Upper Mustang Trek

More similar to Tibet than Nepal, the Upper Mustang Valley is marked by its stark beauty, unique culture, and was until 2006 its own mountain kingdom.

Overview

Fast facts
Min. duration 12 days
Max. elevation 3820m (Lo Manthang)
Start/finish Jomsom/Jomsom
Difficulty Moderate
Trek style Teahouse

Mustang - commonly referred to as 'Upper Mustang' - is a 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.

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
Chhuksang village (2980m)
Chhuksang village (2980m)
Kagbeni
Kagbeni, 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 checkpost for the restricted region is Kagbeni, just north of Jomsom.

Standard 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 01 Fly to Jomsom; trek to Kagbeni 2847m  
Day 02 Chele 3050m 5-6 hours
Day 03 Zhaite 3730m 7-8 hours
Day 04 Charang (via Dhakmnar and Lo Gekar) 3575m 5-6 hours
Day 05 Lo Manthang (explore the ancient city) 3820m 5-6 hours
Day 06 Lo Manthang (Namgyal Gompa and Thinggar Valley) 3780m (rest day)
Day 07 Lo Manthang (the Chosar Valley) 3780m (rest day)
Day 08 Dhakmar via Lo Gekar 3730m 6-7 hours
Day 09 Geling 3570m 4-5 hours
Day 10 Chuksang 2950m 7-8 hours
Day 11 Jomsom 2750m 5-6 hours
Day 12 Pokhara 853m (25-minute flight)

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 Gandakhi 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 01 Fly to Jomsom; trek to Kagbeni 2847m  
Day 02 Chele 3050m 5-6 hours
Day 03 Zhaite 3730m 7-8 hours
Day 04 Charang (via Dhakmnar and Lo Gekar) 3575m 7-8 hours
Day 05 Lo Manthang (explore the ancient city) 3820m 5-6 hours
Day 06 Lo Manthang (Namgyal Gompa and Thinggar Valley) 3780m (rest day)
Day 07 Lo Manthang (the Chosar Valley) 3780m (rest day)
Day 08 Yara 3600m 4-5 hours
Day 09 Yara (visit Luri Gompa) 3600m 5 hours
Day 10 Tangge 3360m 6-7 hours
Day 11 Chuksang 2950m 8-9 hours
Day 12 Muktinath 3670m 7-8 hours
Day 13 Jomsom 2750m 4-5 hours
Day 14 Pokhara 853m (25-minute flight)

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.

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Upper mustang trek, Nepal - Apr 28 - May 15, 2017

Traveler: Thomas P. - Local specialist: Ngima Dorji Sherpa

This was a very expensive trip and several things could have been done better. I had payed for a full package but even then had substantial expenses towards drinking water 1-7 USD per liter depending on where on the trek, battery charging 4-6 USD per battery, hot shower 8-9 USD, WIFI 7 USD per day. These extra expenses are very particular to the area. I have never before experienced having to pay for all these things and. I am surprised that no-one has thought of informing of these extra... read more

This was a very expensive trip and several things could have been done better. I had payed for a full package but even then had substantial expenses towards drinking water 1-7 USD per liter depending on where on the trek, battery charging 4-6 USD per battery, hot shower 8-9 USD, WIFI 7 USD per day. These extra expenses are very particular to the area. I have never before experienced having to pay for all these things and. I am surprised that no-one has thought of informing of these extra costs.

Meals were provided but I was always only allowed to order 1 item per meal. This was really not enough when trekking for long hours every day.

Also tipping of guide and porter was a substantial extra expense - 250 USD shared among them. As a lone traveller this has been an extremely costly affair. The guide and porter I was happy with though.

I was overall very pleased with Ngima but I would have appreciated the information I have mentioned previously.