Monsoon is considered as the off-season for trekking in Nepal. However, with a huge portion of Great Himalayan Trail, Nepal offers a wide range of option for trekking. Some of the rain-shadowed regions here provide the possibilities of trekking in Nepal during monsoon. The isolation of theses restricted areas is the best part of these trekking. One more reason to trek to these places is with no phones or lights, one can get disconnected to the world and purely enjoy the nature.
Except in the winter, the region can be trekked anytime of the year. The rain-shadowed valley also known as the forbidden kingdom has preserved the Tibetan Buddhism spread by Guru Rinpoche over the centuries. The region also holds several important cultural landmarks with the arid landscape like the desert making this trek more attractive. The hospitality of people of this region makes your stay even better.
The most isolated region of the country is popular as a must do trekking in Nepal. The rain-shadowed region is one of the strenuous trekking. However, the rewards of the trek can overcome the effort you give. The Bon Po (people of Dolpo) following the Bon religion influenced from Tibet and their culture is the highlight of this trek. Next, is the remoteness of the area. Apart from this; landscapes, views of the snowcapped mountains, monasteries including Shey Gompa are the reason why this is a must do trekking.
“For trekkers craving to see unique ancient celebration like Tiji & contrasting landscapes in the restricted territory of highland Nepal Upper Mustang would be an ideal destination. The fabled walled city & the ancient kingdom of “Lo”, Upper Mustang has so many special features, which stands out the region from rest of other trekking destinations of Nepal. Arid & windswept wide valleys with colorful small hills having wonderful myths of Buddhism, Upper Mustang probably is the only region in Nepal that practiced sky burials in the past.”
The huge thanka painting drapes down the wall- the manifestation of the painting means Tiji begins
Upper Mustang is a central attraction during the month of May, which is the time for the Tiji festival, the biggest celebration of the year of the entire region.
Tiji Festival also known as “Tenchi”. Locals consider this festival more as a prayer for world peace. The festival doesn’t have a fix date. Every year the date is fixed for the three days festival after the new Tibetan calendar is released. Celebration that prays for the world peace itself signifies Tiji importance.
Monks playing traditional musical instrument announce the beginning of Tiji Festival
The three days festival in process of establishing the world peace takes place inside the Wall City of Lo-Manthang. Several dances including mask dances are performed by the monks during the festival. Locals from six different villages of Lo- Manthang gather in the venue where they are accompanied by hundreds of foreigners who come to observe the festival. In recent years the popularity of this celebration has taken heights. This year the festival was held from 3rd to 5th May, where more than 1000 tourists from different countries made their way to Lo-Manthang to participate in the occasion.
Dancers in colorful traditional attires add energy to Tiji
On the first day, a large Thanka Painting of Guru Rinpoche is displayed against the wall where the stage is set. The Thanka is said to be displayed to public only on this day of the year. People bow to the painting of Guru Rinpoche which they describe would eliminate illness and diseases establishing good health to them and their family throughout the following year. A huge prayer is done inside the monastery earlier in the morning which denotes the starting of Tiji Festival, which is also an annual occasion.
Later, the monks arrive to the stage and take their places respectively. These monks play the music through various instrument assigned to them throughout the festival. Monks would also perform their dances inside the fix territory made of three circles in the venue. The head dancer performs from the inner circle while the supporting dancers perform on the outer circles.
The head dancer has to go through a huge cave meditation for 3 months to be ready for the festival. It takes him a total of 3 months for the preparation of this dance. Day 1 of Tiji highlights monk dances.
Mask dance – the lead dancer encircled by fellow dancers
On the second day, another large Thanka is displayed in front of the venue which is also displayed only once a year. This day, the monks perform various dances including mask dances. A lot of mask dance take places on this day as well. Later, in the afternoon, the king of Lo-manthang also attends the festival. The locals honor the king by playing musical instrument. Unfortunately, due to sickness, the king could not make his presence this year.
The gunshot celebrates the end of Tiji
On the final day of Tiji, the monks continue their mask dances. This is the main day of Tiji. It is the day to establish world peace. So through their dance performances, the head monk takes the process to the end. As one of local monks described, it is the process of killing the evil spirit that you own in yourself. You have to kill the negative factors inside you to establish peace. So the process sees the killing of the demon inside you.
With Gun fires from locals & archery from the lead dancer -Tiji ends
In the occasion of the termination of the evil spirit, the locals fire gunshots which are obviously just for the purpose of celebration. The festival comes to an end, as the head dancer lead the evil out of the Wall City.
The ancient kingdom of Lo, Upper Mustang is one of the last places in Nepal that houses the traces of traditional Buddhist culture. Flanking Tibet to its north, Upper Mustang not only resembles Tibet culturally, it is the home of wonderful landscapes those are almost identical to the Tibetan ones.
