There is something about the unknown that always fascinates people. If it is mysterious or forbidden, we want to know more. This is part of the appeal of The Ancient Walled City of Lo-Manthang in Upper Mustang Lodge Trek: it is a trek into what had not that long ago been off limits to foreigners. In fact, this area was closed to the outside world until 1991. Before that, no non-Nepali could enter this place. Because of this restriction, the city and region has retained its unique culture.
The land of Mustang has been known to outsiders for many centuries. It was located on the main salt road to Tibet. It has managed to retain its independence. Even when it was absorbed by the Kingdom of Nepal, it retained its own king, paying only nominal allegiance to the government of Nepal. When Nepal abolished kings in 2008, the local people didn't pay any attention to the new laws. They honor their king who is a highly respected figure in Lo-Manthang and still occupies the ancient royal palace.
The land around it lies in what is called a rain shadow area. The summer monsoon rains don't come this far north. The land is windswept and dry, with desert like landscapes that often resemble a moonscape. Yet, there are rivers that do cross the region, including the Kali Gandaki which near Jomsom forms the world's deepest gorge. There are barren rock formations, yet you will find subsistence farmers growing barley and potatoes along with raising livestock of goats and yaks. The local language is often a dialect of Tibetan, as these people emigrated from Tibet over a thousand years ago.
This trek does involve some high level trekking and there will be time to do some acclimatization to prevent altitude sickness. This trek will see only a limited number of visitors each year because of the restrictions placed on entry numbers. This is done to insure that the region does not lose its unique culture. The religion of the region is Tibetan Buddhism and the ancient Bön religion. Bön was the religion of Tibet before the introduction of Buddhism and it can still be found being practiced in some areas. You will find the Dalai Lama honored here. Here in Upper Mustang, you will find what Tibet used to look like over 50 years ago.
Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition is pleased to be able to offer this unique trekking experience to what many consider to be the most interesting and beautiful place in all of Nepal. Because of our connections, we can get you the necessary permits to enter, and organize a great trekking experience for you.
DAY 1 – Arrival in Kathmandu, transfer to hotel
DAY 2 – Full Day of Sightseeing in Kathmandu Valley.
DAY 3 – Drive to Pokhara (elev. 820 m) via First Class Luxury Bus
DAY 4 – Fly to Jomsom (elev. 2720 m) and trek to Kagbeni (elev. 2800 m) 3 – 4 hours
DAY 5 – Trek to Tsaile (elev. 3100 m) 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 6 – Trek to Ghiling (elev. 3100 m) 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 7 – Trek to Drakmar (elev. 3450 m) 5 – 6 hours
DAY 8 – Trek to Lo-Manthang (elev. 3840 m) via Ghar Gompa & Marang-La Pass. 7 – 8 hours
DAY 9 – Explore Lo-Manthang, Chhuser Village and Cave Monastery and Dzong.
DAY 10 – Trek to Tsarang (elev. 3560 m) 3 – 4 hours
DAY 11 – Trek to Syangmochen (elev. 3500 m) 6 – 7 hours
DAY 12 – Trek to Chhusang (elev. 2980 m) 5 – 6 hours
DAY 13 – Trek to Jomsom (elev. 2720 m) 6 – 7 hours
DAY 14 – Fly to Pokhara (elev. 820 m) with ½ day sightseeing in city
DAY 15 – Drive to Kathmandu (elev. 1340 m) on Luxury Bus
DAY 16 – Departure
DAY 1 – Arrival: Arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport where you will be met by your representative of Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition. You will be escorted to your hotel where there are complimentary welcome drinks and a short briefing with plenty of time to relax from your flight.
DAY 2 – Kathmandu: Your day will be spent visiting several of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This is a great day to get a feel of the culture, spirituality and the beauty of the famed Kathmandu Valley. The Valley is larger than the country of Singapore and is known for its temples, shopping and great hospitality.
DAY 3 – Drive to Pokhara (elev. 820 m): The journey today is by 1st Class, Luxury Bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara. While flying will get you there in just 25 minutes, taking the bus is the best way to see the countryside. The trip crosses the pass out of Kathmandu and then down the mountain through beautiful canyons. We will pass waterfalls and fast flowing mountain rivers which are famous as great places to do rafting. There will be many villages the journey will pass through as well as along terraced farms. We will arrive around 2 pm in Pokhara and check into a Three Star Hotel near Lakeside. This will give you an opportunity to explore some of the Lakeside area, which is located on the eastern shore of Phewa Lake. There are great views along the way.
