Upper Mustang Trek Difficulty Explained: Altitude, Terrain, & Weather Conditions

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Upper Mustang Trek is renowned for attracting trekkers from all over the globe, making it one of Nepal’s most popular treks. This trek offers a delightful blend of adventure and accessibility between the challenging Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek or the Manaslu Tsum Valley Trek and the easier Mardi Himal Trek.

Regardless of your preferences, Upper Mustang is capable of expressing joy, surprise, and amazement. This trek provides an experience that is equally difficult and highly rewarding, appealing to both novice and experienced trekkers.

In this article, we explore the different aspects of the Upper Mustang Trek Difficulty, providing insights into the terrain, and preparations required for this incredible adventure.

Upper Mustang Trek Location

The Upper Mustang Trek is a prominent trekking route located in the north-central part of Nepal. The trek passes through the trans-Himalayan region of Nepal, which is situated on the border of Tibet.

Upper Mustang Map

The Upper Mustang was a restricted kingdom until 1992, making it one of the most well-preserved regions in the world. The majority of the population still speaks traditional Tibetic languages, adding to the region’s unique cultural charm.

Is the Upper Mustang Trek Difficult?

The trek is considered moderately difficulty due to a combination of factors, including its high altitude, arid climate, and rugged terrain. Trekkers typically ascend to altitudes exceeding 4,000 meters (13,000 feet), which can pose the risk of altitude sickness.

The region’s arid and windy landscape means that water sources can be scarce, and temperatures can vary drastically. The trail itself is rocky and uneven, which requires good stamina and balance. However, the stunning landscapes and rich cultural experiences make it a rewarding adventure for well-prepared trekkers.

Traversing the rugged terrain of Upper Mustang involves navigating narrow paths, steep ascents, and rocky trails. The region’s unique landscape, characterized by arid valleys and high cliffs, offers both a challenge and a reward for adventure enthusiasts.

Trek altitude of Upper Mustang

At its highest point, the route to Annapurna Base Camp is around (4,130 m/13,550 ft) above sea level. Although this trek isn’t as high as some of the more challenging ones in the area, it still requires a sizable rise.

Acclimatization and a slow climb are crucial to avoid altitude-related problems because some people may experience altitude sickness.

Duration of Upper Mustang Trek

It typically takes 12 to 15 days to finish the Upper Mustang Trek. If you are rushed for time, this walk can be finished in nine or ten days. You have to walk for five to six hours a day on average. If you are not used to walking or hiking, it may even take you seven or eight hours to reach your target for the day.

The amount of time spent trekking is closely correlated with how long it takes the body to adapt to the physical strain and altitude. More rest days and less harsh climbs are possible with a longer duration. You must select the duration based on your level of physical fitness and health.



Regular Upper Mustang Trek14 Days
Short Upper Mustang Trek10 Days
Upper Mustang Jeep Tour7 Days
Upper Mustang Bike Tour5 Days

Trekkers must improve their endurance and daily walking skills in order to conquer the Upper Mustang difficulty linked to duration. They have to go hiking, try long-distance walking, climb and descend on trails, and engage in physical activity. By taking these safety measures, you can increase the comfort of your journey and help yourself to get used to walking.

Trek distance

The Upper Mustang Trek covers approximately 125 kilometers for trekkers. To complete the trek on schedule, you will need to walk for around 6-8 hours per day. Trekking guides will adjust your walking time according to your fitness level and the weather.

If you are not used to walking great distances, you may become tired and uncomfortable during the trek. That is why it is advisable to engage in a physical fitness routine before the trip.

This trek covers a longer distance than other short-distance treks such as the Mardi Himal Trek, Khopra Trek, Mohare Trek, and others. An expert trekker can cover the day-to-day walking distance faster, but a novice trekker may take longer.

Trek route and Terrain in Upper Mustang

The Upper Mustang Trek route crosses a variety of terrains, including stone steps, rocky trails, and barren and uneven ground. The changing terrain demands adaptability and physical flexibility, especially while navigating steep ascents and descents.

The trail has narrow, twisting sections and occasional exposure to cliff edges, which might be difficult for anyone who is afraid of heights or fear falling. To properly manage the trek’s diverse terrain, surefootedness, and physical endurance are required.

