What is Upper Mustang Trek Difficulty Level: All You Need to Know

  • Jyoti Maharjan
  • Last Updated on Dec 29, 2023

The Upper Mustang Trek is a moderate level of trek in the Himalayas of the Annapurna range. Although it is quite distant and isolated, trekking trails in this region are not difficult, it is smooth on the legs. The path most of the time is wide and spacious for vehicles to drive by. Only a few segments of the trek are through narrow paths.

The Upper Mustang trek difficulty level is classified as moderate, presenting an ideal balance for trekking enthusiasts seeking a fulfilling and manageable adventure in this captivating region. Embark on a captivating journey through the ancient Buddhist kingdom, guided by the wisdom of seasoned experts on Mustang trips.

Uncover priceless advice and preparation tips that promise to elevate your experience, ensuring not only lasting memories but also a seamlessly enjoyable adventure. While you are visiting Mustang Nepal, you can find similarities with Tibet because of the relative culture and language.

Being physically fit is essential for any trek. It is recommended to prepare yourself by doing some cardio exercises, such as running, cycling, or hiking, before visiting Nepal.

The Mustang trek demands physical fitness, mental toughness, and high-altitude acclimatization. Trekking involves long walking hours, steep ascents and descents, and unpredictable weather conditions, which can make the trek challenging.

Table of Contents

Highlights of Trek

  • Explore the culture and tradition highly influenced by Tibet
  • A close view of the Himalayas, such as Annapurna, Nilgiri and Dhauligiri
  • Four-story chooser cave
  • The Buddhist monasteries were built in the 13th century
  • Exploration of Lo Manthang, an independent kingdom
  • Kali Gandaki gorge, the deepest gorge
  • Visit the forbidden kingdom of Lo
  • Trekking through several caves, monasteries, gompas, Chortens, rock paintings.

Preparation tips for Upper Mustang Trek

There are many routes to go to Upper Mustang area with different difficulty levels, from moderate to strenuous. The upper mustang Teri la Pass trek via Nar Phu Valley, Upper Dolpa to Upper Mustang and Damodar Kunda Trek are the strenuous trek of mustang area.

No worries; a regular trek to Upper Mustang can easily go up by simple physical efforts. Trekkers must walk 5 to 6 hours a day to reach Upper Mustang. It takes 12 to 15 days (about 2 weeks) to complete. Explore villages along the way, where charming tea houses offer delicious food and cozy accommodations, enhancing your trekking experience. We advise you to do daily physical exercise, yoga and other cardiovascular training before going on the mustang trek. Training and preparation make your trip easy, comfortable, and enjoyable.

The Upper Mustang Trek is a moderate and rewarding trek that offers a unique cultural and natural experience. Ensure a safe and comfortable trek by prioritizing thorough preparation, acclimatization, and appropriate gear. It is advisable to take a guide or join a group trek to ensure your safety and enjoy the trek to its fullest.

Upper Mustang Trek Difficulty

How Altitude Make Upper Mustang Trek Difficult

The high altitude presents one of the main challenges when walking to the upper mustang. The trek is less difficult than other high-altitude journeys as Upper Mustang lies below 4000m, ensuring a more accessible and enjoyable experience. The highest point, Lo Manthang, is 3800m above sea level. The journey to Mustang is challenging, even if it is at moderate altitude.

Attitude sickness is a disorder that can be brought on by elevation. Over 2500m above sea level, altitude sickness can occur. The oxygen level decreases as altitude increases, making breathing more challenging.

However, should signs of altitude sickness arise during trekking time in the Upper Mustang, they typically present as mild and uncomplicated. You might have a few symptoms, including nausea and mild headaches. All ages can enjoy this experience in the novel environment with lower air supply, ensuring accessibility and enjoyment.

Trekkers should use acclimatization measures at higher altitudes to reduce these issues. You might take a break if you don’t feel like going on with your walk or if your body isn’t allowing you to ascend to a higher height.

Walking Hours and Difficulty in Upper Mustang Trek

The trail demands that you walk for 7 hours at most each day. Also, the overall trekking ends in around 15 days or less from the day of trekking, which infers that this trek is easy to undertake based on the trekking duration.

Be mindful that a 7-hour walk is a significant effort that demands attention and preparation. It is very challenging and painful as well, but at the end of the trek, you will be rewarded with the immense glory of the hidden Himalayas, and this is worth every step you would have taken to reach there.

Understanding the Climate of Upper Mustang

Another element that makes the travel to Upper Mustang Trek difficult is the climate. Mustang has the same four distinct seasons as the rest of the nation. All the seasons are suitable for trekking. However, there are a few things to think about before hiking in every season.

The monsoon overlaps with rains during the summer months, making the routes slick and difficult to navigate. In addition, winter is extremely frosty.

The trek through the Upper Mustang encounters a winter embrace with temperatures plunging below freezing, presenting a formidable test. Optimal trekking delights, however, bloom during the crisp seasons of autumn and spring. The ebb and flow of trekking comfort, inevitably, mirror the distinct patterns of the local climate.

