Temple at sunset, Nepal

Itinerary: Upper Mustang - Journey to Lo Manthang

1 October to 18 October 2025

'In a thousand ages of the Gods, I could not tell you of the wonders of the Himalaya,' declares an ancient Indian text. Arguably the world’s greatest mountain system, the Himalayas pass through Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, and China. They brush by Bangladesh and tentatively touch Myanmar. A glorious crown placed over the Indian Sub-continent and a formidable frontier between this and the Tibetan Plateau, the Himalayas extend for over 2,500 kilometres, covering an area the size of half of Europe. This formidable range has shaped the climate of most of the Sub-continent and has been an arbiter of much of the region’s history. As a natural frontier, this immense wall has shielded India and over the centuries, incursions were through narrow and dangerous passes. Tucked within this enormous mass, are peaks that remain unclimbed and communities that shun the outer world. The Himalayas have challenged explorers and armies; they have drawn scientists and poets; they have provided both refuge and solace. Locked in its folds is a country unlike any on earth that offers the unique distinction of a natural topography that starts at 150m above sea level and elevates to over 8,000m south to north within a distance of only 150km. This is Nepal. As the Himalayan chain is broken into groups of mountains by deep chasms in the earth draining out glacial waters, these fertile valleys segregate the population into groups of people evolved over centuries of civilization into 125 distinct castes and ethnic groups making them into a rich and colourful mosaic of human habitation. Each ethnic group has its own language or dialect, culture, religious beliefs, food habits, dress code, ornaments, art, music, and dance.

On this journey you will:

• Discover the great World Heritage sites of the Kathmandu Valley
• Perhaps catch a glimpse of Kumari Devi, the Living Goddess
• Fly across the face of Langtang, Ganesh Himal and the Manaslu mountain ranges
• Gaze upon the mighty Himalayan peaks and valleys to see Tukuche and Tashi Kang, Annapurna and Nilgiri
• Drive through the staggeringly beautiful Himalayas deep into 'the forbidden kingdom' of Mustang
• Be awed by Lo Manthang’s ancient gompas infused with art and mystique
• Immerse yourself in the landscape, peoples and villages of one of the most remote regions of the world

Our Hotels:

We understand that travel isn't all about a fleeting glimpse of popular mass tourist spots, but is also about time, space, privacy and those special destinations and moments that turn your holiday into a truly magical experience. When we select places to stay, we look for the interesting, imaginative, and hospitable. We begin with 'luxury' in Kathmandu and as we move into the more remote regions, we use the 'best available'. As we travel through some of the most remote landscapes on earth, some accommodations can only be described as 'adequate' but comfortable and clean. The hotels listed are indicatative. They will be confirmed closer to departure and are subject to change. Some of them are: Kathmandu: Hyatt Regency or similar, Marpha: See You Lodge, Ghemi: Royal Mustang, Lo Manthang: Mandala, Samar: Local Lodge or Tea House, Jomson: Om’s Home, Pokhara: Begnas Lake Resort.

PLEASE NOTE: Hotels are 'indicative' and subject to availability and may change. They will be confirmed closer to departure.

Participants should note that the order of visits and activities described may be modified to accommodate changes in flight schedules, special access to museums and craftspeople, the pathways chosen by our experienced and knowledgeable local guides, local road conditions and unexpected contingencies such as festivals, street processions or religious ceremonies.


Meals included in the tour price are indicated in the itinerary as per B (breakfast), L (lunch), D (dinner).

Traditional nepalese food
Download detailed printable itinerary: Upper Mustang: Journey to Lo Manthang - PDF format


Day 1: 1 October 2025, Depart your capital city to arrive in Kathmandu

Meet and greet at the airport with traditional Khada welcome. Transfer and check in to our hotel.

