Day 2: In Kathmandu. As our staff obtains our restricted area permit, enjoy sightseeing with our knowledgeable guide in Kathmandu — visiting older neighborhoods of the city with distinctive palaces and Hindu and Buddhist temples.
Day 3: Kathmandu to Pokhara. An all day scenic drive takes us to Pokahara. After settling in at the lodge, enjoy the stunning panorama and strolling Fewa Lake's shoreline.
Day 4: Pokhara via Jomsom to Kagbeni. Our flight to Jomsom is early. Depending on the flight time, breakfast could be in Pokhara or in Jomsom. The short flight by a small, 15–passenger aircraft flying through Kaligandaki Gorge between two of the tallest mountains on earth, Mount Annapurna and Mount Dhaulagiri, both above 26,000 feet.
In Jomsom, you'll meet our porter staff, adjust your daypack and then begin the trek hiking to Kagbeni. The trail is mostly flat along the Kaligandaki river basin, which we follow on and off during the trek. Kagbeni is an important village with interesting architecture, a village monastery and several tourist lodges — it's the junction where trekkers explore upper Mustang in the north and Annapurna Circuit to the east. Trekking time 3 hours, sleeping elevation 9,216 feet.
Day 5: After registering at the restricted area's checkpoint, our trek ascends a short hill with moderate ups and downs, leaving the river bed far below. Tangbe Village is a rest spot where a community apple orchard is cultivated. The trail continues with short ups and downs to reach our lunch stop — Chhusang Village on the Kaligandaki River. A river crossing then leads us to Chaile Village after a short up hill climb (ascent approximately 1,000 feet). Trekking time 6 hours, sleeping elevation 10,000 feet. Approximately a 1,500 foot ascent.
Day 6: Chaile to Syangbochen. From Chaile our trek heads west, climbing a hill with both steep and gradual sections across from scenic Gyagar Village. As we climb higher, the views are more spectacular with Nilgiri (23,160 feet), Tilicho (23,400 feet), Thorong Peak (20,152 feet), Yakwa Kang (21,260 feet) and other peaks. The Annapurna range fills the horizon above the beautiful panorama of nearby Mustang.
After about two hours of continuous climbing, we arrive at a pass marked with prayer flags and rock piles — offerings by Nepalis to the mountain spirits. From the pass, it's a short walk to the village of Samar for an early lunch before continuing to Syangbochen. Trekking time eight hours, sleeping elevation 12,631 feet. Approximately a 3,300 foot ascent.
Day 7: Syangmochen via Ghami to Charang. From Syangmochen we begin with a short climb to Syangmochen La Pass (12,628 feet) before the trail descends to Tama Gaon Village. We take the trail from the junction at Tama Gaon and hike upwards once more to reach Jaite To Nyila Pass. This pass is the southern boundary of Lo or Mustang itself.
From Nyila, we walk downhill to Ghami for lunch. Leaving Ghami, the trail passes the areas longest and oldest Mani Prayer Wall, ascends to a final pass and then downhill near Charang Village for the night. Trekking time 8 hours, sleeping elevation 11,676 feet.
Day 8: Charang to Lomanthang. Charang Village has one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in the area as well as the winter palace of the king of Mustang. Before breakfast, visit Charang Monastery and after, trek gently on to Lomanthang to the north. In about four hours, we reach Dye La Pass. The fortified palace and village of Lomanthang appear from the high, dry landscape of the Tibetan plateau. From Dye La Pass it's under one hour to reach Lomanthang. Trekking time 5 hours, sleeping elevation 12,496 feet.
Day 9: Optional horse trip to Caves of Jhong, old monasteries and Chhosar. Nepal's government restricts stays beyond Lomanthang. Today you have an option for a rest day exploring the surrounding region or we can ride horses (optional, at additional cost) to visit the old cave village of Jhong at Chhosar. It takes about two hours by horseback to reach Jhong — a cave complex five stories high with more than 40 rooms where entire villages flourished 2000 years ago. Two old Buddhist sites are also nearby. We can explore them as well and still return to Lomanthang by late afternoon.
Day 10: Free day in Lomanthang. Explore the fortified capital town of old Lo Kingdom, noted for its tall white-washed walls, gompas and the Royal Palace, a nine-corner, five-story structure built about 1400 AD. Lo was an independent principality of Himalaya long before it assimilated into modern Nepal. The royal family of Mustang received special honors until 2008 when Nepal declared itself a republic. Tour the village and its three important monasteries which contain ancient frescos painted in natural color — the American Himalayan Foundation helped restore these ancient paintings. The Annapurna Conservation Area Project visitor center is also worth a visit.
Day 11: Lomanthang via Lo Gekar to Ghami. Once we leave Lomanthang we take the trail towards Marang La (13,874 feet) and Lo Gekar. This area is the highest on our trek and offers panoramic view of the Annapurna Range, Saribung Peak and the Damodar section of Annapurna Himalaya. Damodar is one of the last frontiers close to the Tibetan border — its rugged landscape and ancient culture are unique.
From the pass it's a long gradual descent to Lo Gekar Monastery, the oldest Buddhist monastery in the Himalaya. It was built by Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century. Enjoy a simple lunch at the monastery and continue our trek to Ghami via another pass of Mu La (13,677 feet). Trekking time 8 hours, Sleeping elevation 11,548 feet. Approximately a 3,200 foot ascent.
Day 12: Ghami to Gheling to Syangbochen. Starting with a short hillside ramble, we retrace our steps to Syangbochen. Approximately a 2,660 foot ascent. Lunch is in Gheling. Hiking time is 6 hours.
Day 13: Syangbochen to Chungsi Caves to Chhusang. We explore the 8th century meditation cave of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), who established Buddhism in Tibet. The cave, Chungsi Rangjyon (self emanated), contains stupas, paintings and status of Guru Rinpoche and Buddha. It's a full eight hour hiking day, with the trip to the caves. Lunch is in Samar. Approximately a 2,400 foot ascent.
Day 14: Chhusang to Kagbeni. Today is our final trekking day in the restricted zone. We continue downhill to Chaile and then with moderate ups and downs passing the villages of Chhusang and Tangbe to arrive at Tibet-influenced Kagbeni, located in the valley of the Kali Gandaki — one of three rivers crossing the mountains. The Kali Gandaki was one of the major trade routes between Tibet and India. Traders brought salt from Tibet and barley, spices and clothes from India. Following the Chinese invasion of Tibet, trade abruptly ended and formerly prosperous villages faded into obscurity. Approximately a 1,300 foot ascent. Only 4 hours of hiking. Free time to explore Kagbeni, a photographers paradise.
Day 15: Kagbeni to Lupra to Jomsom. Most trekkers return straight to Jomsom but we will make a detour to visit Lupra Village — hidden in a canyon off of the main trail. This special village is unique, as it's the only Bon Po Village which survives in Mustang. Bon Po pre-dates Buddhism and is one of the oldest religions in the world. After lunch at Lupra, we trek back to Jomsom. Sleeping elevation 8,921 feet. Approximately a 1,340 foot ascent. Five hours with time in Lupra. Lunch in Jomsom.
Day 16: Jomsom to Pokhara to Kathmandu. Two short flights return us to Kathmandu.
Day 17: Depart Kathmandu. Free time will depend on your departure flight time. We'll provide an airport transfer for your flight home today.
A detailed itinerary is available on request.
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