Upper Dolpo to Mustang Trek - 27 Days

Upper Dolpo to Mustang Trek

It’d be a big waste for trekkers to visit Nepal without scrambling the way up from Upper Dolpo to Mustang. The trek is incredibly adventurous whilst the place absolute heaven with raging rivers and glacial lakes

Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang Trek epitomizes thrill to the deserted ravine of Kang La and Nangdala’s arid steppe. Its classic trail is a moving portrait of dramatic landscapes, epic valleys, and wilderness.

So many places near and far from Mustang are abandoned with no human settlements and still, it looks wonderful. Navigating the trails is more like playing with a daredevil stunt, given the narrow canyon, and rock cliffs.

Trails clambering the hills are jagged and meanders through hills and rocks so get ready to be challenged. After every successful trek, trekkers will stop at the most angelic places that have spectacular scenery to offer.

Like most hikes to the Himalayas, Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang Trek also starts with a short flight to Nepalgunj. We’re still short of a 45-minutes flight to Juphal before starting the trek, so we do that first and then make our way to Dunai.

Taking steppe routes that winds up and down, we reach Chhepka and gradually move to Sumduwa. Walking on a trail with small but sharp stones, we arrive at Phoksundo Lake which defines the beauty of nature.

After a day of acclimatization, we carry on with the trek, heading to Sallaghari. The dramatic walk to Upper Dolpo will see us crawling Nangdola High Camp and almost a thousand years old Namgong Gompa.

The trail from Saldang to Sangda runs through high cliffs, multiple passes and remote settlements including Thinje and Chharka. Walking downhill to the Phalek Village, we trace our steps back to Jomson and then Pokhara through a scenic flight. Finally, on the last day before you catch our international flight, we’ll fly you back to Kathmandu.

Highlights of Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang Trek

1. Shey Phoksundo Lake

It’s hard to resist the elegance of Shey Phoksundo Lake when on a trip from Upper Dolpo to Mustang. The lake is a pure joy to ease off after all those strenuous walks and ascends up to the destination.

There’s such utter silence in the place that you can even hear the moving air and even your own breath. Resting at a surface elevation of 3589 meters in a stunning national park, Shey Phoksundo is an oligotrophic lake. It’s a chosen Ramsar wetland with turquoise water that’s delightful to see.

2. Lo Manthang

Natives of Mustang know how incredible Lo Manthang is, given they are just a minute away. But for trekkers, it’s 135 miles far-off from Kathmandu through a mix of a well-paved road and cragged surface.

Moving through an arid region and desert, the trail is definitely not a piece of cake. Still, it keeps people occupied with mesmeric plateaus, red cliffs, and mud walls. Not too far, Lo Manthang is stacked with ancient palaces, Chortens, and sacred temples including Jampa Lakhang.

3. Muktinath and Jomsom

No hiker can afford missing Jomsom and Muktinath while trekking Upper mustang. It’s a fabulous place to be with all exciting sites and sceneries. Jomsom has a wild forest with animals for nature lovers while Muktinah gives secluded places to people looking for alone time.

Both the places have got everything from rock cliffs to eco museum, Buddhist monastery and scenic mountain view. Devotees visit Muktinath, a sacred pilgrimage to Hindus and Buddhists at the foot of Thorong La Pass.

4. Tshowa Gompa

Tshowa Gompa has become a symbol for Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang Trek. It’s a glorious monastery with more than 800-years-old history and Tibetan line art. Carved idols and paintings in the monastery will take you back in the time. Continuous chants, flapping prayer flags and rotating wheels compel the visitor to immerse in Buddhist culture.

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Itinerary

Day 1
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu

As discussed, our officials will meet you on this day at Kathmandu’s International Airport where the flights arrive. You shall find them at the waiting zone where they’ll be eagerly looking forward to hosting you.

After a quick meet and greet, you’ll be driven to your residence in Thamel. Expect to stay here at least one more day since the Upper Dolpo trek begins only on the third day. Till then, visit the glorious cities of Kathmandu, taste scrumptious dishes, and live the vibrant culture and festivals.

Day 2
Day 02: Sightseeing in Kathmandu

Residents of Kathmandu know they have it good but you probably don’t. So, we kick off the second day of Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang Trek with a bang and visit the capital city. We’ll briefly visit some of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Swayambhunath stupa.

We’ll do Pashupatinath Temple in the early morning when devotees come for prayer and chanting can be heard from the street. Next, we’ll ride to Boudha stupa where again worshipers are seen spinning prayer wheels, lighting scented candles, and humming six-syllable Sanskrit Mantra.

