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Mustang Tiji Festival 2018. 21 Days

Mustang is an ancient Himalayan Kingdom which lies in the northern central part of Nepal and at the top of the Kaligandaki River. Upper Mustang consists of two distinct regions: the southern part and the northern area where the language, culture, and traditions are similar to those of the Tibetan people. This area is considered one of the most interesting and picturesque places in Nepal. The whole area has an isolated and mystical feel. It is enchanting and inspiring. This region is home to some of Nepal’s oldest Buddhist Monasteries, and, as well, to ancient and isolated villages with pretty white-washed houses.

This trek is a walking holiday/lodge trek.  Our destination is Lo- Manthang, which we reach in 9 days.  The route is through high altitude desert and climbs in and out of the huge Kali Gandaki Valley.  Near Jomsom, the small city we fly into, the Kali Gandaki River has cut the deepest gorge in the world.

In Jomsom, if the trekking party wishes, we can hire horses to ride, hire for the whole tour or only for part. Note, our luggage will be carried the entire time by horses and mules. Himalayan Vacation Treks and Expedition staff will consist of a guide, an assistant guide, and horse porters.

Himalayan Vacation Treks and Expedition organizes this trek in May so that our guests attend the annual Tiji festival held in Lo Manthang. The dates of Tiji change with each year, the date determined according to the Tibetan Calendar by the area’s head Lama. This year, 2018, the festival will fall on May 12th thru the 14th. The origins of the festival predate Buddhism, and are born out of the animistic and shamanistic Bon tradition. The costumes and dance steps of the Tiji festival have remained the same for over 600 years.

Tiji is the abbreviated from of ” Tempa Chhirim” which means ”Prayer for World Peace”, and celebrates the victory of Buddha’s incarnation, Dorji Sonam, over a demon called Ma Tam Ru Ta. Ma Tam Ru Ta caused storms and droughts which destroyed   people’s houses and livestock. The prayer is a dance performed by the monks of Lo Manthang Chhyode Goenpa over three days. The dance covers the harassment of Ma Tam Ru Ta, the birth of Dorji Sonam, who is the demon’s son, and the attempt by Dorji Sonam to return the demon to the Buddha Realm. The role of Dorji Sonam is played by a monk who has stayed in seclusion for three months in preparation.  On the third day, in the ceremony called Rha Chham, Dorji Sonam throws a barley grass dummy representing Ma Tam Ru Ta. It is believed that now, the village will be purified of the evil spirit.

Outline Itinerary 

Day 1: (3 may 2018) Arrival in Kathmandu(1337m)
Day 2: (4 may2018) Sightseeing in Kathmandu (1337m)
Day 3: (5 may 2018) Kathmandu-Pokhara (827m)
Day 4: (6 may 2018) Pokhara- Jomsom (2720m)-Kagbeni (2810m)
Day 5: (7 May 2018) Kagbeni to Chele (3050m)
Day 6: (8 May 2018) Chele to Shyangbochen (3800m)
Day 7: (9 May 2018) Syangboche-Ghami (3520m)
Day 8:  (10 May 2018) Ghami – Charang (3560m)
Day 9: (11 May 2018) Charang to Lo-Manthang (3810m) observe Tiji Festival
Day 10: (12 May 2018) Observe Tiji Festival with Mask Dance
Day 11: (13 May 2018) Observe Tiji Festival
Day 12 ;(14 May 2018 ) Observe Tiji Festival ending
Day 13: (15 May 2018) Lo Manthang to Ghami (3520m)
Day 14: (16 May 2018) Ghami to Samar (3660m)
Day 15: (17  May 2018) Samar to Kagbeni (2810m)
Day 16: (18 May 2018) Kagbeni to Jomsom (2720m)
Day 17: (19 May 2018) Jomsom to Pokhara by flight
Day 18: (20 May 2018) Pokhara Sightseeing .
Day 19: (21 May 2018) Pokhara  to Kathmandu (1337m)
Day 20: (22 May 2018) Rest/Shopping in Kathmandu (1337m)
Day 21: (23 May 2018) Departure from Kathmandu(1337m)

Important Information:

Our Guest’s security is of dominant concern while traveling with Himalayan Vacation Treks and Expedition. The trekking leader has the authority to adjust or cancel any part of the itinerary if it is necessary due to unfavorable circumstances. Unfavorable weather conditions, the health condition of a group member, or an unexpected natural disaster can force changes to the itinerary. However, every effort will be made to keep to the above itinerary. The lead guide will try his/her best to ensure that the trip goes smoothly and according to plan, but please be ready to be flexible if necessary.

