Upper Mustang Trek Story | My Epic Trekking Tale

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Imagine a place where time stands still, where ancient cultures thrive amidst some of the most stunning landscapes on Earth. Welcome to Upper Mustang Trekking, Nepal’s hidden gem. My journey through this remote and mystical region was nothing short of transformative.

This April, I finally fulfilled my dream of trekking to the Upper Mustang Trek. I had been planning this adventure ever since a close friend of mine completed the trek two years ago. I intended to do a solo trek but had to join a group. A week before my trip to Nepal, I booked the trek with Eco-Friendly Treks, as they appeared to be a reputable company.

From the bustling streets of Kathmandu to the serene heights of the Lo-manthang, every step was a new adventure. Join me as I recount the highs and lows, the unexpected surprises, and the profound connections I made on my epic trek through Upper Mustang. This is more than just a trekking story; it’s a tale of discovery, both of a land untouched by time and of my own inner resilience.

How I Get there?

My journey to the Upper Mustang trek began long before I set foot on the trail. As an avid trekker, the allure of Nepal’s mystical landscapes has always captivated my imagination. Finally, I booked my flight to Pokhara, the bustling and mesmerizing city. From the moment I stepped out of the Pokhara Airport, I could feel the vibrant energy and cultural richness of this incredible country.

The next morning, I headed back to Pokhara Airport for my flight to Jomsom. This time, I flew with Tara Air, known for operating flights to remote areas of Nepal. The aircraft was even smaller than the one I took to Pokhara, adding to the sense of adventure.

Fly to Pokhara

The flight from Pokhara to Jomsom is renowned for being one of the most scenic in the world. As we ascended, the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges came into clear view, their peaks glistening in the morning sun. The flight path follows the Kali Gandaki Gorge, the world’s deepest gorge, flanked by towering mountains on either side.

After about 20 minutes, the landscape began to change dramatically. The lush green hills turned into barren, rocky terrain as we approached Jomsom. Landing at Jomsom Airport was an exhilarating experience, given its reputation as one of the more challenging airports due to the strong winds and mountainous surroundings.

Finally, I Started My Trekking

Stepping off the plane in Jomsom felt like entering a different world. The air was crisp and cool, and the rugged landscape was starkly beautiful. Jomsom is a gateway to the Mustang region and is popular among trekkers heading to the sacred Muktinath Temple or the ancient city of Lo Manthang.

Kagbeni to Chele

The trek began in Kagbeni, a quaint village perched at the gateway to Upper Mustang. As I walked through the narrow alleys, ancient chortens and colorful prayer flags fluttered in the wind, creating a serene yet mystical atmosphere. The trail ascended gradually and followed the Kali Gandaki River. The landscape was empty and arid, with rough cliffs and vast expanses of barren land.

I finally arrived in Chele after a few hours of trekking. This small village is nestled at an elevation of 3,050 meters. I feel lucky to see a glimpse of traditional Tibetan-influenced culture. The houses were built with stone and mud, blending seamlessly with the environment. I enjoyed spending the evening interacting with locals, learning about their way of life, and enjoying a simple yet hearty meal of dal bhat.

Chele to Geling

The trek from Chele to Geling was a journey through contrasting terrains. The trail climbed steeply to the Taklam La Pass at 3,624 meters. The air grew thinner, and the views became more expansive, revealing snow-capped peaks in the distance. The path twists through hills and less vegetation after descending from the pass.

Geling Village is situated at 3,540 meters, was a picturesque village with whitewashed houses and red-roofed monasteries. The barley fields added a splash of green to the otherwise brown and gray landscape. I visited the Geling Monastery, a repository of ancient Buddhist texts and thangkas. The tranquil ambiance and the sound of monks chanting mantras left a lasting impression.

Geling to Charang

I started to climb the Nyi La Pass at 4,020 meters after the early morning breakfast. This is one of the highest points of the trek. The climb was challenging but rewarded with panoramic views of the Mustang region. Descending from the pass, the path led to the village of Charang, situated at 3,560 meters.

Charang was larger than the previous villages, with a maze of narrow streets, a prominent five-story white dzong (fortress), and a red gompa (monastery). The evening was spent exploring these historical sites. Even though it was mostly destroyed, the dzong continued to stand as a symbol of the resilient people and rich heritage of the area.

Altitude Sickness At Four Thousand Meters And Beyond

The next morning, as the first light bathed the rugged terrain of Upper Mustang, I sprang out of bed with the same excitement as every morning. After my usual breakfast of coffee and an omelet, I set out early at 7 AM, ready for the day’s adventure. For those familiar with high-altitude trekking, the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a serious concern if not managed properly.

altitude sickness in Everest Base Camp Trek

The golden rule at these heights is to avoid gaining more than 400 meters in elevation per day once you’re above 4,000 meters. You can ascend more in a day, but you must descend to sleep at an elevation no more than 400 meters higher than your previous night’s camp. Alternatively, you can spend an extra day acclimatizing, which I planned to do in Lo Manthang.

