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Location

Nepal

Difficulty

7-8

Strenuous

Length

17

Trip Cost

from $3980
twin share

Overview

  • Be embraced by the genuine warmth of the mountain people and their culture and traditions, which have a strong Tibetan influence
  • Witness the extraordinary, rugged and arid landscapes of this breathtaking destination
  • Step back in time to explore ancient, medieval villages along the road less trodden
  • Discover the 15th-century UNESCO World Heritage walled city of Lo Manthang
  • Wonder at mysterious man-made caves, thousands of years old, towering above ancient trade routes
  • Experience warm hospitality and a unique oasis amongst the mountains at Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge

The word ‘Mustang’ conjures up ideas of remoteness and seclusion, a kingdom lost amongst the mountains. Trekking to this unique region requires a special permit that unlocks the way to a magical world seen by few foreign travellers. A highly restricted area to foreigners until the early 90s, Mustang was an independent country until it was closely consolidated into Nepal just a few decades ago. The kingdom of Mustang lies in the rain shadow formed by the Annapurna & Nilgiri Himalayas, and thus gets very little rain, making the area ideal for trekking when the rest of the country is suffering the monsoon season. This is among the very few adventure trips in Nepal which can be done throughout the year.

Mustang was once an important crossing of the Himalayas from Nepal to Tibet and on this trek you will follow some of the old salt caravan routes, passing mule trains and yak caravans as they carry goods from one village to another. Part of the route takes you along the bank of Kali Gandaki River and eventually leads through a succession of spectacular villages  to Lo Manthang, the impressive capital of Mustang, settled on the ‘Plain of Prayers’. At 3730 metres this is the highest point of this trip and here you will find a place rich in art and history.  This is a superb walking adventure and a true privilege to be among the few to visit. With many cultural highlights, Tibetan style villages, monasteries, and mystical landscapes, the Upper Mustang trek is an incredible opportunity to experience a once forbidden kingdom. Discover it before the rest of the world does!

Our Nepal trips can be adapted to suit your time frame and requirements by adding extra days in Mustang or shorten the trip length to suit your needs, just speak to our Nepal specialist.

Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge

Overlooking the spectacular Pokhara Valley and the Himalaya’s beyond, Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge is a perfect haven for guests to relax and rejuvenate before and after an invigorating trek.

Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge is operated on the concept that the lodge is not a hotel, it is a home for guests; and that is how you will be warmly received by Jhalak, Dol Raj, Hari, Sujan or Marcus from the moment you step through the elegant front doors. You will arrive as guests and leave as friends.

Set in lush surrounds of the mountain, the lodge offers a tranquil space for bird-watching, yoga and meditation sessions or simply taking in the breathtaking views. Guest cottages are built of locally hand-cut stone and furnished with beautiful Tibetan rugs, original artwork and hand-crafted wooden furniture. Described as ‘barefoot luxury’ this special place portrays beauty in its simplicity.

Lodge activities range from Pokhara sightseeing tours, golf, Ayurvedic and shiatsu massage therapy to paragliding and micro-light flights for the more adventurous. Guests can participate in authentic village walks or nature adventures, all customised to the individual guest’s interests by an experienced and knowledgeable guide. At the end of the day, a cocktail beckons from a candlelit terrace before you settle in to enjoy a range of culinary options featuring Nepali and continental dishes created from fresh and locally sourced ingredients.

With a commitment to the environment and local communities, the lodge is actively involved in conservation and community projects. We welcome you to experience this hidden jewel as part of your incredible journey to Nepal.

Are you a first-time or solo traveller?

We’ll support you all the way! View our preparation and training resources.

Itinerary

This Itinerary can be adapted to suit your time frame and requirements. We can add extra days in Mustang or shorten the overall itinerary to suit your needs, just speak to our Nepal specialist.

Day 1: Arrive Kathmandu

It is a panoramic thrill flying into Kathmandu on a clear day. The emotions conjured up by the views of snow-capped mountain peaks sprawling down below you are almost ecstatic, beginning a whole chain of memorable experiences that stay with you for a long, long time. A RAW Travel representative and driver will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. The representative will help you check into your designated hotel and brief you about your upcoming daily activities.

Day 2: Kathmandu exploration

Kathmandu is the historical and cultural heart of Nepal and has been a popular destination for tourists ever since Nepal opened its doors to visitors. The city presents a wonderful mix of Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism and Western influence. There will be a guided tour to Boudhanath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal, before continuing on to the most popular Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, Pashupatinath. We take a tour to Patan or Lalitpur (the City of Artisans), which is 5km away from Kathmandu. We walk through Patan Durbar Square, and delight in the architectural wonders of the Malla period. Mahaboudha Temple, Kumbeshwor Temple, Krishna Temple and Golden Temple are the major attractions at the square.

