Mustang Trek vs Annapurna Trek

mustang vs annapurna trek

It may be diminutive in size, but Nepal within itself has unique geographical features and diverse landscapes. The landforms vary here, from deep canyons to towering rock cliffs, glacial giants, and staggering mountains.

Each place in Nepal has its own rustic charm with spectacular views of vibrant valleys, steep slopes, surrounding terrains, and plateaus. As for trekking, the combat is usually between Manaslu and Annapurna, as both trekking spots are incredibly popular and astounding.

Trekkers always find it tough to choose between Mustang Trek vs Annapurna Trek as they are extraordinary on their own. Both Mustang and Annapurna are the epitome of exotic beauty in their own right.

While Mustang has historical landmarks, cultural spots, and religious pilgrimage, Annapurna has a dazzling view of snow-capped mountains, hanging glaciers, and beautiful terrain. Travelers can visit Muktinath Temple and also explore royal palaces in Lo Manthang during the trek.

There are many hidden natural beauties and picturesque spots in the kingdom where travelers can escape. They can explore the ancient royal palace, walled cities, and sky cave during the trip to Mustang.

Annapurna trek comes with the splendid view of the shimmering Annapurna massif, Gangapurna, Tilicho Peak, and Paungda Danda. It also offers trekkers many religious sites with ancient Tibetan monasteries to explore. Visitors of the Annapurna trek will be able to get an insight into the culture and lifestyle of people in the region.

Weather at Mustang Trek vs Annapurna Trek

Upper Dolpo to Mustang Trek

It’s no secret that many trekkers consider the weather at Mustang Trek vs Annapurna Trek to decide which of them makes a better place to visit. Their decision has to do with the atmospheric condition and climate of the sites, which can make or break the trek.

The weather in Mustang is unlike the one in Annapurna, given trans-Himalayan climate conditions. It’s probably the reason that most trekkers tend to visit the region in Autumn, which offers lovely weather and mind-blowing views.

The season puts on an incredible sight for visitors with peak fall foliage, wild landscape, and vivid valleys. Travelers can catch a glimpse of shimmering Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri mountains in the north face along with Tibetan plateaus.

Summer in Mustang is warm and dry with good old sunny days. Temperature scales from 30 to 20 Degree Celsius in Summer, making trekkers sweat. Abruptly, nights are colder in the region with low precipitation and high winds.

Spring makes the perfect time to visit Mustang as it experiences typical weather that’s neither too hot nor cold. As the icy winter fades, the climate becomes lovely and satisfying. Trekkers will have an easy time navigating the trail, especially with the fabulous view of lofty mountain ranges, colorful plateaus, and deep river gorge.

Winter is frigid at Mustang, with the temperature dropping below -25 Degree Celsius. Heavy snowfall and tropical cyclones make the expedition impossible at times. The cold wave and fog so often cause flight cancellations and delays.

It’s why trekkers are advised to keep up-to-date on the weather forecast and make plans accordingly. For the Monsoon, trekkers can expect light rain showers. But, since Mustang is a rain shadow area, hiking is possible during the season.

Annapurna Base Camp Distance

Meanwhile, on the other end of Annapurna, the weather varies depending on the season. In spring, it’s pleasantly warm, while Autumn has a moderate climate with brisk air. On the whole, trekkers would be pleased to hike Annapurna in any of the seasons as both of them offer delightful weather with panoramic views.

In summer, trekkers have to combat scorching heat during the daytime, but at night, it’s cold, with the temperature falling up to -6 Degree Celsius. Unlike Mustang, Monsoon witnesses heavy downpours in Annapurna, with trails getting filthy and slippery. Climbing the route gets super intimidating due to continuous rainfall.

Winters can be harsh in Annapurna, depending on the altitude and time. Since it’s still warm in December, hikers wouldn’t have trouble trekking the circuit or base camp. By early January, the weather becomes worse, with the region facing extreme snowfall.

Difficulties between Mustang Trek vs Annapurna Trek

Since Mustang and Annapurna have varied geography and climatic conditions, trekking Annapurna is utterly different from Mustang. Hikers will experience varied challenges in both the hike. With that, they’ll get to enjoy the magnificent view and explore the major attraction of each trek.

Since Mustang lies at 13,200 ft. high, only a few trekkers deal with acute mountain sickness. Instead, they have to fight the dry and rugged trails filled with boulders to arrive at Upper Mustang.

