Difficulty Level of Upper Mustang Trek
The Upper Mustang Trek is a moderate grade trek in terms of difficulty. A person who is enthusiastic about exploring the trans-Himalayan terrain and is somewhat fit can complete this trek without any hesitation. However, some may find it strenuous as trekkers will be traveling 6 hours per day on average. But one must come prepared for this trek. Preparation starts with mental to physical aspects including backpacking, physical exercises, and location research among others. There are vehicle transportation systems as well to those who wish to travel with relative ease and comfort. In conclusion, the Upper Mustang Trek is a doable trek for all kinds of people.
Upper Mustang Trek Brief Itinerary
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu, altitude: 1,300 meters
Day 02: Kathmandu Sightseeing
Day 03: Fly/Drive to Pokhara - 25 minutes flight, 6-7 hours’ drive, altitude: 820 meters
Day 04: Fly to Jomsom and Trek to Kagbeni - 25 minutes flight, 3-4 hours walking distance, altitude: 2,720 meters, 2810 meters
Day 05: Trek from Kagbeni to Chele - 5-6 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,110 meters
Day 06: Trek from Chele to Shyangbochen - 5 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,475 meters
Day 07: Trek from Shyangbochen to Ghami - 5 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,520 meters
Day 08: Trek from Ghami to Tsarang - 5 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,540 meters
Day 09: Trek from Tsarang to Lo-Manthang - 3 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,840 meters
Day 10: Explore Lo-Manthang
Day 11: Trek from Lo-Manthang to Dhakmar - 4-6 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,820 meters
Day 12: Trek from Dhakmar to Shyangbochen - 5-6 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,810 meters
Day 13: Trek from Shyangbochen to Chhusang - 6 hours walking distance, altitude: 2,980 meters
Day 14: Trek from Chhusang to Jomsom - 6 hours walking distance, altitude: 2,720 meters
Day 15: Fly to Pokhara (half-day sightseeing)
Day 16: Drive/fly to Kathmandu. From Pokhara,
Day 17: Final Departure.
Upper Mustang Trek detailed Itinerary
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu, altitude: 1,300 meters
You will arrive at the Tribhuvan International Airport situated in Kathmandu. A company representative will receive you and take you to the hotel. You can rest and explore the nearby areas for the remainder of the day.
Day 02: Kathmandu Sightseeing
You will spend the day exploring the various attractions of Kathmandu valley. You can visit places such as the three durbar squares of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur or visit religious sites such as Boudhanath, Swayambhunath, and Pashupatinath. If you do not have your trekking equipment yet, you can also go shopping around Thamel and get ready for your trek.
Day 03: Fly/Drive to Pokhara - 25 minutes flight, 6-7 hours’ drive, altitude: 820 meters
After a good breakfast, you will set out for Pokhara. You may choose to go by flight or by road. The flight is 25 minutes long whereas the drive lasts for around 6-7 hours. Nonetheless, both trips provide amazing scenery of the natural diversity of central Nepal. After you arrive at Pokhara, you will check in to your hotel. You may spend some time touring around the lively city of Pokhara and relax at the Lakeside.
Day 04: Fly to Jomsom, trek to Kagbeni - 25 minutes flight, 3-4 hours walking distance, altitude: 2,720 meters, 2810 meters
Early in the morning, you will be flying to Jomsom traversing across the Annapurna and Nilgiri ranges. En route, the Annapurna I (8091m), Machhapuchhre (6997m), other mountains, glacial rivers, and the deep gorges make up a beautiful sight to see. You reach Jomsom in about 25 minutes from where you start your trek towards Kagbeni. Kagbeni is the main entrance to Upper Mustang which is about 3 to 4 hours of walking distance from Jomsom.
Day 05: Kagbeni to Chele - 5-6 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,110 meters
Today, you head towards Chele. You traverse through several ridges and walk alongside the Kali Gandaki River. En route, you will come across the Tangbe village where you can see whitewashed houses, buckwheat fields, wheat, and apple orchards. The beautiful Nilgiri peaks stand astonishingly tall in the southern skyline. As you leave Kali Gandaki valley, you will reach Chele.