Overnight stay: Hyatt Regency or similar

Day 2: 2 October 2025, Tour of Kathmandu & Bodhnath, B/Welcome Dinner

For many first-time visitors, a walk around Durbar Square in Kathmandu feels like stepping back in time. The plaza is a legacy of architectural wonders enveloped by pagodas, 14th century palaces, discreet courtyards, and statues dedicated to Hindu deities. Here you can sit on temple steps and watch life tick by as it has done for centuries. Traders haul overladen carts with fruit and vegetables, saffron-robed monks perform prayers, Hindu sadhus on pilgrimage rest on terraced platforms. You won't be surprised to learn that Durbar Square is the spiritual heart of Kathmandu. If it weren't for the motorbike couriers and honking rickshaws jostling past the tourists, it could still be the early 18th century. This evening get to know your fellow travellers as we enjoy a Welcome Diner at a local restaurant.

Temple complex, Western Nepal

Visit the house of Kumari, or Kumari Devi, the Living Goddess, the tradition of worshipping a chosen virgin as manifestations of the divine female energy or Shakti in Dharmic religious traditions. It is believed that the girl is possessed by the goddess Taleju or Durga. The word Kumari is derived from Sanskrit meaning princess. Largely unknown to the outside world Nepal‘s centuries-old institution of the child deity, the Kumari Devi is deeply embedded in the culture of Kathmandu Valley. Young, beautiful and decorous, even a glimpse of her is believed to bring good fortune. (Courtyard view only and with luck she may appear at the window - not guaranteed).

Child Deiti Kumari Devi, Nepal

Religious painting and temple entrance, Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal

After a lunch break, journey to one of the Valleys most sacred sites, the great Boudhanath stupa. The highly symbolic construction serves in essence as a three-dimensional reminder of the Buddha’s path towards enlightenment. The plinth represents earth, the dome is water, the square tower is fire, the spire is air and the umbrella at the top is the void or ether beyond space. The 13 levels of the spire represent the stages that a human being must pass through to achieve nirvana. Stupas were originally built to house holy relics and some claim that Boudhanath contains the relics of the past Buddha, Kashyapa, while others say it contains a piece of bone from the skeleton of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha. Around the base of the stupa are 108 small images of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha (108 is an auspicious number in Tibetan culture) and a ring of prayer wheels, set in groups of four or five into 147 niches.

Budhanat stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal

Temple Face, Nepal

Overnight stay: Hyatt Regency or similar

Day 3: 3 October 2025, Tour to Bhaktapur & Patan cities, B

After breakfast, drive to the ancient city of Bhaktapur famed for its picturesque Durbar Square.

Bhaktapur, Durbar Square, Nepal

This morning we visit the City of Devotees – Bhaktapur, a treasure trove of artistic creations displayed on the temples and monuments of the city. Perched on a hill, Bhaktapur or Bhadgaon, is a major tourist destination that takes visitors back in time, retaining its authentic ambiance with brick- paved roads, charming red brick houses and a way of life that goes back to medieval times. This ancient city is also famous for pottery and woodcarving amply displayed on the squares and windows of the local houses and temples.

Hindu Yogies, Kathmandu, Nepal,

Bhaktapur Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an elegant and open space surrounded by buildings dating from the 13th century to the 18th century. The 15th century Palace of 55 Carved Windows called Pachpanna Jhyale Durbar and the palace entrance, the Golden Gate - a masterpiece in repoussé art, have added splendour to this palace square. The extraordinary Durbar Square with its extraordinary monuments reflects the glory days of the Malla dynasty when art and architecture thrived in the three cities of the valley.

In front of the palace building are innumerable temples and architectural showpieces like the Lion Gate, the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla mounted on a giant stone pillar and the Batsala Temple. The stone temple of Batsala Devi is full of intricate carvings and is a beautiful example of Shikhara- style architecture. There is a bronze bell on the terrace of the temple, which is also known as the Bell of Barking Dogs. Erected by King Ranjit Malla in 1737, its sounding announced the beginning and end of a daily curfew.

