The exciting journey between Pokhara and Jomsom, the headquarters of Lower Mustang, involves crossing to the 'other' side of the Himalaya, to the rainshadow on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Flying is by far the best way to get from Pokhara to Jomsom, but there are other ways. Read on to find out more.
Duration: 30 minutes
Flying between Pokhara and Jomsom is by far the easiest way: the journey is less than 30 minutes. The small airplanes fly through the Kali Gandaki Gorge (the deepest gorge in the world, by some measurements), before landing in the open at Jomsom. The airport has was must be some of the best airport views in the whole world, with enormous mountains to either side.
Flights leave from Pokhara airport early in the morning, before the daily winds whip up through Mustang in the late morning and make flying hazardous. Even so, flights are still often canceled or delayed if the winds or other weather conditions make it unsafe to fly.
For more information on flying in Nepal, check out the following article: Domestic Flights in Nepal.
Duration: 8+ hours
Going overland in a vehicle between Pokhara and Jomsom comes in as a very distant second, as the 96-mile (155 km) journey is long, uncomfortable, and hazardous in places, especially if there has been any rain. However, in the busy season flights between Pokhara and Jomsom sell out quickly, and at other times they're canceled, so sometimes this is the only way to get to Jomsom. The overland journey is scenic, following the Kali Gandaki River most of the way, but should only be taken as a last resort.
If you have to make the overland journey and your budget allows, opt for a private transfer. Tour companies can arrange these, and the quality of the vehicle can make a huge difference to the experience. If you're on a tight budget, buses and shared microbuses/Jeeps also ply the route, but these are usually slow, hot, crowded, and generally less safe than taking a private transfer.
Be aware that landslides can block the road at any time of year, but particularly during the monsoon. And, accidents can back up the traffic for hours.
It's technically possible to walk between Pokhara and Jomsom, although doing so would be going somewhat against the grain. The classic Annapurna Circuit Trek used to include walking from Jomsom almost all the way back to Pokhara, but since the construction of the Pokhara-Jomsom road several years ago, few trekkers make this journey these days. There are alternative routes, however, that avoid most of the road, called the New Annapurna Trekking Trails (NATT).
Walking this way covers part of the Annapurna Circuit route, but in the opposite direction—the Annapurna Circuit typically makes a counter-clockwise loop for acclimatization reasons. If you'd like to make this journey on foot, we recommend doing it from Jomsom to Pokhara.