Day 06: Chele to Shyangbochen - 5 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,475 meters
You start the day with a steep rock climb which then leads to a gradual descent and eventually a steep climb again. The Mt. Nilgiri (7061m) seems even more majestic alongside the Annapurna ranges. You will come across several Buddhist Chortens, colorful prayer flags and lush poplar trees. You will also see the cave where self-emanating statues of Guru Rinpoche and Padmasambhava are located.
Day 07: Shyangbochen to Ghami - 5 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,520 meters
Today, you head out to Ghami. The trek starts with gentle incline walks through fields and valleys which leads to a steep rocky climb to a pass. As you summit the pass, the views of the valley below and the peaks surrounding it will mesmerize you. The alpine wilderness has a beauty of its own that you will surely admire. As you make your way through, you come across the Jhaite village where you will experience the local culture and religion. Crossing the Ghami La (3765m), you will reach Ghami.
Day 08: Ghami to Tsarang - 5 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,540 meters
Today, the trek starts with a gentle descent as you head out of Ghami. You make way down the cliffs and to a mountain pass. From here on, you gradually descend lower. The views of the blue, red and grey cliffs are surely a sight to see. En route is the longest stretch of Mani stone wall in Nepal. You will also be walking aside the Dhakmar river and cross it via a large steel bridge. Continuing on the trek for a few hours, you will settle at Tsarang for the day.
Day 09: Tsarang to Lo-Manthang - 3 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,840 meters
The trail starts with an ascent towards Lo Gekar or Ghar Gumba. Lo Gekar is a Gompa that dates back a long time and is one of the oldest gompas in the region. After a visit to Lo Gekar, you resume your trek up to Lo Manthang. Crossing the highest point on the trek at Chogo La (4280m), you begin the descent as you continue north. After crossing a few river tributaries, you finally arrive at Lo Manthang.
Day 10: Explore Lo-Manthang
Today you will explore Lo Manthang. A recommended destination is the Namgyal Gompa which is two hours walk away. You will find iconic monasteries and a local court at Namgyal Gompa. A little further west is a village called Thinggar. With just about 40 houses, this village is the only isolated village in the northwest side of Lo Manthang. You may visit this quaint village and return to Lo Manthang.
Day 11: Lo-Manthang to Dhakmar - 4-6 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,820 meters
You trails start with a steady ascent where you catch your last glimpses of Lo Manthang. You will be heading to Chogo La, the highest point of this trek. At 4,280 meters from the peak of Chogo La, you can look down at the barren lands and the diverse landscapes of Mustang. From here, you descend towards the Tsarang River. You make your way through Lo Gekar and arrive at Ghar Gompa. After a few hours of walk, you finally reach Dhakmar.
Day 12: Dhakmar to Shyangbochen - 5-6 hours walking distance, altitude: 3,810 meters
The trails now lead you lower until you reach the final ridge of the Dhakmar Hill. From here, you reach lower parts of Ghami and Jhaite. As you continue trekking you finally descend to Tama Gaon finally reaching Shyangbochen. The Tama and Yamta rivers will offer you company on the trek.
Day 13: Shyangbochen to Chhusang - 6 hours walking distance, altitude: 2,980 meters
Today you follow a stream which leads down to Chhusang. You may also take an alternate route that goes through Rachung Cave. Either way, you are bound to enjoy the beauty of the Upper Mustang region. On the final parts of the trek, the Kali Gandaki River will also join you. Chhusang is about 6 hours to walk away.
Day 14: Chhusang to Jomsom - 6 hours walking distance, altitude: 2,720 meters
Your trail today starts alongside a stream and continue along with several ups and downs. You go through low lands along the sandy banks of the Kali Gandaki River and finally reach Jomsom. Jomsom is about 6 hours walk away from Chhusang. Catch the glimpses of the villages and valleys one last time as you walk through the well-defined trails.
Day 15: Fly to Pokhara (half-day sightseeing)
It is time for you to return to Pokhara. You hop on the plane for a scenic flight. From mountains to hills and green forests, the lush landscape is an enjoyable sight. You may choose to explore Pokhara more and visit various places here. Mahendra Cave, Davis Falls, Bat Cave, Peace Pagoda, and Tal Barahi Temple are a few of the attractions in the city. You can conclude the day with a serene boat ride on the Phewa Lake.
