What You Need for Upper Mustang Trekking?

Month of the year (I went trekking): Mid May of 2014
Starting point
: Jomsom
Destination: Lo-Manthang
Elevation range: Approx. 3000 – 4000 meters

My stops and their elevation

Planning to visit upper Mustang? my friends have built this awesome map, please do check it out! 

Top 10 things to pack:

  1. Stick
  2. Windproof Jacket and Sweater/Fleece
  3. Walking/Running Shoes
  4. Scarf/Shawl
  5. Sunscreen Lotion
  6. Water Bottle
  7. Energy Bars/Snickers
  8. Sunglass
  9. Mini First Aid Kit [Basic medicines (such as: Cetamol, Tylenol), Handiplast etc.]
  10. Camera

On May 17, 2014, I flew to Jomsom from Pokhara. Jomsom was the starting point of the trek. Considering I had never in my life done anything like this – I had no idea what to expect. Given below were the only two trekking gears I had bought. Windproof jacket (cost me about Rs 2000 – North Face knock off) and an adjustable stick (Rs 500) – both I got from Thamel.

gears

Rest were what I already had, didn’t get a trekking boot either. I utilized my old Under Armour walking shoes that worked out just fine. If I were to recommend you the most essential gear, a stick is a must. Especially, if you have a back problem like I do and also scared of height. Doesn’t need to be fancy. Just a simple wooden stick would work too. Will come in handy for steep uphills and downhills.

I would also recommend a rucksack – that helps equally distribute the weight all over the body. I didn’t get one. I just had a simple backpack. Because my back almost gave up on me, I really wished I had gotten one. My goal was to carry only the essentials, to keep my backpack as light as possible. But no matter how light my bag was, the weight did bother me a bit throughout the trek.

By mid-May, Kathmandu and Pokhara was extremely hot. But Jomsom was quite chilly.
That very day I made it to Kagbeni. The greater the elevation, colder it will get. So make sure to pack a sweater or a fleece if it’s not too heavy and a trouser as well. I didn’t carry my sweater, I found the weather noticeably cold as I moved upward from Ghami to Tsarang, eventually Lo-Manthang. Also, every morning I would begin trekking at 4:45 a.m. Even though it was cold in the morning – when the sun was up it would burn my skin like crazy. Make sure to pack sunscreen lotion.

Another thing, don’t forget to grab some snickers or energy bars to get you going. Also, water bottle to keep you hydrated. It gets windy as the day progresses, a scarf would come handy, including a sunglass that will protect your eyes.

When you are taking the trouble to go all the way to upper Mustang; it would be foolish to not capture the moments. Another vital gear: camera!

Things to keep in mind while trekking:

  • Be present, be in the moment
  • Enjoy the breathtaking sceneries
  • Rest
  • Capture the surrounding in your camera. I guarantee you, it’s nothing like you have ever seen anywhere in this world.

My future posts will contain additional details about this trek. Until then, I want you to bask in the beauty of the picture below. It was the last leg of the journey, very close to Lo-Manthang.

More about this trip: http://wp.me/p2ImKX-ik

Last leg of the journey. On the way to Lo-Manthang

Last leg of the journey. On the way to Lo-Manthang

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4 thoughts on “What You Need for Upper Mustang Trekking?

  1. Connie didi

    Namaste Shailiza,
    I just finished reading your blog and saw the youtube movie of your Upper Mustang trip, really fascinating!
    My friend and me want to go to Lo Manthang this autumn and as we are from Europe and living below sealevel with no mountains we have a lot of questions so maybe you can give us some advice.
    We heard that it is possible to travel from Jomsom/Kagbeni by jeep so we consider to take the jeep to Lo Manthang all the way or some parts of the track.
    But I cannot find any information on the internet, not from NTB and not from trekking companies. Can you help us?
    Further we would like to know if it will be cold end October/begin November.
    And it would be very helpful if you can give us some advice for nice teahouses and must-see and do things.
    Further I would like to say that I like your website and I wish you a lot of success!
    I am very much looking out for your reply!

    Dhanyabad!
    Connie didi

    Reply
  2. shailiza Post author

    Hi Connie,
    Thank you for paying a visit. Although, I trekked to Lo-manthang from Jomsom. I don’t think you would have an issue finding a jeep in Jomsom, as that is the starting point. However, since I didn’t take the jeep on the way to Lo-Manthang- I am not too sure. But as long as you ask around people in Jomsom – you wouldn’t have problem. Jomsom is a really small place. Provided you begin the journey early in the morning, I think you should be able to find a jeep. Do plan this ahead though – if you get to Jomsom today – first make sure you research, ask people in hotels and the jeep stops. Hotel owners may know additional details. They may even book seats for you a day in advance. So, the next day you can just take the jeep, go to Kagbeni, get the permit and head all the way to Lo-manthang.

    Now, depending on which time of the year you go, you might have to change jeep from Chuksang/Chusang. When I was there, monsoon was drawing nearer, Kali Gandaki (river) was gradually swelling. Since there is no proper bridge for big bus or jeep to cross to the other side (Chele) – you might have to cross the river then take another jeep. But that might not be necessary during Oct/Nov.

    Just so you know- a public bus runs from Jomsom – Kagbeni – Chuksang/chhusang. It might cost your around Rs 230 – 300 if you take the bus all the way to Chuksang. Public bus doesn’t go all the way to Lo-manthang – you have to take jeep if you do not plan to trek. But, as I mentioned earlier – taking a public bus and then another jeep from Chuksang onwards may not be necessary for oct/nov travel – the jeep that you take from Jomsom may go all the way to Lo-Manthang itself.

