Upper Mustang Driving tour
One of the best and newly discovered area for people who like to travel in high places of Nepal. The tour is famous for landscape, culture and oldest monasteries. Upper Mustang is located in the north west from Pokhara was a forbidden place for visitors until 1992 and even when it was opened for the visitors it was not that popular as the accommodation were simple, the place is very remote and high entry fee to enter the area. After the construction of the road from Pokhara to Jomsom, the area is the eye catcher for all the visitors from around the globe.
Upper Mustang is even considered the lost part from Tibet, the last forbidden kingdom and landscape is more or less similar to Tibet and now a days Tibetan Buddhism is perfectly preserved in this area. The area is located in the rain shadow zone behind the Annapurna. It rains very little there and area can be visited even during monsoon time in Nepal.
Upper Mustang is considered a small kingdom and had king until few years ago. The capital of upper Mustang Lo-Manthang is considered as walled town of Nepal. There are three important monasteries located near by the old palace. Now there is no more king living in the palace and even the palace is ruined badly. Even the local people are not entering the palace now a days. Recently when we were there, we have seen the picture of the king and queen which they have kept in the main entrance to the palace.
Driving tour to upper Mustang gives opportunity to discover the whole Kaligandaki Valley as we drive many days on the flood plains of Kaligandaki. The world’s deepest gorge is located here. The tour also takes to the holy temple of Muktinath from 18th century constructed by queen and a famous pilgrimage center for both Hindus and Buddhist.
The oldest survived monastery in Nepal is Lo-Gyakar monastery which supposed to be constructed at the time of Guru Rimpoche as he was travelling from Nepal to Tibet. The farmland and villages there are concentrated nearby the big water sources like bank of the river or stream. The area is quite windy and dusty during the afternoon time.
108 chambered Chhoser cave dzong is of unparallel beauties as this is the biggest man-made cave and resided cave in the world.
The apple capital of Nepal, Marpha is one of the beautiful villages with horticulture station. Visiting the monastery and the village itself is of great fun.
The cave temple of Luri Gumba above the Yara Village is of great religious importance to all the local Buddhist community.
Upper Mustang driving Tour itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu
Day 2: Sightseeing in Kathmandu, visiting the famous monuments of Kathmandu which includes Swoyambhunath, Patan Durbar Square, Pashupatinath and Boudhanath.
Day 3: Drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara
Day 4: Drive from Pokhara to Thasang/ Marpha
Day 5: Discover Muktinath and drive to Kagbeni and overnight at Kagbeni
Day 6: Drive from Kagneni to Ghami in route stop at Ghiling to discover the village of Ghiling
Day 7: Drive from Ghami to Lo-Manthang with in route visit to Ghar Gumba (Lo- Gyakar Monastery) and Tshrang, discover the old palace and monastery from Tshrang.
Day 8: Discover Lo-Manthang and Chhoser (A full day tour around Lo-Manthang)
Day 9: Drive from Lo-Manthang to Kagbeni in route visit to Luri Gumba and overnight at Kagbeni
Day 10: Drive from Kagbeni to Tatopani and discover and take advantage of hot water springs of Tatopani.
Day 11: Drive from Tatopani to Pokhara and sightseeing at Pokhara
Day 12: Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu
Day 14: Departure from Kathmandu
There are like two categories of the tour
The transport and guide remain the same but the accommodations are cheaper
The hotels we use through out the tour will be of top end
Price of these tours
Budget tour cost $2500 per person
Deluxe tour cost $4500 per person
All accommodation is on twin sharing basis and there must be at least two persons to run the tours. There will be single supplement for solo travelers.
What’s included in the price
Mustang travel permit which is $500 per person
Round trip private transfer in a 4WD Scorpio Jeep
An English-speaking professional guide for the whole trip
All meals during the Mustang tour except Kathmandu and Pokhara
Twin sharing accommodation in guest house for budget tour and available best resort and hotel for deluxe tour
ACAP entry fee
Monument entry fee for sightseeing in Kathmandu
What is not included in the tour price
International flight ticket, Nepal entry Visa (one can get upon arrival at the airport in Kathmandu)
Meals in Kathmandu and Pokhara except breakfast
Tips to the driver and guide
Any type of insurance and other extra cost due to any unforeseen reasons
The best time to do this tour
From October to December and March to May
In July August also we do operate the tour but the lower part might be muddy and the road might be blocked by the landslide and we might need to change the itinerary.
There is an airport in Jomsom so one can opt to take a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom and fly back to Pokhara with visits concentrated just for Upper Mustang.
