How to Reach Upper Mustang?

How to Reach Upper Mustang?

Upper Mustang is a restricted region from other areas of Nepal that remains quite a struggle to get to. But, part of the adventure is the ride there. You will first need to get to Jomsom in Lower Mustang from Pokhara, and then proceed overland to Upper Mustang. 

Here's what it takes you to remember.

First Half of the Journey: Pokhara to Jomsom

In northern and western Nepal, Pokhara is the gateway to the Annapurna Himalaya and other mountainous regions. There are two ways by which you can reach Jomsom from Pokhara. They are:

  • By Air and
  • By Road

By Air (time taken: thirty minutes)

The best way to access from Pokhara to Jomsom is to fly. It takes just under half an hour to ride across the deep Kali Gandaki Gorge to the base of the Tibetan Plateau, in the Himalayan range's rainshadow. 

Jomsom Airport

Incredible mountain views are possible from Jomsom Airport. Early in the morning, flights to Jomsom leave Pokhara airport to avoid the wind gusts that blow through Mustang late in the morning. 

Even then, if the winds or other weather conditions make it dangerous to travel, and you don't want to change it in the mountains, flights are still frequently cancelled or postponed.

By Road (time taken: eight+ hours)

In fact, going land routes from Pokhara to Jomsom should only be treated as a last option. Since most of the route is unsealed or in bad repair due to regular landslides, the 96 mile (155 kilometre) journey is lengthy, painful, and risky in places.

Pokhara to Jomsom by road

In the busy season, though, flights from Pokhara and Jomsom sell out easily, and they may be cancelled due to the weather at other times, so it might be necessary to go mainland to Jomsom.

Take a private car if you have to travel by road and aren't on a strict schedule. Tour operators can arrange these, and having a reliable car would also support the ride. 

Buses and shared microbuses/jeeps can ride this route if you're on a low budget, but they are long, hot, noisy, and usually less comfortable than taking a private automobile.

Landslides will obstruct the road at any point of the year but during the monsoon in particular. Accidents will also provide hours of traffic back-up.

Second Half of the Journey: Jomsom to Upper Mustang (Lo Manthang)

The ancient walled city of Lo Manthang is their final destination in Upper Mustang for many visitors, so the following recommendations apply to Lo Manthang. 

Most Upper Mustang foreign tourists need a special permit to access the area that must be received before you arrive, and must ride with a guide. Until leaving the place of Kagbeni, the last settlement in Lower Mustang, permits should be shown.

Upper Mustang can be reached from Jomsom in two ways:

  • By Foot and
  • By Road

By Foot (time taken: five days)

While not the easiest way to get into Upper Mustang, for the trekking experience, many tourists come towards this part of the world. The journey from Jomsom to Lo Manthang takes about five days. Depending on your health, previous acclimatization, whether you'd like to make some side trips, it could take more or less time. 

Jomsom to Upper Mustang by foot

However, since Lo Manthang is at 12,401 feet (3780 meters), it is essential to take your time and be well acclimatized. Prior to reaching Lo Manthang, a regular trek to Upper Mustang passes through Kagbeni, Chele, Zhaite, and Charang. 

As there is hardly any rain in Upper Mustang, the scenery is very distinct from most of the other areas of Nepal. And, the culture is predominantly Tibetan Buddhist, so there are dramatic forts, temples, stupas, and caves scattered around meditation.

Taking a horse ride to Upper Mustang is an alternative to climbing on your own two feet. These are no quicker than a regular hike, as the point is not to gallop to Lo Manthang. 

Although, whether you have children or other individuals in the group who do not want to walk the whole distance themselves, this can be an excellent way to ride.

By Road (time taken: two days)

It is also feasible to take a Jeep between Jomsom and Lo Manthang for travellers who may not want to trek and to save some time. There are different places to sleep overnight, but Zhaite and Charang are decent choices. As it's bumping and twisting, the route is very daunting, but the views are stunning.

Jomsom to Upper Mustang by road

Be mindful that for ten days, most international tourists to Upper Mustang would need to obtain a permit that costs US$ 500. For a shorter time, licenses are not given. 

So, if saving time is the excuse for going to Lo Manthang overland, you won't save money as well, as you're going to have to pay the entire permit fee anyway. 

Around Lo Manthang, however, there are a lot of things to see and do, so you can stay there for a few days and go exploring.

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