Introduction to Mustang Nepal
Mustang, a former kingdom in north-central Nepal, is an unexplored paradise that offers a blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. Known for its barren moon-like landscapes, ancient monasteries, and epic trekking routes, Mustang is a world away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Lower Mustang refers to the southern part of the Mustang District of Nepal. It includes popular destinations like Jomsom, Kagbeni, and Muktinath. The landscape in the lower Mustang is characterized by rugged mountain terrains, deep valleys, and the beautiful Kali Gandaki River. Lower Mustang is also home to the famous Muktinath Temple, a sacred site for both Hindus and Buddhists. The area is more accessible than Upper Mustang and does not require a special permit to visit. The culture in Lower Mustang is a mix of Tibetan and Nepalese influences.
Upper Mustang, also known as the Kingdom of Lo, is the northern part of the Mustang District, located close to the Tibetan border. The region is known for its unique and well-preserved Tibetan culture. The landscape of Upper Mustang is a high, arid plateau characterized by eroded canyons and colorful stratified rock formations. The walled city of Lo Manthang serves as the cultural and political hub of Upper Mustang.
Unlike Lower Mustang, Upper Mustang is a restricted area. Foreign visitors are required to obtain a special permit to enter and must travel with a registered guide. The region was only opened to foreign tourists in 1992 and still retains much of its ancient culture and charm, making it a unique destination for those interested in Himalayan cultures and landscapes. You can find detailed itinerary for upper mustang tour package in this page.
The Rich History of Mustang
Mustang, Nepal, has a history that stretches back centuries. It once served as an important trade route between Nepal and Tibet, with a rich cultural legacy that still thrives today.
The Unique Geography of Mustang
Mustang, Nepal, is located in the rain shadow of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. This results in a terrain unlike any other in Nepal, resembling the deserts of Tibet more than the lush greenery most associated with Nepal.
Amazing Things to Do in Mustang, Nepal
Mustang, known as the Land of Lo, is a district in the north-central part of Nepal. Often overlooked because of its remote location, Mustang offers unique experiences, breathtaking landscapes, and a rich ancient culture that remains unchanged over decades. Here are some of the most exciting things you can do in this magical corner of the world:
1. Landing at Jomsom Airport
Your journey to Mustang begins with landing at Jomsom Airport. The extraordinary flight takes you between two 8000 meters peaks, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. This airport is the starting point for treks to Kagbeni and the Upper Mustang region.
2. Visit Kagbeni
Kagbeni is the gateway to the Upper Mustang area. It features a more than 500-year-old monastery and an old village. Experience the spiritual significance of the juncture of the Muktinath and Kaligandaki River, a revered place for Hindu devotees.
3. Explore Chhusang’s Wall and Sky Caves
In Chusang village, you’ll discover astonishing sky caves nestled in a vast cliff. Don’t miss the organic apple garden at Tangbe and other farming lands along the way.
4. Witness the Nepali Grand Canyon
Near the village of Chele, you’ll find a site that closely resembles the grand canyon of the USA. Capture this stunning landscape on your camera to share with family and friends.
5. Trekking and Hiking
Trekking is one of the classic things to do in Mustang. The recently built gravel road to Lo Manthang and Korala has opened up opportunities for trekking across the Trans-Himalayan Plateau.
6. Mountain Biking
Mountain biking is another great way to explore Mustang. Despite the high permit fees, this activity is becoming increasingly popular among adventure lovers.
7. Royal Enfield Tour to Himalayas
If motorcycles are your thing, then the Royal Enfield tour to Mustang is for you. This journey takes you through a high Himalayan desert, similar to Tibet.
8. 4WD Upper Mustang Jeep Safari Tour
For a more comfortable adventure, consider a 4WD jeep safari tour to Lo Manthang. This private tour gives you the flexibility to stop along the way to capture memorable moments.
9. Travel by Bus Along the Kaligandaki
On your return from Lo Lanthang, take a local bus ride along the Kaligandaki rivers. The trip offers a unique opportunity to see wall carvings and sky caves.
10. Horse Riding Tour
Upper Mustang is an ideal location for horse riding. From a day trip in Lo Manthang to a full trek from Jomsom to Upper Mustang, horse riding offers a unique perspective on the region’s landscape.
11. Try Local Cuisines
During your trip, don’t miss out on trying local delicacies like Tibetan bread, Khapse, Marpha, and local tea mixed with salt and butter.
12. Visit Monasteries and Chorten
Each village in Mustang features at least one monastery and many Chortens. These spiritual and historical sites offer a deeper understanding of the region’s culture.