The unique temple of Bhaktapur, the Nyatapola literally means ‘five storied’ and rises above the city’s landscape as a remarkable landmark. It also has the distinction of having withstood the devastating earthquake of 1933. Dedicated to a Tantric goddess, the steps leading up to the temple are flanked by stone sculptures of deities and mythical beasts, each 10 times more powerful than the one immediately below.

Pottery drying in the sun, Nepal

Cathedral, Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru, South America

After a lunch break, we visit Patan, also known as ‘Lalitpur’, the city of artisans, is home to the valley’s finest craftsmen who have preserved such ancient techniques as the repoussé and lost wax process used to produce exquisite sculptures. The city retains much of the old charm with its narrow streets, brick houses and multitude of well-preserved Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries (vihars) and monuments. The predominant sound in Patan is that of the tinkering of craftsmen bent over the statuettes they are shaping. As in Kathmandu, Hinduism and Buddhism have co-existed here for ages, influencing each other, and the religious harmony is exemplary.


Like its counterpart in Kathmandu, Patan Durbar Square is in the heart of the city and was once the palace of the kings of Patan. The square is an enchanting mélange of palace buildings, artistic courtyards, and graceful pagoda temples – a display of Newari architecture that had reached its pinnacle during the reign of the Malla kings. Among its numerous courtyards, the renovated Keshav Narayan Chowk has been converted into a bronze artifact museum. The Sundari Chowk with the sunken bath of Tusha Hiti is a showcase of exquisite woodcarvings, and stone and metal sculptures.

The magnificent Krishna Temple with its 21 gilded spires, built in 1637, and the Manga Hiti, the sunken stone waterspout, found in the palace complex are but a few examples of its opulence. The Krishna Temple, built entirely of stone, is said to be the first specimen of Shikhara-style architecture in Nepal.

Overnight stay: Hyatt Regency or similar

Day 4: 4 October 2025, Transfer to the flight Kathmandu/Pokhara. Drive to Kalopani, B/D

After breakfast, transfer to domestic airport terminal to take the morning flight to Pokhara. The westward flight to Pokhara takes us along the Langtang, Ganesh Himal and the Manaslu mountain ranges. On arrival, we drive on further west in our SUVs. There is a dramatic change in topography and temperatures. With the increase in attitude - sub tropical plants and trees such as hardwood trees and bamboo give way to fir, pine and Juniper trees as we enter the Kaligandaki gorge with the river raging below. We will be staying at Kalopani, a small Thakali settlement.

Panoramic view of Hymalaya, Nepal

Overnight stay: See You Lodge or similar

Day 5: 5 October 2025, Drive Kalopani to Marpha, B/D

Wake up to the glorious views of the Dhaulagiri (8,167m) and its surrounding mountain peaks such as Tukuche and Tashi Kang to the west. To the east you can see Annapurna I (8,091m) Annapurna South (7219m) and Nilgiri with its distinct pointed peak (6940m) among others. After breakfast, we drive further to Marpha a typical Thakali settlement well known for its apple orchards and apple brandy. At Marpha we explore this charming village with clean and orderly houses. Visit the temporary home of a Japanese explorer Kai Kawaguchi who visited this remote area more than a century ago.

Beautiful Hymalayan mountains, Nepal

Overnight stay: Marpha Palace or similar lodge

Day 6: 6 October 2025, Drive to Ghemi via Kagbeni, Chosser and Chaile Villages en route, B/D

After breakfast, we move ahead to Ghemi with short lunch or snack stop in Kagbeni, at the popular Yac Donald’s restaurant.

Yc Donald's Restaurant, Kagbeni, Nepal

Drive up to Chaile Village (3,200m) from where we may see old cave dwellings on steep mountain sides. Drive past Samar and Giling villages as we continue to gain more altitude. Tonight we will stay in Ghemi (3,600m) after crossing the Nya La pass (3,950m).

