Mustang Horse Trek is an alternative way to explore the hidden kingdom of Lo, the people of Mustang by horseback riding. Time and again Mustang is referred as “The Forbidden Kingdom of Nepal”. Situated in the mid Himalayas the landscape here is barren and preserves some of the remnants of customary Tibetan Buddhist cultural practice. Apart from being in Nepal, Mustang has its own autonomy and the lifestyle of the people here have not changed for centuries. To protect the uniqueness and rawness being ruined by tourism the region has been declared as restricted area allowing only few tourist enter the area each year.
Actual Adventure with the approval to enter Mustang will travel with a small group of people to Lo Manthang which is the capital of this small kingdom.
While trekking in this region we will be accompanied by Sherpa people who are known throughout the world for their climbing skills. They will help us to get going with the change in the landscape and the people along with offering lip smacking meals and setting up our camps.
This invincible journey towards the unlike Mustang begins from Kathmandu, the capital city of the country. Following day we will fly to the lake city of Pokhara. After spending a day exploring and discovering the unique flavor of this city we will fly to Jomsom through the regal Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massif. In Jomsom we will hire horses and ride to the Forbidden Kingdom of Mustang shortly after visiting Muktinath (a holy temple for both Hindus and Buddhist).
Leaving the normal tourist route in Mustang we will ride on a horseback through lower Mustang overlooking the Kali Gandaki River. Kali Gandaki originating from the high plains of Tibet flows through Mustang and ultimately makes its way to India.
The landscape of Upper Mustang is dominated by never-ending stretch of barren hills. We will make our way through this landscape on horseback through several pass including Nyi La (4010m). We will set our camp in the side of the villages we come by until we reach Lo Manthang. Lo Manthang is the home to Mustangi Raja and has some beautiful and unique temples and monasteries. People here are always welcoming and we will bump into small children with apple red cheeks confronting the foreign visitors. The unique and abrasive lifestyle of the people living here seems of be required to survive in this distant country.
After exploring the place and interacting with the people we will retrace our path back to Jomsom and fly to Pokhara and then to Kathmandu where the trip comes to an end.
In general we can say Upper Mustang trek introduces us into raw wilderness and grants us lifetime experience beneath the open sky with arid landscape extending up to the horizon.
Day 01: The group arrives into Kathmandu to be met by our smiling Sherpa crew. We stay at a hotel in the Lazimpat region of Kathmandu, which is close to a multitude of shops and restaurants in the Thamel region.
Day 02: Kathmandu to Pokhara
Stay at Tulshi Hotel at Fewa Lake. We can hire boats to take us out onto the lake or wander around town shopping for Tibetan or Nepalese items. We drive by bus to Pokhara if the weather is unsuitable to fly.
Day 03: Pokhara to Jomsom (2,720m/8,925ft)
flight (by Twin Otter) up the dramatic ravine of the Kali Gandaki Valley. For centuries this valley was the primary trade route between the Tibetan High Plains and the comparative lowlands of India. The walls of two of the world’s highest mountains; Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, stand sheer for 5,000m/16,404ft above the valley floor.
We disembark the plane at the small village of Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni (2,810m/9,220ft) via Chhanche Lhumba, otherwise known as Ekle Bhatti (“Lonely Hotel”). We follow the river to Kagbeni, a green oasis at the junction of Jhong Khola and Kali Gandaki.
Day 04: Kagbeni to Muktinath (3,760m/12,340ft)
Muktinath is one of the most important pilgrimage sights for both Hindus and Buddhists and monasteries from the two denominations exist peacefully side by side. Miraculously a fire burns in water under the Buddhist temple which is staffed by Nuns.
After the monastery visits we return to Kagbeni with a brisk ride down the trail. In the evening after a tasty meal we can wander around the town, sit on the street and chat with the locals or visit the Kagbeni monastery.
Day 05: Kagbeni to Chele (3,050m/10,000ft)
Today we enter Mustang itself. After completing the necessary procedures for entering the national park we ride up the valley, sometimes on the riverbed and sometimes along the river terraces. We lunch in Tangbe village where the local children are as interested in us as we are in them! A grassy orchard provides shelter from the sun and one can try out truly organic apples! From Tangbe we have great views of Nilgiri Peak dominating the northern skyline. Riding further we pass through Chhusang with its huge cliffs and cave dwellings across the valley. Not far above Chhusang the trail leaves the Kali Gandaki valley and climbs steeply up to Chele.
Day 06: Chele to Syangboche (3,800m/12,470ft)
We ascend a long slope towards the Taklam La (Pass) at 3,736m/12,257ft. The trail takes the ‘Cliff Road’, a very steep trail cut into the side of the valley wall. The horses perform incredibly well in this terrain and it is our own fear which encourages us to dismount and walk the steepest sections. Once over the Taklam La we pass some Chortens in treeless dry terrain and ride on to the town of Samar. After lunching in Samar, the trail follows a large gorge then climbs to enter another valley. We descend to Syangboche (3,800m/12,470ft), a unique little enclave where we rest up for the night.
