Nepal’s Upper Mustang Guided Trekking Tour Itinerary
Here we’re talking about what it’s like to go trekking in Nepal’s Upper Mustang region. We’ll tell you everything you need to know before travelling to Nepal’s Mustang region on a trekking adventure - from the expedition-style itinerary we’ve put together, and the best time of year to visit, to how to book your adventure, what you should pack, and how fit you need to be.
Nepal’s Mustang region is a mythical and moving place; its turbulent history means that this spectacular trekking destination has been left very much alone by western visitors until relatively recently. Today though, intrepid visitors can venture into the spellbinding landscape of Nepal’s Upper Mustang safely, and experience an expedition style adventure to an unspoiled land like no other on Earth. We’ll overlook the Tibetan Plateau and wonder at this place, the dais for some of the most incredible feats of human perseverance in recent history. Welcome to Nepal’s Upper Mustang region.
A Trekking Adventure to Nepal’s Upper Mustang region with Active Adventures
An adventure to the Mustang region of Nepal means you can tell your friends you’ve travelled to one of the last true frontiers in the world. And when you travel there with us, we do it right – in the form of an expedition.
Our 18-day ‘Forbidden Kingdom of Lo’ Mustang trek incorporates a couple of days to explore Kathmandu and Pokhara, as well as flights between the two, and return flights between Pokhara and Jomson. The majority of the trip is spent on a 12 day trekking expedition through fertile plains (‘mustang’ comes from the Tibetan ‘mun tan’ meaning ‘fertile plain’) surrounding villages such as Kagbeni and Thakali, behind the Annapurna Massif to the mesmerising caves of the Kali Gandaki and Luri Gumba, and into the arid landscape near the Tibetan Plateau. We’ll pass through countless settlements and get to know the local people of this often unforgiving place. We’ll be joined on the trek by a team of Nepali porters – they’ll carry the food, and the ‘camp-kitchen’ and stop along the way to make lunch for the group, our ‘camp cook’ will cook evening meals and breakfast for us during the expedition. Having these cheerful, enthusiastic characters along for the journey is another great opportunity to get to know the real locals of Nepal. Our expedition will be bolstered by a train of pack animals, usually donkeys and horses; they’ll carry our gear, so you only need to worry about a day pack each day on the trail.
The trekking route we have chosen for our adventure in Nepal’s Mustang region follows an ancient salt trading route, and so the trails are well established. Our route is undulating, with ups and downs, your guides will be careful to monitor the pace, and how everyone is coping with the altitude - the ‘Mustang’ trek doesn’t go above 3830m (12,566 feet), and so altitude problems, if felt at all, are usually very minor and easily managed.
On each day of the trek we’ll have in mind a place we’re aiming to reach in order to set up camp – the idea is to maximise the experience and ensure that we’re on target to reach all the spectacular locations we have in mind for your trip – but don’t worry, it’s always a manageable pace. Aiming for a particular location is often so that we can utilise camp facilities, like showers, wherever available. Your guides will explain more about the format of the trekking trip on the first night, when we’re all together in Kathmandu.
To see the detailed itinerary for our ‘Forbidden Kingdom of Lo’ Mustang Trek head over to the trip page here.
The 18-day expedition style trip starts and ends in Kathmandu, and includes internal flights to and from Pokhara, as well as flights from Pokhara to Jomsom and back again. We’ve built a free day into our itinerary for you to explore the cultural centre of Pokhara (Nepal’s ‘adventure capital’). It's also likely you'll have time to explore Kathmandu, on the day you arrive and the day before you leave. The 12 days of expedition style trekking on the trip allows you a gentle start and gains elevation slowly. You’ll always be under the careful supervision of our trained leaders, so there’s nothing to worry about from an altitude perspective.
With regards to the amount of trekking we’ll do on the trip, it averages out over the 12-days of the expedition at around 15.3 kilometres (9.5 miles) per day. If that seems like a lot remember that it’s an expedition, and that means that we can take things at a pace we’re comfortable with, stop regularly for snacks, lunch, and water breaks, and encourage each other along the way – and we’ve got all day to reach our destination for that evening. Not to mention that our donkey train will be carrying the lion’s share of the load! You don’t need to be an athlete to enjoy this adventure, just in the habit of doing regular exercise, and used to hiking/trekking with a day pack on ups and downs. If you'd like to see a breakdown of exactly how far we'll hike, and what each day's activities are for this trip, just get in touch with us and one of our Nepal experts will be happy to flick through some more details to you.
Nepal’s Upper Mustang region lies in the rain shadow of the Annapurna Massif, a series of 30 Himalayan peaks over 6000 meters (19,685 feet), standing to the south of the region. This colossal collection of mountains creates an un-scalable wall for the rain clouds approaching from the south – filled over the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. These clouds dissipate as snow in the highlands, and rain in the lowlands, on the south side of the Himalaya, and so the Upper Mustang region to the north gets comparatively little rainfall (around 31mm/month during monsoon) – meaning the rainy season is a great time of year for an adventure there. Temperatures in the Mustang region during the monsoon season (mid-July to mid-September) are between 27-29⁰C (81-84⁰F).
