Trip Overview

Mustang Tiji Festival Trek is a beautiful journey into the most enchanted land of Nepal. The ancient kingdom of Upper Mustang is truly a magical Himalayan desert hidden behind the soaring peaks of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. Tiji Festival Trek is an unforgettable excursion witnessing the annuals most significant festival celebration to the people of Lo. This three days Tiji Celebration is basically organized at the courtyard of the Royal Palace of Mustang, in the heart of Lo-Manthang, the capital of Upper Mustang.

What is the true rationale behind the celebration of the Tiji Festival? actually has various interpretation - 

  • It is to celebrate the victory of good over evil. 
  • Prayer for the beginning of the new year with abundance and to adieu the previous year. 
  • Celebration to bring harmony and new hope and to drive off all the negative energies.
  • A ritual for the wellbeing of the people and to dispel all the evil spirits and harmful components of Mustang.

However, whatever the interpretation of this three-days Tiji carnival may speak of, but the very lively celebration with all the colors and monk-mask dance is so fascinating that it's worth perceiving. 

Kingdom of Upper Mustang and Special Permits:

The Ancient Kingdom of Upper Mustang was opened to the outside world as a trekking destination only in 1992. Still, the number of trekkers are limited and subject to its strict rules and regulation. Upper Mustang is a restricted area and a special permit is required. Minimum 10 days’ permit is issued at the cost of USD $500 per trekker and can be extended further with an additional cost of $50 per day per trekker. Trekkers are to enter and exit as per the data entered in the permits. In case of delays both, while entering or exiting, trekkers are to revise the dates through the Mustang district office – which sometimes may involve a penalty. 

The Forbidden Kingdom of Mustang is a vast, barren, arid, Tibet-like valley that gives you much history of Tibetan Buddhism and legends of Guru Padmasambhava also very popularly known as 'Guru Rinpoche'. Padmasambhava, the Second Buddha who founded Tibetan Buddhism is highly revered in Upper Mustang. The legend speaks that the consolidation of Mustang dates back to 14th Century when Ame Pal, the warrior founded this Buddhist kingdom and build the Walled City of Lo at Lo-Manthang. This once independent kingdom joined Nepal during the 17th century retaining its sovereignty and its monarchy. Though the monarchy system in Nepal ended in 2008, yet the people of Mustang, the Lo, sustained their kingship and still continue its legacy.Trekking to Upper Mustangis certainly a life-changing experience. 

Upper Mustang landscape and its people:

Imagine yourself being at the bed of dried out ocean – upper Mustang is parallel to that. It has been proved that Upper mustang was underwater for thousands of years and in course of time with the folding of the mountain the water shifted further to the south. No wonder why you get ample ammonites, the prehistoric stone found on the river or ocean beds, in the hills of Mustang. Very truly Mustang is the source to Kali-Gandaki River, the river that dates back to 80 million years and that crafts the world’s deepest Gorge. Being the rain shadow area Mustang receives very little rain but lots of snow in the winter. However, you would be very amazed to find the village with lush green and vegetation that appears like a mirage in the middle of the desert. The dust and the howling strong wind is very common when you are trekking in this region. The ancient monasteries some dates back to the 8th century, landscapes like Grand-Canyon, High cliff-hanging pre-historic caves, and the unique architecture are some highlights of the region. 

The people of Lo are of Tibetan origin people who speak their own language. You can observe Tibetan Buddhism influence all around as you trek into the region. The people are peace-loving, very religious, very cultured, and fun-loving. They are essentially traders very hard working and always wore a beautiful simile on their face – and significantly very reliable. 

Mustang Tiji Festival Trek:

The three-day Tiji Festival is very significant to the people of Lo. During this time thousands of locals from around come to participate and celebrate the festival. Sometimes owing to the Tiji Festival, trekkers have to strive to book or find accommodation due to the surging of people both locals and international. This Mustang May Festival is an exceptional carnival where the monks in their special colorful attire perform a sacred-ritual mask dance. The very enchanting is the music which is very soothing that energizes you spiritually. Every day after the completion of monk dance the stage is overtaken by the youth club who again organizes various concerts that may include acting, jokes, singing, and dancing in modern English/Hindi/Nepali songs. 

