The destination of this trek is in rain shaded desert landscape; the mystical, barren mountains in Lower Mustang. We make a five days trek between heaven and earth. To reach our starting point we fly between the massifs to the capital of Mustang district, Jomsom where we become surrounded by snow covered mountains. During our trek we see several of the world’s highest peaks.
Our tour is crossing diversity in nature and culture! We start our journey in the historically rich city Kathmandu, a valley where the early kings competed in beautiful architecture and rich art scene. Today is full of world heritage sites and mystic temples.
Up in the high mountains in Mustang everything is different from Kathmandu and both culturally and geographically we are reminded that the Tibetan border is nearby, and the China is more accessible than Kathmandu. We visit Marpha where the apple farms offer pie, brandy and dried apples. We stroll around in white washed Himalayan villages where the fire wood is drying at the roof top and we reach Kagbeni where a strong belief in zombies has given the village a strange shape with narrow passages and houses built on top of each other. But the highlights of our journey might be the people we meet when we stay in non-touristic village homestays and the traditions we get a rare chance to experience.
Back in Pokhara we can relax by the hotel swimming pool and have a cappucino at a beautiful coffee shop – a nice vacation after the trek! In Kathmandu we stay in Boudha, the Buddhist heart of the city with over 50 monasteries surrounding the huge Buddhist stupa, Boudhanath, a place for pilgrims from Nepal, India, Tibet and many other countries too. We get the chance to experience the ceremony performed every morning in the monasteries and also the equivalent ceremony in the large Hindu temple Pashupatinath. Here we watch the ceremony performed every evening to honor the elements of fire and water.
- Day 1: Arrival to Kathmandu
- Day 2: Drive to Bandipur (5 hrs)
- Day 3: Drive to Pokhara. (4 hrs)
- Day 4: Flight to Jomsom, 2720m. (20 mins). Hike to Marpha, 2670m. (2.5 hrs)
- Day 5: Trek crossing Dhumba Lake, 2900m. to Thini, 2840m.
- Day 6: Drive to Muktinath, 3710m. Trek to Jharkot, 3550m.
- Day 7: Trek to Lubra, 2790m.
- Day 8: Trek to Phalyak, 3175m.
- Day 9: Trek to Windy Pass, 3560 m. and explore Dhagarjung, 3166m. Back to Phalyak to pick up things and trek to Kagbeni, 2810m.
- Day 10: Visit Tiri nunnery in Upper Mustang, 2800m. Drive to Jomsom.
- Day 11: Flight to Pokhara (20 mins). Free time in Pokhara
- Day 12: Fly to Kathmandu.
- Day 13: Kathmandu sightseeing
- Day 14: Final departure
Day 1: Arrival to Kathmandu
Pick up at airport. Transfer to hotel in Patan which is one of the old kingdoms in Kathmandu and a world heritage site. We relax a bit at our lovely traditional hotel set in the center of the oldest parts of the city before going out for a city walk to admire the old temples and the stories behind them. We cross many small streets and narrow gates and passes. Here we see the handicraft artisans making woodcarvings and brass vessels and we see the fantastic temple Mahabuddha, which has terracotta buddhas engraved in every brick, and the golden temple, said to be the oldest monastery in Kathmandu.
We also visit the house of kumari, the living goddess, and if we are lucky she allows us in for a blessing. She is a small girl who is believed to be spiritually possessed by the goddess Taleju and is worshipped mainly by the Newari people. She is searched for in a similar way like Dalai Lama and is believed to be possessed by the goddess until she loses blood, which is usually in her puberty.
Welcome dinner at a traditional restaurant close to the hotel.
Day 2: Drive to Bandipur (5 hrs)
Drive to Bandipur, a Newari town renovated to its traditional style. The city is closed for traffic and you can sit in one of the many cafées on the main square, have a coffee and watch the wonderful architecture and the flowers climbing the walls. We make a walk around the village and relax after the journey.