To look down Nepalese civilization, we can go through a couple of historic sites like durbar squares, palaces, and old museums. These places own ancient art, Pagoda style temples, and pottery.

Day 3
Day 03: Flight to Nepalgunj

Maximum Altitude: 150 meters

Flight Distance: 364 km

Flight Duration: 1 hr

Coming off the happy days at Kathmandu, we’ll long way travel Nepalgunj on the third day of Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang Trek. So, have breakfast early in the morning and we can drive to the airport for our flight.

The 226 miles flight to Nepalgunj lasts almost an hour and yet you won’t feel bored even for a second. Scenes from the aircraft are so lovely that every flyer is put into a trance. During the flight, you can spot dynamic landscapes, flat meadows, and a crowded city at Terai plains. We’ll call off the night at a hotel in the city.

Day 4
Day 04: Flight to Juphal and trek Dunai

Maximum Altitude: 2369 meters

Flight Distance: 149 km

Flight Duration: 45 minutes

Trek Duration: 3 hrs

After a quiet night at Nepalgunj, it’s time for us to move ahead and get on a flight to Juphal. The aircraft takes 45 minutes on a whole to reach the village so you can grab your breakfast there.

The flight to Juphal runs over scenic views so your time in the jet will pass quickly. A short tea-break and we’ll start tracking the route to Dunai. Initially, the trail scrambles southeast, high up to Thuli Bheri Valley, then runs the field with maize until reaching Kalagunda.

Navigating the trail along the southern bank of Bheri River, we’ll emerge at Roop Ghar. Having a peek into the traditional water mill, we’ll keep scrambling until it takes us to Dunai village. Overnight in a local lodge at Dunai.

Day 5
Day 05: Trek to Chhepka

Maximum Altitude: 2670 meters

Trek Duration: 6-7 hours

The first thing you’ll do after getting up in the morning is to grab breakfast and prepare for the long day ahead. A few times later, we’ll climb down the narrow streets of Dunai and come across the bridge above the Bheri River.

Tracking the bank of the river on the northern side, we proceed to Shey Phoksundo National Park through Sulighat. We register at the permit check post before the park and then mount the rock-strewn trail above Suli Ghad River.

Moving to Kageni, we pass a section of hemp trees and also some maple and tropical walnut forest Trekking along the route, we’ll find traces of Tibetan culture in prayer flags and gompa. Feel refreshed watching the rolling rivers and waterfalls on the way to Shyanta. From here, we ascend uphill on a narrow trail, which will take us to Chhepka.

Day 6
Day 06: Trek to Sumduwa

Maximum Altitude: 3370 meters

Trek Duration: 5-6 hrs

It’s just the 6th day of Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang Trek so we better go easy on you. Henceforth, we only trek up to Sumduwa on a jagged trail, rolling a deep forested riverbed and many small streams. Watching nature at its finest could really boost our energy and help us finish the trail earlier.

Coming back to the trail, it moves along the bottom of the valley and to the confluence of Pungmo Khola and Phoksundo. We’ll cross Phoksundo Khola to the west and approach Sumduwa, a central junction of the trails.

After walking around 5-6 hours, we’ll eventually reach Sumduwa. As we’re left with some spare time, you can do a quick sightseeing and also interact with the villagers. Teahouses are available for the overnight stay.

Day 7
Day 07: Trek to Phoksundo Lake

Maximum Altitude: 3600 meters

Trek Duration: 6-7 hours

After breakfast, we leave Sumduwa and reach out to the trail that connects Phoksundo Lake. As the walk is going to be a little harder in the end compared to the initial, we’ve to increase our pace right from the get-go.

To begin, we stroll through a luscious forest filled with cedar and arrive at Palam, the natural home to Ringmo’s community in winter. Track from here inclines down until it doesn’t come to 10,826 feet and then shifts to pitch, climbing high.

Unlike the one that we descend, this is slightly tougher as the route is in terrible shape. They meander on a dusty trail through peaks and troughs, making a way to the highest waterfall cascading from a ridge. En route to Phoksundo National Park, we come upon beautiful Ringmo village and its prolific mani walls.

Leaving the village behind, we now follow the route to Phoksundo Lake and even cross the river. To spend the night, we set up a camp on the outstretched land of the park.

Day 8
Day 08: Acclimatization and exploration at Phoksundo

How disgraceful it is to the grandeur of Phoksundo Lake if we don’t even spend a day in the region. Therefore, we take a day rest at the lake on the day 8 of Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang Trek. Tucked between luscious vegetation and high mountains, Phoksundo lake is so spectacular.

