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Mustang tiji festival

Upper Mustang Overland Jeep Tour

Back in the past, trekking to Upper Mustang was dream to dare as it was one of the most remote areas in the Himalaya. Among the travelers, it was also known as one of the last Sharngri-las. Even among the Nepalese, Mustang was known as the district beyond the Himalayas (Himal Pari Ko Jilla), and reaching there was considered a rare privilege. The identity of the district beyond the two biggest mountains of the world, Mt. Dhaulagiri (8167 meters) and Mt. Annapurna I (8091 meters), have remained unchanged, but after connecting with the rest of the world with the available road, its remoteness has turned into accessibility. Thanks to the government of Nepal for the motor road connecting Tibet from Nepal. Now you can directly reach Mustang by jeep from cities like Kathmandu or Pokhara.

Until the 18th century, Mustang was an independent Himalayan state, before it was assimilated with expansion campaign of Nepal by Gorkha King. Lomanthang, the capital of Mustang, was a trading spot for Nepal to the south and Tibet to the north. Along with Kaligandaki gorge on the south side, the historical trade route was connected down to Pokhara. Even now, herds of sheep and goats are brought from Tibet to Nepal for selling, through this route during the festival time of Dashai. The traditional trading route had become an integral part of the famous Annapurna Circuit Trekking after Nepal was opened to foreign tourists since 1950s.

Annapurna Circuit Trekking route reaches Kagbeni and Muktinath. Then the route heads towards Thorong-La pass and further to Manang in the east. Kagbeni and Muktinath villages are also the border towns between Upper Mustang and Lower Mustang. Upper Mustang, was opened for foreign tourists only in 1990. When Nepalese government opened the Tibetan border areas including Upper Mustang for tourists, special provisions were set according to which foreign tourists can travel there only through official trekking agency after paying additional restricted area permit fee. Although there is a motorway facility, the provision of obtaining a special trekking permit has not been removed. A special permit for the upper Mustang trip costs minimum US$ 500 for the period of 10 days.

Mustang Jeep Tour
Upper Mustang Jeep Tour, Photo by Amber

The recently constructed road follows the path of the Annapurna Circuit and the Upper Mustang Trekking Routes. Because of which, the world-famous trekking trails have virtually vanished. Although the work of development and construction is essential, it is a pity that the Nepalese government is not able to preserve the trekking routes. Still it is reasonable to have a positive hope that many villages and locals of Nepal and Tibet will get facilities due to the motor road itself. The road distance from Pokhara to Lomanthang is approximately 236 kilometers (140 miles). From Kathmandu, the distance is about 440 kilometers (270 miles). To deal with winding and hilly road and also to cope the high altitude sickness, to cover this distance few days’ rests are needed in between. Lomanthang is at aboe 3600 meters from the sea level, thus going directly in that altitude can be risky sometimes.

So it is advisable to go according to a comfortable itinerary. Before reaching the height of Lomanthang, Jomsom, Kagbeni and Muktinath are attractive places from the tourist point of view. Since Jomsom and Kagbeni are at 2800 meters and Muktinath at 3800 meters, spending one or two nights in these places can allow you to enjoy the natural beauty and at the same time it helps to minimize the challenge of AMS.

Lomanthang, Captial of Mustang
Lomanthang, Photo : Amber

Journey to Upper Mustang Starts at Kagbeni!

There is a check post for entering Upper Mustang in Kagbeni. After entering from there, before reaching Lomanthang, all the settlements on the way – Chusang, Chaile, Samar, Syangmochen, Gilling, Ghami, Charang, Ghargompa, etc. are all beautiful and attractive. By spending one or two nights in a suitable place among these villages, you can learn about the local life and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. Lomanthang is the last and most important destination of the journey to Upper Mustang. Here one can spend time observing the art, culture and natural beauty of the local monasteries, stupas and local houses. There is a royal palace at the center of clustered houses of some hundred families.

There are three historical monasteries around the palace. There are also stupas and shrines in the narrow streets inside the settlement. The monasteries here are historically important. Similarly, the carved paintings on the walls of the monastery are amazing, and the wood carvings carved on the pillars of the monastery door and prayer hall are also spectacular. One day’s time can be easily utilized by observing these heritages of Lomanthang.

Caves and settlements in the surrounding settlements of Lomanthang are another attraction worth visiting and observing. You can go to the villages around Lomanthang on foot or by horse or jeep. Two days are enough to experience this area, but travelers who have time can extend their stay to get a deeper feel of the exotic village settlement. Two days may not be enough for local cultural festivals like Tiji or Yartung. Tiji festival, the largest cultural event of upper Mustang takes place in May/June. It lasts for three days, whereas the Yartong summer festival related to farming and prosperity takes places in May as well and lasts for three days. Dates and Itinerary for Tiji Festival 2025 has been published and you may read about the trip here.

Suggested Itinerary for Jeep Tour Upper Mustang

Generally, the rough itinerary of the upper Mustang jeep tour can be like this.
Day 01. Kathamndu to Pokhara by tourist bus or flight
Day 02. Pokhara to Jomsom by jeep 7 hours
Day 03. Jomsom –Lupra – Muktinath by jeep 2 hours visit Muktinath temple
Day 04. Muktinath-Kagbeni-Chaile by jeep 4 hours
Day 05. Chaile-Ghami-Tsarang 4 hours
Day 06. Tsarang – Ghargompa – Lomanthang 3 hours
Day 07 – 08 Lomanthang Exploration
Day 09 Return to Tatopani Hotspring 7 hours
Day 10 Return to Pokhara 4 hours
Day 11 Pokhara to Kathmandu by bus, jeep or flight

Tiji Festival Seen
Tiji Festival in Progress, Photo: Nursang Sherpa

Blog Post by: Amber Tamang, Manager and Guide Three Jewels Adventures

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