Trekking Nepal’s most remote region of Mustang is a rare opportunity in itself. But the Tiji Festival is your only chance to be a part of a genuine celebration in this Lost Kingdom and is not to be missed. Walk through medieval villages with spectacular views of the Himalayas to Lo Manthang. See the locals spinning yak wool and tending their land. Be a part of an event so heralded that nomads come from all over to participate. Held annually at the end of the dry season, Mustang’s Tiji Festival is held to bring a wetter monsoon season. During the festival is a ritual reenactment of Dorje Jono fighting his demonic father to save the land of Mustang from being destroyed. Tiji Festival in Mustang is your last chance to trek back in time and experience one of the last places on earth where culture is still intact.
Photo courtesy of Mr. Ram , local travel guide
Note: You may want to begin this tour 2 days early and stay 2 nights in Kagbeni
In order to acclimatize
Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu (1300m).
Upon arrival at Kathmandu airport, our friendly representative will receive you at airport, and then drive you to your hotel. Spend free day in Kathmandu, short briefing about the trekking. Kathmandu has now grown to a large city, a fascinating juxtaposition of medieval and modern, which also now faces some of the challenges of modern cities such as a fast growing population and increased pollution.
Day 2: Kathmandu Sightseeing Tour
This morning we visit Patan, the city of fine arts, which is sometimes called “the town with a thousand golden roofs. Located just south of Kathmandu, Patan is one of the three ancient Malla kingdoms, and remains a center for craftsmen and artists anxious to preserve tradition. After sightseeing in Patan, we drive back to Kathmandu via the Buddhist stupa of Swayambhunath, begun over 2000 years ago and regarded as the mythical origin of Kathmandu. This stupa is dedicated to the Adi Buddha, or the Buddha of the cosmic axis, and is an active center of pilgrimage. Late this afternoon we meet our trekking staff for a briefing on the logistics of the trek and details of transportation, expected weather, etc.
Day 3: Kathmandu to Pokhara (850m) by flight
This morning we head back to the airport for the spectacular flight to Pokhara, about 100 miles west of Kathmandu. The flight parallels the Himalaya. Off the right side of the aircraft we see the Langtang Himal, the Ganesh Himal, the Gurkha Himal- Manaslu(8186m) looming near the Tibetan border), and finally the Annapurna Range. Each of these “Himals” is a complete mountain range with many huge peaks, spectacular glaciers and deep gorges. Each has its own great history in the literature of mountaineering and Himalayan exploration.
As we land in Pokhara, the Dhaulagiri Range and its satellite peaks can be seen to the northwest. The view of the Annapurna Range from Pokhara – and especially Machapuchare (6990m ) – is said by many to be the finest Mountain View in the world. The mountains rise in a series of great upheavals to Annapurna’s summit at 26,495 feet.
Day 4: Pokhara -Jomsom -Kagbeni trekking
Early this morning, we depart Pokhara and fly north into the mountains to the remote airstrip at Jomsom. Please note that flights to Jomsom are especially unreliable. It’s a good idea to build in “caution” days at the end of the itinerary in case of delays or cancellations. We fly north over Ghorapani Pass and then follow the Kali Gandaki Gorge between Dhaulagiri (8187m) and Annapurna. In terms of relief between nearby mountains, this is one of the deepest gorges in the world. It is most certainly one of the most sensational flights. The enormous masses of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna and its arrays of satellite summits and lesser peaks are wonderfully spectacular. The Jomsom airfield is in a broad valley on the north side of the Himalaya. On arrival at Jomsom, the Headquarters of Mustang District, we need to show our trekking permits at the police check post (our trek leader will take care of all the formalities) before starting our trek.
Departing Jomsom, we trek up to Kagbeni. Kagbeni is located at the confluence of the Kali Gandaki and the Jhong Khola rivers. The village is a community of mud and stone houses enclosed by walls and flat-roofed with stacks of firewood neatly piled along roof-sides. The red colored gompa (monastery) situated on a raised stretch of land dominates the village. The monastery belongs to the Sakya sect, as evidenced by the uniformly spaced grey stripes on its outside walls. Kagbeni was once ruled by a gyalpo (king) from his castle, which is now in ruins. The dynasty has died out; but during its heyday it was quite powerful – much like the barons of the Rhineland, who prospered from trade in a similar fashion. There are good close-up views of Nilgiri and Tilicho peaks to the south. This is a short day to help us acclimate to the higher elevation.
Day 5: Kagbeni -Chele trekking
Today we head into Mustang proper. The trail passes through the village to the mani walls at the north end. Here we pass the police check post, descend briefly and begin a steep climb up the slopes of the hillside to a cairn before descending to the broad, loose trail contouring along the east bank gently ascending and descending. A little later we bypass Tiri on the other side where the route from Charkabhot (Dolpo) joins the village. Further up the Gyalungbo River drains into the Kali Gandaki and towards noon the village of Tangbeh is sighted. A steep descent followed by a gentle climb leads us to Tangbe, where we stop for lunch.
