of ancient caves, now eroded enough to be inaccessible. We walk less than an hour along the rocky and saligram-strewn riverbed to the Tashi Kumbum cave complex, reachable via a narrow bulge of a trail. Tashi Kumbum is a newly discovered group of six cave dwellings dating from the 15th century, with incredible Buddhist murals and a large gracefully painted chorten. Another hour along the Puyung Khola takes us to the legendary Druk-pa Luri Gompa and its complex of Tibetan Buddhist caves only some of which are accessible. One of the ancient Kings of Lo married a Bhutanese princess, thus the Druk-pa influence. The main Luri Gompa is situated down near the riverbed; the teacher, kids in tow, will lead on a crumbling trail us up to the upper prayer-room and the fifteenth century ‘Kabum Stupa’, made of highly polished stucco and painted with intricately detailed Newari-styled Buddhist frescos of the Kagyupa saints Tilopa, Naropa and Marpa. 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 particular region. Unfortunately, or fortunately, most have been rendered inaccessible due to the intense erosion in Mustang, so will remain hidden throughout history. It’s an easy half-hour hike from Luri Gompa along a high trail to the village of Ghara, with its ruined gompa, chortens and old, winding walls. Enjoy the fantastic mountain panoramas down-valley towards the Kali Gandaki at sunset and sunrise. Walking Time: 3 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 12: Trek Chodzong Gompa Camp (3900m/12792 ft)
Today is comparatively hard day. We start with steep climb behind the village along a sandy trail, past several cave dwellings, for well over an hour to reach to the top of the Ghara La at 4380 meters. White striped Luri Gompa and the collage of terraced fields of barley surrounding Ghara and Yara villages look awesome down from our route. Contouring around several hillsides, we soon drop down to the green hamlet of Kepuchhimi at the valley bottom, a stream running through it. Crossing the stone doksas, we have a steep climb on a trail of hardened mud back up to the plateau where we regain our expansive views of the sculpted rocks and canyons surrounding us. After more scenic contouring and two small cairns, we reach the steep descent down to lunch camp. We have lunch overlooking the border of Tibet ahead of us and then start on the switch backing down to the riverbed below. Another half hour of leaping the small Chaka Khola as we trek downstream brings us to our lovely Canyon. Now we have entered a lost world of knobby canyons, muted earth-tones and narrowing passages, the wonderful world of ‘lost’ Mustang filled with stained rocks and salt-drips. A quarter of an hour of river jumping to the direction of Lo Monthang we reach a river intersection. We take the right fork which heads to the 14th-15th century Chodzong Gompa and which houses some of the most important Buddhist artwork in Mustang. We have a quick scramble up to Cho Dzong Gompa, The main gompa might be locked but we can hike up to a smaller gompa in back of the main one. The tangle of antlers on top of the gompa roof, and the tsatsas in several of the caves. Walking Time: 7-8 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 13: Chhodzong gompa to Yarsang khola Camp (4600/15088 ft)
We leave camp heading in the same direction as yesterday, following a long, ancient mani wall painted in red and many large chortens, all suggestive of the importance of this gompa in the past. We cross the river beyond the Kharka and walk through the groove of the Salde khola. Following the bed of the river we rise on a good path to a well marked peak. Below the peak is we continue along a path parallel to that of the Salde khola. We walk amid juniper bushes and take a tough climb. As we ascend panaroma of some of the immense peaks come into view: Dhaulagiri, Niligiri, Thorung & Tilicho Peaks, Annapurna I and other 7000 and 8000 meter peaks rise impressively in back of us when we finally reach the top of the windy nomadic plateau. Crossing the great grassy plateau, and we do not see the end: undulations in series, spicy herbs, windy atmosphere, and mani walls…we just get down to the river for overnight stay. Walking Time: 5-6 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 14: Yarsang khola Camp to Samdzong (4372m/14340 ft)
We climb up the valley for about 200m. Then taking right flank of Yarsang Khola, we walk ahead enjoying the splendid views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. On the left flank of Yarsang Khola is the plateau we walked yesterday. After about half an hour walk we get frontal views of the gorge of Yarsang Khola. Now we drop to the valley of Iti. We climb up passing through mani walls and descend to the deep valley. Again comes the Tal Khola and after sometimes we reach the Thakla La (4780m). The trail offers a nice course in contour towards the mountains that make up the Mustang himal up a set of kharkas. Immersing ourselves in the magnificent desert landscape, deserted jagged peaks and ramparts, we continue ups and downs on the desert valleys and come on the edge of the Northern cliff of Samdzong valley. A direct descent into the nomadic village. At the foot of the challenging downhill trail, we cross the river before going up in front of the village. Sam Dzong Khola is located along the Sam Dzong Khola at around 4000 meters. Walking Time: 5-6 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 15: Samdzong Village to Choser Village
