This exclusive experience is a journey into the forbidden Kingdom of Mustang, though only recently opened this region remains restricted and protected by the Government of Nepal. Fierce winds and barren landscapes await those who attempt to reach Mustang but the rewards are immense, with few tourists and the chance to observe a way of life virtually untouched for centuries.
This two-week once in a lifetime adventure takes us to the capital of the ancient Mustang Kingdom, Lo Manthang. The region remains entirely Tibetan in character with its traditional, white-washed villages, royal palaces, decaying fortresses, and Buddhist monasteries. Located in the rain shadow of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges, this trek is perfect for the monsoon time in July to September.
Max Trekking Altitude
Hours of Walking
Best time to go
Mar - Nov
We camp in selected areas often close to the villages. Here you may enjoy a well-deserved shower, followed by sundowners or some relaxing time with a book. Every day concludes with a delicious three course dinner and stories shared around the campfire.
This trek is categorized as easy to moderate and offers an exciting experience for both beginners and experienced trekkers. Expect to carry your personal pack with what you need while trekking. Our porters will carry everything else.
This morning we take a spectacular flight to Jomsom up the deep Kali Gandaki river valley. There are great views of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna massifs either side of the aircraft.
From Jomsom we start the trek towards Mustang in the North. The trail may follow the river bed or higher on the east bank depending on the season and flow of the river. Continuing along the east bank we bypass the villages of Phalyak, Dakarjong and Panga, and finally reach Kagbeni. The village is located at the confluence of the Kali Gandaki and the Jhong Khola (river) coming down from Muktinath.
Kagbeni was once ruled by a gyalpo (king) from his castle which is now in ruins. The dynasty has died out but during its time it was powerful, much like the barons of the Rhineland. The monastery belongs to the Sakya sect and can be identified as such by the uniformly spaced grey stripes on its outside walls.
On the second day we pass the police check-post where our permits are checked. We then descend briefly and begin a steep climb up to join the broad, loose trail that contours along the east bank of the river. The trail continues through several small settlements and we pass through the village Chusang. Ruins of castles litter the hill-tops behind the village, and prehistoric cave dwellings can be seen on the west side of the river.
These first days we climb several passes ranging from 3600 meters to 4000 meters altitude. From the passes we have excellent views of the Damodar Himal, Thorongtse, the Nilgiris and Tilicho. We pass through villages among poplar trees which line the irrigation canals feeding water to the terraced fields below. Everywhere, we see signs of the rich Tibetan Buddhist heritage in the form of prayer wheels, chortens, and stupas.
On the fifth day, we reach Lo Manthang after passing through the village Marang. The monastery of Lo Gekar which belongs to the village of Marang is believed to be the oldest here. The dark inner chamber of the temple conceals some beautiful statues of Padma Sambhava and Milarepa. We then climb a small pass to the pastures towards the north until the pass overlooking the Lo Mantang valley is reached. Right across from Lo Mantang is the Tibetan plateau, clearly visible with awesome views of Damodar to the right. A further hour of walking brings us to the walled city.
Today we explore Lo Manthang. Lo Manthang means the "Plains of Prayer", and the town is walled with houses closely packed together. The king lives in his palace which is the largest residence and easily noticeable among the other houses. The Tibetans referred to the king as "Lo Gyalpo" meaning King of the South.
The town has three monasteries - the Chamba Lakhang, which houses the massive 45 foot statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha, and the Thugchen Lakhang with several large images of Sakyamuni, Avalokitesvara, and Maitreya. The third monastery is Chodi of the Sakya sect which has several monks in residence and this is the site of the annual Mani Rimdu festival in May (called "Tegi" in Lo Mantang).
Half way to the King's summer palace in Trenkar is Namgyal monastery (victory). Namgyal is the largest monastery in Mustang. It is perched on a hill-side above the village of the same name. Its massive walls are painted in strips of grey, white and yellow, and inside you will find a large courtyard with galleries.
Over the next three days, we make a journey south to Luri Gompa, via Tsarang and Dri. The trail here is steep and narrow with descends into deep gorges and climbs up to remote villages.
On the ninth day we reach Luri Gompa, an ancient cave monastery built inside the sandstone cliffs. Inside is a chapel and an inner room which contains a stupa embellished with deities. The site, according to locals, was built by the Buddhist Sanit Padma Sambhava and it is believed only two of such were built in Mustang - this is the only one remaining today.
The next four days we continue to walk back south, heading towards the famous pilgrimage site, Muktinath. We will be backtracking parts of the route we took to get to Lo Manthang for a couple of days until we reach Chusang.
From here we turn south-east and start the ascent through the pasture land and cross Tapla pass (4400m). From here we can have a panoramic view of Nilgiri, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges, and the entire valley of Jomsom, Kagbeni and Muktinath.
On the fourteenth day we visit Muktinath temple and the Holy water flame in the morning. After lunch we drive to Jomsom, where we will spend the last night at a lodge.