Discovering the Hidden Treasures of Upper Mustang: A Trek Through the Enchanting Kingdom
Trekking is an adventure that has always been popular among adventure seekers from all over the world. Nepal is famous as the ultimate destination for trekkers due to its diverse range of landscapes and cultures. Among the many popular trekking destinations in Nepal, the Upper Mustang Trek stands out as one of the most unique and fascinating journeys one can undertake.
Located in the north-central part of Nepal, Upper Mustang is a hidden kingdom that remained off-limits to foreigners until 1992. It has rugged and remote landscapes, ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture, and fascinating history. This region offers a unique trekking experience that is unlike any other.
In this blog, we will take a deep dive into the world of Upper Mustang Trek and explore everything you need to know about this fascinating journey.
Table of Contents
- Upper Mustang Trekking
- Upper Mustang Trek Cost
- Mustang Valley Trek
- Tiji Festival Jeep Tour
- Upper Mustang Package
- Upper Mustang Trek Price
- Upper Mustang Trek Difficulty
- Upper Mustang Crowds
- What will you encounter while hiking the Upper Mustang?
- Is the Upper Mustang trek difficult?
- What is the significance of the red cliffs in the Upper Mustang region?
- What is the history behind the Tiji Festival, and when does it take place?
- What are the restrictions for traveling to the Upper Mustang region, and how can I obtain a permit?
- What is the best time of year to trek in the Upper Mustang region, and what is the weather like?
- What health risks are associated with trekking in the Upper Mustang region, and how can I prepare for them?
Upper Mustang Trekking
Upper Mustang Trekking is a journey through the mystical kingdom of Lo, also known as Mustang Valley. The trek is a relatively new addition to the list of popular treks in Nepal. It only opened up to foreigners in 1992. The trek starts from the city of Pokhara and involves a flight to the town of Jomsom.
It is the gateway to the Upper Mustang region. From Jomsom, the trek follows the Kali Gandaki River upstream to the town of Kagbeni. It is the official entry point to the Upper Mustang region.
The trek takes you through a series of small villages, each with its unique culture and way of life. The landscapes are arid and barren, with towering cliffs, deep gorges, and rugged terrain. The highlight of the trek is the ancient walled city of Lo Manthang, the capital of Mustang Valley.
Lo Manthang is a fascinating place, with its unique architecture, ancient monasteries, and colorful prayer flags. The trek also takes you to the ancient cave dwellings of Mustang. People used to live before the construction of the current settlements.
Upper Mustang Trek Cost
The cost of the Upper Mustang Trek varies depending on several factors, such as the duration of the trek, the mode of transportation, the type of accommodation, and the level of service you require. On average, the cost of the trek can range from $1,500 to $2,500 per person for a 12 to 15 days trek. This cost includes your permits, accommodation, meals, transportation, and guide and porter fees.
The permit fees for Upper Mustang are significantly higher than other trekking regions in Nepal due to their restricted nature. The cost of a 10-day permit is $500 per person, and for every additional day, you need to pay $50. Besides the permit fees, the cost of transportation and accommodation in the Upper Mustang region is also relatively higher due to the remote location and limited resources.
Mustang Valley Trek
The Mustang Valley Trek is another popular trek in the Upper Mustang region that takes you through some of the most remote and fascinating parts of the area.
The trek follows a route similar to the Upper Mustang Trek, but with a more extended duration and focus on exploring the hidden gems of Mustang Valley. The Mustang Valley Trek can take anywhere from 18 to 21 days, depending on your itinerary.
The trek starts from Jomsom and follows the Kali Gandaki River upstream to the town of Kagbeni. From Kagbeni, the trek takes a detour to the east towards the ancient city of Lo Manthang. The trek then circles back towards the west, exploring the ancient cave dwellings of Mustang and the charming villages of Tangbe, Chhusang, and Samar.
The Mustang Valley Trek offers a more immersive experience of the region, with more time to explore the unique culture and history of the region.
Tiji Festival Jeep Tour
If you’re looking for a unique and immersive cultural experience, then the Tiji Festival Jeep Tour is a must-do when trekking in the Upper Mustang region. The Tiji Festival is a three-day annual event held in Lo Manthang, the capital of Mustang Valley, during the month of May.
The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil and is an opportunity for the local people to showcase their rich cultural heritage.
The Tiji Festival Jeep Tour takes you on a journey through the rugged and remote landscapes of Mustang Valley to witness the festival in all its glory. The tour involves traveling by jeep through the challenging terrain, which is not accessible by foot.
Along the way, you will be able to witness the unique culture and way of life of the people living in this isolated region.
Upper Mustang Package
When planning your Upper Mustang Trek, it’s essential to choose the right trekking package that suits your preferences and budget. There are several tour operators and trekking agencies that offer customized trekking packages for the Upper Mustang region.
A typical Upper Mustang Trek package includes the following:
- Airport pick-up and drop-off
- Accommodation in Kathmandu and Pokhara
- Domestic flights and transportation
- Permit fees and other necessary documents
- Trekking guide and porter fees
- All meals during the trek
- First aid kit and emergency rescue arrangements
- The cost of the package can vary depending on the duration of the trek and the level of service you require.
Upper Mustang Trek Price
The cost of the Upper Mustang Trek can change based on a number of variables. This includes how long the trip lasts, how you get there, what kind of accommodations you stay in, and how much assistance you need.
