The Lower Mustang region of Nepal sits on both the classic Annapurna Circuit and is on the way to mysterious Upper Mustang, but it deserves more attention as a destination in its own right. A tour here will allow you to undertake some beautiful day hikes, witness the incredible dry landscape in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, and experience the Tibetan Buddhist culture of the local Gurung people.
Jomsom is the gateway to Lower Mustang and is a one-street town with lots of lodges, ranging from very cheap to very comfortable. (You can even enjoy Himalayan Java coffee here!) Kagbeni, an hour’s drive or three-four hour hike away, is more atmospheric. The medieval town has a crumbling palace, old monastery, mud-walled traditional homes and narrow lanes with prayer wheels. Spending a couple of nights in Jomsom and then a few more in Kagbeni is the ideal way to divide your time.
The winds in Mustang are very strong, and pick up by about 11 am each day. In the cooler seasons, they can also be bitterly cold. It is best to plan your days accordingly, to avoid the afternoon winds, and set out as early as possible.
Saturday, Sep 14, Day 1: Siliguri to Chitwan (415m/ 11hrs/ 500kms):
At the crack of dawn (5:30 AM) we ride out from Siliguri and head towards the Nepal border of Kakkarvitta which is 45kms away. Cross the border and complete immigration formalities of the vehicle (please carry original documents). Reset your watches to +5:45hrs (+15mins to IST). Drive whole day crossing the Koshi barrage that sells local fish and arrive at Chitwan at nightfall.
Sunday, Sep 15, Day 2: Chitwan Free Day
After breakfast participate in different Jungle activities at the Chitwan National Park. Activities include jungle safari, elephant bathing, canoe ride, Tharu Village Tour and Tharu Cultural Dance program in the evening with Nepali Dinner.
Monday, Sep 16, Day 3: Chitwan to Beni (1000m/ 6hrs/ 250kms)
After breakfast, Drive towards Mugling where the road splits to Kathmandu and Pokhara. Drive towards Pokhara beside the Trishuli River flowing downstream. Bypass Pokhara and drive towards Beni with is around 100kms from Pokhara.
Tuesday, Sep 17, Day 4: Beni to Kalopani (2450m/ 5hrs/ 62kms)
After breakfast is when the adventure begins. From Beni start driving north up towards the mountains. The gravel road will give way to offroad where we start ascending beside the Kali Gandaki Gorge the worlds deepest gorge. There is a continuous change in the topography with every twist and turn until our arrival at Kalopani.
Wednesday , Sep 18, Day 5: Kalopani to Jomsom (3710m/ 55kms/4hrs)
After breakfast, set out crossing the Thakali and Magar village of Marpha. From Marpha head towards Jomsom which has heavy winds post midday. From Jomsom the road again becomes pitched towards the last stretch to Muktinath. Offer ones prayers to both Hindu and Buddhist gods and drive down to Jomsom for the night.
Thursday, Sep 19, Day 6: Jomsom to Tatopani (1200m/ 80kms/ 5hrs)
After a leisure breakfast beside the mountains, drive down towards Kagbeni the gateway of Upper Mustang. From Kagbeni head back down towards Kalopani for lunch and drive down to Tatopani. Tatopani (hot water) offers a natural Sulphur spring to relax and take a dip in the pool.
Friday, Sep 20, Day 7: Tatopani To Pokhara (827m/ 115kms/ 4hrs)
After breakfast retrace the route down to Pokhara. In Pokhara check in at the hotel at Sarangkot. Relax at the hotel and enjoy the evening watching Pokhara below.
Saturday, Sep 21, Day 8: Pokhara Free Day
Wake up and watch the sun rise from Sarnagkot. After breakfast checkout and drive to a hotel at the lakeside. Free day to roam around the city to visit the Shanti Stupa, Devi’s Fall and Gufa and go boating at the Phewa Lake and chill by the lakeside. Adventure activities like Paragliding, Canyoing, bungee jumping and zipline can also be pursued.
Sunday, Sep 22, Day 9: Pokhara to Bardibas (300m/ 350kms/ 8hrs)
After breakfast drive back towards Siliguri. Cross Mugling and then Chitwan and halt at Bardibas at night.
Monday, Sep 23, Day 10: Bardibas to Siliguri (300m/ 350kms/ 8hrs)
Retrace back on this final day towards Siliguri. The broder town of Kakkarvitta/ Panitanki will be reached in 6-7hrs and then the last hr to reach Siliguri town. Head back home with tired bodies but minds refreshed with the adventure of the last 10 days.