The trail from Jomsom to Mustang is over 11 miles running beside rock cliffs and steep-sided valleys. It passes through several villages including, Jomsom, Muktinath, Kagbeni, and Lo Manthang, making trekkers weary.

Another challenge for trekkers of Mustang is to tackle the ever-changing weather that sometimes impedes the trip. The weather differs from season to season, so those who travel in winter will even have to resist a harsh climate.

With heavy snowfall and a bitterly cold atmosphere, trekkers will have a hard time walking the trail. Following poor weather, it gets tough to find accommodation during the season. Thus, many hikers make the booking of tea houses and lodges in advance to prevent such unfortunate situations.

Trek to Annapurna is relatively more complex than Mustang, with long winding trails, unforeseeable weather, and crowded trails. The classic route walks through peaks and valleys, which causes trekkers to fatigue quickly.

It has the world’s two most popular trek destinations, Annapurna Circuit and Base Camp. But sadly, each of them has their fair share of difficulties as trekkers struggle to climb the trail. They’ll have to go through dense forest, climb steep hills and valleys to reach the final destination, and savor marvelous views of towering snow peaks.

Hikers of Annapurna are more susceptible to altitude sickness than those traversing Mustang. As the trail gains an elevation of 17,800 ft, trekkers will likely suffer from shortness of breath due to low barometric pressure.

Hence, many hikers take their time to adapt to the temperature before going high. Another obstacle that may occur during the Annapurna trek is accommodation. Spring and autumn witness excessive tourist inflows in the region, prompting an inadequate dwelling.

Accessibility of Mustang Trek vs Annapurna Trek

Compared to most trekking routes in the Himalaya, both Annapurna and Mustang trek have an easy access route. Both the hikes are moderately challenging, with just a few difficulties that even beginners can pull off the expedition.

Although the Mustang trek vs Annapurna Trek route appears similar in so many ways, travelers can pretty quickly figure out the differences between the two hikes. As for Mustang, climbers have to encounter unpaved trails full of rocks and boulders.

The trek kicks off with a scenic flight from Kathmandu to Jomsom that lasts almost 30 minutes. The trail stretching 30 miles from the village passes through Kagbeni and Chele and Charang before ending up in Lo Manthang.

Most of the sections en route are explored but least visited. The trails paved their way through remote villages and abandoned valleys, which can be nerve-wracking. Yet, the breathtaking views along the way keep the travelers occupied throughout the course.

In the meantime, the Annapurna Circuit trek begins with a long drive from Kathmandu to Bandipur via Besisahar. From there, the trail moves to Jagat Lamjung and Daharapani, scrambling steep hills and Marsyangdi River Valley.

The trail makes its way through Lower Pisang and Manang, which provides mesmeric views of vertical rock cliffs and glacial lakes. Out of here, the path ascends to Thorong La Pass via Yak Kharka and Phedi. Most trekkers spend a day in Manang to rest and prevent the extreme effect of altitude sickness.

With every climb to the circuit, the scenery ahead changes and gets more and more impressive. Trekkers will get to glance at the sweeping hills, steep-sided valleys, and stunning terrains on the way up.

The multi-day trek to Annapurna Base Camp starts with a 7-8 hour drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara, followed by Ghandruk. The trail heads to Chomrong and Bamboo from the Gurung village, climbing the steep slopes and winding through the remote settlements.

Leaving the beautiful village of Deurali behind, the trail runs over rocks and stone stairs to the Annapurna Base Camp. At base camp, trekkers will get to snap the Annapurna range along with Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, and Manaslu.

Acclimatization at Mustang Trek vs Annapurna Trek

With merely a 3,600 ft rise in altitude, hikers are not required to acclimatize during Mustang Trek. They can easily finish climbing the trail without taking a day off. However, they must have to prepare for the trek in advance.

Since the average trekking hours of Mustang trek is merely 5-6 hours, trekkers don’t have to follow a strict fitness regimen. They can rely on cardio exercises like jogging, cycling, and brisk walking to prepare for the hike.

For the Annapurna Circuit trek, trekkers stop at Manang for a day to ease off before climbing the hill. They even train themself ahead of the expedition and plan hardcore workouts, including jump squats and step-up exercises.

