Start: Kathmandu 44600, Nepal Finish: Kathmandu 44600, Nepal
Physical rating: High
Special diets catered: Vegetarians, Vegans, Meat, Kosher, Jain, Halal
Tour code: 120
Group size: 3 - 14
Tour operated in:
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The name Mustang is derived from the Tibetan word ‘mun tan’ which translates in Nepali to mean ‘fertile plain’.Tibetan is widely spoken and the traditional culture of Tibet largely remains throughout the region. The 18 day Upper Mustang Trek utilises the lowest pass through the Himalayas, west of Sikkim in India.On this expedition-style trek, you’ll learn about the Mustang’s status as a forbidden kingdom, which ended in 2008 when its ruling kingdom of Nepal became a republic. We’ll start our trip by exploring the temples and markets of Kathmandu, Nepal’s bustling capital city, before flying to the lakeside city of Pokhara at the foot of the Himalayas and onto the large village of Jomsom to start our journey.Our journey will take us behind the Annapurna ranges, hiking towards the border of Tibet and the beginning of the Tibetan Plateau, passing through the green oasis of Thakali and into a desert plain - a view that will literally stop you in your tracks!
Your trip starts in the lively and bustling city of Kathmandu with an explosion to the senses - take a deep breath! You’ll be met at Kathmandu Airport by a friendly face from Active Adventures Himalayas who will accompany you to our hotel. If you arrive early, you can head out to explore the city’s labyrinth of back street courtyards, colourful market stalls and ancient temples for your first taste of Nepal’s culture and friendly people. This afternoon, your guide will meet you at our hotel and run through what to expect from the days ahead. Tonight, we’ll take you out for dinner at a local restaurant, for your first experience of Nepalese dining - a culinary crossroad between the influences of China, India and Europe, which makes for some really delicious flavour combinations.Hotel Thamel Eco Resort, Kathmandu (Dinner)Elevation: Kathmandu - 1400 metres (4600 feet)
Location: Pokhara, Phewa Lake, Nepal Bhutan Tibet Tour
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After breakfast in Kathmandu, we’ll take a stunning flight west to the adventure capital of Nepal, Pokhara. Nestled beneath the majestic Annapurna mountain range on Phewa Lake, this town is the starting point for many explorers. We’ll head to the picturesque Pokhara Tibetan Centre for a cup of tea and a tour around the village with our Tibetan friends. It’s a very special experience, especially before heading into the Mustang region and the Tibetan plateau. After lunch you’ll have some free time to pick up any last minute supplies before we meet at one of our favourite lakeside restaurants for dinner.Pokhara Eco Resort, Pokhara (All Meals)Elevation: Pokhara - 830 metres (2720 feet)
Location: Jomsom, Kali Gandaki River, Dhaulagiri, Tukuche, Annapurna, Kagbeni
We take the spectacular 30 minute early morning flight to Jomsom (famous for its apples), where we’ll meet the rest of our trekking crew to begin our expedition. After checking our gear and organising our donkey train, we’ll begin our trek to the pretty village of Kagbeni. On leaving Jomsom, it’s a pleasant walk along the riverbank of the Kali Gandaki. The trail is flat and easy-going, giving you a chance to warm up those hiking muscles gradually. We’ll enjoy magnificent views of huge peaks such as Dhaulagiri, Tukuche and Nilgiri, while to the south, you’ll see the entire Annapurna massif. Kagbeni, with its narrow alleyways and tunnels, irrigation canals, fields of wheat and barley and a beautiful Gompa (the first of many monasteries we’ll be visiting), gives us an awesome glimpse into what to expect from the Upper Mustang region. We’ll arrive for lunch and stay the first night in a comfortable lodge. Our camp chefs will dish up the first of many delicious meals tonight. Welcome to the gateway of this long forbidden region of Nepal - go and explore the streets of Kagbeni, you never know what you’ll see!Paradise Lodge, Kagbeni (All Meals)Hiking Distance: 12 kilometres (7.8 miles), 3-4 hoursElevation Gain: 107 metres (351 feet)Elevation: Kagbeni - 2850 metres (9348 feet)
Location: Kagbeni, Thangbe, Mustang, Chhusang