DAY 4 – Flight to Jomsom, Trek to Kagbeni (elev. 2858 m): This morning we rise early to catch a 45 minute flight into the mountains to Jomsom. This is a principal village on the Kali Gandaki River. It has always been a major destination point, being on the ancient trans-Himalayan trail to Tibet. Our trek begins today as we make our way to the windswept village of Kagbeni. We will camp in Kagbeni. Trekking time is 3 – 4 hours, a short day.
DAY 5 – Trek to Tsaile (elev. 3100 m): Today we enter the restricted region of Upper Mustang. We follow the left bank of the Kali Gandaki River. The first Mustang village we come to is Tangbe which has a medieval atmosphere. The trail continues upwards to Chhusang Village. Further up, we pass 16 caves along the Kali Gandaki. We see some of the snowcapped peaks like Mt. Nilgiri Himal as we approach our destination of Tsaile Village where we will spend the night in camp. Trekking time is 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 6 – Trek to Ghiling (elev. 3570 m): We get up early and take a rather unstable local dirt road uphill to reach the plateau. From here, it is an easy ascent to a small pass as we make our way to Samar village. We will have lunch here and then the trail will be up and down as we trek to Chungsi Cave Monastery. This monastery features an incredible feeling of deep spirituality that touches every visitor. There are great mountain views along the way. We will see and visit several monasteries along the way, including one where Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the 8th century. We pass next to Syangmochen village, then climb again to a small pass were we will encounter a very large chhortens along with two smaller gompas with walls that are painted red. We will spend the night in Ghiling village at a local lodge.
DAY 7 – Trek to Drakmar (elev. 3450 m): We begin the day by walking through the village of Ghiling which is a large village here in Mustang. We will ascend to the mountain pass of Nyl-La, and enter what is known as Central Mustang. In ancient times, this was the land of Lo. We descend into the valley and reach the village of Ghami with its terraced farmland that clings to the sides of the cliff. We pass incredibly long Mani Walls and then unique rock formations with stones of red, orange, blue and white. We will follow a small river upstream to reach our night's destination of Drakmar. Trekking time today is 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 8 – Trek to Lo-Manthang (elev. 3840 m) via Ghar Gompa & Marang-La Pass (elev. 4230 m): Today is a day of climbing as we make our way to the capital city of Mustang. We will ascend to the top of Marang-La Pass for one incredible view of the region. From here, we can see the snowcapped peaks of the Himalayas plus look upon the plateau of Tibet. You will also have your first view of the ancient walled city of Lo-Manthang which is an awesome view of this forbidden place. We will descend to spend the night in the capital city. Along the way, we will see the Ghar Gompa, one of the oldest monasteries in the region. Trekking time is 7 – 8 hours.
DAY 9 – Exploring Lo-Manthang (elev. 3840 m): Today will be a time to explore inside and outside of the walls of the ancient city of Lo-Manthang. There are gompas, temples, interesting alleyways that lead like a maze through the city. There is also the royal palace, and wonderful four-storey affair that is the heart of the city. We will spend a second night in the city.
DAY 10 – Trek to Tsarang (elev. 3560 m): We leave the ancient walled city after breakfast and climb up a steep, sandy slope to reach Lo-La Pass which will afford us our last view of Lo-Manthang. We will be walking on a wide plain as we look up and see numerous caves in the face of the rock. When we come to a very large, isolated chhortens, we are crossing an ancient boundary between Lo-Manthang and Tsarang. We will cross an iron bridge over the Tsarang Khola. Tsarang was once its own kingdom and we will see a five-storey palace there along with a 14th century Gompa situated on the side of the Kali Gandaki Gorge at the eastern end of the village. We will spend the night at a local lodge in Tsarang. Trekking time is 3 – 4 hours.