Colorful barren hills holding interesting myths, the vestiges of ancient culture that cremated bodies in sky caves, deep gorges, whitewashed settlements in the rain shadow of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna, swinging barley fields, sacred chortens and monasteries are the major highlights of the trails en route to Upper Mustang.
Upper Mustang the restricted trekking region in Nepal is relatively an expensive trekking holiday. However, the reward on getting to the capital of this tiny ancient kingdom, Lo Manthang is something extraordinary very few travelers get to experience. The fabled walled city nestling in the rain shadow of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri highlights the ruins of ancient palace and the simple monasteries. Upper Mustang is the ideal place to observe Tibetan culture beyond Tibet. The best time to trek to Upper Mustang is in the spring season as this place celebrates the most vibrant masked festival, Tiji during this time of the year.
For today we have few photographs of Mustang please have a look.
Thousands of Himalayan peaks and as many trekking trails, Nepal is truly the biggest trekking hub in the world. Solely housing 8 out of 14 8000m+ peaks including world’s highest peak Everest, Nepal caters many world class trekking adventures to the Base Camps of these mighty Himalayan Peaks. Based on trekkers interest, the number of trekkers trekking along the particular trail and highlights of the trek, here we have 10 most popular treks in Nepal.
Round Annapurna Trek or Annapurna Circuit Trek
1. Round Annapurna Trek (RAT)
The most popular trek in Nepal, Round Annapurna Trek (RAT) is a stretch of 100+ kilometers circumnavigation around Annapurna Range. The trek that offers diverse beauty from mid-hill jungles to striking alpine landscapes, Round Annapurna Trek is also pleasures with cultural encounter at several ethnic villages nestling in the highlands. The trek also known as Annapurna Circuit Trek caters magnificent views of the Annapurna, Fishtail, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Langtang Himal. Although the construction of roadways deeper into the circuit has reduced the real essence of the trek, still almost 100km of stretch of the fascinating route makes Round Annapurna Trek, Nepal’s number one trekking trail.
Everest Base Camp Trek
2.Everest Base Camp Trek (EBC)
The classic trek that brings trekkers to the proximity of world’s highest mountain, Everest- Everest Base Camp Trek is itself an achievement. Everest Base Camp, which is higher than almost every mountain in Europe, Australia, Africa and America, is the place where every mountaineer who has conquered this beautiful white Goddess began here. The trail full of amenities in scores of teahouses is interesting for two particular reasons- the thriving Sherpa culture and the alpine beauty that even open eyes in the broad daylight cannot capture wholly.
Langtang Valley Trek
3.Langtang Valley Trek
Avoiding difficulty sighting supreme beauty in diversity- Langtang Valley Trek is the best-opted trek in the category. The shortest approach from Kathmandu, Langtang Valley Trek offers 3600 view of snowcapped Himalayas dominated by Langtang Lirung. Authentic Tibetan culture in frequent Tamang villages, sacred highland monasteries like Kyangjin Gompa and sacred alpine lakes like Gosainkunda are prime highlights of Langtang Valley Trek. Langtang is so close to Tibet that from some high vantage points, the glimpses of villages in Tibet can be viewed.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek
4. Annapurna Base Camp Trek
One of the most popular easy treks in Nepal is Annapurna Base Camp Trek. The trek caters the alpine experience blended with diverse terrains. From beautiful glaciers to terraced fields, from rock-strewn trails to snowy paths- the trail of ABC Trek has it all. The Gurung culture at its best traditional form and their indelible hospitality are recreating factors during Annapurna Base Camp Trek. The view of Annapurna from the Annapurna Base Camp, the widespread Himalayan view from Poonhill and the view of Mt. Fishtail from Machhapuchhre Base Camp are striking views of the trek.
Manaslu Cicuit Trek
5. Manaslu Circuit Trek
Ever since in 2010 Manaslu became teahouse trek, Manaslu Circuit Trek is emerging as one of the most popular trekking trails in Nepal. Few trekkers also have acknowledged this trek as replica of Round Annapurna Trek. However, Manaslu Circuit Trek is by far untouched and raw compared to Annapurna Circuit Trek. The trail during Manaslu Circuit Trek winds through the lower slope of Mt. Manaslu (eighth highest mountain in the world) through Larkya La Pass. The views of Himalayas are excellent and the cultural experience is more authentic.
6. Upper Mustang Trek
North of Jomsom up on Kali Gandaki basin, the deserted kingdom of Mustang nestles where the Tibetan culture till date spills over. A restricted trekking region in Nepal demands heavy permit fee of US Dollars 500 for 10 days. The windswept landscapes, colorful barren hills and the caves carved in vertical cliffs are geographical delights whereas; the culture in Mustang is exclusive unique in whole Nepal. Preserved centuries world monasteries, the remains of historic palace in Lo-manthang and celebration of Tiji festival are major sights trekker to Upper Mustang crave to watch. In brief Upper Mustang is a true Tibet outside Tibet.