Using a combination of high road trails and riverbank pathways, we meander up the valley. We’ll pass cashmere goat herds and small cows moving up the hillsides and marvel at the size of the eroded cliffs and the caves formed by years of weathering. Passing large apple orchards and the wide braided river of the Kali Gandaki, we’ll stop for lunch at the village of Tangbe where we come across the first black, white and red chortens that typify Upper Mustang. Representing three guardians, you’ll see chortens like these on each side of the Mustang villages. You’ll marvel at yet another lush green town and its labyrinth of narrow alleyways among white-washed houses, fields of buckwheat and barley. Nilgiri Peak continues to dominate the southern skyline. Chhusang village is only about two hours walk beyond Tangbe at the confluence of the Narshing Khola and the Kali Gandaki. When you turn the last corner for the afternoon and take the first glimpse of Chhusang, the view will take your breath away! There are some impressive ruined castle walls on the surrounding cliffs of the village and across the river some spectacular eroded red cliffs above the mouth of inaccessible caves. When you arrive at the first campsite of the trek, nestled in an apple orchard, you’ll find our camp team have set up your tent so you can just relax with a hot drink and get to know your fellow travellers. You’ll be impressed how well we take care of you on the trail.Camping Bharka Hotel, Chhusang (All Meals)Hiking Distance: 14 kilometres (8.5 miles), 5-6 hoursElevation Gain: 80 metres (262 feet)Elevation: Chhusang - 2930 metres (9610 feet)
Location: Chhusang, Kali Gandaki River, Mustang, Samar
Today is a fascinating walk from the beautiful town of Chhusang, further along the Kali Gandaki Valley amidst towering red cliffs. Just before you reach the village of Chele, you’ll cross the Kali Gandaki via a bridge beside a chunk of rock, which has fallen from the cliff side and formed a tunnel for the river to pass through. Above you, you’ll spot a row of ancient meditation caves, some 700 years old! Passing through Chele we climb up a deep valley and alongside a gaping gorge to Dojong La Pass, 3735 metres (12,250 feet), for fabulous vistas. It’s only a short distance down to Samar, a gorgeous leafy village tucked away in the hills of Mustang. Once you’ve settled into camp and had a cup of tea, you might like to visit a lookout point just a short walk above the village for fantastic views of the Annapurna and Nilgiri range.Camping Annapurna Lodge, Samar (All Meals)Hiking Distance: 9 kilometres (5.6 miles), 4-5 hoursElevation Gain: 620 metres (2034 feet)Elevation: Samar - 3550 metres (11,644 feet)
Location: Samar, Syangboche Marg, Ghiling
After climbing above Samar and marvelling at the green valley below, we continue over a couple of passes in the morning, before descending along a ridge to Syangboche, a tiny settlement with a few tea shops where we’ll enjoy lunch. The trail climbs again from Syangboche and we enter another huge valley with views as far as the eye can see. The Tibetan Plateau’s multitude of colours flow and fold as you stand in the winds that have blown and shaped this landscape for thousands of years. As you reach the viewpoint, add a stone to the pile on the pass and mutter ‘soso’ - good luck - before sitting down to enjoy the view for a few minutes. The village of Geling stands below, with its extensive fields of barley, lined with tall trees. The twig, straw, mud and pebbled roofs, and the white and ochre-painted houses are dotted though the village, each with their own green grass gardens and buckwheat fields. While here, we’ll pay a worthy visit to a 15th century monastery, painted in the stunning natural ochres of the region.Camping Kunga Hotel, Geling (All Meals)Hiking Distance: 15 kilometres (9.3 miles), 6-8 hoursElevation: Geling - 3550 metres (11,644 feet)
Location: Ghiling, Kora La, Jomsom, Kali Gandaki River, Dhakmar
This morning we hike the Nyi La Pass at 4020 metres (13,200 feet). Upper Mustang lies on an ancient trade route between Nepal and Tibet, exploiting the lowest pass at 4660 metres (15,300 feet), the Kora La, through the Himalaya. This route remained in use until China’s annexation of Tibet in 1950. Mechanised access to Mustang inside Nepal began with the opening of the airstrip in Jomsom in the 1960s. China eventually decided to revitalise trade in 2001, completing a 20 kilometre (12 mile) road from the Tibetan border to Lo Manthang. Road building from the south was inhibited by difficulties along the Kali Gandaki Gorge to the south, however work started in 2012 to eventually connect the area to the outside world. We descend into Ghami for lunch amongst some of the largest apple orchards in the region. After lunch, we walk out of Ghami up to the stunning Dakmar La Pass, before a short descent amongst some of the most impressive eroded cliffs in the region coloured by blue, purple, yellow, red and brown ochres.Camping Site, Dhakmar (All Meals)Hiking Distance: 14.3 kilometres (8.9 miles), 5-7 hoursElevation Gain: 270 metres (885 feet)Elevation: Dhakmar - 3820 metres (12,530 feet)
Location: Dhakmar, Ghar Gumba, Padmasambhava, Lo Manthang
Accommodation: Lotus Guest House, Lo Manthang
