Trip: Upper Mustang Trail
Route: Jomson - Lo Manthang
Duration: 21 Days total - 20 Days Trekking
Grade: Trekking – Moderate
Mustang is the name of a district in the far north west of Nepal. One of the most remote areas, it is a geographic extension of the Tibetan plateau, a windswept land of mountains preserving the last authentic remains of Tibetan culture. This area was completely isolated from the rest of the world, and only opened to trekking groups in 1991. The barley, potatoes and buckwheat grown here are the staple diet around the major villages of Ghame & Tsarang. We continue until we come to the ancient walled fortress city of Lo Manthang. From here the border of Tibet is just a stones throw away. After this we head back from same trail or possibly to we head back towards Jomsom via sacred pilgrimage site of Muktinath.
"Mustang is one of the few places in the Himalayan region that has been able to retain its traditional Tibetan culture unmolested… authentic Tibetan culture now survives only in exile and a few places like Mustang, which have had long historical and cultural ties with Tibet."
-The Dalai Lama
Closed to foreigners until 1992, the ‘Forbidden’ Kingdom of Mustang collides with medieval Asia; where a vibrant culture, dating back over a thousand years is coming to terms with a twenty-first century road. Fortunately, the communities and their traditions are resilient, as are their mud-walled towns and monasteries covered in original frescos, for now. A recently built road from Tibet runs through the heart of Mustang to Jomsom and on to Pokhara; it offers unprecedented change to this unique and ageless place. Jeeps and motorcycles have replaced decorated horses, and art experts are assessing the potential dangers of traffic vibrations to fragile artworks. Mustang may not last forever, see it while you can.
Lying to the northwest of the Annapurnas and extending onto the Tibetan Plateau, Upper Mustang is a large mountain-fringed basin home to the headwaters of the Kali Gandaki. The main trail runs north-south from Lo Monthang to Jomsom with some side trips en route, but none that conveniently connect to other trekking routes. So, until some serious trail work is completed there isn’t a reliable route option through Upper Mustang for the GHT. Trails from Naar and Phu to Upper Mustang have sporadic water sources, are rugged and some require technical alpine skills. However, there is a good trail from Ghemi to Chharka Bhot in Upper Dolpo, but it can only be used only in October or November. The locals in Ghemi restrict access to this route, as they believe that the mountain spirits will be offended and prevent rain from falling on their fields if anyone disturbs the pass from December to September. They have been known to violently defend this belief.
Mustang is part of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), which is the largest protected biodiversity area in Nepal. Referred to as a Trans-Himalayan Ecosystem (the lower, lush valleys of the mid-hills are linked with the arid Tibetan plateau), this is a culturally and environmentally sensitive and fragile region, which demands the utmost respect and care. Please take all precautions to tread softly and follow the Great Himalaya Trail Code.
In October 2008, King Jigme Palbar Bista’s (b. 1930) reign over Mustang ended by Nepali Government order, which effectively terminated the monarchic tradition established in AD 1350.
Grade: Trekking - Moderate
This trek is suitable to all and can be achieved by a beginner with training. A good level of fitness and some experience on a mountain is recommended prior to departure. You will enjoy your trip a lot more if prepared well. We recommend that you attend our Free Meet Day to join your group and our experienced guide to go for a preparatory hill-walk. This provides a good opportunity to get any questions answered or concerns that you may have dealt with in relation to the trip. Tips on gear, altitude and conditions will be also covered. We also run Fitness assessment and Hill-walking weekends that are ideally suited for those who need a little more preparation. We recommend these options to ensure a good level of understanding of the requirements for the upcoming trek.
The major problems occur when climbing, where due to the costs being based on the number of days you are on the mountain, many organised groups ascend far faster than the recommended 300m per day. Although the climb is possible in 5 or 6 days, at Irish & Worldwide Adventures we have agreed a 7 day climb allowing 1 extra day for acclimatisation or rest purposes. It is worth spending a bit extra to stay safe and achieve your goals. It is possible to spend time on some of the adjacent mountains to help acclimatise before tackling the main summit. More detailed information on Acclimatisation, Health Guidelines and Personal Safety Guidelines will be available on signup.
