The Mysteries of Mustang with the Blessings of Tiji Festival

Trip Dates: May 14 to June 5, 2018 (22 days in-country).



Lo Manthang, ancient walled city
of upper Mustang



A Grand Canyon-like landscape


Lower Mustang's Chusang village


Heading into the gorge near Samar



Happy to share her culture


Trekkers work up a hearty appetite


KarmaQuest's Wendy Lama
heads out on horseback

Cost includes:
- Airport transfers and land transportation by private vehicle
- Sightseeing tours as indicated
- Overnights in a three to four-star hotel in Kathmandu and Pokhara, double occupancy with breakfasts
- Fully organized trek with English speaking local guide and support staff, three meals a day on the trek.
- Welcome and farewell dinner, festival attendance
- Mustang Permit fee and Annapurna Conservation Area fee ($700)
- Flight: Kathmandu-Pokhara-Jomsom-Pokhara-Kathmandu (approx $400)
- Entry fees to monasteries
-Trek guide and porter insurance
- Other services as detailed in full itinerary

Cost does not include:
- International flight airfare (to and from Nepal)
- Other meals and beverages
- Nepal visa fee
- Emergency evacuation/ medical insurance (mandatory)
- Airport taxes, excess luggage charges
- Personal medical kit
- Items of personal nature (e.g., laundry, drinks, telephone calls, taxi service, etc.)
- Staff tips, and donations at monasteries or social service organizations
- Any other services not specifically mentioned as included above

Please get your deposit in soon as space is limited to 12 persons. The trip may fill up quickly. Deposits are due January 30, 2017; final payment is due March 30, 2017.


 

For centuries tucked away from the world as its own Tibetan Buddhist kingdom within Nepal, Mustang today is reminiscent of what Tibet had been for centuries. Opened to foreigners in 1992 – with the intent of protecting the local traditions and conserving the fragile environment -- few Westerners have been here to date.

This trek through Mustang’s stunning landscape of eroded canyons, centuries-old monasteries and colorfully painted stupas against a backdrop of majestic mountains is the trip of a lifetime. Snow-bound Himalayan peaks upward of 24,000 ft flank steep canyon walls. Five-colored prayer flags flutter from hill tops and passes in a high altitude desert landscape. Farming is done much as it has been for centuries: field plowed by oxen or yak, grains hand-winnowed in the wind. A photographer’s delight.

Reaching the walled city of Lo Manthang, we'll venture on day trips to monastic caves and villages frozen in time. On the return, we’ll take a different route through a magical landscape of wind-carved spires and stark cliffs. Meditation caves perch high above the valley. We’ll return to the main trail and end the trek in Muktinath, one of Nepal’s oldest and most sacred pilgrimage sites.

Itinerary:

Day 1    Fly to Kathmandu (4,500 ft): KarmaQuest’s in country representative will meet you at the international airport in Kathmandu and transfer you to historic Bhaktapur.

Day 2    Sightseeing in Bhaktapur and Patan: Stroll the quaint cobble stone streets of Bhaktapur, seeing artisans at work. Visit Patan Durbar Square, over-flowing with temples, palaces and an award-winning museum.

Day 3    Scenic flight to Pokhara (3000 ft): Fly to Pokhara, soaring past snow-capped mountains. The lakeside city is the starting point to treks in the Annapurna region.

Day 4    Early morning flight to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni: Fly 25 minutes to Jomsom (8,900 ft), from where you’ll begin trekking. Overnight in Kagbeni (9,400 ft), at the border of the restricted Mustang region. Explore this medieval walled town of narrow lanes.

Day 5    Kagbeni to Chaile (10,200 ft): As you leave Kagbeni behind, ascend a steep hill and glance back at spectacular views of Nilgiri, Tilicho (23,400 ft), and Khangsar Kang peaks (24,550 ft). The walk passes through Chusang, an active farming community where late summer colors light up the fields. Set deep in the Kali Gandaki canyon, it is surrounded by red, orange and silver gray cliffs spotted with cave dwellings. Continue along the narrow Kali Gandaki river gorge, then climb a short distance to Chaile.

Day 6    Chaile to Giling (11,500 ft): From Chaile, begin a long ascent to a mountain pass before descending to Samar, a small village set in a grove of poplar trees with a commanding view of the valley below it. Continue on and up to cross 12,280 ft Baga La pass, marked by numerous prayer flags. Descend and again ascend to Yemdo La (12,460 ft), then drop to 11,800 ft before climbing the third pass Syangmochen La. Continue on to Giling (11,510 ft), home to three Buddhist monasteries and numerous large stupas that mark the old route to Upper Mustang.

Day 7    Giling to Dakmar (11,950 ft): The trail climbs gently to the north, offering a view of the snowy steep faces of Nilgiri and Tilicho, before continuing on a steep ascent to Nya La (12,600 ft) marking the official entrance into Upper Mustang. From the pass you can see spectacular views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges to the south as well as the Tibetan plateau to the north. Continue on to Dakmar, set against the dramatic red-rock cliffs with numerous ancient cave dwellings.

