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Yak blood drinking festival begins in Mustang

mustang--festival
Yaks grazing in Mustang District

MUSTANG, April 21

A cultural festival of the Thakali people in which people drink the fresh blood of yaks has commenced at Boksikhola, Kobang in Mustang district.

As part of the festival, a part of the yak’s neck is pierced for the blood to gush out and tumbler placed under to collect the fresh blood which is then drunk. People drink the fresh blood in the belief that drinking fresh blood of yak treats gastritis, acidity, jaundice, muscle sprain, body swelling and other bowel related diseases as the yaks feed on valuable herbs like yarshagumbu, jatamasi, panchaaunle, among others growing in the highland pasture.

The festival is organized by the Joint Yak Keepers Group with the objective of selling the fresh yak blood and meat.

People from Upper Mustang, Myagdi, Baglung, Parbat and Kaski districts have thronged Boksi Khola to drink the fresh yak blood from the first day itself, said Deepa Gauchan, a local yak farmer. The festival will continue till April 30.

Source : myrepublica.com

Mustang: An experience of a lifetime

Nepal’s hidden Tibetan Kingdom – Lo Manthang – is one of the remotest places on earth but it is also the main food, salt, and clothes trading route between Nepal and Tibet. Located in Upper Mustang, 50 km from the Tibetan border and 250 km from the Indian border, this isolated Tibetan settlement was founded in 1380 and was the capital of the former Kingdom of Lo.

mustang

Due to its proximity to, and long association with Tibet, Tibetan Buddhist lifestyles, religion, art and culture remain intact here. The people are called “Lobas” and their language is a dialect of Tibetan. Around 900 Lhobas currently live in Lo. Lo Manthang is one of the last places on earth that still lives by and practices animist Bonpo which is the oldest and deeply spiritual form of Tibetan Buddhism.

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Mustang declared ‘fully literate district’

MYAGDI, JUL 17 – Mustang district has been declared the ‘fully literate district’ on Wednesday.

This announcement was made at a programme organised at the district headquarters, Jomsom, on Wednesday after more than 95 per cent illiterate people between 16-60 years of the district became literate.

With this, number of fully literate district reaches five.

It may be noted that Lalitpur, Palpa, Sindhupalchowk and Dhading districts have already been declared as ‘fully literate districts’.

Mustang became second ‘fully literate district’ in the western region and first in Dhaulagui zone.

According to School Inspector at the District Education Office, Mustang, Motilal Chapagain, the district was declared the ‘fully literate district’ after 8,124, out of 8,412 illiterate people, became literate.

On the occasion, stakeholders expressed commitment for the educational development of newly literate people.

Similarly, Mustang District Judge, Dayaram Dhakal, and Chief District Officer, Baburam Bhandari, expressed their views.

Source: ekantipur.com

Mustang likely to be linked with Tibet through road network

The National Planning Commission (NPC) has planned to link Mustang district with Corolla of Tibet, the autonomous region of People’s Republic of China, within the current fiscal year.

According to Commission Secretary Yubraj Bhusal, preparations are on to expand road network from the Mustang border point to Corolla.

Only the construction of 2 kms of roadway is left to open a 175 kms track from Beni Bazaar to Corolla and the construction is expected to complete within the current fiscal. Works on a war-footing level are going on to link the country with Tibet through the road network, Secretary Bhusal added.

A new dimension will be added to Nepal-China relations and trade activities will go up once the construction of new roadway completes.

Similarly, the construction of 75 kms Bakamalang section along the 435 kms Gaidakot-Thambesi-Bulingtar-Dedhgaun-Rakuwa route has reached the final phase. Likewise, construction of Palpa section along the 88 kms Bakamalang-Ridi route is expected to complete soon.

The NPC is hopeful of completion of Ridi-Rundrabeni-Arbeni Purtighat-Palungkhola and Palungkhola-Belbagar-Lauwa, Sumsa-Banjhkheti-Jaiminighat- Maldhunga roads within the current fiscal year.

source: nepalnews.com, 16 Feb 2014

Unlike rest of Nepal, upper Mustang received more tourists in 2013

Though the tourist arrival across the country decreased in 2013 due to political instability, especially general or transport strikes, the number of tourists visiting Upper Mustang actually increased compared to the previous year.

With this the collection of revenue also increased, up to Rs 200 million, according to Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP).

