Mustang Region

You may have heard quiet whispers, unconfirmed claims at truth, about the mystical Mustang region on your travels, but most likely you haven't heard much. It was Nepal’s best kept secret until it opened its doors to tourists once again in 1992.

The Mustang region lies beyond the Annapurna Massif and stretches out into the vast Tibetan Plateau. It has been a part of Nepal since the 18th century but its location and its forced status as a ‘forbidden kingdom’ has protected it from the influences of the western world.

It is packed full of culture and tradition and the Upper Mustang is one of the best preserved regions in the world, with most still communicating in traditional Tibetan languages.

There's no other place on Earth that can offer you the same experiences that you’ll find in Mustang. Here we’ll tell you all you need to know about the region itself, including its history and climate, and some of the things you can do there. If you're keen to learn more about what it's like to go trekking there specifically, then check out our Mustang Trekking Tour Itinerary page.

Skip to: History | Climate | Things to do | Our Trip 

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local man on horseback in the mustang region

History

For a relatively small area, the Mustang region packs a punch in terms of history. It was once a forbidden kingdom, cut off from China, and with foreign entry banned by the Nepali government. The exclusion began in 1959 when the Dalai Llama fled from Tibet as the Chinese occupation became violent.

In the early 1960’s the famous warriors of the Khampa people joined with other local forces in the Mustang region and began fighting against the Chinese government. As a result, China requested the Nepali government to forbid entry of any foreigner to the Mustang region as it was a link to Tibet. In 1962 all foreigners were banned from entering until 1992, when the doors were reopened to tourists. 

For a long time, Mustang was an independent kingdom with its own monarchy, it held a strategic spot on the trade route between the Himalayas and the plains of India. It was claimed by Nepal and annexed in the 18th century and the monarchy was disbanded in 2008 by order of the Nepali government; meaning that the Mustang Region lost its title as a 'kingdom', but many in the region still recognize the monarchy today.

The once unsullied pocket of cultural is, unfortunately, slowly beginning to feel the influences of china and the outside world - a new road is currently being built through Mustang to connect China and Nepal. Change in the region is inevitable which makes now a great time to start planning a trip.


Climate

You might be aware that Nepal is in a climate zone which means it has a monsoon season. Monsoon hits the Himalayas hard and runs from July until late September or early October. Luckily the Mustang Region doesn't receive the same monsoon rains, it sits in the rain-shadow of the Annapurna Massif and is sheltered from the downpours which fall to the south/south-east. In fact, monsoon is a great time of year to travel in the Mustang Region as temperatures are lower and more comfortable for trekking.

Here's a quick look at the seasons in the Mustang Region - for more detailed information check out our Best Time to Visit Nepal page:

  • Spring (March-May) – Temperatures are pleasant in both the Upper and Lower Mustang regions during the day, hitting between 15-21°C and much cooler at night. 
  • Summer (May – July) –  The Mustang Region during summer can be very hot, and although trekking is still possible in the Upper Mustang, it may be a little uncomfortable. It ranges between 28-31°C during the day, and in the lower areas the temperature stays warm throughout the night. 
  • Monsoon (July – September) – Monsoon season doesn't hit Upper Mustang, but Lower Mustang does get a little wet, so rain gear is advisable, whilst temperatures are a little more comfortable than the height of summer.
  • Autumn (September – November) – Temperatures are relatively high at around 22-26 °C and slightly cooler in the Upper Region. Winds from the north tend to buffet the trails during these months so the right gear is essential.
  • Winter (December – February) – In the Upper Mustang temperatures are very cold at 0-5°C in the day and much lower at night. The locals leave these areas and head south for warmer weather so many of the tea houses are closed and the trails deserted. Lower Mustang temperatures range from 17-22°C whilst the surrounding mountains are topped with snow.

Things to do

Trekking

As travelling the world becomes accessible to more people, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find truly untouched gems of cultural significance, and particularly ones which are safe to visit. The Upper Mustang Region is still one of those places, with welcoming locals and a strong sense of tradition. It is a haven for trekkers and will spoil you with unimaginable views and peaceful trails.

To enter the region there is a charge of $50USD per day, and an annual quota (currently) of 1,000 people, so the numbers passing through remain low. 

There are countless treks you can undertake, ancient man-made caves to discover, and a rich Tibetan Buddhist culture to get lost in. There are guesthouses dotted around which make for a comfortable stay, and treks can even be completed on horseback if you have concerns about distance.