Mustang Tiji Festival trek starts with flying to the enchanting airport of Jomsom through the world’s deepest gorge of Kali-Gandaki with an impressive mountain view of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Nilgiri. We provide you with day to day detail itinerary for your reference. We trek to the ancient village of Kagbeni, the gateway to Upper Mustang. Soon we enter the forbidden – restricted area of Upper Mustang. We cruise into the valley walking the undulating trail and walking the COROLLA HIGHWAY enjoying the medieval setting and historic settlements and monasteries. Gradually we get to Tsarang, the land of Chortens (stupa or religious monuments), and finally to Lo-Manthang, the capital, and the Walled City. Besides witnessing the festival we also visit the prehistoric cave of Chhosar and the Ghar-Gompa, the 7th-century monastery.

Tiji Festival 2021:

The Tiji Festival 2021 is scheduled for the 9th of May to the 11th of May 2021. 

Highlights

  • Drive to the beautiful Lake City of Pokhara, the second home of the tourists, through a narrow roadway with its picturesque view of mountains, gorges, rustic settlements, and farming terraces. 
  • Being at Pokhara (820m), the second biggest city is the land of exceptional beauty that triggers excitement despite its 7 hours drive. 
  • The beautiful Phewa Lake and the magnificence of the Himalayas mounting at the backdrop create an atmosphere of peace and delight. 
  • Flying in a small plane to Jomsom airport 2720m is simply phenomenal.
  • Walking on the ancient trail along the Kali Gandaki gorge that dates back to 80 million years old with the stunning barren, untouched landscape. 
  • Being at the ancient town of Kagbeni is more than anything else.
  • With the dramatic backdrop of snow-white Nilgiri, you enter the land of ammonites.
  • Enchanting walk with the dramatic setting of the landscape through the wind-eroded hills you witness thousands of natural caves now used for varied purposes.
  • The colorful landscapes, very primeval house architecture, and smiling people are simply unique.
  • Being at Tsarang, the land of Chortens is remarkable.
  • The 14th-century walled city of Lo Manthang holds loads of history and legends.
  • The 2000-year-old cave of Chhosar gives you the history of prehistoric human settlements.
  • Witnessing the Tiji Festival is another quest to comprehend the culture of Mustang with all the colorful dancing and playing of instruments.  
  • Ghar Gompa, the first-ever monastery build by Padmasambhava around the 8th century is mesmerizing, and a visit to this monastery is once a lifetime opportunity. 

 

Itinerary

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NOTE: 

While trekking in the region of Upper Mustang, the fabled ancient Kingdom for the Tiji Festival, there is a certain amount of fee established by the committee as an entrance fee to enjoy the ceremony which is charged per day or consecutive 3 days. The fee varies every year, which is always fluctuating and cannot be known beforehand. Travelers are to shoulder the cost of all entrance fees (minimal) while visiting any of the ancient monasteries, ancient palaces, the designated Sky Caves, and while witnessing the Tiji Festival. Travelers are also to bear the cost of any transportation facility used such as jeep or horses for any of the distant side excursion.

Your trekking Group leader will be at Kathmandu international airport to receive and you then transfer you to the hotel. A pick-up facility is provided and it's certainly very exciting to drive along our lively highway which is chaotic but very interesting. In case if you arrive early prior to your trek schedule it will provide you with ample time to explore the lively town of Thamel and around Kathmandu.

Soon Trek briefing and equipment distribution event will be organized where your leader delivers a briefing over essential matters regarding your trek. After the briefing, you will be directed to the most authentic Royal Nepali Traditional Restaurant for the welcome dinner and it’s an appropriate moment to break the silence and get to know each other.

  • Accommodation 3 Star Hotel
  • Meals Welcome Dinner

We will leave the hotel earliest to skip the traffic on our slender highway. Despite the 7 hours drive to Pokhara, it is certainly very exceptional with a picturesque view, beautiful landscape, and farming terraces, mountain views, and the lively town and villages in between. It is indeed fun to stop in one of the highway restaurants for Lunch. Eventually, we reach Pokhara (820m), the Lake City and the second home of the tourists is a beautiful city with magical beauty with the holy mountain, Machhapuchhare (Fishtail) dominating the skyline. If you reach early you will have an opportunity to explore the gorgeous Phewa Lake. Being in Pokhara unlike Kathmandu will definitely add more delight.

