Upper Mustang Overland Tour
The only part of the Himalayas in Nepal that you can explore while driving from one village to another is the Upper Mustang. Our 14 Days Upper Mustang Overland Tour is perfect for all ages of travelers and makes an adventurous family holiday trip. You do not have to trek 5 to 6 hours a day during the Upper Mustang overland tour. We also have trekking program for the Upper Mustang.
Following the upper Kali Gandaki river valley, you will drive past remote villages via mountain passes and canyons. The roads are not well made, so the ride will be bumpy and quite thrilling. However, the magical mountain panoramas and arid landscapes will pay for all the exhaustion.
Unlike other parts of the Himalayas, Upper Mustang boasts a very different landscape and terrain. It is much more like the Tibetan plateau. The sand fields, canyons, and rocky gorges replace the dense forests and lush valleys. This is because Upper Mustang is located in the rain shadow area of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges.
What to expect during the Upper Mustang overland tour?
Our Upper Mustang Overland Tour itinerary is well-designed to let you have an adventurous yet gradual and immersive journey in the Himalayas. We want you to enjoy nature without rushing. You will spend three nights in Kathmandu and two nights in Pokhara. During this time, join our friendly tour guide and visit some ancient historical and natural sites in both cities.
Explore Nepali art, architecture, culture, and beliefs. Get to see Nepali city and village life. Enjoy the warm hospitality of the locals wherever you go and indulge in delicious Nepali delicacies. During the overland tour, you will come across lovely terraced fields, apple orchards, and meadows.
Soak your body in natural hot springs in Tatopani and visit ancient monasteries throughout the tour. Witness stunning mountain views and barren hills. Cross high mountain passes like Yamada La (3,850 m/12,631 ft) and Lo La (3,950 m/12,959 ft). The route is dotted with numerous stupas, chortens, mani walls, and prayer flags.
Lo Manthang, the capital of Upper Mustang, is located close to the Tibetan border. It stretches south to north towards the Tibetan border. The majority of the locals in Upper Mustang follow Tibetan Buddhism and speak the semi-Tibetan language with different dialects. Meet with communities like Thakali and Gurung.
Towards the end of the Upper Mustang Overland Jeep Ride Tour, you will visit an important pilgrim site in Nepal- Muktinath Temple. Follow the deepest gorge in the world to Jomsom and drive back to Kathmandu via Pokhara. In the lower part of the route, you will get to witness vibrant and lush landscapes.
Historical monuments and bustling markets of Kathmandu
Our Upper Mustang Overland Jeep Ride Tour includes a short but guided UNESCO World Heritage Sites visit on the second of the itinerary. You will spend 4-5 hours of the day visiting monuments such as Monkey Temple, Pashupatinath Temple, Boudhnah Stupa, and Kathmandu Durbar Square. All these places are a must-visit and present the intricate Nepali art and architecture.
Similarly, around all these monuments are local markets that you can explore. The surroundings of Boudhnath Stupa and Kathmandu Durbar Square have the most bustling markets. Thamel, Asan, and Indra Chowk are popular areas for shopping. Explore the traditional goods, handicrafts, spices, jewelry, food, and textiles.
Lakes, museums, and waterfalls in Pokhara
Pokhara is known as the city of lakes. You will spend two nights here. Our Mustang overland tour also combines a guided tour in Pokhara. During your time in Pokhara enjoy the tranquility of Phewa Lake. Witness gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. Explore museums like the International Mountain Museum, Likewise, visit tourist sites such as Davis Falls, Gupteshwor Cave, etc.
Natural hot springs in Tatopani
On the way from Pokhara to Mustang, you will spend a night at Tatopani, located at 1,190 meters (3,904 ft). It is a small settlement and has natural hot springs where tourists can relax by paying a small fee. These hot springs have healing properties that not only soothe your muscles but also benefit your skin.
Tatopani is surrounded by terraced fields, traditional villages, and views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges. The combination of the therapeutic hot springs and the natural beauty makes Tatopani a popular stop in the Annapurna region.
Kagbeni is located at 2,804 meters (9,199 ft). It is a beautiful village and gateway to Upper Mustang. The village is known for its well-preserved mud-brick houses, narrow alleys, and a medieval fortress. The architecture reflects the traditional Tibetan influences of the region. Here, you will visit a 15th-century monastery called Kag Chode Thupten Samphel Ling Monastery.
