Mustang & Tibetans

The Mustang & Tibetans trip  begins properly in Pokhara, a laid back tourist town in central Nepal that was once a stopover on the hippy trail. The Annapurna Range overlooks the town and dozens of restaurants and trekking equipment shops line the side of a beautiful lake. We’ll visit a local hostel (the Himalayan Children’s Care Home) where kids from Mustang stay while they’re going to school in Pokhara.

After a day in Pokhara, we fly to Jomsom, at the foot of spectacular Mt Nilgiri, the administrative capital of Mustang. The trek really begins when we meet our trekking crew – and our Tibetan ponies. The first day we ride down the Kali Gandaki to the unspoilt stone village of Marpha and the 17th century Chhairo Gompa, which is currently being restored.

From Chhairo we head north, briefly retracing our steps, then on to Kagbeni, the mudwalled town that is the entry point to Upper Mustang. From this point on our special permit is required.

From Kagbeni we continue to travel up the extraordinary Kali Gandaki Gorge to Chhuksang. Along this first stretch we’ll look for the beautiful, spiral ammonite fossils – ancient molluscs that prove the Himalaya were once part of the ocean that lay between the Indian and Chinese tectonic plates.

For the next three days we journey on through flat-roofed Tibetan villages and spectacular scenery until we reach the boarding school at Ghiling. We’ll camp in the school grounds and get a vivid insight into the lives of the school children. We then travel on to the massive monastery at Tsarang (Charang) and then, finally, to the region’s capital, Lo Manthang.

In Lo Manthang we’ll visit amazing temples with superb murals; Stan and several of the trekking team have been involved in their restoration. With luck we’ll have tea with the king.

From Lo Manthang we loop back towards the Kali Gandaki through high-altitude pastures, and hopefully have a chance to meet Tibetan nomads with their herds of yaks.

Once back in Jomsom we fly to Pokhara. To make sure we don’t miss our international flight connections (most leave around midday) we spend one night in the hectic capital of Nepal, Kathamandu – but there are plenty of interesting add-ons you could do if you have time.

Not only does this trek take you into an incredibly dramatic environment, it will introduce you to some amazing people – people who you will proud to count as friends. Almost everyone in the trekking crew speaks good English. Each member of the crew is an interesting character in his own right, and they’re great company. Because of their connections you’ll meet monks, teachers, children, farmers, innkeepers, nomads… maybe even the King of Mustang if he’s at home.

Practicalities
You will find the trek reasonably demanding, but the ponies we ride make life pretty easy. The highest passes we traverse are around 4500 metres (14,500 ft), but because we don’t sleep at high altitude and the altitudes we do sleep at increase progressively, altitude sickness is unlikely to be a problem

All you have to do carry is a day pack, ride your pony, and walk downhill. The trekking crew does the rest.

Tents are erected for you. Three excellent meals per day are cooked for you (rigid sanitary rules are observed in food preparation).

You don’t have to think about anything – except about getting the most enjoyment possible from your adventure!

You will need to organise your own Nepal visa, but the US$500 Mustang permit is included in your package.

The Crew
The crew for an average sized trek with eight travellers will include Stan Armington (the expedition leader), Norbu Lama (the Sirdar, or Nepali manager of the crew), six sherpas (who act as personal guides and assistants), a head cook, an assistant cook, four kitchen hands, one or two mule hands (and six mules), and two horse men, including Tashi Wangal (and one pony each).

Often other locals join us - because, even for locals this journey is a serious undertaking. Sometimes kids travelling to and from their Pokhara hostel join us, sometimes monks join us…

Stan Armington is a 40-year veteran of Nepal and was one of the first Europeans to visit Mustang. He was also the author of Lonely Planet’s trekking guide for many years. Stan has close connections with the region, and has recently been involved with local people working on temple restoration, schools and student hostels.

Norbu Lama, an old friend and colleague of Stan’s, and a highly experienced Sirdar (trek leader) from the Jumla region of western Nepal, manages the expedition crew.

