This trek is one of the classic treks that entail trekking in the rain shadow part of the wind-swept desert landscape of the Himalayas with views of implausible gorges, high passes and enormous vistas. The journey to Lo-Manthang entails passing through authentic Tibetan villages, barren ridges, deep canyons, eroded cliffs and Moraine valleys. Its landscape is unrivaled for it has a stupendous wilderness, pristine scenery, snow capped peaks, spectacular 16th century monasteries and caves. The founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava, came here centuries ago to defend Buddhism against the forces trying to destroy it. To celebrate his successful battle, he built the temple of Lo Gekhar that still stands today, surviving along with an unadulterated Tibetan culture that cannot be found elsewhere.
For political reasons travel into Mustang was strictly forbidden and the region remained isolated from the modern world. In 1992 it was decided to allow outsiders in on a very limited basis. This isolation has helped maintain a way of life almost unchanged for centuries.
The trek starts with a scenic flight to Jomsom from Pokhara and hike to the Tibetan village of Kagbeni. As we climb higher following the Kalighandaki river the landscape becomes more rugged and one starts to get a glimpse of the vast plateau, ancient villages of Tangbe and Syangmochen unchanged and unaffected by time and modern culture. En-route we will be passing number of high passes such as Chele La (3,540m), Vena-la (3,870m) and Yamdo la (4,050m) from where we get fantastic views of Nilgiri (6,940m) and Tilicho (7,134m) which dominates the southern sky. From Syangmochen we start the climb passing the village of Chukkar, Tamagaon and crossing the pass of Nyi La (3,950m) and Ghami La (3,800m). Descend down to Ghami La cross the Qumona river to arrive at the longest Mani wall (prayer stone wall) in Nepal. The next highlight is the 24 feet high choten gate that marks the arrival at Tsharang. The next days hike brings us to Lo Manthang a medieval walled city on the Tibetan Plateau north of the main Himalayas range. Lo-Manthang served as the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Mustang, which survives as the Kingdom of Lo or “Upper Mustang”. The next few days we will explore the ancient monasteries, temples and caves around Lomanthang. We return back to Jomsom to catch the flight back to Pokhra.
Day 1: Arrival Kathmandu
Welcome assistance by Snowy representative at the Tribhuvan International Airport and transfer to hotel in Kathmandu, rest at the hotel and briefing about the trip. Overnight accommodation is set with BB Plan.
Day 2: Kathmandu Sightseeing and Trek Prep
Today after breakfast we will start a guided tour to several of the most historical and spiritual attractions in Kathmandu. Some of these landmarks are considered World Heritage Sites; including the historic Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, the sacred Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, the famous ‘Monkey Temple’ (Swoyambhunath) and Buddhists shrine Bouddhanath the large Stupa within the world. Briefing regarding the trek with two way question answer with the trip leader (The Guide). The overnight accommodation is in the same hotel BB Plan.
Day 3: Kathmandu to Pokhara overland journey
Assist by guide to transfer from Hotel to Tourist Bus Departure place at 0600 Hrs and about 6 hours journey toward Pokhara where overnight accommodation with BB Plan is arranged.
Day 4: Fly Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni
Our guide assists you to transfer for Pokhara Airport to fly for Jomsom. This scenic adventurous flight takes about 20-25 minutes passing through the world’s deepest George presenting spectacular mountain views of Mt. Dhaulagiri, Annapurna Ranges and Fishtail with several famous peaks within the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri area from its both sides. The airstrip is in Jomsom, the main village in the Kali Gandaki valley. Jomsom is the beginning point of our trek. After landing here we start our trek toward Kagbeni which takes about 3-4 hours walk. Kagbeni is also the check point for entrance to restricted Upper Mustang Trekking. We can enjoy the majestic view of Mt. Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri and Tukuche peak while walking the trail in the opposite direction. Your overnight accommodation is set here in tented camp/tea house/Lodge.
