For a long time, a holiday in Mustang was difficult due to the area being one of Nepal‘s restricted areas. In 1991 these areas were opened but although officially they no longer exist, access for travellers is still strictly tied to regulations which exist for political, security and environmental reasons.
The area north of Kagbeni is usually referred to as ‘Upper Mustang’ and is strongly influenced by Tibetan culture. These restrictions have helped keeping Mustang a pristine environment. People’s lives in this area are very traditional, dictated by the change of weather and seasons and only few visitors enter the region. Mustang features a dry, barren landscape, similar to the Tibetan plateau and there are few villages, which appear like oases in a desert during summer.
In old times, important trading routes from Tibet to India led through Mustang and its strategic position meant it could control the trade between those two countries. This former trading route is now the primary trekking route and following the Kali Gandaki river through the deepest gorge on Earth. The capital of Mustang is Jomsom, also usually the starting point for treks into the region. The kingdom had a reigning monarch until 2008 and this king could trace his lineage directly back to the founder of the kingdom in 1380, Ame Pal. The old capital of Mustang, Lo Manthang, has hardly changed since that time: a walled city built with sun-baked mud bricks and an impressive four-storied palace.