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TREKKING IN NEPAL : MUSTANG REGION
 

Mustang is the hinterland enriched with mainly barren ridges, deep canyons, eroded cliffs and Moraine valleys. Its landscape is unrivaled for it has a stupendous wilderness, pristine scenery, snow capped peaks, spectacular 16th century monasteries and many other unique attractions. The view of wind swept Kali-Gandaki valley, vast spaces around Kagbeni and vast ridges that straggle high mountains provide a mind-blowing experience.

Mustang is the old kingdom of Lo. Actually the capital of the Mustang district is Jomsom, but the real Tibetan style district lies north of Kagbeni and is usually referred to as Upper Mustang. The real capital, Lo Manthang, where the present king lives, is a fantastic square-walled town sitting on the ‘Plain of Prayers’. The small kingdom of Mustang, closed to westerners until 1992, is an enchanting land of windswept vistas, red walled monasteries, and feudal towns. This tiny kingdom was not only a major corridor of trade from the 1400's to before the Chinese occupation of Tibet, but also figured importantly into early Buddhism in Tibet. Local legend tells the tale of the great founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava, who before building Samye (the oldest monastery in Tibet) came to Mustang to stand guard against and do battle with 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.

 
Mustang Trek : 24 days

Nepal’s Mustang region preserves a life almost unchanged for centuries. It lies hidden behind the Himalayan giants of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna at the very roof of Asia on the arid Tibetan plateau. It has long been isolated from the outside world (and only opened to trekking groups since 1992!). As you make your way through this secluded land, you’ll pass brightly painted chortens (Buddhist shrines) and tiny villages guarded by enormous monasteries. Vistas include unusual and arresting views of the snow-covered Himalaya to the south, and desolate high plateaus, deep canyons, and an ocean of windswept hills the colors of a desert sunset to the north. Once at the walled capital city of Lo Manthang, you’ll absorb a great sense of timelessness and appreciation for an ancient culture as you discover the ruins of old forts, monasteries rich in art and history, and caves replete with magnificent religious statues.

 
Facts of the Trek
Duration: 24 Days
Trek type: Camping
Max Altitude: 5416 m.
Minimum Pax: 1 +
Mode of travel: Land
Grade: Strenuous
 

Day 01: Drive from Kathmandu to Beshishahar (760m.) and it takes about seven hours. You drive along the Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway to Dumre and then follow the narrow and paved road by the Marsyangdi River to Besi Sahar (823m.). It takes almost seven hours. Beshishahar is the district headquarters of Lamjung district. All the local government offices are situated here. From here, you can see some of mountain peak, natural sceneries surrounding the valley and the daily activities of local people. This headquarter is the centre from where the daily usable commodities are supplied to the different villages and numerous towns.

Day 02: Trek from Beshishahar to Bahundanda (1310m.) which takes about six hours. The first part of the trail passes through flat level along the bank of the Marshyangdi River. You can enjoy the sceneries and the local culture of Gurung community. After lunch at Ngadi, the trail goes steeply upwards to Bahundanda which takes about two hours. At this point, you can see the area surrounded by eye-catching scenarios with snow capped mountains.

Day 03: Trek from Bahundanda to Chamje (1430m.) and it takes approximately six hours. A steep trail descends for early half an hour and then follows flat path through rice terraces, before crossing a stream at the bottom of a small waterfall. It then climbs again and traverses the hillside high above the river before reaching the village of Lali Gaon. Ahead, the Marsyangdi valley forms a steep V-shape, and you follow the winding mountain path down through Syange (1100m.) where there is a beautiful waterfall above it and along the river for some distance. The trail then climbs steeply and the path is cut into the sheer cliff-face some 200-300m above the riverbed. Eventually you descend to the stone village of Jagat (1330m.) situated on a shelf which juts into the precipitous Marsyangdi valley. Now the trail begins to observe small ups and down to Chamje through the forests.
 
