Upper Mustang Jeep Tour - 11 Nights 12 Days

Trip Code : CAN-03
Accomodation : Hotel
Duration : 12  Days
Grading : Moderate
Activity : Natural wonders
Starts at : Kathmandu
End at : Kathmandu

Overview

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Kathmandu


Meeting at airport on arrival by our staff and transfer to the hotel. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, lies in a broad valley at the edge of the Himalayan Range.  Its art and architecture are an interesting blend of Hindu and Buddhist influences.

Day 2: In Kathmandu


In the morning we will visit the holiest shrine of the Hindu culture in Nepal, Pashupatinath. This is the place where holy saddhus pray and cremations on the Bagmati River are carried out. While you are not allowed into the temple if you are not a Hindu, the grounds surrounding the temple usually have a fascinating crowd of the faithful.

We then continue to the holiest shrine for the Buddhist culture in Nepal, Bouddhanath, with its large stupa, this is the place where all devout Buddhists come for a pilgrimage. It is not unusual to see very old devotees circumnavigate the shrine hundreds of times falling to their knees and rising again for a few steps only to go back down again to their knees.

Afternoon visit Bhaktapur, perhaps the least changed of all the cities in the Kathmandu Valley, with a distinct medieval feel. Pottery and weaving are still traditional industries here. Architectural wonders abound, including the Palace of Fifty Five Windows, Golden Gate and the magnificent five storied pagoda-style Nyatapola Temple.r the sightseeing to Kathmandu Durbar Square & Swayambhunath. Tour of Kathmandu city and temples will include visits to the Temple of the Living Goddess, Durbar Square (central square of the city), National Museum and Swayambhunath, a 2000 year-old Buddhist shrine overlooking the city. 

Then it is off to Patan, which is the oldest of the three major cities in the Kathmandu Valley.  It is called the City of the Arts, and is justly famous for its intricately carved wooden temples and skilled craftsmen.

Day 3: Fly Kathmandu / Pokhara (25 minutes flight) & Drive to Thasang (1750 m) (driving time approx. 5 - 6 hours)


Fly to Pokhara. Upon arrival in Pokhara meet by your guide where your wild overland journey begins and it's straightforward to start with. Boarding your 4WD vehicle, its smooth tarmac as you head out of Pokhara and into the lower reaches of the Kali Gandaki Valley. Around Beni, you say goodbye to tarmac once and for all and the road becomes a dusty 4WD track that skirts the river. Reaching Tatopani the road now climbs and climbs as dust gives way to cobbles. First you get views of the Niligiri Himal and as you ascend further the mesmerizing peak of Dhaulagiri and the Annapurnas come into view. Things then begin to level out finally as the Kali Gandaki Valley broadens out. A detour then winds its way quickly up to your overnight halt at Thasang village.

Day 4: Drive Thasang / Kagbeni (2810 m) (driving time approx. 3 - 4 hours)


Today everything changes! Back down to the valley floor and onto the stony jeep track, this now rises less acutely up towards Jomsom. Pretty soon the trees start to disappear and as you approach Jomsom virtually all vegetation disappears abruptly, marking the furthest extent of the Himalayan rain shadow. On your right the sharp peak of Nilgiri South is more spectacular than ever before and you have now crossed through the Himalayas. The arid landscape of the Mustang region is stretched out before you in the form of the upper reaches of the Kali Gandaki. Not only has the landscape changed, the culture has changed too and the villages from now on have a distinctly Tibetan flavour to them. An hour or so beyond Jomsom, your overnight halt tonight is in Kagbeni. Typical of villages in the Mustang region in terms of architecture, along with Tibetan buddhist monuments and symbols, Kagbeni is where Upper Mustang begins and to venture further special permits are required.

