The magical upper Mustang region is also known as the ‘Last Forbidden Kingdom’ of Nepal. Mustang being a differently and typically unique districts of Nepal situated beyond the Himalayas renders it a different stature.
The treks to this forbidden but magical and mysterious region of Nepal were allowed in 1992 with number of visitors restricted to as many as 1000 per year.
It is steeped in undisturbed Tibetan Buddhist culture with ancient monasteries, traditional villages and cave dwellings high up on the cliffs, as well as the stunning architecture on view at the walled city of Lo Manthang (capital of Mustang region).
The Upper Mustang trek in to the remote Trans-Himalayan Region of this semi-independent Tibetan Kingdom offers an adventurous 14 day itinerary with spectacular trekking through striking semi-arid desert with colorful rock formations, deep ravines and snow-capped peaks surrounding you.
The history, culture, myth and legend blends perfectly with the stunning scenery. In common usage, the name Mustang refers to the arid Tibet-like region at the northern end of the Kali Gandaki (known to its inhabitants as Lo).
Mustang has a long, rich and complex history that makes it one of the most interesting places in Nepal. The early history of Lo is shrouded in legend, myth and mystery, but there are records of events in Lo as early as the 8th century.
It is quite likely that the Tibetan poet Milarepa, who lived from 1040 to 1123, visited Lo. In Lo itself the countryside is similar to the Tibetan plateau with its endless expanses of yellow and grey rolling hills eroded by wind.
There is more rain in the lower part of upper Mustang and the hills tend to be great red fluted cliffs of tiny round stones cemented together by mud. Villages are several hours apart and appear in the distance almost as mirages; during the summer season, after the crops are planted, they are green oasis in the desert-like landscape.
Main highlights of Upper Mustang:
- You will walk back to the history of Lo Manthang after exploring the palace of king Lo.
- You can walk freely without worrying about the rain as the region lies in the rain shadow area of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges.
- You will have spiritual feel walking through many Gompas, chortens, flapping prayer flags, caves, rock paintings, and century-old monasteries.
- You will catch a live glimpse of Tibetan influence on the everyday activities and culture of the locals there.
- You will be proceeding further on the trip with the enticing views of Nilgiri, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and other chains of mountains.
- Breathe the spirituality of the Tibetan like people and monks with their prayer flags, mani walls, and ritual chanting.
- You will witness of everyday life and culture of the local people who live closely like their Tibetan neighbour.
- To trek in Upper Mustang is a rare privilege. Here you will experience a way of life of true mountain people, who for hundreds of years, had very little contact with the rest of Nepal and retained their rich cultural heritage. Until recent times their king was officially recognized by the Government of Nepal.
- . The district of Mustang was, until 1950, a separate kingdom within the boundaries of Nepal. The last king, the Raja of Mustang, still has his home in the ancient capital known as Lo Manthang.
- To enter Upper Mustang, that is to travel further north of Kagbeni,Upper Mustang, being in the Himalayan rain shadow, is one of the regions in the country suitable for trekking even during the monsoons. During this time, the upper Kali Gandaki valley is still quite dry with only occasional rainfall.
- .There are few accommodation facilities available above Kagbeni, so groups must be fully self-sufficient, especially in fuel.
- The Mustang trek is not particularly difficult, the highest point reached being only 3,800 meters, but the conditions at times can be arduous. Mustang is cold in winter and is always windy and dusty through the year. Winter treks are best avoided due to harsh weather.
- Lo Manthang, the old capital, is reached in four days and at least one extra day should be spent here to soak in the sights and sounds of this unique walled settlement.
- Ponies are available for hire if you so desire. The return trip can either follow the same route as the one you took to enter or take an alternative route along the eastern bank of the Kali Gandaki.
Spring and autumn are the best seasons to trek to Upper Mustang along with a government approved permit to reach this hidden region of upper Mustang.
Narendra Moktan, Chinese language guide Kathmandu: I was professionally successful in 2018…