Upper Mustang Alternative Trek Overview
The Upper Mustang Alternative Trekking trip’s main motive is to offer a real off-the-beaten-path trekking experience. The journey is all about discovering Upper Mustang’s hidden gems including Lo Manthang also popular as the Walled Kingdom of Lo which has a rich ancient history.
This 2-week long trek package takes you through a stunning semi-arid desert with colorful rock formations, steep canyons, and ever-stretching magnificent vistas. It is also a great way to learn about the old Buddhist monarchy that is similar to Tibet. You will be introduced to amazing mountain views, historic caverns, lovely monasteries, colorful mani walls, unusual chortens, and fluttering prayer flags.
Upper Mustang Alternative Trek begins with a picturesque flight to Jomsom, just like 18 days Upper Mustang Trek. The destinations are the same as the Upper Mustang Trek at the end of the day; the only difference is the route we take to avoid the motorable Upper Mustang route.
The main reason to design this Upper Mustang Alternative Trekking route is to deliver a true Himalayan Trail trekking experience rather than walking on the paved trail. This alternative route is more like a special version of the regular route, as you will be able to see more landscapes, settlements, and culture than on the usual route.
Why Upper Mustang?
The Last Forbidden Kingdom of Nepal, Upper Mustang is unlike anywhere else in Nepal. The distinctive geography and culture of the region allure the outsiders to visit here. The unexploited natural components, ancient essences, and the never-ending relationship between mountains and Mustangis are the also main reason to visit here in today's world of modernization.
Upper Mustang is soaked in undisturbed Tibetan Buddhist culture with ancient monasteries, traditional villages, and cave dwellings high up on the cliffs, as well as the stunning architecture in view at the walled city of Lo. Medieval treasures, bright prayer flags, and people on horseback all stand in stark contrast to modern civilization.
The Upper Mustang region is identical to Tibet in terms of geography, culture, tradition, and people. In fact, the Upper Mustang is believed to have been a part of Tibet in ancient times. As a result, the upper mustang journey will now give you the sensation of trekking in Tibet as well.
The journey to this magical land also provides close-up views of beautiful mountains including Mt. Annapurna, Mt. Dhaulagiri, the Nilgiri Himal, and many more. You will have the opportunity to interact with some of Mustang's oldest mountain tribe families such as the “Lobas”. You will get to learn their tales and stories.
Therefore, Upper Mustang, without a doubt, has a beauty and glitz that no other trekking destination can match. It is a rare gem for those seeking mystery and producing magical tales in the fantasy realm.
Why Upper Mustang Alternative Trek?
The mysterious land of Upper Mustang was made open to outsiders only in 1992. However, this ‘once hidden kingdom’ is transforming. Motorable roads are being constructed for years with no end in sight right through the formerly trekking routes altering the true trekking experience and upsetting the gems by so-called modern civilization. So, for the following reasons, Upper Mustang Alternative Trek is designed:
- To avoid the motorable dusty roads
- To give a real trekking experience to the trekkers
- Chance to walk on real off-the-beaten-path
- Opportunity to explore more hidden and abandoned valleys & settlements
- Gives a feeling of a real explorer
- Distinctive remoteness and landscape
- Unfolds the pure nature undisturbed by modernization
- Helps remote local communities economically
The Himalayan Trekkers proudly present the Alternative Track of Upper Mustang after exploring this mystic picturesque region. Our crew, guides, riders, and administrative team put into efforts to provide an alternative route to Upper Mustang for the trekkers who prefer to trek into the wilderness, who enjoy the pristine valleys, and prefer isolation while trekking. Although relatively remote, Upper Mustang Alternative Trek is perfect for relishing in the tranquility of unspoiled nature and culture.
However, if you prefer to take the traditional path, check out our well-designed Upper Mustang Trek itinerary.\
Highlights of Alternative Route to Upper Mustang Trek
- One of the most adventurous and scenic flights in the world, i.e. from Pokhara to Jomsom
- Trekking experience through unexplored settlements via an off-the-beaten-trial
- Breathtaking view of landscapes and plateaus in the Himalayan foothills
- Hidden valleys, unique culture, historic monasteries, ancient caverns
- Views of Mt. Nilgiri, Mt. Annapurna, Mt. Dhaulagiri, Mt. Hiunchuli, Mt. Machhapuchhre, and other Himalayan peaks abound
- The Once Forbidden Kingdom of Lo Manthang
How difficult is Upper Mustang Alternative Trek?
The Upper Mustang Alternative Trek is rated as somewhat more challenging than the Upper Mustang Trek. Long trekking days and several long, steep ascents and descents in often windy circumstances are part of this itinerary. Being dry and arid throughout the air, the dust and wind can be one of the most difficult factors of the journey.
You will spend the majority of the days below 4000 meters and the highest you will conquer on this trip is 4230 meters at Marang La Pass. There are no such tricky sections to be worried about in this trekking route and anyone physically and mentally strong can accomplish it. But, the higher altitude can cause AMS/altitude sickness. So, trekkers should be cautious when traversing at higher altitudes; enough acclimatization and rest should be considered.
The typical daily walking time is 6-7 hours and some days you will have to walk for 9-10 hours a day because of the lack of accommodations on this alternative route. It could be a cause of worry which is why we suggest the trekkers be prepared beforehand. You are advised to work on your stamina level, hit on a gym, and work on your cardio and leg muscles.
The wrong choice of weather can also cause the trek to be unaccomplished. Hence, trekkers should have knowledge regarding the weather of the trekking region beforehand.
Best time to do Upper Mustang Alternative Trek
Unlike other trekking journeys in Nepal, Upper Mustang Trek is best done in summer/monsoon as it is a rain shadow area. The weather is pleasant, the terrain is beautiful, and the mountain vistas are breathtaking. It is also the best time to view the Himalayan desert plateau's greenery. However, the flights from Pokhara to Jomsom may be delayed owing to the wet and foggy weather in the lower region. But, it would be perfect onwards once you reach the Upper Mustang area.
Spring is an excellent time to explore both the common and alternative route to Upper Mustang, especially if trekking in from Lower Mustang, as the weather will be warmer and the rivers of snowmelt will be flowing in the lower region. This is also considered the finest time of the year to traverse through high mountain passes.
Autumn is the season with the bluest skies and finest mountain views in Nepal, including the Upper Mustang region. However, afternoons can be windy, so trekkers much come prepared. Most of the lodges close and residents transfer to the lower region by late November marking the end of the trekking season in Upper Mustang.
The trails are completely covered in snow during winter. There will be no lodges and locals in the Upper Mustang Area due to the harsh cold. So, it is advised to avoid Upper Mustang Trek and Upper Mustang Alternative Trek during the winter months.
Permits to do Upper Mustang Alternative Trek
Trekkers need to obtain two types of permits to do the Upper Mustang Alternative Trek such as
- Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) Fee: NPR. 3000 Per Person
- Restricted Area Permit (RAP): USD 500 per person for a period of ten days. If you spend a longer time than that, you'll need to pay an extra USD 50.00 per person for each additional day.
NOTE: Only a group permit is allowed for Upper Mustang Alternative Trek, hence at least two or more individuals are required for this trek. Similarly, an authorized guide/porter is also mandatory for this trek. All the permits can be issued by only the authorized Trekking Agency, so Himalayan Trekkers will take care of all the formalities and issue your permits.