“Mun Tan” is the Tibetan word meaning fertile plain that Mustang is named after. Located in North-Central Nepal on the Central Asian plateau bordering Tibet, Dolpo and Manang, Mustang is the famous former Kingdom of Lo with close language and cultural links to Tibet that was annexed by Nepal at the end of the 18th Century. In fact, between the 15th and 17th centuries, Mustang was considered an important strategic location for trade between India and the Himalayas and a dependency of the Kingdom of Nepal. In 2008, Mustang’s status as a kingdom ended when Nepal became a republic.
Upper Mustang which was first opened in 1992, forms a restricted area experienced by a very few tourists each year. With its wild west feel, Mustang which is a largely dry and arid desert-like environment that is located in the rain shadows of Annapurna massif and Dhaulagiri range. The region is dramatically sculpted by the Kali Gandaki River which is the lifeblood for the sparsely inhabited trans-himalayan settlement of around 15,000 people. The mighty river bisects Mustang and runs southward towards the flat plains of the Terai. Nearly 80% of Mustang is between 3000 and 6400 metres with the Southern third known as Thak comprising the Thakali indigenous group is coined Lower Mustang and included as the northernmost part of the famous Annapurna circuit. Located in one of the deepest gorges in the world, Lower Mustang offers a glimpse into a forgotten world with its famous pilgrimage site of Muktinath contrasted by the seasonal apple delights on offer in Jomsom. In comparison, the Northern two-thirds beyond Annapurna is known as Upper Mustang and requires special entry permits that control tourist numbers to less than several hundred per year.
Upper Mustang offers a treasure trove of gems within its moonscape terrain. When you enter it at Gyu La pass east of Kagbeni you will get the chance to take in arid valleys with colourful rock formations containing many cave dwellings high in the cliffs. A jewel is the ancient walled city of Lo Manthang which has remained unchanged for centuries. Lo used to be part of the Tibetan empire and retains a strong Tibetan influence in architecture and religion. From Lo La pass (3950m) you can taken in the scene of white washed houses, famous four storey palace and beautiful monasteries such as the 15th century Thugchen Gompa which are amplified in beauty when coordinated by sunset and / or sunrise.
If you are interested in an off the beaten track experience that explores the hidden world of the old Buddhist Kingdom of Mustang, Down to Earth Adventure has the perfect range of treks for you. Our trails will take you along the salt caravan route and will give you a sense of the importance of the lucrative trade of Tibetan salt for the lower land Mustang grains. Flying into Jomsom from Pokhara will leapfrog you into an untouched world like no other you will ever see again in your life. It will also provide you with unique perspectives of Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri as you soar above the Kali Gandaki River. Opportunities to visit local Tibetan homes and to be welcomed into the kitchen, the centre of the house will give you an incredible insight into the lifestyle and culture of the Mustangis. A bonus incentive is to time your trek to coincide with the Tibetan Buddhist Tiji Festival which occurs at the end of the dry season in late Winter.
Price: USD 2700Upper Mustang offers a treasure trove of gems within its moonscape terrain. When you enter it at Gyu La Pass east of Kagbeni, you will get the chance to take in arid valleys with colorful rock formations containing many cave dwellings high in the cliffs.
Price: USD 2200Get away from the masses and explore the hidden Kingdom of Mustang. You will be met with interesting wind-swept villages such as Kagbeni along the main Trans-Himalayan salt trade route to Tibet via Upper Mustang region.
Price: USD 1100Highlights of this trip include the Mt. Dhaulagiri icefall at Kalopani, visiting Muktinath Monastery, one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindu Vaishnavas and Tibetan Buddhists.