Buddhist Praying place, Nepal

Small dwelling, Nepal

Overnight stay: Hotel Royal Mustang or similar in Ghemi

Day 7: 7 October 2025, Explore Ghemi and its surroundings, B/D

Today we explore Ghemi, one of the largest villages in the area, and other nearby settlements. The houses here are made from stone, raw mud brick, straw, and wood which makes for the distinctive feature of the village’s architecture. The narrow alleys and lanes are decorated with prayer flags, mani walls, and chortens, which add to the village’s charm and beauty.

The people of Ghemi are mainly Buddhists and follow ancient Tibetan culture and tradition. The village has several Buddhist monasteries and stupas, which are considered sacred and are visited by pilgrims from all over the world. The monasteries are adorned with intricate murals, frescoes, and thangkas, which depict the life of Buddha and other Buddhist deities. One of the unique features of the village is the ancient water-driven prayer wheel flowing from a nearby stream.

Typical Nepalese small temple

Buddhist temple, Nepal

Overnight stay: Hotel Royal Mustang or similar in Ghemi

Day 8: 8 October 2025, Drive Ghemi / Lo-Manthang (3,800m), B/D

Today we make our final approach to Lo Manthang, the capital of Upper Mustang. Until recently a forbidden city, Lo Manthang is a walled city, isolated and hidden behind the Himalayas on a rugged plateau. Upper Mustang is one of the best-preserved examples of Tibetan culture in the world and effectively still functions as an autonomous and independent kingdom maintaining its own unique culture, language, royalty, and following its own local administrative and taxation laws. Efforts continue to preserve this region and it wasn't until 1992 that foreigners were allowed to enter. To this day the area restrictions remain, and visitors are only permitted to enter with a special permit.

Overnight stay: Hotel Mandala or similar

High altitude village in Nepal

Panoramic view on remote village, Nepal

Day 9 to 12: 9 October to 12 October 2025, Visit Namgyal and Luri monasteries and Thinkar, Chosser and Nhejyung villages, Zhong cave etc, B/D

We spend 5 nights in Lo Manthang to explore this unique Kingdom with its walled city, the royal palace, old monasteries steeped in history, ancient culture, religion, language, food habits and dress codes. The settlement is surrounded by a 6-meter-high earthen wall with square towers or dzong on the corners. Within the walls there exists a compact settlement of earthen structures. The main monuments found within are the palace and monasteries of Jampa Lakhang and Thupchen Lakhang from the 15th Century and the monastery of Choede Lakhang from the 18th Century. There are several rows of chortens and mane walls within the settlement and along the kora or circumambulatory path directly outside the wall.

The Lobas, inhabitants of Lo Manthang, are closely related culturally and ethnically to the people of Western and Central Tibet. The culture is to a large degree defined by the Sakyapa traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and still today many of the ancient festivals, rituals and ceremonies continue to be performed.

Buddhist temple and prayer flags, Nepal

Remote valley with green fields, Nepal

Small village on mountain top, Nepal

Visit Namgyal gompa, Thinkar, Chosser, Nhejyung and Gharpu villages close to the Tibetan border as well as the ancient Luri gompa which is one of the significant heritage sites of upper Mustang. It is associated with the Nyingma Kargyupa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Not many people know about the ancient frescoes painted on the walls and ceilings of these monasteries and caves which are slowly fading away and disappearing from the face of the earth. Some paintings date as early as the 14th century, while others were done in subsequent centuries. The oldest frescoes are found at Chhoser gompa, which was built in 1430 AD.

Small remote Nepalese village, Nepal

Culture Festival, Nepal

Day 13: 13 October 2025, Drive to Samar Village (3400M), B/D

Today we drive down to Samar village (3400m). A scenic charming village set amidst Yak pastures.

Overnight stay: Local lodge/tea house

World's highest mountains, Himalayas, Nepal

Day 14: 14 October 2025, Drive to Jomsom, B/D

Today we drive down all the way to the large, busy trading town of Jomsom, the former trading outpost for Mustang and Tibet. We spend the night in Jomsom for our flight connection to Pokhara in the morning.

