Upper Mustang Lo Manthang Photography Trek
Upper Mustang and it’s walled capital Lo Manthang is a remote and starkly beautiful area. Off limits to tourists until it was opened in 1991 it is still one of the most culturally authentic and isolated regions of Nepal and is still referred to as the Last Forbidden Kingdom.
Located in the rain shadow of the Dhaulagiri range on the Tibetan plateau Upper Mustang is one of the most spectacular regions of Nepal. With sculpted canyons, fantastic rock formations, Tibetan style villages, cave complexes, royal palaces, fortresses and Tibetan Buddhist monasteries under the shadow of the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas.
Our trek takes us along the Kali Gandaki gorge which is the deepest in the world, along the rocky river bed through isolated villages and along stunning high trails with spectacular views. We visit the meditation caves of Guru Rimpoche and the walled city of Lo Manthang the home of the Mustangi king. Home to countless Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and also to the Bon religion which is an ancient religion that predates Buddhism we can learn about the culture and spirituality of the people of the region.
This trek is perfect for those that seek a unique cultural experience, want to experience some very different and stunning landscapes or are interested in more isolated and remote locations.
- The walled city of Lo Manthang – the capital of Upper Mustang
- The Kali Gandaki Gorge – the deepest in the world
- Incredible high altitude desert scenery
- Sculpted canyons and amazing rock formations
- Unique Tibetan culture that many claim is more Tibetan than Tibet
- Buddhist Monasteries and Bon Traditions
- Royal Palaces, meditation caves and fortresses
- Authentic Tibetan style villages
- Spectacular views of the surrounding area with a backdrop of snow capped peaks
- Sky caves – Ancient Buddhist cave complexes carved into cliff faces
Day 1 – Kathmandu Arrival
It’s arrival day today and you will be collected from the airport by our company representative who will escort you to your hotel. There will be a briefing this evening as we prepare for our trek. Overnight in Kathmandu. Included meals – none.
Day 2 – Kathmandu to Pokhara by road 6-7 hrs drive
It’s a full day driving today to the beautiful lakeside town of Pokhara. We can enjoy the scenery of villages in the lush hillside landscape along the way. Overnight in Pokhara. Included meals – breakfast.
Day 3 – Pokhara – Jomsom flight – Kagbeni (2810m) 4-5 hrs trek
This morning we fly to Jomsom on an early morning mountain flight. This flight is one of the most incredible mountain flights in Nepal. Flying between the 8000m+ peaks of the Annapurna and Dhauligiri mountains through the valley it is truly spectacular. On arrival in Jomsom we are greeted with a panorama of snow capped peaks and an introduction into the stark and rocky landscape of the Mustang region. From Jomsom we trek along the Kali Gandaki river to Kagbeni. This is a lovely village with a Tibetan culture and monastery we can visit. Overnight in Kagbeni. Included meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 4 – Kagbeni to Chele (3050m) 5-6 hrs
Today we walk along the Kali Gandaki river after entering the restricted Upper Mustang area. We start by heading up high on the plateau above the river bed from where we have magnificent views of the surrounding area. After 3 hours we get to the village of Tangbe which is a maze of narrow alleys and white washed houses with fields of buckwheat, barley and apple orchards. 1.5 hours after Tangbe reach Chhuksang, a Tibetan village and as we walk through the Kali Gandaki we can see many ancient caves in the dramatic fluted cliff faces. Overnight in Chele. Included meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 5 – Chele to Syanboche (3920m) 5-6 hrs
Chele is a beautiful traditional village where we have some lovely views of the surrounding area and peaks above us. After about 2 hours walk we will reach Samar which has a lovely monastery that we can visit. From Samar we take a different track and walk to the Ranchung Cave and also to the Chungsi Cave. These caves at 3425m are meditation caves that were used by Guru Rimpoche, inside are fantastic Buddhist sculptures and chortens and other Buddhist relics. Along the way high up on the ciff faces we can spot the nests of Himalayan Griffins. We arrive in Syanboche which is a small village where we stay overnight. Included meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 6 – Syanboche to Dhakmar (3820m) 6 hrs
