Upper Mustang (The Forbidden Kingdom of Nepal)

  • Feb 27, 2024
  • Jyoti Karki

One of Nepal's most beautiful and unexplored locations is Upper Mustang. Mustang, commonly known as the Lo, is the last forbidding kingdom of Nepal and is home to countless amazing sights. Upper Mustang, which is higher than 4000 meters, is a wonderland with a stunning semi-arid desert, colorful rock formations, deep gorges, and spectacular scenery that never ends as the background for the amazing trekking experiences. This region was isolated from the outside world until 1992. The region is thought to be the best preserved in the entire world because the vast majority of the inhabitants speak Tibetan. Mustang was an independent kingdom that dominated trade between the Himalayas and India from the 15th to the 17th centuries. However, it was invaded by Nepal in the 18th century, and as a result, Mustang became a vassal of the Kingdom of Nepal.

Like Tibet, this trans-Himalayan region was isolated from the rest of the world for a very long period yet nevertheless managed to create its own distinct culture and centuries-old traditions. Because it borders Tibet, this area is essentially Tibetan in terms of its people, culture, and topography. Lo Manthang served as the capital of Upper Mustang during its previous monarchical period of existence. The main draws of Lo Manthang, a walled city, include its historic monasteries, little towns, and clifftop architectural tunnels.

The region of Upper Mustang is recognized for its profound and mysterious customs, thriving Buddhist culture, well-preserved historical sites dating back thousands of years, and hospitable locals. Although modernization has altered the area, its unique culture and traditions continue to surprise visitors. The intensity of the actual mountain people, who are battling to maintain ancient history and culture in their natural surroundings, is palpable.

Will you be traveling to Nepal's Last Forbidden Kingdom? You are making a sensible choice if the response is yes. There are countless stunning sites all around this area. They all incorporate components from the natural, ancient, modern, and spiritual realms.

Table of Contents

The Attraction of Upper Mustang

  • Unique Culture: Upper Mustang has its own unique culture, which is heavily influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. The region was once part of the Tibetan Empire, and the people still maintain their traditional way of life and customs.
  • Stunning Landscapes: The landscapes of Upper Mustang are breathtaking, with its unique rock formations, red cliffs, and rugged mountains. The region is also home to the world's deepest gorge, Kali Gandaki.
  • Ancient Monasteries: Upper Mustang is home to several ancient monasteries, some of which are over a thousand years old. These monasteries are important centers of Tibetan Buddhism and have intricate murals and statues.
  • Tiji Festival: The Tiji Festival is a three-day event that takes place in Upper Mustang every May. It is a colorful and vibrant celebration that features masked dances, music, and prayer ceremonies.
  • Lo Manthang: Lo Manthang is the capital of Upper Mustang and is a walled city that is over 500 years old. It is a fascinating place to explore, with its narrow streets, whitewashed houses, and ancient buildings.
  • Trekking: Upper Mustang is a popular trekking destination, with several trekking routes that offer stunning views of the region's landscapes and culture. The trek to Upper Mustang is a challenging one, but it is a rewarding experience that offers a glimpse into a unique and ancient way of life.

Upper Mustang Trekking

The Upper Mustang trek takes tourists through Lo, an undiscovered Buddhist kingdom in the Upper Mustang, which has remained relatively untouched by modernization. In terms of both its people and culture, as well as its arid landscape of huge cliffs and oddly formed and colored rocks, this remote trans-Himalayan mountain region, which shares a border with Tibet, has a distinctively Tibetan feel to it. The maximum altitude for the Upper Mustang Trek is 3,810m (12,500ft). The weather in Upper Mustang is trans-Himalayan (which is cool and semi-arid with precipitation in the range of 250 to 400mm). You begin to appreciate the wind's gentle kisses on your cheeks as you continue to take in the gorgeous view.

Difficulty Level of Upper Mustang Trekking

The Upper Mustang Trekking is considered a moderate-level trek that requires a good level of fitness and stamina. You can finish the walk, though, if you're in good physical form and eager to see the trans-Himalayan region. It is suitable for all ages, but especially the elderly and families with young children. Generally, walkers are able to finish the Upper Mustang path without any restrictions. However, a good level of fitness is needed for this walk.

The walk-in Upper Mustang is regarded as difficult due to its height and arid environment. This hike has its ups and downs, just like many treks in the Himalayas of Nepal. High passes and treacherous descents must be overcome. This trek is accessible practically year-round because it is in a rain shadow.

