Nepal’s Upper Mustang Guided Trekking Tour Itinerary
The untouched, remote and awe-inspiring Kingdom of Lo.
Welcome to the Upper Mustang region of Nepal. 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 are welcomed into the spellbinding landscape of Nepal’s Upper Mustang, and experience an expedition style adventure to an unspoiled land like no other on Earth. You'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.
So rustle up a mule, strap on those trekking boots and read on to discover what a trekking tour of Nepal's Upper Mustang looks like. Discover the best time to trek, booking information and more, this tranquil paradise is calling for you.
Remember, at any stage you can hit the buttons below to start a conversation with one of our Himalayas travel guru's!
Formerly under the governance of Tibet, the Upper Mustang region became a region of Nepal in the 19th century. But until the year 1991, it was recognised as the Forbidden Kingdom of Lo, and tourism was banned. This lead to a unique preservation of the population, infrastructure, transportation, culture and landscape. And although almost 3 decades have passed since the Upper Mustang was opened to tourism, visitors to the region still feel like they're stepping back in time, exploring a world that existed thousands of years ago.
Hundreds of years of isolation from the outside world has meant that the peaceful, traditional Tibetan culture has stayed strong in the northern areas of the Upper Mustang. Away from the 'hustle and bustle' of the more popular Nepalese tourist routes (such as Annapurna and Everest Base Camp Treks), the Gurungs of the lowlands, the Thakalis around Jomsom and the Manangis of the east welcome trekkers from all over the world, with humbling and welcoming hospitality. After all, what is adventure travel without a connection to the people? And less tourism = greater connections to the local people, customs and traditions.
Weather and landscapes
Distinctly different to the Annapurna and Everest regions of Nepal, the Upper Mustang region is made famous by its arid desert mountains, connected by lush valleys full of rhododendron forests and apple orchards. And while the Upper Mustang lays in the rain shadow of the Annapurna Himalayas, which stop the wet monsoon seasons that sweeps up the Indian subcontinent in its track. This means that while the rest of Nepal is too wet to trek in the months of June to August, the Upper Mustang is spoilt by long, blue sky days - which are perfect for trekking.
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 you 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.
At a glance... click here to see the full Mustang - Kingdom of Lo Trekking Tour itinerary.
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.
Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 - Fly to Pokhara
Day 2 - Visit Tibetan Centre
Day 3 - Fly to Jomsom, Hike to Kagbeni
Hiking Distance: 12km (7.8mi), 3-4 hours
Elevation: +107m, (+351ft)
Day 4 - Hike from Kagbeni to Chhusang
Hiking Distance: 14km (8.5mi), 5-6 hours
Elevation: +80m (+262ft)
Day 5 - Hike from Chhusang to Samar
Hiking Distance: 9km (5.6mi), 4-5 hours
Elevation: +620m (+2034ft)
Day 6 - Hike from Samar to Geling
Hiking Distance: 15km, (9.3mi), 6-8 hours
Day 7 - Hike from Geling to Dhakmar
Hiking Distance: 14.3km (8.9mi), 5-7 hours
Elevation: +270m (+885ft)
Day 8 - Hike from Dhakmar to Lo Manthang
Lo Manthang ~ Altitude: 3,840m, (12,600ft)
Hiking Distance: 18km (11mi), 8-10 hours
Elevation: +10m (+33ft)
Day 9 - Explore Chhosur Valley
Hiking Distance: 15km (9.3mi) Jeep, 2km Hike, (1.2mi), 2-4 hours
Day 10 - Hike from Lo Manthang to Dhi
Hiking Distance: 13km (8.1mi) 4-6 hours
Elevation: -410m (-1345ft)
Day 11 - Hike from Dhi to Luri Gumba Cave return
Hiking Distance: 20km, (12.4mi), 8-10 hours
Day 12 - Hike from Dhi to Ghami
Hiking Distance: 20km (12.4mi), 7-9 hours
Elevation: +130m (+426ft)
Day 13 - Hike from Ghami to Samar via Ranchung Cave
Hiking Distance: 25km, (14.9mi), 9-11 hours
Day 14 - Hike from Samar to Chhunsang, Jeep to Jomson
Hiking Distance: 9km, -588m, (5.6mi), 2-4 hours
Elevation: -588m (-19291ft)
Day 15, Fly to Pokhara
Day 16, Free Day in Pokhara
Day 17, Fly to Kathmandu, Visit Durbar Square
Day 18, Depart Kathmandu
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!
If you have dietary requirements then planning a trip to a country like Nepal can be daunting. It's never impossible though! For more information on the sort of food you might encounter, as well as how dietary requirements are catered for in Nepal, head to this page.
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. For more information about what to expect from the accommodations in Nepal, head to this page.
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.
If you’re ready to get on board the Upper Mustang guided trekking tour, you can hit the button below to check the availability on board your desired departure, and one of our Himalayas travel guru’s will get right back to you to chat about the finer details.
If you’re still in the research phase of your trip, you can hit the other button below to request your free brochure! Either we’ll send one straight to your email inbox, or post one to you anywhere in the world!
Go ahead, there are no obligations!
Trekking Nepal's Mustang - Challenge and Discovery
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!
Why travel with Active Adventures?
Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.
We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.
As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.
Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.
With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.
It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.