Day 04: Trek from Chamje (1410m.) to Dharapani (1860m.) and it takes about six hours. The first part of the trail descends to the river and after crossing a suspension bridge, you begin a climb to Sattale (1550m.) on a path so steep that it seems one slip would send you hurtling down into the valley. You continue on an undulating path above the river, and at one point, where a tributary flows in from the opposite bank, the main river becomes covered with huge boulders that hide the water. Climbing the zigzag path to the top of the hill, you see the level, plain of Tal (1700m.) before you. Tal is the border between Manang and Lamjung district. Though it is enclosed by cliffs, the level area looks reassuring after the harrowing mountain paths just traveled on. You descend to a grassy riverbank, which leads to Tal with its hotels and teahouses. Beyond Tal, the valley narrows and the path becomes high and winding, and in several areas hewn from the rock itself. Beyond the small village of Karte (1900m.), there is a bit more cliff-walking before the path drops again to the river. You cross a suspension bridge, and climb the short distance to the stone kani marking the entrance to Dharapani (1960m.), and this is your camp for the night. 

Day 05: Trek from Dharapani to Chame (2670m.) which takes about five hours. As you cut through a narrow field from the village, the Dudh Khola, which originates from the south face of Manaslu, enters on the opposite bank. The Marsyangdi then veers to the left, and as Annapurna II becomes visible ahead, you arrive at Bagarchhap, a Bhote village with prayer flags fluttering in the breeze around Buddhist monastery. Continuing to climb through forests of pine and oak, you pass through Danaque (2210m.). There comes a small wooden bridge which takes you to follow steep ascent path upto Timang. It lies at the bottom of Lamajung Himal. The trail goes through flat level until you reach Chame where there are government offices, shops, and hotels. Chame is the administrative headquarters for the Manang district. 
.
Days 06: Trek from Chame to Pisang (3100m.) which takes about five hours.  With Lamjung Himal (6893m) sparkling in the morning sun, you set off for Pisang. The mountain disappears as you climb the path up the valley, passing a huge apple orchard. You continue through a fir and pine forest, climbing to a high, rocky area as the opposite bank becomes an impassable cliff. From this point the valley becomes extremely steep-sided as you follow the path to Bhratang (2950m.).In the past this was the military station for troops who fought against the Khampa tribal revolution, but the dilapidated buildings are all that remain of that era. A short climb from the village brings you to a rock-strewn area where you cross a suspension bridge and follow a high, winding path, before crossing back to the right bank again. You now walk through a pine forest and as the forest ends, the valley changes from a V-shape to a gentle U-shape, opening up a wonderful vista before you. You can see the east peak of Annapurna II as well as Pisang Peak (6091m.) to the north-east. Continuing on, you come to a long mani wall by a bridge and the lower village of Pisang.

Days 07: Trek from Pisang to Manang (3540m.) and it takes about five hours. Beyond Pisang, the trail climbs a steep ridge which affords good views of the Manang valley and Tilicho peak (7145m.). Descending past Manang's airstrip at Hongde (3320m.), you come to a level area from where the north-east face of Annapurna III rises majestically above you. From the wide plains of the Sabje Khola Valley, Annapurna IV (7525m) also becomes visible. Just beyond this point you cross the considerably reduced flow of the Marsyangdi Khola via a wooden bridge to the tiny village of Mungji. Cultivated fields appear on both sides of the path and off to the right, below a craggy mountain, you can see the village of Bryaga with its splendid monastery. Large chortens and mani walls abound and the tall peaks of the Himalaya spread out before you - Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Annapurna IV, Gangapurna (7455m) and, to the rear, Tilicho Peak (7145m).

After a short steep climb you reach Manang which is a surprisingly large village for this remote mountain region. You camp here for the night, amidst the fluttering prayer flags which adorn the houses.
 
Days 08: Rest day at Manang and hang in and around town. This is an important rest and acclimatization day before crossing the Thorung La. There are optional day walks such as crossing the river to see the tremendous ice-fall coming down from the Annapurnas, or climbing high above the village for a full panorama of the Annapurna range and the Manang Valley. There is also a Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) aid post in the village which makes an interesting and educational visit. Moreover you can visit Ganagapurna Glacier Lake to make your rest day a memorable one.

Days 09: Trek from Manang to Yak Kharka (4018m.) and it takes about three and half hours. Now the trail ascends gently all the way to Yak Kharka passing through the Gunsang (3960m.) village. En route, you can see panoramic views all the day.
 
Days 10: Trek from Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi (4450m.) which takes about 3 and half hours. Leaving Yak Kharka, you climb gradually to a ridge before descending to the headwaters of the Marsyangdi and crossing via a covered wooden bridge. After a short ascent up the mountain path on the right bank, you follow a narrow trail across an unstable spree slope and then descend to Thorung Phedi. 