  • Accommodation 3 Star Hotel
  • Meals Breakfast
  • Time 7 Hours

Since Jomsom flight takes off really early in the morning owing to the high winds in the deep valley of Kali-Gandaki. Since the wind in Jomsom picks up very early in the morning the flights start taking off when the aviation finds a better window for flying opportunity. Eventually, the 20 minutes spectacular flight gets us to Jomsom, the Windy Valley of Mustang, and the district headquarters. This short flight takes you through the world's deepest Kali Gandaki Gorge with the magnificent view of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. The Nilgiri range dominates the entire valley. After a short break, we head out to Kagbeni. The walk to Kagbeni is 4 hours through the ancient salt trade route. You would be amazed to see the stretch of Kali-Gandaki riverbed where we occasionally walk. It’s an effortless first-day trek to the ancient town of Kagbeni, we will get there by lunch. After lunch, we will explore the ancient town that holds ample history and legends.  

  • Accommodation Local Lodge
  • Meals Breakfast
  • Time 20 minutes / 4 Hours

Today we enter the restricted area of Upper Mustang. As we leave Kagbeni, to the end of the town we come to the Check Post where we are to complete our permit formalities with few necessary registrations. We take the roadway to the arid Tibet like region; many have related Upper Mustang to the Grand Canyon. Don’t miss to look back to observe Kagbeni that stands like the ancient medieval town aptly situated at the base of the glaring Nilgiri Mountain that dominates the entire valley. This delightful walk through the dry, sandy region with amazing scenes around leads us to the huge plateau of Apple Orchard. We walk the undulating trail to the old village of Tangbe for lunch. Do not expect too much as the Mustang started tea-house trekking just a few years back. After lunch, we walk further to the beautiful village of Chhusang. From Chhusang we walk the riverbed trail and cross Kali Gandaki and ascent short steep trail to Chele, a small ancient town where we stay overnight. It is remarkable to observe wind eroded hills and sky caves along the way.  

  • Accommodation Tea-house
  • Meals Not Included
  • Time 5 - 6 Hours
Leaving the old structured village of Chele we start with a gradual ascent. Soon we ascend through the delightful hill cut trail in of these marvelous sunbaked canyons. As you walk up this interesting trail, do not miss to look back at the deep open valleys that hide beneath the soaring peaks of Annapurna, Nilgiri, and Tilicho. Today's walk is through the undulating trails with infrequent steep climb and downhills. From Samar going over the Bhena-La pass, we get to the very small Lunch stop of Bhena. Bhena being a place with a solitary lodge, it may take a while to organize your lunch so be prepared to relax and enjoy the region of Mustang. It is surprising to witness ample jeeps lining up at Bhena either for lunch stop of for a short break. As we continue further, it’s quite remarkable to see the Sky Caves high up in these dry but amazing canyons. These caves hold a lot of history and mystery. We climb up to a small pass and descend all the way down to Syanboche (Shyanbochen), a small settlement deep into the valley but has a theatrical setting.
  • Accommodation Basic Tea-House
  • Meals Not Included
  • Time 6 - 7 Hours

From Syanboche we climb gently to a small Syanboche pass of 3800m/12,467ft. We stop for a Kodak moment here as this tiny pass delivers a marvelous panoramic mountain view and the expansion of Mustang valleys. As we descend down the view of the prosperous village of Ghiling is on sight. The village in the dryland with Willow trees and vegetation of color contrast makes it more like a mirage. During May, June, or October any villages in the Upper Mustang region appear very dramatic with varied colors. It gives the idea of some very celebrated modern art painted in the hub of nature with passion. We descend further down and explore the most stunning and very cultured village of Ghiling. Visiting the Monastery at the high up ridge, which is very ancient and has legends, it is indeed very fascinating. Gradually we walk up Jhaite for Lunch. After lunch we ascend to the pass of Nyi-La – from the pass as you look back you see the south still being lighted up by soaring peaks of Nilgiri, Tilicho, and Annapurna. After the Pass, we further descend to another mirage of Ghami. Explore the village in the afternoon. 

