Nepal, a country known for its towering Himalayan peaks and diverse landscapes, offers a plethora of trekking opportunities. However, Upper Mustang Trek in Autumn would very favorable time to discover the majestic scenarios with charming culture too. One of the most captivating and less-explored regions is the Upper Mustang, often referred to as the “Forbidden Kingdom.” In autumn, this remote region comes alive with breathtaking beauty. It is the perfect time for trekkers to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. In this blog, we’ll delve into the magic of the Upper Mustang Trek in autumn, highlighting the key attractions.
During autumn in Upper Mustang, the landscape takes on a mesmerizing transformation. The rough terrain and ancient monasteries become bathed in the gentle, warm glow of the sun, painting a captivating picture with shades of gold. Situated in the sheltered rain shadow of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges, this secluded region offers an exceptional trekking experience. Its isolation has impeccably preserved the distinct Tibetan-influenced culture of the Lo people, rendering it a cultural treasure trove for trekkers. As you journey through charming villages such as Kagbeni, Tsarang, and Lo Manthang, you’ll have the chance to engage with the welcoming locals. In autumn, Upper Mustang transcends being just a trek; it becomes a passage into a concealed kingdom where the beauty of nature and culture harmoniously unite.
Upper Mustang, located in the north-central part of Nepal, was a restricted area until 1992, and it still requires a special permit for entry. This region’s uniqueness lies in its stark, high desert terrain, reminiscent of the Tibetan Plateau. Its barren hills, deep canyons, and intricately carved cave monasteries add to the uniqueness. Its isolation has preserved the ancient culture and traditions of the Tibetan Buddhists who inhabit the area.
Autumn, which spans from September to November, is considered the perfect time for trekking in Nepal. During this season, Upper Mustang undergoes a remarkable transformation, making it an excellent choice for trekkers. Let’s delve into why autumn stands out as the ideal season for the Upper Mustang Trek.
Weather: Autumn presents the most predictable and pleasant weather conditions for trekkers. The days are comfortably warm, characterized by clear, blue skies. While the nights can get chilly, they remain far from freezing, ensuring that trekking remains comfortable throughout.
Scenic Beauty: Upper Mustang’s rugged landscapes undergo a breathtaking metamorphosis during the autumn months. The once-barren land now shines with a captivating mix of deep reds, warm oranges, and brilliant golden colors. It’s like nature’s magic trick. Even the local plants change their colors to match the dry landscape.
The crowning jewel of the Upper Mustang Trek is the enchanting ancient walled city of Lo Manthang. This hidden gem not only promises breathtaking landscapes but also unveils a treasure trove of Tibetan Buddhist culture that has been preserved for centuries. As trekkers venture deeper into this mystical realm, they will discover.
Centuries-Old Monasteries: Lo Manthang is adorned with monasteries that stand as timeless witnesses to the spiritual heritage of this region. These sacred sanctuaries house ancient scriptures, intricate thangka paintings, and serene prayer halls where the resonance of chanting monks fills the air.
Royal Palaces: Within the protective walls of Lo Manthang, lie royal palaces that bear witness to the city’s regal past. These palaces, built in traditional Tibetan architectural style, are rich in history and reflect the once-thriving monarchy that ruled this land.
Intricately Decorated Chortens: The city’s landscape is further adorned by intricately decorated Chortens (stupas) that are adorned with vibrant prayer flags and artistic carvings. These Chortens are not only symbols of religious devotion but also serve as landmarks along the trekking routes. Lo Manthang isn’t just a destination; it’s a living testament to the rich history and spiritual traditions of Upper Mustang.
The region is dotted with numerous caves, some of which date back over a thousand years. Also known as the Mustang Sky Caves or Cave Temples, they are man-made and found on steep valley walls. Over two decades ago, archaeologists discovered over 20 human remains in the Sky Caves of Samdzong in Upper Mustang, bearing cut marks similar to the Sky Burial tradition of Buddhism. Alongside these remains, relics and Buddhist statues were also found.
What makes this even more fascinating is that these remains and relics date back to before the official arrival of Buddhism in the area, changing our understanding of the region’s history. While it’s unclear who built these caves, they are believed to have served religious or burial purposes rather than as residences.
Exploring the Mustang Caves offers a captivating glimpse into ancient architecture and artistic heritage, contributing to our understanding of the Himalayan region’s ancient civilizations.
Exploring the enchanting Upper Mustang region comes with a unique requirement – a special permit. This permit, priced at approximately $500 for 10 days, is essential for accessing this restricted area. If your adventure extends beyond the initial 10 days, you’ll need to pay an additional $50 for each extra day. These permits help protect the delicate environment and cultural heritage of Upper Mustang.
Restricted Permit Cost: $500 per person for 10 days. If longer is required, an additional $50 per day is charged. ACAP Permit: $20 per person. It will be validated for a month.
Short Upper Mustang Trek is generally considered to be of moderate difficulty. However, it’s important to note that the high altitude and remote location can present unique challenges. Proper acclimatization and a gradual ascent are crucial to ensure your safety and enjoyment during the trek.
Altitude: Upper Mustang is located in the Trans-Himalayan region, and much of the trek takes place at high altitudes, ranging from 2,800 meters (9,186 feet) at Kagbeni to over 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) at Lo Manthang, the capital of Upper Mustang. Trekkers often encounter altitudes where the air is thin, increasing the risk of altitude sickness.
Acclimatization: Adequate acclimatization is crucial to minimize the risk of altitude-related illnesses such as acute mountain sickness (AMS). Trekking itineraries include rest days to allow your body to adapt to the altitude. During these acclimatization days, you can explore local villages and cultural sites.
Isolation: Upper Mustang is situated in a remote corner of Nepal, bordering Tibet. The remoteness of the region means limited access to modern amenities and infrastructure. You should be prepared for basic accommodations, fewer dining options, and minimal connectivity.
Limited Lodging Options: The number of lodges and guesthouses along the route is limited. This can result in crowded accommodations during peak trekking seasons, so booking in advance is advisable.
Unpredictable Weather: The weather in Upper Mustang can be highly unpredictable, even during the trekking season (spring and autumn). Trekkers may encounter cold temperatures, strong winds, and occasional snowfall, especially at higher elevations. Carrying appropriate clothing and gear for variable conditions is essential.
Terrain: The trek encompasses rugged and challenging terrain, including steep ascents and descents, rocky trails, and narrow paths along cliffs. Sturdy and comfortable trekking boots with ankle support are recommended, and trekking poles can provide stability on challenging terrain.
Long Days: Daily walking durations can vary from 4 to 7 hours or more, depending on the segment of the trek. Stamina and endurance are crucial for covering these long distances, and trekkers should be physically prepared for the demands of the trail.
Upper Mustang Trek in Autumn is a journey into a mystical world that seems frozen in time. The combination of stunning landscapes, ancient culture, and the vibrant colors of the season make it an experience like no other. If you’re looking quite adventure-restricted trekking in Nepal we would highly recommend the Manaslu Circuit Trek. It’s one of the perfect and most fascinating destinations in Nepal. If you’re seeking an adventure that combines natural beauty with cultural immersion, this trek should undoubtedly be on your bucket list. Send us your requirements and remarks about the Nepal trip to our travel planner.