Meals: B

Day 3: Fly to Pokhara

We take the short but scenic 30 minute flight to Pokhara, enjoying the views of Ganesh, Manaslu and the Annapurnas along the way. With majestic sights of snow-capped mountain peaks and tranquil lakes, Pokhara’s beauty is sure to have you mesmerised. If time allows this afternoon you may wish to explore these lakes (boating is optional) or adventure into one of the intriguing, limestone cave systems of Mahendra Gupha. Alternatively you may wish to relax at the spectacular Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge which will be our overnight accommodation*. The lodge has a pool, and many activities that you can chose to participate in.

Meals: B

Day 4: Fly to Jomsom; trek to Kagbeni (2780m; 3-4 hours)

We take a spectacular early morning flight to Jomsom (famous for its apples) where we will be met at the tiny airstrip by our trek crew. After some initial preparation of loads, we begin our trek to the pretty village of Kagbeni. Just out of Jomsom we cross a small suspension bridge and then walk along the riverbank of the Kali Gandaki. The trail is flat and quite barren, with craggy rocks and sand littering the trail. It is an easier walk to get us started. Keep in mind that much of the trail takes us along a road today which can be busy at times. We will have magnificent views of huge peaks such as Dhaulagiri, Tukuche and Nilgiri, while to the south, the entire Annapurna massif can be seen. Kagbeni with its narrow alleyways and tunnels, irrigation canals, fields of wheat and barley and a large red Gompa, give us a glimpse into the sights that we will come across in Upper Mustang. At the north end of the village is the police check-post. Here we will complete our paperwork before entering this long forbidden region of Nepal.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 5: Trek to Chhuksang (2920m; 5-6 hours)

It is possible to trek right along the river valley, but we 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. We stop for lunch at the village of Tangbe, where we 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 buckwheat, barley and apple orchards. Nilgiri Peak continues to dominate the southern skyline. Chhuksang 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 Chhuksang are some spectacular red eroded cliffs above the mouths of some inaccessible caves.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 6: Trek to Samar (3290m; 4-5 hours)

Our walk today brings a distinct change, 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 practice agriculture, however, due to lack of rain and fertile soil, cultivation is limited to sheltered plots of land. This spots the brown landscape with patches of green. Continuing north, we reach the Kali Gandaki river. A steel bridge spans the river just in front of a tunnel and north from here the Kali Gandaki becomes impassable by foot. The trek now leaves the valley and climbs steeply up a rocky gully to the village of Chele. Watch out for the Tibetan mastiffs here, which are chained to many of the local houses. From Chele we climb a steep spur and then continue ascending along the side of a spectacular steep canyon to a pass. Beyond the pass we descend on a pleasant trail to Samar, situated in a grove of poplar trees. This is a common place for horse and mule caravans to stop and rest.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 7: Trek to Geling (3440m; 5-6 hours)

This morning we climb above Samar to a ridge and then descend into a large gorge past a Chorten before entering another valley filled with juniper trees. We then cross a stream and after climbing to a pass, we 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 Chorten and is one of the holiest places in Mustang. From here, the trail climbs gently from Shyangmochen and we enter another huge valley before descending to Geling, with its extensive fields of barley. Like in all settlements of Mustang, the white and ochre-painted houses in Geling are constructed using mud and stones. The roofs are made of twigs, straw and a mixture of mud and pebbles.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 8: Trek to Ghami (3460m; 3-4 hours)

After a hearty breakfast, we set off from Geling. The trail climbs gently through fields, up the centre of the valley, passing above the settlement of Tama Gun and an imposing Chorten. We 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 and will be our accommodation for the night.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 9: Trek to Charang (3490m; 3-4 hours)

Today’s walk is through the driest part of Mustang, and much of our energy will be spent negotiating the 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, more than compensates for the hard climb. Finally, we 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. Thangkas are typically a painting on either silk or cotton depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 10: Trek to Lo Manthang (3730m; 4-5 hours)

We will spend part of the morning exploring the interesting village of Charang and its large monastery before setting out for Lo Manthang. We climb gently above the valley to a large isolated Chorten that marks the boundary between Charang and Lo Manthang. The trail then broadens and eventually we are treated to our first view of the isolated, walled city of Lo Manthang. Home to the Loba People, the original inhabitants of Mustang, Lo Manthang is one of the last places on earth that still practices ‘Bonpo’ – a deeply spiritual and the oldest form of Tibetan Buddhism. The city has only one entrance so we circumambulate the 6m-high wall to the gate on the north-east corner. We settle into this medieval fortress for the night.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 11: In and around Lo Manthang

Today you are free to explore the fascinating city of Lo Manthang. 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 elaborate mandalas painted on the walls. The king’s palace is an imposing building in the centre 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. Throughout the kingdom, the villagers continue to seek his advice regarding many issues. It is possible to hire horses to visit nearby valleys today. This is at an additional cost and can be arranged with the help of your guide.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 12: Trek to Ghami (3460m; 7-8 hours)

