Mustang is a remote sub-kingdom within the Himalayan region of north-central Nepal. The people of Mustang are ethnically Tibetan; the population is only about 15,000 total. Most live along the banks of the Kali Gandaki River, once a major trade route through this mountainous region. There is no Potala Palace or Drepung Monastery in Mustang, but this arid ancient land tucked away in the far north of Nepal, beyond the snowy Himalayas, is like a flashback to the Tibet of the 1950s and before, when the Dalai Lama still reigned in Lhasa. Untouched by modern civilisation, isolated in its rugged mountain terrain, a way of life persists here in Mustang that is fast disappearing in Tibet proper. And unlike Tibet proper – overrun by China in the 1950s – Mustang’s ancient Buddhist monasteries haven’t been desecrated or destroyed and religious leaders haven’t been thrown into prison.
In addition to trekking routes through the Lo Kingdom (“Upper Mustang”) and along the Annapurna Circuit in lower Mustang, the district is famous for the springs and village of Muktinath (a popular Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage site), apples, and Marpha brandy. Mustang was a lost kingdom of Tibet where traditions may remain more Tibetan than in Tibet proper following its annexation by China.
The trek is a two-week affair and expensive. Individuals are not allowed; permits are given only to groups of 2 and above. Contact Adventure Connexion Office in Lazimpat, Kathmandu. The trekking agency will organise permits, which cost as per government changing price per person, and other formalities.