Pristine Nepal Treks presents you with a “Complete Guide to Upper Mustang Valley” with a complete breakdown of its culture, history, topography, seasons, and many more.
First of all, here is the short video of Upper Mustang Valley from “Nepal’s 8th wonder of the world“
Why trek in Upper Mustang Valley?
“Heaven is Myth, Nepal is Real”
The main reason for trekking Upper Mustang is its capital, “Lo Manthang” which feels like entering a different world. It is located in the rain shadow surrounded by rocks of different colors and in impressive formations which are created by the Dhaulagiri massif. The Upper Mustang is truly a heaven for all visitors. Similarly, Upper Mustang is one of the trekking regions suitable to trek during the monsoon too and it was officially opened in 1992.
Exploring the Upper Mustang, you will find that the arid landscape is beautiful due to the settlements of whitewashed houses, barley fields, and Buddhist decorations with prayer flags. Although, only limited numbers of trekkers are allowed each year for the protection and conservation of the local Tibetan tradition and fragile environment. This trek brings trekkers into the hidden world of the old Buddhist kingdom of Mustang which is also known as “Lo”.
This town is a world of alleyways, a Buddhist shrine, beautiful prayer wheels of long walls, and a large group of domestic animals sauntering in the fields. Trekkers can also visit the Amchi museum and Amchi school where Amchi is known as a traditional Tibetan doctor and also there are some Amchis living in Lo Mangthang.
Upper Mustang Trek Perfect Itinerary:
Itinerary should not be long nor short for Upper Mustang Trek. With a best itinerary and best price, Upper Mustang Trek can be explored fully without any hassale. From our opinion, 17 Days outline Itinerary for Upper Mustang is the perfect itinerary for everyone which includes:
- Day 1: Airport pick up and Transfer to hotel
- Day 2: Kathmandu heritage sightseeing and preparation for trekking
- Day 3: Kathmandu to Pokhara 8,20m (220km) via Bus- 7hrs
- Day 4: Pokhara to Jomsom 2,800m via a flight and trek to Kagbeni- 4hrs
- Day 5: Trek to Tsele (Chele) 3,050m- 6hrs
- Day 6: Trek to Gelling 3,450m- 5hrs
- Day 7: Trek to Tsarang (Charang) 3,560m- 6hrs
- Day 8: Trek to Lo Manthang 3,800m- 4hrs
- Day 9: Hike or Horse Ride or Jeep drive for sightseeing
- Day 10: Trek to Tsarang (Charang) 3,560m- 6hrs
- Day 11: Trek to Syangbochen 3,806m- 6hrs
- Day 12: Trek to Chhusang 3,000m- 6hrs
- Day 13: Trek to Kagbeni 2,830m- 5hrs or trek to Muktinath 3,700m
- Day 14: Trek to Jomsom 2,720m- 5hrs
- Day 15: Drive to Pokhara by public bus
- Day 16: Drive back to Kathmandu by tourist bus and transfer to hotel
- Day 17: International departure for homeward bound
Upper Mustang Trek Easy Map:
This Upper Mustang trek map is designed according to our Upper Mustang trek itinerary which is easy to read.
Upper Mustang Trek Accommodations:
While trekking to Upper Mustang, you can find basic lodges, also known as tea houses. Most of the guesthouses offer accommodation with a western restroom and some of the guesthouses also offer a room with the attached bathroom. All lodges have the facility of a hot shower but trekkers have to pay an extra charge.
All the guesthouses can be found on walking trails whereas accommodation can be quite expensive than other trekking trails due to less population, expensive transportation, and isolation.
Foods in Upper Mustang Trek:
The foods available in the Upper Mustang trek are traditional and unique. As a matter of fact, you can also find Western foods, Chinese foods, or Nepali custom foods too.
Guesthouses of Upper Mustang provides breakfast around 7:30 Am to 8:30 Am. On the breakfast menu, you can have Oatmeal, corn flakes with milk, muesli with milk, muesli with apple, granola with milk, oat porridge, porridge with apple or honey, and so on.