Gokyo- Everest Base Camp Trek
7. Gokyo, Everest Base Camp Trek
Getting to Everest Base Camp via more isolated and remote trails makes Gokyo Everest Base Camp Trek intriguing trek in the Everest Region. In addition to the highlights of EBC Trek, Gokyo Everest Base Camp Trek caters the beauty of five emerald lakes together with Himalayas. The trek along the challenging Cho La Pass to get into Khumbu Valley from Gokyo Valley is also the major highlight of this trek. Gokyo Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the few trekking route in Nepal, which offers remote experience, rich local culture, and the supreme beauty of Himalayas.
Upper Dolpo Trek
8. Upper Dolpo Trek
Crystal Mountain, snow leopards, sacred monasteries and the endless isolation- Upper Dolpo Trek is truly a lifetime experience. Every place trekkers reach and every people they meet leave an indelible impression. Upper Dolpo Trek is truly fascinating. The trek rewards in very early stage with the magnificence of Phoksundo Lake. Trekking further, trekkers cross three high passes, Nagdalo La (5350m), Shey La (5000m) and Jeng La (5110m) to Shey Gompa, which is a spiritual heart of Upper Dolpo. Hundreds of pilgrims visit Shey Gompa that lies dramatically at the base of Crystal Mountain each year to circumambulate the mountain in act of prayer. Upper Dolpo is a restricted area which demands 10-day permit for $500.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek
9.Kanchenjunga Base Camps Trek
The trekking to the Himalayas in the extreme east of Nepal, Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek is probably the most popular offbeat trekking in Nepal. Trekking along the foothills of world’s third highest mountain, Kanchenjunga is a wonderful adventure. To experience the treks based on tented camps, Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek is suitable option. Snow Leopard can be sighted during the treks in the region. The Kanchenjunga Base Camps Trek is a long and challenging walk while visiting both the North and South base camps. The authentic culture of Rai and Limbu tribes can be well observed during the trek to this part of nation.
Makalu Base Camp Trek
10. Makalu Base Camp Trek
This is an outstanding trek in the eastern region of Nepal, which offers a combination of rich cultural heritage, unsurpassed beauty and biological diversity. The trail takes you from the steamy lowlands of Tumlingtar on the Arun River, through one of the least frequented areas of Nepal, to the base camp of Makalu [8475m]. The trail follows the beautiful Barun river valley in the Makalu Barun National Park, crossing Shipton pass at 4127 meters before arriving at Makalu Base Camp [5000m]. From here, views of the south face of Makalu, as well as Everest and Lhotse are truly regal and fantastic.
Rara Lake Trek
+ Rara Lake Trek
This trek through the remote wilderness of western Nepal offers a superb experience of nature and a visit to Rara Lake, Nepal’s Largest Lake at 3062 meters. During this easy trek, the trail passes through green countryside, which provides unusual glimpses of a culture, and scenery quite different from that found elsewhere in Nepal and which eventually culminates to the Rara Lake National Park. Alpine meadows and forests of pine, juniper and spruce surround this beautiful high altitude lake, whilst in the background trekkers can view the magnificent snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. The entire route is ‘off the beaten track’, which involves the crossing of Ghurchi Lagna Pass 3450m and a few ridges at around 3000 meters.
A tiny piece of land in the rain shadow of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, Upper Mustang is itself a heaven within the planet. Trekking to Upper Mustang is not only an opportunity to peep into rich Tibetan culture, it also offers the best views of Tibetan landscapes. Rarely trodden trekking trial in Western Nepal is a tranquil destination where every expectation during a trekking holiday in Nepal gets fulfilled.
The major hydrographic feature of the region, Kali Gandaki River bisects Mustang forming some of the world’s deepest gorges in the River Valley of Southern Mustang
Upper Mustang, which lies in the rain shadow of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna was once upon a time, a major stopover point in the salt trading route between India and Tibet because of its strategic location
The walled city- Lo Manthang built by King Ame Pal in 1380 AD has surprisingly changed its appearance however, this isolated Himalayan town has lot to offer in its palace and gompas to the visitors
Trekking to Upper Mustang- the forbidden kingdom requires a special permit which costs 50o US Dollars for ten days to all foreigners and additional charge for additional number of days costs 50 US Dollars per day
Tiji Festival which lasts for three days is one the major highlights of Upper Mustang Trek during the end of May 2014
Upper Mustang is the land of caves- A shepherd in 2007 discovered 55 cave paintings depicting Buddha’s life
Upper Mustang Trek winds through the amazing trail cross passing beautiful villages and savoring views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri are the bonus rewards
Tibetan culture at its traditional best still lives here in Upper Mustang.
Not only the culture, Upper Mustang Trek offers the landscapes identical to the Tibetan ones- In fact this part of Nepal in a way offers Tibetan flavor of ancient times
Deserted landscapes in the lap of Himalayan giants and rich Tibetan Buddhist culture are the prime highlights of Upper Mustang Trek