Also referred to as Nepal's Last Hidden Kingdom, Upper Mustang presents one of the most patently dry terrains in all of Nepal, a drastic contrast to most other famous trekking destinations in the country. Trekking in Upper Mustang is a journey of cultural penchants and untainted traditions that have been in practice for centuries without changing in any drastic way.
A powerful kingdom hundreds of years ago, with its monarch, "The Kingdom of Lo"- as Upper Mustang is also known as was relatively isolated and barred to foreigners for the longest time. Only recently opened for trekking in 1992, Upper Mustang has one of the most well-preserved cultural ambiances in the world, with its Tibetan Buddhist culture still in practice as it was hundreds of years ago due to the region's seclusion.
Upper Mustang is also known as the land of mysticism as it has so much to offer to its visitors in terms of culture that has not been changed due to modernization. Moreover, Mustang's strategic location had also granted the once-independent kingdom control over the ancient trade route between the Himalayas of Nepal and India. This boosted the region's prosperity and made Mustang a beautiful destination filled with a culture that was rich in vibrancy and very opulent.
Flaunting a distinct topography, Upper Mustang presents a dry and arid environment to trek through. Due to the region's location in the rain-shadow zone of the Annapurna and the Dhaulagiri Mountain Ranges, Mustang receives very little rainfall. It makes the Upper Mustang Trek a good option for monsoon trekking.
Vast desert-like terrains filled with loose conglomerates of dunes, Mustang presents trekkers with mesmerizing hues of mountains that seem to change their tincture each day with the movement of the sun, tinting from red and brown to ocher. This is made even more breath-taking when the landscape is a drastic contrast to the towering Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Mountain Ranges that tower over the valleys in shades of glimmering ivory.
Similarly, Mustang is also known for its amazing rock formations caused by the constant wind and sun erosions. Additionally, a collection of more than 50 cave paintings were recently discovered in Mustang in 2007, depicting the life of Lord Buddha, by archeologists.
The Upper Mustang Trek is a perfect amalgamation of cultural, Himalayan, and natural attributes. It is a beautifully distinct trekking experience very different from what the rest of Nepal offers. Presenting its trekkers with many Tibetan Buddhist traditions that manifest in monasteries, Gumbas, chortens, and Stupas scattered throughout the journey, the trek is a brilliant way to experience the Tibetan Buddhist culture in its purest form.
You can enjoy colorful Thanka paintings and many beautiful statues of Gods and Deities and take in an atmosphere elevated with incense-laden monastery halls with prayer wheels embedded in the walls. The Tibetan Buddhist culture and the land's myths and legends are intertwined; the trip presents trekkers with cultural threads weaved into the tapestry of the landscape itself.