Day 8    Dakmar to Lo Gekhar : The trail rises gradually across the plains before ascending a steep canyon to Muila Bhanjyang (pass), at 13,700 ft. Now drop gently into a broad valley where Lo Ghekar hosts Ghar Gompa, one of upper Mustang's oldest and most revered monasteries. Lo Ghekar is said to be the site of a great battle between Padmasambhava (the founder of Tibetan Buddhism) and forces intent on destroying Buddhism. Ghar Gompa was built in homage to Buddhism, which prevailed.

Day 9    Lo Gekhar to Lo Manthang: Leave Lo Ghekar to the north and begin a long uphill to a broad pass at nearly 14,000 ft -- the highest point on the trek! From here the trail winds slowly down to a pass at 13,440 ft where you'll get your first views of Lo Manthang. Once the capital city of the Kingdom of Mustang, the walled city sits in a broad valley rimmed by snowy mountains. Just inside the gate is the imposing four- story palace of the King.

Days 10-12    Lo Manthang and Tiji Festival (12,230 ft): Walled lanes weave in a maze through this place lost in time. And the magic of Tiji Festival brings the otherwise sleepy town to vibrant life. Over our three day stay, we'll witness the lamas perform lively dances wearing ornate costumes that extend blessings to all who are present. On the sidelines, there is much celebration and gala interactions among old friends. A unique and unforgettable experience!

We'll also visit several of the region's most important gompas (monasteries), dating to the 12th century. These are spectacular structures featuring traditional Buddhist paintings, woodcarvings, and massive Buddha sculptures. We'll explore one or more valleys to the north on horseback or by jeep, including the cave settlements near Garphu. And we'll learn from local non-profits about efforts to conserve the area's rich culture and natural resources.

Day 13    Lo Manthang to Yara (11,800 ft): Depart Lo Manthang and head south. Climb out of the valley and follow the ridgeline to the south to Dhi Pass (12,170 ft) offering far ranging views. Wind steeply down to Dri, with spectacular views of the river-carved landscape, indeed reminiscent of the Grand Canyon. Head up a side canyon and climb to the small village of Yara, eyeing a honey-comb of caves on the opposite cliff walls.

Day 14    Day trip to Lori Gompa and on to Dri: Hike up valley to the lower cave gompa at Lori. Ripumso Peak (18,800 ft) looms overhead. The older cave gompa/monastery sits 300 ft higher in the cliffs, nestled among a number of large spires. Follow a steady path to it. Inside is a highly revered large stupa gleaming like a pearl with ancient paintings adorning its rounded sides. The rooms of the gompa are literally carved into the rock and are well finished with smooth walls, unlike those seen anywhere else in Mustang. We may visit if permission is granted.

Day 15    Dri to Ghemi (or beyond)(11,450 ft): Depending upon the water level of the Kali Gandaki river, head downstream from Dri, or climb up and over Dhi Pass. In either case, head to Tsarang, its aged palace once serving as a winter home for the royal family and now housing the Mustang library and numerous historic artifacts. Continue on to Tsarang La (12,850 ft) before descending to Ghemi (11,500 ft). (Depending on conditions, perhaps continue on to Jhaite or Tamagaon).

Day 16    Ghemi to Samar (10,300 ft): Rejoin the route taken to Lo Manthang. Note: stronger hikers can take an alternate route from Samar to Syangmochen, visiting the sacred Ranchung Cave where self-emmanated images of deities have emerged from the cave walls. Overnight in Samar.

Day 17    Samar to Chusang (10,000 ft): Enjoy an easy day -- all descent after an initial climb. A high trail looks deep into the twists and turns of the Kali Gandaki before reaching its edge below Chaile. Reach Chusang in time to explore nearby caves.

Day 18    Chusang to Jharkot (11,600 ft): Mount a vehicle and wend along cliff-side roads, turning east toward Muktinath. Overnight in Jharkot, a medieval feeling town with a walled fortress.

Day 19    Jharkot to Muktinath to Jomsom: Rise early and drive higher to Muktinath, one of Nepal's holiest pilgrimage sites for Buddhists and Hindus. Set at the base of Thorang La (of the Annapurna Circuit trek route), temples, water spouts, and a menagerie of holy monuments adorn the hillside. You’ll encounter Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims paying homage at an eternal flame and dousing in 108 spouts of sacred and often frigid waters. After your own morning abulations, drive (or walk) to Jomsom.

Day 20    Fly Jomsom to Pokhara to Kathmandu: Catch a flight from Jomsom to Pokhara in the morning and another to Kathmandu in the afternoon. Overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 21    Kathmandu: Enjoy a free day in Kathmandu, shopping and resting. This time is also needed in case of flight delay.

Day 22    Depart Kathmandu fly to Bangkok/Delhi . Or, extend your stay in Nepal with an excursion to Royal Chitwan National Park (please inquire.)


Trip Cost (2017):

4-6 persons US $5,075/person

7-10 persons US $4,825/person

11-12 persons US $4,625//person

Single supplement (available only in Kathmandu and Pokhara): US $450/person


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For more information and a detailed itinerary... please contact


KarmaQuest Ecotourism and Adventure Travel
Tel: (650) 560-0101/
Fax: 712-8164
699 Spindrift Way, Half Moon Bay,
California 94019 USA
Karma@KarmaQuest.com
Website: www.KarmaQuests.com