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Mustang – The Lost Tibetan Kingdom

Trip Type:  Nepal Moderate Treks

Maximum Altitude: 8167m

Durations: 11 days

Trip Starts: Jomsom

Trip Ends: Kathmandu

Accomodation: Tented Camping

Best Time For Travel: April to June, Mid-September to Mid November

Trip overview

Mustang is one of the few places in the Himalayan region that has been able to fully retain its traditional Tibetan culture. Authentic Tibetan culture now survives only in exile and in a few places like Mustang, which have had long historical and cultural ties with Tibet. This semi-autonomous, heavily Tibetan influenced region was described by Tilman as a “fascinatingly ugly country, the more fascinating for being so little known.” Indeed, the trek to Lo Manthang is through an intimidating almost treeless barren landscape, along a steeply undulating rocky trail, from which there are panoramic views of Nilgiri, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and a range of other soaring peaks.

The small kingdom of Mustang, closed to westerners until 1992, is an enchanting land of windswept vistas, red walled monasteries and feudal towns. Geographically and culturally more a part of Tibet than Nepal; Mustang contains a wild landscape of eroded cliffs and hidden caves. According to the local legend, Padamasambhava-the great founder of Tibetan Buddhism, before building Samye (the oldest monastery in Tibet) he came to Mustang to stand guard and do battle against the evil powers out to destroy Buddhism. The temple of Lo Gekhar in eastern Mustang was built by Padmasambhava after his triumphant battle and still stands guard today. The journey to this mysterious lost kingdom begins with a spectacular flight from Pokhara to Jomsom, following the gorge of Kali Gandaki between the great mountain massifs of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri.

We follow the Kali Gandaki River into the restricted area of Mustang and trek through remote villages, little changed by twentieth century influences. Lo Manathang, the fortified capital city of Mustang, where the king of Mustang resides, is a 5-day trek from Jomsom. We have time to explore the city and visit outlying villages to the north of the capital. This trek takes you through a landscape of indescribable vastness and beauty – home to the infamous snow leopard, the endangered bharal (blue sheep), and the mythical mehti (abominable snowman). Rimmed by 20,000+ snowcapped peaks and bathed in hues of orange and red rocks with sporadic fields of vibrant green, yellow and red of barley, maize, and buckwheat – Mustang is a step back into history. We take the chance to meet the king, who is a simple and friendly personality. Our return is via the rarely visited eastern side of Mustang and the ancient Gompa at Luri. Hidden canyons and stairways lead to the Gompa which contains unique wall paintings. Scenically unlike any other area in Nepal, a trek into the hidden Kingdom of Mustang is a uniquely rewarding experience.

Day 01: Flight to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni (2900m/9512ft)

It’s a short flight (25 minutes) from Pokhara to Jomsom. The air route follows the world’s deepest gorge – Kali Gandaki Gorge between Annapurna I (8,091m) and Ddhaulagiri (8,167m) mountains. Upon arrival, we collect our gear and supplies and trek 3 hours to Kagbeni alongside the Kaligandaki River.

 

Day 02: Kagbeni to Chele (3030m/9938ft, 7 hrs)

As we leave the town, we will ascend little Chrotenvia a dusty path. Up and down alongside the Kaligandaki arriving in Tangbe for lunch. Following the same path, we cross the Chusang River and cross the bridge on the Kaligandaki. Then a short climb to Chele with good views of the red walls and cliffs.

 

Day 03-04: Chele to Charang (3650m/11972 ft)

It is two days of trekking to Charang, with 7 hours of walking each day. We crest several passes and are rewarded with good views of mountains and the colorful landscape of water, painted walls, alpine meadows with animals, Chortens, Mani walls and little bhatties.

 

Day 05-06: To Lo Manthang (3760m/12338 ft, 4 hrs)

Lo-manthang – the capital of Mustang is situated at an elevation of 3,760m/12,338 ft and is accessible by a 4 hour hike from Charang. This is the chief destination of our trek. This fortified town is believed to be 600 years old. The wall around the town is said to protect the town and its dwellers from the evil spirits. We will have ample time to explore this mysterious capital of the lost Kingdom.

 

Day 07: To Ghami via Gekar

This is an opportunity to visit two other villages on your return trek. The trail climbs steadily to the pass marked by a cairn, offering a last glimpse of Lomanthang. After crossing a ridge at 4,070m, the trail then proceeds to Gekar. Lo Gekar Gompa is one of the oldest Gompasin Nepal and is even older than the famed Samye Gompa of Tibet.

 

Day 08: To Samar

Today we back track the route we took heading north to Lo Manthang, but we will camp in the quaint town of Samar. (6.5 hours).

 

Day 09: To Kagbeni

Again we retrace our steps to Kagbeni, where we will leave the restricted area of Mustang. (6 hours).

 

Day 10: To Jomsom

It is a short walk to Jomsom on this day. It is a final time to relax and enjoy the spectacular views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Massifs. (1.5 hours).

 

Day 11: Flight to Pokhara to Kathmandu

Get on board to fly to Pokhara and connect to Kathmandu. This is a mountain flight and subject to weather condition. Allow a couple of days in Kathmandu before you make your international connection back home.

  • Special permit.
  • All camping and kitchen gears.
  • All crews that includes cook, porters, sherpas and necessary pack animals.
  • 3 meals a day.
  • Pokhara-Jomsom-Pokhara-Kathmandu airfare.
  • Accommodation and meals in Pokhara.
  • Drinks, tip and other expenses of personal nature.
  • Extra expenses due to nature and unforeseen events such as flight cancellation, sickness etc.
  • Travel Insurance.