Why the Upper Mustang?
Every year the spectacular and breath-taking panoramas of the Upper Mustang attract trekkers to this legendary trekking area in the Annapurna range in the Nepalese Himalayas. The whole trekking area covers many spectacular mountains Annapurna (8091m), Dhaulagiri (8167m), Machhapuchre (6993m) and many other other snow-capped peaks, intersected along the 55-kilometre long massif by Kali Gandaki river, creating the deepest gorge on Earth.
The Upper Mustang trekking area is also home to Tilicho Lake, the highest lake in the world at 4919m, the Muktinath temple (3710m) a sacred location for both Hindus and Buddhists, and the most popular trekking pass Thorang La at 5416m. Treks here usually last around 10 – 12 days, however for people who are restricted by time, helicopter flights can be arranged to Lomathang from where one can trek for a few days in the Upper Mustang before returning to Kathmandu by Helicopter.
These helicopter flights, operated by highly qualified pilots, start from Kathmandu late in the afternoon and land in Pokhara. After a brief stay at Pokhara, the trans-Himalayan helicopter flight to Mustang starts early the next day. You can enjoy watching Macchapuchhre, the famous fish-tail peak, Dhaulagiri, Tukuche Peak and many other mountains.
Where should I go?
If you have a spirit of adventure like the early explorers and pilgrims of Mustang, let us take you north of the 8000m Annapurna and Dhaulagiri peaks, along the rocky bed of the Kali Gandaki, to one of the most isolated villages on Earth, a village that was at one time, the prosperous Kingdom of Lo.
The scenery on this trek is spectacular. Himalayan griffin and golden eagles soar high in the vivid blue sky overhead. The snow white Himalayas to the south contrast with the burnt brown colours of the endless wind-eroded hills rising up toward the Tibetan plateau in the north. The superb views of the Annapurnas include Tilicho Peak and Nilgiri.
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Day 1 : Fly to Leh
Upon Arrival at Leh Airport you are met and transferred to a small and charming family-owned hotel. Leh is at 11,400 feet, so the rest of the day is at leisure to acclimatize to the high altitude and rarefied air. The two–and-a-half days scheduled here is the minimum required as you will be going to a higher altitude and will be doing a fair amount of walking.
Days 2 - 3: Leh
Spend 2 days at leisure in Leh. The town has winding streets, quaint bazaars and the Royal Palace, which dominates the town. Explore the picturesquely situated monasteries at Shey and Thiksey perched high on a hill above the Indus. You could also set out for an extraordinary drive east heading towards Taglang La and the villages of Gya, Lhato and Meru.
Day 4 : Leh – Ulley
Pass through the gorgeous village of Nimmu at the confluence of the Zanskar and the Indus, to arrive at Likir - all snow leopard country. Your two bedroom home stay offers superb views across the valley and, apart from being more comfortable than camping, puts money directly into local hands and strengthens the constituency of the snow leopard. This will be your base for the next week.
Days 5 – 10: Ulley
Relatively free of tourism Ulley has enveloped the first snow leopard destination – Rumbak Valley. Keeping Ulley as a base you explore three valleys on foot and using SUV’s with an exceptional tracker, gaining insights into local folklore, customs and traditions on the journey. Apart from snow leopards, the area is great for seeing urial, Ibex, wolf and Himalayan fox. Also included is an overnight stay at a snow leopard lodge.
Day 11: Ulley - Leh
This morning, after breakfast, say goodbye to your host and drive back to Leh town. En route you will visit the Alchi Gompa - a Buddhist monastery, known more as a monastic complex of temples. Built in the 10th century in lowlands, rather than on a hilltop as others, the creation of the monastery is accredited to the famous scholar and translator Rinchen Zangpo who established Buddhism in the Ladakh region.
Day 12: Delhi
You will depart Leh on an internal flight to reach Delhi where we suggest a top hotel located next to the airport, which means that you are in place for the early morning return flight to London.
The village of Lo Manthang is surrounded by a huge wall and when you enter the gate, you will feel like you have entered a different world. The people of Lo, known as Lobas, are of Tibetan ancestry and speak a dialect of Tibetan. They are highly religious and the magnificent monasteries play a major role in their lives. Despite being under the government of Nepal, the King remains highly respected by his people and still resides in the palace, even entertaining visitors when he is at home.
Mustang lies in the rain shadow of the Dhaulagiri and therefore has a long trekking season, from June to October and from March to April. In fact, in July or August when the monsoon makes it nearly impossible to trek in the lower Annapurnas, the Mustang trek is exceptionally beautiful as the fields around the villages are lush green with their one annual crop, a contrast to the parched surroundings.
If you visit in the Spring, you may be able to witness the three day ritual of Tiji, the most important festival celebrated in Mustang. The festival coincides with the end of the dry season and ushers in the wetter monsoon season.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour and catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore – Dream – Discover - Mark Twain - You can view clips of some of our own favourite discoveries here.
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Wonderful support from your company over here....we were met at the airport (with flowers!!!!!) and introduced to our personal guide who is fabulous. Can't get over the attention to detail ....cool flannels, chilled water, fresh juice on arrival, bag full of thoughtful goodies for our trip, wonderful rooms with bathrooms bigger than our bedroom at home(!) and we were upgraded to a suite and as I write we are listening to tropical birdsong as we look out over the lagoon from our balcony. Wow!!!!!
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