You should always be conscious of your physical power in order to reduce the risks that come with trekking routes. Try not to expand yourself; doing so will just make the journey more difficult. It is suggested that you walk slowly and that you always have a guide with you to offer advice on how to walk safely, even on challenging terrain. You should also always bring energy boosters, keep a balanced diet, increase your energy levels, and stay hydrated.

Weather and temperature

Weather in the Annapurna region can be unpredictable, especially at higher altitudes. During the trekking seasons (spring and autumn), the weather is more consistent and clear, providing good visibility and acceptable daytime temperatures.
However, temperatures drop dramatically at higher elevations, particularly at night, and weather conditions can change quickly. Rhododendron blossoms may be more abundant in the spring. This brings beauty to the environment, although the sky is typically clearer in autumn.

Upper Mustang Annual Temperature Chart

The weather at Annapurna Base Camp fluctuates dramatically during the winter months (December, January, and February). The ranging temperatures will be from 9.3°C/48.74°F to -20°C/-4°F. The cold becomes severe, making trekking more difficult. The majority of teahouses in higher altitude zones remain closed. In summer/monsoon (June, July, and August), the temperature ranges from 19°C/66.2°F to 4°C/39.2°F. In this season, you will experience strong haze from the sun and heavy rainfall.

Guide & Porter for Upper Mustang

Upper Mustang is a great area for new trekking experiences in Nepal. You may be aware that the Upper Mustang Trek cannot be completed solo. The Nepalese government has restricted entry to this region to preserve its natural and cultural attractiveness.

You must hire a guide for the Upper Mustang Trek. Yes, a licensed guide is required, although having a porter is optional. This government effort helps to preserve the region’s diverse flora and animals. Additionally, the Upper Mustang is away and unexplored. As a result, the government is requiring that the Upper Mustang Trek use a guide.

Budget Management Difficulty

Upper Mustang may be a more expensive trekking destination than others. The Upper Mustang trip cost varies depending on the itinerary, chosen route, number of days, and so on. Given the remoteness of this region, the cost of accommodation and food is not prohibitively expensive.

Everything, from bottled water to lodging, becomes more than three times more expensive as you ascend in elevation. So, if you don’t manage your budget properly, you may have problems meeting your expenses, such as food and water.

In addition, the higher-altitude region lacks ATMs and bank services. As a result, you must bring enough cash with you to make the voyage comfortable.

Types of Trekkers

The Upper Mustang Trek difficulty varies according to the trekkers’ experience. If you are skilled and experienced, the Upper Mustang trekking paths will not be too difficult. To be more specific, this journey is easily accessible and comfortable for trekkers who can walk continuously on rough terrain for 5-6 hours every day.

However, novice trekkers will take longer to travel the same distance as experienced trekkers. They will also have a difficult time walking on rugged and rocky trails.

To avoid challenges for new trekkers, we propose that they cultivate the habit of walking uphill and downhill. Hiring a guide and porter might also make your trip more pleasurable and stress-free. Hiring an experienced guide from a licensed and reputed trekking company ensures your safety and protection during the Upper Mustang trek.

Upper Mustang Trek: Short Overview

Kingdom of Lo / Mustang

StatusIndependent sovereign state (1380–1795)

Dependency of Nepal (1795–2008)

CapitalLo Manthang
Official languagesTibetan and Nepali
Area2,020 km2 (780 sq mi)
ReligionHinduism, Tibetan Buddhism, Kiratism, and Nepalese Shamanism
Permits RequiredACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Permit), Upper Mustang Permit
Key AttractionsLo Manthang, ancient monasteries, Tibetan culture, and unique landscapes
AccommodationTeahouses, lodges
Transport OptionsFly to Jomsom or Drive from KTM to Jomson via PKR
Trekking RouteJomsom – Kagbeni – Chele – Syangboche – Ghami – Charang – Lo Manthang – Dhakmar – Ghiling – Chuksang – Jomsom
Special NotesRestricted area, limited access, significant cultural heritage

Comparison Table

Nepal is a trekker’s paradise, known for its breathtaking Himalayan routes. With several popular hiking routes, each one provides a distinct experience in terms of duration, distance, and difficulty. Here is a table that compares major elements of Nepal’s most popular trekking destinations.