All-In Group €3,700 inclusive of International Flights on Land Only Itinerary set out below ** Please allow additional flight days to be added
Land Only €2,900
1. Airport Transfers
2. Hotel accommodation on B/B Basis. 4 night in Kathmandu and 2 nights in Pokhara
3. Domestic flight ticket - Jomsom/Pokhara/Jomsom/Kathmandu
4. National Park Fee
5. TIMS permit
6. All necessary permits
7. All camping and meals during the trek
8. Transportation of food from Beni to Jomsom
9. Transportation from Kathmandu to Pokhara by bus
1. Meals in Kathmandu
2. Members insurance and emergency rescue
3. Drinks and beverages including mineral waters
4. Any extra night hotels other than 4 nights in Kathmandu and 2 nights in Pokhara
5. Sightseeing in Kathmandu and Pokhara
Tony Nation, Trekking Guide & Trainer
Tony's love for adventure has taken him to many regions of our planet, he enjoys leading groups in Africa, Russia, Nepal and South America. Like many of our adventure guides and trainers his passion is that of communication and instilling the culture of the places we visit to those that join in our our adventures and courses. He is also one of our leading Irish guides with special knowledge in the Cork and Kerry hills and mountains. He is a father of four Sean, Damien, Sara and Timothy and from a very early age to instill adventure to his children, became involved with his wife Mary as a leading light in Scouting Ireland, giving of his time voluntary for over 20 years to promote the adventurous spirit in children. He is a County Commissioner for Cork South and heavily involved in training new Leaders and delivering Mountain Skills training to all Leaders and Scouters. Tony is a good story teller, has a passion for the outdoors, enjoys good food and after a hard day on the hills a few pints in good atmosphere. Tony is also a manager/trainer in our Health, Safety and team-building Corporate division.
Info on Sherpas
We at Irish and Worldwide Adventures ensure that all our agents in every destination value and treat their employees with respect and ensure their working rates and conditions are adhering to the local employment and Health & Safety guidelines. We have built up a good relationships with all of our operators to ensure the welfare of their team is priority. For more guidelines and information on Sherpas please contact us.
Here is a sample daily Itinerary, on booking you will be issued a more detailed version.
Day 01: Meeting upon arrival at Kathmandu International airport (1350n) Bus to Pokhara (920m) Overnight in Hotel.
Day 02: Fly to Jomsom (2710m) and trek to Kagbeni (2800m) Overnight at Camp
Day 03: Trek to Chussang (2920m) Overnight at Camp
Day 04: Trek to Syangboche (38000m) Overnight at Camp
Day 05: Trek to Charang (3510m) Overnight at Camp
Day 06: Trek to Lo Mangthang (3770m) Overnight at Camp
Day 07: Rest Day
Day 08: Trek to Ghiling (3500m)) Overnight at Camp
Day 09: Trek to Samar (3660m) Overnight at Camp
Day 10: Trek to Yekle Bhatti (4100m) Overnight at Camp
Day 11: Trek to Muktinath Overnight at Camp
Day 12: Trek to Thorang La Overnight at Camp
Day 13: Climbing 6000m peak in Thorong La & Back to Muktinath Overnight at Camp
Day 14: Trek to Jomsom (2710m) Overnight at Hotel
Day 15: Fly to Pokhara (920m) Overnight at Hotel
Day 16: Free Day in Pokhara (920m) Overnight at Hotel
Day 17: Fly to Kathmandu
** If you want to climb Dhampus Peak, then you will have to pay for Peak Permit Fee and also the porter fee is high. But, if you Climb Throng peak, you don’t need to pay for Peak Permit and the porter ss available at the normal rate. The elevation of Dhampus Peak and Thorong peak is almost same.
Preparation, Passports / Visas
Preparation - We have selected a walking weekend to help you adjust to the goal of the trek. The weekend has two walks with advice and techniques for clothing and gear given also. On the Saturday we will climb one of Irelands highest peaks during a day hike and on Sunday morning early we will go on a night hike simulating the requirements on the summit day of a trek which takes you out of your comfort zone prior to the real thing. This method allows your body and mind to adjust to the challenge ahead. For more info on this we also run Fitness Assessment and Hill-walking weekends, go to our Irish Training Section.
We suggest a training program of at least 6 months intensive to comfortably trek this trail.
Months 1-2 This should include weekly/fortnightly hillwalking for 3hrs+ with a small/medium pack of weight of 5-10kg approx
Months 3-4 This should be increased to include longer days (6hrs+) and pack weight of 10kg approx. Attend our Free Meet Day!
