8 – 28 October 2019 (3 weeks)
Travel to the “Forbidden Lo Kingdom”, Upper Mustang, Nepal
Short synopsis of the travel:
8 October – Arrival to Kathmandu
28 October – Return flight home
Duration of travel: 21 days – 10 days in Upper Mustang
Places: Kathmandu, Pokhara, Tatopani (Hot springs), Jomsom, Kagbeni, Chele, Ghami, Tsarang, Lo Mantang, Muktinath, Marpha.
Minimum altitude: 800 meters
Maximum altitude: 4200 meters
Difficulty level: Mid-level hiking. Special training not required.
Accommodation: Simple but cozy hotels and guesthouses, rooms for 2 people sharing (single rooms available for extra fee – $200), hot water not available in Upper Mustang and limited in Lower Mustang, but available in Kathmandu and Pokhara). Sauna in Muktinath.
Transport: Tourist buses, jeeps, domestic airlines
Trekking: 6-7 hours per day while 10 days trek in Upper Mustang
Temperatures: Day time 15 – 25 C, night time 0 – 4 C, windy
This price includes: Permits for entrance to Mustang region, all transportation inside Nepal (jeeps, buses, airport transfer, air flight from Jomsom to Pokhara), all hotels and guides.
The price does not include: Food (it depends of your personal requests), personal costs, flight to Nepal and back, visa to Nepal.
Extra costs (approximately): The flight cost to Nepal and back, food (about 500$ for 21 days), Nepali visa ($40, you can get in Kathmandu airport on arrival). Porter if needed – 150$ (total) for the trekking part. Porter is carrying usually 20 kg, you can take 1 porter for 2 people.
The number of participants is limited, the group will be maximum 10 people.
Booking and payment are possible till 1 September 2019 to book your place you have to make a non-refundable payment of $450 (the remaining payment – $1750 you can pay to the group leader on arrival to Kathmandu)
WhatsApp: +79206398772 Larissa Matteyssen
About Upper Mustang:
Upper Mustang is known as the “The Forbidden Kingdom”. It is an inaccessible highlands in the Himalayas. Martian landscapes change their color every hour according to the movement of the Sun and people keep a knowledge of spirits, rituals and amulets. They look at things quite differently than everyone else. This is an incredible place where despite the harsh weather conditions, people have lived for thousands of years. Here is one of the worlds largest system of human-made caves. These caves are more than two thousand years old, in some of them even now sit meditating saints. Some people believe they are, “keeping our Universe from falling apart with the power of thought”.
Upper Mustang officially is a part of Nepal, but it still has a separate territory with its own governing system. It has a monarchy where the King, who is direct descendant of the first King of Mustang. Spiritually people believe that the King is the incarnation of Guru Rinpoche – the first holy man who brought Buddhism to Tibet.
Nepal opened its borders to Western tourists in 1951, but Mustang could only be reached with the personal permission of the King of Nepal and the blessing of the Dalai Lama. Then the border was closed again until 1991. Still the conditions for entry to this territory are not easy. To get here you will need Nepali visa and special permission to the lower and upper Mustang, which will cost you all together about 600$. With this permission you will be able to spend no more than 10 days in Upper Mustang.
This area is more authentic than Tibet as it is almost hasn’t change under the influence of China or Western visitors. Mustang remains the same as it has been since the Middle Ages. The capital of Mustang—Lo Mantang—looks the same as when it was built by the first King Ame Pal in the 15th century. Although now this town is perceived as a village, then it was considered a major trading center. Surprisingly, gardens bloomed and forests grew in Mustang until the 19th century. It became a desert later, when as the locals use to say, “the water was gone.” Now it is difficult to imagine someone from the “lo-pa” tribe chopping down a tree, but wooden furniture and products made two or three centuries ago have remained in monasteries and caves.
The heyday of the Mustang Kingdom fell on the 15-16 century. By that time it was Independent from Tibet and Nepal. Caravans that passed by traded salt with India. Salt at that time was a very valuable and expensive product.
A few thousand years ago, human-made caves served as burial sites for the dead, and later they were converted into residential complexes which sometimes consist of eight to ten levels. Until now, ancient manuscripts have been sealed here, some of which have been seized and are kept in the library of the capital of the “Kingdom of Lo” – Lo Mantang.
There are 3 cities and about 30 villages in Mustang now and not more than 9000 people live here. And still like thousands of years ago, people are able to negotiate with the elements with the help of traditions and rituals. The main faith in the Mustang is still the pre-Buddhist Bon-po religion and is over 4000 years old! Awesome amulets in the form of human and goat skulls hang over their doors and gates. But, they are used only to protect against malicious spirits. In fact, the people of “lo-pa” are incredibly hospitable, benevolent and respect travelers.
Day 1 (Tuesday, 8 October 2019) Arrival to Kathmandu, transfer to your hotel in the tourist district of Boudhanath. Rest, introduction, dinner.
Day 2 (Wednesday, 9 October 2019) 12.00 – 19.00 Excursion “Acquaintance with Kathmandu”. Visit to Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu Durbar square, Pashupatinath Temple. Introduction to the Culture of Nepal and Tibetan Buddhism.
Day 3 (Thursday, 10 October 2019) 7.a.m. Transfer to Pokhara by tourist bus (6 hours). In Pokhara transfer to hotel, rest, lunch and dinner at the lake.
Day 4 (Friday, 11 October 2019) 7 a.m. breakfast. 7.30 a.m. departure to Tatopani (hot springs) by jeeps (5 hours drive). In Tatopani lunch, bathing in the hot springs.
Day 5 (Saturday, 12 October 2019) 7 a.m. breakfast. 7.30 departure to Jomsom by jeeps (6 hours ride through the Alpine mountain landscape of Mustang region). Lunch in Jomsom, departure to the village of Kagbeni for overnight stay.
