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Getting To Lo Monthang    Page 1


A journey to Upper Mustang usually begins with a flight to the small town of Jomsom, northwest of Kathmandu. Beyond Pokhara, the flight path is through the canyon of the Kali Gandaki river, flanked by Dhaulagiri on one side and the Annapurna range on the other. At Jomsom, the canyon widens enough to permit an airstrip.

From Jomsom, most travelers continue on foot, although it is also possible to proceed on horseback. The trail climbs northward, gradually gaining altitude, crossing several passes at 12,000 and 13,000 feet. Before reaching Lo Monthang, there are several small villages. Then, after a trek of about five days (fewer for those on horseback), the traveler gains the first distant sight of Lo Monthang, set in a plain, girdled by its wall. Unlike the Annapurna Circuit and the Everest region, Mustang has virtually no lodges or teahouses. Under the terms by which Mustang was first opened to visitors, local people were denied permission to turn their homes into lodges. Travelers must generally bring a crew and cook as well as all provisions and fuel, and be prepared to camp along the route as well as outside of Lo Monthang.

   (click photo to see larger image)

1. Schematic map of Nepal showing airstrips. The entry point for Mustang and Lo Monthang is Jomsom, north of the Annapurna range.
2. Jomsom airstrip, the starting point, with Short Takeoff and Landing Aircraft (STOL).
3. The main street of Jomsom.
4. Nima Wangdi -- the Loba horseman who will transport our equipment to Lo Monthang. The ponies are the same sturdy stock used by the Mongols when they conquered much of central Asia and Europe. The Loba are the Tibetan people who settled Mustang.
5. Lead pony of a goods train with traditional Loba horse dress.
6. Dhaulagiri, one of the Himalayan 8000-meter-high mountains flanking the Kali Gandaki river valley that leads to Jomsom.
7. The Kali Gandhaki river basin. The first day of the trek from Jomsom toward Lo Monthang proceeds up the river basin.
8. A goods pony "train" passing us in the river basin.
9. Kagbeni village with Dhaulagiri in the background. Kagbeni marks the start of the "restricted" area of Mustang, which requires a special trekking permit for travelers, other than citizens of Nepal. The green barley fields are the result of concentrated irrigation.
10. Street scene in Kagbeni.

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