Days 11: Trek from Thorong Phedi to Muktinath (3800m.) via Thorong La (5416m.) Pass and it takes about seven hours. It demands an early start today for your crossing of Thorung La [5416m]. The trail becomes steep immediately on leaving camp but as this trail has been used by local people for hundreds of years, the path is well defined. The gradient then eases and after around 4 hours of steady climbing, you reach the chorten and prayer flags of the pass. The views are dramatic to say the least, from the snow-covered mountains above, to the head of the Kali Gandaki valley below and the brown and purple hills of Mustang which are spread out before you. The descent to Muktinath is a knee pounding 1600m but it is compensated for with excellent views of Dhaulagiri. Eventually the moraines give way to grassy slopes before a pleasant walk along the Jhong Khola Valley to Muktinath and its shrines and temple. 

Day 12: Trek from Muktinath to Kagbeni (2800 m.) and it takes about three and half hours. You now begin the trek descent down the dramatic Kali Gandaki Gorge, initially through arid country in the same geographical and climatic zone as Tibet. After passing through Jharkot and Khingar villages with typical Tibetan architecture, you follow path steeply down to Kagbeni, a primitive village famous for Tibetan architectures. People living there follow the Tibetan life style and culture. There is situated a monastery said to belong to 15th Century. Kagbeni is the border for Upper Mustang.

Day 13:  Trek from Kagbeni to Chuksang (2900 m.) which takes about five hours. You trek right up the river valley, but you use a combination of the high trail and the riverbank pathways. The trail then widens significantly revealing an endless stretch of sand but the path is kept interesting by the passing of mule trains bearing goods from Mustang and Tibet. On the west bank of the river are some caves and Gompa Kang. Unlike most monasteries in Upper Mustang which are of the Sakyapa sect, Gompa Kang is of the Nyingmapa sect. You stop for lunch at the village of Tangbe, where you come across the first black, white and red chortens that typify Upper Mustang. The little town is a labyrinth of narrow alleys among white washed houses, fields of buck wheat and barley and apple orchards. Nilgiri Peak continues to dominate the southern skyline. Chusang village is only about 2hrs walk beyond Tangbe at the confluence of the Narshing Khola and the Kali Gandaki. There are three separate parts to this village and some ruined castle walls on the surrounding cliffs. Across the river from Chusang are some spectacular red organe pipe eroded cliffs above the mouths of some inaccessible caves.

Day 14: Trek from Chuksang to Samar (3150 m.) and it takes about three and half hours. There is a distinct change here, not only in the topography, but also in the culture, lifestyle and people, and the settlements become more scattered, smaller and more basic. The people of Lo or Mustang do practice agriculture, but because of the lack of rain and fertile soil, cultivation is in sheltered plots of land, scattering the brown landscape with patches of green. Continuing north, you reach a huge red chunk of conglomerate that has fallen from the cliffs above, forming a tunnel through which the river flows. A steel bridge spans the river just in front of the tunnel and north of here the Kali Gandaki becomes impassable on foot. The trek now leaves the valley and climbs steeply up a rocky alley to the village of Chele. Watch out here for the ferocious Tibetan mastiffs which are chained to many of the houses. From Chele you climb a steep spur and then continue ascending along the side of a spectacular steep canyon to a pass. Beyond the pass you descend on a pleasant trail to Samar, situated in a grove of poplar trees. This is a major stopping place for horse and mule caravans.

Day 15: Trek from Samar to Geling (3510 m.) which takes about five hours. You climb above Samar to a ridge and then descend into a large gorge past a chorten before entering another valley filled with juniper trees. You then cross a stream and after climbing to a pass, you descend along a ridge to Shyangmochen a tiny settlement with a few tea shops. Nearby is Rangbyung, a cave containing stalagmites which have formed in the shape of chortens and one of the holiest places in Mustang. The trail climbs gently from Shyangmochen and you enter another huge valley before descending to Geling with its extensive fields of barley. As in all the settlements of Mustang, the white and ochre-painted houses are constructed using mud and stones, with roofs made of twigs, straw and a mixture of mud and pebbles.