Day 16: Drive/fly to Kathmandu from Pokhara
Today, you return to Kathmandu. Again, you may choose to fly or drive. As you head back to Kathmandu, you will witness the diverse landscapes one last time as they go passing behind you. Take a good view of nature and enjoy your trip back to the city.
Day 17: Final Departure
Finally, your trip to Nepal comes to an end. It is now time for you to go back home. With great memories, you hop on your flight and view the Himalayan land one last time as you fly away.
Upper Mustang Altitude
The trek starts from lower areas of Jomsom and leads through trans-Himalaya salt trading routes to the hidden city of Lo Manthang. The lowest point on the Upper Mustang Trek is at Pokhara (820 meters) and the highest point is at 4,280 meters at the top of Chogo La Pass. The trek starts from Jomsom at 2,720 meters. From here, you take the route; Kagbeni (2,810 meters), Chele (3,110 meters), Syangboche (3,4750 meters), Ghami (3,520 meters), Tsarang (3,520 meters), Lo Manthang (3,840 meters), Chogo La (4,280 meters), Dhakmar (3,820 meters), Shyangbochen (3,810 meters), Chhusang (2,980 meters) and back to Jomsom. You will only be covering a few hundred meters as you trek from one destination to another. The highest changes of altitude will be on the 12th day when you trek from Shyangbochen at 3,810 meters to Chhusang at 2,980 meters.
Upper Mustang Altitude Chart
The Upper Mustang Trek is in comparison is a lower altitude trek than other Himalayan treks. Given below is a table of the destinations on the trek along with their altitude.
Best Season to do the Upper Mustang Trek
When you visit Nepal, you will find out that this country experiences 4 different seasons; spring, summer/monsoon, autumn, and winter. The autumn and spring seasons are generally considered as the best time to travel and especially for trekking. However, the Upper Mustang Trek is different than other conventional treks. As Upper Mustang lies in a rain shadow area, this region experiences very less to no rainfall at all. Therefore, it can be considered a place to travel all year long. However, trekking in the winter season is dangerous as there are chances of snowfall and extreme weather conditions. As such, there are certain factors one must keep in mind when trekking to Upper Mustang. Each season offers a unique challenge as well as rewards. Here are more details on what one can expect during each season.
Spring (March, April, and May)
The spring season is a great time to be at Upper Mustang. Everything from the weather, trails and to the cultural aspect will be warm and exciting. The cold settles as winter ends and the temperature gets warmer. The snow that rests in the river beds start to melt and the flowing river takes birth along the lower regions. This season is indeed the perfect time to explore the Upper Mustang and the high passes. You can also plan your trek to participate in the Tiji Festival in May. The temperature during this time is generally around 16 to 22 degrees Celsius.
Summer/Monsoon (June, July, and August)
As mentioned before, there is little to no rainfall in this region. However, lower Mustang regions and most parts of Nepal experience heavy rainfall. Thus, the accessibility of the Upper Mustang region can be a challenge. Not just the trekking trails, but the paved roads, as well as the off roads, will be wet and slippery during this time. One can easily encounter inconveniences on the way to Upper Mustang. But once you reach here, you will be astonished by the sight of a whole different atmosphere. August also brings a yet another exciting festival; the horse festival or Yartung Mela. The celebration of this event stretches out from Lo Manthang towards the lower regions. The general temperature varies between 16 to 20 degrees Celsius during this season.
Autumn (September, October, and November)
Autumn is the best time to travel all over Nepal no matter which destination. The blue skies and clear weather provide a blissful environment for travelers. As such, Upper Mustang also falls in the list of places to visit during autumn. Moderate temperature and clear weather allow for a pleasant trip. The afternoons are windy in this season and the night is cool and comfortable. The general temperature ranges from 12 to 20 degree Celsius. Around the end of this season, lodges close and natives migrate to warmer regions.