As we climb the ridge this morning to Syanboche La we are rewarded with incredible views of the Himalayas and the picturesque village of Ghiling below. Above Ghiling is an old red gompa and ancient meditation caves in the cliffs. From here we trek through the villages of Tamagaon and some small hamlets with a landscape of rounded granite boulders along the way. Our trek continues with a pleasant walk past several chortens before ascending to the Nyi La pass from where another vista opens up for us. Descending into the scenic green valley we soon pass what is the most spectacular and longest mani wall in the region. Ahead of us we can see a cluster of giant ancient chortens under dramatic cliff faces and we soon arrive in Dhakmar, a sprawling village featuring a dramatic red canyon wall containing many ancient cave dwellings. Overnight in Dhakmar. Included meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 7 – Dhakmar to Lo Manthang (3810m) via Ghar Gumba 5 hrs
Heading off this morning we pass through the green pastureland and climb up through the canyon to the ridge where we can again enjoy incredible views. We soon arrive at Ghar Gumba (Lo Ghekar) which is one of the oldest gompas in Nepal. Belonging to the Nyingmapa tradition it is connected to Samye Gompa in Tibet and has a strong connection to Guru Rimpoche. We can spend some time visiting the gompa before continuing along through nomadic regions to the walled city of Lo Manthang. It’s an exciting moment for us as we get our first view of Lo Manthang, the fabled walled city of Lo. Lo Manthang consists of around 180 houses amongst narrow streets and some of the most incredible Tibetan Buddhist gompas in Nepal. There are 4 major temples within the walls and we can spend some time exploring these and experiencing local life as well. Overnight in Lo Manthang. Included meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 8 – Lo Manthang to Garphu (3900m) by pony return to Lo Manthang
Today we will be riding a pony to Garphu, we will be riding through the most spectacular scenery and it’s hard to believe we are not in another country altogether. Of particular interest is the amazing color and texture of the rocks and terrain around us. In Garphu we can visit the monastery and also the meditation caves near Garphu. Also known as the Sky Caves these famous and spectacular caves are in an amazing cave complex filled with relics, paintings, and archaeologically significant items. We take some time to explore the caves as well as the monasteries along the way before returning to Lo Manthang. Overnight in Lo Manthang. Included meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 9 – Lo Manthang to Chrang (3560m) 4-5 hrs
Our day starts with a short ascent to the Lo La Pass where we can have our last view of the incredible walled city of Lo Manthang. From here it’s easy walking to reach the village of Chrang perched on the edge of a dramatic canyon with it’s green poplars and willows. The village is dominated by the crumbling five storey Tsarang Dzong, a Tibetan style fortified palace and the ochre colored Tsarang Gompa belonging to the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. We can spend some time walking through the maze of narrow streets and exploring the dzong and gompa for the remainder of our day. Overnight in Chrang. Included meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 10 – Chrang to Yara (3610m) 5-6 hrs
Today we walk along the rocky river bed of the Kali Gandaki before ascending a ridge to reach the lush oasis of Dhi. From here it’s another hours walk along the river valley with a final ascent to reach Yara. Yara is a beautiful village with fantastic sculpted canyons in which are the remains of ancient caves now inaccessible. We can spend some time walking through this lovely village and experiencing the local culture and sights. Overnight in Yara. Included meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 11 – Yara visit Luri Gumba & Tashi Kabum
This morning we head out to the Tashi Kabum cave complex which is accessible via a narrow Cliffside trail. This is a newly discovered group of 6 caves that feature fantastic Buddhist paintings and a beautifully painted chorten. As the access to this site is quite difficult and dangerous those less adventurous may opt to miss this visit. From here we continue on to Luri Gumba and it’s network of Tibetan Buddhist caves. The main Luri Gumba is located near the riverbed and the upper prayer rooms and Kabum Stupa are on a trail above. A feature here is the polished stucco and intricately detailed Newari style Buddhist frescoes depicting the Kagyupa saints which are estimated to be from the 13th or 14th Century. After spending some time exploring here we return to Yara via Ghara another pretty small village. Overnight in Yara. Included meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 12 – Yara to Ghiling (3570m)