Day 5: Trek from Kagbeni to Chaile
After the formalities of showing your restricted area trekking permit in Kagbeni we start our trekking early because in Mustang there is heavy wind which gets up later in the day, blowing dust and sand around. In the route we can see Nilgiri glowing orange in the first rays of the sun. We take the western route, following the east bank of the river until we reach the end of a broad valley Chuksang, where we cross the Kali Gandaki. After Kagbeni, the trail climbs up, giving us a good view of the village, the valley and Nilgiri. At first the path follows the river closely and later it leads eastwards to flat, dry, desert-like land. Here the scenery is amazing and very characteristic of Mustang with red sandstone pillars and rock formations with fantastic forms and colors, formed by thousands of years of erosion. The first main village we reach, Tangbe, has red and whitewashed houses and on the other side of the river from here are caves, perched high in a vertical wall, which were believed as habitations in previous times. Chaile appears as a small white dot at the end of the canyon. The trail towards here descends gradually to the river-bed – this area is well-known for its fossils. The wide valley ends abruptly at a vertical cliff and a bridge crosses the Kali Gandaki, which flows through a natural tunnel in the cliff. The valley narrows further north and a steep trail leads us up to Chaile, which is a small town with good views towards the Himalayan ranges. Our tented camp or tea house accommodation is set here in Chaile for today.
Day 6: Trek from Chaile to Shyangboche
Today’s trek begins with a steep climb as we follow the trail westwards to Ghyakar. Running high up above the path is gouged out of the rock and descends in an almost sheer drop for more than 100 meters. After about one hour we are on a pass offering a good view towards Samar, the Kali Gandaki valley and snow-capped peaks in the distance. We’ll continue to Rangchyung chorten, one of the most sacred places in Mustang. Sometimes it is possible to see the rare blue mountain sheep in this area. We’ll take a long, steady uphill walk to Shyangboche, the overnight halt for us today.
Day 7: Trek from Shyangboche to Ghami
Within 15 minutes of the day’s start, we will have already negotiated the first of today’s three high passes, Yanda La, and passed a distinctive red chorten painted with Buddhism’s eight auspicious symbols. A terraced valley with groups of yellowish trees appears and above the village of Ghelung are two red Gompas. Rising above the village are barren, brown hills and we can see the Nyi La pass straight ahead. The path descends gradually towards the Ghami La pass and on the way we see a rundown, deserted village downstream. We’ll continue to Ghami, Mustang’s third largest town, which is high above the river and surrounded by fields.
Day 8: Trek from Ghami to Tsarang
After having breakfast at the camping site you will trek forward along the river Markha, which is a slow mountain river. Trekking along the river side you will witness the untouched beauty and splendor of Leh. You would have to cross the river at times as the banks become difficult for trekking. While trekking, you will also see beautiful chortens. You will be camping along the river Markha at night.
Day 9 – 10: Trek from Tsarang to Lo Manthang and Explore
Today’s trekking begins on flat terrain and the view, apart from a chorten and a few caves, is unrelieved barrenness. After crossing a pass and waking through two rocks forming a natural gate we have finally arrived at Lo Manthang.
Day 11: Trek from Lo Manthang to Tamar
We walk up through pastures studded with juniper, and have the chance to look back at Lo Manthang. Our return route is on the same side of the Kali Gandaki, because the eastern part is even less inhabited, more strenuous for walking and drinking water can be hard to find. Gradually we say goodbye to the Lo Manthang plain (sometimes known as ‘The Plain of Prayers’) and after about two hours there is no sign at all that such a gem of a city is concealed in one of those rocky valleys. In front of us the mass of the Himalayas reappears and we negotiate the highest pass, Lugri La (4200m).
Day 12: Trek from Tamar to Shyangboche
With Nilgiri visible again, we walk past more caves on our way south and then there is a gradual hill climb bringing us above Ghami, where we can see the town, the long Mani wall and the pass we climbed five days ago! There are two more passes to cross and splendid views of the Annapurna range. Next we reach Jamyung, at the fork between Ghelung and Shyangboche. We can detour to Ghelung, with two Gompas built above the village and a small but fine monastery. Later we rejoin the regular trekking path to Shyangboche.
