Lower Mustang Trek – Kagbeni and Muktinath

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Our Lower Mustang Trek takes you through the Kali Gandaki gorge into the heart of the Thakali culture and further to the famous Muktinath Temple. The gorge is carved by the Kali Gandaki River which originates in the Tibetan Plateau and eventually flows into the Ganges in India. The region falls under the rain shadow of the Greater Himalayas and the climate. Hence, the landscape is similar to the Tibetan Plateau; cold and dry. During this trip, you get to visit the historic village of Kagbeni before reaching the sacred temple town of Muktinath.

The lower Mustang trek starts with an early morning scenic flight over the mountains into Jomsom. Jomsom is a touristy town of sorts and functions as the administrative center for the Mustang District. It is also the gateway to Upper Mustang, Kagbeni and Muktinath.

Kagbeni is more like Tibet with it’s magnificent monastery and narrow alleys frequented by frail old ladies murmuring with their prayer beads. It’s almost medieval to an extent and the way of life is simple. The village was originally designed as a fortress town. It was also an important hub for Nepal-Tibet ‘salt trade’. For those eyeing the Annapurna Circuit, Thorong La is visible from the rooftops at the village. At 5400m, it is the highest pass in the world.

The Muktinath temple (3,755m) is situated further up the valley at the base of the Thorong La pass. The temple is a pilgrimage destinations for both Hindus and Buddhists. that devotees flock to.  The outer courtyard of the temple has 108 bull shaped stone water faucets. In Hindu astrology, there are 12 zodiac (Rashi) and 9 planets (Graha) giving a total of 108 combinations. At the same time, the temple is one of the 24 celebrated Buddhist Tantric places.

The lower mustang trek also includes many side trips. Some key places of interest is 800-year-old nunnery at Tiri and the village of Lupra. Lupra has the only Bon Gompa in the Annapurna area. The Bon religion predates Buddhism. Above Lupra Shaligrams, a.k.a black ammonite fossils are plenty on the Kali Gandaki river bed. Shaligrams are quintessential for the establishment of a Vishnu temple anywhere in the world.

The most suitable time to visit Kagbeni and Muktinath is through March to October. From November till February, its cold. Keep Walking Nepal has been running trips to Kagbeni and Muktinath since the last 15 years. As such, we would be happy to introduce you to our way of life while you travel as part of my extended family.

Trip Grade - Introductory

Fixed Departures
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22 Mar 2022 2 Apr 2022 $2570 USD CONFIRMED Book Now
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Trip Summary
  • Day 1 :Arrive Kathmandu
  • Day 2 :Morning flight to Pokhara followed by half day guided tour of Pokhara Valley
  • Day 3 :Fly to Jomsom (2700m), Travel to Kagbeni (2840m)
  • Day 4 :An optional side trip to Tiri, travel to Muktinath
  • Day 5 :Optional walk to Jharkot, travel to the exit point, walk to Lupra
  • Day 6 :Walk to Eklaibhatti, an optional side trip to Raja Picnic Ground, travel to Jomsom
  • Day 7 :Morning flight to Pokhara. Full day at leisure
  • Day 8 :Drive to Chitwan (5-6 hrs | 147 km)
  • Day 9 :Full day wildlife activities
  • Day 10 :Drive back to Kathmandu (5-6 hrs | 180 km)
  • Day 11 :Half day guided tour of Pashupati & Boudha
  • Day 12 :End of Trip: Departure
Daily Movements
    Day 1: Arrive Kathmandu

    Upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, you will received by Keep Walking Nepal’s representative and driven to your hotel. Please look for Keep Walking Nepal’s board at the opposite of the arrival gate.

    Overnight at Hotel Tibet (B)

     

    Day 2: Morning flight to Pokhara followed by half day guided tour of Pokhara Valley

    In the morning, you will take a scenic flight to Pokhara. On your 25 minutes flight to Pokhara, you get an aerial view of the beautiful lakes, the green forests, and also the snowy mountains.

    After check-in at the hotel and some rest, you will embark on a guided tour of Pokhara Valley. Some of the city’s finest attractions on this half-day Pokhara tour include Devi’s Fall, Gupteshor Mahadev, Mahendra Cave, Bat Cave (Chamero Gupha), Peace Stupa, Tibetan Camp, Seti River George.

    In the evening you will be free to enjoy the sight and sounds of the many hotels and pubs by the lakeside.

    Overnight at Sarangkot Mountain Lodge (B)

     

    Day 3: Fly to Jomsom (2700m), Travel to Kagbeni (2840m)

    Departing on an early flight from Pokhara, you will fly to Jomsom. This 25min flight is along one of the most stunning valleys in Nepal. Jomsom Or Dzongsam meaning New Fort is the region’s administrative headquarters and the main travel hub for Upper Mustang and Muktinath. Situated at 2700m, the Kali Gandaki River flows through the town. There is plenty of accommodation and good food available in Jomsom.