When you arrive in Kathmandu you’ll have time to grab anything extra you might need for your ‘Mustang’ trek before we hit the trail. However we always recommend arriving with everything you need, as you’re likely to get better advice on gear and how it fits you from your local stores. We can loan you excellent quality down jackets, sleeping bags, and walking poles for your adventure too, just chat with us about it prior to your trip.
We don’t expect you to be a serious athlete in order to join our ‘Mustang’ trip – just in the habit of doing some regular exercise, and comfortable with hiking ups and downs carrying a day pack. If you do consider yourself an athlete though, your guides will definitely be able to find extra hikes for you if you’re still itching to do more after each day’s activity is complete.
The expedition style of this trekking journey means that the average distance covered per day is around 15.3 kilometres (9.5 miles) – if that seems a lot remember that we’ll only be carrying day packs, and we’ll have all day to reach our destination for the evening, so expect lots of snack and water breaks along the way. The highest elevation we’ll reach on the ‘Mustang’ trek is 3830m (12,566 feet), and so the ‘one-step-per-breath’ system we encourage on the Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Sanctuary Treks is not necessary here, you’ll be comfortable walking at something close to your usual pace.
If you’re planning to do some training prior to your ‘Mustang’ trip (which is always a good idea) then we can give you some tips and guidance as to the sorts of things you should do. Being physically prepared for your trip will make it a far more enjoyable experience, and so the more training you can fit in the better it will make your trip. We recommend some interval training, joining a local hiking/walking club, and training with a full day pack each time you hit the trail.
Trekking Nepal's Mustang - Challenge and Discovery
Our trips are all-inclusive, so we always want to avoid our guests having any unexpected expenses whilst on trip with us, so let’s talk about what’s included:
Guides and porters
You’ll always have at least one Kiwi trip leader on your ‘Mustang’ trek. We’re a kiwi company, and these guys have guided for us in New Zealand as well as Nepal, and in some cases also Europe! They’re full of experience, highly trained in first aid, and great fun to be around! It really helps to have an English speaking trip leader to help bridge the gap to the local culture and customs of this country you’re likely new too! Head to this page to find out who your trip could be lead by.
Alongside your kiwi trip leader your trip will also include a team of local porters. These guys will carry a lot of gear – on the ‘Mustang’ trek they’re usually carrying our ‘camp kitchen’ and food supplies. We’ll have a ‘camp-cook’ too, a trained chef capable of creating delicious culinary treats! Along with the porters, these guys will often shoot off ahead of the group on the trail, and have a delicious meal and dining room set up for us when we arrive at camp!
All meals are included on the ‘Mustang’ trek. You can expect lots of different Nepali specialities, and you’ll be in great hands with our ‘camp-cook’ and his team. The only meals we won’t include in the cost of your trip is breakfast or lunch on the day you arrive in Kathmandu, and lunch or dinner on your free day in Pokhara. They’re good opportunities to go out and try something new and different, so the choice is yours!
All accommodation is included in the cost of your ‘Mustang’ trek. During the trek you should expect to spend the majority of the nights in a tent, however we’ll occasionally stop at lodges and tea-houses with comfortable beds and great facilities. When we’re in the cities, Kathmandu and Pokhara, we’ll stay in comfortable hotels. The ‘Mustang’ trek lets you experience a broad spectrum of accommodation types, which only adds to the adventure.
All transfers are included in the cost of your trip. When you arrive in Kathmandu your guides will meet you at the airport, wrap you in a blanket of confidence by giving you great advice on things to do, where to go, etc, and take you to the hotel. We’ll meet up in the afternoon/evening, so if you arrive in the morning you’ll have some time to get your bearings and explore Kathmandu.
Also included are return flights between Kathmandu and Pokhara, as well as return flights between Pokhara and Jomson. We also have several transfers by jeep, which are included in the ‘Mustang’ trek cost.
Everyone is different, and when we travel we'll all have different priorities for which things we should pack, and that's fine! Luckily, we have created a handy list of 32 items you’ll want to be sure you remember for your Nepal adventure. Click here to download the full list.
If you’re ready to book your Nepal adventure of a lifetime then get in touch with our team of Nepal Travel Gurus! Use the button below to check availability and find out if we have space on our ‘Mustang’ departures, one of our team will be in touch to discuss your preferred dates and start making a plan. Alternatively you can chat with our team online, live. Just click the Live Chat box in the bottom corner of this page to get started.
Mustang Forbidden Kingdom of Lo Trek
- 18 Days
The name Mustang is derived from the Tibetan word ‘mun tan’ which translates in Nepali to mean ‘fertile plain’. Tibetan is widely spoken and the traditional culture of Tibet largely remains throughout the region. The 18 day Upper Mustang Trek largely follows an ancient salt trading route between Tibet and India, exploiting the lowest pass through the Himalayas, west of Sikkim in India. On this expedition-style trek, you’ll learn about the Mustang’s status as a forbidden kingdom, which ended in 2008 when its ruling kingdom of Nepal became a republic. We’ll start our trip by exploring the temples and markets of Kathmandu, Nepal’s bustling capital city, before flying to the lakeside city of Pokhara at the foot of the Himalayas and onto the large village of Jomsom to start our journey. Our journey will take us behind the Annapurna ranges, hiking towards the border of Tibet and the beginning of the Tibetan Plateau, passing through the green oasis of Thakali and into a desert plain - a view that will literally stop you in your tracks!