For the Mustang trek we take a morning flight to Jomsom, the district headquarters of Mustang. The sound of jingling horse and pony bells as the Mustangi people pass by with their loads becomes an omnipresent aspect of the trek from now on. We trek up the windy Kali Gandaki valley to Kagbeni.The wide trail along a sandy, saligram-filled riverbed provides views of the surrounding peaks of Dhaulagiri, Tukuche and Nilgiri, and to the south the entire Annapurna Massif. Kagbeni, spectacularly situated atop a cliff overlooking the confluence of the Kali Gandaki and the Jhong Khola rivers, is the last village in Lower Mustang and guards the entrance into Upper Mustang, visible across the Kali Gandaki riverbed. It is an oasis of patchwork fields in the midst of rocky, arid mountains.
This ancient and partially ruined citadel town provides us with a taste of scenes to come in upper Mustang, with its narrow alleyways and tunnels, irrigation canals, green fields of wheat and barley and its imposing and newly-restored brick-colored gompa. Here we go through the police check, after completing our paperworkwe enter Upper Mustang, the long-forbidden region of Nepal.
Lo Monthang, aptly named the ''Plain of Aspiration." The fabled walled city of Lo, with a single entrance through which only the king is allowed to ride (all others must walk), is a welcome sight! The king, "Lo Gyelbu", named Jigme Palbar Bista, still resides at his four-storied palace inside the city walls ... that is, when he's not in Kathmandu. He is an avid horseman, and keeps his own stable of horses, some of the best in Mustang, it is said. Stay away from his Tibetan mastiffs, though! Today the king plays a somewhat ceremonial role, although he is well loved and respected throughout the kingdom. In the 1380's, King Ame Pal, established his reign in Lo, with the walled city of Lo Monthang as its capital. Within the walls of Lo Manthang are about 150 houses built among narrow streets, and some of the largest and finest Tibetan Buddhist gompas in Nepal