I’ve followed this guideline continually, yet I have never experienced severe AMS problems. Pace yourself and let your body adjust on its own; that’s the key. Though it may seem tempting to rush through the ascent—especially if you feel good—AMS symptoms frequently show up at night. If the altitude is not respected, a perfectly healthy person can quickly decline.

It is said that if someone were suddenly transported from sea level to the summit of Mount Everest, they would succumb within minutes due to their body’s inability to adapt quickly enough. AMS is a serious threat, and the best strategy is to heed the advice and take the necessary time to acclimate, particularly before reaching the higher altitudes of the trek.

After a night’s rest in Lo Manthang, I felt active again and ready to continue. I packed up my 10-kg backpack, a constant companion and occasional adversary, and slung it over my shoulders, setting off for the next leg of my Upper Mustang.

The final push to Lo-Manthang

Upper Mustang Trek Cost

It was the most eagerly anticipated part of the journey. A combination of mild climbs and descents leads to the historic walled city of Lo-Manthang. The land parted and the city in the distance became visible as I got closer to Lo-Manthang. High walls encircled the settlement, giving the impression of an oasis in the middle of the desert.

Entering Lo-Manthang through its main gate felt like stepping back in time. Founded in the 14th century, the city was a labyrinth of narrow alleys, hidden courtyards, and ancient monasteries. The Royal Palace, with its distinctive architecture, stood at the heart of the city. I spent the evening wandering the streets, marveling at the timeless beauty and absorbing the unique culture.

Best Bonus During This Trek

Rich history was shown at every step, making the Upper Mustang Trek a surprising pleasure. The area was formerly a part of the historic Kingdom of Lo, and the language, customs, and architecture all displayed Tibetan influences. We went to a few monasteries, all of which had beautiful sculptures and artwork. The monks blessed us and said prayers for our journey in their calm manner.

One evening, we were invited to a local festival. The villagers gathered in the main square, singing and dancing to the beat of traditional drums. I joined in, feeling a deep connection to these people and their traditions. It was moments like these that made the trek more than just a physical journey – it was a journey of the soul.

Beauty of Lo-Manthang

Lomanthang, the ancient walled city, was a highlight of the trek. As we approached, the city seemed to rise from the desert, a fortress of history and culture. Upon entering through its gates, I was transported to a different era. The narrow streets, flanked by white-washed houses, were bustling with activity. Prayer flags fluttered in the wind, and the air was filled with the sound of chanting monks.

We spent the night at a local guesthouse, where the hospitality was amazing. That evening, we dined on traditional Tibetan cuisine, with hearty bowls of thukpa and momos. Our host, an elderly man with a twinkle in his eye, shared stories of Lomanthang’s past, recounting tales of kings, monks, and pilgrims.

At night, the old monasteries, with their colorful murals and finely carved woodwork, seemed even more magical. When I went to the Thubchen Gompa, the monks were praying in the evening.

Lomanthang was a place where history came alive, and spending a night there was like stepping into a living museum. The serenity of the city, combined with its rich cultural heritage, made it one of the most memorable stops on the trek.

Nearing End

As we began our descent, I felt a bittersweet mix of emotions. The trek had pushed me to my limits, both physically and mentally. But it had also been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The individuals I met, the scenery I saw, and the moments of observation I had along the way all left a lasting impression on me.

We made our way back to Jomsom, and from there, flew back to Pokhara. The return journey felt like a blur, my mind still processing the incredible journey I had just undertaken. I spent a few more days in Pokhara, allowing myself to rest and reflect.

Upper Mustang Trek Story

Another Bonus

Before leaving Nepal, Basanta suggested one final adventure: a visit to Chitwan National Park. I went on a safari and saw rhinos, elephants, and even a glimpse of the cunning Bengal tiger, trading in the mountains for the forest. It was the ideal way to round off my trip and gave my Nepalese journey even more adventure.

Returning to Nepal in the Future

When I got back on the plane, I knew that this would not be my last visit to Nepal. This country has forever changed my heart. Its stunning nature, friendly people, and the peace I found in its mountains all drew me in.


Must Try Trekking

Anyone planning a trekking holiday in Nepal will find the Upper Mustang tour to be a one-of-a-kind combination of adventure, culture, and scenic beauty. It is a trip that will provide you with lifelong memories while also presenting you with both challenges and rewards. If you have the opportunity to trek this path, take advantage of it. Accept the adventure and let Nepal’s charm soak into your soul.

Take off on your tour to discover the beauty of the Upper Mustang Trek. This is an adventure you will not want to miss.