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Day 1: (3 may 2018) Arrival in Kathmandu(1337m)

You are welcomed to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal renowned for historical monuments, Hindu Temples, and Buddhist Stupas/Monasteries. We meet our guests at the Tribhuvan International Airport. A representative will be waiting with a Himalayan Vacation Treks and Expedition placard with our guests’ names displayed. After dropping luggage at the hotel, guests are taken for a short sightseeing tour. In the evening, guests are invited to a Welcome Dinner at a Nepali restaurant.

 Day 2: (4 may2018) Sightseeing in Kathmandu (1337m)

A local guide will be available. According to your wishes, the guide will escort you for sightseeing. Sightseeing may include the Kathmandu Durbar Square, Pashupati,  Boudhanath, Patan Durbar Square, and the Swoyambhunath areas.  Starting after breakfast, usually at 9.00am, the exploration of Kathmandu Valley can continue until 5.00pm. Lunch and dinner, you will be responsible for.

Day 3: (5 may 2018) Kathmandu-Pokhara (827m)

Seats will be booked on the comfortable, air-conditioned Tourist Bus that runs from Kathmandu to Pokhara on the Prithvi Highway.  A distance of 200km, it takes generally 6 hours including rest and meal stops. On the way there are views of Ganesh Himal, Lamjung Himal and Annapurna, as well as the Trishuli River Valley.  In the more rugged areas of the Valley there are rapids with kayaking/rafting to be seen. In the evening, your Himalayan Vacation Treks and Expedition guide will give a briefing about the next day’s trek.

Day 4: (6 may 2018) Pokhara- Jomsom (2720m)-Kagbeni (2810m)

We fly from Pokhara to Jomsom, a short 20 minute hop, early in the morning, arriving by noon, in a small 14seater plane. Jomsom is an entirely different, drier landscape than Pokhara, and we head for the Kagbeni region after tea/coffee. Kagbeni Village is the beginning of Upper Mustang area, the dress of the people is Tibetan, and prominent is a Buddhist Gumpa  (monastery).

Day 5: (7 May 2018) Kagbeni to Chele (3050m)

From Kagbeni we walk the riverbed of the Kali Gandaki River.Along the way as we go towards the village of Chele, we pass through Buddhist villages with their Geonpas. Coming to Chele, the Gandaki River flows quite amazingly through a natural rock tunnel. Chele is a village of people originally from Tibet, and they speak Tibetan.

Day 6: (8 May 2018) Chele to Shyangbochen (3800m)

Today, we cross 4 passes. The first one is Taklam La (3624m), the second one is Dajori La (3735m), the third one is Bhena La (3860m) and the 4th is Yamda La (3860m). The scenery is of vistas of mountains and barrens. We reach Shyangbochen where there are lodges. Telephone and mobile service is available here.

Day 7: (9 May 2018) Syangboche-Ghami (3520m)

We walk first uphill, then on flat land, and lastly downhill. We visit the village of Geling, with a Goenpa, beautiful Stupas, chortens and mani walls. We cross Nyi La pass at 4025m. From the pass, before us are Mustang valley, the Annapurna Range and Mt. Neelgiri. On the way to our destination, the medieval village of Ghemi, we cross a pass called Ghemi La (3765m). It is an isolated, deserted place.

Day 8:  (10 May 2018) Ghami – Charang (3560m)

From Ghami to Lo Gekar there is a rough road we follow, built by the Chinese. We continue to Charang. Charang is one of the bigger villages in Mustang.  Its white houses with their fluttering prayer flags are beautiful against a background of steep cliffs and peaks. On a ridge above a deep gorge rises a magnificent fortress of five floors – one of the old palaces of the king of Mustang – and opposite is a big red painted Goenpa.  We spend the night in Charang. Telephone, internet services are available here. Here too is the white north side of Nilgiri, one of the peaks of the Annapurna massif, which rises steeply from the Tibetan plateau. We will tour the Goenpa and Palace, led by the Himalayan Vacation Treks and Expedition guide.