The cost of traveling in the ´controlled area´ as announced by the government is very high. Foreigners who wish to visit the area have to take permission from the Department of Immigration (DoI) by paying US$ 500. By paying US$ 500 they can stay in the area for 10 days and if they want to extend they have to pay additional US$ 50 per day. However, the cost does not seem to have affected the tourist visiting Upper Mustang.

According to Santosh Sherchan, chief of ACAP, a total of 3,344 foreign tourists visited Lo Manthang in 2013. ´Despite all odds, we had scores of more tourists and we were able to earn revenue worth Rs 200 million,” said Sherchan, adding that there were many tourists who extended their stay by paying additional charges.

The number of tourist from France, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China increased after Upper Mustang was listed as one of the worlds´ best destination.
´Lonely Planet Travel Guide Book´ had listed Upper Mustang in the third position of the world´s top ten best destinations.

“Though the number of tourist increased, our expectation was much more as the area was listed in the third best destination in the world. However, strikes, political disturbances, Constituent Assembly (CA) election and fear of insecurity hindered the arrival of tourists,” said Khagendra Tulachan, president of Mustang Hotel Association of Nepal.

The scenic Himalayan range, traditional monasteries, caves and palaces built back in the middle ages, old houses, art and culture among others factors attract the tourist. Besides, they also visit the area for carrying out the research of traditional art and culture.

The ´controlled area´ was opened for foreign tourist only in 1992 and till date, the government has earned around Rs 2 billion from them, according to the District Development Committee. However, the locals complain that the government has hardly spent money for the development of the region.

´The government has earned millions of rupees and if some of the amount could be spent for the development of the region more tourists can be attracted,” said Tashi Bista, a youth advisor of Upper Mustang Youth Society.

Source & References

Pokharel, S. 2014. Unlike rest of Nepal, upper Mustang received more tourists in 2013. [online] 04 January. Available at: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=67410 [Accessed: 5 Jan 2014].

 

Saribung Peak Climbing

The 27 days Saribung Peak Climbing journey, a newly explored but popular trek, encompasses the remote regions of Nepal Himalayas – Jomsom, Mustang “Hidden Valley”, Nar-Phu Valley and many other landmarks of Damodar Himal in the company of majestic mountain sceneries, diverse cultures, and geographical variations. The Saribung Peak (6,387m) close to the border of Nepal and Tibet lies in Damodar Himal. Though the peak climbing journey is very much pleasant and easy at times the climbers have to cross the high passes like Saribung La over 5,600 meters and many other. At some sections, the trail even passes through the off-the-beaten-tracks and thereby results into the summit of Mt. Saribung. In over all, the panoramic mountain vistas form the top of Mt. Saribung, journeying through the rugged landscapes, and encountering the very much primitive culture of the region bring you an everlasting adventure experience in your life.

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 01:  Arrival in Kathmandu (1,300m)

Upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, we will be warmly greeted by a representative from Himalayan Glacier. After completion of immigration formalities, we will be transferred to Hotel Shanker or a similar category hotel. At leisure time, we can either visit at Himalayan Glacier’s office site where we can meet with our trekking guide or roam around the streets of Thamel – a tourist hub in Kathmandu. In the evening we attend at a welcome dinner organized by Himalayan Glacier on our reception which will be accompanied by a Nepalese cultural program. (D)

Note: B refers to Breakfast, L refers to Lunch and D refers to Dinner

Day 2: Kathmandu Sightseeing Tour

The Kathmandu sightseeing tour covers the several historical and spiritual landmarks of Kathmandu which are also enlisted in UNSCO World Heritage Sites list. The guided tour at first takes us to Hanuman Doka Darbar – a historical palace square in Nepal. Then the tour covers Pashupatinath – one of the most sacred temples in Nepal. Next, we will be at Swayambhunath – a famous Buddhist temple which is also recognized as Monkey Temple. In the froth place, the city tour includes the sacred Buddhist sites-Bouddhanath – one of the largest Stupas in the world. After strolling around the tremendous treasures of Kathmandu, we will come back at Himalayan Glacier’s office site where we attend a pre-trip discussion with our trek leader for the upcoming adventure. Overnight at Kathmandu. (B)