Day 3: Drive to Pokhara (3-4 hrs)
We drive to Pokhara where we check in at the same hotel where we will also return after our trek. Here will store the luggage we don’t need during our trek, as we have a maximum limit on both flight luggage and porters carry weight (maximum 12 kg per person). The hotel is situated close to the lake and the area where Pokharas best restaurants and cafés are located. Pokhara is the tourist capital of Nepal and is beautifully located by the lake Fewa where you can go for a boat ride. There are wide choices of good restaurants and cafées, ayurvedic clinics or massage centers where you easily can spend your day.
In Pokhara we have lunch with a lake view and spend the afternoon to walk around or to prepare for the trek. In Pokhara there are many trekking shops where you can make your last minute shopping in case you forgot something important. But make sure that you have your own used trekking boots, new ones might give you problems!
Day 4: Flight to Jomsom. Trek to Marpha. (2,5 hours)
Early in the morning we go to the nearby Pokhara airport from where we catch the flight to Jomsom. The flight takes 20 minutes and is a breathtaking experience! We fly in a small plane (16 seats) between two of the worlds highest massifs; Dhaulagiri and Annapurna! At the airport in Jomsom we meet up with the staff who will accompany us during the trek; porters and assistents and we start our walk to Marpha. This is the only day we walk most part on a car road which is a recently constructed dirt road. Not many vehicles pass but it is pretty dusty. From the road we turn off and walk the last 15 minutes to reach Marpha which is fortunately bypassed by the road.
Upon arrival we relax a bit at our nice hotel before going out for a walk in the narrow alleys between the white washed houses. We visit the beautiful Buddhist Samtenling monastery from where one get a good view over the village. Marpha is famous for its apples and its apple brandy, and anyone who wishes can try it out.
Day 5: Trek to Thini via Dhumba lake (5 hours)
We start off in the morning, crossing the Kali Gandaki river and walk up on the hill to a Buddhist stupa and small monastery, Kuchup Terenga gumba (2920 m.) founded in 17th century. From here we get spectacular 360-degree views of Nilgiri peak, Tilicho Pass, Syang village and Thini and Jomsom below you. From here we walk downhill to the Dhumba lake where we have lunch in a local restaurant and continue about half an hour to the small village Thini (2840 m.), the oldest village of the valley, where we stay for the night in a homestay in a traditional house.
Day 6: Trek to Jomsom (0.5 hours), jeep to Muktinath (2 hours) and trek to Jharkot, (0.5 hours)
Today we cross the fields to reach Jomsom from where we ascend 1000 meters by jeep up to the holy Hindu temple of Muktinath (3800 m.). The jeep ride takes us almost 2 hours and drops us in the main village, we continue up along the hill to the temple area. It is a bit steep uphill and the thin air makes our pace slower. In about half an hour we reach the main temple. Every day, all year around, pilgrims, mainly Indians and Nepalese, come here to make a wish and purify themselves by making a puja, a holy ceremony, and shower under the 108 spouts flushing ice cold water over the worshippers.
Since this village has gone quite exploited by religious tourism we walk some 30 minutes downhill on the dirt road, to the village of Jharkot (3270 m.), and stay there in a traditional and peaceful lodge. The main feature of the village is the striking red Gompa (monastery) of the Sakya sect of Buddhism that sits prominently at the front of the village. This Gompa is more than 500 years old and has an active Tibetan Medicine school. There are stunning views down the valley and up towards the famous Thorong La (pass) which is the highest point of the Annapurna Circuit trek.
Day 7: Trek to Lubra (3 hours)
In this area villages are built in the same style as the villages of “the forbidden kingdom”, Upper Mustang, which is very close to here but to enter it we need a special permit. We trek on a great route that trekkers on the Annapurna circuit miss out on, so you will be far away from the crowds and the jeep trail to Jharkot and Muktinath. We cross Lubra Pass (3710 m.) on the way and it takes us around 3 hours to reach Lubra.
