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Upper Mustang Trekking Guide

Upper Mustang Blog
04/Apr/2022

Upper Mustang is an extension of the vast and high Tibetan plateau extending from the southwest of the Tibet border. Here you can witness its unique culture of ancient Bon and Tibetan Buddhism religions; You will encounter several traditional Thakali and Mustang people villages. The adventure leads you into scenic and dramatic landscapes and high hills with snow-capped peaks. It is in the former forbidden and ancient kingdom ‘The Walled City Lo-Manthang.’

Upper Mustang Trekking is truly a country for photographers to immerse themselves in. Its picturesque moon-like landscapes delight as the sunlight changes the country’s color. This is an exceptional adventure for Upper Mustang, which opened for visitors in the early 1990s. Its unique dramatic landscapes have opened up the doors for you to explore and witness its rich cultural heritage.

Nepal Base Camp Trek presents Upper Mustang. It is an awesome, mystical, and scenic journey. You can enjoy and immerse in the rich traditions and ancient heritage of Tibetan Buddhist people.

Geography and Climate

Upper Mustang is situated in the rain shadow of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges, resulting in a unique high-altitude desert landscape. The region’s geography is characterized by deep gorges, rugged cliffs, and vast plateaus, with the majestic peaks of Nilgiri, Annapurna, and Dhaulagiri towering in the distance. Despite its barren appearance, the Kali Gandaki River cuts through the heart of Upper Mustang, sustaining life in an otherwise harsh environment.

The climate of Upper Mustang is arid and semi-arid, with cold winters and mild summers. The region experiences little rainfall throughout the year, making it an ideal destination for trekking even during the monsoon season. However, the high altitude can present challenges, with temperatures dropping below freezing at night, especially during the winter months. Trekkers must be prepared for sudden weather changes and altitude-related issues.

Cultural Heritage

The cultural heritage of Upper Mustang is deeply rooted in Tibetan Buddhism, dating back centuries. The region was once part of the Tibetan Empire and served as an important trade route between Tibet and Nepal. As a result, Upper Mustang is dotted with ancient monasteries, chortens (stupas), and mani walls, each bearing testament to its rich religious history.

One of the most iconic landmarks of Upper Mustang is the walled city of Lo Manthang, the former capital of the kingdom. Enclosed by towering mud-brick walls, Lo Manthang is home to ancient palaces, monasteries, and traditional mud houses. The Tiji Festival, held annually in Lo Manthang, is a vibrant celebration of Tibetan Buddhist culture featuring colorful masked dances and rituals.

Trekking Routes and Adventure

Trekking in Upper Mustang offers an unparalleled adventure through some of the most remote and pristine landscapes on Earth. The region is accessible only by foot or by a limited number of flights to Jomsom, the gateway to Upper Mustang. Popular trekking routes include the Upper Mustang Trek, the Damodar Kunda Trek, and the Tiji Festival Trek, each offering a unique perspective on the region’s beauty and culture.

The Upper Mustang Trek typically takes around 10-14 days to complete, starting from Jomsom and traversing through picturesque villages, ancient monasteries, and barren desert landscapes. Highlights of the trek include crossing high mountain passes, such as the Nyi La and Lo La, and exploring hidden valleys like the Luri Gompa Valley.

Unique Attractions

Upper Mustang is home to several unique attractions that draw travelers from around the world. The mysterious caves of Chhoser, carved into the cliffsides by ancient inhabitants, are adorned with intricate Buddhist paintings and sculptures. These cave complexes offer a fascinating glimpse into the region’s past and are a testament to the ingenuity of its people.

Another must-visit destination in Upper Mustang is the Kali Gandaki Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world. Carved by the powerful Kali Gandaki River, this geological wonder is surrounded by towering cliffs and snow-capped peaks, providing a dramatic backdrop for trekking and exploration.

Practical Tips and Travel Advice

Before embarking on a journey to Upper Mustang, there are several practical considerations to keep in mind. First and foremost, travelers must obtain a special trekking permit from the Nepalese government, as Upper Mustang is a restricted area. Additionally, it’s essential to be properly equipped for high-altitude trekking, including warm clothing, sturdy footwear, and a reliable trekking guide.

In terms of accommodation, teahouses and guesthouses are available along the trekking routes, providing basic amenities and hearty meals for weary travelers. However, it’s advisable to carry some cash, as ATM facilities are limited in the region. Finally, travelers should acclimatize properly to the altitude and be mindful of their physical health throughout the trek.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Upper Mustang is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by adventurous travelers seeking an authentic Himalayan experience. From its stunning landscapes to its rich cultural heritage, this remote kingdom offers a glimpse into a world untouched by time. Whether trekking through ancient villages or exploring hidden cave complexes, the beauty of Upper Mustang is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit. So pack your bags, lace up your boots, and embark on the journey of a lifetime to Upper Mustang, Nepal’s hidden kingdom in the sky.

FAQ

What is the best time to visit Upper Mustang?

The best time to visit Upper Mustang is from late March to early November. This period avoids the harsh winter and takes advantage of the region’s dry climate, making it ideal for trekking.

Do I need a special permit to trek in the Upper Mustang?

Yes, trekkers need a special permit to enter the Upper Mustang, as it is a restricted area. The permit can be obtained through registered trekking agencies in Nepal.

How difficult is the trekking in the Upper Mustang?

Trekking in Upper Mustang is considered moderate to challenging due to high altitudes and rugged terrain. Proper acclimatization and physical fitness are essential for a safe and enjoyable trek.

What kind of accommodation is available in Upper Mustang?

Accommodation in Upper Mustang primarily consists of teahouses and guesthouses offering basic amenities. These provide essential services like meals, lodging, and sometimes hot showers.

Is it possible to visit Upper Mustang during the monsoon season?

Yes, Upper Mustang is in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, making it accessible even during the monsoon season. The region receives very little rainfall, ensuring good trekking conditions throughout the summer months.

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