Winter (December, January, February, and March)
The winter brings in a very cold atmosphere. It will be difficult to find lodging during this season as most lodges close and the local people migrate to warmer regions. The whole Upper Mustang region is very cold thus traveling is extremely difficult. The region experiences snowfall and temperature drops below 0 degree Celsius. If you still plan of traveling during this season, you are required to do proper research and preparation of your trekking. Trekking will require more advanced gears to help you tackle the obstacles that the cold weather brings.
Although the Upper Mustang Trek has fairly lower risks of altitude sickness, it is still vital for you to know about this sickness. The threat of altitude sickness kicks in from around 2,400 meters above sea level. As most of the destination in this trek lies above this mark, you are still at the risk of getting altitude sickness. As there isn't a known cure for this sickness, you need to know what altitude sickness is, how to prevent it and what to do in emergencies.
In high altitude regions, the air is thin in the atmosphere which results in a low amount of oxygen. Due to the low amounts of oxygen available, the body cannot function properly as the organs are not ventilated. This condition that a human body experience is known as altitude sickness. This can lead to problems in the body functions resulting in pain, discomfort and even death.
Causes of Altitude Sickness
When a person ascends altitude, the body tries to adapt to the atmosphere. But this process takes time. When the body is not able to cope with the atmosphere, various symptoms show up eventually leading to altitude sickness. During high altitude trekking, trekkers are recommended to spend additional days at various places so their bodies can acclimatize to the altitude. Thus, adapting to the atmosphere is mostly about taking time and regulating a pattern that helps your body function properly around the changing environment. However, there are possibilities of the body not being able to acclimatize. The only solution during this case is to not travel at high altitudes or travel with sufficient oxygen supplies and serious preparation. Another cause of altitude sickness is when a person does not listen to their body and exerts too much pressure on themselves. Usually, during trekking, one can get excited and overwhelmed, which can make them rush to finish the trek. When the body is not able to acclimatize, symptoms of altitude sickness start to appear eventually leading to the final stage.
Symptoms of Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness begins with various symptoms. The most common symptoms that start to appear in the early stages are headache, nausea, vomiting, and lightheadedness. Usually, after 12 to 24 hours of altitude ascension, these symptoms start to appear. Different people can experience different symptoms; thus, one must not ignore any symptoms. Trekkers must inform their partners or the guides and immediately take action at any sight of discomfort. Some more additional symptoms include coughing and gray, pale, or bluish skin tone, dizziness, etc.
Precautions of Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness is a dangerous illness that does not have an immediate cure. Therefore, it is best to avoid it. In worse case scenarios, there are certain measures you must take to survive. Likewise, it is a must to acclimatize to prevent altitude sickness and have a smooth trip. Spending a day or two at most at various intervals of your trip can help your body acclimatize to high altitudes. Next, a person must know their body's abilities and how much pressure they can withstand. It is possible to do so by regulating a proper pace with pattern which allows your body to sustain its performance and functionality. Lastly, keeping your body hydrated can benefit in various ways. It can help prevent altitude sickness, keep stable body temperature. One important thing to keep in mind is to now get carried away. Most of the times, travelers get over excited and tend to rush. This makes it harder for the body to adapt thus resulting in adverse consequences.
Remedies and Treatments for Altitude Sickness
When a person starts to notice symptoms of altitude sickness, s/he must immediately stop the trek and inform their travel partner or the guide. The only thing one can do during such situations is to descend back to lower altitudes. Medications such as Diamox may help speed up the process of acclimatization but these medications are only for emergencies and are to be taken with a doctor's prescription. Therefore, it is best if one can prevent altitude sickness. In severe condition, the patient must be evacuated via road transport or helicopters.
5 Other Treks in the Mustang Region related to Upper Mustang Trek
A journey to the Mustang region can be a magical experience as this land possesses a beauty that is beyond any imagination or human comprehension. Lying at the border to Tibet, Mustang is heavily influenced by Tibetan cultures and traditions which are reflected precisely by the people and heritages in the region. Mustang was once a separate Kingdom which was ruled by its kings. The local people still recognize Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista as their King and honor him in that name. The kingdom of Mustang may be known as a hidden land but the beauty of its biodiversity and unique cultures is evident. Here are some of the most popular treks of the Mustang region. Furthermore, the isolated region of Mustang lies in a rain shadow region so, it can also trek during the monsoon season.