On average, people walk for 6-7 hours every day. Both novice and expert trekkers can accomplish the Upper Mustang walk. To complete this adventure, you should be able to move about relatively well. As you would for previous Nepali treks, put in additional time at the gym or on a hike before you go. Along with your legs, work your heart.

Best Time to Visit Upper Mustang

Upper Mustang Trek, tour, or any kind of trip to this region can be done any time of the year. Although the Upper Mustang Trek may be accomplished at any time of the year, the best times are reportedly Spring and Autumn/Fall. The area around Upper Mustang is especially picturesque at this time of year since it is sheltered from the rain. The winter temperatures in December, January, and February continue to be chilly enough to be difficult for anyone who can't adjust to the cold rapidly.

Summer/Monsoon Season (June – July – August)

Warm weather and copious amounts of rain come to mind when we think about summer. There are fewer hikers in Nepal since there is a lot of rain but Upper Mustang doesn't get any rain throughout the summer because of the rain shadow area.

Summer is one of the best seasons for hiking across Upper Mustang. The days are growing longer and the sky is becoming more clear. The ideal location for trekking is Mustang, where the midsummer temperature ranges from 13 to 20.

Spring Season (March – April – May)

One of the greatest seasons to visit Nepal's Himalayas is spring. This is a great season to explore Upper Mustang, especially if trekking in from Lower Mustang, as the weather, will be warmer and the rivers will be overflowing with snowmelt in the lower areas.

It is undoubtedly the best time of year to climb in Upper Mustang or cross high passes during the spring. In the middle of May, there is a festival called Tiji that will be celebrated in Lo-Manthang. This three-day festival is undoubtedly a reason to visit during May. The normal temperature range during this time of year is 16 to 22 degrees Celsius. With the springtime flowering colors, the trekking routes in Mustang are vibrant.

Autumn/Fall Season (September – October – November)

Like spring, autumn is regarded as one of the greatest times of year to travel in Nepal's Himalayan regions. In all of Nepal, including the Upper Mustang region, the autumn/fall season provides the greatest mountain views and the clearest skies. However, afternoon breezes can be severe, so be prepared to go forward while facing the wind in your direction. Typically, temperatures fall within the range of 12 and 20 degrees Celsius.

Most trekkers and tourists choose the autumn season to explore Nepal's high-altitude region because it offers the best trekking opportunities, ideal weather, and the magical views of the Mustang region.

Winter Season (December – January – February)

The coldest time of year in Nepal is the winter, which lasts from December to February. In the middle of December, the villagers start to relocate to Upper Mustang's hidden valley because of the harsh weather. In order to escape the winter weather, 80% of locals reportedly travel to Pokhara or Kathmandu. The temperature decreases to -25 °C as nighttime draws near.

The few inhabitants have access to the food and firewood needed to take care of the neighborhood's animals and residents. Make the required preparations for the higher Mustang, though, as you'll require it occasionally over the course of the winter. You would need to have appropriate cold-weather attire if you plan to hike to Lo Manthang. Without a good trekking map, it might be very difficult to find your way because of the snow-covered pathways.

Upper Mustang Trek Permit

Being recognized as a restricted location to explore in Nepal, it's very necessary to get a permit for the Upper Mustang Trek. The Upper Mustang Trek requires both the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) and the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP). All non-Nepalese participants in the Upper Mustang Trek must have this permit.

  • There is the option to purchase an Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP), which costs $20 per person and is valid for the whole trekking trip. This permit is required for all treks and tours to the Annapurna region.
  • You require a Restricted Area Permit to continue your trip from Kagbeni to Upper Mustang (RAP). This Upper Mustang Trekking Permit costs USD 500 per person for ten days. If there are more than 10 days, an additional USD50 per person per day will be charged. The RAP card contains all the information, thus a TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) card is not required

One of the nicest places to travel in Nepal is Upper Mustang. There are many ways to get there and enjoy the trip, including jeep tours, trekking, helicopter tours, and, if you're looking for excitement, a mountain biking and motorcycle riding tour.

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Jyoti Karki

Jyoti Karki

Jyoti Karki is an expert travel blogger. She has been writing blogs for a long time. Along with writing about diverse locations. She personally travels to many different places, went hiking and trekking in Nepal, and has also visited several areas of India and enjoys writing on her blogs about them.