Tenzing Chomphel, a Tibetan refugee, and founder of Ghiling School used to roam alone in these mountains as an eight-year-old goat herd, is sometimes able to join us. At times it seems he knows every single person in Mustang.

Tashi Wangal, a highly-respected Lo Manthang local and wonderful horseman, provides and manages the ponies.

 

Mustang & Tibetans
Contact us for more information about this scheduled / published small group trip. 

This suggested itinerary can also be run privately, or customised so the departure date and programme completely suits you. Because Mustang is in a rain shadow, trekking is possible most of the year. The exception is the winter period between November and March when Mustang is very cold.

All scheduled small group trips will be confirmed and guaranteed by Around The Sun at least 56 days before the trip commences. However, if at 56 days before departure there are insufficient bookings to cover the cost of running the trip we reserve the right to cancel the trip. Anyone who has already made a booking will be given the choice to receive a full refund, to transfer their booking to another trip, or to continue on the trip with fewer passengers but at a higher price.

Departures for private, customised trips are all fully guaranteed. Contact us now for quotes and information on private, customised trips.

Full Itinerary

Allow a bit over three weeks for the complete trip. This includes al 21 day/20 night itinerary in Nepal - plus travel to and from Nepal.

Those travelling from Australia fly to Kathmandu via Bangkok, Singapore or KL. We recommend you allow us to arrange a (nearly) connecting flight through to Pokhara (the jumping-off point for the Mustang trek) from  Kathmandu.

There are numerous possible variations to your trip involving volunteering, longer stays in Kathmandu, or side trips to other regions, including rafting trips, and elephant safaris in Nepal’s tropical lowlands.

Kathmandu is a fascinating place (one of the world’s great historic cities) but it is also crowded, chaotic and polluted.

Pokhara is a relaxed holiday town on the shores of Phewa Lake, in the shadow of the Annurpurna Massif, and a traditional stopover on the famed Overland Trail pioneered in ‘70s.

Our ideal Mustang itinerary builds  builds in time to acclimatise to high altitudes and spare time, which can buffer against unforeseen events. No Nepalese itinerary is cast in stone! Factors like weather can play havoc with planes coming in and out of Pokhara, not to mention with high-altitude passes and river crossings.

Contact us if you’d like to see a customised, private itinerary see Create Your Own Journey. Because Mustang is in a rain shadow, trekking is possible most of the year. The exception is the winter period between November and March when Mustang is very cold.

MUSTANG & TIBETANS

28 June / Day 1 - arrive Kathmandu, fly to Pokhara, stay Tibet Resort Hotel
29 June / Day 2 - acclimatise and last-minute shopping in Pokhara; dance performance by HCCH
30 June / Day 3 - fly to Jomsom, trek to Marpha
1 July / Day 4 - trek to Kagbeni
2 July / Day 5 - enter Upper Mustang, trek along Kali Gandaki to Chele
3 July / Day 6 - trek to Ghiling and stay at school
4 July / Day 7 - Ghiling
5 July / Day 8 - trek to Charang
6 July / Day 9 - trek Lo Manthang
7 July / Day 10 - Lo Manthang
8 July / Day 11 - trek to Chosar/ Lo Manthang
9 July/ Day 12 - trek to Lo Gekar
10 July/ Day 13 - trek to Chunkar
11 July / Day 14 - trek to Samar
12 July / Day 15 - trek to Chhuksang
13 July / Day 16 - trek to Kagbeni
14 July / Day 17 - trek to Jomsom
15 July / Day 18 -fly to Pokhara, stay Tibet Resort Hotel
16 July/ Day 19 - Pokhara, stay Tibet Resort Hotel
17 July / Day 20 - fly to Kathmandu
18 July / Day 21 - depart Kathmandu

 

 

This ideal itinerary allows acclimatisation to high altitudes and plenty of spare time, which can buffer against unforeseen events. Bad weather can play havoc with planes coming in and out of Pokhara, not to mention with high-altitude passes and river crossings.

 $6799 per person twin share.