Likewise, lunch is normally provided at 1 Pm to 2 Pm. In the lunch menu, you can have either traditional foods or varieties of pizza, noodles, pasta, sandwich serves with chips, and so on.
Dinner is provided on the basis of your arrival at the guest house and the menu of lunch and dinner is similar.
As for the Drinks, on the hot drink menu; you can have hot water, black or milk or lemon tea, lemon ginger honey, mint or jasmine or masala or ginger tea, black or milk coffee, hot chocolate, and hot lemon.
And on the cold drinks menu, you can have mineral water, can juice, Coke, Fanta, sprite, dew, can-beer, and sea back thorn juice.
Trekkers can also buy papad, puff corn, and prawn crackers as a quick snack. You can also have desserts like rice pudding, apple pie, apple fritters, chocolate pudding, custard pudding, rice pudding, and apple pie with custard.
At last, trekkers also can have soups for the energized body which are fresh veg soup, tomato soup, chicken soup, garlic soup, potato soup, mushroom soup, and noodle soup.
Although trekkers can buy each and every kind of food suitable for trekking, it is advised to carry snack related food such as nuts, chocolate, cookies, and nutritional food for trekking.
Things to pack for Upper Mustang Trek:
After accommodation and food, the next thing you should concern is “Things to pack for Upper Mustang trek” which is a very important topic.
Here are some of the lists of basic things you need to pack for Upper Mustang Trek:
- Waterproof warm jacket, hiking pant and hiking shorts
- Thermal trouser
- Full sleeve shirt (woolen and cotton)
- Cap, hat or headscarf
- Trekking boots
- Socks (woolen and cotton)
- Quick-drying towel
- Sunglasses with UV protection
- Trekking poles
- Sleeping bag
- First Aid box
- Water purifier
- Water bottles
- Sunblock creams
- Hand sanitizer
Thamel area can provide you with all the necessary stuff that you need for any trekking. You can buy all these things in your own home town too.
Note that you shouldn’t pack unnecessary stuff while trekking because if you won’t hire a porter you should carry your all those heavy stuff by yourself. Whereas, porters are allowed to carry 15kg per person.
Permits for Upper Mustang Trek:
Upper Mustang is a restricted area and according to government policy to trek this region, you will need a special permit because Upper Mustang shares the border with Tibet. Not only the Upper Mustang, but any trekking route which has an open border with Tibet also needs a special permit.
Cost for Upper Mustang Permits:
Upper Mustang belongs to one of the most expensive trekking trails in case of a permit for international trekkers. This trekking needs two types of permits. They are:
–The cost of the restricted permit for all the nations is USD500 per person for 10 days and USD50 for each additional day.
–The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) costs USD27 or NPR3000.
Note*= Whereas, for SAARC Nation ACAP permit cost is NPR1000, and the TIMS card is NPR200. And ACAP entry fee for Nepalese is NPR100.
About TIMS card:
Now, if you’re only trekking to Upper Mustang then a TIMS card is not needed. But if you want to trek to Lower Mustang from Upper Mustang, and Annapurna Base Camp then TIMS card is compulsory.
Along with the TIMS card, you don’t have to buy an ACAP permit again. ACAP permit which you bought for Upper Mustang is valid for anywhere around Annapurna as long as you don’t exit.
Where to get a permit for Upper Mustang?
The Nepal Immigration Office in Maitighar, Kathmandu issues all restricted trekking trails permit which includes Upper Mustang too. Another fact is TAAN doesn’t issue the Mustang trekking permits but ACAP, MACAP and Everest Base Camp permits are issued.
Documents for Upper Mustang trekking permit
- Original passport with Nepal entry visa along with arrival stamp
- 3 passport size photos
- Travel insurance
What is Mustang Valley for you?
Mustang is one of the seventy-seven districts of Nepal which lies in the Annapurna Conversation Area.
