The Upper Mustang trek is a popular trekking route in the Mustang region of Nepal that offers a unique opportunity to explore the remote and culturally rich areas of the Himalayas. This ancient kingdom once was an important crossroads for trade and culture between Tibet and Nepal and offers intrepid travelers a journey back in time.
Tucked away behind towering mountains and distinct desert-like landscapes, Upper Mustang invites trekkers to explore its hidden monasteries, intricately carved caves, and traditional villages that seem to have defied the passage of time. Setting foot on the Upper Mustang trek is like entering a living museum. The trail winds through ancient villages and settlements that have preserved their Tibetan culture for centuries.
The landscape of the Upper Mustang region is equally enchanting. The journey begins in lower altitudes with green valleys and terraced fields, gradually transitioning into a barren, almost desert-like terrain as you ascend. The deep reds, muted yellows, and rich earth tones of the arid landscape create a canvas that’s both stark and stunning.
While the Upper Mustang trek rewards adventurers with intriguing vistas and cultural immersion, it’s important to remember that this journey is not without its challenges. The trek encompasses high altitudes, challenging terrain, and the need for proper acclimatization. Obtaining the necessary permits and arranging logistics through registered trekking agencies is crucial, both for safety and to ensure a respectful and sustainable experience that supports the local communities and environment.
So let’s begin the journey of Upper Mustang trek to wind up through the desert of Nepal through Himalayan 360.
Best season for the Upper Mustang Trek
The best time for the Upper Mustang trek is Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-November). In these seasons, you will find the most favorable time to trek. The region comes to life with colorful flowers and lush vegetation. However, at this time the flow of tourists is high so if you are a traveler wanting to experience less crowd this might not be the best option.
Monsoon, however, can be another option for Upper Mustang trek as it barely rains in those areas. But make sure the accommodations are open as it is the off-season so it might be the difficulty.
Permits required for Upper Mustang trek
The Upper Mustang trek generally requires two permits. One being ACAP and the other being Restricted Area Permit (RAP).
Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP)
This permit is required for entering the Annapurna Conservation Area, which includes the Upper Mustang region. The conservation area is managed by the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) and aims to protect the environment and biodiversity of the region.
Restricted Area Permit (RAP)
The most significant permit required for the Upper Mustang Trek is the Restricted Area Permit. This permit is issued by the Nepalese government and is designed explicitly for visiting restricted areas like the Upper Mustang. It’s intended to control the number of tourists and protect the unique cultural heritage of the region.
No TIMS or Trekkers Information Management System card is required for Upper Mustang as the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is sufficient as it provides details of the trekker and their destination in case of an emergency or problem.
What do I need to do to get the Upper Mustang trek permit?
To obtain the necessary permits for the Upper Mustang Trek, you’ll need to follow specific procedures and provide the required documents.
Choose a Trekking Agency:
While it’s possible to obtain permits individually, it’s often more convenient to work with a registered trekking agency in Nepal. They can handle the permit process on your behalf and provide you with guidance and support during the trek.
Prepare the following documents and information:
A valid passport with at least six months’ validity from your planned entry date.
Passport-sized photographs (usually 2 to 4 photos).
Your travel itinerary, including details about your trek, entry and exit points, and duration of stay.
Upper Mustang is located in the northwestern part of Nepal, bordering Tibet (China). It used to be an ancient Himalayan kingdom and still retains much of its Tibetan cultural heritage. The Upper Mustang trek is a perfect way to experience a remote and culturally rich part of Nepal.
It offers a traveler a stunning blend of natural landscapes and also a deep dive into Tibetan Buddhist culture. Whereas, Trekkers should be physically fit, prepared, and aware of the altitude challenges, but don’t worry the rewards of your hard work are worth the effort as you’ll experience once-in-a-lifetime views.
The trek is generally of 10-15 days and showcases one of the best landscapes of Nepal. It is very necessary to know the proper gear, season, and things required in the trek to have a smooth trek.
- Upper Mustang is often referred to as a "Hidden Kingdom" due to its preserved Tibetan culture. You'll have the opportunity to explore ancient monasteries, interact with local residents, and witness unique traditions that have been passed down for centuries.
- The walled city of Lo Manthang, once the capital of the Mustang kingdom, is home to intricately designed monasteries, historic palaces, and narrow alleys that give you a glimpse into the region's royal past.
- The unique architecture of upper mustang is worth to watch which reflects Tibetan influence.
- The trek takes you through several ancient Buddhist monasteries, including Ghar Gompa and Tsarang Gompa, which are adorned with colorful murals, statues, and artifacts that provide insights into the local spiritual practices.
- The barren yet captivating landscape of Upper Mustang is unlike any other. You'll walk through deep gorges, encounter towering rock formations, cross high passes, and witness the stark beauty of the Himalayan desert.
- The play of light and shadows against the stark landscapes, the vibrant colors of prayer flags against the blue sky, and the architectural intricacies all provide fantastic opportunities for photography.