The total price includes all accommodation, pony, all meals (except lunch and dinner in Kathmandu), the USD $50-per-day permit for Mustang (one of the reasons tourist numbers are kept relatively low!), domestic flights between Kathmandu and Pokhara, domestic flights between Pokhara and Jomsom, and a USD $100 contribution to the Himalayan Childrens’ Care Home (see www.hchmustang.org).

Additional expenses to consider are tips for the trekking crew (allow AUD $200 to $250), the return fare from Australia to Kathmandu (approx AUD $1400 to AUD $2000 return), travel insurance, any personal equipment you might need to buy (walking boots, warm clothing and sleeping bag), and any alcohol you choose to consume.

All scheduled small group trips will be confirmed and guaranteed by Around The Sun at least 56 days before the trip commences. However, if at 56 days prior to departure there are insufficient bookings to cover the cost of running the trip we reserve the right to cancel the trip. Anyone who has already made a booking will be given the choice to receive a full refund, to transfer their booking to another trip, or to continue on the trip with fewer passengers but at a higher price.

Departures for private, customised trips are all fully guaranteed. Contact us for quotes and information on private, customised trips.

Mustang Overview

Around The Sun’s first trips were to Mustang. Suffice it to say that Stan Armington, a long time author of the Lonely Planet Nepal trekking guide, and Richard Everist, co-author of the Lonely Planet Nepal country guide, both consider that Mustang offers some of Nepal’s finest, most unspoilt treks.

Mustang is a unique corner of Nepal, a genuine Shangri-La. Culturally and geographically a part of Tibet, Mustang has until relatively recently been closed to the world. Tourism is still strictly limited and controlled. (partly thanks to a US$50 per day fee).

Mustang is an unspoilt medieval, Buddhist world set amongst some of the world’s most dramatic mountains, the world’s deepest valley (the Kali Gandaki Gorge, five km deep, lying between the 8000 metre Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges), and a breathtakingly beautiful high altitude desert.

Around The Sun is the only company to offer pony treks in Mustang. Unique Tibetan ponies are provided to everyone as part of the ATS package, and they make life much easier on the ankle-twisting stones of the Kali Gandaki gorge, and on long climbs. The ponies are calm, sure-footed and beautifully trained. They’re genuine Tibetan ponies, which take a central role in Tibetan culture and particularly the trading culture of Mustang. As motorised transport becomes more important, trips like ours will help sustain an ancient tradition.

The Kali Gandaki gorge has provided a link between Tibet (and China) and Nepal (and India) that has been used as a trading route for thousands of years. The fortified townships and villages that are strung along its length have benefitted from the wealth this trade generated, and there are numerous monasteries and temples.In a number of places, the valley walls are honeycombed with cave complexes. Because of their inaccessibility many of the caves have lain untouched for millennia and are only now being explored by archaeologists using modern climbing gear. They are uncovering evidence of successive civilisations that have lived in the caves for 3000 years.

Mustang is home to Tibetan Buddhist ghompas (temples) dating back to the 12th century and some of the most spectacular Tibetan religious murals in the world. They are considered to be masterpieces, with global significance. The traditional capital of Mustang, Lo Manthang, is home to the King of Mustang. If he’s in residence the king traditionally offers Around The Sun travellers a private audience.

Changes are coming fast to Mustang and the next couple of years provide the last window of opportunity to explore a relatively untouched corner of old Tibet

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you have any questions please contact us. We have an enormous amount of experience – and we have expert operators on the ground in all our destinations.

If our small group guided tours don’t meet your needs we’re set up so that we can create private tours – using our published itineraries – or custom tours that are both private and customised to meet your wishes.

See Create Your Own Journey.

Mustang & Tibetans

Mustang is a largely unchanged Tibetan/Nepalese kingdom lying at the northern end of the world's deepest valley. The valley has, for thousands of years, been a link between Tibet (and China) and Nepal (and India). You'll meet Tibetan farmers, monks, refugees, nomads - and maybe even the King.

Days:21
Luxury: Pony / Trek / Camp
Type of Tour:Small Group Guided Tour
Experience: Pony Trek
Challenge: Medium
Cost: from $7000

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