Upper Mustang, a paradise for avid trekkers, is nestled in the captivating Himalayas of Nepal. However, exploring the remote region of the Upper Mustang without an Upper Mustang Permit is not possible. This territory was not accessible to the outside world until 1992, and only a few visitors were allowed. It has only been a few decades since the Nepalese government lifted the restriction, allowing foreigners to explore the region. However, even today, obtaining Upper Mustang Trekking Permits to enter the territory is mandatory for all visitors.
The purpose of the Upper Mustang trekking permit is to protect the cultural heritage and serene nature of the region. The permit restriction prevents overcrowding of visitors in the higher altitudes of Upper Mustang and helps preserve the unspoiled nature. And, the permit fee can vary depending on the season and is the highest during the peak season. As the process of obtaining the permit might take around a week, it’s important to apply for it in advance.
Moreover, the process can only be carried out with the help of a registered tour operator.
In addition, solo trekking is not allowed in the Upper Mustang region, and you must have a licensed guide accompanying you. These strict regulations help conserve the region and maintain the safety of the visitors. Regardless of the regulations, the Upper Mustang trek is worth all the effort. Moreover, your journey will become hassle-free once you get a clear understanding of the permit requirements and its obtaining process beforehand.
- Requirements for Obtaining Upper Mustang Trekking Permits
- Essential Upper Mustang Trekking Permits
- How Much Do the Upper Mustang Permits Cost?
- Details on Upper Mustang Restricted Area Permit
- Which is Better? Upper Mustang Visit via Drive or Trek
- Things You Should Know Before Upper Mustang Trek
Requirements for Obtaining Upper Mustang Trekking Permits
The Upper Mustang trek takes you to an altitude of over 3,500 m (11,482 ft) in the Himalayas of Nepal. But, the trekking route is not accessible to international visitors without permits. Therefore, to obtain the Upper Mustang permit for trekking through the spectacular terrain of Upper Mustang, you have to be aware of the following requirements:
- Firstly, you must have a passport with a validity of at least six months from the date of your entry into Nepal.
- Having a Nepal visa with acceptable validity is a must. You can receive the visa on your arrival to Nepal or you can collect it from the Nepalese embassy in your country.
- As solo trekking is prohibited, you must hire a licensed trekking guide to accompany you throughout the trek.
- Likewise, you must process the permit through an authorized trekking agency in Nepal.
- Make sure to pick a trusted and registered trekking agency to plan your trek.
- Provide all the necessary personal details and required documents to your travel agency for the permit application process.
- In order to trek through the restricted region of the Upper Mustang, you must have the permits such as Restricted Area Permit, Annapurna Conservation Area Permit, and TIMS (Trekker’s Information Management System) Card.
Essential Upper Mustang Trekking Permits
As an international traveler, you are required to obtain three permits to enter the Upper Mustang trekking region. Get a detailed idea of each permit through the description below:
1. Restricted Area Permit
The RAP allows you to enter the restricted region of the Upper Mustang. This is a special permit that cannot be obtained independently. You must carry out the process of acquiring it through a registered trekking agency such as Himalayan Glacier. It is issued by the Department of Immigration of Nepal located in Kathmandu or Pokhara. Moreover, it cannot be issued unless the application for at least two foreigners is handed in together.
2. Annapurna Conservation Area Permit
The Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) is a must to enter Upper Mustang because it lies in the Annapurna Conservation Area. And, anyone who passes through the conservation area must have a permit to enter the region. Moreover, you can get the permit either from the Nepal Tourism Board office in Kathmandu or Pokhara or from the ACAP counter in Pokhara.
3. TIMS (Trekker’s Information Management System) Card
The TIMS card provides information about the trekker’s safety during the trek and also helps track their movement. This is also one of the mandatory permits for your journey through the trails of Upper Mustang. This card can be obtained from the Nepal Tourism Board office located in Kathmandu or Pokhara or you can also get it from the TIMS counters located in trekking areas. However, if you plan to reach Jomsom via flight and return via flight, you will not require the TIMS card. But, it is mandatory for all those who plan to explore the region via ground.
These are the three important Upper Mustang Trekking Permits required to explore the mystical land of Upper Mustang. You must make sure you are in the hands of a trusted and authorized trekking agency to obtain these permits. And, it’s recommended that you get these permits before you begin your trek for a hassle-free traveling experience.
How Much Do the Upper Mustang Permits Cost?
The Upper Mustang permit fee for each permit is different. And, the permit cost may also vary depending on the season and the duration of the trek. Now, explore the cost per person from the table below.
|Type of Permit||Permit Fee|
|1. Restricted Area Permit||$500 for the first 10 days (An additional $50 for each extra day)|
|2. Annapurna Conservation Area Permit||NPR 3000 (Around $25)|
|3. TIMS Card||$10 for group trekkers and $20 for individual trekkers|
Although this is the updated information, the fees are likely to be changed sometimes. Therefore, it’s better to remain updated about the costs through your trekking agency in advance.