    The houses in the villages in this area are designed to protect the inhabitants from the strong winds that blow up the valley every day from late morning onwards. These winds are caused by the differences in atmospheric pressure between the Tibetan Plateau and the lower reaches of the valley. Therefore flights are prevented from taking off from Jomsom after 11 am.

    Following a hearty breakfast in Jomsom, you will board our private jeep and travel to Kagbeni. The village is designed as a fortress town and was quite important during the “salt trade” between Tibet and Nepal. Kagbeni retains a medieval feel with narrow, covered flagstone alleys, antique Chortens and large ochre monastery perched about the town. It lies on the confluence of the Kali Gandaki and Jhong Rivers. It is a fascinating village with closely packed mud-brick houses and well worth taking the time to explore after lunch. The Thorong Las pass can be seen from the rooftops, and at 5400m it is the highest pass in the world.

    4 things to do in Kagbeni
    1. Wander the cobbled streets
    2. Visit the Red Monastery (Kag Chode Thupten Samphel Ling Monastery) built-in 1429. There is a small entrance fee of 200NPR which helps towards its preservation. Being over 585 years old, this monastery provides a complete picture of how the construction of traditional Tibetan Buddhist monasteries was carried out in the past in the Mustang kingdom.
    3. Visit the now privately owned historic Red House Lodge which once had 108 rooms
    4. Enjoy the scenery
    Overnight at a local lodge (B,L,D)

     

    Day 4: An optional side trip to Tiri, travel to Muktinath

    After breakfast, there is an optional walking side trip to Tiri. This trip takes you into Upper Mustang (note since 2007 permits are not required to visit Tiri). It is approximately a 40min walk and home to an 800- year-old nunnery.

    From Kagbeni you will cross the Kali Gandaki River on the bridge (opposite the Pilgrim Guesthouse) and head north. The trail improves after the avalanche scree just beyond the bridge. This is the summer route upriver taken only when the river is too high to ford. At other times it is possible to ford the river just down from the police checkpoint. After returning to Kagbeni you will travel by jeep to Muktinath, stopping at Jharkot for morning tea, and drive further to Muktinath.

    Muktinath is an ancient sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists. The Hindus know it as Chumig Gyatsa – “Place of Salvation”. It is one of the most ancient temples of the God Vishnu. Buddhists call Muktinath Chumming Gyasta, which in Tibetan means “Hundred Waters”. It is a sacred place of the Dakinis goddesses known as “Sky Dancers”, and is also one of the 24 celebrated Tantric places. It is situated at an altitude of 3710m at the base of the Thorong La mountain pass in the Mustang district. It is approx. 18kms NE from Jomsom. After lunch, you will visit the temple complex.

    In early September there is the annual horse race known as Yartung. A week of serious horse racing Tibetan style.

    Overnight at a local lodge (B,L,D)

     

    Day 5: Optional walk to Jharkot, travel to the exit point, walk to Lupra

    In the morning we will pack up the jeep but if you want want to stretch your legs, you can walk down to Jharkot, enjoying the beautiful scenery back down the valley.

    A quick cuppa and you will drive down to the trail exit point & walk further to Lupra (approx. 2.5hrs). When walking to Lupra, at the base of the river before crossing to the Lupra side, is a cave approximately 50m up. This cave is used for long-term meditation ranging from 30 days to 6 months. There is a balcony with a seating area for meditation, a small cooking area and sleeping quarters.

    In Lupra you will find the only Bon Gompa of the Annapurna region. The Bon religion predates Buddhism. If the temple is locked ask one of the villagers if they will open it for viewing. The old Bon religion comes from Tibet and influenced a lot of the Tibetan way of Buddhism. Bon turn their prayer wheels anticlockwise and walk around the stupa anticlockwise.

    Above Lupra there is a good variety of rocks with Shaligrams (black ammonite fossils). These stones are used in the establishment of a temple of Vishnu anywhere in the world.

    Overnight at a local lodge (B,L,D)

     

    Day 6: Walk to Eklaibhatti, an optional side trip to Raja Picnic Ground, travel to Jomsom

    You will start the day with a 40min walk along the river back to Eklaibhatti. It is an opportunity to pick over the interesting rocks that can be found along the riverbed.

    At Eklaibhatti you have the option of crossing the long suspension bridge over the Kali Gandaki River and visiting the Raja Picnic Ground. The route trails west to Pilling a lovely agricultural village with traditional flat roofs and white prayer flags. At onto Palak, you can rest outside of the lovely Gompa painted with lions or conch shells.

    You will walk further onto Dhakarjhong, walking along the waterway to the Rajas Picnic Grounds. Taking the upper path (rather than descending to the new jeep path) and walking for 20 mins through beautiful alpine flowers. Walking steadily uphill you will arrive to a sheer cliff with silk kharta scarves in a tree.

    From here 15mins further on is a Chorten and stairs up to a cave. Inside the cave are pictures of the Dalai Lama and others. On the weekends the caves can be filled with picnickers. From the cave, you can see huge waterfalls high up on the steep rock faces. Down the valley are views of Niligiri. The scramble back down takes 1hr to Dhakarjhong. You will then walk back to Eklaibhatti and drive onward to Jomsom.

