Mustang Tiji Festival Trek
Mustang Tiji Festival TrekLocated in the Himalayas of Nepal on the border with Tibet, this miniature royal domain answers to its own king even as its host country has rejected a national monarchy. Mustang’s culture has descended in its pure form from the Red Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism (contrasting to the Yellow Hat sect to which the Dalai Lama belongs.) and it remains one of the only spots on earth where Tibetans live according to their own unimpeded traditions. We will walk amidst stunning sculpted rock formations backed by snow-capped peaks. We will visit homes, villages and active monasteries, and the welcome will be warm.
The Tiji Festival in Mustang’s ancient walled capitol city of Lo Manthang will be the highlight. A thousand men, women and children participate in the annual elaborate re-enactment of the Tiji myth, telling of a deity named Dorje Jon who battles his demon father to save the kingdom from destruction. It will be our unique privilege to witness the same color, costume, dancing and ritual that were displayed by these people in this place more than six hundred years ago.
Day to Day Itinerary:
Day 01: Arrive Kathmandu
Day 02: Kathmandu
Day 03: Kathmandu/Pokhara
Day 04: Pokhara/Jomsom
Day 05: Jomsom
Day 06: Jomsom/Kagbeni (3.5 hrs)
Day 07: Kagbeni/Chele (5-6 hrs)
Day 08: Chele/Geling ( 5 hrs)
Day 09: Geling/Charang (6 hrs)
Day 10: Charang/Lo Manthang (5 hrs)
Day 11: Tiji Festival
Day 12: Lo Manthang
Day 13: Lo Manthang/Ghemi (via Lo Gekar)
Day 14 – 16: Heading back to Jomsom
Day 17: Jomsom/Kathmandu via Pokhara
Day 18: Kathmandu
Day 19: Kathmandu – Onward.
Day 1 Arrive Kathmandu
The adventure begins once we arrive at the airport in Kathmandu, a city that seamlessly combines the medieval and the modern, and which also boasts more World Heritage sights than any other city in the world. We will be met by Pemba Sherpa, owner of JOURNEYS Nepal. He and his staff will transfer us to our centrally located hotel. On the drive we’ll have our senses challenged by the sights, people and smells, all of which are so different from those we are used to. Pemba will be available to help with anything from last minute packing advice for the trek to suggesting places to see, shop or eat in Kathmandu. In the evening we and our guides will have a delicious welcome dinner and briefing session, at which time our senior staff will explain arrangements, logistics and schedules for the coming trek.
Day 2 Kathmandu
This extra day in Kathmandu is very helpful for overcoming jet-lag, acquiring necessary permits and beginning your appreciation for the Nepali culture and customs. We have included a tour of Kathmandu and surrounding sites, including Swayambhunath (the “Monkey Temple”), Boddhanath, Patan (an ancient city), and the Old Bazaar. The remainder of the day is free for everyone to the explore the Thamel area on their own. This unique neighborhood is home to hundreds of little
Day 3 Kathmandu/Pokhara
In the morning we’ll take a flight to Pokhara, a nice little tourist town with some wonderful restaurants and mountain scenery. It is known as a place of leisure and trading, as well as a starting point for many different treks. Time permitting we’ll visit the Tibetan Refugee center. In the late afternoon there will be free time to explore around the lake area.
Day 4 Pokhara/Jomsom
Early morning we’ll catch a breathtaking 35 minute flight to Jomsom. The flight takes us up through the Kali Gandaki gorge, the world’s largest, with its towering snow-capped peaks of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. It will seem as though we can reach out and touch the peaks! Below us will be magnificent views of waterfalls, canyons, and terraced fields. This is truly one of the world’s most spectacular flights! Upon arrival in Jomsom, we’ll meet the rest of our trekking staff for lunch. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore the village.
Day 5 Jomsom
Jomsom is a very picturesque Tibetan village that sits right in the high mountains at 8, 800 feet. We can each decide on our own how we would like to spend this day. The village is worthy of exploration on foot, and there are also some wonderful day hikes that would certainly introduce our legs to the idea of trekking.
Day 6 Jomsom/Kagbeni (3.5 hrs)
Today we start our trek by doing a fairly easy section of the trail along the Kali Gandaki River to Kagbeni, the gateway to the restricted zone of Mustang and one of the major trading routes between Tibet and India. The traders brought salt from Tibet and barley, spices and clothes from India. After the Chinese invasion of Tibet, trade came to a halt and many of the rich villages lost their revenue and later, many of their people. Nowadays, though there is again some trade, the majority of village income comes from tourism. As we enter the dusty village, legend says that we should think good thoughts, leaving all bad ones outside the town gates.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging: Tent or Guest House
Day 7 Kagbeni/Chele (5-6 hrs)
From Kagbeni to Tangbe, the trail winds along the east riverbank and occasionally ventures out into the rocky river bed. Initially, the trail climbs steeply to the top of the hill but we’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of prayer flags, stupas, and villages. After crossing several windblown plains and passing through a canyon, we arrive at the Mustang village of Tanbe. This small village is filled with whitewashed adobe houses nestled against each other and is surrounded by beautifully terraced fields of wheat, barley, and buckwheat, as well as small apple orchards. On the lower side of Tangbe, we’ll see three elegant chortens and the remnants of an old abandoned fort. As we continue our walk, be on the lookout for black ammonites, small fossils of coiled sea mollusks that inhabited the Tethys Sea and covered the Tibetan plateau millions of years before the Himalayas were formed. They are considered to be holy by many local people. Continue on to Chele, where we overnight.
