This trek takes you to the once hidden kingdom of Lo and offers you a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness the ancient and colorful festival of Tiji.
The region of Mustang lies north of the main Himalayan range in the area known as the trans-Himalaya. Called by the locals Lo, Mustang was only opened to trekkers in March 1992. The Tibetan influenced area north of Kagbeni is known as Upper Mustang. A vast high valley, arid and dry, it has a barren desert-like appearance similar to the Tibetan Plateau and is characterized by eroded canyons and colorful stratified rock formations. Mustang was once an important route for crossing the Himalaya between Tibet and Nepal, and many of the old salt caravans passed through Mustang. It is this area which we will trek to, discovering the wonders of the architecture, language, culture and traditions which are almost purely Tibetan in this once-upon-a-time mystical kingdom.
Once you reach Lo Manthang, you get to witness Tiji Festival one of the most sacred and colorful festivals in this whole region. The festival features a three day ritual known as the ‘chasing of demons’. Monks donning masks and colorful costumes enact the story of Dorje Jono who fought against his demon father to save the Kingdom of Mustang from falling apart. The festival is held annually at the onset of Spring season. As Spring season symbolizes regeneration of life, this festival is also about hope, revival and affirmation of life.
The festival is held at the walled city of Lo Manthang (3730m), the capital of Mustang. Lo Manthang is also home to Mustang’s former King Jigme Dorjee Palbar Bista who lost his royal title in 2008 after Nepal became a republic. But he is still highly regarded and respected by the locals. He and his family still occupy the royal palace situated at the center of the city square.
It is a panoramic thrill flying into Kathmandu on a clear day. The views of snow-capped mountain peaks sprawling down below you are almost ecstatic, beginning a whole chain of memorable experiences that stay with you for a long, long time. Our representative and driver will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. At the hotel, you will be briefed about your daily activities..
Kathmandu is the historical and cultural heart of Nepal and has been a popular destination for tourists ever since Nepal opened its doors to visitors. The city presents a wonderful mix of Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism and Western influence. There will be a guided tour to the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal Boudhanath and after that to the most popular Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva- Pashupatinath. We take a tour to Patan or Lalitpur (the City of Artisans), which is 5km away from Kathmandu. We walk through Patan Durbar Square, and delight in the architectural wonders of Malla era. Mahaboudha Temple, Kumbeshwor Temple, Krishna Temple and Golden Temple are the major attractions at the square. is the historical and cultural heart of Nepal and has been a popular destination for tourists ever since Nepal opened its doors to visitors. The city presents a wonderful mix of Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism and Western influence in the Valley. Patan and Bhaktapur, its two major neighboring cities bear immense historical, cultural and religious significances. There will be a guided tour to the famous & biggest Hindu shrine of Pashupatinath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal Boudhanath, and the Monkey Temple of Swoyambhunath..
We take the short but scenic 30 minute flight to Pokhara in the morning , enjoying the views of Ganesh, Manaslu and the Annapurnas along the way. Pokhara, known as the ‘Lakeside City’ is popular for its beautiful and serene lakes: Phewa, Begnas and Rupa. Our trip includes visits to all these exotic places. We go for boating on Lake Phewa on whose tranquil waters the fishtail-like spire of MachaPucchure (Fishtail) Peak is mirrored. We visit the Bindyabasini Temple located in an island,in the middle of the lake. Afterwards we take a guided tour to Davis fall, the gorge of the Seti River and Tibetan refugee camp..
We take the spectacular early morning flight to Jomsom (famous for its apples) where we will be met at the tiny airstrip by our trek crew. After some initial preparation of loads, we begin our trek to the pretty village of Kagbeni. Just out of Jomsom we cross a small suspension bridge and then walk along the riverbank of the Kali Gandaki. The trail is flat and quite barren, with craggy rocks and sand littering the trail. This makes it very easy going. We will get magnificent views of huge peaks such as Dhaulagiri, Tukuche and Nilgiri, whilst to the south can be seen the entire Annapurna massif. Kagbeni with its narrow alleyways and tunnels, irrigation canals, fields of wheat and barley and a large red Gompa, give us a preview of scenes that we would come across in Upper Mustang. At the north end of the village is the police check-post. Here we will complete our paperwork before entering this long forbidden region of Nepal. .
On the trek from Kagbeni to Chele we pass the beautiful village of Tangbe, with its picturesque traditional houses and fields of barley, buckwheat and apple orchards. We enjoy views of the magnificent Nilgiri peak and cross several ridges. After Chhusang village, we cross a stream and leave the Kaligandaki valley behind and reach the village of Chele. .