    Note: In the afternoon there is a strong wind when walking down the valley to Jomsom. Most walkers try to be back in Jomsom by lunchtime.

    An alternative option is to walk from Lupra to Jomsom or travel by jeep, spending the rest of the day in Jomsom at leisure.

    Overnight at a local lodge (B,L,D)

     

    Day 7: Morning flight to Pokhara. Full day at leisure

    Early in the morning you will fly back to Pokhara where you have rest of the day at leisure.

    You can visit one of the many gift shops, cafes or massage parlors.

    Overnight at Sarangkot Mountain Lodge (B)

     

    Day 8: Drive to Chitwan (5-6 hrs | 147 km)

    After breakfast you will continue onward towards the next leg of your journey at Chitwan.

    The landscape and culture are totally different from that which you have experienced so far and from the high, alpine regions of the Himalayan range. The name the ‘Terai’ refers to the extensive plains in the southern part of Nepal — this area is the most northern extension of the great Gangetic plains of India, land that was won and lost in decades of struggle and shares both Indian and Nepali characteristics and culture.

    You will drive through narrow winding gorges and deep river valleys past terraced fields tilled by generations of family members; you’ll ultimately reach the vast plains and vibrant jungle of the Chitwan National Park in time for a late lunch. This is a stunning overland journey and you will be able to relax and take in the incredible views of this diverse country from the car.

    You’ll arrive in Chitwan in the early afternoon where you will be briefed by our nature guide about the upcoming day’s program. In the evening there will be a Tharu stick dance program (depends upon availability).

    Overnight at Barahi Jungle Lodge Resort, Meghauli (B,L,D)

     

    Day 9: Full day wildlife activities

    After an early morning refreshment, you will canoe on the river for an excellent birdwatching program, followed by breakfast. After rest, you can either join the Elephant Back Safari or Jeep Safari (you will have to confirm for jeep safari the previous day), a trip to the Elephant Breeding Center, elephant bathing and a jungle walk.

    Overnight at Barahi Jungle Lodge Resort, Meghauli (B,L,D)

     

    Day 10: Drive back to Kathmandu (5-6 hrs | 180 km)

    You will drive back to Kathmandu along the Mahendra Highway.

    In the evening, we enjoy a farewell dinner organized by Keep Walking Nepal to celebrate a successful trip.

    Overnight at Hotel Tibet (B)

     

    Day 11: Half day guided tour of Pashupati & Boudha

    You will start a little early to beat the rush hour traffic and drive to Pashupatinath, one of the UNESCO world heritage site and one of the holiest pilgrimage stop for Hindus all over the world. Only Hindus are allowed in the main temple complex while foreigners are permitted to visit the temples outside and even view the cremation ritual, which unlike in the west is publicly performed.

    You will then drive to Boudha, another UNESCO site and a pilgrimage stop for Buddhists.

    Boudhanath Stupa is surrounded by eateries, shops selling all kind of goods and monasteries housing monks and students studying Buddhism. There are usually devout pilgrims  circumambulating the main stupa while some do so by laying flat on the ground.

    You can relax and soak all the unique yet mystifying ways of the people and even enjoy lunch in one of the rooftop eateries surrounding the Boudhanath Stupa.

    After driving back to the hotel, you can retreat or explore at your own convenience (Swayambhu is best to explore in the evening).

    Overnight at Hotel Tibet (B)

     

    Day 12: End of Trip: Departure

    Our office representative or your trek guide will drop you off at the port of exit per the required time.

    Meals (B)

Cost - US $ 2570 (joining Kathmandu)

(Single Supplement: additional US $ )
Cost Includes:
  • All airport pick ups and drops
  • Half day Kathmandu sightseeing with tour guide
  • Half day Pokhara sightseeing with tour guide
  • 3 night hotel in Tibet Kathmandu on BB | 2 night hotel in Pokhara on BB | 2 night resort in Chitwan on FB
  • All local transportation as per as itinerary
  • Airfare Kathmandu – Pokhara
  • Airfare Pokhara – Jomsom – Pokhara
  • Pokhara – Chitwan – Kathmandu private transportation
  • Food and accommodation during the trek
  • All permits & entrance fees as per program (unless mentioned otherwise)
  • Sleeping Bag, Down jacket and Kit bag
  • Guide
  • Staff insurance
Cost Excludes:
  • Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu and Pokhara (except when mentioned)
  • Visa fee
  • Travel insurance
  • Any kind of alcoholic drinks, drinking water, cold drinks, laundry, phone call
  • Tips for guide, porter and driver
  • Entrance fee in local monastery
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Trip Price

US $2570 per person


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TRIP FACTS
  • Duration

    12 Days
  • Best Season

    March to May, October, November, December to January, February
  • Max-Altitude

    2840m
  • Difficulty Level

    Introductory
  • Accomodation

    Lodge
Share This:

Trip Price

US $2570 per person


0.0 rating
BOOK NOW CUSTOMIZE MY TRIP