Mustang, Nepal; Lo Manthang; trekking Nepal; Tsarang; trekking Mustang

The Remote Kingdom of Mustang

Centrally located along Nepal’s northern border and jutting like a geographical thumb into Tibet, the Mustang region (known as Lo to the locals) is an enclave of ancient Tibetan culture hidden in a unique desert landscape of rugged canyonlands carved from colorful layers of ancient ocean sediments.

Photo by Brian McGilloway / Gary McCue

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Hidden Kingdom of Mustang route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $4695  
Length: 20 days
Arrive: Kathmandu, Nepal
Depart: Kathmandu, Nepal
Lodging: 5 nights hotels, 2 nights lodges, 12 nights full-service camping
Meals: All meals included except 3 lunches and 4 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 13-day trek on steep trails, 4-8 hours a day, altitudes between 8,800-13,680 feet
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Highlights

  • Discover Mustang’s ancient monasteries, cave temples, and superb Buddhist art
  • Trek in an incredible Trans-Himalayan landscape of desolate high plateaus, red-rock canyons, and sheer cliffs
  • Attend the vibrant Tiji (May) or Yartung (August) festival


Most enjoyable trip yet! Hashmat Singh deserves special recognition for his interests (e.g. photography), his enthusiasm, and his knowledge of the customs and politics of the region. In addition, my fellow clients were congenial and generally positive in attitude.James K.—Pittsburgh, PA

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Isolated in a surreal landscape on Nepal’s border with Tibet, ethereal Mustang shelters an intact Tibetan culture and a rare repository of 15th century Buddhist art. Our fascinating trek to Lo Manthang, Mustang’s 500-year-old walled capital, follows an ancient salt trade route up the huge Kali Gandaki gorge and brings you through an eerily beautiful realm of sculpted red-rock canyons, sheer cliffs, timeless stone villages, and colorful yak caravans. Along the way, you’ll explore a treasure-trove of monasteries and cave sanctuaries and mingle with the locals at the Buddhist Tiji Festival (May) or the horse races of the Yartung Festival (August), spectacular events reaffirming the culture of this mystical land.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-4
Kathmandu / Jomsom / Kagbeni (Tiji Festival Departure)

After exploring Kathmandu, fly to Jomsom and head to Kagbeni, set in the spectacular Kali Gandaki river chasm between the towering snow-capped summits of Annapurna I (26,502’) and Dhaulagiri I (26,811’).

Days 5-11
Trek to Lo Manthang / Tiji Festival

Setting off on foot, distant views of snow-capped Himalayan giants are in view as you pass villages of whitewashed houses and ancient monasteries. Crossing the Mui La (13,680’) our hike brings you through a dramatically eroded landscape to Lo Gekar, with its ancient murals and Buddhist statues lit by butter lamps. In Lo Manthang, explore monasteries, temples, and caves with some of the finest mural art in Nepal, and join villagers from across Mustang to see the Tiji Festival, a celebration that includes Tibetan Buddhist masked dances performed by monks.

Days 12-20
Kagbeni / Jomsom / Kathmandu

Enter a wild world of fluted rock formations as we head back into the Kali Gandaki gorge on a loop trek, visiting fascinating places such as the cave temple of Luri Gompa en route. Fly to Kathmandu on Day 18, depart Day 20.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 5+, Strenuous. Most of the hiking is between 11,000 and 12,000 feet, and the maximum elevation reached is approximately 13,320 feet. We cross a series of passes, but many of these are really saddles on the high ridges rather than true mountain passes, and are not difficult by Himalayan standards. For the most part, you can go at your own speed, as you cover a normal maximum of 7 to 9 miles per day (about 5-8 hours of hiking time). The group spreads out along the trail during the day, with our guides hiking along with us to make sure that everyone finds the way.     

There are a number of days on this trek when the walks are shorter, as well as rest days that allow opportunity for day hikes and for exploring the villages, monasteries, and beautiful surroundings near our campsites. However, trail conditions can be primitive and there may be streams to wade across.         