Overnight stay: Om’s Home or similar in Jomsom

Day 15: 15 October 2025, Fly to Pokhara, B/L/D

Early morning, we take the flight to Pokhara, flying through the world‘s deepest gorge, flanked by two 8000m mountain peaks on either side. On arrival we take a short drive to Begnas Lake, crossing by boats to Begnas Lake Resort. Rest of the day is at leisure - relaxing by the pool or taking Ayurvedic oil massages (optional) to relax after our intensive Mustang experience.

Lake Begnas, Nepal

Overnight stay: Begnas Lake Resort

Hotel room, Nepal

Day 16: 16 October 2025, Visit Pokhara town, B/D

After breakfast, row back across the lake and drive to Pokhara to explore its colourful bazaars packed with wonderful handicrafts and works of art. You will visit Devis Falls, Seti Gorge, Bindivashani Temple, and walk along the Phewa lakeside with its rows of restaurants, bars, bookshops and fruit stalls. You will notice how Pokhara is an unstructured town (no mandala plans here) strung out over several kilometers of recent hasty, anarchistic growth. Its trading heart is the exception, and here you will be overwhelmed by Tibetan settlers, Mananag traders and Ghurka soldiers. It is a most congenial place for visitors-especially those who have migrated from Kathmandu’s ‘famous’ ‘Freak Street’ of the early 1980’s.

Overnight stay: Begnas Lake Resort

Day 17: 17 October 2025, Drive back to Kathmandu, B/L/D

After breakfast, drive back to Kathmandu. Rest of the day is at leisure. In the evening, we go to a lovely local restaurant for a traditional Nepali Farewell dinner enjoying folk dance and music performances.

Overnight stay: Hyatt Regency

Day 18: 18 October 2025, Departure transfer, B

Transfer to the international Airport to connect with your home bound flight.

OR Extend your stay in Kathmandu (why not stay at the delightful Summerhill House, our home away from home https://summerhill-house.hotels-kathmandu.com/en or venture to the Nepalese Terai’s Chitwan National Park to spot tigers, Asiatic rhinos and more. We can make the arrangements for you.

candle light, Nepal


Indicative price per person twin share (Land only and subject to a minimum of 12 persons): AUD 5886.00
Extras (Permit and domestic flights): AUD 1196.00
Single Supplement: AUD 1140.00

Airfare: From Australia TBA when available for booking


• Lee Grafton as Tour Director
• Accompanied by an officer from Zen Oriental Journey’s travel partners in Kathmandu
• 5 nights at Hyatt Regency, Kathmandu, with breakfast two dinners
• 2 nights at Begnas Lake Resort, Pokhara (superior room) with breakfast and dinner
• 1 night at See You Lodge or similar, Kalopani with breakfast and dinner
• 2 nights at Hotel Marpha Palace or similar, Marpha with breakfast and dinner
• 2 nights at Hotel Royal Mustang or similar, Ghemi with breakfast and dinner
• 5 nights at Hotel Mandala or similar, Lo- Manthang with breakfast and dinner
• 1 night at Hotel Om’s Home or similar, Jomsom with breakfast and dinner
• Airport transfers in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Jomsom
• Sightseeing tours as per the itinerary guided by English speaking guide in Kathmandu and English- speaking local guide in Pokhara
• Pokhara/Mustang/Pokhara round trip transfer using SUVs – 4 people in one vehicle
• Pokhara/Kathmandu private surface transfer using air-conditioned vehicle
• Farewell Nepali dinner with cultural show on Day 16 (including hotel/restaurant/hotel transfer)
• Entrance fees in Kathmandu
• English speaking Licensed Trek guide throughout the tour for Upper Mustang
• Trek guide trek/tour meals, comprehensive insurance charges, allowances fees, overnight charges etc
• Applicable entrance fees
• ACAP & TIMS trek permit fees


• Upper Mustang Restricted Area permit fee (Valid for 10 days)
• Kathmandu /Pokhara airfare
• Jomsom/Pokhara airfare

PLEASE NOTE: Current permit fees & airfares are subject to change.