We will be crossing the Kali Gandaki several times today so have your sandals ready. Starting with a descent to the Puyang Khola we pass through Surkhang before hiking back up to a viewpoint looking over the Kali Gandaki. Soon after we are back on the river bed where we cross over before ascending to the dirt road over the Tsarang La. The descent from the pass takes us to a dramatic set of chortens and the longest mani wall in Mustang. Descending to Ghemi we retrace our steps and ascend the Nyi La pass before descending to Ghiling below. Overnight in Ghiling. Included meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 13 – Ghiling to Samar (3605m) via Chungsi Caves
Leaving Ghiling this morning we climb gradually to the Syangboche La where we can enjoy the views of the Himalayas to the south. Once reaching Syangboche we veer off the trail and descend to the valley past shepherds herding their flocks of sheep and goats. Along the way to the caves we can see the nests of Himalayan Griffins high up in the cliff faces. The Chungsi cave is one of Guru Rimpoche’s meditation caves and up a series of rock steps we can see many Tibetan Buddhist sculptures, chortens and other relics. On leaving the cave it’s a spectacular walk to the village of Samar climbing high into an incredible canyon and enjoying fantastic views along the way. Overnight in Samar. Included meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 14 – Samar to Chhuksang (2950m) then drive to Jomsom
It’s an easy walk on our last day today with a couple of hours of trekking to reach Chhuksang. From here we will be picked up by our vehicle and make our way to Jomsom by road. Overnight in Jomsom. Included meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 15 – Jomsom flight to Pokhara (25 min flight)
This morning we have a short early morning flight to Pokhara. This is arguably the most beautiful mountain flight in Nepal as we head down the valley passing in between the sheer massif’s of Annapurna I (8091m) and Mt Dhaulaghiri (8167m). We should be in Pokhara fairly early and we can enjoy a full day of sightseeing here to finish our trip. Pokhara is a beautiful lakeside town picturesquely located on the banks of Phewa Lake. Particularly beautiful is the area beside the lake with the colorful boats that are abundant here. We can enjoy a boat ride on the lake, some souvenir shopping or just relaxing at one of the many bars and café’s n the area. Overnight in Pokhara. Included meals – breakfast.
Day 16 – Pokhara to Kathmandu by vehicle – 5-6 hrs drive
We drive back to Kathmandu today. It’s a fairly easy drive and we can sit back and enjoy the scenery. We arrive back in Kathmandu by mid afternoon when you have time for some shopping or to just relax in your hotel. Overnight in Kathmandu. Included meals – breakfast.
Day 17 – Departure Day
Your journey ends today and you will be escorted to the airport by our company representative in time for your flight.
Note: This itinerary may differ slightly during your tour. Occasionally itineraries need to change to allow for weather conditions, transportation , travellers desires etc. It is recommended that you allow an additional 1-2 days before your international flight to allow for mountain airport delays and other unforeseen circumstances.
Tour cost includes:
- All accommodation as specified in the itinerary on twin share basis
- All domestic flights and transportation as stated in the itinerary
- Arrival and departure airport transfers
- Entry fees and permits
- Meals as specified in the itinerary
- Local guide for the duration of the trip
- Sightseeing as stated in the itinerary
- Insurances for staff and guides
- Farewell dinner and cultural show
Not included in tour cost:
- International flights to Nepal
- Visa costs
- Meals other than those listed in inclusions (this includes additional tea or coffee, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and water)
- Laundry, towels, hot showers where optional, internet access, recharging of batteries and other items of a personal nature
- Donations to enter monasteries, museums etc
- Tips for porters and guides
Book onto one of our fixed departures or contact us to arrange your own departure for this trek.
There are no fixed departures at this time (look at our Tiji Festival Itinerary for May 2017 departure)
If you have a departure date in mind contact us and we can arrange a fixed departure to suit your needs.