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Why Upper Mustang Trek Should Be on Your Bucket List

Find out why the Upper Mustang trek in Nepal is a must-do for every traveler. Enjoy an unforgettable journey through a remote paradise.

Why Upper Mustang Trek Should Be on Your Bucket List

In a trekking paradise as beautiful as Nepal, trekkers are often treated to a wide range of options featuring Himalayan landscapes, lake treks, cultural experiences, and more.

Among the most popular routes are the Everest Base Camp trek and the Annapurna Circuit trek, both offering a marvelous Himalayan experience.

Amidst the fascinating trekking routes, there is a unique trek beyond the majestic Himalayas that will take you through an ancient, mystical kingdom untouched by time, offering stunning views and rich cultural interactions.

It is the Upper Mustang Trek in Northern Nepal, where you will encounter a distinctive blend of culture, historical significance, and breathtaking landscapes—all with a moderate difficulty level.

In this blog, we have compiled several reasons why the Upper Mustang Trek should be on your bucket list. Read on to discover what makes this trek a truly unique adventure.

Unique Cultural Experience

While every trek in Nepal has its own surprises in terms of cultural encounters, at Upper Mustang you will find it particularly more unwavering as it is a treasure trove of cultures with deep rooted Tibetan heritage that has remained unchanged over the centuries.

The language, customs, attire, as well as the lifestyle of people living here reflects their connection with Tibetan culture. Carrying warm smiles, traditional practices like herding livestock and weaving beautiful carpets are part of their daily lives.

Luri Gompa, Upper Mustang
Luri Gompa, Upper Mustang

There are many monasteries present here which displays the strong hold of Buddhism over the area. Ancient monasteries like Ghar Gompa and Luri Gompa are some of them and they not only reflect spirituality but also act as repositories of the traditional art and culture of the region.

Many vibrant festivals dot the landscape of the region throughout the year including Dashain, Tihar, Lhoshar, and more.

A unique festival celebrated here is the Tiji festival adorned with masked dances and 3-day rituals celebrated at Lo Manthang.

Tiji Festival in Upper Mustang
Tiji Festival in Upper Mustang

This festival displays the eternal battle between good and evil and symbolizes the triumph of good. With elaborate costumes and sacred ceremonies, attending this festival is truly a unique and fun experience.

The main reason why this culture has remained unchanged over the years is the isolation of Upper Mustang from the rest of the country, although trekkers have been paying frequent visits to the region.

Stunning Landscape and Scenery

The landscapes of the Upper Mustang region are also a delight, and you will not find similar landscapes and sceneries throughout Nepal. A dramatic transformation of landscapes awaits you here.

In the lower region of the trek, you will see lush forests and quaint villages. However, as you ascend, you will see a landscape unlike other common landscapes usually associated with Nepal.

The terrain of the Upper Mustang is a stark high-altitude desert. This arid landscape features different wind sculpted rock formations in the hues of red, brown, and barren lands and cliffs stretching as far as the eye can see.

Breathtaking vistas of Upper Mustang
Breathtaking vistas of Upper Mustang

You will also see deep canyons and ancient caves with ancient paintings and artifacts in the region which attract many geologists and archaeologists. The trail will also follow the Kali Gandaki River as you go.

The views from Upper Mustang are equally stunning as you will see Himalayan giants like Nilgiri, Annapurna range, Dhaulagiri range, and others. The arid landscapes against the snowcapped Himalayan background put a fantastic display of colors and contrasts.

Remote Adventure

The Upper Mustang trek is one of the best off-the-beaten trekking routes in Nepal and this is strictly regulated because of the restricted area status of the area. Therefore, trekkers need a special permit to enter the region which regulates the trekker’s traffic.

This limited access helps to maintain a pristine and intimate experience for the trekkers unlike other treks which are crowded with mass tourism. You can truly connect with the environment and culture.

With the untouched landscapes, you will also see a higher wildlife activity here. There is also a lack of commercial development in Upper Mustang which works in the favor of trekkers as it makes the trek a genuine wilderness experience.

Rich Historical Significance

Upper Mustang has deep rooted historical significance in terms of ancient trade routes as well as archaeological findings which also gives a glimpse as to why there is such a strong Tibetan influence in the region.

Dating back from the 15th century to the 17th, Upper Mustang was an independent kingdom known as the Kingdom of Lo which was closely tied to Tibet in terms of language, religion, and culture.

The evidence of the Kingdom of Lo can be found in its remnants which are till date a part of the region famous as ‘forbidden Kingdom of Lo’. There are other ancient sites too which give a glimpse into the history of the region.

Lo Manthang
Lo Manthang

Because of the rather strategic and convenient location of Upper Mustang, it also served as an ancient trading route between Nepal and Tibet, and this was further facilitated by the blend of Nepali and Tibetan cultures in the region.

Many archeological discoveries have also found ancient manuscripts and relics in the region which gives a deeper insight into the region’s history and culture while also linking it to ancient civilizations.

Timeless Experience

The cultural nuances as well as the architectural structures in Upper Mustang provide a melancholic glimpse into the bygone era. The heart of this timeless experience is the walled city of Lo Manthang.