Following a trail on the arid Tibet like landscape, we climb above the village of Samar to a ridge and then descend into a large gorge past a Chorten before entering another valley filled with juniper trees. We then cross a stream and after climbing to a pass, we descend along a ridge to Shyangmochen, a tiny settlement with a few tea shops. Nearby is Rangbyung, a cave containing stalagmites in the form of a Chorten and one of the holiest places in Mustang. The trail climbs gently from Shyangmochen and we enter another huge valley before descending to Geling, with its extensive fields of barley. Like in all settlements of Mustang, the white and ochre painted houses in Geling are constructed using mud and stones. The roofs are made of twigs, straw and a mixture of mud and pebbles. .
Today’s walk is through perhaps the driest part of Mustang, and much of our energy will be spent negotiating the loose, dry soil. However, the magnificent views of the countryside, from the gentle contours of the north to the rugged mountains in the east and west, more than compensates for the hard climb. Finally, we come to Charang, a large spread-out village at the top of the Charang Chu canyon. At the eastern end of the village are a huge dzong [fortress] and a red gompa (monastery) which houses an excellent collection of statues and thangkas. .
We will spend part of the morning exploring the interesting village of Charang and its large monastery, before setting out for Lo Manthang. We climb gently above the valley to a large isolated Chorten that marks the boundary between Charang and Lo Manthang. The trail then broadens and eventually we get our first view of the walled city of Lo Manthang. The city has only one entrance so we circumambulate the wall to the gate on the north-east corner. We begin our return journey from Lo Manthang, taking the upper highland route. This highland route offers dramatic views of Lo Manthang and the Charang Valley, with snow clad peaks in the background. Just past the settlement of Lo Gekar, we reach the oldest monastery in Mustang, the Ghare Gompa. .
Today, you are free to explore the fascinating city of Lo Manthang. The city contains about 150 houses, as well as residences for its many lamas. There are four major temples within the city and one of these, Champa Lhakang, contains a huge clay statue of Buddha as well as elaborates mandalas painted on the walls. Lo Manthang is also home to Mustang's former King Jigme Dorjee Palbar Bista who lost his royal title in 2008 after Nepal became a republic.The king's palace is an imposing building in the center of the city and is occupied by the ex-King. He is still respected by the people. Today also marks the commencement of the Tiji Festival. Monks don colorful costumes and masks representing divine beings and perform ritual dances. Sit out with the locals dressed in their traditional finery to witness this sacred ritual dance. The setting is most spectacular..
We continue our journey on the highland route, crossing alpine meadows before dropping down a steep eroded gully to Dhakmar for lunch. After lunch, we walk through the pretty valley, climb to a ridge and descend from there back to Ghami. .
we descend on a pleasant trail to Samar, situated in a grove of poplar trees. This is a major place to stop for horse and mule caravans..
Now we must retrace our route back to Chhuksang..
Exit Restricted Area. It's a long and sad final day, passing back through Kagbeni to Jomsom where we end our trek. It's now time for us to take a nice hot shower. In the evening, we celebrate with the Sherpas and porters, whom we have come to know so well over the last 2 weeks..
We take a spectacular early morning flight along the Kali Gandaki gorge to Pokhara and catch a connecting flight back to Kathmandu..
Our Nepalese support team will take you to the airport for your flight home. On the other hand, if you prefer to stay longer, you can go for short tours such as game drive at National parks, rafting, Tibet tours, mountain biking etc). .
Dolpo requires some extra logsistics and Pemba made all necessary arrangements. We also benefited. Both treks were wonderful! from having a local guide- Baba –in Mustang- as this is more of a cultural trek-his personal knowledge was useful. Meals were hot, plentiful, and tasty. Tea house food was consistent and good. Camping was successful-quick setup- cooking tents all functional. Service in lodges was friendly and welcoming. Local buses were fine. Flight to Juphal was on time and professional. Itinerary worked out-both guides modified trek a little for everyone’s benefit. Samundra was flexible and always available to answer question and explain trek details. Meeting were professional and on schedule. I’ve trekked with Explore Himalaya in the past and have always found them professional, knowledgeable, and helpful. Many thanks to Sumundra for his extra help-phone calls- and all the arrangements – trek/ guides made on our behalf.
We work with the motto "Tourism for Development". Explore Himalaya Community Service Project was conceived to empower underprivileged segments of Nepal.