Day 13: Trek from Shyangboche to Tetang
The direct trail to Samar runs high above the canyons and with each side valley we cross, the Annapurna range appears closer and closer. Parts of this section of the trek are quite tough-going, because of the gorges, but the compensation is the brilliant views of Tilicho and Nilgiri. As the mountains start to appear higher and higher and the vegetation increases there is also a great contrast with the walls of ice. Such subtle variations in color after the ‘moonscape’ bleakness are a refreshing change. We cross two deep valleys before taking a lunch break at Samar and then the second part of the day is a relatively easy downhill walk. When Gyakar appears, the route becomes more spectacular, running high above the gorge. We can take a break in Chaile and then we arrive at the riverbed of the Kali Gandaki region –and reach Chuksang. Although we are on the same route we hiked along a few days earlier, it will probably feel like much longer ago, the sense of time seems to change when trekking! Soon we are at Tetang’s mani wall and beautiful chorten, which has two of the auspicious symbols painted on each side.
Day 14: Trek from Tetang to Muktinath
After an early start we have a good view of the village of Tetang, which consists of two separate settlements surrounded by high walls and from a distance looks like a large fort. The ascent to a plateau is steep and the trail here can be rather difficult to locate. There is an easy walk over a plain, after which comes about three hours of steep walking uphill, with the narrow trail getting precipitous at times, with loose black gravel. After ascending high in the valley the trail makes a right turn and the pass becomes visible above. At the pass, the mountains seem amazingly close, with Thorung, although the lowest peak, looking particularly impressive, having large glaciers clinging to its steep flanks. Tilicho is covered by snow with indented glaciers, while the summit of Annapurna further back does not actually seem as high as its 8000m +. Even Nilgiri’s almost sheer north face is also covered by glaciers.
It is a moderate walk down to Muktinath, with stunning views of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. Their summits are only 34km apart, which accounts for the tremendous depth of the Kali Gandaki valley. Getting to Muktinath involves crossing another valley, which takes some time. The sporadic houses start to become more numerous as we get nearer Muktinath. There are 108 springs which have their source in or around Muktinath and bathing here is believed to bring good luck. Many people also collect the spring water in bottles to take home to relatives. Also at Muktinath is the legendary flame coming out of a rock, around which a Buddhist temple has been created.
Day 15: Trek from Muktinath to Jomsom
As we begin the final day’s hiking, Dhaulagiri glows orange and the yellow in the early morning sun. Today we take a side trip to the Bon Punt soling monastery in Lubra, before returning to Jomsom for the flight back to Pokhara. The trail is rather sporadic. From a small hill the views of Muktinath are good and it is plain that much of the valley is used for agriculture. We soon reach the Panga Khola valley and the track follows the course of the river, but high upstream. We have to cross the river and walk downstream on the other side, which seems like a major detour but is necessitated by the steep cliffs further down.
After a steep ascent and descent we come to an area of pine forest – a surprising change of scenery! We are high above the river again and must cross two bigger side-valleys on the way downstream. Eventually we come to some fenced-in fields and a garden with apple trees, near Lubra’s village school. The settlement of Lubra consists of about 20 houses near a bend in the river and was founded in connection with the establishment of the Bon Punt soling monastery in the 12th century. This is one of the very few Bon monasteries remaining in Nepal. Bon was the predominant religion in Tibet before the spread of Buddhism and is also called the fifth tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. In the monastery are pictures of four Lokapalas and Buddha Shakyamuni. Bags of masks hang from the ceiling. It is still the tradition today that the head member of Lubra’s nine major families automatically becomes a priest.
After Lubra, the trail leads to the Kali Gandaki and we have to leap across the river Panga a couple of times! At the confluence of the two rivers we join the caravan of tourists going to Jomsom.
Day 16: Fly Jomsom to Pokhara
We take early morning 20min flight from Jomsom to Pokhara; we transfer you to the Hotel there in Bb Plan. The day we give you chance for exploring the beautiful valley Pokhara with its Natural and cultural beauty.
Day 17: Bus or fly back to Kathmandu
After having breakfast your trip starts by drive back from Pokhara to Katmandu by tourist Coach about 6 hours driving (or take a short 30 minute flight) and overnight is arranged in Kathmandu as per agreed category with BB Plan. At evening snowy horizon invites you to join in a fare well dinner in a typical Nepalese cultural restaurant.
Day 18: Depart Kathmandu
Fly home or continue on to your next destination.