Day 5: Drive Kagbeni / Charang (3560 m) (driving time approx. 5 - 6 hours)


Your journey into Upper Mustang begins properly today. After the permits are checked at the police post in Kagbeni, the jeep track today pretty much skirts the side of the Kali Gandaki River Valley. Whether there is any water in the river rather depends on what time of year you're undertaking the journey. Usually from October to mid-May the broad river floor looks more like a level boulder field. Take a walk onto the river bed and you may just hear water flowing underneath. You could also look for fossils too as evidence that this now high altitude region was once the sea bed of the Tethys Ocean. Along the way you can take a halt and explore the small village of Thangbe and see how their carefully tended terraced fields are irrigated in a landscape that is otherwise dry and barren wilderness. At Chusang there is a river tributary to cross and shortly thereafter the Kali Gandaki River bed itself. Outwith the summer period it is usually a straightforward case of driving across a stony, flat and wide dried up river bed. When it is not possible to cross, then you will change to a locally chartered jeep/s. Regrettably "in the middle of nowhere", the local jeeps are not of the same standard or as comfortable as the 4WD vehicle you've been travelling in so far. After crossing the Kali Gandaki the jeep track now climbs away from the valley and there are a couple of high passes (approx 4000m) to cross before dropping down into Charang.

Day 6: Drive Charang / Lo Manthang(3840 m) (driving time approx. 2 - 3 hours)


Up and over another mountain pass of around 4000m and then a slight descent and in around 2 hours you've arrived at the fabled city of Lo Manthang. It is somewhat small for a city. It is a large village really of less than 200 homes and around 875 people. If progress has been good, then you should have the entire afternoon to explore Lo Manthang.

Day 7: In Lo Manthang


Today is up to you and perhaps how well you have acclimatized. One option is to take a two hour round trip hike to visit the Namgyal Monastery. Or, if you're feeling strong then a six hour round trip walk will enable you to visit some ancient caves (circa 4100m). Alternatively you can visit these caves by jeep if you don't fancy the walk. Another short walk of around 2 hours is up to the ruins of a fortress, from where there are splendid panoramic views over Lo Manthang and on clear days the snowy peaks of the Annapurnas may be seen. You may naturally decide to stay local and head out into the surrounding farm lands and see how things are done here.

Day 8: Drive back to Chusang (3100 m) (driving time approx. 5 - 6 hours)


Theoretically it is possible to drive all the way back to Jomsom from Lo Manthang in one day. This would make it a very, very long day and we would suggest that from a perspective of comfort this is not desirable, and with driver fatigue in mind we don't think that's a good idea also. Of course the way back is the way in, but now the Himalayas form your far horizon, getting closer and closer as you progress. So, it's anything but repetitive in many respects. Today we recommend travelling as far as Chusang. You should arrive here mid-afternoon and thus be able to give the legs a good stretch and take a hike to the fascinating and rather picturesque ancient village of Tetang.

Day 9: Drive Chusang / Jomsom (2700 m) (driving time approx. 3 - 4 hours)


Heading back along the side of the Kali Gandaki Valley the mighty Himalayan peaks get closer and closer. Nligiri South Peak becomes even more impressive and the bulk of Dhaualgiri comes into view and with luck you should be in Jomsom for lunch!

Day 10: Fly Jomsom / Pokhara


Taking the morning flight (all 18 minutes of it) to Pokhara, you'll be met upon arrival at Pokhara airport and receive a private transfer to your lakeside hotel and now back in the balmy sub-tropical climate it may well just feel a lot warmer to you than everyone else. Enjoy a lazy afternoon by the lake or even out on the lake in a rowing boat, chill out in one of the many local cafe bars.

Day 11: Fly Pokhara / Kathmandu


Fly to Kathmandu. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, transfer to hotel.

Proceed for the sightseeing to Kathmandu Durbar Square & Swayambhunath. Tour of Kathmandu city and temples will include visits to the Temple of the Living Goddess, Durbar Square (central square of the city), National Museum and Swayambunath, a 2000 year-old Buddhist shrine overlooking the city.

Then it is off to Patan, which is the oldest of the three major cities in the Kathmandu Valley. It is called the City of the Arts, and is justly famous for its intricately carved wooden temples and skilled craftsmen.

Day 12: Depart Kathmandu


Transfer to airport to board the flight for onward journey.

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