Introduction to the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek in 2024

Nepal High Trek
9 min readMay 13, 2024

As an avid trekker and outdoor enthusiast, I’ve always been drawn to the captivating landscapes with stunning views of the numerous peaks of Nepal. The Himalayan region has long been a mecca for adventurers seeking to challenge themselves and immerse in the profound beauty of these majestic Annapurna Mountains with diverse charming cultures too. Among the many trekking options available, the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek stands out as a true gem, offering a unique and unforgettable experience.

In this blog, I’ll guide you through the wonders of these extraordinary treks, highlighting why it’s the ultimate adventure to embark on in 2024. From the stunning vistas to the rich cultural encounters, prepare to be swept away by the magic of this incredible journey.

Why choose the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek in 2024?

The Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek is a truly exceptional journey and the most delightful destination in Nepal. Firstly, the combination of the iconic Annapurna Circuit and the mystical Upper Mustang region creates a trekking route that is unparalleled in its diversity and grandeur.

The Annapurna Circuit is renowned for its breathtaking mountain scenery, with towering peaks, pristine glaciers, and lush, verdant valleys. It’s one of the finest adventures for those soaking into nature and culture. It has combined hidden elements of nature and culture. However, the Upper Mustang, a former forbidden kingdom with a rich Tibetan heritage, and local Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, adds a layer of cultural exploration and discovery that elevates the entire experience.

Furthermore, 2024 is an ideal year to undertake this trek, as it coincides with the reopening of the Upper Mustang region after a period of restricted access. This presents a unique opportunity to witness the region’s traditions and way of life before it undergoes further modernization and change.

Trekking route and itinerary for the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek

The Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek typically requires around 19–27 days to complete, depending on your pace and any additional side excursions you may wish to undertake. This route can be divided into several distinct segments:

  1. Annapurna Circuit: Beginning in Besi Sahar, the trek takes you through the lush, forested valleys of the Annapurna region. As well as, the trail gradually ascends to the iconic Thorong La Pass (5,416 meters/17,769 feet), offering breathtaking views of the Annapurna massif and the Tibetan Plateau. The Annapurna Circuit trail combines the world’s highest Tilicho Lake 4919 m and the world’s longest Thorong La pass 5416m.
  2. Upper Mustang: After crossing the Thorong La Pass, the trek continues into the remote and arid region of Upper Mustang, where you’ll explore the ancient walled city of Lo Manthang, the former capital of the Kingdom of Mustang. This region is characterized by its unique Tibetan-influenced culture, monasteries, and dramatic, lunar-like landscapes. This trekking route highly offers the old heritage Buddhist monasteries, and local customs with authentic separate villages like Kagbeni, Chhusang, Ghiling, and Charang Lomanthang. In Lomanthang you can visit to the local royal palace with nature caves too.
  3. Return via Jomsom: The return leg of the trek takes you back through the Kali Gandaki Gorge, the world’s deepest gorge, and the town of Jomsom, a hub for trekkers and climbers in the Annapurna region.

Throughout the trek, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, visit remote villages, and witness the daily lives of the Tibetan-influenced people who call this region home.

When is the best time to go on the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek in 2024?

The optimal time to grab the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek in the spring (April-May) or autumn (October-November) seasons would be a great and favorable time in Nepal. These periods offer the most favorable weather conditions, with clear skies, moderate temperatures, and reduced chances of rainfall, warmest season or snowfall.

The spring season, in particular, is a wonderful time to experience the trek, as the landscape is adorned with vibrant wildflowers and the snow-capped peaks are at their most photogenic. The autumn season, on the other hand, provides a more arid and serene environment, with fewer crowds and the chance to witness the changing colors of the foliage.

Regardless of the season, it’s essential to be prepared for the unpredictable mountain weather and to have a flexible itinerary that can adapt to any changes in conditions.

Permits and regulations for the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek

Trekking in the Annapurna and Upper Mustang regions requires several permits and regulations to be observed. Here’s a breakdown of the key requirements:

  1. Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP): This permit is mandatory for trekking in the Annapurna region and can be obtained from the Nepal Tourism Board or authorized trekking agencies.
  2. Upper Mustang Restricted Area Permit: As Upper Mustang is a restricted area, a special permit is required to enter this region. This permit can be obtained through a licensed trekking agency.
  3. TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System) Card: All trekkers must obtain a TIMS card, which serves as a registration and identification document for trekking in Nepal.
  4. Group Size Limitations: The Upper Mustang region has a limit on the maximum group size, typically 8–12 individuals. Larger groups may require special permission.

It’s crucial to ensure that all necessary permits and documentation are in order before embarking on the trek. Your trekking agency will be able to assist you with the application and procurement process.

Physical fitness and training for the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek

The Annapurna Circuit with Upper Mustang Trek is an unforgettable journey that requires a good level of physical fitness and preparation. The trek involves long days of walking, steep ascents, and high-altitude conditions, which can be demanding even for experienced trekkers.

To ensure a successful and enjoyable journey, it’s recommended to start a comprehensive training regimen several months before your departure. This should include a combination of cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and high-altitude simulations (if possible) to build endurance and prepare your body for the rigors of the trek.

Regular hikes with a weighted backpack, as well as regular gym workouts, can be highly beneficial in building the necessary stamina and muscle strength. It’s also important to pay attention to your nutrition and hydration, as these factors will play a crucial role in your overall performance and well-being during the trek.