This ancient structure is the capital city of the forbidden kingdom of Lo, and with the narrow alleys, historical buildings, and white-washed houses present here, it still exudes an old-world charm.

The traditional practices and cultures hailing from Tibetan Buddhism are seamlessly woven into the fabric of the everyday life of people here which gives a colorful contrast against the stark beauty of the high-altitude deserts.

Due to the isolation of the region, it seems to be untouched by the march of time and the air here still has mystical whispers of the past. The spiritual places here also elude vibrance with the rhythmic chants of the monks and the fragrance of the incense sticks.

The prayer flags decorate the landscape while each one of them carries hundreds of prayers and the royal palace and ancient temples display a perfect tandem of rich history and a realm of traditions that have been kept alive over time.

Even the houses in Upper Mustang reflect a timeless connection between nature and people as you will see small villages with houses built with sun baked bricks and topped off with flat roofs.

A Trek Like No Other

The Upper Mustang trek is not just a trek but an experience that you will cherish for a lifetime. Every interaction with the locals becomes an enriching experience, offering a window into a world untouched by modernity.

Carrying warm smiles and an open heart, the people here will welcome you into their region as well as their houses. You will have numerous opportunities to experience their traditions and cultures.

While on the Upper Mustang trek, you can either stay in teahouses or in people’s houses too where you will get deeper insights into the daily lives of people, their customs, and their way of life firsthand.

Along with enjoying the mouthwatering local delicacies, you will also be able to listen to the tales of locals related to the region. The experience will leave you with a deeper understanding and a newfound sense of appreciation for nature and the region.

The local cuisine features typical Nepali staple food like Dal bhat tarkari (rice, lentils, and vegetables), thukpa, momo, and traditional Tibetan bread. Sharing these food items in the common dining hall is also a memorable experience.

The profound connection and spirituality that you will feel here will resonate within you for a long long time and remind you of the enduring power of traditions.

Adventure Beyond Trekking

The Upper Mustang region is not merely a trekking experience, but it is an adventure packed journey, and it features many exciting activities for people seeking an adrenaline boost in this unique region.

Ever imagined exploring a Himalayan desert on two wheels? Well, with Biking trip packages in Upper Mustang, you can do exactly that which is a thrilling addition to your trek.

Upper Mustang Biking
Upper Mustang Biking

Besides this, you can also do jeep tours and explore some of the more remote areas of the region and add an extra dimension of excitement to your journey.

Upper Mustang is a paradise for photographers as you will get endless opportunities to flex your camera skills with the unique landscape, ancient architecture, and the vibrant cultures and festivals in the region.

Jeep Tour in Upper Mustang
Jeep Tour to Upper Mustang

You will also come across a wide range of flora and fauna in the region including unique wildlife such as snow leopard and the Himalayan blue sheep. The flora includes herbs of medicinal importance, and many beautiful birds will cover the skies too which are a sight to behold.

Besides that, you can explore the old settlements, ancient sky caves, and witness Tibetan Plateaus and red cliffs while in Upper Mustang.

Things to Know Before Embarking on Your Upper Mustang Adventure

Now that you know the reasons why the Upper Mustang trek is an exciting adventure, it is also important to be prepared as you embark on the trek. Therefore, we have compiled the necessary information to help you with the preparation.

Best Time for the Trek

While the best time for trekking in Nepal revolves around the months of Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November), these timings can slightly be tweaked when it comes to the Upper Mustang trek.

You can embark on this trek even during Monsoon (June to August) as the region lies in the rain shadow of the Himalayas. Due to this, you won’t face usual complications like slippery trails, heavy rainfalls, and unpredictable weather change.

Instead, you will be able to trek smoothly and even go on adventures like mountain biking as the Upper Mustang region experiences minimal rainfall.

Difficulty Level

The Upper Mustang trek is a moderately challenging trek which is often considered a beginner friendly adventure as it doesn’t feature highly challenging mountain passes or extremely high altitudes.

This adventure lasting for 13 to 15 days takes you to the maximum altitude of 3,810 m at Lo Manthang. However, irrespective of the moderate difficulty, it is still important to acclimatize well in important stops like Kagbeni or Jomsom to prevent altitude sickness.

To cover the distance of approximately 160 km on this trek, you will need basic fitness level with good cardiovascular strength, endurance, and muscle strength and that’s pretty much it. You don’t need prior experience for the Upper Mustang Trek.

Essentials to Carry

The main thing to keep in place while preparing for the trek is to check for your necessary permits and documentation. Make sure you have the special restricted area permit to enter the region.

Once that is in place, compile a packing list for the Upper Mustang trek and make sure that it includes all the essentials including clothing, hiking shoes, first aid box, nutritional snacks, and other things that you will need for the trek.

Refer to a detailed packing list which you can find online for the trek. If you don’t find one for this specific trek, you can also refer to other lists such as packing list for the Annapurna Circuit trek as the basics are almost similar.


From the ancient Tibetan culture to the allure of a mystical ancient forbidden kingdom, the Upper Mustang trek is a must visit trekking route for adventure enthusiasts.

Therefore, next time you plan to visit Nepal, stray off from the usual popular trekking routes and give a chance to the underrated trails like the Upper Mustang Trek. You will have an unforgettable experience. So, add it to your bucket list, NOW!

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