Day 16: Trek from Geling to Ghami (3490 m.) via Ghami La (3520m.) and it takes about five hours. From Geling the trail climbs gently through fields, up the center of the valley, passing above the settlement of Tama Gun and an imposing chorten. You then begin a taxing climb across the head of the valley to the Nyi La [3840m]. The descent from the pass is quite gentle and about half an hour further on we come to a trail junction; the right trail is the direct route to Charang, the left trail leads to Ghami. Ghami is a large white-washed village sheltered by overhanging cliffs.

Day 17:  Trek fram Ghami to Tsarang (36200 m.) which takes about five hours. Today's walk is through perhaps the driest part of Mustang, and much of your energy will be spent negotiating loose, dry soil. However, the magnificent views of the countryside, from the gentle contours of the north to the rugged mountains in the east and west, are a source of inspiration. Finally, you come to Charang, a large spread-out village at the top of the Charang Chu canyon. At the eastern end of the village are a huge dzong [fortress] and a red gompa which houses an excellent collection of statues and thangkas.

Day 18: Trek from Tsarang to Lo-Manthang [Mustang](3730 m.) and it takes about three hours. You will spend part of the morning exploring the interesting village of Charang and its large monastery, before setting out for Lo Manthang. You climb gently above the valley to a large isolated chorten that marks the boundary between Charang and Lo. The trail then broadens and eventually you get our first view of the walled city of Lo Manthang. The city has only one entrance so you circumambulate the wall to the gate on the north east corner.

Day 19: Rest day at Mustang. Today is free to explore the fascinating city of Lo Manthang, untouched since the 14th century. The city contains about 150 houses, as well as residences for its many lamas. There are four major temples within the city and one of these, Champa Lhakang, contains a huge clay statue of Buddha as well as elaborates mandalas painted on the walls. The king's palace is an imposing building in the center of the city and is occupied by the current King and Queen. Although his duties are largely ceremonial, the King is respected by the people and consulted about many issues by villagers throughout the kingdom.

Day 20:  Trek from Lo-Manthang to Ghami (3490 m.) which takes about six hours. You continue your journey on the highland route, crossing alpine meadows before dropping down a steep eroded alley to Dhakmar for lunch. After lunch, you walk through the pretty valley, climb to a ridge and descend from there back to Ghami.

Day 21:  Trek from Ghami to Chuksang (2900 m.) and it takes about six hours. You trek through wide and gentle path with some ascends and descends. The trail passes through desert like places though you can see some small thorny bushes. On the way, your trail goes along the river. You come across with some small streams. To reach from Ghami to Chuksang, you cross Kali Gandaki river. .

Day 22: Trek from Chuksang to Kagbeni which takes about five hours.
After descending for nearly about half an hour, you begin to walk on flat leveled sandy trail

Day 23: Trek from Kagbeni to Jomsom and it takes about three hours. On the same day, fly from Jomsom to Pokhara which takes about 25 minutes and stay overnight at hotel in Pokhara. The flights are available during the morning time. The strong breeze blows during the after and frequent change of the weather prevent the flight being landed and taken off in the afternoon. During the flights in morning, the sky looks very clear which makes you able to enjoy the splendid views of different mountain peaks.

Day 24: Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu by tourist mini bus and stay overnight at hotel in Kathmandu. While driving from Pokhara to Kathmandu, you head up to Damauli,, Dumre, Muglin and  Kurintar where the Nepal's first Cable car is operated to reach to Manakamana Temple. En route, you could enjoy the mountain views, green sceneries, rice terrace fields, vegetable fields and people being engaged in their daily life activities. From Naubishe you climb up to Thankot, the gateway to capital city. You can also fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu which takes about 25 minutes.
 
Services Included
National Park entry permit, Trekking permit, all surface transportation to and fro, a guide and required number of porter(s), cook, kitchen helper, sherpas, all meals three times a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, coffee, fruit, juice, etc.), necessary camping equipments such as tents, kitchen tent, dining tent,  toilet tent, mattresses, down   sleeping bags, down jackets, cooking utensils, fuel etc. camping charges, rescue help, insurance and equipment for the Nepali staffs.
 
Services Excluded
Personal expenses, Insurance, Tips, Emergency evacuation by Helicopter, Alternative transportation in case of heavy rain, landslide, strike, road blockade etc.
 
Upper Mustang Annapurna Trek   Mustang Trek
Duration : 21 Days   Duration : 24 Days
     
Upper Mustang Trek   Upper Musatang Cultural Trek
Duration :15 Days   Duration : 15 Days
     
    More treks in Mustang
 
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