Thorong La Pass

Essential packing list for the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek

Packing for the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek requires careful consideration to ensure you have the necessary gear and equipment to navigate the diverse terrain and weather conditions. Here’s a comprehensive packing list to help you prepare:

Category

Items

Clothing

- Breathable, moisture-wicking base layers
- Insulated jackets and pants
- Waterproof and windproof outer layers
- Warm socks and gloves
- Comfortable trekking boots
- Hat and sunglasses

Gear

- Trekking backpack (35–50 liters)
- Sleeping bag and mat
- Water bottle and hydration system
- Headlamp and spare batteries
- Trekking poles
- First-aid kit and personal medications

Accessories

- Camera and extra batteries
- Power bank and charging cables
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- Toiletries and personal hygiene items
- Travel documents and permits
- Cash in local currency (Nepalese Rupees)

It’s important to pack light and only bring the essentials, as you’ll be carrying your gear for extended periods. Your trekking agency can provide further guidance on specific items and recommended brands to ensure you have the optimal setup for the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek.

Accommodation and food options along the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek

During the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek, you’ll have a variety of accommodation and food options to choose from menu card. You can choose the meals whatever you like. It depends on the region and the stage of the trek.

In the more developed areas of the Annapurna region, you’ll find teahouses, lodges, and guest houses that cater to trekkers. These basic but comfortable accommodations provide dormitory-style sleeping arrangements, shared bathroom facilities, and simple, local-style meals.

As you venture into the more remote Upper Mustang region, the accommodation options become more basic, with fewer amenities. You may find simple guesthouses or even stay in traditional Tibetan-style houses, known as “Chortens,” which offer a unique cultural immersion experience.

The food during the trek is predominantly Nepali and Tibetan-influenced, with staples such as dal (lentil soup), rice, noodles, and various vegetable and meat dishes. Vegetarian and special dietary options are usually available, but it’s advisable to inform your trekking agency in advance to ensure your needs are accommodated.

It’s important to note that the quality and availability of food and accommodation may vary depending on the season and the remoteness of the area. Your trekking agency will be able to provide more detailed information and recommendations based on your specific itinerary.

Safety precautions and challenges during the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek

Trekking in the Himalayan region, while incredibly rewarding, does come with certain risks and challenges that must be taken seriously. As you embark on the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential safety concerns and be prepared to address them effectively.

One of the primary challenges is the high-altitude environment, which can lead to altitude sickness if not properly managed. Proper acclimatization, hydration, and the ability to recognize and respond to altitude-related symptoms are essential. Your trekking guides will be trained to monitor your well-being and provide the necessary support.

Additionally, the remote and rugged nature of the terrain can pose logistical challenges, such as unpredictable weather conditions, trail conditions, and potential natural disasters. It’s vital to have a comprehensive emergency plan in place and to follow the guidance of your experienced trekking team.

To mitigate these risks, it’s recommended to choose a reputable trekking agency with a proven track record of safely guiding travelers through the Annapurna and Upper Mustang regions. They will be equipped with the necessary resources, equipment, and emergency protocols to ensure your safety and well-being throughout the trek.

Highlights and attractions of the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek

The Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek is a true feast for the senses, offering a diverse array of natural and cultural wonders that will leave a lasting impression. Here are some of the highlights and attractions you can look forward to during your journey:

  1. Spectacular Mountain Scenery: The Annapurna massif, with its towering peaks and glaciers, will captivate you at every turn, culminating in the breathtaking views from the Thorong La Pass.
  2. Vibrant Tibetan-Influenced Culture: Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the Upper Mustang region, exploring ancient monasteries, meeting the friendly locals, and witnessing their traditional way of life.
  3. Dramatic Landscapes: From the lush, verdant valleys of the Annapurna region to the arid, lunar-like terrain of Upper Mustang, the trek will take you through a mesmerizing array of landscapes that will leave you in awe.
  4. Unique Wildlife Encounters: Keep an eye out for the elusive Himalayan wildlife, such as the blue sheep, Himalayan griffon vultures, and the iconic Tibetan wolf.
  5. Spiritual Connections: The trek offers numerous opportunities to connect with the spiritual essence of the region, from visiting ancient Buddhist monasteries to experiencing the deep-rooted traditions of the local people.
  6. Challenging Adventure: The physical and mental challenge of the trek, coupled with the sense of accomplishment upon reaching the summit of the Thorong La Pass, will leave you with a profound sense of personal growth and achievement.

Conclusion and final thoughts on the Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek in 2024

The Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek is a remarkable extraordinary adventure journey in Nepal. It combines the best of Nepal’s natural wonders and cultural richness. As you embark on this journey in 2024, you’ll have the unique opportunity to witness the region before it undergoes further changes, making it a truly special and memorable experience.

If you’re ready to embark on the ultimate trekking adventure in the Himalayas, I encourage you to start planning your Annapurna Circuit via Upper Mustang Trek today. Contact a reputable trekking agency to begin the process and secure your spot for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and personal challenges that this trek has to offer.

--

--

Nepal High Trek

A leading Himalayan trek and tour specialist, rewarded by Lonely Planet & Tripadvisor. A trusted Trekking Company. www.nepalhightrek.com |info@nepalhightrek.com