With the majestic morning we walk along the irrigation canal, it goes through the village towards the South and the monastery. We descend through the fields in the middle of a row of penitents. We spend a bright red chorten that marks the entrance to the gorge itself and now we walk on a good path halfway up. Today we will explore the newly discovered Konchok Ling cave. We will take help of local there to know about the route conditions as it is difficult. Konchok Ling cave consists of a wall 7.5 m long covered with 55 panels, representations of Buddhist Pala style dating from the 12th century. In these almost inaccessible caves at the end of the world, monks and artists lived and meditated around sacred stupas. They met, eyes enlightened by faith, to paint charts and mystical beings of delicate beauty. If you are an avid explorer or have keen interest in buddhism, you will struggle to visit the Konchok Ling cabe, otherwise we may take the alternative route to Chhoser village if we find the route via Konchok Ling cave too difficult and will have to skip the exploration of this cave too. We get to Chhosar Village for our night’s rest. The Chosar valley was the main trading route with Tibet and Lhasa, and is peppered with the ruins of old fortresses guarding this strategic valley. If time permits we explore the settlements and monasteries of Dhuk, Garphu and Niphu. Walking Time: 5-6 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 16: Chhosar Village to Lo Manthang
We explore the monasteries in Chhosar village and trek to Lo Manthang. The cave village of Chosar, with the deep-red Nyphu Gompa built into the rock face. We take plenty of time for photographs before rounding the chorten-toped bend, where we get views of Gharphu Gompa on the east banks of the Mustang Khola. Past the gompa is an incredible cave-dwelling site caller bd Jhong Cave, which you negotiate by ladders and through small tunnels, very interesting and reputed to be 2500 years old. In front of us, a range of spectacular snow-peaks marks the border with Tibet, and around us gurgling streams and green meadows line our trail. If we take the long loop, we can stop at Nyamdo Gompa, ride over a small pass and then head back down the western valley to Lo. The western valley leads to Namgyal Gompa (the Monastery of Victory), set spectacularly on top of a desolate ridge and the newest and most active gompa in Lo. The village of Namgyal spreads out past the Gompa. Just past the gompa is the large, sprawling village of Thinggar, where the King has his summer palace. There are also many ancient ruins surrounding the village, some gompas and others old fortresses perhaps. Further on, we reach Kimaling village, which is an interesting, white-washed village surrounded by fields where we did some carpet shopping last year. Kimaling Gompa is below the village, on the way out as we head towards Phuwa and its gompa on the way down towards Lo. There are tremendous views of Namgyal Gompa backed by snow-peaks behind us as we wander up the valley, and white peaks in front of us bordering Tibet.
Back at camp, dinner is on the fire, tea is brewing, and cold beers are available from the tea-shops, so relax and enjoy our last evening in this magical capital. Walking Time: 5-6 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 17: Lo Manthang
Lo Manthang, capital of Mustang was established by King Ame Pal. The present king, Jigme Palbar Bista, the 25th descendent of Ame Pal, still resides at his four-storied palace inside the city walls (when he is not in Kathmandu). Mustagis call their King ‘Lo Gyelbu’ and respect and love the king although he plays only a ceremonial role these days. He is an avid horseman, and keeps his own stable of horses, some of the best in Mustang. There are 180 houses built among narrow streets, and some of the largest and finest Tibetan Buddhist gompas in Nepal. The town is quite prosperous due primarily to its past salt and wool trade along the Kali Gandaki with Tibet, and the inhabitants, Lobas themselves are still very Tibetan, living in Tibetan-style dwellings. Lo Manthang traditionally had a single entrance, through which only the King, Queen and Kempo (Abbot) were allowed to ride. All others must walk, to pay their respects to Chenrizig, the Buddha of Compassion.
There are four major temples within the medieval walls of Lo Manthang, the 14th century, brick-red Jampa Lhakhang (the oldest gompa, built in 1387, with the striking 50 foot ‘Jampa’ (future) Buddha, the largest clay statue in Nepal until a few years ago), 15th century Thubchen Gompa (Great Assembly hall, pillars 30 feet high, the second oldest gompa with fantastic murals in the Dukhang), Chhoede Gompa (where the Kempo lives, with a monastic school) and Choprang Gompa. There is also the Raja’s Palace, home to the present King Raja Jigme and Queen ‘Rani Sahib’ (who is from an aristocratic Lhasa family) and an interesting maze of a village to explore. There are approximately 1100 Lobas within the walls of the city although many lower caste Lobas live outside the walls. Many of the Lobas still practice polyandry.
