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June 3, 2010

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mustang & hidden valleys of naar

by Chris Werren

The Forbidden Kingdom of Mustang and the Hidden Valleys of Naar

“A Journey through one of Nepal’s most exquisite Regions”

Seen from far away through the swirls of the mountain mist the Himalayan Mountains appear remote, forbidding and awe inspiring. By joining us on our exploration trek over the Teri La pass you will be able to see the splendor of these mountains close up and to enjoy the beauty of these remote and sparely populated valleys while getting an insight into the life and the ancient culture of these modest and friendly mountain people. The beginning of the video below shows the crossing of the more technical Saribung pass (6030m) but it also illustrates perfectly the beauty of the landscape in the Damodar Himal and the Kingdom of Mustang, and it provides an inspiring insight into the ambiance of a typical exploration trek through these remote areas.

The Forbidden Kingdom of Mustang

Officially Mustang is the name of the entire district along the Kali Gadanki River, from the Tibetan border in the north to Ghase in the south. The district headquarters is located in Jomsom, a couple of miles south of Kagbeni the access town to the restricted area of “Upper Mustang” also called the “Kingdom of Mustang”. Upper Mustang is characterized by the mostly pure Tibetan culture and its related language, religion and traditions. Its long, complex and rich history are a key element in making the “Forbidden Kingdom” one of the most interesting and picturesque trekking destinations in Nepal.

The trek to the Kingdom’s capital Lo Mantang takes us through a nearly tree less and barren landscape where strong afternoon winds are howling regularly across the wide open plateaus and through the small villages. Being located in the rain shadows of the Himalaya Lo Mantang gets considerable less rain than the rest of Nepal. Only during the monsoon season there is some slight rain fall with occasional cloudy skies. During the winter the ground of the Kingdom of Mustang is usually covered with up to 40cm of snow and the region suffers from freezing temperatures. The capital of Lo Mantang and the whole area of Mustang look like the Tibetan Plateau and are characterized by endless expanses of grey rolling hills eroded by strong winds.

Farming is the primary source of food and income for the people of Mustang, they herd yaks and raise sheep or goats, most families also tend their own fields of barley, wheat and mustard. Due to the harsh climate conditions cropping can be done only once a year with planting taking place in April and May. In September the whole region is busy with harvesting.

Despite its remoteness the inhabitants of Upper Mustang are worldly, well travelled and resourceful people who are a pleasure to meet. Whereas we hope they will conserve their traditions in spite of the continuous influx of tourists it should be recognized that these people are by no means a primitive tribe that must be protected from all outside influences. As visitor of this remote area you will soon recognize that Mustang’s inhabitants are essentially Tibetans and therefore very skillful traders and merchants. They are extremely self sufficient people and fully capable of taking care of themselves!

The Crossing of the Teri La Pass 5’558m

With the opening of the Naar Phu region as a new trekking destination in 2002 it is now possible to trek from Mustang in the Kali Gadanki Valley to Naar in Upper Manang across the still unknown Teri La pass. This high altitude traverse has so far remained nearly untouched despite its “discovery” in 1950 by the British alpinist Bill Tillman. This exploration part of our journey takes us through an uninhabited and wild area into the virtually unknown Damodar Himal. Crossing the usually snow bound Teri La pass presents a strong contrast to the barren landscape of Mustang and the lush green scenery of the Marsyangdi Valley.

Along the Labse Khola River and under the majestic peaks of the Chulu peaks we descend towards the village of Naar where we will reenter inhabited terrain again.

Back to Civilization – The Marsyangdi Valley

The last leg of our exploration trek takes us first again through the typical Tibetan landscape of Naar Phu to the lower and greener regions of the Marsyangdi Valley. This magical area between Naar and Koto is said to have the world’s highest concentration of snow leopards per square kilometer. When we reach the commercial route of the “Around Annapurna Trek” from Koto to Syange we will realize the striking difference between our journey through an isolated and quiet area where it appeared as time has stood still and the busy world with today’s hectic life styles that exist even here in the remote Himalayan villages. Along rivers with crystal clear water, close to rushing waterfalls and over green fields we follow the scenic mountain path that takes us through picturesque villages to our final destination Syange. After a last night in tents we will be picked up by 4×4 vehicles and driven back to the fascinating and lively city of Kathmandu.

The exploration trek through Mustang and across the Teri La Pass is a ground breaking journey which combines high altitude adventures with the discovery of an ancient Tibetan culture and its traditions. The trek provides an introduction into the remote and widely unknown Damodar Himal Mountains and follows the footsteps of the legendary Bill Tillman who explored this area in the 1950’ies. It is Nepal’s most recent trekking challenge – Be one of the first to enjoy it and join us on our trekking expedition from August 30, 2010 to September 24, 2010. From 2011 onwards this Trekking Expedition is run as “Private Trekking” (min. number of participants, free choice of travel dates, trekking periods April to June and September to November).

Go to our website Free Ski Himalaya and get all the details on this trekking expedition or download our program: Mustang – Teri La Trek.

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