Month 5 Two days walking back to back twice giving 4 days total. Example: Saturday 7hr & Sunday 6hr = 13hrs walking. Avoid injuries at all costs!
Month 6 Continue with some walking but reduce to lower peaks and durations of 4hrs, avoid injuries at all costs!
You will need a valid full passport, please ensure it has at least six months before expiring prior to departure. Before applying for Visa please check dates on passport. Please bring 4-passport photos for visas.
We will need to get the visa and this can be got upon entry to Nepal.
For general wear on trek: cotton pants, t-shirts and if you have light thermals these will be ideal.
One pair of trekking boots for the trek. These boots can be used for good wear. If you have a hillwalking pair of boots you can also bring them. If you like comfort we recommend boots with extra insulation in sole around €150 with vibram or similar sole.
Four pairs of warm trekking stockings. (Thorlo or similar)
Adjustable ski poles: these take a lot of pressure off the body and makes walking less tiring. Some use two spring loaded ones as it takes 36 tons of pressure off your knees per day as well as allowing you to have a crutch to lean on when you are tired.
Thermal under-wear heavy gauge: 2 Tops and 2 bottoms. Dryflo etc.
1 fleece or pile jacket. Windproof is good.
Wind and water proofs (Gortex or similar): Top jacket and bottoms.
Sleeping bag range to - 15/20 degrees make sure it packs small. Also for sleeping it is important to bring an insulating sleeping mat. I usually bring a Thermarest full-length non-slip. There is insulating mattresses provide on trek but for extra comfort bring a Thermarest.
1 Water bottles with wide neck and one with narrow neck (Nalgene or similar) or one Platypus container, the platypus is ideal for trekking as you can stay hydrated by drinking from a tube as you walk.
Gloves: 1 pair of thermal and 1 pair over gloves or mitts, no harm in bringing spare sets.
Headtorch, Petzl with spare batteries and bulbs. I cannot stress the importance of this to have in good working order. (New LED versions are also lighter and smaller)
Peak hat for the lower regions to protect your head from the sun. (bandana or neck gaiter also)
Ruck sack 30 litres daypack for mountain to carry your camera food and day gear.
For traveling, 70-100 liters rucksack or strong gear bag- this will also do to give to porters on trek to carry your general gear.
Optional for night up high for cold, a light down top or extra fleece.
Personal first aid and medicine kit. (All our guides will have these for emergencies only)
UV sunglasses – Cat. 3 or Cat. 4 recommeded if there is a lot of time in or near snow.
2 x Earplugs pairs – If you have an inside pocket in sleeping bag, leave one there fulltime.
Sun-block (very important and use it!!)
Backpacking towel and general toiletries.
Extra Clothes for travelling and/or socialising.
Tips on Gear
Make sure your boots are well broken in.
For the mountain, a layering system works best to allow you to cool down or warm up with ease - t-shirt or thermals, shirt or warm top, a good fleece and good heavy-duty waterproofs if you intend doing more treks in future.
Gloves and hats are vital.
Bring waterproof gear that is made of breathable material.
You can use a normal 3 season sleeping bag. If you tend to get cold very easily, you can add in a sleeping bag liner. Remember that sleeping bags work on trapping layers of air so wearing clothes in your bag doesn't help.
If you wear contact lenses take plenty of saline and comfort drops as the paths are dusty. Also glasses are essential for summit night as temperature and altitude may effect eyes if contacts worn.
Common first aid complaints are headaches, dehydration, stomach bugs, diarrhoea, sunburn and occasional mouth ulcers. Looking after yourself with plenty of fluids, rest and enjoying the gentle ascending pace will assist in avoiding these. Your personal first aid kit should contain treatments for these minor aliments.
Please get advice from your GP before departure.
Money can be left in the hotel safe. All currency can be easily changed to local currency in the cities you will be staying in. The only money you will need to carry for your treks will be to cover porter and guide tips and bottled water if you choose to purchase. (Hotels offer launderette facilities if you wish to wash clothes following trek otherwise there is no opportunity to wash clothing.)
Digital cameras will cope fine with the conditions if you keep them warm close to your body where possible especially on summit morning or when reaching you highest day, otherwise batteries can run down. Spare batteries are a must.