It’s hard to take the eye off its beauty but we still have to take some time to explore Ringmo. This glorious village is too close to Phoksundo and in fact, rests at the landslide dam from the lake. It has got glaciers and a lot of monasteries to discover including Shey and Thashung Gompa.

Day 9
Day 09: Trek to Sallaghari

Maximum Altitude: 4600 meters

Trek Duration: 6-7 hrs

After spending a wonderful day at Phoksundo, it’s about time we return to the trail and start walking. Moving forward from the lakeside, we ascend steppe hill and a secluded trail with chunks of small rocks.

After one point, we descend the route that will take us all the way to Sallaghari. We can do a little sightseeing here as the village offers a great mountain view and landscapes. We’ll rest the night in a guest house at Sallaghari.

Day 10
Day 10: Trek to Pass Camp, Nangdola High Camp

Maximum Altitude: 5350 meters

Trek Duration: 8-9 hrs

It’s already day 10 of Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang trek and we still have more than half a trip to go. That’s why we rush to the alley predawn and start hiking to Kangla base camp. To make it to the top at Nagdola High Camp, we go through a mix of trails and pass Mandala Camp.

The locals residing near the camp are highly influenced by Bon Po of Tibet. Walking a few miles further from the camp, we’ll get to our destination. To rest the night, we ‘ll place the tent on the green meadow of Nangdola.

Day 11
Day 11: Trek to Shey Gompa via Nangdola

Maximum Altitude: 4345 meters

Trek Duration: 5-6 hrs

Trek to Shey Gompa may be short in contrast to Nangdola but it’s as tough as it can get. The entire expedition lasts 5-6 hours during which we’ll walk past famous Crystal Mountain. After officially entering the Dolpo region, we’ll tramp over Kangla Pass and traverse west on the narrow Devil’s trail. Coming to a head of a fabulous cliff at 400 meter, we’re rewarded with the breathtaking view of Sonam Kang.

From here, the trail steeply slopes downward to the valley and over the river. Few more walks and we’ll reach the red chorten which indicates that we’ve entered Shey. The place is also where we’ll camp for the night. Highlights along the route to Shey Gompa also include Kang Chunne and Shey Shikkar.

Day 12
Day 12: Acclimatization in Shey Gompa

Today, we’ll spend our day exploring the primal Shey Gompa and also take a few short treks. We’ll start with something big and visit Shey monastery which came to rise in the 11th century. Made with an ocher, the gompa is a great landmark from a religious point of view and consists of Tibetan murals and ancient statues.

Kagyugpa Gompa is another incredible site to visit. The monastery has stacked 400-years-old idols and statues that’s worth exploring. In case you’re lucky, there’s a possibility of you getting to read the ancient scroll of Buddhism.

As an alternative, you can also take a quick tour of Tsakhang Gompa, which is named after a cliff. The monastery too has store hundreds of years old paintings and thanka. The Buddhist flag around the gompa keeps fluttering in the wind, making a visual display.

Day 13
Day 13: Trek to Namgong Gompa via Sela La

Maximum Altitude: 5100 meters

Trek Duration: 6-7 hrs

Namgong Gompa trek is no mean feat as we’ve to walk for almost 6 hours. To reach the monastery that’s believed to be 800 years old, we’ll cross the Ge La Pass on the west of Shey.

Along with splendid views of Mustang on the east and shimmering Crystal Mountain, we walk a few more miles to reach the village. It’s an old herding settlement of nomadic locals and our dwelling place for the night. The village has a scintillating view to offer which includes Mt. Kanjiroba, Riu Dhukta, and Tibet in the north.

Day 14
Day 14: Trek to Saldang

Maximum Altitude: 3800 meters

Trek Duration: 5-6 hrs

It’s another long and tiring day on the trail to Saldang. So better keep going on the trail from Namgong gompa to Yanger which is the ancient trade route to Tibet. Passing the old villages and tea houses, we take a high trail leading to Saldang.

Along the route, we get a fair chance to see the area’s monastery, high ridge, and migrating cranes. After almost 4 hours of a trek through uphills and down, we’ll stop by Caravan Thinley to fill our stomach with some local dishes and tea. After the much-needed energy, we’ll make a further 1 hour trip to Yanger Gompa through Nagon Khola.

Day 15
Day 15: Trek to Khoma Village

Maximum Altitude: 4200 meters

Trek Duration: 6-7 hrs

Starting at the trail of Saldang, we trace our steps towards Khoma Village on Day 15 of Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang Trek. Shipping away from the fabulous Saldang Gompa and the sceneries along Dho route, we reach Nagon Khola via Sugugaon.