Jomsom, at 2,700 meters (8,856 ft), is a major village in the Mustang region. It is located in the lower part of the Mustang and serves as the main economic hub. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, Jomsom has numerous infrastructures, including ATMs, high-end lodges, airports, gear shops, restaurants, etc. Your time here will be magnificent.
Kali Gandaki gorge and Shaligram
The Kali Gandaki Gorge is known as the deepest gorge in the world. It is carved by the Kali Gandaki River as it flows between the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna mountain ranges. The gorge is renowned for its dramatic landscapes, with towering cliffs and stunning views of the snow-covered mountains. The Kali Gandaki Gorge was the trade route between Tibet, Nepal, and India for centuries.
Shaligram is a fossilized ammonite stone found only in the Kali Gandaki River. It is known as the golden black rock and is considered holy by Hindus. Shaligrams are believed to represent the various forms of Lord Vishnu. These stones come in various shapes and sizes. They are often kept in households for daily worship, and larger Shaligrams are enshrined in many temples.
Lo Manthang is the capital of Upper Mustang and is also known as the Walled City or the Last Forbidden Kingdom. It is situated at 3,850 meters (12,631 ft). It is one of the main highlights of the Upper Mustang overland tour. Here, you will spend two nights and visit the king's palace and ancient monasteries.
The architecture of the city reflects Tibetan influences, with whitewashed buildings adorned with colorful prayer flags. Get to see the lifestyle and the culture of the locals. You will be amazed by their simplicity and generosity.
Ancient monasteries and sky caves
Upper Mustang is home to several ancient Buddhist monasteries that have withstood the test of time. These monasteries are not only religious centers but also warehouses of Tibetan Buddhist art and culture. Thubchen Gompa, Champa Lhakang, Namgyal Gompa, and Ghar Gompa are some centuries-old monasteries you will explore.
Upper Mustang is also very famous for its sky caves. They are ancient man-made caves carved into the cliffs of the Kali Gandaki Valley. These caves are believed to date back thousands of years and were used for meditation, habitation, and burial.
Tiji Festival Celebration
Tiji festival is the annual event celebrated in Lo Manthang. It is a three-day ritual known for its vibrant masked dances, cultural performances, and religious ceremonies. The Tiji Festival is rooted in Tibetan Buddhism and commemorates the victory of Lord Buddha's incarnation, Dorje Jono, over a demon named Man Tam Ru.
During the festival, the monks make huge mandalas and perform the mask dance, reenacting ancient stories through intricate dance performances. The dances are believed to dispel obstacles, bring prosperity, and purify the community.
We have a special package called Tiji Festival Trek that you can check out if you wish to participate in this festival. You can also customize the package and make it an overland tour.
Situated at an altitude of 3,800 meters (12,464 ft) in the lower Mustang region, Muktinath Temple is a sacred pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal. The temple complex houses a Vishnu temple and a Buddhist gompa, symbolizing the coexistence of Hinduism and Buddhism in the region.
Pilgrims believe that visiting Muktinath brings salvation and purifies the soul. The temple is famous for the 108 water spouts where pilgrims take a ritual bath, believed to cleanse them of sin. Muktinath is also known for its natural gas fires, which have been burning continuously for centuries.
During your overland tour to Upper Mustang, you will come across various lush apple orchards. The orchards are nestled amidst the hills and valleys. Apple farming has been a traditional livelihood for the locals here. The cultivation of apples has become a cultural practice, with the fruit being used in various forms, from fresh produce to local delicacies and even apple-based products like jams, wines, pies, and juices.
Arid landscapes and snow-capped mountain views
The Upper Mustang Overland Tour presents breathtaking arid landscapes like the Tibetan plateau. You will come across thorny bushes and low shrubs. The rugged landscape provides a habitat for wildlife, and lucky visitors might spot Himalayan blue sheep or other mountain fauna. Himalayan mountains like Dhaulagiri (8,167 m/26,795 ft), Nilgiri (7,061 m/23,166 ft), and Annapurna (8,091 m/26,545 ft) are seen along the way.
Sarangkot is a renowned hill station and viewpoint located on the outskirts of Pokhara. It is particularly famous for its spectacular sunrise and sunset views. Many local and foreign tourists also visit this place for paragliding. If you wish to paraglide, let us know. The viewpoint offers a 360-degree panorama of the surrounding landscapes, including Phewa Lake, Pokhara City, and the Annapurna and Machapuchare mountain ranges.