The Upper Mustang trek is the ultimate gateway to the mysterious world of the old Buddhist kingdom of Mustang, also called Lo. Once forbidden and isolated from the rest of the world for decades, the area was able to evolve within its own distinctive culture and rich traditions closely tied to Tibet. This moderate, lesser-known trek passes through one of the driest regions of Nepal and provides spectacular mountain scenery.

Highlights

  • Visit the ancient Kingdom of Lo Manthang
  • Trek through a stark desert landscape with spires and cliffs
  • Lying in the rain shadow, a great trek to escape the summer monsoon

Planning Your Trek

Fast facts
Min. duration 15 days
Max. elevation 3820m (Lo Manthang)
Start/finish Jomsom/Jomsom
Difficulty Moderate
Accommodation Teahouse

Mustang—commonly referred to as 'Upper Mustang'—is an arid river valley that runs north-south off the upper corner of the Annapurna Circuit. Both culturally and geographically, it's more similar to Tibet than Nepal and used to form its own kingdom, with its capital in Lo Manthang (the turnaround point of your trek). Lying in the rain shadow of the Himalaya, and officially one of Nepal's restricted regions, this trek is known for its desert beauty and harsh, cliff-faced landscapes.

Chhuksang village (2980m)
Chhuksang village (2980m)
Kagbeni
Kagbeni, the start of your trek
Ghame village
Looking down on Ghame village
Mustang caves
Caves carved into the cliffs

Best Season

Upper Mustang lies in the rain shadow of the Himalaya, making it a great monsoon trek and open year-round for trekking. The main consideration is the winter, when most residents leave the capital to avoid the cold and snow. Generally, the best time to visit Upper Mustang is from March to early November.

Accessing this Trek

Jomsom is the starting point for almost all routes heading into the Upper Mustang region. Most people choose to fly between Pokhara and Jomsom (a 20-minute flight) to save time and to avoid the arduous bus or jeep journey by land. The official checkpoint for the restricted region is Kagbeni, just north of Jomsom.

Brief Itinerary

The itinerary below starts and ends in the city of Pokhara, which is a 25-minute flight from Kathmandu. Your trip can also be organized from Kathmandu, according to your preference.

Day Destination Altitude Duration
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu!    
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu    
Day 3 Flight from Pokhara to Jomsom, Trek to Kagbeni 2,847 m  
Day 4 Trek from Kagbeni to Chele 3,050 m 5-6 hours
Day 5 Trek from Chele to Zhaite 3,730 m 7-8 hours
Day 6 Trek from Zhaite to Charang via Dhakmnar and Lo Gekar 3,575 m 5-6 hours
Day 7 Trek from Charang to Lo Manthang (explore the ancient city) 3,820 m 5-6 hours
Day 8 Stay in Lo Manthang (Namgyal Gompa and Thinggar Valley) 3,780 m (rest day)
Day 9 Stay in Lo Manthang (the Chosar Valley) 3,780 m (rest day)
Day 10 Trek from Lo Manthang to Dhakmar via Lo Gekar 3,730 m 6-7 hours
Day 11 Trek from Dhakmar to Geling 3,570 m 4-5 hours
Day 12 Trek from Geling to Chuksang 2,950 m 7-8 hours
Day 13 Trek from Chuksang to Jomsom 2,750 m 5-6 hours
Day 14 Flight from Jomsom to Pokhara 853 m  (25-minute flight)
Day 15 Depart Kathmandu    

Extended Itinerary

If you're interested in a more unique perspective on the Upper Mustang and have the time, below is an extended version (by two days) of the trek that follows the eastern side of the Kali Gandaki valley, as opposed to the more trodden, western route.

Please note: This itinerary involves longer hours of trekking each day and simpler accommodation.

Day Destination Altitude Duration
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu    
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu    
Day 3 Fly to Jomsom; trek to Kagbeni 2,847 m  
Day 4 Chele 3,050 m 5-6 hours
Day 5 Zhaite 3,730 m 7-8 hours
Day 6 Charang (via Dhakmnar and Lo Gekar) 3,575 m 7-8 hours
Day 7 Lo Manthang (explore the ancient city) 3,820 m 5-6 hours
Day 8 Lo Manthang (Namgyal Gompa and Thinggar Valley) 3,780 m (rest day)
Day 9 Lo Manthang (the Chosar Valley) 3,780 m (rest day)
Day 10 Yara 3,600 m 4-5 hours
Day 11 Yara (visit Luri Gompa) 3,600 m 5 hours
Day 12 Tangge 3,360 m 6-7 hours
Day 13 Chuksang 2,950 m 8-9 hours
Day 14 Muktinath 3,670 m 7-8 hours
Day 15 Jomsom 2,750 m 4-5 hours
Day 16 Pokhara 853 m  (25-minute flight)
Day 17 Depart Kathmandu    

Permits & Regulations

All trekkers heading into Upper Mustang (north of Kagbeni) are required to purchase a $500 per person permit, which is valid for 10 days. You can stay longer, but every day after that will cost $50. At Kagbeni, you'll be required to show your permit both on the way and the way out. In addition to the restricted permit, you'll also need to purchase an Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP), which is $20 USD per person.

Accommodation & Meals

As with other treks in Nepal, teahouses are available along the entire trek in Upper Mustang. Teahouses are simple houses, often the home of the family that runs them, and offer basic meals in a communal eating hall along with bedrooms, usually with two single beds.

Standard Itinerary Price

Below is a list of what's included and excluded from the price for the standard itinerary.

Price includes

  • Flights to/from Jomsom
  • Trekking permits and registration fees
  • Transport to/from the airport
  • Teahouse accommodation during trek
  • Meals as per the itinerary (all meals on trek, with boiled drinking water)
  • Your trekking guide and porter, with all their transport, equipment, insurance, meals and accommodation
  • A first aid kit with basic supplies

Price excludes

  • Your international flights
  • Nepal visa fees & airport taxes
  • Personal travel insurance (strongly recommended)
  • Gear or equipment for your trek
  • Personal expenses along the trek
  • Anything else not mentioned in 'Price Includes
  • Tips for your city guide, drivers, hotels, restaurants, etc.

Map

Map of Upper Mustang Trek - 15 Days
Map of Upper Mustang Trek - 15 Days
Alex
Published by Alex Buri, updated Oct 15, 2018