It’s a small but terrific village with long-stretched mani walls, white painted chorten and the ancient gompa standing at the ridge. We’ll cross the Nagon Khola at Chagaon and rise up the soiled steep cliff for about an hour.

We’ll start climbing down the black riverbed and once reached there, ascend the verdant elevated plain. Before passing the Khoma La, we take a short lunch break and then plummet to the lovely Khoma Gaon. Overnight stay in a lodge at the village.

Day 16
Day 16 Trek to Mendo

Maximum Altitude: 4000meters

Trek Duration: 6 hrs

Giving a boost to our trek to Mondo with a delicious breakfast, we’ll come far away from the village through a dense forest. Given it’s a habitat to wild animals like snow leopards and blue sheep, we’ve a pretty good chance to see a few of them.

Walking for a too long time, we stop in Simen village to get brunch and also explore its primordial gompa. After spending a quality time, we’ll give a continuity to our trek and traverse further old chortens and mani walls.

From then on, we’ll plummet to the river and stick with the route for another good hour and finally reach the campsite. The place is slightly cold but enjoyable with stunning stone fields and mani walls. To spend the night in the location, we put up a camp.

Day 17
Day 17: Trek to Thinje

Maximum Altitude: 4110 meters

Trek Duration: 5-6 hrs

Mendo’s trek route twists and turns its way from south of Panjyan Khola passing two trails. Heading north to the border of Tibet on our left, we’ll be treated with gorgeous mani walls and Pu Gompa on the next side of the river.

Transiting a seasonal village and Phalwa’s hamlet, we’ll meet a small stream at-grade junction. Crossing over it, we scale the trail racing alongside mani walls, fluttering prayer flags and chortens till Thinje. It’s a small village with a lot of diversity among people and yet all are kind and reverent to each other. For the night, we’ll stop in a lodge at Thinje.

Day 18
Day 18: Trek to Rapka

Maximum Altitude: 4535 meters

Trek Duration: 6-7 hrs

On another beautiful day of our Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang Trek, we’re committed to traverse Rapka. The trail is a combination of highs and lows so we’ll go easy in the beginning and speed up after looking good.

Going after the Panzang River and south, we’ll reach the intersecting river where the former turns to Sulun Khola. Onwards our trail becomes narrow and frequently climbs up and down until it leaves all the greenery behind.

Taking in the tedious canyon, we walk miles till the valley opens out again. Following the trail, we so often ascend and descend while walking towards the plateau of Rapka. There are two campsites at Rapka so we can choose either of them. But it’s better to have the one that provides a clearer view.

Day 19
Day 19: Trek to Chharka

Maximum Altitude: 4410 meters

Trek Duration: 6-7 hrs

Trek to Chharka is as good as it gets. It has an easy-to-follow route that descends from the minute we start walking. It then follows the cold-shallow river to enter Chharka La. The Lakkyan Khola becomes narrow and small allowing us to walk across easily.

After then, we ascend the trail on the right of the river for a good time and descend later on. Arriving at the pass, we switchback trail and climb for about an hour to Chharka La. We’re not done yet as there’s still some walking left to reach the tented camp.

So, we make a few climbs and descend the trail, passing farm fields and a series of chorten. Leaving behind a village school, we descend the route and pass through Kane that marks our into the village.

Down the road, we’re offered a marvelous view of Mt. Dhaulagiri and unique landscapes to wipe out our fatigue. Overnight stay in a tented camp at Chharka.

Day 20
Day 20: Trek to Yak Kharka

Maximum Altitude: 4780 meters

Trek Duration: 5-6 hrs

From Chharka, our trek continues on a trail descending hills through a flowing river. After that we follow the right fork south of Chharka, traversing to and fro the valley on a rocky pitch. As the valleys narrow gradually, we slow our pace and speed up soon entering the steppe meadows and stroll to Yak Kharka. Night is spent at a camp under shimmering stars.

Day 21
Day 21: Trek to Ghok Pass

Maximum Altitude: 5460 meters

Trek Duration: 5-6 hrs

Make sure that you’re in time for breakfast today as we’ve a long journey to make. We start our day by clambering up to a pasture at Molum Sumdo where locals graze their yak. Farther into the meadows, and we make a steep long ascent to Ghoka Pass which lies at an elevation of 5460 meters. We have an easy slant route from here to reach the campsite which only takes a few minutes from the pass.

