I’d been wanting to travel to the Mustang region of Nepal for a long time. It’s an ethnically and culturally Tibetan region of Nepal, north of Pokhara and the Annapurnas, that sits in the rain-shadow of the Himalayas.
This last year I’ve really gotten my fill of Tibet and little-Tibets, with my trips to Ladakh in India and Tibet itself in China, but Mustang and its $500 permit still eluded me. However, it’s only Upper Mustang for which you have to pay the pricey permit. Lower Mustang (the area around Jomsom, Kagbeni and Muktinath) is accessible and, while not completely permit free, much much cheaper.
Thanks to Inside Himalayas and Redhouse Lodge Kagbeni, I travelled to Lower Mustang in February. I flew from Pokhara to Jomsom, an easy 30 minutes through the mountains, rather than go overland via Beni, a trip that would’ve taken around 10 hours.
Most people visit Lower Mustang on the way through to Upper Mustang, while on the Muktinath trek/pilgrimage or as part of the Annapurna Circuit trek. But, as I found out, it’s a worthy destination in its own right.
I wrote about day hikes around Lower Mustang for Kimkim.com. Check out the full article here, or read on for an extract.
Day hikes in Lower Mustang
“The Lower Mustang region of Nepal sits on both the classic Annapurna Circuit and is on the way to mysterious Upper Mustang, but it deserves more attention as a destination in its own right. Spending four days to a week here will allow you to undertake some beautiful day hikes, witness the incredible dry landscape in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, and experience the Tibetan Buddhist culture of the local Gurung people.
Jomsom is the gateway to Lower Mustang, and is a one-street town with lots of lodges, ranging from very cheap to very comfortable. (You can even enjoy Himalayan Java coffee here!) Kagbeni, an hour’s drive or three-four hour hike away, is more atmospheric. The medieval town has a crumbling palace, old monastery, mud-walled traditional homes and narrow lanes with prayer wheels. Spending a couple of nights in Jomsom and then a few more in Kagbeni is the ideal way to divide your time.
The winds in Mustang are very strong, and pick up by about 11am each day. In the cooler seasons they can also be bitterly cold. It is best to plan your days accordingly, to avoid the afternoon winds, and set out as early as possible.”
Top image credit: Yogesh Shrestha