It doesn’t go the same for visitors of the Annapurna trek as they have to rest at least two days before ascending the trail. Hikers can feel a gradual decrease in air pressure which triggers acute mountain sickness. As a result, most of them show symptoms like headache, dizziness, and fever, while only a few have extreme effects like hypoxemia.

In case of Annapurna Base Camp, trekkers acclimatize based on the itinerary. If the expedition is more than a week-long, they’ll halt the trip and stay at the village to adapt to the change in weather. Most hikers don’t prefer to acclimatize and finish the trek as early as possible.

Cost of Mustang Trek vs Annapurna Trek

Whether they acknowledge it or not, travelers keep their eyes peeled on the cost of Mustang Trek vs Annapurna trek to figure out which one’s more affordable. A lot of them even compare the price of the hike and make the decision based on it.

Trek for Annapurna usually cost between US$700 to US$1000 depending on the itinerary and services. Hikers traveling in a group will incur lower costs than the solo traveler. The cost also differs due to the transportation fare as the private jeep charges more price.

Hikers need a TIMS card for the Annapurna trek, which costs approximately US$30. They’ll also have to pay for the transportation, food, and dwelling, whose average price is US$40-US$50 per day.

Tea houses are more popular at Annapurna trek as they are less expensive with all the needed facilities. Options for single and double bedrooms come with a difference in prices. If you need hot showers or electricity to charge batteries, be prepared to pay an extra amount.

If you trek the circuit with a travel agency, they’ll take care of all the essentials. They will make the booking for you and even provide you a three-time meal each day throughout the trek. However, personal expenses, including trekking equipment, clothing, and souvenir, have to be made by the trekker.

Trekkers visiting Mustang trek need to plan a budget of around US$1,500. The price may vary, subject to the length of stay in the region. The expenses include accommodation, food, and a return flight to Jomsom.

The flight from Kathmandu to the Thakali village of Jomsom cost about US$200. However, if trekkers want to minimize the cost, then it’s better to fly to the town from Pokhara. Hiring a guide and porter can cost trekkers anywhere from US$20 to US$25.

Many companies offer direct heli flights to Lo Manthang. Trekkers can take the flight and escape the rugged trail that takes more than a week to finish. Nonetheless, they’ll have to pay a hefty price for it.

Preparation for Mustang Trek vs Annapurna Trek

Trekkers can somewhat relate with the preparation for Mustang Trek vs Annapurna Trek as both steers off-the-beaten-path. No matter which trek they choose to go with, trekkers must come well-prepared to traverse the meandering trail.

Hikers of the Annapurna trek have to follow a steep trail that ascends 5,416 meters. They’ll have to traverse a zigzagged path, running up and down to reach the hilltop, which requires a lot of physical strength.

Without physical stability and improved stamina, trekkers won’t be able to beat the trails of Annapurna. Therefore, they have to spend plenty of time on their fitness before starting the trek to either circuit or base camp.

They’ll have to up the ante and improve their physical stamina in order to beat the meandering terrain. Trekkers have to start training at least two weeks before the trek. Apart from the fitness routine, they must also take a few short walks to the hillside to withstand the trail.

When it comes to Mustang trek, hikers won’t have to keep up with the intense training. Since the hike is also for beginners, almost everyone can complete the trip on time. However, if they want to have an easy time climbing the rocky trail, it’s better to strengthen their physical stamina.

They can stick to their regular exercise or make a new workout plan to build endurance and improve balance. In addition, trekkers can meditate and follow a strict diet regimen to boost stamina.

Mustang Trek vs Annapurna Trek crowd

Since both Mustang and Annapurna are prime trek destinations, travelers often flock to these regions to explore stunning landscapes, religious places, and historical monuments. A lot of them even take the strenuous jagged trail to enjoy the breathtaking sights.

It’s the Annapurna trek that’s often crowded as compared to Mustang. Trekkers from all around the world travel north-central Nepal to explore the significant landmarks and sight glistening mountains.

Winter and Monsoon have the least number of visitors at Annapurna due to poor weather. As the trail gets drenched in the rain most of the time, it becomes slippery and difficult to travel. As a result, most trekkers avoid the Annapurna trek during Monsoon.

Mustang too sees a large number of visitors during Autumn and spring as the season offers breathtaking views. Trekkers get strong visibility during the time of the year. They can sneak peek at the shimmering mountains of Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri from miles away.

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