14 Days in Nepal
This is a sensational journey beyond the Himalayas to one of the most remote kingdoms on earth. Hidden behind the Himalayan giants of Dhaulagiri (8,172m/26,804ft) and Annapurna (8,091m/26,538ft), Mustang the land of Tibetan Buddhism was opened to outsiders only in 1992 by special permit. This isolation has helped retain a traditional way of life almost unchanged for centuries. With its ancient monasteries, palaces, caves and ruins of old forts, Mustang is rich in art and history.
PHYSICAL FITNESS: Grade C (Strenuous)
This trek is for the more serious hill hiker. It involves hiking at medium to high elevations so a higher level of physical fitness and stamina is required.
EVEREST MOUNTAIN FLIGHT (optional) ~ Click title for more information
Upon arrival in Kathmandu one of our staffs will meet you outside the immigration and customs area at the airport. He or she will transfer you to the hotel and will brief you on the immediate arrangements. In the afternoon a trip briefing will be given at your hotel by your trip leader on what to expect on your trek and a general introduction of Kathmandu and Pokhara. In the evening we will go for a welcome dinner.
Dinner / Hotel Yak and Yeti (5 star deluxe hotel) – Kathmandu
Transfer to the airport for a 25 minutes flight to Pokhara about 200 kilometers/124 miles west of Kathmandu, a lively town beside Phewa Lake situated at the foot of the Annapurna range. As we fly out of the Kathmandu valley we get panoramic views of the Langtang, Ganesh, Manaslu and Annapurna mountain ranges. After that you are free to explore the Lakeside, a tourist hub packed with souvenir shops and restaurants. You will also have time to have lunch on your own. In the evening we gather for dinner.
Breakfast, Dinner / Temple Tree Resort and Spa (5 star luxurious resort) – Pokhara
We take an early morning 20 minutes mountain flight to Jomsom (adverse weather conditions can cause delays and cancellations). This flight takes us up the Kali Gandali gorge between the peaks of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna to land at the small airstrip at Jomsom in full view of Nilgiri (7,061m/23,160ft) to the south. Jomsom is the administrative center of Mustang district and the people along the valley here are known as Thakalis and until the Chinese invasion of Tibet they had the monopoly on the salt trade of the region. After disembarking, we will collect our gear and prepare for our jeep ride. Crossing the Kali Gandaki River, named after one of the Hindu goddesses (‘Kali’) and said to be one of the holiest rivers in Nepal, to its left bank we head north through a wide, wind-swept valley via Ekle Bhatti (2,740m/8,987ft) to Kagbeni (2,810m/9,217ft), a former trading post on the way to Mustang and Tibet.
It is an oasis in the surrounding arid landscape with orchards, fields of barley, closely packed mud houses, alleyways, chortens and large red Gompa (monastery). It is also the northernmost village in this valley where foreigners can visit without the restricted area permit. Here we complete the administrative formalities at the check post and enter the ‘Forbidden Kingdom’ of Mustang. Driving on the east bank of the Kali Gandaki to Tangbe (3,060m/10,037ft) we continue to Chhuksang (2,980m/9,774ft) at the confluence of the Narshing Khola (river) and Kali Gandaki. Nilgiri, which dominates the southern skyline continue to loom at the foot of the valley. Across the Kali Gandaki are some spectacular red eroded cliffs resembling organ pipes above the mouths of inaccessible caves. Heading north we cross the river just before the Kali Gandaki enters a tunnel and a short steep climb brings us to Chele (3,050m/10,004ft). We continue to climb to a cairn from where we will see the village of Ghyakar (3,562m/11,683ft) and its fields across a massive canyon. The climb continues to Dajori La at 3,735m/12,251ft. La means pass. After crossing the pass we enter a large side valley and descend gradually to Samar (3,660m/12,005ft), a major stopping place for horse caravans surrounded by a grove of poplar trees. Samar used to be one of the major Khampa (Tibetan worrier) camps and few lodges that used to cater to them still operate. From here with views of the Annapurna Range we cross two high passes and descend to the tiny settlement of Shyangmochen (3,800m/12,464ft). Then climb gently to cross Shyangmochen La at 3,850m/12,628ft, we descend past a large painted square chorten and veer west. Keeping the picturesque village of Geling (3,570m/11,710ft) with its poplar trees, fertile fields and the main monastery overlooking the houses to the right we climb gently and then more steeply to cross Nyi La at 4,010m/13,153ft and descend to the village of Ghami to camp. (4 – 5 hours driving)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner / Camp – Ghami
We cross Dhakmar Chu (river) and climb to the longest and most spectacular stretch of mani wall (boulders with carved Buddhist prayers) in Nepal. Then we will leave the main trail and descend to the beautiful village of Dhakmar (3,820m/12,530ft) back dropped by a spectacular huge red fluted cliff dotted with numerous cave openings. After lunch we cross a stream and climb up a steep eroded gully to a ridge. Then we climb gently and arrive at the Mui La pass (4,170m/13,678ft). If we are lucky we might even see blue sheep in this area. From here we descend to the secluded and most ancient monastery Ghar Gompa. It is also known as Lo Gekar meaning true virtue of Lo.