Day 18: Lo Manthang to Tsarang (3560m/11676 ft) via Lo Gekar Gompa
Leaving camp, we hike for half an hour up to a small pass with a cairn on the top, to the west of the Marang La. From the ridge we have an easy, contouring drop through green meadows for an hour until we see the beautiful chortens of Ghar Gompa or Lo Ghekar. Lo Ghekar which translates as ‘Pure Virtue of Joy’ was built in the 8th century is one of the oldest gompas in Nepal. It belongs to the Nyimgma sect and is connected by legend to Samye Gompa in Tibet as well as to the omnipresent Guru Rimpoche. The Lo Gekar Monastery harbors many excellent paintings as well as brilliantly carved and coloured mani stones. Neighboring the gompa are massive, block-like chortens of a unique style and strings of colorful prayer flags fluttering in the winds of Mustang. Heading directly down valley, we soon intersect the main trail from Tsarang to Lo, and head south past the massive and newly re-constructed chorten along the trail. After short trek leaving Ghar Gomba takes us to Marang and then again short easy trekking brings us to the fortified village of Tsarang, on the edge of dramatic Tsarang Khola canyon. Tsarang, translates ‘cock’s crest’ is a large village of about 80 houses was once capital of Kingdom of Lo in 14th century. The poplar and willow trees add green beauty to the village. Tsarang bustles with its many shops, its own hydro-electric plant and quite a few guest houses and visitors. There is a nunnery (ani Gompa) in the village. Also we visit the five-story Tsarang Dzong, a Tibetan-styled fortified palace built in 1378, and the large, ochre-hued Tsarang Gompa, built in 1385, of the Sakya sect and with the greatest library in Lo (the palace also has a great library). The dzong and palace were both built by Ame Pal and the other of the ‘Three Sangpos’. The palace has a wonderful, old prayer room with a gold-printed prayer book and a fascinating array of statues, thankas and large Buddha paintings that the resident lama will show us, and the withered 500 year old hand of the master architect of the palace. The assembly hall is adorned with fantastic 15th century frescos. We may walk around the village to see the daily lifestyles of Tsarang dwellers. Walking Time: 6-7 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 19: Tsarang to Gheling (3570 m/11710 ft)
We come along the massive brightly painted entrance chorten after a short walk thorugh Tsarang’s lanes. A morning walk through the labyrinth of Tsarang’s alleyway leads to the massive, brightly pained chorten which guards the entrance to Tsarang, and then hike along the dirt road for about an hour, soon reaching the Tsarang La (3870m). From the large cairn topped with Tibetan prayer flags, we switchback steeply down to the bottom of the valley. Just ahead is a cluster of ancient chortens, some of the most massive in the Tibetan world, backed by dramatic, sculpted cliff-faces and said to be 1500 years old; an very beautiful sight. The trail looks across the valley to ochre, blue and steel-grey cliffs, and leads us past tri-colored chortens and the longest and most spectacular Mani wall in Mustan. A Japanese build hospital is there behind the Mani wall. After a short, steep descent we directly cross the suspension bridge and climb briefly up to Ghami (3570m), another fortified village of Mustang along the steep edges of the cliff. We also can see an old castle in Ghami, which was largely abandoned until the Khampa fighters set up a war camp here and brought new life and wealth to the village. We explore through this interesting village, passing the mani walls and prayer wheels. We have lunch at this interesting village and continue on to Zaite, another 2 hours away up and over the Ghemi La. From Ghemi it’s a straight-forward climb to the Ghemi La (3520m) from where there are beautiful views down to Ghemi. Contouring to the south, we continue to climb gradually for another hour or so to the Nyi La (4010m), where we’re treated to Himalayan panoramas including Annapurna 1 & Niligiri, as well as the clusters of white-washed villages, ochre gompas and cave complexes in the Gelling valley. A short hike down the pass brings us to the Gelling intersection, short walk ahead brings us to Zaite from where we have great views of the Thorung Peak, Nilgiri, Dhulagiri, Annapurna I and Tilicho peak. Less than an hour walk down the valley is the lovely, green village, Geling with an old, ochre monastery on the hillside above the village and a sponsored school. Walking Time: 5-6 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 20: Gheling to Tangbe (3060m/10036ft)
From Gheling, we climb gradually mostly along the small, dusty road, to reach the Syangboche La at 3850m meters. From the top of the pass we enjoy fantastic Himalayan vista, with Annapurna 1, Niligiri and the peaks north bordering Tibet. We’ll drop down to small Syangboche village just below the pass.