13. Rotates Prayer Wheel in the Right Direction
Enhance your spiritual journey by rotating the hundreds of prayer wheels along the way, chanting the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”.
14. Visit Chungsi Cave
Chungsi cave, an essential part of the traditional salt trading route of Mustang, holds religious, historical, and medical importance.
15. Discover Lo Manthang City
Explore the royal palace of Lo Manthang and the old monasteries built in the early 15th century. This is a great way to learn about Tibetan Buddhism.
16. Take Pictures
Capture the dramatic landscape, wildlife, sky tombs, and high mountain settlements on your camera. These pictures are sure to remind you of the unique beauty of Mustang.
17. Day Trip to Chhoser
A day trip to Chhoser is a must. Visit the 2500-year-old Jhong Cave, explore monasteries, and take in the sights of Gherpu village.
18. Celebrate Tiji Festival
If you’re in Mustang in May, don’t miss the annual Tiji Festival. This three-day cultural event features art, dance, and music, providing a deep insight into the Tibetan Buddhist culture.
In conclusion, Mustang, Nepal offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage, making it an unforgettable destination for any traveler. Explore the ancient culture, stunning landscapes, and spiritual sites of this hidden gem to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Top Attractions of Mustang
Muktinath: A Sacred Pilgrimage
Muktinath, a sacred site for both Hindus and Buddhists, is a highlight of any trip to Mustang, Nepal. The temple complex is a spiritual oasis, providing a tranquil retreat for all who visit. Take muktinath tour package and explore the mustang this year. We also offer muktinath tour package from pokhara. Contact us to book your trip.
Kagbeni: The Gateway to Upper Mustang
Kagbeni, located at the confluence of the Kali Gandaki and Jhong rivers, is the gateway to the upper Mustang. Known for its medieval feel and Tibetan influence, Kagbeni is a must-visit.
Marpha: The Apple Kingdom
Marpha, known as the apple kingdom of Nepal, is famous for its delicious apples and apple products. A stroll through the village streets is like walking through an orchard, with apple trees lining the way.
Tatopani: The Healing Hot Springs
Tatopani, which translates to ‘hot water’, is known for its natural hot springs. Many believe these waters have healing properties, providing relief from various ailments.
Lete: The Picturesque Village
Lete, a charming village in Mustang, Nepal, offers breathtaking views of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges. It’s a perfect spot for landscape photographers and nature lovers.
Dhumba Lake: A Turquoise Wonder
Dhumba Lake, set against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, is a turquoise wonder that enchants every visitor. The lake’s calm and serene environment make it a perfect place for meditation and reflection.
Damodar Kunda: The Holy Lakes
Damodar Kunda, a group of three lakes, is a sacred site for Hindus. The serene surroundings and spiritual significance make it a popular destination for pilgrims and adventurers alike.
Lomanthang: The Walled City
Lomanthang, the capital of the former Kingdom of Mustang, is a walled city that houses many treasures. From ancient monasteries to the former royal palace, Lomanthang is a historical gem.
Jomsom: The Land of Wind
Jomsom, the district headquarters of Mustang, Nepal, is known as the land of wind. It offers the perfect base for trekkers starting their journey into the upper Mustang.
Thini Village: A Taste of Rural Mustang
Thini Village, one of the oldest settlements in Mustang, Nepal, offers a glimpse into rural life. The village, with its traditional stone houses and centuries-old monasteries, is a haven for culture lovers.
Jomsom Airport: Gateway to the Skies
Jomsom Airport, despite its small size, is an important hub for those traveling to Mustang, Nepal. The airport, situated inthe middle of the valley, provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Jwala Mai: The Eternal Flame
Jwala Mai, also known as the goddess of flame, is worshipped at the ancient Jwala Mai Temple in Mustang. The temple houses an eternal flame that has been burning for centuries, a major attraction for both locals and tourists.
Chhussang: The Cave Village
Chhussang, a fascinating cave village in Mustang, Nepal, is a testament to the region’s ancient history. The village, with its unique cave dwellings, provides a glimpse into the lifestyle of Mustang’s early inhabitants.
How to get to Upper Mustang?
Getting to Upper Mustang involves a multi-step journey, usually starting from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Here are the general steps:
- From Kathmandu to Pokhara: You can take a tourist bus, private car, or a domestic flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara. The bus ride usually takes about 6-7 hours, while a flight is approximately 30 minutes.
- From Pokhara to Jomsom: From Pokhara, you will need to take a 20-minute flight to Jomsom. This small town is the starting point for many treks in the Mustang region.
- From Jomsom to Kagbeni: Kagbeni is the gateway to Upper Mustang. You can reach Kagbeni from Jomsom by trekking (approximately 3-4 hours) or by jeep.