Lo Gekar is the oldest active monastery (Nyingma sect) in Nepal and believed to have been established in the 8th century by Padmasambhava, in an effort to pacify the demons that were hindering the construction of the Samye monastery in Tibet, which is often considered to be the first monastery in the Tibetan region. The monastery is being restored, by the funding provided by the American Ambassador Fund for Cultural Preservation. The primary figures are Guru Rimpoche and his two consorts but the real treasures of Ghar Gompa are the hundreds of painted carved slates in wooden frames displayed on the walls of the main chapel. In the late afternoon we will visit the monastery. (5 – 6 hours hiking)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner / Camp – Ghar Gompa
Leaving Ghar Gompa we ascend a grassy valley to cross Chogo La pass at 4,325m/14,186ft (the highest point on this trek). After a long gradual descent, we finally get our first view of Lo Manthang, the walled capital of Mustang in the distance. We continue to descend to cross a stream and climb to the plateau of Lo Manthang to camp. (4 – 5 hours hiking)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner / Camp – Lo Manthang
Today we explore Lo Manthang known as ‘the kingdom of Lo or Mustang’ whose prosperity was built on the trade in salt and wool with Tibet. We visit two important monasteries built in the early 15th century. The Thubchen Gompa located near the center of town has intricate murals on the walls of its massive assembly hall supported by 35 tall wooden columns. It houses the statue of Sakyamuni (the main deity of Thubchen) surrounded by Chenrisig (Avalokitesvara), Vaisravana (the god of wealth) and Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). The three-storied Champa Lhakhang opens to a central courtyard supported by carved wooden pillars that contains a fifty-foot tall painted clay statue of Champa (Maitreya), the future Buddha sitting on a pedestal that occupies the entire ground floor, which makes it the largest clay statue in Nepal. The walls here are painted with intricate mandalas. Both of these monasteries have been restored by a team of conservation architects and wall painting restorers with funding from the American Himalayan Foundation. We also visit the Chodey monastic school. Although the monarchy of Mustang official ended in 2008 by order of the Government of Nepal the former official Raja Jimge Dorje Parbal Bista, was recognized by Mustang residents until he passed away in December 2016. He traced his ancestry back to Ame Pal, the first king of Mustang of the late 14th century, which suggests the city of Lo Manthang dates back to that period. (No hiking)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner / Camp – Lo Manthang
Note: The PBS series Nova has made a documentary titled ‘The Lost Treasures of Tibet’. The movie is about Mustang’s cultural heritage and the restoration projects.