According to the census 2011, this district had 13,452 population and covers an area of 3,573 km². Mustang is sheltered by the highest mountains in the world i.e. Annapurna and Dhaulagiri.
Similarly, this district is covered by the Tibetan plateau. Likewise, Mustang has strict regulations for tourists which helps to maintain the Tibetan tradition.
Basically, “Mustang” is derived from the Tibetan word which has the meaning of “Plain of Aspiration”. People follow animal husbandry, agriculture, tourism, and trade as their main occupation. Mustang is a comparatively wealthy district with a GDP of per capita income of US $2.466 according to Human Development Index.
Whereas, Mustang is divided into two sections i.e. Upper Mustang and Lower Mustang. These two different sections of Mustang has a vast difference from each other. Upper Mustang gives deserted views and Lower Mustang gives greenery views along with holy places.
In this blog, we are only going to talk about the complete guide to Upper Mustang. You can check our “Complete Guide to Lower Mustang” if interested.
Upper Mustang Location, History, Culture, and more:
Upper Mustang is located in the Northern part of Nepal, 206 km far from Kathmandu whereas road distance is 639.7 km. Its capital is Lo Manthang which lies only 20 kilometers away from the south border of Tibet.
Generally, Upper Mustang is the home to Lobas who are the Tibetan people. It’s political and geographical isolation are the main reason to protect unique and largely unspoiled culture. Upper Mustang offers the longest prayer wall of Nepal. Likewise, sky burial and polyandry is still in practice.
Why is Upper Mustang a restricted area?
Until 1992, Upper Mustang was a restricted demilitarized area, due to it’s oldest cultures & traditions where a great number of people was speaking traditional Tibetian language.
Additionally, taking a drone without permission is also restricted because the China border also lies there.
As a matter of fact, Upper Mustang is now open for trekking among all the national and international trekkers. With it’s rich in Buddhist Culture, trekkers can experience the oldest and unique lifestyle of Tibetan culture.
Trekking to Upper Mustang gives trekkers the privilege of experiencing the way of life of mountain people.
What is Lo Mangthang of Upper Mustang?
Trekkers can find around 275 houses in this Lo Mangthang. The four different castes people lives here i.e. royal caste, the blacksmiths and the butcher and millers.
This village provides the facility with solar electricity so far. Trekkers also can see small decorated herb gardens of different decorations and prayers flag flapping around.
Upper Mustang Cultures and Festivals:
Upper Mustang is famous for its three-day festival named the Tiji festival. It is the festival of chasing demons and celebrated annually in Lo Manthang, the capital of Upper Mustang.
This festival tells the story about a deity named Dorje Jono who fights against his demon father to protect to save the kingdom of Mustang. The demon father created a large amount of damage with widespread destruction by making a water shortage in that land where there was already a rare chance of raining.
Eventually, Dorje Jono wins a victory over the demon and expel him from the land. Thus, the Tiji festival is celebrated by appealing the mighty Dorje Jono to remove any kind of obstacles out of way.
Even must of the international trekkers travel all the way to Nepal just for this Tiji festival. And not only about the Tiji festival, but Upper Mustang is also known for its lots of monasteries, cave, and mind-blowing palaces.
Lo Mangthang has two most famous monasteries of Upper Mustang i.e. Thubchen and Jampa. These two monasteries are believed to be build in the 15th century. The monasteries of Lo Manthang are mysteriously attractive and contain Buddhist religious holy write dictated by King Samdhuwa Palwar which is written with gold-plated letters.
Alike, Luri Gompa is another famous monastery of this region and guessed to be even older than Thubchen and Jampa monasteries. Luri Gompa is a unique attraction because it is a cave monastery. Approximately, over 10,000 caves exist in Upper Mustang and some of them are estimated to be over 2,000 years old.
Lots of the caves are still in use since ancient times as a meditation chamber or small monasteries. Also, many caves have historically served as a shelter during wars, military lookouts, and storage spaces. Still, there are lots of cave which are complete mysteries and somehow dug into the hundreds of feet of the ground.
