Upper Mustang (formerly Kingdom of Lo) is a place resounding with history and culture, a name which invokes awe and wonder amongst even the most travelled. It is a remote and restricted area on the Tibetan border; its status as a kingdom only ended in 2008. The majority of the population speak Tibetan and maintain Tibetan cultural and religious traditions. The monasteries of the ancient walled capital are both fascinating and of great religious importance as are thousands of nearby caves with artefacts dating back thousands of years.
Travelling by jeep you are immediately immersed in the incredible landscape, surrounded by towering mountains as well as local rituals and traditions. Prayer flags decorated with chortens (small stupas) are frequent atop passes, in villages and marking the ancient trade routes across the Syawala Pass (4817m) to Tibet.
Undoubtedly amongst the most incredible and memorable journeys to be made in Asia.
Drive from Pokhara to Narchyang via Beni
Set off on the journey to Mustang. After Beni the road is unpaved as we follow the Kali Gandaki River. The Kali Gandaki Valley passes between Dhaulagiri (8,167 m) and Annapurna I (8,091 m) and is often claimed to be the deepest valley in the world.
Tatopani is a small town where you can experience the natural hot spring and Nepali village life.
Drive from Tatopani to Kagbeni and visit Muktinath Temple
Drive through the rural villages of Kalopani and Ghasa; explore the apple farms of Marpha Village and Jomsom’s local market. After reaching Kagbeni take a detour to visit Muktinath; 1000m higher and one of the most important religious sites in the Nepal Himalaya.
The Newar-style temple of Muktinath is sacred to both Hindu and Buddhist. Behind the temple a wall of 108 bull-headed waterspouts honour Lord Vishnu (108 is sacred to most eastern traditions). Nearby is Mebar Lha Gompa, the small monastery of `miraculous fire’ dedicated to Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava) which is famous for its continuously burning natural gas fire, which Hindus worship as Jwala Mai, the Goddess of Fire.
Return to Kagbeni for the night.
Drive from Kagbeni to Ghami Village via Syngboche Pass
Today we will visit Kagbeni Monastery and Buddhist School.
Then set out on the journey to Upper Mustang. Cross the Kali Gandaki River near Chhusang village then climbing via numerous picturesque small villages cross the Syngboche Pass to reach Ghami Village. Tibetan influence will be increasingly apparent in these villages as will the number of yaks.
Drive from Ghami Village to Lo-Manthang
As well as the environment, scenery and people you are meeting todays’ highlight is Lo-Manthang, walled capital of the Kingdom of Lo since 1380. Ever present are reminders of cultural and trade links to Tibet – domesticated yaks and cattle caravans, local clothing, mani walls – all set within an incredible landscape.
Ghar Gompa, one of the most important monasteries in Mustang and you will also visit Tsarang, Jampa Lhakhang (the oldest, built in the early 15th century and also known as the “God house”), Thubchen Gompa with its huge, red assembly hall amongst other highlights of the town.
Sightseeing and exploring Lo-Manthang and Chhoser.
Today explore important sites in the surrounding area, all against the incredible backdrop of the Himalaya. Visit Namgyal Gompa, the sky caves of Chhoser and the Shija Jhong cave. Some 10,000 man-made caves date back 2000-3000 years and archaeological excavations have unearthed mummies, art works and manuscripts from all eras.
And stop for photos at almost every turn in the road.
Drive from Lo-Manthang to Jomsom
Today you will drive all the way to Jomsom, passing several local villages, the Kali Gandaki River, Buddhist stupas and monasteries on the way. In the evening you will have time to explore the local market of Jomsom.
Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara
Today early in the morning, you will fly back to Pokhara. Transfer to hotel. Rest of the day at leisure.
Authentic, off-the-beaten-track experience