Tiji Festival Trek
The Tiji Festival Trek is a trek that mainly focuses on the yearly Tiji festival which is held in the Upper Mustang region of Nepal. With the opportunity to explore the Upper Mustang region, you also get to witness one of the most exciting festivals of this region. The Tiji festival is an ancient festival followed since long back and performed by the residents of the region. The Tiji festival is a 3-day ritual known as “the chasing of demons”. Tiji tells the story of a deity named Dorje Jono who battles against the demon who created chaos and havoc in the kingdom of Mustang.
This festival has been celebrated for 500 years and is mainly a prayer to the gods for abundant rainfall and good crops. The Tiji festival trek starts with a short flight from Pokhara to Jomsom. From here, you start walking the trails through Kagbeni, Chele, Ghiling, and Tsarang to Lo Manthang where you spend three days celebrating the Tiji Festival. From here, you make your way back by Ghami, Samar, Kagbeni, and Jomsom. This trek runs a total distance of about 100 kilometers and requires 15 days for completion. You will be walking for about 5 hours on average per day.
Damodar Kunda Trek
The Damodar Kunda Lake has been a dream for many travelers and pilgrims alike. The famous lake of Damodar Kunda is well known for a pilgrimage to the Hindus and Buddhist. Its natural beauty and magnificent aura were well enough to attract trekkers from all over the world. The Damodar Kunda Lake is situated to the north of the Annapurna region. At an altitude of 4,890 meters, this lake is truly phenomenal sight.
The Damodar Himal to the north and Annapurna massifs to the south dominate the skyline and make for a scenic view. The Damodar Kunda trek begins with a flight to Jomsom from where you start trekking through the route; Kagbeni, Chele, Ghami, Yara, Thanti, Damodar Kunda, Dharang, Shyangbochen Chhuksang, Muktinath and back to Jomsom. The highest point of this trek is at Damodar Kunda. This trek takes about 16 days for completion. This trek runs a total distance of about 100 kilometers and requires 5 to 6 hours of walking on average per day.
Jomsom Muktinath Trek
The Jomsom Muktinath Trek is yet another exciting trip in the Annapurna region and gives travelers a marvelous cultural exposure. The Jomsom Muktinath Trek takes you to the beautiful region of Annapurna and the secluded valleys of Jomsom and Muktinath. Traversing through quaint villages, cascading waterfalls, lush forests as the mountains dominate the skyline, this is surely a wondrous trek. Your journey begins from Pokhara, where you start trekking towards Tikhedhunga and travel the route; Ghorepani, Tatopani, Ghasa, Marpha, Kagbeni, Muktinath, Jomsom and back to Pokhara.
The highest point of this trek is 3,810 meters at Muktinath. This short trek is to be completed in just 12 days. The trek is about 50 kilometers long and you will be waking about 5 hours on average per day.
Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang Trek
The Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang Trek might just be one of the most adventurous treks in the whole world. Both these regions possess hidden cultural treasures as well as mesmerizing scenic beauties. Two secluded regions of Upper Dolpo and Upper Mustang are some of the most isolated regions untouched by modernization.
The trek starts from the lowlands of Dolpo where you find lush greenery. You will come across the blue waters of Phoksundo Lake within a few days of the trek and reach the base of the Crystal Mountain. Here, you visit the Shey Gompa and then head east through Upper Dolpo and reach Upper Mustang. Your journey begins from Dunai where you reach upon a flight from Nepalgunj. From here your trek begins through the route; Ankhe, Renje, Phoksundo Lake, Janemba, Snowfield Camp, Shey Gompa, Nam Gaon Gompa, Marang, Dora Sumna, Misha Gaon, Shimen Gaon, Tinje, Rapka, Charka, Tulsi Khola, Nankhem Khola, Kharka, Gham Phedi, Ghami, Marang, Lo Manthang, Yara Gaon, Tange, Tetang, Muktinath and ends at Jomsom.