On average, the cost of the trek can range from $1,500 to $2,500 per person for a 12 to 15 days trek. This cost includes your permits, accommodation, meals, transportation, and guide and porter fees.
It’s essential to choose a reputable tour operator or trekking agency that offers a transparent and competitive price for the trek.
It’s also advisable to compare prices and services offered by different agencies to get the best value for your money.
Upper Mustang Trek Difficulty
The Upper Mustang Trek is considered a moderate trek. It is suitable for trekkers with an average level of fitness and trekking experience. The trek involves several steep ascents and descents, but there are no technical climbing sections. The highest point of the trek is the Lo La Pass, which is at an elevation of 4,170 meters.
The biggest challenge of the Upper Mustang Trek is the high altitude. It can cause altitude sickness if proper acclimatization is not followed. It’s essential to follow a slow and steady pace and take sufficient rest and hydration breaks to avoid altitude sickness.
Before starting the walk, it’s also a good idea to speak with a doctor, especially if you have any current medical issues.
Upper Mustang Crowds
The Upper Mustang region is a restricted area. The number of trekkers allowed per year is limited to preserve the unique culture and environment of the region. As a result, the trek is less crowded than other popular trekking destinations in Nepal, such as the Everest Base Camp or the Annapurna Circuit.
The best time to trek in Upper Mustang is during the shoulder seasons of spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). The weather is stable, and the skies are clear.
During these seasons, the trek is less crowded. You can enjoy the natural beauty and cultural experiences of the region without the crowds.
What will you encounter while hiking the Upper Mustang?
Here are some of the things you can expect to come across during the Upper Mustang Trek:
- Unique landscapes feature arid deserts, red cliffs, deep canyons, and snow-capped peaks.
- Traditional Tibetan-style architecture and culture, including whitewashed mud-brick houses, Chortens, and prayer flags.
- Ancient Buddhist monasteries, such as the Lo Gekar Monastery, which is one of the oldest in Nepal.
- The walled city of Lo Manthang is the cultural and political center of the Upper Mustang region and home to the former Mustang royal family.
- The Kali Gandaki River is one of the world’s deepest gorges and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
- The Tiji Festival is a vibrant annual event held in Lo Manthang that celebrates the victory of good over evil and includes colorful costumes, dances, and rituals.
- The Lo La Pass is the trek’s highest point and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Himalayas.
- Rare wildlife, such as the snow leopard, Tibetan wolf, Himalayan black bear, and various species of birds.
- The chance to interact with the local people, who are predominantly of Tibetan descent. They have preserved their unique culture and traditions for centuries.
Sure, here are five FAQs for the Upper Mustang Trek:
Is the Upper Mustang trek difficult?
The Upper Mustang Trek is a moderate to difficult trek. This is due to the high altitude, challenging terrain, and long trekking days. However, the difficulty level can vary depending on the trekker’s fitness level and experience.
The trek involves several steep ascents and descents. Trekkers need to be ready for long days of walking on rocky and dusty terrain. Proper acclimatization and physical fitness are crucial for a successful trek.
What is the significance of the red cliffs in the Upper Mustang region?
The red cliffs in the Upper Mustang region are a unique geological feature. It has been formed by centuries of wind and water erosion. The red color comes from the iron content in the soil.
The cliffs have also been used as a natural fortress by the local people. They had built their settlements on top of the cliffs to protect themselves from invaders.
What is the history behind the Tiji Festival, and when does it take place?
The Tiji Festival is a three-day annual event held in Lo Manthang that celebrates the victory of good over evil. Based on a Tibetan Buddhist myth, the festival is held during the fifth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, which usually falls in May or June.
Additionally, the festival includes colorful dances and rituals performed by the monks, making it a unique opportunity to experience the local culture.
What are the restrictions for traveling to the Upper Mustang region, and how can I obtain a permit?
The Upper Mustang region is a restricted area, and travelers need to obtain a special permit to enter the region. The permit can only be obtained through a registered trekking agency and costs USD 500 per person for a 10-day trek.
Additionally, the region can only be accessed by foot or by jeep, and tourists are not allowed to travel independently.
What is the best time of year to trek in the Upper Mustang region, and what is the weather like?
The best time to trek in the Upper Mustang region is during the spring and autumn seasons. It is from March to May and September to November, respectively. During these seasons, the weather is stable and dry.
The skies are clear, making it easier to enjoy the natural beauty of the region. The temperature during the day can range from 15-25°C, while at night, it can drop to below freezing.
What health risks are associated with trekking in the Upper Mustang region, and how can I prepare for them?
Trekking in the Upper Mustang region involves exposure to high altitudes and extreme weather conditions. It can cause altitude sickness, dehydration, and other health risks. To prepare for these risks, it is advisable to consult with a doctor before the trek and to take sufficient rest and hydration breaks during the trek.
Additionally, it is essential to carry adequate clothing, gear, and medication to stay safe and comfortable during the trek.
The Upper Mustang Trek is a unique and rewarding trekking experience. It takes you to the remote and isolated region of Mustang Valley. The trek offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage and unique landscapes of the region. It is an opportunity to disconnect from the modern world and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Himalayas.
When planning your Upper Mustang Trek, it’s essential to choose the right trekking package, itinerary, and season that suits your preferences and budget. It’s also essential to prepare yourself physically and mentally for the trek and take sufficient rest and hydration breaks to avoid altitude sickness.
Overall, the Upper Mustang Trek is a must-do for adventure seekers and cultural enthusiasts looking for an off-the-beaten-path trekking experience in Nepal.
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