There are also dangers inherent in any expedition traveling to remote wilderness regions, especially when they involve travel to high altitude. These dangers include everything from rock falls to the possibility of a serious fall, accident or sickness without access to the means of rapid evacuation. The availability of medical supplies or the adequacy of medical attention, once provided, cannot be guaranteed and cannot be expected to measure up to western standards.    

Getting in Shape
Every participant must understand that this trek is truly challenging—you should be in excellent physical condition. Even though trip members carry only a daypack (with camera, jacket, rain gear, water bottle, and other small necessities you may need during the day), we recommend you make a special effort to get in top physical shape for the trip by hiking, running, swimming, bicycling, or engaging in other forms of aerobic exercise well beyond your normal routine. Many activities get heart and lungs into shape, but the most effective way of getting fit for hiking is to hike! Walking up and down flights of stairs is also an effective way to train for the steep ascents and descents in the Himalaya. Bending your knees as you go down stairs will help strengthen your quad muscles. At least two months prior to your trek, we urge you to go on weekend day hikes that involve long uphill and downhill walking.

A Typical Trekking Day
Hiking distances on trek are normally measured in hours, not miles, since maps aren’t really accurate enough to assess how far we walk up and down winding mountain trails. On a typical trek day, wake-up is around 7:00 am, when a cup of hot tea or coffee and a basin of warm washing water are brought to your tent by one of the camp crew. After packing up our duffels and having breakfast, we set off on the trail while the crew strikes camp and the porters or pack animals shoulder their loads. The crew usually passes us by midmorning to get ahead and prepare our lunch.

There is always a guide in the lead and a “sweeper” who trails behind the slowest hiker to ensure that no one is lost on the trail. We ask you not to hike ahead of the leader because trails are often not well-marked.

We typically walk for three to four hours in the morning, then stop for a leisurely lunch of an hour or more at a scenic spot on the trail. After lunch, we walk for another three hours or so until we reach our next night’s camp. Upon arrival in camp, we have late afternoon tea and a snack. On our exploration days we occasionally have more time in the morning or afternoon near the lodge or camp to rest or for further individual exploration. Temperatures drop quickly as the sun falls behind the peaks, and it’s easy to get chilled after exerting yourself for several hours, so have an extra layer of clothing ready. Dinner is served to us in a dining tent with table and chairs. After dinner, we usually chat away the evening in the dining tent or read by flashlight until bedtime.

Eating Well on Trek
The variety and quality of meals our professionally trained camp cooks turn out from the kitchen tent is remarkable—nourishing, plentiful, and a blend of Nepalese and Western dishes. Breakfast is normally a light meal of porridge or granola, with hot milk, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, biscuits, or cookies. This gives us a quick morning start for the best walking hours. When we have a short hiking day ahead, eggs, pancakes, or French toast may be served. We stop for a full hot meal at lunch, including potatoes, eggs, curried vegetables, cheese, local-style breads, fruit, tea, hot chocolate, or fruit drink. When we arrive at camp, our afternoon tea may include popcorn, peanut butter, crackers, hot chocolate, and tea. For dinner we enjoy soup, a main course—a tasty noodle dish, Nepali mixed vegetables, lentils and rice, meat, vegetables and potatoes, or stew, beverages, and dessert. On most treks, meat (chicken, mutton, water buffalo, or yak) is served every few days, depending on availability in local villages. Tinned meat, salmon, or sardines are occasionally served. Dessert on trek is usually canned or fresh fruit, and some of our more enterprising cooks will occasionally produce a delicious cake. In the villages you may purchase sweets, cookies, chocolate, fruit, soft drinks, and beer, depending on availability.

Our camp crew is well trained in hygienic practices. Our drinking water is always boiled and the food served to you is safe. Treated washing water is put out before every meal so you can wash your hands before eating.

