UPPER MUSTANG TREK
Upper Mustang. The name has a certain ring to it, conjuring images of a remote mountain land steeped in centuries-old complex culture. Once called the ‘forbidden kingdom’, the imagination can run wild picturing what waits to be experienced there.
The reality is of course quite different. Upper Mustang is indeed characterised by starkly beautiful mountain plateaus, with the culture fascinating in so many respects, but the world we find is never quite the one we imagine. Constantly evolving, changing, and developing, even hitherto isolated places like this have to find their way in the modern world.
An Upper Mustang Trek only became possible for foreigners in 1992 and at that time it was highly regulated. However, these days the region is quite different to what visitors experienced then, and much if not most of the regulations have been relaxed. As development continues and new roads are built, careful planning is essential to get the most from this trek, and to make the hefty $500 permit fee worth paying. At times we struggled to come to grips with our own lack of planning, but in the end we left after an unforgettable cultural experience and some of the best trekking days ever.
What follows is an account of our trek, along with daily details on distances, times, elevation and accommodation. For a great way to get a sense of the landscape, you’ll find a short Relive video at the end of each day. We’ve also provided GPX and KML file downloads for you to import our route into a mapping app, such as Gaia or Maps.me respectively.
Fancy an Upper Mustang trek yourself? Our complete guide will be with you very shortly.
WATCH THE VIDEO
TREKKING UPPER MUSTANG
On the third and final part of our extended Nepal adventure, we entered Upper Mustang at Kagbeni. After a memorable twelve days trekking the Manaslu Circuit and a further ten on the Annapurna Circuit, we were keen to experience something different in this restricted area. We’d already seen the landscape change dramatically after crossing the Thorong La, and the glimpses north from Kagbeni only served to increase our anticipation. On the cultural side, the Sakya Buddhist villages we’d seen in Lower Mustang had made us even more intrigued about the customs and traditions we would learn about in the region.
As with the previous stages of our trek, we’d done very little research. Instead, we were relying on our guide (mandatory for a restricted area), with the expectation being that we’d be able to count on his knowledge, experience and expertise. So, we began our Upper Mustang trek with nothing but a vague outline of the itinerary, but with plenty of excitement for the days ahead.
A note on distances and times. Distances are approximate and often rounded to the nearest kilometre. Total time is the time it took from leaving in the morning to arriving at our destination and includes lunch and other stops. Walking time is the time we were moving but includes time taking photos and shooting video. For your reference, we tend to be on the slower side of average.