Day 9: (11 May 2018) Charang to Lo-Manthang (3810m) observe Tiji Festival

We arrive in Lo Manthang today. We cross a pass called Lo La (3950m) before reaching Lo Manthang. The capital city of Mustang Kingdom, Lo Manthang is surrounded by a high wall with square towers at the corner points. Only the white palace and three red colored Goenpa can be seen above the wall. Our camp is outside the city wall. Lo Manthang has many Buddhist stupas, Goenpas, and chortens. The color of prayer flags abound. Internet, telephone, and mobile facilities are available here.

Day 10: (12 May 2018) Observe Tiji Festival with Mask Dance

Tiji begins today, and if an appointment is made the day before, we may visit the palace and meet the King and Queen of Mustang. In the palace with the royal couple, we drink Tibetan Butter Tea and honor the royal couple with Khada scarves. In the morning, Lo Manthang fills with people from the local area (around 5000-6000). Many come from far villages on horseback. On the main street, the King and Queen, along with many others, ride horses decorated with beautiful regalia. The streets are alive and colorful as the peoples of Mustang wear their traditional finery during the Tiji.

Day 11: (13 May 2018) Observe Tiji Festival

Day 12: (14 May 2018) Day 12 ;(14 May 2018 ) Observe Tiji Festival ending

Day 13: (15 May 2018) Lo Manthang to Ghami (3520m)

We leave Lo Manthang and travel up over the Marang Chogo La Pass (4230). The views of Upper and Lower Mustang Valley into Tibet from the Pass are magnificent. We return to Ghami.

Day 14: (16 May 2018) Ghami to Samar (3660m)

From Ghami, we cross Ghami La Pass (3765m). Later, we cross Nyi La Pass (4025m). We come down to Samar Village, where we spend the night. The weather after midday is windy in this area, and will continue so until Jomsom.

Day 15: (17  May 2018) Samar to Kagbeni (2810m)

We head to Chhusang, a beautiful village along the Kali Gandaki River. We first go over Dajori La Pass (3735m) and Taklam La pass (3624m).  From Taklam La we go steeply downhill to the village of Chele and to the bank of Kali Gandaki River. From Chele we go to Chhusang. From Chhusang, we head to Kagbeni for the night.  Kagbeni is beautifully situated between the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Ranges on the Kali Gandaki River where it is joined by a tributary.

Day 16: (18 May 2018) Kagbeni to Jomsom (2720m)

Following the Kali Gandaki River, we have views of the beauty of Upper Dolpo. We head to Jomsom, where we will spend the afternoon and night. Jomsom is the main, small city of Mustang with many attractions, shops, and restaurants. It has a hospital, ATMs, telephones, mobile coverage, internet, and sauna facilities. While here, we may visit the Mustang Ecco Museum, the Shiva and Ganesh Temples, and the Army Mountaineering School.

Day 17: (19 May 2018) Jomsom to Pokhara by flight

We have a choice. We can either fly to Pokhara or travel by jeep/bus. If we go by jeep, the road is slow and sometimes rough, but we get to spend the night at Tatopani.  Tatopani is a favorite as there are hot springs for bathing.  The hot natural mineral baths are restorative to our bodies, which by this time no doubt are weary from the long trek. If we go by air, we reach Pokhara within 20 minutes.

Day 18: (20 May 2018) Pokhara Sightseeing

Time to relax in Pokhara.  The ambiance is pleasant, the weather mild.  In Lakeside, we can enjoy boating, cafes, shops, and the restaurants along the Lake with their tasty international cuisines.  For the more energetic, we can visit the famous Peace Stupa, the Tibetan Settlement.

Day 19: (21 May 2018) Pokhara  to Kathmandu (1337m)

We take the pleasant and comfortable Tourist Bus back to Kathmandu. Arriving about 4pm, a Himalayan Vacation Treks and Expedition staff member will meet us and drive us to our hotel.  The rest of the day is unscheduled and you are free to spend it as you like.

 Day 20: (22 May 2018) Rest/Shopping in Kathmandu (1337m)

This day is free too. If you wish, a sightseeing trip to the ancient temple/king’s seat of the world heritage site of incredible Bhaktapur can be arranged.  The tour lasts 4 hours, and will cost an additional upcharge. In the evening, a Farewell Dinner is given by Himalayan Vacation Treks and Expedition.

 Day 21: (23 May 2018) Departure from Kathmandu(1337m)

A Himalayan Vacation Treks and Expedition staff representative will take our valuable guests to the airport (3 hours prior to your flight) and bid goodbye. It will be not only goodbye, but also the welcome for next visit to Nepal.