Trip Name

Hiking DurationWalking Hour/day (approx.)Difficulty LevelMaximum Altitude

Cultural Highlights

Upper Mustang Trek

12-14 days5-7 hoursModerately difficult trek3,800 m (12,467 ft)Tibetan Buddhist culture, traditional villages

Everest Base Camp Trek

12-14 days6-8 hoursDifficult5,364 m (17,598 ft)Sherpa culture, Tengboche Monastery

Short Annapurna Base Camp Trek

6-8 days5-7 hoursModerate 4130 m (13551 ft)Mixed ethnic groups, Tibetan culture

Langtang Valley Trek

7-10 days5-6 hoursModerate3,800 m (12,464 ft)Tibetan Buddhist culture, traditional villages

Manaslu Circuit Trek

14-18 days6-8 hoursDifficult5,160 m (16,929 ft)Tibetan Buddhist culture, traditional villages

If you have limited time in Nepal, then you should choose the Langtang Valley Trek or the Annapurna Circuit Trek, as they will introduce you to the cultural and natural beauty of the Himalayan region for 5 to 9 days.

How to Tackle Upper Mustang Trek Difficulty?

Physical Fitness

Engage in regular cardiovascular exercises such as running, cycling, and swimming to build stamina. Focus on strengthening your legs, core, and upper body through exercises like squats, lunges, planks, and weightlifting. Incorporate regular hikes on varied terrains to simulate trekking conditions. Gradually increase the distance and altitude of your hikes. Practice yoga and stretching exercises to enhance flexibility and balance, reducing the risk of injury.

Mental Preparedness

Cultivate a positive attitude and stay motivated by focusing on the rewarding aspects of the trek. Practice stress-relief techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness to stay calm and focused. Understand the potential challenges and set realistic expectations to avoid disappointment and frustration.


Plan your itinerary to include gradual ascents and acclimatization days, allowing your body to adjust to the altitude. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and aid acclimatization. Avoid overexertion and rest adequately, especially during the first few days. Be aware of symptoms of altitude sickness (headache, nausea, dizziness) and descend if necessary.

Travel Insurance

Ensure your insurance covers high-altitude trekking, emergency evacuation, medical expenses, trip cancellation, and lost belongings. Carry a copy of your insurance policy and emergency contact numbers.


Obtain the special permits required for the Upper Mustang (Restricted Area Permit and Annapurna Conservation Area Permit). Carry multiple copies of your passport, visa, and permits. Keep a list of emergency contacts, including local authorities and your embassy.


Accommodations in Upper Mustang are primarily basic tea houses offering minimal amenities. During peak trekking seasons, book your lodgings in advance to ensure availability. Bring a good-quality sleeping bag, as bedding may not always be clean or warm enough.

Health and Medications

Include bandages, antiseptics, pain relievers, blister treatment, and any personal medications. Consider carrying medications like Diamox (acetazolamide) to help prevent altitude sickness. Ensure you are up-to-date on necessary vaccinations and consult your doctor regarding any additional immunizations required for Nepal.

Dietary Preferences

Be prepared to eat local Nepalese food, which often includes rice, lentils, vegetables, and potatoes. Inform your guide or trekking company of any dietary restrictions or preferences in advance. Carry high-energy snacks like nuts, dried fruits, and energy bars for quick boosts during the trek.


Book flights to and from Jomsom, the starting point of the Upper Mustang trek, well in advance. Arrange for local transportation to reach Jomsom if you prefer to travel by road. Hiring a guide and porter can greatly enhance your trekking experience by providing local knowledge and carrying heavy loads.

So, can I make this journey?

You can make the journey to Upper Mustang depending on several factors, including your physical fitness, trekking experience, and preparedness for high-altitude conditions. You need good physical stamina to handle the long walking days, steep ascents, and rugged terrain.

Acclimatization is crucial to preventing altitude sickness, so incorporating rest days and ascending gradually is important. Training beforehand, such as regular hiking, cardiovascular exercises, and strength training, will help you build the necessary fitness level.

If you are in good health, reasonably fit, and well-prepared, the journey to Upper Mustang is achievable and can be incredibly rewarding.