A great option if you're short on time but still wish to experience the stark beauty of Mustang. You'll take a moderate trek through the region bordering Annapurna and Mustang with great views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. Mustang is part of an ancient trade route to Tibet, up the Kali Gandaki river, and offers one of the most developed trails with comfortable teahouses run by Gurung and Thakali families.

Overview

The deep valleys and steep mountains surrounding the giant Annapurna Himal embrace a wide range of landscapes, from subtropical jungle to the high-altitude desert of the Tibetan Plateau. Apart from the scenery, this is a pilgrimage route for Hindus and Buddhists with stops in villages like Jomsom (a trading center in lower Mustang), Muktinath, and Kagbeni where you can meet various ethnic groups along the way.

Highlights

  • Follow the ancient trade route to Tibet along the Kali Gandaki river
  • Experience the stark desert landscape of Mustang in a short amount of time
  • Pass through Gurung and Tibetan Buddhist villagers and learn about their culture
  • Enjoy great views of the the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Himal

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara Pokhara
Day 3 Fly from Pokhara to Jomsom, Trek to Kagbeni (9,377 feet / 2,858 m) Kagbeni
Day 4 Trek from Kagbeni to Muktinath (12,522 feet / 3,817 meters) Muktinath
Day 5 Trek from Muktinath to Jomsom (8,910 feet / 2,715 m) Jomsom
Day 6 Fly from Jomsom to Kathmandu via Pokhara Kathmandu
Day 7 Depart Kathmandu  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu!

The cityscape of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa
The cityscape of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa

As you fly into Kathmandu, you'll have beautiful views over the city, the Himalaya, and of the terraced fields below. After going through customs, a representative will be waiting to greet you and guide you through the initial culture shock of Kathmandu’s narrow, winding streets to get you settled into your hotel.

Once you've settled in, head out and explore the city. Durbar Square is a great place to start your exploration, where you'll walk through narrow alleyways teeming with small shops, ancient temples, and local restaurants. If you want to stretch your legs, Swayambhunath, the white stupa rising above the valley, is the perfect spot to catch the sunset over the valley.

In the evening, the tourist hub of Thamel is a good place to grab your first meal, with a variety of restaurants to chose from offering both Western and local Nepali dishes.

Day 2: Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara

View of Machapuchare from Pokhara
View of Machapuchare from Pokhara

After breakfast, you'll be picked up and driven by private transfer to the domestic airport for your flight (30 minutes) to Pokhara, Nepal's second largest city.

This is a stunning half-hour flight along the Himalayan range, where four of the world’s fourteen giant mountains over 8000m can be seen; Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I, Manaslu, and Shishapangma. Your specialist can help you get a seat on the right-hand side of the plane for views of the Himalayas en-route.

Upon landing, you'll be picked up and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to explore, select from one of the tours below, or just relax by the lake. Pokhara has plenty of great cafés, restaurants, funky shops, and yoga studios that cater to expats and adventure travelers.

Day 3: Fly from Pokhara to Jomsom, Trek to Kagbeni (9,377 feet / 2,858 m)

The medieval village of Kagbeni.
The medieval village of Kagbeni.

After an early breakfast, you'll be driven to the airport for a spectacular mountain flight to Jomsom, the district headquarters of Mustang. The flight takes you over the Kali Gandaki, the deepest gorge in the world. From the plane, you'll have great views of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna; minutes later, you'll touch down in a totally different environment, the arid valleys of the Himalayan rain shadow.

Start your walk along the Kaligandaki river and prepare for a strong wind in this section of the trek. After a few hours, you will get to a small but beautiful village called Ekle Bhatti, situated along the bank of the river, where you can have an enormous view of Nilgiri Himal—a range of three peaks in the Annapurna massif. This is also an ideal place to stop for tea or lunch.

Continue walking for about an hour to get to Kagbeni. This beautiful medieval village has a lively main square with prayer flags and herds of goats. Wander around the narrow alleyways and explore the village's ancient mud-pack houses.

Flight time: 20 minutes
Trekking time: 3 hours (7.1 miles / 11.4 km)

Day 4: Trek from Kagbeni to Muktinath (12,522 feet / 3,817 meters)

The Shakyamuni Buddha stone statue in Muktinath.
The Shakyamuni Buddha stone statue in Muktinath.

After breakfast in Kagbeni, start your second day of the trek. You'll first reach a village called Khingar and then Jharkot, which are both good places to stop for tea or lunch. Continue trekking until you get to another village called Ranipauwa and then continue to a small village surrounded by green hills called Muktinath.

Muktinath is known for its cold springs, ancient fossils, and holy shrine—a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists. In a temple called Jwala Mai nearby, you can view two tiny blue flames that burn incessantly from a hole that also emits water, believed to be burned by God.

Trekking time: 5 hours (7.7 miles / 12.4 km)

Day 5: Trek from Muktinath to Jomsom (8,910 feet / 2,715 m)

Jarkot village in Mustang
Jarkot village in Mustang

After breakfast at your teahouse, pay a visit to Muktinath Temple, an important place of worship for Nepalese Buddhists and Hindus. You will have the opportunity to visit the main temple and its surrounding area before you hit the trail.

From here, begin your trek back to Jomsom along an easy route that heads straight downhill. While you retrace your steps, you'll be able to enjoy good views of Mt. Dhaulagiri. Pass through Jarkot where you can visit one more monastery, and take in the views of snow-capped mountains and ancient caves. Admire the signs of rich Tibetan culture and keep an eye out for Mustang people who will come out and sell handicrafts to pilgrims. 

Trekking time: 5-6 hours (9.3 miles / 15 km)

Day 6: Fly from Jomsom to Kathmandu via Pokhara

Walk the colorful streets of Nepal's capital.
Walk the colorful streets of Nepal's capital.

After an early breakfast in Jomsom, you'll be transferred to the local airstrip to catch your return flight to Pokhara. From here, you'll catch a connecting flight to Kathmandu. 

Once you arrive, you'll be transferred to your hotel in the capital city. Spend the rest of the day on your own, perhaps exploring the streets on foot, bicycle, or rickshaw, and seeing anything you may have missed at the beginning of your trip.

Day 7: Depart Kathmandu

The all-seeing eyes of Buddha at Swayambhunath
The all-seeing eyes of Buddha at Swayambhunath

It's time to say farewell to Nepal. Enjoy your last moments in Kathmandu with breakfast in a café, a city stroll, and/or souvenir shopping. A representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your return flight home. It's good to be at the airport at least 2 hours prior to departure.