One of the remotest and most sparsely populated regions in Nepal, Mustang is an enigma for Himalayan travelers. The province is divided into Upper and Lower Mustang, the former previously designated as the Kingdom of Lo, a region which was inaccessible until 1992 when it was opened to foreigners. A high altitude desert land, strikingly hued in red and ochre, Mustang features a stark landscape. Deep, cavernous gorges, mysterious caves, and high canyons mark the map of Mustang trek. One of the landmark cultural attractions of Upper Mustang is the 4-storey palace of the old kingdom where surviving members of the royal family still lives with reverence from the locals. Lower Mustang is known for its apple orchards, rhododendron forests, and the beautiful Muktinath Temple, holy to both Buddhists and Hindus.
The Mustang trek is an exotic tour program to the unspoiled landscape and remote mountains of Nepal. The topography of the Mustang region is intriguingly stark and entirely different from the rest of Nepal. Numerous caves, serrated rocky cliffs, fossils, cave paintings, and culture of the indigenous people akin to ancient Tibet, makes Mustang so unique. The province was once part of an independent Tibetan kingdom. The esoteric culture of the Mustang people was not revealed to the modern world at late as 1990s. The surviving royal family of Mustang is seated in the four-storey palace and is still held with reverence by the locals. Traditional trade routes used by people in the 15th century fall on upper mustang trekking itinerary. The relatively barren landscape in this part of Nepal lies in the rainshadow area of the Annapurna region, presenting a different slice of the mountain country. Besides trekking, cycling, rock climbing, pilgrimage and cultural tours in Mustang are gradually gaining great appreciation.
There are several unique geographical and cultural high points of the Mustang region that makes this trek compulsive:
There are several high-altitude stations featuring in the treks conducted in both Upper and Lower Mustang. Marang La at 4230 m is possible the highest point of them all while Lo Manthang at 3, 840 m is a station close in altitude to Marang La.
Mustang is uniquely tantalizing in different seasons--
Spring and Summer (March to June) : A season of rhododendron blooming in Lower Mustang, this season is great for photography in the wilderness. The weather remains pleasurably warm, keeping the upper regions more or less free of snow and the condition at the high passes bearable. There is good visibility of the landscape and surrounding peaks in the warm summer sun. Lo-Manthang, a joyful 3-day festival is held in the premises of the King’s palace in Upper Mustang in May.
Autumn (September to November) : Clear weather and the post-monsoon freshness in the air makes autumn makes Upper Mustang Trekking especially inviting. The cool weather is ideal for navigating the stark desert lands. There is great visibility and color to the landscape and the far peaks. No special equipment is needed to travel in Mustang during October-November.
Winter (December to February): Trekking in Mustang lowers during the winters with the temperature steadily dropping especially after evening. The rewards to braving the trek during this time are the superb mountain panorama and quieter trails. Teahouse accommodations remains open in Lower Mustang however, Upper Mustang becomes difficult to travel since accommodations close down due to heavy snow.
Trekking enthusiasts to Mustang are required to reach Pokhara from Kathmandu and from there would be picked up for a drive from 6-8 hours on the Prithvi Highway to Jomsom. All treks in the Mustang region begins from Jomsom.
Are There Any Shops Available On the Mustang Trek?
Shops for trekking utilities,food, and medicines are available till Jomsom.
How Long Does It Take To Complete the Mustang Trek?
Treks in Mustang region can take as long as 14 days, from Jomsom to Jomsom.
During the lower Mustang trek chances of altitude sickness are quite rare. But, when it comes to the upper Mustang trek, there are possibilities of altitude sickness at the highest point of the trek which is at 4230m.
Mustang trek in Nepal is more remote and less taken compared to the others. IT’s perfect for solitude and whole lot of adventure. However, spring and summer treks could be moderately peopled.