DAY 11 – Trek to Syangmochen (elev. 3500 m): We set out after breakfast and begin a long, gentle ascent to a ridge, passing magnificent Mani Walls. We will pass Ghami-La pass and then on to Nyl-La pass. From here, it is downhill to Tamagaon on a steep set of switchbacks into a rock canyon. We finally join the Ghiling trail near the ridge and then it’s a short trek to the village of Syangmochen where we will spend the night. Trekking time is 6 – 7 hours.
DAY 12 – Trek to Chhusang (elev. 2980 m): We continue our trek as we are heading back to Jomsom. There are a number of small villages we will pass through on today's trek. We will see a big canyon and then a steep descent to an iron bridge that crosses over the Kali Gandaki River. We will spend the night in the village of Chhusang. Trekking time is 5 – 6 hours.
DAY 13 – Trek to Jomsom (elev. 2720 m): It is our last day of trekking. We climb up to the picturesque village of Tangbe which will afford us an incredible view of the Annapurna Mountains. We will follow the Kali Gandaki River until we reach Jomsom. Trekking time is 6 – 7 hours and we will stay in a local lodge.
DAY 14 – Fly to Pokhara, ½ Day Sightseeing (elev. 820 m): Today is a short, 45 minute flight in the morning to Pokhara. From here, we can check into our Three Star Hotel where we can get a real hot shower. We will spend the day doing sightseeing in Pokhara, visiting places like the Buddhist Peace Pagoda and Devi's Falls as well as an opportunity to do boating on Phewa Lake.
DAY 15 – Return to Kathmandu: We leave early morning by bus for Kathmandu. We will stay at a Three Star Hotel in Kathmandu. In the evening will be a farewell dinner with cultural dancing.
DAY 16 – Departure: All good things must come to an end, and your trip to Nepal is no exception. Before leaving, why not talk to your representative at Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition about returning to Nepal for your next holiday. The vast majority of people make a return trip to Nepal because they are impressed by not only the beauty, but also the local people. Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition offers trips into neighboring Tibet, Bhutan and India. Be sure to discuss your interests and plans with them today.
Your safety is of paramount importance while traveling with Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition. Please note that your leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Every effort will be made to keep to the above itinerary. However, since this adventure entails travelling in remote mountain regions, we cannot guarantee that we will not be forced to make last minute changes due to weather conditions, health conditions or any member of the group, unexpected natural disasters, etc. The team leader will do everything possible to ensure that the trip runs according to plan. Be prepared for any last minute changes. The Himalayas are big and wild, and worthy of your respect.
THE TREKKING GROUP
For this trek there will be one team leader/guide. We also provide an assistant leader (1 assistant per six trekkers), and Sherpa porters for carrying luggage (usual compliment is one porter for two trekkers). This arrangement ensures that anybody in the group gets sick; the trip can still go ahead as planned. Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition can run this trek for any size group, but the maximum size is 12 people in order to make it a pleasant and enjoyable trip. However, if you would like to have a larger group, Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition can make the appropriate arrangements as well.
All accommodations for Ancient Walled City Lo-Manthang in Upper Mustang Lodge Trek are on twin sharing basis with inclusive trip costs and are chosen based on standard hygiene, standard of service and food, location and more. There are two styles of accommodations during the trip. We will spend Three nights in 3-Star Hotels in Kathmandu and Two nights in Pokhara. For the remaining eight nights, we will stay at local tea houses or local lodges and two nights at comfortable two-men camping tent. Some of these places have shared toilets and washing facilities. Solo travelers may share a room, or if requested, we can arrange for a private room for an additional fee. However, please understand that in some remote places single rooms might not be feasible, even if the extra fee is paid. These are remote villages that we are dealing with. We at Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition will do all we can to make your trip as pleasant and enjoyable as possible.
During the trek, we can enjoy typical Nepali food, different ethnic cuisines as well as all types of international cuisine (Tibetan, Continental, Italian, Indian, etc.) from pizza and chips to apple pie. We can even enjoy hot chocolates, variety of breads, drinks and snacks. Breakfast will be served from the tea house or lodge menu where we spend our night. Lunch will be served on the way to our destination and usually along the trail. Dinner and breakfast will be served at the tea houses where we will spend the night. Note that at the tea houses and lodges, the food is good, although the menus will be limited. A farewell dinner with cultural show and breakfast will be served in our stay in Kathmandu as well as breakfast served in Pokhara.