Day 07: Syangboche to Ghemi (3,520m/11,550ft)
At first we climb gently to a small pass with views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. We descend into the Tama Khola (River) and traverse above the town of Ghiling displaying lush and plentiful barley fields. Another short ascent onto the Nyi La (4,010m/13,155ft) reveals views of Mustang and the bigger peaks of Nilgiri and Annapurna.
Traversing the high hills with a wide vista we reach the Ghemi La where we look down into the village of Ghemi and our destination for the day. The ripe yellow wheat and buckwheat fields flowering in pink provide a colourful contrast to the barren and eroded hills around.
We stay with the nephew of the King of Mustang and enjoy the relative comfort of his home. There is plenty to see around the town with the harvest in full swing and an active community in full production.
Day 08: Ghemi to Dhakmar (3,820m/12,530ft)
We awake to the sounds of the villagers going about their work. The animals are taken out into the hills to feed and rush hour traffic consists of an assortment of goats and cattle coursing through the narrow streets.
We cross a narrow bridge over the Ghemi Khola to climb a long slope, which brings us to a traverse into the Dhakmar Khola. The hills here have terrific coloration and the scene is quite stunning as we approach the village of Dhakmar. Beautiful pink and orange cliffs stand above green and lush meadows and many ancient caves abound in this region. We climb up to investigate the closest caves and one gets a real feel for how the long lost inhabitants must have lived.
The village is small and surrounded by an abundance of fields, which are beautifully pink with the buckwheat blooms. This is a veritable photographer’s mecca with the cliffs, the fields and the buildings of the village in perfect harmony.
Day 09: Dhakmar to Charang (3,560m/11,680ft)
We cross the highest pass on the trip today with a long climb up from Dhakmar to the Mui La at 4170m/13,680ft. After soaking up the views we descend into Lo Gekar and the Ghar Gompa (Gompa means monastery). This site was identified by Buddhist saint Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) and is said to be the first Buddhist monastery in the world. We are privileged to enter this ancient building and be educated on the history of Buddhism.
After lunch we ride through an active harvest into Charang. Here we stay at the house of the Kings sister in a large and comfortable lodge. After an extended tea session we set up our tents on the rooftop. As night descends the town comes alive with the sounds of the villagers singing as they come in from the fields.
Day 10: Charang to Lo Monthang (3,809m/12,500ft)
An early morning visit to the old fort in town reveals a sense of the history of the area. The highlight of the fort visit is the room containing a 5th century Kings armoury with all the battle regalia used to keep control in that era. Amongst the weapons is a dried up human hand! As the story goes, the builder of the Charang monastery had his hand chopped off by the king after he had completed the job so he wouldn’t build another like it! Brings new meaning to the term performance bonus!
We depart by mid-morning and after a long haul out from the river valley the horses have a good sweat going. The trail is virtually a road at this point and we enjoy a solid canter. It sure is great to feel the wind in the hair! Finally we top a rise and look down into a large and open valley with green fields and sporadic villages. Largest of the villages is the high walled Lo Monthang, our ultimate destination and home of the King of Mustang.
Full of anticipation we enter the town and revel in this medieval environment. One can just imagine the security this place must have provided when under siege over the ages. There are houses, monasteries and shops inside the 5m high walls and in the centre is the Kings Palace. After setting up tents within a small enclosure outside the city walls we are invited to meet the King and his wife, the Rani. We are escorted into the palace by the king’s bodyguard and exchange greetings with the Royal couple. We present some gifts we have brought for the occasion. After half an hour we leave them and all of us feel a real sense of privilege and appreciation for the hospitality we have been shown.
That evening we dine with a few of the locals. Interesting discussions abound and it is fascinating to realise how worldly these people are given their geographical situation. After such a full day, sleep comes easily!
Day 11: We are woken early for a light breakfast. We mount our horses and are soon climbing the gentle slopes towards the very green meadows high above the town. After an hour and a half in the saddle we arrive at some large yak-wool tents surrounded by a couple of hundred yaks. The inhabitants of the tents have just finishing milking the yaks and are about to make the coveted yak butter which the locals consider a delicacy.
We are invited into one of the tents for yak butter tea, which is made for us over a yak-dung fire. We drink the brew and converse with the nomads through our local guide. A complete juxtaposition between the medieval and the modern, on top of the tent is a solar panel which powers a light inside, yet everything else about these peoples existence is from a different era to our own. Soon we are heading back down the valley and into Lo Manthang again after yet another very fulfilling day.
Day 12: Lo Monthang to Ghemi
It is time for us to leave Lo Monthang behind and our small group of local friends makes a special effort to bid us farewell. We retrace our steps back to Charang for lunch then explore new territory over the Charang La back to Ghemi. We walk the horses down the hill to arrive at the world’s longest Mani wall, opposite Ghemi. Some major chortens nearby provide wonderful photographic opportunities with the changing light and the backdrop of the Dhakmar cliffs and before long we cross the river into Ghemi again. That night we are drawn into a harvest festival where the locals soon have us up on our feet to join them in traditional Sherpa dance.