Once below Syangboche, we change direction off to the left and descend into the valley, past seasonal doksas and shepherds herding their herds of sheep and goats, on the eastern route to Samar via the important Chungsi Caves, at 3425 meters. En route, we see many nests of Himalayan Griffins high up in the cliff-faces, noticeable from their white droppings. We will see these majestic birds circling high above us. It takes about an hour to reach the Chungsi Caves, one of the ubiquitous Guru Rimpoche’s meditation caves. Up a series of rock steps to the entrance, and inside are fantastic ‘rangjung’ or self-created Tibetan Buddhist sculptures, chortens, ‘Tara’s terraced fields’ and others Buddhist relics.
We cross the Syanbochen Khola and climb a steep but spectacular walks with view in front of us as we head towards Samar. We climb high up into an incredible, vast canyon, with wonderful, expansive views the entire time, and reach the Chungsi La (3810m), approximately 500 meters above the cave. Then down, again steeply, to the Jhuwa Khola and Samarkhung Kholas, and back up the switch-backing trail to the entrance chorten of Samar. We walk all the way down through Chele Village. Again the entrance chorten of Chele village welcomes us and we continue dropping down. We see the liner caves from our trail about 50m above. We cross Kali Gandaki River over a suspension bridge. Ahead, we sometimes have to struggle to cross a seasonal stream without bridge just before of Chhusang Village. We continue through gradual trail to Tangbe. Past the entrance Chorten we enter the Tangbe village with jumble of narrow alleyways separating the white houses, fields of buckwheat, barley, wheat and apple orchards, unique in Mustang with its moat-like drainage system. Tangbe is split into two sections, the ruins of its ancient dzong (fortress) in the upper section. Wander around this traditional authentic Mustangi village to identify with their culture and lifestyle. Walking Time: 6-7 hrs. Accommodation: Camp. Included Meal: B, L, D
Day 21: Trek to Jomsom
We walk high up above Kali Gandaki River for about three hours until we reach Kagbeni. We see village of Tiri Gaon on the west bank of the river before Kagbeni. As we arrive Kagbeni, we have our lunch. You may visit the monastery here again if you like. Then we hike through the east bank of Kali Gandaki all the way from now. Look out for the holiy saligrams while you walk. We reach Ekle Bhatti, a small village before Jomsom. After a brief rest there we continue to Jomsom struggling with the strong afternoon wind which is indigenous of Jomsom area. We arrive Jomsom along a long, cobbled trail with the afternoon time for wash, rest and wander around. We celebrate our successful exploratory deeper Upper Mustang trek in the evening with our team. Walking Time: 6-7 hrs. Accommodation: Local lodge. Included Meal: B,L,D
Day 22: Fly Jomsom to Pokhara
It will be an early and short flight out to Pokhara with great views of the mountains with Annapurnas on the left and Dhaulagiri on the left hand side – so you are guaranteed a great close up! There is a good part of the day free to explore the lakeside and shop around or even go for a boat ride in the Phewa Lake. Flight: 30 minutes. Accommodation: City Hotel. Included Meal: B
Day 23: Drive Pokhara to Kathmandu
We drive back to Kathmandu today. Try to get left pane of your vehicle to enjoy the greeneries, mountains, river gorges, villages and terraces during the drive. In the evening, we will have a farewell dinner in a traditional Nepalese restaurant with cultural performances. Driving Time: 6 hrs. Accommodation: City Hotel. Included Meal: B Note: You have the option to extend your trip with an extra day at Pokhara (Pokhara is a beautiful city to relax after a long trek), Chitwan jungle safari, rafting adventure, Bunjee Jumping, Kayaking, Canoeing, Kathmandu valley shopping tour, Bhaktapur and Patan sightseeing, scenic Everest flight, mountain biking and other activities.
Day 24: Depart Kathmandu-Airport drop
Your Deeper into Upper Mustang, an exploratory Upper Mustang Trek-23 days concludes today. Our airport representative will drop you at the international airport in Kathmandu for your departure flight from Nepal. We hope uniqueness of Upper Mustang, the magnificent Himalayan sceneries, and exclusive cultural experience you got along your Upper Mustang Trek will stay in your memory lifelong and you will go back home with a sense of achievement. There is a lot of Nepal to be explored, and hope you will be back again to explore rest of this beautiful nation. Included Meal: Breakfast