Weather in upper Mustang
As a rain shadow area, the Mustang weather remains pretty clear most of the days but the lower part to reach the upper Mustang area is with heavy rains and the road also not paved so in rainy season one need to be flexible to walk little bit if blockage occurs.
The temperature goes down drastically during the winter and summer months day temperature will be even more than 25 degrees.
Why Upper Mustang is Restricted?
- Upper Mustang is restricted due to following reasons:
- Attached to Tibetan boarder
- Many special management Zone
- Because of Globally threatened flora and fauna
- Fragile environment
- Unique culture and heritage
- Unique mode of settlement with old several monasteries
- Forbidden kingdom
- A lost treasure of Tibet
Attractions of Upper Mustang
Tangbe is about two hours walk from Kagbeni and famous for ancient cave and monasteries.
Tetang is about one hour walk from Chhusang is a famous village with medieval appearance, caves of monastery and salt mine.
Chhuksang is located about two hours walk from Tangbe and famous for Stunning cliffs and ancient monasteries across the Kaligandaki River taken by priests of Dolapa.
Tsaile is about half an hour walk from Chhuksang with good view of Kaligandaki valley and cluster of sky caves above bridge which is also considered Mustang gate.
Samar is located about two hours walk from Tsele is considered only one green village of upper Mustang, Chungsi Gompa one of the highly sacred monasteries is near and good sight for bird watching.
Ghiling is located about three hours walk from Samar and one of the green villages with highly sacred monastery.
Ghami is about two hours walk from Ghiling is famous for ruined fort of Mustang Rajas, Ancient monastery, 240 m. long prayer wall and stunning cliff of different color and about one hour walk from Ghami there is a religious water fall.
Dhakmar is located in the distance of one hour walk from Ghami is famous for cave monastery and stunning cliff of different color.
Marang is located about two hours walk from Dhakmar and special feature is Ghar Gumba which is the historic Gompa very popular among Tibetan Buddhist.
Tsarang is located about one and half hour walk from Marang which houses spectacular palace of Mustang Rajas and a monastery in astounding location and occasional sighting of Naur.
Lo-Manthang is about three hours walk from Tsarang is famous for its historic palace of Mustang raja. Lo-Manthang is also a fortified capital city of Lo Tso Dyun. Jampa Lakhang is a mullet story Shakya-pa monastery with numerous delicate frescos. Thubchhen Gumpa is another spectacular Shakya-Pa monastery. Chhoyode Monastery is a Shakya-Pa monastery with Lamasery for the young monks. Lo- Manthang also has ruined fort around the city. Nomadic lives with yak pastures are located nearby Lo-Manthang.
Namgyal is located in half an hour walk from Lo-Manthang which is famous for the beautiful location of the monastery and has bird’s eye view of Lo Manthang and village of Chhonup.
Thinger is about two hours walk from Lo-manthang and is famous for summer palace of Mustang raja.
Chhosyar is about two hours walk from Lo-Manthang is famous for spectacular multi story cave building with more than 44 rooms, cave monastery and stunning landscape.
Jhong cave of Upper Mustang
The amazing cave in upper Mustang popular by the name Jhong cave also known as Shija Dzong is located at an altitude of 3900 meter in Niphu village Chhoser. It takes two hours walk or 40 minutes’ drive from Lo-manthang. The man-made cave is about 2500 years old. Before staying in the cave people were living in forts top of the hills that were also guarded by guards.
One true story of the cave is that a Tibetan ravishment named “Haji Gawa” came to the area and gave the problem to the people. So, all the villagers moved to the cave through only one gate and locked it. The rapper waited outside long time. In the mean time one woman washed her hair with edible oil, taking her head outside through a whole, and then the rapper thought that there might be sufficient water for both drinking, cooking and washing too. Then he went back disappointed. Thus, the woman made their life easy and safe in the cave. It is five storied caves with 44 rooms in Chhoser village and still accessible for the visitors.
Upper Mustang Tour with helicopter to Everest Base Camp
One of the best tours for people who are looking for luxury adventure trip to Nepal. The tour takes to see the highest peak of the world, the Everest on a private helicopter trip and fly back to Kathmandu. The tour also gives opportunities to see the Himalayas west of Kathmandu on a scenic flight to Pokhara and discovering the Pokhara, one of the must-see tourist towns of Nepal. The road to reach Mustang itself is a rewarding adventurous journey as it passes through very low elevation to reach Lo-Manthang in upper Mustang which is already at almost 3,900 meter above sea level.