This mystery keeps bringing the National Geographic Archaeological missions to this region.
Weather in Upper Mustang:
As Upper Mustang lies in the rain shadow area, trekkers shouldn’t worry about rain and slippery trails. Trekkers can trek to Mustang on all seasons and the number of trekkers is somehow the same every season. Similarly, this trek is comfortable and suitable for young to old trekkers.
Whereas, like other parts of Nepal, Upper Mustang experiences four different seasons in a year and has distinct weather and temperature condition throughout the year.
Similarly, the main four seasons for Upper Mustang are described below:
Upper Mustang in Spring season:
Spring season falls from April to May in Nepal and also called peak season. Similarly, this season is the suitable time to trek in Upper Mustang valley.
The average temperature during the spring season in Upper Mustang ranges from 15⁰C to 21⁰C. Whereas, the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold. But at night temperature can drop from -6⁰C TO 2⁰C.
Spring season is known as the season of clean blue sky. This season helps trekker to have a great view of the rich landscapes and mountain peaks. Trekkers also can experience the biggest festival of this place i.e. Tiji festival.
Moreover, trekkers can enjoy a lot of things such as; local picnics, cultural dances, prayers and dramas during the Tij festival. Spring season is perfect to cross the high passes. Likewise, during this season trekkers can get an opportunity to see rare animals such as; snow leopard, wild donkeys, musk deer Albino bears, and wild boar too.
Upper Mustang in Summer season:
The summer season is also known as the monsoon season which starts in June and ends in August. As Upper Mustang lies in the rain-shadow area of Annapurna range which means Upper Mustang faces no rainfall. Trekking to Upper Mustang is the best option during this season unlike other treks of Nepal.
Upper Mustang trek also can be considered as ideal trekking during the summer season. In comparison to another season, this season offers warm day and night during day time the average temperature ranges from 18⁰C to 28⁰C and temperature drops -2⁰C to 0⁰C during the night.
Similarly, the month of August gives a wonderful chance to evaluate the Yarlung Mela i.e. full moon day where mela or day is known as the horse festival. Yarling Mela is also a festival celebrated in Mustang. In this festival, local people show their riding skills along with archery.
Upper Mustang in Autumn season:
The autumn season falls from September to November in Nepal. Throughout, this season large number of trekkers can be seen. Similarly, trekkers can enjoy a great and magnificent view while doing the Upper Mustang trek. During the day the temperature ranges from 12⁰C to 20⁰C. And during the night it becomes quite colder and the temperature drops to -8⁰C to -4⁰C.
Trekkers can enjoy the beauty of this region during these months. In addition, all the trekkers should carry proper windproof gears because the strong winds of the north valley dominate the entire trails. Otherwise, everything is perfect to trek Upper Mustang this season.
Upper Mustang in Winter season:
Winter season falls from December to February in Nepal. All those trekkers who don’t mind cold and snowy weather treks in these months. This winter season offers trekkers the best view of snowy mountains, frozen lakes, and rivers in most of the trekking trails. Also, trekkers who don’t love the crowded place, they can trek this season and feel the peaceful environment.
Similarly, due to a cold climate, most of the locals migrate to city and trekkers can find less local people who are responsible for looking after the houses and villages. The average temperature during the day time in this season is like 0⁰C to 5⁰C and temperature drops to -20⁰C at night.
Moreover, due to heavy snowfall, trekking to Upper Mustang during this season might be challenging for beginners. But if you really want to trek during the winter season then we recommend you trek in early December and late February because during the first week of December, winter won’t set properly and during late February local people starts to return their home.
Upper Mustang trekking gives you a lifetime experience to evaluate Nepalese culture along with Tibetan culture. The most important thing that every trekker should remember is that solo trekkers are not allowed in Upper Mustang.
If you want more information about Upper Mustang trekking you can search for the Nepal Tourism Board site. In addition, if you’re interested in this Upper Mustang trekking than you can check our package details or inbox us.