Day 3: Kathmandu – Pokhara Bus Drive: 6 – 7 hrs

It will be a tremendous bus journey commencing at 7:00 am in the morning from Kathmandu. The bus journey to Pokhara passes at first through Trisuli River till to Mugling and then the route bends toward Pokhara. The scenic journey passing through greeneries and mid hill villages reaches in Pokhara.  Pokhara is an attractive tourist spot in Nepal which also popular for pristine lakes and trekking junction among domestic as well as international visitors. Upon reaching the lake city, we will make short sightseeing tour of Pokhara with our guide. Overnight in Pokhara. (B,L,D)

Day 4:  Pokhara to Jomsom Flight and Jomsom to Kagbeni Trek (2,800m): 3 – 4 hrs

The early morning flight lands us in Jomsom from where we begin our trek towards Lubra passing through the trail over Kaligandaki River. After visiting at Bon-Po monastery at Lubra, our upcoming trail continues till to Eklebatti. Then the trail with one hour’s walk links us with Kagbeni. At Kagbeni, we visit at the red-painted Gompa which is believed to be about 1000 years old. Overnight at Kagbeni. (B,L,D)

Day 5: Kagbeni to Tsaile (3,100m): 5 – 6 hrs

This section of the trek continues around three hours till to reach at Tangbe village over the bank of Kaligandaki River in the company of beautiful landscapes, the Buddhist Chhörtens and Maniwalls. Then one hour’s walks brings us at Chhusang village at where we can have lunch. After the lunch break again the journey continues over the bank of Kaligandaki River. While in this part of the trail we can see 16 caves above the tunnel of Kaligandaki River. Next, the trail goes steep upward to connect us Tsaile – a small village with a fantastic view of Nilgiri Himal and the Kaligandaki River. Overnight at Tsaile. (B, L, D)

Day 6: Tsaile to Ghiling (3,570m): 6 – 7 hrs

The trek of the day begins following through an unstable trail to reach a small pass on the trail and from the pass the trail moves forth to reach at Samar village – it will be the village for lunch break. After lunch, the onward journey reaches at the Chungsi cave monastery. The site of the monastery is so incredible that its environment is sufficient to inject a feeling of spirituality into the mind and hearts of travelers. Next, the nearly two hours’ steep ascent brings us at a monastery where Guru Padmasambhava meditated in 8th century. From this site our journey moves forth to reach at Syangmochen Village and then the trail links us to Ghiling – a small village on the trail where we can see a big Chhörten and two Gompas. Overnight at Ghiling. (B,L,D)

Day 7:  Ghiling to Tsarang (3,560m): 6 – 7 hrs

This part of the trip takes us into the center of Mustang passing through Zaite Village and crossing the Nyi-La Pass (4,020m). After crossing the pass, the steep downward trail leads to Ghami village and then the trail crosses a small Khola. Walking on the edge of small stream we can see the longest Mani Wall in the Mustang region – painted with vertical stripes of white, red and black. Then the mountain journey again marches a long steep ascent to a small pass and then descends gently to Tsarang village. At the village, we can move around a huge Chhorten in the entrance of village, an Old Palace and Tsarang Gompa. Overnight at Tsarang. (B,L,D)

Day 8: Tsarang to Lo-Manthang (3,840m): 7- 8 hrs

There are two trails that pave the way for Lo-Manthang.  If we follow Lower Trail then it will take 4 -5 hours to reach the today’s destination.  But, it is advisable to go through Upper trail though it takes 7 – 8 hours to reach there. It is in the sense that the Upper Trail allows us to explore the Lo-Gyakar-Ghar Gompa. Ghar Gompa is one of the oldest Gompas in Upper Mustang built by Guru Padmasambhava – the founder of Tibetan Buddhism in the 8th century. After visiting the monastery, we continue our trek to reach the Chogo-La Pass (4,230m) – the highest point in this region. Next the descending trail paves the way for Lo-Manthang – the ancient wall city of Mustang. Lo-Manthang was the walled capital of the Kingdom of Lo from its founding in 1380 by Ame Pal who oversaw construction of the city wall and many of the still-standing structures. Lo is the culturally and linguistically Tibetan northern two-thirds of Mustang District, while the southern third is called Thak, the homeland of Thakali people who speak a different language and have a synthesis of Tibetan and Nepalese culture. Overnight at Lo-Manthang. (B,L,D)

Day 9: Acclimatization Day

It will be the acclimatization day in the forbidden Kingdom. We have two options to explore the landmarks of Lo-Manthang. Either we can visit at Chhoser Village which will take 7 – 8 hours or choose to hike 2 -3 hours to Namgyal Monastery. Both are nice hikes for acclimatization purposes. The hike to Chhoser Village rewards us the sites of many caves and a cave monastery. Later in the day we can explore the other monasteries in Lo-Manthang. Overnight at Lo-Manthang. (B,L,D)