• International flights
• Tips (for guides, drivers, waiters, luggage porters)
• Beverages during meals (unless specified in the itinerary)
• Nepal visa fee
• Travel Insurance (compulsory)
• Any other services not mentioned in cost inclusion section


Flights from Australia and return are not included in the price of the tour. We will send the recommended flight options when they are available to book, and ask that you make your own flight reservation. We work in partnership with helloworld Westfield Marion to provide tickets but you can use your preferred provider.

Sharon Evans
Helloworld, Marion Westfield Mall, Level 2
Westfield Marion
Oaklands Park SA 5046
Telephone: +61 (08) 8358 1949
Fax: +61 (08) 8358 1960
E-mail: Sharon



Our vehicles are fully registered with the Nepalese Government Tourist permit systems and are inspected for safety and road worthiness. Drivers are all licensed. In the mountains they will be large modern SUV’s, Toyota Innova or Scorpio or similar taking 4 people per vehicle (including the driver) so everyone has a window seat.


From Kathmandu the ascent is gradual, allowing us to acclimatize to the higher altitudes over a period of several days. This trip crosses some high spectacular Himalayan passes. The highest altitude on the road from Upper Mustang Lo Manthang is 3840 meters. Each vehicle is provided with an oxygen cylinder in case it’s needed. We will provide detailed notes about travel at high altitude in the Pre-Departure Bulletin. Day time temperature around 20 C, night can drop to -2.

Solo Travel:

Many of Zen ‘Journeyists’ are solo travellers, and with our small groups you may travel solo ‘but not alone’. Our tour directors will see to your every need. They are experts in understanding and valuing the uniqueness of individuals within a group situation. You will always have someone to take a photo of you...and the new friends you will have made. If you wish to share a room, we will endeavor to match you with a person of the same gender, but if we can’t do this then the Single Supplement must be applied.


Before booking, please refer to the DFAT website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting:

Please visit http://www.smartraveller.gov.au or ring 1300 139 281 for information on current Government travel advice.


As we take more travellers to more remote parts of the world, we recognize our obligation to plan and operate our Journeys in a responsible and sustainable fashion. We view this as an environmental, cultural, and social necessity. Above all, we are committed to the well-being of the communities, which are our hosts, the cultural and natural environment that we are there to experience. We also believe that by following these policies we can provide you with more rewarding and interesting experiences.

Prices may fluctuate due to changes in charges, taxes and currency. Prices and flights are correct at time of preparing this program and are subject to availability at time of booking. Special conditions and seasonal surcharges to airfares and package prices may apply depending on date of travel. Flight times are subject to change by the airline.


On International Flight tickets

• Please refer to your individual Booking Terms and Conditions

On land package cost

• Up until 63 days prior to departure, loss of deposit
• Between 64-31 Days: 65 % of land cost
• Between 30-16 Days: 75 % of land cost
• Between 15-2 Days: 90 % of land cost
• Within 1 day-No show: 100% of land cost

For further information, don’t hesitate to contact Zen Oriental Journeys by emailing Lee Grafton or ring 0401 123 347


Bookings will be processed in order of receipt. Any bookings after this date will be accepted subject to visa processing, flight availability, land content and room availability. Such booking must be paid in full after confirmation of your acceptance in the tour. Special conditions and additional charges to airfares and package prices may apply depending on date of booking.

Costs associated with the Asia In-Country Study Tours can be tax deductible. Educators may be able to claim their study tour expenses under a number of tax deduction categories which include: self-education expenses; excursions, school trips and camps if these trips have an educational benefit and are related to the curriculum or extra-curriculum activities of the school; acquisition of teaching aids used for curriculum development and teaching programs. Participants must contact their tax advisor or visit the Australian Tax Office website to confirm eligibility.

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