How to Get to Upper Mustang Trek

How to Get to Upper Mustang Trek

Upper Mustang is undiscovered paradise, bounded on the North by the walls of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Nilgiri. The region introduces you to a lost culture of the forbidden lands of the past. At first from Pokhara you will need to get to Jomsom in Lower Mustang before continuing overland to Upper Mustang. Here’s what you should know.

By Air

Duration: 25 mins

Flying from Pokhara to Jomsom is the easiest way of travel. The journey takes less than 25 minutes and takes you through the deep Kali Gandaki Gorge to the Tibetan Plateau, in the rainshadow of the Himalayan range. The mountain views from Jomsom Airport are breathtaking.

Flights to Jomsom depart early in the morning to avoid the late-morning winds that whip Mustang. So, flights are often canceled or delayed if winds or other weather conditions make it unsafe to fly, and in the mountains, you don’t want to take any risks.

Upper Mustang Trek

Overland by Road

Duration: 7 – 9 hours

Going overland from Pokhara to Jomsom should only be considered as a last resort. The 155-kilometer journey is long, uncomfortable, and scary in places, as much of the road is unpaved or in poor conditions. However, during peak season, flights between Pokhara and Jomsom sell out quickly, and at other times, they may be canceled due to weather, may be necessary overland trip to Jomsom, lower Mustang area.

If you really must go by road and aren’t on a limited budget, take a private Jeep. Travel companies can arrange these, and having a comfortable vehicle will make the journey much more enjoyable. If you’re on a budget, buses and shared microbuses/Jeeps also travel this route, but they’re slower, hot, crowded, and less safe than a private vehicle.

Landslides can block roads, particularly during the monsoon season. Accidents can also cause traffic jams for hours.

Second Part: Jomsom to Lo Manthang (Upper Mustang)

For many visitors, the ancient walled town of Lo Manthang is their ultimate destination in Upper Mustang, so the suggestions here are specific to Lo Manthang. Most international visitors to Upper Mustang need a special permit to enter the region, which must be obtained before arriving, and must travel with a guide. Permits must be shown before leaving Kagbeni, the last town in Lower Mustang.

On Foot to Upper Mustang

Duration: 5 days (not included return trek)

Although it is not the fastest way to get to Upper Mustang, many travelers come for unique trekking experience. The trek from Jomsom to Lo Manthang takes about five days, but it can take longer or shorter depending on your fitness, prior acclimatization, and whether you want to make any side trips. However, because Lo Manthang is at 12,401 feet, it is important to take your time and be well acclimatized (3780 meters).

A typical route to Upper Mustang passes through Kagbeni, Chele, Zhaite, and Charang before reaching the destination (Lo Manthang). The scenery is very unique from most other parts of Nepal as there is very little rain in Upper Mustang. And, because the culture is primarily Tibetan Buddhist, there are dramatic forts, temples, stupas and meditation caves.

Taking a horse trek to Upper Mustang is an alternative to trekking on your own two feet. These aren’t any faster than a normal trek because galloping to Lo Manthang isn’t the point. However, if you have children or other people in the group who do not want to walk the entire way, this can be a fun way to travel.

By Road to Upper Mustang Trek

Duration: 2 days (not included return trip)

Travelers who do not want to trek or who want to save time can take a Jeep between Jomsom and Lo Manthang. There are several places to stay overnight, but Zhaite and Charang are good choices. The road is bumpy and winding, but the scenery is breathtaking.

Most foreign visitors to Upper Mustang will need to buy a permit, which costs USD 500 for 10 days. Permits are not issued for shorter periods of time. So, if you’re going to Lo Manthang overland to save time, you won’t necessarily be saving money, because you’ll still have to pay the full permit fee. However, there are a lot of things to see and do around Lo Manthang, so you can stay for a few days and go discovery.

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