Be the first of your friends to experience this mystical region and check out our ‘Forbidden Kingdom of Lo’ Trek, you'll also find a more detailed itinerary, and reviews from previous travellers.

Mountain biking

If you love to mountain bike then you may already be familiar with the world-beating trails of the Upper Mustang. The diversity of the trails, in both terrain and difficulty make this place a must for mountain bikers of all levels. There are tours available out of Kathmandu and Pokhara, to explore this amazing region on two wheels with guides who will help you find all the hidden gems.

Culture

It’s hard to name a place with a more authentic culture than that of the Mustang region. Lo Manthang is the capital and here you’ll find Gompas, a royal palace, traditional houses and narrow streets. In Upper Mustang you can visit the Mukinath temple which is a place of religious importance for Hindu followers. The great thing is, if you don't make it to one of the Gompas or temples, you'll still feel the strong sense of culture through the people, the food and the vibe as you explore this beautiful region.


Our Mustang Trip 

  • Forbidden Kingdom of Lo Trek - Mustang

    18 Days  | 

    US$5999

    ACTIVE 5
    • ACTIVE 1

      What's The Rush?

      I’m not a triathlete, but I’m in decent shape and I’m not looking to experience a place just through a bus window. I’m happy to slow down on the trail, soak it in and breathe in the fresh air.


    • ACTIVE 2

      Leg Stretcher

      Sure, I own some hiking boots, they’re even worn in, but they don’t go on long trips. I like my creature comforts and I like to give a range of activities a go.


    • ACTIVE 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation so that I can eat and drink what I like without feeling guilty. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.


    • ACTIVE 4

      Challenge Accepted

      I’ll let my trusty guides sweat the small things, so I can focus on my goal. Getting to the top, reaching the end, achieving my dreams! Sure, it’ll be tough, but the views will be worth it.


    • ACTIVE 5

      The Ultimate

      I’ve put in the hard yards and now I get to reap the rewards. I’m a seasoned adventurer, not afraid to get my boots wet.


    • Read more about the Active Range

    4.76 out of 5 (from 21 reviews)

    Take on our greatest challenge and join this expedition-style trek into the heart of the Upper Mustang. Camp in idyllic orchards by night and explore ancient caves by day.

 


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Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Everest Base Camp, Sept - Oct 2017

    Great trip. Elder and Arjun are so great. They make an awesome team and really care about the people on the trip and the people working with them. The Himalayas are too hard to describe and pictures do not do them justice. There is no scale to compare them to when talking about them. You simply have to see it. Oh, Ama Dablam is magnificent. There were times when the scenery literally brought tears to my eyes. In a good way. Kathmandu is an experience for sure, but have mixed emotions about the city itself.
    – Indiana, United States
    EBC, October 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Have to Experience it to Believe it

    Don't know where to start and don't want to write a book but want anyone who is considering this trek to do it with Active Adventures. Why? I'm 62, still in good health and shape. Have experienced two other treks over the past ten years with other outfitters. Machu Picchu in Peru and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. There was a huge difference in personal care and attention to expedition details. What impressed me the most was the attention to every detail required to make this trek to Base Camp not only successful but an enjoyable one too. There was not one negative experience that Active Adventure was in control over (lodging, food, permits etc). My mind was put to ease every day when our daily heart rate and oxygen levels were tested and medication was made available to you should you experience the effects of altitude sickness. Our guide’s knowledge of the history and culture of the Nepalese people added to the enjoyment of our journey.
    Steven Edwards Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    EBC, January 2018
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Awesome Nepal!

    What an amazing trip! Just the accomplishment of trekking all the way to Annapurna Base Camp is amazing, but the view when you get there puts it over the top!
    Jolene Bergeson Review Image
    – Alberta, Canada
    AST, December 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Can't believe I did it

    Right when we touched down at Lukla airport, I began to get sick. I didn't think there would be any way that I could continue, but my guides were well-prepared with medicine and advice to help get me back on track, and they let me walk at my own pace. Mercifully, I rebounded and made it through some of the most stunning hiking that you can do anywhere on earth. Everyone in my group was positive and a joy to be around.
    Ehren Meditz Review Image
    – Georgia, United States
    EBC, December 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Great Adventure

    Elder took such great care of everyone on the trip and made us all feel like family. The boys were amazing with the care they took in making sure our every need was met. Shree has a wealth of knowledge about Nepal and the mountains that is invaluable.
    Cheri Greenstreet Review Image
    – Florida, United States
    AST, November 2017

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