About Upper Mustang Trekking
If you have a spirit of adventure like the early explorers and pilgrims of Mustang, let Annapurna Foothills Treks and Expedition take you north of the 8000 m Annapurna and Dhaulagiri peaks, along the rocky bed of the Kali Gandaki, to one of the most isolated villages on Earth, a village that was at one time, the prosperous Kingdom of Lo. The Upper Mustang Trekking leads you into a region that used to be part of the Tibetan empire, and bears close resemblance to Tibet. Pure Tibetan Buddhism is followed. Villages are built in Tibetan style and houses are white washed with firewood stacked on the roofs. The landscape is also very similar to Tibet.
The path to Lo Manthang follows the ancient salt trading route which linked Tibet and the subcontinent. The average altitude of the trek is about 3600 metres, with the highest point being 4320 metres. While the trail is not particularly difficult in terms of steep ascents and descents, the force of the wind gusting down the Kali Gandaki buffets you as you walk and makes it challenging.The scenery on this trek is spectacular. Himalayan griffin and golden eagles soar high in the vivid blue sky overhead. The snow white Himalayas to the south contrast with the burnt brown colors of the endless wind-eroded hills rising up toward the Tibetan plateau in the north. The superb views of the Annapurnas include Tilicho Peak and Nilgiri.
From the pass Lo La, 3950m, you can see the medieval town of Lo in the distance. Lo Manthang is surrounded by a huge wall and when you enter the gate, you will feel like you have entered a different world. As you wander through the narrow alleys you will find women spinning wool and chatting on the street corners. At dusk herdsmen will bring their goat herds back into the city for the night. The king still lives in his 4-story palace. He even entertains visitors when he is at home. The king of Lo Manthang doesn’t have official power anymore, but remains highly respected by his people. Despite being under the government of Nepal, the traditional Lo Tsu Dun council is consulted for most decisions regarding local matters such as festivals, and land tenure.
The people of Lo, known as ‘Lobas’, are of Tibetan ancestry and speak a dialect of Tibetan. The Lobas are highly religious and monasteries and monastic communities play a major role in their lives which is observable in the magnificent monasteries which are a striking contrast to their simple lifestyle. Mustang lies in the rain shadow of the Dhaulagiri and therefore has a long trekking season, from May to October. In fact, in July or August when the monsoon makes it difficult to trek in the Annapurnas and Everest, the Mustang trekking is exceptionally beautiful as the fields around the villages are lush green with their one annual crop, a contrast to the parched surroundings.
The government has imposed a high permit cost as part of a plan to restrict the number of tourists in order to safeguard the fragile ecosystem and preserve the unique heritage of the area. However it is inevitable that change will come. Recent developments such as teahouses, motor-able roads and electricity are connecting this area to the outside world, but so far, the culture is still intact.
Though July- Early September is considered Monsoon season in Nepal, but Trip to Upper Mustang would be a great adventure since Upper Mustang falls in the rain shadow of the Annapurnas and receives minimum rainfall.