Lubra is famous for being the last stronghold in Nepal of the ancient bon pre-Buddhist religion. It is not represented by many monasteries these days, so it is a rare and special chance to learn about this ancient animist religion, while taking a stunning alternate route. We stay at a homestay in the village where we all sleep in the same large room with many beds.
Day 8: Trek to Phalyak (4 hours)
We trek for about 2 hours to the road and the Kali Gandaki river which we cross and continue up westwards to the village Phalyak (3090 m.). We walk the last stretch on a car road but there will be no traffic. Phalyak is surrounded by fields and orchards and has a river flowing through it on its way to join the Kali Gandaki. There is a lovely central monastery, surrounded by wooden windows painted with lions or conch shells. Here, painted images predominate over the carved wood images more common in Kagbeni and Jharkot.
Day 9: Trek to Windy Pass-Dhakarjung-Phalyak- Kagbeni (4-5 hrs)
We start todays trek uphill on roads and small shortcuts to Windy Pass (3560 m.). The name speaks for itself; the wind is often stronger than 50 mps! From here we walk down again some 45 minutes back to Dhakarjung (3250 m.), a small and traditional cluster village with stone and mud houses and a small pond with water shared between Dhakarjung and Phalyak. Back in Phalyak we pick up our things and continue down towards the road. Before reaching Kagbeni we trek for a bit on the less trafficked main car road.
The afternoon/evening we spend by walking around in the scenic and mystic village of Kagbeni, which is the gateway to Upper Mustang. In Kagbeni the belief in spirits and ghosts are very prevalent and the village is gated with only very low entrances to protect the villagers from ghosts. The houses of the oldest part of Kagbeni are built on top of each other since they should all fit inside the gated area.
Day 10: Visit Tiri village in Upper Mustang. Drive to Jomsom
We start the morning with a walk into the Forbidden Kingdom. We can’t go far without permits but we can reach to the beautiful 800 years old nunnery in Tiri (2800 m.) before coming back out the same way. In the afternoon we start off with the jeep to Jomsom (2743 m.), Mustang districts headquarter. Here the airport is located and there is a museum and many shops and bakeries. We spend the evening in what is a big city compared to our last stops.
Day 11: Flight to Pokhara (20 mins). Free time in Pokhara.
Early morning we fly back to Pokhara where we check in at the same hotel we stayed at before the trek. Rest of the day is free for relaxing and freshening up after the trek.
If you want advice on what to spend your day with your tourleader and local guide will help you. Maybe you want to learn how to make the Nepali dumplings, momo, or visit a monastery? Why not something more adventurous like paragliding?
Day 12: Drive to Kathmandu (8 hrs)
Today we make a long drive all the way back to Kathmandu. We stop for breaks and lunch and enjoy watching the everyday life passing outside our bus window. In Kathmandu we check in at our hotel in the Tibetan area of Boudha and relax after the journey. Evening time we make a small walk around the stupa which is Nepals biggest and also a world heritage site. There are alot of shops selling unique handicrafts, textiles and other things around and fantastic small cafées. We have dinner in front of the stupa and enjoy the evening ceremonies around it.
Day 13: Kathmandu sightseeing
We start off in the morning with a drive into central Kathmandu and make a walk in the old city of where we see the courtyards and backstreets and find out the legends behind them, a wonderful way to understand the mystic of the city. We cross the different local markets, food, spices, glass beads and whatever else one might need. We round up at the Palace square of Kathmandu (Durbar square), one of the most impressive UNESCO sites of the valley and we learn about the history of the country.
In the evening we visit Pashupatinath, a big Hindu temple complex where we watch the evening ceremony which is performed every day and focuses on the elements of fire and water, aarti. After the aarti we drive back to Boudha for farewell dinner.
Day 14: Final departure
In the morning the ones who want can come to a nearby Buddhist monastery to participate in the morning ceremony performed by the monks. We come back to the hotel for breakfast. The rest of the day is left free for last minute shopping or maybe packing, until leaving from Boudha to the airport for departure and a warm farewell and see you again.