Trek-to-mustang-Difficulty
Trekto Mustang, Photo Credit to Elena

Tackling Altitude Challenges in Upper Mustang Trek

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is caused by acute exposure to low amounts of oxygen at high altitudes. It mostly occurs at an altitude above 2500m. However, Altitude is not a big issue while trekking to the Upper Mustang. Despite the trek to the Himalayan region, you will be trekking below 4000m throughout the trekking period. You may feel several symptoms of Altitude Sickness such as headaches, nausea, or vomiting, but there is less probability of severe complications from altitude.

Despite being an easy trek to the Himalayas, Mustang trekking is still challenging for the freshers, beginners, and people who are the first to trek at high altitudes.

Ascending brings lower oxygen levels and thinner atmospheric pressure, adding to the unique challenges of higher altitudes. Your body suddenly experiences new environments, because of which you may face difficulty breathing. The lack of proper acclimatization may cause altitude sickness. Sometimes, even in a healthy state, one may suffer from mountain sickness. Likewise, one may face problems like vomiting, nausea, headaches, loss of appetite, and most commonly, fainting.

The mountain sickness may be mild or dangerous, depending on the people and how they approached the trail. There are several ways one can trek in the Nepal Himalaya without getting altitude sickness.

Upper Mustang's Weather and Temperature Challenges for an Epic Trek

The trek's difficulty also depends on temperature and weather. There are four seasons in Upper Mustang, just like everywhere else: spring, summer, Autumn, and winter.

The spring season is a perfect time to trek the Upper Mustang. The average daytime temperature during this season ranges from 16 to 22 degrees Celsius. This time of year, the weather is pleasant, with a clear view of the mountains and the Himalayas. The temperature at night ranges from 0 to 2 degrees Celsius.

This is great weather for trekking, making your journey much easier. During this season, there are a lot of tourists. The Tiji festival, one of Upper Mustang’s most important festivals, is also held during this season.

Because the Upper Mustang is in the rain shadow region of the Annapurna region, it rarely rains during the summer. As a result, you can savor the dry and mild weather during this time of the year, enhancing your overall experience. The daytime temperature ranges from 13 to 20 degrees Celsius on average. Nighttime temperatures drop to -2 to 0 degrees Celsius, creating a crisp and refreshing atmosphere.

Autumn is considered another best time to trek the Upper Mustang. Autumn offers great visibility. The temperature ranges from 12 to 20 degrees Celsius during the day and -5 to -3 degrees Celsius at night. This will not be an issue because you will be indoors in the mornings and evenings.

During the winter, the Upper Mustang goes into hibernation. The average temperature during the day is 0 to 8 degrees Celsius, and the average temperature at night is -20 to -15 degrees Celsius.

The Upper Mustang experiences snowfall during the winter. It would be difficult to trek in this part of Mustang during this season. It could be challenging to do this hike without the proper supplies and equipment. So, hiking in Upper Mustang is not difficult; just pick the appropriate season.

Mustang Trek Challenges

How hard is the Upper Mustang Trek?

The trek to the Himalayan regions is challenging. This is a moderately difficult trek, passing through several terrains with frequent ups and downs at constant high altitudes. Besides, several factors are causing the trek to be more strenuous.

The difficulty of the Upper Mustang trek can vary depending on factors like your fitness level and previous trekking experience. Generally, it is considered a moderate trek with some challenging sections due to the high altitudes and varying weather conditions.

Altitude sickness is a concern, so acclimatization is crucial. It's advisable to be in good physical shape and consult with a healthcare professional before attempting it. Additionally, the duration of the trek and the remote location can add to the challenge, but the unique cultural and scenic aspects make it a rewarding experience for many trekkers.

Mental and Physical Challenges in Mustang Trek

Physical and mental fitness are the most important factors to consider when trekking. If you are not in good physical or mental health, the journey may be more dangerous and risky. A couple of months of regular walking or jogging before the race is a terrific way to get in shape for trekking.

It increases stamina to combat shortness of breath and high altitude, making the walk simpler. Engaging in mindful meditation, where one attentively observes the rhythmic dance of breath, holds the potential to alleviate both mental and physical stress, offering a reprieve from unnecessary suffering.

If you have a pre-existing heart, high blood pressure, or lung issue, you should consult your doctor before the trip. You will discover the trek is a lot easier than the others if you are physically and mentally healthy.

What kind of fitness are required for upper mustang trek?

Achieving a good level of fitness is paramount for a fulfilling experience on the Upper Mustang trek. This journey involves navigating diverse and challenging terrains, including steep ascents and descents, at altitudes exceeding 3,000 meters.

It is essential for sustained periods of walking, while leg strength, built through exercises like squats and lunges, proves valuable for the varying landscapes. Endurance training, gradually increasing walking duration, prepares trekkers for the long trekking days. Given the high-altitude nature of the trek, acclimatization becomes crucial, and prior exposure to elevated terrains aids in adapting to reduced oxygen levels.

Overall, a well-rounded fitness regimen is key to ensuring trekkers are physically equipped for the challenges presented by the unique topography and elevations encountered during the trek.

Exploring Challenging Landscapes in Upper Mustang

The trek, like most Himalayan treks, is full of ups and downs. This journey has very few flat stretches. The walking routes or route of the Upper Mustang are signposted, so you may expect frequent ascents and descents.

