The Upper Mustang trek winds its way to the hidden Buddhist world of the Kingdom of Mustang, also known as Lo. This remote trans-Himalayan mountain area borders Tibet and has a distinct Tibetan feel to it; both in its people and culture and in its arid landscape of high cliffs and rocks of surprising formations and colors. The trek visits Kagbeni, the gateway to Upper Mustang, then on through a stark landscape in the rain shadow of the Dhaulagiri massif to Lo-Manthang, the seat of past Kings of the Kingdom of Lo. Explore caves, rock paintings, monasteries, and gompa and learn something about the culture of this area. Panoramic views of Nilgiri, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and others, are very much part of this exciting trip!
Within Lo Manthang itself a visit to Namgyal Gompa and Tingkhar, the last main village in the northwest of the area, as well as the King’s palace, brings a further cultural understanding of the area. There is also an amchi (traditional Tibetan doctor) museum and school, where visitors can learn about this ancient healing art and how it is being adapted to meet modern-day situations. A few hour’s walks from Lo Manthang is Gyakar with its famous Gompa. Ghar Gompa is over 1,200 years old, and is dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, who traveled these areas at that time. The Gompa is famous for its rock paintings, and the fact it is believed that if you make a wish here, it will come true. So make a wish at the Ghar Gompa, and hope to return again someday!
The trek is a relatively high altitude (3,000m to 3,800m), which is somehow intensified by the dry air. While it is no problem for those born at this altitude to travel at speed, visitors will be more leisurely in their hike to avoid any altitude-related problems. On average walking takes place from 5 to 7 hours a day and some paths are particularly windy and dusty. But this trek into the restricted area of Upper Mustang, which in part follows the ancient salt route, is something that will remain in one’s memory forever.
Travel is the movement of people between relatively distant geographical locations, and can involve travel by foot, bicycle, automobile, train, boat, bus, airplane, or other means, with or without luggage, and can be one way or round trip. Travel can also include relatively short stays between successive movements.
The origin of the word “travel” is most likely lost to history. The term “travel” may originate from the Old French word travail, which means ‘work’. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the first known use of the word travel was in the 14th century.
It also states that the word comes from Middle English travailen, travelen (which means to torment, labor, strive, journey) and earlier from Old French travailler (which means to work strenuously, toil). In English we still occasionally use the words “travail”, which means struggle. According to Simon Winchester in his book The Best Travelers’ Tales (2004), the words “travel” and “travail” both share an even more ancient root: a Roman instrument of torture called the tripalium (in Latin it means “three stakes”, as in to impale).