Day 10: Lo-Manthang to Yara (3,900m): 6 – 7 hrs

This section of the trip leaves the Lo-Manthang village and within 4 hours’ journey we will be at Dhi Village. Then the trail descends down to a small stream from where the trail climbs up to reach at Yara Village. The journey will be accompanied by the sights of innumerable caves at the stone walls. Overnight at Yara.  (B,L,D)

Day 11: Yara to Luri: 3 – 4 hrs

This short part of the trip moves to the site of Luri Gompa. At Luri Gompa, we will visit at two monasteries. At first a short steep ascent brings us to Luri Cave Monastery (4,005m) – the oldest and most famous cave monastery in the Mustang region which was constructed in the 15th century. Inside the cave we can see a big Old Chhorten, a highly sacred religious text and many images and statues of Protectors and Deities. In the second place, we will visit at the other monastery which is situated below of Luri Cave Monastery.  Overnight at Luri. (B,L,D)

Day 12: Luri Gompa to Ghuma Thanti (4,600m): 5 – 6 hrs

After discovering Luri Cave Monastery, the trail descends through the gorge to join the main trail Yara – Ghuma Thanti. It will be a fantastic walk from hilltop to hilltop through the pastures. At 4,780m, the mountain trekking route crosses a wide grassy plateau offering fabulous views of Mount Dhaulagiri. The trail continues climbing up to a pass (4,940m) and descends to Ghuma Thanti – a place built for sheltering the Buddhist pilgrims going to the sacred Damodar Kunda Lakes. Overnight at Ghuma Thanti. (B,L,D)

Day 13: Ghuma Thanti to Namta Khola (4890m): 7 – 8 hrs

At first the trail of the day reaches to a pass at 5,320 meters from where we can have tremendous views of the Dhaulagiri and the Annapurna I. Secondly, the trail makes a steep descent to the bottom of the Parche khola. Then in the third section, the trail climbs up a long steep slope. In the fourth place, the trail makes a long crossing from hilltop to hilltop till to reach a pass at 5,490 meter. The high pass on the trail offers us the clear views of Mt. Dhaulagiri and Damodar Himal. While moving ahead from the high pass, the trail brings the sacred site of Damodar Kunda. At this site we observe the sacred and pristine lakes situated in the yard of Damodar Himal. At the holy spit you can locate a small Hindu shrine and a very old Buddhist Chorten. After enjoying the must see attractions of Damodar Kunda, our journey moves forth towards Namta Khola. Overnight at Namta Khola. ( B,L,D)

Day 14: Namta Khola to Saribung Base Camp (4,950m): 6 – 7 hrs

The mountain trail of the day passes through a high altitude route and the landscapes that resemble like the Tibetan Plateau until reaching at Saribung Base Camp. Overnight at Base Camp. (B,L,D)

Day 15: Acclimatization day

Enjoy the acclimatization day by exploring the surrounding hills of the Saribung Base Camp. The acclimatization day helps you prepare for the further climbing journey. Overnight at Base Camp.  (B,L,D)

Day 16: Saribung Base Camp to Camp I (5,730m): 5 – 6 hrs

This section of the mountain trails include walking on the moraines of en route glacier and hard snowy trail. The mountain trail journey will be accompanied by views of the Khumjunggar Himal (6,959m), and the Damodar Himal. Overnight at Camp I. (B,L,D)

Day 17:  Camp I to Saribung Peak (6,346m) to Saribung Base Camp (4,950m): 8 – 9 hrs

It will be the day for reaching to the peak of Saribung – the ultimate and highest point of the trip. Early in the morning, the trek starts to climb the summit of Saribung and then the journey descends down to Saribung Base Camp. From the summit of Saribung we have outstanding scenery of Gyajikang, Himlung, Bhrikuti, etc. Overnight at Base Camp. (B,L,D)

Day 18: Saribung Base Camp to Saribung Pass (6,042m) to Nagoru (4,400m)

At first the morning trek leads us to cross the Saribung Pass and then the snowy trail steeply descends down till to reach a small stream on the trail. Next, the trail following through the stream connects us to Nagoru. Overnight at Nagoru. (B,L,D)