When it comes to terrain, it is at a reasonable level, making progress isn't as smooth as city highways. If you want a bit more excitement, you could ask your guide to lead you down off-beaten paths; however, be sure that you have a trained and certified guide with you to ensure your safety. Early trek preparation is strongly advised for less challenging treks.

Difficulty of Mustang

Entry Challenges: Permits and Fees for Mustang Trek

Upper Mustang is a restricted area, and the fee for a person is $500. It is usually mandatory to trek with at least two people. Solo trekking may not be allowed. However, regulations may change, so it's crucial to check the latest information from the relevant authorities or local trekking agencies for any updates.

Are permits required for the upper mustang trek. How can we obtain them?

Yes, permits are required for the trek. To embark on this journey, you need both an Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) and a Special Restricted Area Permit for Upper Mustang. Here's how you can obtain them:

  • Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP):

You can obtain the ACAP in Kathmandu or Pokhara.Visit the Nepal Tourism Board or its official entry points in Kathmandu, Pokhara.Fill out the permit application form, provide the necessary details, and submit the required fee.Have a copy of your passport and two passport-sized photos for the permit.

  • Special Restricted Area Permit for Upper Mustang:

This permit is obtained through a registered trekking agency in Nepal, and independent trekkers are not allowed in this region.Choose a trekking agency that will handle the permit process for you.Submit a copy of your passport, visa, and two passport-sized photos to the agency.The agency will apply for the Special Restricted Area Permit on your behalf.

Ensure that you apply for these permits well in advance of your trekking dates. The regulations and permit processes may be subject to change, so it's advisable to check with the local authorities or your chosen trekking agency for the latest information.

Hiring Guide and Porter

Some trekking trails in Nepal may not require a guide. However, you must be accompanied by a certified trekking guide for the Mustang trip. A guide will help you deal with an emergency and be safe.

Hiring a porter will help you in many ways. It will make your journey much easier. You will be able to enjoy nature and beauty without worrying about your weight.

Food and Accommodations

Mustang is a remote region in Nepal. Thus, the menu here is a little higher than in Kathmandu and Pokhara, reflecting the region's unique economic context. Limited choices and mainly local foods are served.

As for accommodation, Upper Mustang has many tea houses and homestays. As a result, finding lodging won't be a problem. It all depends on your budget and how much you intend to spend.

Transportation on trek

There are many options available between Kathmandu and Pokhara. There are local buses, tourist buses, daily flights, and even private jeeps. But the Jomsom flight may be delayed or cancelled; the route is fully off-road and narrow, which may add some difficulty to your trip.

Anyway, taking a flight can be convenient, which makes your trips a lot easier. You can also check out a Jeep tour if you get tired.

Things to be know before trekking to Upper Mustang

  • Enjoy a relaxed walking experience by taking gentle steps
  • Dress in layers because the temperature changes as altitude changes.
  • A powerful wind from the north of the valley dominates the Upper Mustang route. Thus, having windproof gear is highly useful.
  • Allow extra time to explore local villages in case of flight delays, mainly during the monsoon season.
  • Make reservations for hotels and flights well in advance during peak season.
  • Keep hydrated. Bring water bottles with you.

Suggestions and Conclusions

For those seeking a trek that blends cultural richness with awe-inspiring landscapes, the Upper Mustang Trek stands as a remarkable choice. Navigating through the ancient kingdom, trekkers are treated to the unique experience of exploring Tibetan-influenced villages, centuries-old monasteries, and the iconic Mustang Cave dwellings.

While the trek presents a moderate challenge, its allure lies in the remote and untouched beauty it unveils. To ensure a fulfilling journey, adequate physical preparation and acclimatization are essential due to the varying altitudes.

The trek offers a harmonious cultural immersion and natural splendor, making it an enticing adventure for those seeking a truly extraordinary trekking experience. If you are planning to go with any trekking agencies, you can contact Himalayan Recreation.

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Jyoti Maharjan

Jyoti Maharjan

Jyoti is our competent team member, a travel enthusiast, and a passionate explorer of the majestic Himalayas of Nepal. With a Bachelor's degree in Travel and Tourism Management from NATHM, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Himalayan Recreation.

She has primarily been working as an exceptional content writer and planner for Himalayan Recreation. Her passion for writing shines through in the travel content she creates. She takes great joy in sharing the beauty and wonders of Nepal's mountains and nature through her writings.

In addition to content writing, she also holds a professional trekking guide license and has guided multiple visitors to various parts of Nepal. Although she was born and raised in Kathmandu, she has developed a deep bond with the mountains. Those high peaks serve as her constant source of inspiration and motivation.

With her extensive travels across different paths in Nepal, she has grown a connection with the mountains and has a keen understanding of their significance to both locals and travelers alike.

When she's not guiding or writing, you'll probably find her on the trails, exploring the breathtaking landscapes and immersing herself in the serenity of nature. As a valued member of our team, along with her expertise, she further brings a genuine passion for travel and the outdoors. Contact me by WhatsApp or Email, I am available online 24/7.

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