The former Himalayan kingdom of Mustang is an arid and starkly beautiful land. Long protected from mass tourism, its allure has come from its inaccessibility and its reputation as a last bastion of traditional Tibetan culture.
The Mustang district is the 2nd least populated district of Nepal. It is located east from Manang in the Annapurna region, the least populated district of Nepal and, west from Dolpa, the 3rd least populated. In the north, Mustang borders Tibet. The district is a 3,640 km2 large area, north of the main Himalayan mountain range.
The district itself is divided into 2 sub-regions: Lower and Upper. You will find yourself in the lower part during the 2nd part of our Annapurna Circuit Trek and Tilicho Lake Trek, that both start off in the Annapurna region. The upper part is a cold high-altitude steppe that is geographically part of the Tibetan highlands. This part is a restricted region, in which you can do our Upper Mustang Trek.
Upper Mustang consists of 2 distinct regions: the southern part and the northern part. The southern part has 5 villages, inhabited by the people related to the Manangis. The northern part is the former kingdom of Lo. This is where language, culture and traditions are almost purely Tibetan. The capital of Lo is Manthang.
The people of Mustang
The 7,000 people of Upper Mustang call themselves Lobas, meaning ‘Lo people’. They herd yaks, raise goats and sheep, and farm buckwheat, barley, wheat and mustard. The harsh conditions allow only one crop a year, except in the villages below Chhuksang where two crops are grown. Planting is in April and May, and during September the entire region is busy with the harvest. Many residents leave Mustang between November and March to sell sweaters in southern Nepal or India or work in Kathmandu.