Why Upper Mustang Is Perfect For Drive Tour

  • Day Tours Nepal
  • Last Updated on Oct 5, 2023

Upper Mustang (formerly Kingdom of Lo) is the northern part of Mustang District, which is located in Nepal. Life in Mustang revolves around tourism, animal husbandry, and trade. It is a well-preserved region, but it also has some geopolitical issues, as evidenced by the Khampa Tibet region. However, we will not discuss this topic further and instead focus on the current situation in Upper Mustang. Foreign visitors have been allowed to enter the region since 1992, but tourism to Upper Mustang is regulated. Foreigners need to obtain a special permit to enter, costing US$500 per week per person. Most tourists travel by foot over the same trade route used in the 15th century. Over a thousand Western trekkers now visit each year, with over 7,000 visiting between mid-July 2018 and mid-July 2019. August and October are the peak visiting months.

Upper Mustang is a remote and beautiful region in Nepal, but it is facing some challenges. One of the biggest concerns is the increasing number of vehicles on the roads. This is having a negative impact on the environment and the traditional way of life in Upper Mustang.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Upper Mustang, and I was struck by both its beauty and its fragility. I trekked to Lo Manthang, the capital of the region, and visited some of the many monasteries and temples that are scattered throughout the area. I also had the chance to talk to some of the local people, who told me about their concerns about the future of Upper Mustang. The traditional way of life in Upper Mustang is also under threat. 

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Why Upper Mustang Is Perfect For Drive Tour

On September 2nd, we drove from Pokhara to Kagbeni in a 4WD Jeep. The road was smooth in some places and rough in others, but the journey was exciting. Since we were traveling in the monsoon season, we saw waterfalls, greenery, and rushing rivers all around. It took us about 8-9 hours to reach Kagbeni from Pokhara via Jomsom. We didn't choose to fly to Jomsom because of the weather, which often causes flight cancellations. We were a team of 7. Our driver was excellent and experienced with the roads and places around. We arrived in Kagbeni almost at dark because we started quite late from Pokhara.

Upper Mustang

Here, the Upper Mustang story begins. Kagbeni is the entry point to Upper Mustang, where we had to show all of our permits. A few weeks before our arrival, there was a flood in Kagbeni, and we saw that people were still managing their homes and rebuilding. The local people said that the flood was unexpected. We didn't waste much time in Kagbeni, but we did visit the monastery and the small villages. Mount Nilgiri was shining behind us, and the weather was quite hot and humid, so we put some lotion on our faces.

Am not going to write day by day but the main concern of the destination and place. We had planned to trek from Kagbeni to Upper Mustang, which we knew meant walking along the roadside. But walking after hours and hours and days, it felt like we were walking on a treadmill that never ends. The route from Kagbeni to Chuksang and beyond is the windiest place in Upper Mustang, and the dust from vehicles is a major nuisance. Since we were there during the low season, we didn't experience it as badly, but I can imagine that it's a disaster during the peak season. We tried to skip the road, but eventually it connects to the roads and the same story begins.

On the second day, from Chusang to Syangboche, we didn't even feel like moving after lunch at Samar, so we decided to take a jeep to Syangboche. Partly, this was because we were Nepali and eager to watch the cricket match between Nepal and India, which we wouldn't have been able to do if we had walked. But the main reason was that we were surrounded by vehicles and there was a 4WD jeep right in front of us, so why not?

 

Upper Mustang trek is not for everyone, as I kept saying, and it's true. If you are a nature lover, then don't pick this trek. You can pick other treks like Annapurna Base Camp, Ghorepani, or Everest where you can find greenery, trees, etc. The Landscapes of Upper Mustang are just amazing. I met some people from the USA, Australia, and Korea, and the American tourist was saying it looks like Utah. I forgot the name of the Australian place that looks similar. They were enjoying every single step and quite pissed with the motorable roads. As a local tour operator, I am supposed to promote this region, but clearly the unhappiness was visible in my eyes because of losing the uniqueness of it. Uniqueness in terms of the way we used to trek without vehicles, villages with many local people. Good thing we saw many apple trees and apples than I expected. It's a beautiful place on earth to visit, but the local authorities and government could do something much better.