Day 19: Nagoru to Phu Gaon (4,080m): 5 – 6 hrs

The journey from Nagoru passing through the Tibetan resembling plateau in the company of fine views of barren valley and snowy peaks reaches to Phu Gaon. This is the exact location where we will be in the midst of the unique Lost or Hidden Valley. In the valley we can explore the culture, natural diversity, and religious practices of the ethnic groups like Lama, Gurung and Ghale. Besides this, we can trace out how people make their survival depending on agriculture, animal breeding and seasonal migrations in such remote location or in the hidden valley. It will be also the day for exploring the Tashi Lakhang Monastery – the very old Buddhist Monastery listed out of the 108 world’s great Buddhist Monasteries; it is supposed to be the last monastery constructed by Karmapa Rinpoche. Apart from exploring the cultural avenues of the lost valley, the valley also offers us a great view of Himlung Himal and other snow peaks in the region. Overnight at Phu Gaon. (B,L,D)

Day 20: Phu Gaon to Meta (3,560m): 5 – 6 hrs

This section of the climbing trip descends down at first at Kyang passing through a narrow valley on the trail. Kyang offer us the sites like the ruined forts of the Khampa settlement. Jhunam, Chyakhu and Kyang are such places where Khampa refugees from Tibet once captured and lived illegally. Witnessing these places, our journey continues till to reach Meta. The journey will be accompanied by the very spectacular view of Annapurna II and Lamjung Himal. Overnight at Meta. (B,L,D)

Day 21: Meta to Koto (2,600m): 6 – 7 hrs

Initially, the trek of the day for a while goes through steep downward trail and walks through a pine forest passing many small streams and charming water fall near the Dharmashala on the trail. Our peak climbing trip at this section also comes across many suspension bridges before reaching at Koto. Overnight at Koto. (B,L,D)

Day 22: Koto to Dharapani (1,860m): 5 – 6 hrs

The first part of today’s journey passes through the small villages till to reach at Timang in the company of Pine forest on the trail. While moving forth, the trek will be accompanied with a short glimpse of Mount Manaslu and other snowy peaks. The next section of the trail steeply drops down to Danque from where we follow the level trail till to reach at Dharapani.  Overnight at Dharapani. (B,L,D)

Day 23: Dharapani to Jagat (1,300m): 5 – 6 hrs

This section of the climbing trip walking along the Marsyangdi River crosses and re-crosses suspension bridges over the Marsyangdi River. While continuing the trek, our journey at first arrives at Kotro and then reaches at the Tal village. From Tal, the next section of the trail while following through the rocky track at first drops down to the river and again climbs up through a dense forest area to reach at Chyamje. Passing through Chyamje, we will eventually reach at Jagat Village. Overnight at Jagat. (B,L,D)

Day 24: Jagat to Bulbhule (840m): 5 – 6 hrs

Our journey today initially walks down through a rocky trail till to reach Syange at where we can view a very pretty water fall. Then the upcoming trail follows along the Marsyangdi River until reaching Bulbhule. This is the place where we end the trekking section of the trip. We say goodbye to mountain trails. Keeping the memory of trekking experience we prepare for a bus or jeep drive in the forth coming days. (B,L,D)

Day 25: Bulbhule to Kathmandu: 6 – 7 hrs

In the morning after loading all the equipments, the bus journey passes alongside the Marsyangdi river which will results into Bsesi Sahar. Then the undulating road again passes through the cultivated terraces, forest, and green hills. The bus drive will be accompanied by the sights of Manaslu, Ganesh, and the Annapuran Himalayan range in the north distance. Eventually the scenic drive stops in Kathmandu where we will be transferred at our Hotel. Overnight in Kathmandu. (B,L,D)

Day 26: Free day in Kathmandu

We can meticulously enjoy the taste of Kathmandu in the free day. We can either taka complete rest in our Hotel and concentration for upcoming trip to homeland or walk around the streets of Thamel for souvenir shopping or even we can stroll around nearest areas of Thamel. In the evening, we will have to attend a trip completion celebration dinner with our adventure team. The celebration dinner will be hosted by Himalayan Glacier. Overnight in Kathmandu. (B,L,D)

Day 27: Final Departure

This relatively time consuming Saribung Peak Climbing adventure comes to an end today. Before 3 hours of scheduled flight, a representative from Himalayan Glacier transfers us to the airport. On way to home, we have plenty of time to plan our next adventure trip in the Himalayas. (B)