This morning we’ll head up and out of Dhakmar, climbing to the ancient site of the Ghar Gumba and Lo Gekar, one of the oldest monasteries in Mustang. Legend has it when the famous Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmasambhava arrived here he faced an evil spirit. After a visit to Lo Gekar, we’re on the road again climbing up a valley to the highest pass for the trek, Chogo La, at 4230 metres (13,877 feet). Look out for Lammergeyer and Himalayan Griffon soaring above your head, and lower in the fields marmot fussing and scurrying in between burrows set in the hillside. There are often herds of yak high up in the hills as they prefer to graze over 4000 metres (13,123 feet) where it’s cooler.Lying in the rain shadow of the Himalayas is perhaps the last enclave of pristine Tibetan culture. Forbidden and isolated from the rest of the world, Lo Manthang has evolved with its own distinctive culture and tradition, which is rich and unique. Here you’ll have the chance to experience a city largely untouched by modern civilisation. Climb to the rooftop of a building and see homes show off their affluence by placing firewood around the edges of their roofs.Lotus Guest House, Lo Manthang (All Meals)Hiking Distance: 18 kilometres (11 miles), 8-10 hoursElevation Gain: 10 metres (33 feet) Elevation: Lo Manthang - 3830 metres (12,565 feet)
Location: Chhoser, Lo Manthang
Accommodation: Lotus Guest House
Today we’ll be taking a 4X4 jeep ride 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) further towards the Tibetan border to one of the most impressive cave monasteries Mustang has to offer. Jhong cave is four stories high and we can clamber and climb through all the small portals in the cave, to one of 40 secret meditation rooms and hidden storage chambers. It is here that Khampa warriors sought refuge while they fought the Chinese many years ago, sometimes living five years in these caves. In the afternoon, you might like to visit the four major gompas of Lo Manthang. The Jampa Gompa, the oldest, built in the early 15th century and known as the ‘God house’, has some of the most impressive painted mandala walls of any monastery in Nepal and a huge Juniper pine posted entrance.Lotus Guest House, Lo Manthang (All Meals)Hiking Distance: 15 kilometres Jeep, 2 kilometres hike (1.2 miles), 2-4 hoursElevation: Lo Manthang - 3830 metres (12,560 feet)
Location: Lo Manthang, Charang, Dhaulagiri, Dhikura
We’ll ascend out of the Lo Manthang valley and head south along the Thulung Khola waving goodbye to the last forbidden kingdom as we cross the Day-La pass. Heading back towards Charang, we’ll cross the Thulung Khola and climb over Dhi pass at 4100 metres (13,451 feet). A spectacular trail with views of Dhaulagiri, we’ll traverse the ridgeline before descending down to Dhi village set low in the valley. After another delicious lunch, you can spend the afternoon relaxing with a good book or soaking up the views.Camping Hira Lodge, Dhi (All Meals)Hiking Distance: 13 kilometres (8.1 miles), 4-6 hoursElevation Loss: 410 metres (1345 feet)Elevation: Dhi - 3420 metres (11,220 feet)
Location: Dhikura, Kali Gandaki River, Yara, Gumba
Today we take a very special side trip not often experienced by foreigners. You’ll have the option to hire a horse from our team of porters today, or if you wish to stay with your feet planted firmly on the ground, that’s fine too. We’ll follow the Puyon Khola, a tributary of the Kali Gandaki. If conditions are suitable we’ll make some creek crossings (keep an eye out for Ammonite fossils) and head up to the village of Yara and onto the famous Cave Gompas of Luri Gumba. According to local legend there are seven (or nine) cave temples containing ‘chortens’ in this part of Upper Mustang. The detail and decoration of this site is magnificent, with earthen and ochre coloured artwork unique to Mustang.Camping Hira Lodge, Dhi (All Meals)Hiking Distance: 20 kilometres (12.4 miles), 8-10 hoursElevation: Dhi - 3420 metres (11,220 feet)
Location: Dhikura, Kali Gandaki River, Charang, Ghami
We begin the day with a lovely river-side walk next to the Kali Gandaki before a bit of a climb for lunch at Charang, the second largest settlement in Mustang. From here you’ll be able to spot the palace and monastery of Charang. A feast for the eyes, each element by itself is already extraordinary; the massive, natural coloured chorten, the huge ruin of the old fort, the differently striped Gompa and the wind-swept plateau surrounded by hills. After lunch we’ll return to Ghami along the longest Manu Wall in Mustang over the Choya La Pass. Watch out for goat herds as they graze in the pastures beside the pass.Camping Lo Ghami Guesthouse, Ghami (All Meals)Hiking Distance: 20 kilometres (12.4 miles), 7-9 hoursElevation Gain: 130 metres (426 feet)Elevation: Ghami - 3550 metres (11,644 feet)
Location: Ghami, Samar
Accommodation: Lodge, Lodge
