The Kingdom of Lo in the Mustang Region of Nepal is one of the most remote kingdoms on earth. One of the few remaining authentic Tibetan cultures still left in the world, the northern part of this astounding kingdom is open to a small number of fortunate permit holders each year. For the adventure of a lifetime, join us as we explore the dramatic landscape and ancient culture of this isolated region.
Sheltered by such massive Himalayan peaks as Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, Mustang is a rugged moonscape of walled monasteries, windy plains and towns that time forgot. The founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava, came here in the 8th century to defend Buddhism against the forces trying to destroy it. To celebrate his successful battle, he built the temple of Lo Gekhar that still stands today, surviving along with an unadulterated Tibetan culture that cannot be found elsewhere.
The kingdom of Lo is strategically positioned along the main trade route between Tibet and India. In the 15th-17th centuries traders carried salt and wool to India and spices and grain back to Tibet, following the course of the mighty Kali Gandaki River. The Kingdom of Lo was part of Tibet until it joined with Nepal in 1790. This district is the lone bastion of traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture and religion in the predominantly Hindu Nepal.
The kingdom was closed to outsiders in 1960, when eastern Tibetans began their fight against Chinese forces. The region was not reopened to outsiders until 1991, and upper Mustang is still closed to casual visitors. A small number of permits are issued each year to trekking companies, and a government liaison accompanies each trekking party in the restricted area of upper Mustang. We hold a small number of permits for 2008, each permit costing 700 USD.
Mustang enjoys a longer trekking season than the rest of Nepal because it lies beneath the rain shadow of the Himalayas. It is not subject to the monsoons that hit other parts of the country and make trekking difficult. Because of the windy plains and arid landscape, this region is more rugged than other trekking areas of Nepal.
Our trek begins with a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom and then follows the course of the Kali Gandaki. This fast flowing river carved a deep gorge through the high Himalayas on its relentless flow to the plains. Climbing up this steep canyon, we hike several days to the walled capital city of Lo Manthang, virtually untouched since the 14th century.
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Challenging
Group Size Medium Group
- Be one of only 1200 outsiders permitted each year to visit the upper Mustang district.
- Trek the ancient trade route between Tibet and India along the spectacular Kali Gandaki Gorge.
- Witness a way of life almost unchanged for centuries, and one of the few traditional Tibetan cultures left on earth.
- Explore the monasteries and temples of the ancient walled city of Lo Manthang.
- Visit Pokhara, the Gem of Nepal, home of Lake Phewa and starting point of Annapurna treks.
- Airport pick-up and drop-off
- Four nights hotel accommodations with breakfast in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur
- Licensed and trained trekking guides
- Porters for carrying goods and supplies
- All accommodation during trek
- All meals and hot beverages whilst trekking
- Transportation to and from trail head
- All necessary documents and permits for trekking (where applicable)
- National Park/Conservation Area entry permit
- Equipment such as sleeping bag, tents, mattresses
- Cooking equipment (if required)
- Camp-site charges (if required)
- Insurance, medication, and equipment for staff
- Coordination of Quick Rescue service (costs covered by your insurance plan)
- International airfares
- Travel/trekking insurance
- Excess baggage charges more than 16kg and hand bag more than 5kg in domestic flights
- Visa fees
- Airport departure tax
- Rescue charge
- Drinks (cold and alcoholic)
- Expenses of personal nature
- Permit and liaison officer fee (where applicable)
- Lunches and dinners whilst not trekking
Arrival in Kathmandu
Upon arrival at Kathmandu International Airport transfer to your hotel in Kathmandu or Bhaktapur. Short briefing will follow concerning the necessary formalities and your trekking itinerary. Depending upon your arrival time you may spend free time visiting nearby sanctuaries or resting.
Sightseeing / Cultural Day in Kathmandu Valley
Half day sightseeing around UNESCO Bhaktapur / Kathmandu where your guide will escort you on a tour of Buddhist and Hindu temples and shrines reflecting ancient local traditions. There is time to explore the city’s many places of interest on your own or take a rest while trekking permits are finalised. In the evening sample a delicious traditional Nepali dinner. Overnight in Kathmandu.
We fly west from Kathmandu to Pokhara, the Gem of Nepal and the starting point for Annapurna treks. Take some time in Pokhara to enjoy the town, the dramatic scenery, and walk along the shores of Phewa Lake.
A short flight to Jomsom, the administrative capital of the Mustang district, reveals spectacular views of the region. From Jomsom we trek north to Kagbeni, the last settlement in lower Mustang and the most ethnically Tibetan in the unrestricted area. We stay overnight here.
Kagbeni-Chele (3100 metres)
We enter the restricted area of upper Mustang today, trekking along the Kali Gandaki gorge to the village of Chele. This cluster of whitewashed buildings is huddled at the base of a sheer cliff. The flat roofs of the houses serve as safe storage for the stacks of precious firewood used for cooking and heating. Life here has not changed much over the past centuries.
Chele-Geling (3570 metres)
Traveling west from Chele, today we cross several mountain passes (Chele, Bhena and Yamdo). Rock formations chiseled by wind and weather line the route, providing a feast for the eyes. From Shyangmochen (3800 metres) we descend to Geling. Set in a green oasis of barley fields, the town of Geling stands in stark contrast to the barren landscape that surrounds it.
Geling-Charang (3560 metres)
Today we take a gentle climb upward through the fields of barley and then more steeply to Nyi La (Nyi Pass), the southern boundary of the Kingdom of Lo. Our descent brings us into the town of Charang with its large monastery teetering on the edge of the Kali Gandaki Gorge.
Charang-Lo Manthang (3700 metres)
We climb upward again to a final ridge, where we can look down through a natural gateway strung with prayer flags to the Plain of Inspiration. The walled city of Lo Manthang below is the summer home of the Raja of Mustang. A ring of rounded hills surrounds the city, each one topped with a fortress
We spend the day exploring this ancient city, capital of the kingdom and the center of its culture. Monasteries, temples, and ancient structures tell the story of the ancient Tibetan culture and the monastic traditions that are still alive here. Visit the huge seated Buddha in the Champa Lhakang that dates back to the 15th century and examine the beautiful frescoes of the Thugchen Gompa. The Raja may well be in residence at the Raja’s Palace, the largest building in Lo Manthang.
Manthang-Ghami (3460 metres) via Gekar
We head out over pasture land and cross the Charang Khola to the isolated village of Gekar and Ghar Gompa. Our walk leads us over hills and through green valleys to the village of Ghami with its cluster of buildings surrounded by fields.
Ghami-Samar (3300 Metres)
We climb today, up to the Nyi La pass before heading down to Samar, a picturesque settlement surrounded by poplar trees. This is a stopping point for mule and horse trains carrying supplies to the remote villages of this kingdom.
Our trek today takes us back to Kagbeni, where we exit the restricted area of upper Mustang. Overnight in Kagbeni.
Kagbeni to Jomsom
Our trek today is short as we head back to Jomsom and a return to civilization, or the closest thing to it in this region.
Fly or drive back to Kathmandu.
Fly or drive back to Kathmandu.
Departure from Kathmandu.