    Trekking permit: as a foreigner I believe you have to stop in Kagbeni – as you need to take the trek permit from Nepali government. Only limited number of tourists are allowed in Upper Mustang. I’m not sure if you can take the permit from anywhere else either, as I didn’t have to worry about any of that. So, I would recommend you to hire a guide. That way you won’t have to worry about getting lost either. A guide would get you through all the legal hassles and would know the route as well. So, if you have to stop in Kagbeni to take the trekking permit – I think, taking public bus would be a lot cheaper. Take the bus from Jomsom – Kagbeni. Take care of all legal stuff and stay overnight in Kagbeni.
    Public bus runs twice everyday at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. (This time may change when you get there)
    The politics with transportation is: with public bus it will run on time no matter what. Whether there are passengers or not.
    With Jeep: it’s a little tricky. If there aren’t enough people (12-13), they don’t go ahead. You have to wait for the seats to fill. Or be willing to pay extra bucks. But if you have enough people you may still be able stop in Kagbeni with relatively the same price that you would pay in public bus.

    Still having said all of that, by the time you get to Jomsom – things may change. It hasn’t been that long that roads were introduced in upper Mustang. By the time you get there, things may get even better, jeep rates could even be a little cheaper, as a lot of locals nowadays travel back and forth.

    I really wish I could give you a more concrete detail. But since you have to take the permit first – I’m not too sure how that works.

    As for my recommendations:
    I think you would love Yak Donalds Restaurant in Kagbeni. Very clean and a great place to stay, great food catered to your preference.
    In Lo-manthang, there’s a café called ‘illy’ – there are two ‘illys’. The original one (that’s what they told me 🙂 is close to the king’s palace.
    Usually, the hotels you stay at, manage everything for you. If you want to check out the caves in Lo-Manthang, the hotel can fix it for you.
    The best time to explore once you get to Lo-manthang would be as early in the morning as possible. When the wind starts picking up – it gets difficult to get around.

    Also, for oct/nov period – I’m pretty sure you’ll need down jacket. Around May when I was there, it was quite chilly. I assume Oct/Nov will be chillier.
    Take gloves, all the basic winter gears. If only two of you are going, I would really recommend you to hire a guide. There are no security issues, but this place is so remote – it’s really easy to get lost. So, it’s good to have someone who knows things around.

    Let me know if you have additional questions or concerns. And thank you so much for your kind words. I appreciate it. I hope this helps, good luck with your trip!

    Shailiza

    Reply
  3. Nischal Maharjan

    Hello Shaliza di,
    I wanted to know how much time will it take to trek Lo Manthang from Muktinath. Im planning to trek to Muktinath from Manang via Thorang-la pass. Will I be able to trek to upper muktinath and be back within 5 days. Can you please also give me details on how much time would it take to go from one point to the other. It will be really helpful for me to make plans by knowing your given experiences. By the way, this is a very nice well written blog and the photos are absolutely great. your photos just made up my mind to go there.. 🙂 Hope this is not too much to ask you. Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    1. shailiza Post author

      Hi Nischal,
      Thank you for dropping by. It all depends on your timeline. How much time do you plan to devote trekking? Nowadays, you can easily find local bus that runs from Jomsom – Kagbeni – Muktinath – Chhusang/Chhuksang. If you want to save time – you can certainly catch a bus from Muktinath to Chhusang/Chhuksang to get to Lo-Manthang. [Please view attached map for visual reference. You can access the full version of the map here.]

      map

      If you decide to trek to Chhusang from Muktinath (to eventually get to Lo-Manthang) – it could take you 5 to 6 hours. It took me 6 hours to get to Chhusang and then Chele from Kagbeni. You can find additional details of my trek here. I walk very slow, it may not take you as long as it took me. Chhusang and Chele are very close. Once you get to Chhusang – you’ll see Chele tucked on a hilltop. Since Chele is straight up a hill – it took me a while to get there.
      As for getting to Lo-Manthang – if you can really ‘trek’ you can skip villages without staying overnight and get to Lo-Manthang sooner. If you don’t want to trek, you can also take jeep – will cost you about Rs 1000 -2000 [price may vary depending on the peak season] that will get you straight to Lo-Manthang. But I highly recommend you to trek, it’s totally worth it.

      I trekked all the way to Lo-Manthang from Jomsom – it took me 6 days. Given below is the detail info:
      Day 1: Jomsom – Kagbeni – 3 hours
      Day 2: Kagbeni – Chele – 6 hours
      Day 3: Chele – Syanboche – Ghiling – 8 hours
      Day 4: Ghiling – Ghami – 4 hours
      Day 5: Ghami – Tsarang – 5 hours
      Day 6: Tsarang – Lo-Manthang – 4 hours

      Like I mentioned earlier – this blog post has additional details of my trekking experience. Once you get to Muktinath – I would suggests you to ask around locals for local bus operation hours, if you don’t want to trek up til Chhusang. It will cost you Rs. 100-200.
      It’s great that there’s now a local bus service but I highly recommend you to trek from Muktinath to Lo-Manthang. On your way back home you can take the jeep from Lo-manthang if you’re too tired to trek.

      I hope this helps. 🙂 Let me know if you have any other queries.

      P.S: I’m so glad you’ve made a decision to do upper mustang trek. You will not regret it.
      As for your question on if you can be back within 5 days. I’m guessing you mean from Lo-Manthang to Muktinath or Jomsom. Multiple jeeps leave for Chhusang early in the morning everyday from Lo-Manthang. Total trip-hour is about 5-6 hours from Lo-manthang to Chhusang. From Chhusang, you can catch a local bus to Muktinath or Jomsom. So, you should be able to get to lower Mustang from upper Mustang in a matter of a day if you take the jeep from Lo-Manthang.

      Thanks,
      Shailiza

      Reply

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