Details on Upper Mustang Restricted Area Permit
Before you embark on your journey to the conserved region of the Upper Mustang, there are some points to be noted regarding the Upper Mustang trekking permit restrictions. So, go through the pointers below to learn more about it.
- Permits are mandatory: All travelers must have three essential permits to explore the Upper Mustang region, i.e. RAP, ACAP, and TIMS Card.
- Limited validity: Each permit has a specific validity time. RAP has a validity of 10 days and can be extended with the payment of an additional fee. On the other hand, the validity of ACAP and TIMS Card are throughout the duration of your trek.
- Non-transferable: The permits are non-transferable means that once they are issued under your name, no other travelers can use them. Therefore, all travelers must have their own permits issued under their name to enter Upper Mustang.
- Validity only for Upper Mustang: The permits you acquire for your trek to Upper Mustang are only valid in Upper Mustang. If you wish to travel to other restricted regions, such as Dolpo or Kanchanjunga, you must obtain different permits specifically for those regions.
- It must be with you at all times: You are required to show the permits at various checkpoints during the trek. Therefore, you must carry it with you throughout the trek.
- It is illegal to trek without permits: Another important thing to understand is that it is illegal to enter the region without obtaining the necessary papers. If you are found passing through the trail without the Upper Mustang permits, the authority will take certain legal actions or may make you pay a fine.
Which is Better? Upper Mustang Visit via Drive or Trek
As a country blessed with spectacular and widespread Himalayan ranges the options for trekking in Nepal are unlimited. And one of the most famous destinations for adventure seekers in Nepal is Upper Mustang, also known as The Forbidden Kingdom. People approach exploring this unique territory via drive or via trek depending upon their preferences. So, both ways have their own pros and cons which we will elaborate on in the pointers below.
Trekking to Upper Mustang
|Pros of trekking to Upper Mustang||Cons of trekking to Upper Mustang|
|Trekking through the nooks and corners of the Upper Mustang will allow you to immerse into the wilderness of the region and experience nature closely.||As the trekking trail to the Upper Mustang is physically demanding, your physical fitness must be on par for the journey.|
|Allows you to have a closer look into the unique lifestyle and the traditions of the locals.||Trekking is time-consuming and based on the standard itinerary for the Upper Mustang trek, it may require around 17 days to complete the journey.|
|Offers an environment-friendly way to explore the region without causing any disturbance to the ecosystem.||Trekking is heavily affected by weather conditions and can be strenuous during heavy snowfall and rainfall.|
|Explore difficult-to-reach places such as Tashi Kabum: A cave temple in Upper Mustang, which is not accessible via drive.||You have to carry heavy trekking gear and camping equipment everywhere you go.|
|Also, most of the trails are gravel roads and dusty which might affect your trekking experience.|
Upper Mustang via Drive
|Pros of exploring Upper Mustang via drive||Cons of exploring Upper Mustang via drive|
|Allows you to explore the region faster.||You may miss out on experiencing the local culture and nature closely.|
|Anyone with decent physical fitness can to Upper Mustang with ease.||The routes you can explore via drive are limited and will not take you to destinations where vehicles are not accessible.|
|Offers plenty of time to explore various landmarks along the way.||The vehicle may get stuck during harsh weather conditions such as heavy snowfall and rainfall.|
|Overall, traveling to Upper Mustang via drive is less strenuous and more comfortable.||Disturbs the ecosystem and contributes to pollution through carbon emissions.|
Things You Should Know Before Upper Mustang Trek
Upper Mustang is a traveler’s paradise and offers you a memory of a lifetime. But, you must prepare yourself well enough before you take on the journey to the Himalayas of the Upper Mustang. Therefore, these are some general overviews of the thing you should know before your trek:
- First, make sure to obtain the Upper Mustang permits before you start the trek.
- As the trek is physically demanding, ensure your health is in a good condition.
- Pack all the trekking essentials for a comfortable trekking experience.
- Be prepared for unpredictable weather conditions and altitude sickness in the Himalayas.
- You will come across unique cultural experiences and experience pristine nature at its best form in the high altitude of Upper Mustang, at around 3,870 m (12,697 ft).
- Lastly, make sure to pick a trusted trek organizer and licensed guide for your journey.
If you still want to explore some other facts about Upper Mustang, make sure to check out the 10 facts about Mustang- “The Lost Kingdom.”
The content above provides comprehensive information about the permits required for exploring Upper Mustang, and it’s important to note that a licensed trek organizer is needed to obtain these permits. If you’re considering trekking to Upper Mustang, look no further because Himalayan Glacier has got you covered.
Himalayan Glacier has been organizing successful adventure trips in Nepal since 1992. As licensed travel organizers with a 98% success rate, we have earned a reputation as one of the best adventure tour organizers in the country, backed by hundreds of Trusted Client reviews. Furthermore, with our authenticity and reliability, we are committed to making your travel experience hassle-free and memorable. So, don’t wait any longer, contact our team of experts to book your trip to Upper Mustang and tick it off your bucket list. You can also reach out to our team via WhatsApp at (+1-410-307-0007).