If you are partial to special snacks (energy bars, trail mix, and so on), please bring your own supply with you for the trek. A variety of sweets, nuts, and dried fruit can be purchased in Kathmandu.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures

2015
May 7-26, 2015  Tiji Festival

Aug 10-29, 2015  Yartung Festival

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015
$4695 (10-12 members)
$4895 (6-9 members)
Single supplement: $710
Forced single supplement: $510
Internal airfare: $525 (subject to change)
Mustang Restricted Area Permit (subject to change): $650
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Temples of Angkor Extension
   from: $850
Varanasi and Khajuraho Extension
   from: $1295
Burma Extension
   from: $2595
Chiang Mai Extension
   from: $490
Phuket Extension
   from: $795
Taj Mahal and Jaipur Extension
   from: $2595
South India Extension: The Malabar Coast
   from: $2155
Kanha National Park Extension
   from: $2095
Tharu Lodge Extension
   from: $660

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of an experienced Trek Leader
  • Services of trail staff
  • Private cooking staff on trek
  • Camping accommodations on trek and in a first-class hotel in Kathmandu
  • All meals included except 3 lunches and 4 dinners
  • Sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and liners for use on trek
  • Land transportation, airport transfers for passengers as noted

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare; airport departure taxes; any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure; optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff; any additional hotel nights that may be needed due to your international travel schedule; pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations, visa fees, travel insurance; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.). In the event of non-availability of Kathmandu-Pokhara-Kathmandu flights, our Wilderness Travel representative will try to arrange alternative transport (at extra cost to you).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20% of trip cost
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

More than 90 days prior to departure: No charge!
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Hotel Shangri-La

Hotel Shangri-La

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights),
Days 18 to 19 (2 nights), Kathmandu, Nepal

This well-regarded hotel is renowned for its friendly staff and also has two excellent restaurants. The Shangri-La is located just a 15- to ...
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Shangri-La Village Resort

Shangri-La Village Resort

Day 3 (1 night), Pokhara, Nepal

The Shangri-La Village Resort is a haven of tranquility, with its spacious landscaped gardens, swimming pool, and panoramic views from every room. ...
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Mustang Trek Camps

Mustang Trek Camps

Days 4 to 17 (14 nights), Mustang, Nepal

We make hiking and camping in the Himalaya as comfortable as it can get! On the trail, you are accompanied by our experienced support staff and all ...
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Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions options:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

Burma

Burma Extension

Yangon and Bagan

Cultural Adventures
6 days  -  Level 2

Cambodia

angkor wat cambodia temples

Temples of Angkor Extension

Exploring the Glories of a Bygone Khmer Civilization

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 2

India

Kanha National Park Extension

Gameviewing in one of India’s Great Wildlife Reserves

Wildlife & Natural History
5 days  -  Level 2

South India Extension: The Malabar Coast

Cochin and a Cruise Along the Backwaters of Kerala

Cultural Adventures, Walking
4 days  -  Level 1+

taj mahal agra india cultural tour

Taj Mahal and Jaipur Extension

Romantic Rajasthan, Land of Princes

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1

Varanasi and Khajuraho Extension

Holy City Along the Ganges, Magnificent World-Famous Temples

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1

Myanmar

Burma Extension

Yangon and Bagan

Cultural Adventures
6 days  -  Level 2

Nepal

Tharu Lodge Extension

Cultural Encounters, Jungle Walks, Elephant Rides

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History, Photography
3 days  -  Level 1

Thailand

Chiang Mai Extension

Explore the Wonders of Northern Thailand

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 2

Phuket Extension

Explore a Jewel Set in the Andaman Sea

Cultural Adventures, Sea Kayaking
4 days  -  Level 2

Client Comments

Most enjoyable trip yet! Hashmat Singh deserves special recognition for his interests (e.g. photography), his enthusiasm, and his knowledge of the customs and politics of the region. In addition, my fellow clients were congenial and generally positive in attitude. James K., Pittsburgh, PA All the staff were excellent and bent over backwards to be helpful. Trish K., Berkeley, CA
One of the best trips I've ever taken—anywhere. Strenuous to be sure, but spectacular and well worth the physical exertion. Tom W., Oakland, CA