We begin our return journey from Lo Manthang, taking the upper highland route. This highland route offers dramatic views of Lo Manthang and the Charang Valley, with snow clad peaks in the background. Just past the settlement of Lo Gekar, we reach the oldest monastery in Mustang, the Ghare Gompa.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 13: Trek to Chhuksang (2920m; 5-6 hours)

After breakfast we retrace our route back over the Nyi La to Chhuksang.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 14: Trek to Jomsom (2710m; 5-6 hours)

It’s a long and sad final day, passing back through Kagbeni to Jomsom where we end our trek. You will have time for a long hot shower before meeting up for dinner to celebrate with the Sherpas and porters, whom we have come to know so well over the last 2 weeks. We reflect upon our journey of a lifetime and enjoy some laughs over a delicious meal of local cuisine.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 15: Fly to Pokhara

We take a spectacular early morning flight along the Kali Gandaki gorge to Pokhara and transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to relax or explore the local area.

Meals: B

Day 16: Fly to Kathmandu

Today you will take a 30 minute flight back to Kathmandu where the rest of the day is at your leisure. Tonight you will enjoy a special farewell dinner and cultural show.

Meals: B, D

Day 17: Depart Kathmandu

Our Nepalese support team will take you to the airport for your flight home.

Meals: B

*Subject to availability

Dates

Self-guided trips offer flexibility, independence and choice. Set your own agenda while someone else worries about the logistics. Our self-guided walking holidays are fully flexible which means you can normally start your walk on any day during the season and customise by adding extra days for resting or sightseeing. As you’re walking independently, you’re free to follow the trail at your own pace. You set your own speed as you are not limited by the constraints of group travel.

Note that if booking for a start date of less than 30 days from the time of booking we cannot guarantee that your trip is possible unless you have contacted us first and your trip details have been confirmed.


IMPORTANT: Please note that the permits for Upper Mustang require at least two people travelling together. If you are travelling solo please have a look at either our group departure date or ask us about solo traveller departure dates which can help get around this requirement.

Inclusions

  • Private tour with your own private guide
  • Flexibility to select your own departure date* and travel with your own group of friends or family
  • Trip cost is based on 2 people travelling together (enquire for group pricing)
  • Accommodation on trek in traditional lodges/teahouses (twin share basis, with non-attached bathroom)
  • Experienced, English-speaking local guide and porters (1 porter for every 2 guests; luggage 15kg only per member)
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) during teahouse trek only
  • Airfare Kathmandu/Pokhara/Kathmandu
  • Airfare Pokhara/Jomsom/Pokhara
  • Annapurna Conservation Area Permit and Trekking permit
  • 3 nights 5 star hotel accommodation in Kathmandu with breakfast
  • 2 nights accommodation at the special Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge* with breakfast
  • Farewell dinner in Kathmandu
  • Sightseeing tour in Kathmandu with English-speaking local guide and entry fees as per itinerary
  • Airport transfers and tour transfers in private vehicle as per the itinerary
  • Insurance for all guides and porters

* Subject to availability

Not Included

  • Nepal visa fees
  • Upper Mustang Restricted Area Permit (USD$500)
  • International flights and any airport tax
  • Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu and Pokhara (except 1 x farewell dinner)
  • Personal gear and clothing
  • Any applicable extra baggage charge above allowance (Pokhara flight 20kg main luggage +5 kg hand carry)
  • Tips for local staff
  • Single Supplement – is only available in Kathmandu & Pokhara. Please ask your Destination Specialist for more information and pricing

*Please note that solo travellers are not possible due to the conditions set out by the Nepalese Government. A minimum of 2 people are required to obtain permits. If you are a solo traveller please enquire about our scheduled group departures.

Map

Reviews

Anne & Mark Greaves, Kiama (NSW) – October 2017
We have returned from our trip to Nepal and Bhutan having had a wonderful time. Both countries offered remarkable landscapes plus insights and experiences with cultures vastly different to our own.We want to thank RAW for making the trip happen​,​ the Upper Mustang was meant to be. We cannot speak highly enough of our guide Nima Lama and what he contributed to our understanding of Nepalese culture, Buddhism, the Upper Mustang region and our enjoyment of the whole adventure. His experience and understanding allowed us to adjust the itinerary as required and to enjoy the best of such a wild and arid landscape, the people and daily lifestyle of the villages and the treks in between. We would certainly recommend Upper Mustang on anyone’s next adventure!

What our Clients Say

We cannot speak highly enough of our guide Nima Lama and what he contributed to our understanding of Nepalese culture, Buddhism, the Upper Mustang region and our enjoyment of the whole adventure.

Anne & Mark Greaves, Kiama (NSW) – October 2017

Chris Kavanagh – Japan & Nepal

(03) 5976 3763

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Trip Grading

This trip is rated as Strenuous