The highest point of this trek is at Kharka which lies at 5,445 meters of altitude. To complete this trek, you will require 30 days. You will be covering an approximate distance of 300 kilometers which requires you to walk about 6 hours on average per day.
Upper Mustang Luri Gompa Trek
The Upper Mustang Trek in itself is an interesting trip but with Luri Gompa, it's an even better one. The Upper Mustang Luri Gompa Trek takes you through some impressive canyon ridges, high altitude deserts, and the gushing Kali Gandaki River. The arid landscapes of Upper Mustang give you spectacular views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. Your trek starts from Jomsom and follows the route through; Chhuksang, Samar, Ghiling, Dhakmar, Tsarang, Yara, Luri Gompa, Dhi, Lo Manthang, Chooser, Ghami, Chhuksang, Muktinath and back to Jomsom.
The highest point of this trek is Chogo La at 4,280 meters. The total distance of this trek is about 140 kilometers. You will be walking for about 6 hours per day for 19 days.
Packaging list while doing the Upper Mustang Trek
Probably one of the most important things to focus during your preparation is your backpack. What you carry with you, definitely helps you in overcoming obstacles of your trek. One must be well aware of what s/he needs and does not. Overloading your backpack with unnecessary materials is a bad idea. Thus, it is crucial to know what is needed. The basic backpack list consists of clothing, trekking equipment/gear, personal supplies, general and necessary medications, first aid kit, and a few additional items. Here is a detailed list of what to carry for your trek to the Upper Mustang.
- Light thermal inner-wear
- Fleece jacket or pullover
- Wind stopper jacket
- from the cold winds
- Waterproof jackets and trousers
- Lightweight thermal gloves
- Set of Undergarments
- Trekking Shorts
- Lightweight long trousers/pants
- Sun hat or scarf
- Warm fleece hat or light balaclava
- T-shirts(preferably sweat soaking)
- Thin, lightweight (inner socks)
- Thick warm wool hiking socks
- Waterproof shell mittens/gloves(insulated liners recommended)
- Insulated jacket with attached hood
- Heavyweight pants (for high elevations)
- Heavy down jacket
- Winter hat
Also, if you are planning to travel during the winter season- you may need more warm clothes.
- Trekking boots
- Camp sandals
- Sunglasses with UV protection
- Water bottles
- Trekking poles
- Sleeping bag (rated to 0 degrees recommended)
- Sleeping pad/mat
- Silk liner
III. Personal Supplies
- Medium-sized towel
- Toothbrush/ toothpaste
- Multipurpose soap
- Face and body moisturizer
- Nail clippers
- Hand sanitizer
- Face/body wipes
- Throat lozenges
- Lip balm
IV. General Medication
- Bandage for sprains
- Iodine or water filter
- General painkiller
- Antiseptic cream for cuts
- Blister medication
- Antibacterial throat lozenges
- Antibiotic tablets
- Oral rehydration salts
- Diarrhea medication
- Diamox (for altitude sickness)
Tips for including appropriate equipment
In addition to the above-mentioned items, there are several more things you can carry with you. But above all, you need to make sure you do not overload your bag. Personal belongings such as cameras, books, cards or similar items can be useful during your trip.
It is for the best if all gears and equipment you prepare for the trek are of good quality. As these gears are what you will be relying on during your trek, you can consider these an investment for a safe and enjoyable trip. Thus, it is crucial to make sure you have reliable equipment. For those who do not already own the required equipment, they can easily find all the gears and travel items in Nepal. There are plenty of stores around the city where you can find all the necessary items for trekking for both purchase and rent. Moreover, these shops provide quality products for good prices.
The Upper Mustang Trek is a journey to one of the most secluded regions of Nepal. Unlike other treks that lead you through lush forests and greenery, the Upper Mustang Trek takes you to the side of Nepal which does not experience rainfall and rests in a dry and barren state. Yet, this arid landscape offers surreal travel experience and ethereal natural beauty. Likewise, trekkers can also experience the cultural uniqueness of this region alongside its natural beauty. Traversing through the natural and cultural aspects of this region can surely be a blessing to any travelers no matter where they are from! Email us: [email protected]