Day 8 Chele/Geling ( 5 hrs)
The climb from Chele is up a fairly steep spur to a cairn at 10,329 feet, from which there is a view of the village of Gyagar across the canyon.The trail, which is literally carved into the side of this spectacular canyon, continually offers spectacular views. After crossing a mountain pass, the trail makes a long gradual descent on a pleasant trail to Samer. Finally after passing through several small canyons that are home to cool streams and shady juniper trees, we arrivie in Geling at 11,880 feet. Though the largest village before entering Upper Mustang, is a rarely visited gem. The town, set among numerous poplar groves and a central stream, boasts one of the oldest Gompas in Mustang. Spend the evening relaxing in front of the central field, where you can observe grain being threshed, animals grazing, and children playing.
Day 9 Geling/Charang (6 hrs)
From Geling, the trail climbs gently through fields of barley and groves of poplar trees up the center of the valley, passing below the settlement of Tama Gaun and an imposing chorten. After rejoining the direct trail, it becomes a steep slow climb across the head of the valley to the Nyi La pass at 13,035 feet, the highest point reached on the trek. Charang is a maze of fields, willow trees and houses separated by stone walls at the top of the large Charang Cho Canyon. The huge five story white dzong and red gompa are perched on the edge of the Kali Gandagi gorge on the east end of the valley. Overnight in Charang.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10 Charang/Lo Manthang (5 hrs)
Today we’ll move slowly but steadly up a rocky trail to a cairn on a ridge opposite the village at 11,841 feet. The trail turns north and climbs gently to a large isolated chorten that marks the boundary between Charang and Lo. After a rest break we’ll travel across a desert-like landscape painted in every hue of grey and yellow. Finally, we reach our destination- the whitewashed walls of the city of Lo, which sits among fields filled with horses and yaks. We may even have time to see the start of the Tiji festival.
Day 11 Tiji Festival
We spend the better part of the day at the Tiji Festival watching all the dances and celebrations that take place, including horse racing and a giant tug-of-war. We’ll see Tibetan women in their traditional clothing and colorful jewelry, monks in their robes and dancers in elaborate costumes. This is an almost unknown festival that most Nepal trekkers never experience. Definitely bring your cameras along today!
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12 Lo Manthang
In addition to the festival, there are many other activities in Lo Manthang from which you can choose. Spend today exploring the intimate alleyways and courtyards of the city, or you can rent a horse and visit some of the other villages in the area.
Day 13 Lo Manthang/Ghemi (via Lo Gekar)
We have the opportunity to vary our return route and visit two villages that we did not see on the trek northwards. At Ghemi we’ll visit Gar Gompa, the oldest acrive gompa in Nepal. Ghemi is also known for its many hectres of beautiful fields and for its white- washed houses. The trail to Lo Gekar is not a main trading route and is crisscrossed with herders trails, so our local guide is particularly useful here. Todays trek will cross several valleys, some lush and others barren. Near the end of the hike the trail then makes a long rocky descent down a ravine to a grassy valley, where Lo Gekar is situated within a group of large trees by a stream. Lo Gekar, which means “Pure Virtue of Lo,” is also known as Ghar Gompa, or “House Temple.”
Day 14 – 16 Heading back to Jomsom
These last days again will bring us beautifully rich scenery and great hiking on our way back to Jomsom. Our trek will take us thru Samar and Kagbeni before ending in Jomson
Day 17 Jomsom/Kathmandu via Pokhara
Depart early in the morning (by flight) to Pokhara, and then continue on to Kathmandu. Or, if you wish to spend more time in Pokhara, this can be arranged.
Day 18 Kathmandu
We consider today an “insurance day” just in case the flight can’t land due to weather or other concerns on the 29th. Otherwise, we will go to see the ancient city of Bhaktaphur, once a separate kingdom. The city still retains an architectural and design spirit of a feudal state focused on artistic and religious glorification. You will feel you are walking back in time strolling through the core of the old city now preserved and interpreted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take some time to look in the shops to observe potters, weavers, brass-makers, religious artisans, Brahmin priests and spice merchants carrying out their professions as they have done here for hundreds of years. We will end our journey with a farewell dinner this evening.
Day 19 Kathmandu – Onward
Today we’ll say goodbye to Nepal and our wonderful staff before being transferred to the airport for our onward flights. If you wish, you can continue your travels with either an extension within Nepal to Chitwan National Park or to other Asian countries.