- From Kagbeni to Upper Mustang: From Kagbeni, you will need to trek or drive further into the Upper Mustang region to reach destinations like Lo Manthang.
Permit and Entry Fee for Upper Mustang
As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, traveling to Upper Mustang requires two permits:
- Restricted Area Permit (RAP): This permit is required to enter the restricted areas of Nepal, including Upper Mustang. The cost of the RAP for Upper Mustang is USD 500 per person for the first ten days. If you plan to stay more than ten days, an additional fee of USD 50 per day is charged.
- Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP): Since Upper Mustang lies within the Annapurna Conservation Area, you will also need an ACAP. The cost of this permit for foreigners is NRS 4,000 (about USD 35).
Please note that prices and regulations can change, so it’s essential to check the most up-to-date information from a reliable source or your chosen trekking agency before planning your trip. You will also need to be part of an organized tour or accompanied by a registered guide to visit Upper Mustang due to its status as a restricted area.
How to get to Lower Mustang?
Getting to Lower Mustang also involves a journey from Kathmandu, usually with a stop in Pokhara. Here are the typical steps:
- From Kathmandu to Pokhara: The journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara can be made by tourist bus, private vehicle, or domestic flight. The bus journey typically takes around 6-7 hours, while a flight is about 30 minutes.
- From Pokhara to Jomsom: From Pokhara, a 20-minute flight to Jomsom is usually the most convenient way to reach the Mustang region. Jomsom is a common starting point for many treks and trips in the area.
- From Jomsom to various destinations in Lower Mustang: Depending on your itinerary, you may trek or take a jeep from Jomsom to various destinations in Lower Mustang, such as Kagbeni, Muktinath, Marpha, and others.
Permit and Entry Fee for Lower Mustang
Lower Mustang is not a restricted area like Upper Mustang, so it doesn’t require a Restricted Area Permit. However, you will need the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) because the region is part of the Annapurna Conservation Area. Here are the details:
- Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP): This permit is mandatory for all trekkers visiting the Annapurna region, including Lower Mustang. The cost of this permit for foreigners is NRS 4,000 (about USD 35).
As always, it’s important to verify the most recent permit requirements and fees from a reliable source or your trekking agency, as these can change over time.
Conclusion: The Unparalleled Beauty of Mustang
Mustang, Nepal, with its unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage, is a destination like no other. From the sacred Muktinath to the picturesque Dhumba Lake, from the ancient city of Lomanthang to the bustling Jomsom, every corner of Mustang offers a unique experience. So, when are you planning your trip to this untouched paradise?
Ready for an unforgettable journey? Don’t wait! Book your Mustang Tour Package now and embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best time to visit Mustang, Nepal?
The best time to visit Mustang is during the dry season, which runs from May to October.
How can I reach Mustang, Nepal?
You can reach Mustang either by a flight to Jomsom Airport from Pokhara or by road from Pokhara or Kathmandu.
What are the main attractions in Muktinath?
The main attraction in Muktinath is the Muktinath Temple, a sacred site for both Hindus and Buddhists.
What is Kagbeni known for?
Kagbeni is known as the gateway to the upper Mustang and for its medieval feel and Tibetan influence.
What can I do in Marpha?
In Marpha, you can enjoy apple orchards, taste local apple products, and explore the beautiful village.
What is special about Tatopani?
Tatopani is famous for its natural hot springs, believed to have healing properties.
What can I see in Lete?
Lete offers breathtaking views of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges.
Is Dhumba Lake worth visiting?
Yes, Dhumba Lake is a tranquil and beautiful spot that is definitely worth a visit.
What can I expect at Damodar Kunda?
Damodar Kunda is a group of three sacred lakes surrounded by serene and beautiful landscapes.
What is unique about Lomanthang?
Lomanthang is a walled city that houses ancient monasteries and a former royal palace.
Why is Jomsom known as the land of wind?
Jomsom is known as the land of wind due to the strong winds that blow through the valley each afternoon.
What can I experience in Thini Village?
Thini Village offers a glimpse into rural life in Mustang with its traditional stone houses and ancient monasteries.
What is the significance of Jwala Mai?
Jwala Mai is an eternal flame that has been burning at the Jwala Mai Temple in Mustang for centuries.
What is Chhussang famous for?
Chhussang is known for its unique cave dwellings that provide a glimpse into the lifestyle of Mustang’s early inhabitants.
Is Mustang, Nepal a good place for trekking?
Yes, Mustang offers some of the best trekking routes in Nepal, with stunning views of the Himalayas.
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