Returning over a couple of passes, we make our way back to Syangboche for lunch on a mixture of road and hillside paths. The views of Mustang are ever changing and returning to this place you’ll recognise how different it looks just to walk the opposite way. We’ll visit Ranchung Cave, considered one of the most holy places in the entire Mustang region. Nobody lives here these days, however it’s often visited by local monks and lamas to meditate and by pundits passing through on pilgrimages to India from Tibet. There are no elaborate statues or paintings displayed, nevertheless the atmosphere is very solemn and signs of past visitors include prayer flags hung to the ceiling and small clay figures left behind by pilgrims. There’s a climb and descent after Ranchung Cave to one of the best lookout points in the wider valley, where you’ll greet the Annapurna Range again as it looms above the dry dusty landscape of Mustang.Camping Annapurna Lodge, Samar (All Meals)Hiking Distance: 24 kilometres (14.9 miles), 9-11 hoursElevation: Samar - 3550 metres (11,644 feet)
Location: Samar, Chhusang, Jomsom
Returning to the wide braided river valley of the Kali Gandaki, you’ll feel nostalgic to walk out of Mustang as you say farewell to the amazing culture and people that you have been privileged to meet. Have one last sweet and crunchy Mustang apple as you pass by Tangbe. It’s been a big walk with many ‘Nepali Flat’ undulations! But you’ve made it, and the treat of the jeep at Chhunsang awaits your tired legs. Once back to Jomsom, we’ll celebrate tonight and farewell our camp cooks and porters for the fantastic effort they’ve made on the trip.Tilicho Hotel, Jomsom (All Meals)Hiking Distance: 9 kilometres (5.6 miles), 2-4 hours. Plus jeep 2.5 hoursElevation Loss: 588 metres (1929 feet)Elevation: Jomsom - 2720 metres (8923 feet)
We’ll catch an early flight back to Pokhara and the beautiful shores of Lake Phewa. After lunch at a café, we’ll make a trip to the Himalayan Mountaineering Museum where you can learn about other cultures and mountains of Nepal. Maybe you’ll like to treat yourself to a massage this afternoon too! Tonight we’ll meet for a relaxed dinner at our favourite restaurant, Silk Road.Pokhara Eco Resort, Pokhara (All Meals)Elevation: Pokhara - 830 metres (2720 feet)
Today you can choose to have a well-earned rest in the lakeside town of Pokhara, or enjoy another exciting day in Nepal’s adventure capital! Your guides will be able to offer suggestions and help you organise activities. Today is all yours to relax and explore. This evening you might like to try some of Pokhara’s restaurants where local lake fish is a speciality, or you might like to try one of our favourites, like Moondance.Pokhara Eco Resort, Pokhara (Breakfast)Elevation: Pokhara - 830 metres (2720 feet)
Location: Kathmandu, Patan Durbar Square
This morning we’ll farewell the Himalayas in Pokhara and take a short flight back to Kathmandu. For those who are keen this afternoon, we’ll head an hour or two south to the city of Lalitpur, otherwise known as Patan, and thought to be one of the oldest Buddhist cities in the world. Patan lies in the southern region of the Kathmandu Valley across the Bagmati River, and is home to Patan Durbar Square, one of three Durbar Squares in Kathmandu and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Around the three courtyards here, there are an array of impressive temples (including the Ancient Royal Palace), religious shrines and historical places, all with exquisite carvings and a beautiful display of ancient Newari architecture. Today is also a great opportunity to find a bargain amongst Kathmandu’s many markets. Tonight we’ll meet at a local restaurant for our final dinner together to celebrate our achievements and adventures in the Himalayas.Hotel Thamel Eco Resort, Kathmandu (All Meals)Elevation: Kathmandu - 1400 metres (4600 feet)
Today is the final day of your Himalayas trekking trip. If you have extra time after your trip, we’re happy to make suggestions on how to make the most of it. On the other hand, if you’re on your way home today, we’ll send you back refreshed and invigorated from the great hiking and adventures you’ve had with us in Nepal!(Breakfast)
Local lodges chosen for their comfort, cleanliness and charm. In the smaller villages we'll camp 'under canvas', with the stars above us and the orchards alongside.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Rest assured you'll be well fed and well hydrated.
Two experienced guides per trip. Each season we send over a team of experienced Active Adventures guides from New Zealand. One of these guides will lead your trip alongside our incredible local Nepalese guides, as well as a team of local porters. You won't find a better combination!
Trekking, trekking permits, Nepalese government royalty fees, Tibetan Centre and Himalayan Mountaineering Museum visits, historical cave exploration and local markets.
Domestic Flights to and from Kathmandu and Pokhara
Domestic flights to and from Pokhara and Jomsom
Jeep travel where necessary
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