I asked the local owner at the tea house why Mustang is being lonely and empty. His answer was simple: "Don't be surprised. The whole of Nepal is getting empty, not just Upper Mustang." This meant a lot to me, as a person who wants to live in this country. I was speechless and didn't want to ask any further questions. Facts hurt, but they are what they are.

Upper Mustang Luxury Tour

MONASTERIES IN UPPER MUSTANG

Upper Mustang Monastery is a cluster of ancient Buddhist monasteries located in the Lo Manthang walled city in Upper Mustang, Nepal. The monasteries are some of the oldest and best-preserved in the world, and they offer a unique glimpse into the rich cultural and religious heritage of the region. The most famous monastery in Upper Mustang is Jampa Lhakang, also known as the Maitreya Temple. It was built in the 15th century and contains a vast collection of Buddhist manuscripts, murals, and statues. The monastery is also home to a giant statue of Maitreya, the Buddha of the future.

  • Dragkar Thegchen Ling Gonpa, also known as Chode Gompa: This monastery is the largest in Upper Mustang and is home to a number of important Buddhist relics.
  • Ghar Gompa: This monastery is one of the oldest in Upper Mustang and is believed to have been founded by the saint Padmasambhava in the 8th century.

The monasteries of Upper Mustang are not only important religious sites, but they are also cultural and historical treasures. They offer visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the rich Buddhist heritage of the region and to experience the traditional way of life of the Mustang people. In addition to their religious and cultural significance, the monasteries of Upper Mustang are also beautiful and atmospheric places to visit. They are surrounded by stunning mountain scenery and offer visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life.

I don't know if it was bad timing or something else, but I didn't find a qualified lama who could explain about the monasteries. When I spoke to the local people, they were not even happy about this. After buying tickets and paying so much for the permits, the government must appoint and coordinate with the local authorities to ensure that there are qualified lamas available to guide visitors around the monasteries. Some of the lamas who took us to show the monasteries didn't even know the characters that are inside the monastery walls. In the past, we used to find a warm and welcoming atmosphere inside the monasteries, but now that kind of humbleness and energetic feeling is gone. Maybe we just visited at the wrong time, but I hope the government and local authorities will take action to preserve this special place. In Ghami, the condition of the museums is so bad that it makes you wonder why the government can't rebuild and preserve these treasures that cannot be found anywhere else.

Upper Mustang is best visited as a drive tour

Despite all the questions and unhappiness, there is one good thing: Upper Mustang is in Nepal, and it is a beautiful place to visit in terms of culture, landscapes, history, and culture. Upper Mustang is not affordable for everyone because the permit is expensive, but it is worth visiting once in a lifetime if you want to explore Tibetan Buddhism. The permit fee for Upper Mustang is the same for Indian citizens as it is for everyone else: 500 USD for a week. We do not recommend trekking in Upper Mustang, but the drive tour and motorbike tour are great options. The roads are in good condition, and the scenery is amazing. We trekked to Lo Manthang and drove back, which was a great adventure. If you are planning a drive tour inside Nepal, Upper Mustang is a great choice, and people of all ages can join this trip. We at the Day Tours Nepal will arrange everything to make your vacation enjoyable and memorable.

Upper Mustang Drive Tour

Upper Mustang Luxury Drive Tour

Well, for those who love road trips and are looking for a luxury drive tour in Nepal, the Upper Mustang Drive Tour is perfect. There are luxury hotels and amenities in almost every place. Like before, there are no mobile charging fees or shower fees, since all the hotels have attached rooms with electricity. You will also have WiFi in every place to reach out to your family and share your experiences. Your expectations will be met on this trip. Some people say that Ladakh (Leh) is beautiful, but it is certainly not as diverse as this trip. Your tour will start from the historical town of Kathmandu and go through beautiful villages, sceneries, and the spiritual land of Upper Mustang, with the world's tallest mountain peaks in the distance. Don't compare this trip to Ladakh because historically, spiritually, culturally, scenically, and in terms of adventure, Upper Mustang is completely different and must be experienced.

"Upper Mustang is a beautiful and unique place, but it is facing some challenges. The increasing number of vehicles on the roads is having a negative impact on the environment and the traditional way of life. It is important to find a way to balance the needs of tourism with the needs of the local people. Upper Mustang has so much to offer visitors, and I hope that it will remain a special place for many years to come."

 
Day Tours Nepal

Day Tours Nepal

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