Leaving Lo Manthang, the trail leads us south towards Charang (3,560m/11,677ft). We’ll climb up the pass Lo La (3,950m/12,956ft) overlooking Lo Manthang and continue for some time before walking
down towards the Kali Gandaki Gorge. The dry and dusty trail is steep and winding, with a clear view straight down to the rooftops of the village below. The final section of the trail drops sharply to the village of Dhi (3,390m/11,119ft), situated by the banks of the Kali Gandaki River. Just like most of the settlements along this river, Dhi is also marked by a patchwork of fertile fields and trees. The entire descent takes about two hours. After a well-deserved lunch at Dhi, we’ll hike up to the village of Yara to camp. Just before reaching Yara, on the opposite side we will see the incredible view of a series of gigantic wind scoured cliff (about 300 feet high) resembling giant flute organs. The cliffs are dotted with numerous cave openings and offer one of Upper Mustang’s most spectacular sights. (6 – 7 hours hiking)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner / Camp – Yara
Today, we’ll visit the ancient Luri Gompa cave monastery (13th century) and then return to our camp in Yara. The day begins with a steep climb to the village of Ghara (3,920m/12,858ft) situated northeast of Yara and continues further up to Luri Gompa. Luri is the most important cave monastery in Upper Mustang as it remains as one of the only monasteries in the region belonging to the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery consists of a series of interconnected chapels covering various levels all carved out of the cliff. The inner room contains a large chorten painted with various deities. Kashmiri-style paintings of exquisite flowers, deities and various figures of Indian origin adorn the dome-shaped roof and the west wall. Luri is one of the few remaining cave monasteries in Upper Mustang. (5 – 6 hours hiking)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner / Camp – Yara
From Yara, the trail leads south to Dhechyang Khola, winding steeply uphill for about 1.5 hours before opening to magnificent views of landscape below. We’ll then continue downhill into the village of Tangge, a small hamlet whose homes form a fort nestled below cliffs eroded into massive columns. The view of the settlement with its groups of chortens and mani walls of various sizes and shapes is stunning. (7 – 8 hours hiking)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner / Camp – Tangge
On our way out of Tangge, we’ll take a walk past the mani walls and chortens to join the trail leading down to the Tangge Khola, where we’ll cross a bridge. After the bridge we climb slightly over and contour back around overlooking Tangge and then descend again to the wide rocky plain of the Yak Khola. After one more river crossing, we’ll begin a steep ascent, allowing the horizon to widen between Charang, Lo Manthang and Nepal’s northern border. Finally about 4.5 hours, the summit of Pha adorned with prayer flags is reached. To the south is the stunning view of Dhaulagiri. Tonight, we’ll camp below other side of the pass near the only water source on this part of the trek. (5 – 6 hours hiking)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner / Camp – Pha
Today, the trail winds uphill, opening to exceptional views of the whole of Mustang Valley, extending far to the northern border beyond Lo Manthang. Some sections of the trail are fairly narrow. Soon, the trail veers away from the rim and opens to the extraordinary southern view of the Kali Gandaki Valley below as it cuts between the Annapurnas, Nilgiris and Dhaulagiri. To the east, an array of peaks surrounds the famous Thorang La pass (5,416m/17,764ft). Then our descent begins down a steep and rough trail with loose scree. The view down to the fields and the village of Tetang 3,040m/9,971ft) is out of this world. Eventually the trail flattens out on a plateau and splits in two. The right fork (our route) leads to Chhuksang where our jeep will be waiting for us, while the left one leads on through gullies to Tetang. From Chhuksang we drive back (about 1.5 hours) passing through Tangbe and return to check out of Upper Mustang at Kagbeni check post. Continuing south via Ekle Bhatti on the left bank of the Kali Gandaki River and then on its right bank we arrive in Jomsom. After many nights of camping we will enjoy spending the night at a lodge. (5 – 6 hours hiking)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner / Hotel Om’s Home – Jomsom
After saying goodbye to our trek crew we take the morning flight via Pokhara (weather permitting) to Kathmandu and transfer to hotel. Depending on our luck with the Jomsom flight we will either be in
Kathmandu or in Jomsom today. Flights in and out of this tiny mountain airstrip are commonly delayed and we have no control over their operation or schedules so you should be prepared for delays and cancellations.
Breakfast / Hotel Yak and Yeti (5 star deluxe hotel) – Kathmandu
If we are lucky enough to fly out of Jomsom and return to Kathmandu on time we will have the day free to explore Kathmandu. There are many touring possibilities like visiting Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan, stroll Asan bazaar or go shopping. Or simply relax by the hotel’s pool. Tonight we will enjoy a farewell dinner at a restaurant.
Breakfast, Dinner / Hotel Yak and Yeti (5 star deluxe hotel) – Kathmandu
Note: This extra day is specifically included in the itinerary should there be delays due to bad weather conditions. All lodging and meals will be provided at Jomsom while waiting.
Transfer to the airport for your homeward bound flight.
Land Cost Includes:
Land Cost Does Not Include:
Best time to go:
Spring: March, April and May
Fall: October, November and December
Land Cost, Internal Airfare & Upper Mustang Permit Fee
(Based on Twin/Double Sharing Accommodations throughout the trip)
US $ 3,990.00 per person (8 to 12 members)
US $ 4,405.00 per person (6 to 7 members)
US $ 5,355.00 per person (4 to 5 members)
US $ 8,035.00 per person (2 to 3 members)
US $ 620.00 per person (Kathmandu/Pokhara/Jomsom/Pokhara/Kathmandu)
Upper Mustang Permit Fee
US $ 525.00 per person
(To be paid in Kathmandu in US $ Cash only)
US $ 550.00 per person