Day 6 (Sunday, 13 October 2019) 6.30 a.m. breakfast. Trekking starts to Upper Mustang. From Kagbeni to Chele (7 hours)
The day begins with the checkpoint of the Upper Mustang. A strong wind starts here around noon, to avoid it we will leave early, so that it will be not so hard to go. Further, the path goes across the river Kali Gandaki and the famous “Red Canyon”, which changes its colors depending on the position of the sun! On a steep path, passing the first large village on the way, we reach the small town of Chele. All the way we are accompanied by a stunning view of the snowy peak of Nilgiri Mountain.
Day 7 (Monday, 14 October 2019) Trekking from Chele to Geling (7 hours)
Today we enter the territory of the high mountain desert – the central part of Upper Mustang. And the first shrine is the cave-monastery of Chorten Rangchung, where many centuries ago the holy Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to Tibet from India and possessed many siddha – extraordinary abilities had meditated) and Atisha. This day we overcome 3 big ascents and descents. In Geling itself we will find the ancient fort, the palace and the two monasteries.
Day 8 (Tuesday, 15 October 2019) Trekking from Geling to Ghami trek (6 hours)
Overcoming 2 passes – Nya La and Ghami we will arrive in the beautiful village Ghami, the third largest settlement in Mustang. There is a dilapidated fort and gompa. Enjoy the silence in a small green oasis in the middle of the desert.
Day 9 (Wednesday, 16 October 2019) Trekking from Ghami to Tsarang (6 hours)
Today we will visit a beautiful monastery Gar Gompa, built in the 8th century by Guru Padmasambhava and the former capital of the Lo Kingdom – the town of Tsarang, located on the edge of a beautiful canyon. At the exit of the Ghami we will pass the longest wall of the kingdom – mainstonewall, almost a kilometer long. The wall is decorated with frescoes with Tibetan letters “Muni”. Next is a stunning Martian landscape along the horizon. 1000 people live in Tserang! Now it is the second largest city in Mustang, after the capital Lo Mantang. There is also one of the largest monasteries, a chapel and an abandoned royal palace in Tsarang.
Day 10 (Thursday, 17 October 2019) Trekking from Tsarang to Lo Mantang (6 hours)
Today we have to overcome the beautiful pass Tolung Lo La (All passes Tibetans call “La”). A place known for thousands of prayer flags. From here we will go down all the way to Lo Mantang. The remaining day we will spend in the capital, exploring the mazes of streets, the current Royal Palace, two monasteries and surely we will participate in one of the pujas – the daily praying ceremony in the monastery.
Day 11 (Friday, 18 October 2019) Explore the neighborhood Lo Mantang
We gonna leave the backpacks at the hotel today and travel easy! In the morning we will hire a jeep or horse and go along the ancient road leading to Tibet (now China) to the ancient cave complexes, its settlements and the existing cave monastery. Here we will see a 5-tiered cave house and we will have plenty to climb around. After lunch we will be back to Lo Mantang.
Day 12 (Saturday, 19 October 2019) Trekking from Lo Manthang to Yara (6 hours)
We start the day with going downhill to the Kali Gandaki River and continue to the village of Di Gaon with a beautiful fortress in ruins. Further along the gorge, above us are steep cliffs. We spend the night in the village Yara.
Day 13 (Sunday, 20 October 2019) Yara (trip to the monastery of Luri Gompa)
Again a day without backpacks, because we will spend the night again in Yara. Luri Gompa – cave monastery of the 13th century, consisting of more than fifty man-made caves.
Day 14 (Monday, 21 October 2019) Trekking from Yara back to Tsarang (5 hours)
Today, the last passage in the Upper Mustang, admiring the amazing views, returning to the town of Tsarang.
Day 15 (Tuesday, 22 October 2019) From Tsarang we take jeep to Jomsom – Muktinath.
Our hike is over! But the journey continues. In jeeps, we return to Lower Mustang and its capital – the city of Jomsom, from here again moving – to the holy village of Muktinath. Muktinath is one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in the Himalayas! Here there are 5 elements come together (the eternal flame in the form of natural gas comes out of the ground), as well as one of the most important temples dedicated to the god Vishnu and 108 ice sources, flow from walls around the temple. It is believed that those who have been here at least once will gain liberation. Many visitors have experiences of lucid dreaming, which tells a lot about our life and upcoming events. Here our stay will be in a very warm and cozy house of friends with amazing views and the most authentic Russian bath!
Day 16 (Wednesday, 23 October 2019) Day in Muktinath, visiting temples, delicious food, rest.
Day 17 (Thursday, 24 October 2019) Muktinath – Jomsom – Marpha. Today we will go to the atmospheric and very cozy village of Marpha, famous for its apple gardens, apple pies and home-made cider! We are in Mustang in October – at the height of its famous apple season where everything is fresh and incredibly tasty!
Day 18 (Friday, 25 October 2019) Marfa – Jomsom. Airplane to Pokhara.
We leave Marfa early in the morning for Jomsom. Today we wait for the flight to Pokhara – the second largest city of Nepal, located on the shore of a mountain lake. We will settle in this rustic hippie area with a warm atmosphere, filled with musicians, artists and travelers from all over the World.
Day 19 (Saturday, 26 October 2019) Free day in Pokhara. Relaxation. You can independently ride boats on the lake.
Day 20 (Sunday, 27 October 2019) Transfer Pokhara – Katmandu (Thamel) by tourist bus (7 hours). Free time, guide will help you with shopping, farewell dinner, overnight at the hotel.
Day 21 (Monday, 28 October 2019) Flight back home.
Part of the income will be donated to our social project in Nepal: Trees for Relief .