The trail continues through the village and further up to a group of settlements known as Chuksang. Ruins of numerous castles stand on the hilltops behind the village, and prehistoric cave dwellings can be seen on the west side of the river, high among the arid, red and ochre cliffs. The Narsinga Khola (river) from the east joins the Kali Gandaki here; the stream is crossed and the trail follows a stretch of the riverbank and skirts the edge where the river has eroded the banks. We cross a new iron bridge over the Kali Gandaki and more caves are visible among the cliff walls. A steep climb on the other side leads to the village of Chele, where we stop for the night.
Day 6: Chele to Sanbochen(3860m.)
Start walk up through nice narrow landscape with view of Mount Nilgiri at the background to Samar for lunch. Then trek again up hill for to Big-La (3900m) where you can see the nice of valley & Himalayas then to Sanbochen(3800m) and stay over night in this little village. Approx 6.5hr. Tea House(BLD)
Day 7: Ghami(3520m.)
Slowly start walk through Tamagaun village to Zhite for tea break then walk up for half hours to Zhite La (4030m). Trek down to Ghami for lunch. Explore around the village also the monastery staying with nice Tibetan type of tea house. Approx 4hr 3600m. Tea house (BLD)
Day 8 Charang(3560m.)
Today also going to be short walk over the 4070m pass start with up hill then down to Charang for lunch then walk around the village, monastery & if possible also you can visit the place. Tibetan style of tea house to stay in. Approx 4hr 3670m. Tea house (BLD)
Day 9: Lo-Manthang(3810m.)
Heading to finale destination of this trek to lo-manthang start walk with down hill first for short then slide up hill background view of mountain walk through a nice stupa then via on lo-la 3900m from here would be a nice view of lo-manthang village and valley then walk down to main destination for the lunch then here is time now to go and visit three monastery & village around. Approx 5hr 3780m Tea house (BLD)
Day 10,11,12 Tiji festival in Lo Manthang
Lo Manthang means the “Plains of Prayer” (Mon – prayer, thang – plain). The whole town is walled and the houses are closely packed together with narrow alleyways running between them. Since it was built on a plain, the walls were essential for defense against bandits and invaders. The King of Mustang lives in his palace, which is the largest residence and easily noticeable among the other houses. The Tibetans referred to the king as “Lo Gyalpo” meaning King of the South, though his real name is Jigme Bista. The name Bista was conferred on him by the King of Nepal as an honorary title (Bista is a high caste title in Nepal). The Queen of Mustang is from a noble family of Shigatse, Tibet. The summer palace of the king is in Trenkar (a few hours hike northwest of Lo Manthang) and he spends most of the summer months there.
There are three monasteries in Lo Manthang: the Chamba Lhakang houses the massive 45 foot statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha; the Thugchen Lhakang has several large images – a gilded bronze and terra cotta Sakyamuni, Avolokitesvara, and Maitreya. The third monastery is the Chode monastery of the Sakya sect, which has several monks in residence. Chode monastery contains numerous small statues and the monks are often engaged in prayer and chanting. Tiji festival is held on the courtyard of Palace.
Day 13: Dakmar(3820m.)
Today is a long day through high pass 4230m which is the highest elevation for this trek. After the pass we go down to the oldest monastery which was built in the 8th century for a very simple lunch. Again we walk up to another pass 4130m then down through a beautiful red landscape to Dakmar. This is a place you feel like you are not even on earth. Simple tea house basic food & accommodation Approx 6.5hr 3700m. Tea house (BLD)
Day 14: Sangbochen(3860m.)
Walk up to vista with beautiful views around then slowly down to Ghemi then start walk up to the pass. Head down to Sanbochen for over night. Approx 5hr. Tea house (BLD)
Day 15: Chhuksang(2980m.)
Trek steep up for 0.5hr on top of the pass to see the view of nice landscape valley with mountain. Then trek down to Samar for lunch. Continue down through the narrow path to Chuksang on the bank of Kaligandaki River. Approx 5.5hr. Tea house (BLD)
Day 16: Kagbeni(2810m.)
Slowly walk through Kaligandaki Valley with a lot’s of force wind to Kagbeni for lunch then this is the time for red out of dart and rest of time for relax. Approx 3.5hr. Tea house (BLD)
Day 17: Jomsom(2720m.)
Easy walk to Jomsom on flowing same river valley to get there for lunch. (Option walk to Thini village 2hr) then walk end approx 3hr. Tea house (BLD)
Day 18: Jomsom to Kathmandu via Pokhara
Today we fly back to Kathmandu via Pokhara. On arrival in Kathmandu we’ll be picked up at the airport and taken to our hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 19: Final airport departure
Final airport transfers to get your homeward journey.