An excellent opportunity to observe both side of the high Himalaya as we traverse the Himalaya from front and goes behind the Himalaya. The tour takes to places with decent accommodation out of nowhere. Most ancient monasteries and age world civilization is observed during the trip. Discover the world’s deepest gorge and drive through that gorge itself is rewarding experience. Crossing the muddy mountain road with four-wheel drive itself is an unforgettable experience for many of our customers as it passes through beautiful water falls, beautiful mountain viewpoints and villages of the local ethnic groups.
The fragile landscapes of this restricted area and government induced limited entry protect the culture of the area. There are villages and cultivation even at 4,000 meters but gives only one crop a year. During the winter most of the people migrate to the lower elevation. Only elderly population and young kids stay in the village. The young population mostly do side business in other towns or lower elevation.
Upper Mustang Budget Tour
There are choices to go to Upper Mustang on a budget friendly or economic way also. The most economic way is taking a bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara and stay overnight there. Next morning you can take a local bus to Jomsom or shared local jeep might be also available depending with the season. It takes 12 hours or more to reach Jomsom. A night in Jomsom is worthy as everybody get tired after doing this long journey. Leave Jomsom by transport up to Kagbeni or walking. After submitting your permit at Kagbeni check post you can start walking. The permits are issued for 10 days minimum and current price is $500 per person. Whatever reason if one cannot come back in 10 days they are entitled to pay $50 each day for extra days they have stayed inside the upper mustang.
There are guest houses available on the way which normally provides clean rooms with attached bathroom for $20-$25. If you still like to save some money you might opt for staying in small guest house with shared bathrooms.
Meals in Upper Mustang is not that expensive neither they are fancy and delicious as long as you are not staying in luxury hotels. Dalbhat a typical Nepali dish is served everywhere and the price varies according to the village. $15-$20 per day equivalent rupees will be sufficient for your meals during the trek.
As Upper Mustang is located in the restricted area one must hire a professional licensed guide for the trip. Normally the company who process your permits in Kathmandu will also provide you a guide so there will be guide from Kathmandu and you have to bear the cost of the guide. If you are not able to carry your backpack you need to hire the porter as well. Depending with the company you are travelling you have to pay $25-$30 for trekking guide and little less for porter. If you are able to pay it is always good idea to hire a tour guide who has extensive knowledge about monasteries and culture of the Upper Mustang.
The important monasteries of Lo-Manthang
The Chode Gonpa
The monastery is established during the period of the first king of Lo, King Ama Pal and the spiritual scholar Ngorchen Kunga Sangpo in the late 13th century CE. It is the main Shakya Gonpa of the Lo-Manthang and is the residence of our present monks and high lamas. It is also an important center of religious activities. After a severe earthquake in the 16th century caused a huge damage to Chode Gonpa, all the precious objects (including the masks from the Tenji festival) were moved to Choprang monastery. During the 17th century CE Choprang monastery suffered from a great fire, which destroyed many of the artifacts. Those which are salvaged were returned to Chode Gonpa, which has been rebuilt inside the walled city.
The Jampa Monastery
This is the oldest Shakya Monastery inside the walled city of Lo-Manthang. It was built in early 14th century CE during the reign of the famous king Angon Sangpo (the second son of Ama Pal). The three story Jampa Gonpa exemplifies Lo-Manthang’s rich architectural traditions and sacred art.
The wall of Jampa Gonpa is 5’4” thick and are made from mud. However, the uniqueness of Jampa monastery is demonstrated in the 108 ancient mandalas of various sizes painted in Gold and silver and encrusted with turquoise, coral and gemstones. On the ground floor, the depictions are of stories from the life of Buddha Shakyamuni and of lesser gods. On the first floor, the mandalas are of Bodhisattvas and themes from the Mahayan traditions. The second floor which is closed to the public contains mandalas of the most secret Vajrayana Traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.The large image of the future Buddha Maitraya (Jampa Chenpo) stretches over the ground and first floor, as he sits in meditation posture.
This monastery is built during the period of the third king of Lo, Tashi Gon in late 15th century CE. In its heyday, Thupchen Gonpa was the major center of all religious activities in Lo-Manthang. The entrance room displays four large images of the protector kings of the four directions, all enshrined upon raised platforms. Its main hall called Dhunkhang contain wooded pillars and a ceiling rafter which is engraved with sacred mantras. The walls and ceiling of the Dhunkhang are painted with ornate image of Buddha and Bodhisattvas in gold, silver and bright colors. They are seated with their hands in various gestures (mudras). The hall also houses three earthen images of Avalokiteshwor (Chenrezig), Manjushri (Jampayang) and Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche). The image of the great Buddha (Thupchen) is made of copper and polished in gold and he is in seated posture.