Day 13: We ride to Syangboche for lunch then drop into the Syangboche Khola with its’ steep and narrow gorge which is shear for hundreds of metres above us. A right turn in the trail takes us to Bhena Khola, an ancient cave perched on the side of the hill and apparently the place where the Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) meditated to achieve enlightenment. Now there is a resident monk living a solitary existence and he will graciously show us around the cave and explain the meaning of all the statues and the history of the cave. A huge stalagmite stands inside the cave which looks unnatural in the setting of the conglomerate rock of the cave.
We then descend into the valley again and begin the big climb out of the valley to come out on the Bhena La. A short descent brings us back to Samar for the night.
Day 14: Samar to Chhusang.
The descent to the Kali Gandaki valley is like a homecoming and it is early afternoon when we stop to have a late lunch and set up camp at Chhusang. We wander around the riverbed in the afternoon looking for saligrams, black rocks that when split reveal nautilus type fossils inside. Altogether this is a pleasant afternoon’s activity before retiring for the evening.
Day 15: Chhusang to Jomsom:
We are seasoned riders now and it is no problem for us to ride through to Kagbeni without many stops. We complete formalities at the Annapurna Conservation Committee office then ride on to Elko Bhatti for lunch. We are asked to fill a questionnaire about our experiences and we unanimously agree that restricted entry into Mustang is a good thing as it protects the culture from mass tourism, even if we do have to pay a premium for the experience. The horses can sense that home is close by so we quickly cover the miles back down to Jomsom.
We celebrate the journey we have shared with our Sherpa crew as some of them are departing tomorrow. We share jokes and laugh away the evening. It seems hard to believe the journey is virtually over!
Day 16: Jomsom to Marpha day trip
The team enjoys a late start so after a relaxed breakfast we ride to Marpha, a pretty town one hour down the valley. With its streets of large flagstones and whitewashed buildings this town seems very modern to us after our Mustang experience. We meander through stores with lots of new paperback books and enjoy a relaxed lunch before returning to Jomsom.
Day 17: We fly to Pokhara on the first flight at 8.00am and then on to Kathmandu. It is luxury getting back to the modern hotel and team members relax in the afternoon either shopping or merely wandering around the town. A haircut and shave at the local barber is a highlight for the gents and part of the Asian experience!
Day 18: Spare day if the flights from Jomsom or Pokhara to Kathmandu were unable to operate yesterday.
Day 19: Depart from Kathmandu for home, trip ends.
Nepal is a developing country, Outside of major cities area electricity on trekking can be scares. You should have to pay 100-800 NRs per hour to charge goods on many lodges and also many tea-house treks, including in Annapurna base camp trek, Everest Base camp trek and many others treks also. Chargers often won't work on low power solar systems you find right up in the mountains so u can buy alternative bayonet light to electricity power plug converter, which will only works in low voltage is high\low. The standard Nepalese electrical outlet is a three-pronged triangle so bring three-pronged triangle chargers.
Nepal is a landlocked country which lies in Hindu Kush Himalayan region. Nepal has monsoonal climate having four main seasons: spring, summer, monsoon, autumn and winter.
Below is a general guide to conditions at different seasons:
January to March (winter): In this season temperature will decrease at often 0°C (32°F) at night, with extreme cold at high elevations. It is possible to trek in places like the Everest region during the winter but due to extreme cold weather and heavy snow fall it may be quite difficult than as usual.
April to June (summer): In these months it is quite warm and dry weather. There is an abundance of blooming flowers in the Himalayas at this time, with rhododendrons, in particular, adding a splash of color to the landscape. This season is the best time to undertake mountain expeditions.
June to September (Monsoon): There will be heavy monsoonal rainfall in this season. Rains are generally lighter in high Himalayan reasons. In this season the mountain ranges are not often visible due to the clouds.
October to December (autumn): These months are cool and clear which is due to the end of monsoon, there is little dust in the air so this is the best season to visit the hilly and mountainous regions.
Visa in Nepal can be acquired on arrival at Tribhuwan International Airport, Kathmandu and also at the border entry points in Kakadvitta, Birgunj, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, Gaddachowki border of Nepal - India and Kodari on Nepal-China border. Visa can also acquire at the nearest Nepal Embassy. For visa renewal purpose you can contact at Department of Immigration, Kalikasthan at Kathmandu. A valid passport and one passport -size photo with a light background is required. Visa can be obtained only through payment of cash in the following currency: Euro, Swiss Franc, Pound Sterling, US Dollar, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, Singapore Dollar and Japanese Yen. Credit card, Indian currency and Nepali currency are not accepted as payment of visa fee.
Visa Facility Duration Fee
Multiple entry 15 days US$ 25 or equivalent convertible currency
Multiple entry 30 days US$ 40 or equivalent convertible currency
Multiple entry 90 days US$ 100 or equivalent convertible currency
In Nepal, “Namaste” or “Namaskar” is said to an older or high-status person with palms together, figure up. It is used to greet a person in place of goodbye or hello. There is no limitation how many times you say “Namaste” but, it is better if you say once per person, per day. If You want to say “Thank You” then you can say “Dhanyabaad /'ðɅnjɅbɑ:d/ (Dhan-ya-baad)”