Day 22
Day 22: Trek to Sangda Village

Maximum Altitude: 5909 meters

Trek Duration: 6-7 hrs

Our day begins with a lovely morning and local breakfast of Sangda to complete. We’ll make a relaxed start and pack all our stuff before heading to the trail. Slowly, we’ll escalate the lower Sangda La and climb down on the mudstone that heads Sangda village.

From here on out, our trail descends to the Chalung Khola and scales sharply from the other end of the river. The long-rising trail leading Sangda is a rollercoaster, ascending to cairn and immediately falling down the hill to a stream. Few more distance to cover and we’ll reach the magnificent Sangda village.

It’s a small settlement in the himalayan region with a majority of people being Gurung. The sloppy hills in the region are the playground of blue sheep. Therefore, we can enjoy our free time watching these adorable animals.

Day 23
Day 23: Trek to Phalek Village

Maximum Altitude: 4280 meters

Trek Duration: 5-6 hrs

Hike to Phalek Village is a bit easier following a sloppy trail at the back of Sangda. But saying so, we still have to be quick and reach out the trail to spare ourselves a few moments of sightseeing.

Starting with uphill in the wake of Sangda, we spent the better part of the trek climbing high and coming across ridges to the top of the hill. Next, we descend towards the Kali Gandaki Valley and ramble beneath the cliff to reach Phalek.

It’s a typical Mustangi village with a larger population celebrating Buddhism and the rest of them different cultures. The place offers astounding mountain views and the shot to watch everything from Thorung La to Kagbeni and Kali Gandaki. We’ll keep you comfortable in one of the Phalek homestays at night.

Day 24
Day 24: Trek to Jomsom

Maximum Altitude: 2743 meters

Trek Duration: 4-5 hrs

Since today’s trek is short and moderate, we take slow steps down the ridge from Phalek. Steering through a rough and dry trail filled with loose rocks, we descend the route below 2670 meters and finally arrive at Jomsom. To spend the night, we’ve pre-booked rooms in a nearby lodge.

Day 25
Day 25: Flight to Pokhara

Maximum Altitude: 1400 meters

Flight Distance: 67 km

Flight Duration: 20 minutes

Flights are available every hour or two from Jomsom. Thereby after having breakfast at the lodge, we steadily move to the airport to take our flight. The air trip will last mere 20 minutes and it’s still so fun with a soothing view of landscapes, trickling streams, and mountains. Meanwhile, you can even make an escapade to the quiet lakes of Pokhara and try out some adventures in idle time. Overnight stay in a hotel.

Day 26
Day 26: Flight to Kathmandu

Maximum Altitude: 1350 meters

Flight Distance: 146 km

Flight Duration: 30 minutes

This is the final day of our Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang Trek as we officially leave the region today. After breakfast, we walk down the dusty trail and make headway towards the airstrip.

The flight to Kathmandu takes roughly 30 minutes and provides a breathtaking view of snow peaks and land formation. Sneak out of the window and there’ll be a lush-green forest and high cliff to serve you anytime. Upon reaching Kathmandu, you can take a rest at your hotel, or visit the remaining heritage site and even shop around the corner, the choice is all yours.

Day 27
Day 27: Final Departure

As per the scheduled flight, our representative will drop you at the airport today. If needed, they will even escort you to the premises and help with the security so that you can safely board the flight.

Cost Includes

  • Airport / Hotel / Airport pick up & drop by private car / van / bus.
  • Standard accommodation Kathmandu breakfast included. (4 nights on twin sharing)
  • Guided city tour in Kathmandu by car / van / bus.
  • All your standard Meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) during the trek.
  • Best available Lodges, Guesthouses accommodation during the trek (mainly in twin sharing).
  • A local government licensed English speaking Guide during the trek.
  • The required number of staff and Porters to carry your luggage during the trek.
  • Food, accommodation, salary, insurance, equipment, medicine and transportation for all trekking/tour staff.
  • All necessary trekking permits and national park entry fees
  • Down Jacket, sleeping bag and duffel/kit bag by Base Camp Adventure (which needs to be returned after the trek.)
  • First aid medical kid.
  • Surface transfer from and to Kathmandu.
  • Official expanse.

Cost Excludes

  • Lunch and dinner whilst in Kathmandu.
  • Your travel insurance (compulsory).
  • International airfare and airport departure tax.
  • Nepal entry visa
  • Alcoholic, hot and cold drinks, laundry.
  • Personal trekking Equipments.
  • Tips for trekking staff and driver.
  • Sightseeing/Monuments entrance fees in Kathmandu.
  • Any others expenses which are not mentioned on Price Includes section.

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