  • Accommodation Local Tea-House
  • Meals Not Included
  • Time 5- 6 Hours

 After breakfast, leaving Ghami we walk downhill to cross a bridge at Naktang Khola (river) and a short climb leads u to the Longest Mani (prayer) wall of Mustang. To your left is the high range of Red Cliff – both Mani wall and the Red Cliff gives you the mythical fight between the monster and Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) (750-810 AD), the founder of Tibetan Buddhism who created a fusion of Buddhism with the original Shamanistic religion of Tibet called Bon. We walk and effortless trail and eventually leads us to the most fascinating village of Tsarang (Charang), the land of Ancient Chorents - a Buddhist shrine, typically a saint's tomb or a monument to the Buddha. After lunch, we will explore the maze-like Tsarang its Monastery, their heritage, and the first-ever built palace of Tsarang that dates back to the 15th century.

  • Accommodation Local Lodge
  • Meals Not Included
  • Time 4 - 5 Hours
Much like yesterday today is a short walk too. After breakfast, we walk to the end of the village and descend to cross the Tsarang Khola (river). We make a short ascend and then walk the wide jeep-able trail that gradually leads u to an enormous gorgeous Solitary ancient Chorten – the Stupa right in the middle of the trail. It's indeed very thrilling to stop by to take a break and some pictures. Finally, we get to the ridge of the pass, Lo-La 3950m, from where the view of Lo Monthang, ‘The Capital city’ of Mustang looks incredibly stunning. The fabled walled city of Lo appears very dramatic in an extensive colorful valley, it definitely looks like a paradise. After lunch, we will explore the palace area and witness the opening ceremony in the late afternoon.

The entrance fee may apply as per the organizer's rules and regulations.

  • Accommodation Local Lodge
  • Meals Not Included
  • Time 4 - 5 Hours

Tiji Ceremony is usually in the late afternoon or evening time, depending on the time schedule provided by the Monastery. Accordingly, we hire a jeep for an exceptional excursion to the valley of Choser to visit the 2500 years old Jhong Sky Cave with 44 compartments and 14th Century Nyphu Cave monastery built into the canyon. Both the cave and the monastery have a beautiful legend that will be explained by your group leader. After lunch back at the hotel in Lo-Manthang, we will have a free afternoon. In addition, around evening time we will get back to the palace to witness the 2nd day of the Tiji Ceremony

  • Accommodation Local Lodge
  • Meals Not Included

Today your group leader will walk you inside the palace area to visit the 3 most spiritual and historical monasteries of Lo-Manthang. These are the heritage of the Lo that dates back to the same time as the Royal Palace (14th century) – due to snow and not proper roofing the paintings inside the monastery has been partly washed for which a lot of restoration is going one. In today’s excursion, we will visit Dragkar-Thegchen Ling Gompa, Chode Gompa, Jampa Monastery, and the Monastic Museum. These monasteries hold beautiful paintings that are valuable and gives you the history, culture, and craftsmanship. After lunch, we have a free afternoon and soon we will witness the closing ceremony of the Tiji Festival.

  • Accommodation Local Lodge
  • Meals Not Included

We wave goodbye to the most enchanting Lo-Manthang and take a different, less trodden valley of the Nomads. As the name suggests “The Valley of the Nomads” you will see ample tents, shades, and livestock of the nomads who migrated from Tibet during the China invasion of Tibet. This Nomad valley delivers you the phenomenal view and the walk is interestingly incredible. There is a short but steep ascent until the ridge before Ghar Gumba (monastery), the 8th Century monastery built by the Indian saint Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche). This ridge delivers you the most stunning view. After the ridge, we descend steeply from Chogo-La Pass - 4280m to Ghar Gumba - 3950m, the first-ever built Oldest Tibetan Buddhism Monastery in the world. Your staff will organize a quick lunch in the monastery. By the time your lunch is organized, you can visit the oldest Tibetan Buddhism monastery. We continue with a different valley and climb over a pass and walk to the Red Cliffed Dhakmar descending from high above the canyons and eroded hills. we walk further to the village of Ghami – we will most probably stay at the same lodge.

  • Accommodation Local Tea-House
  • Meals Not Included
  • Time 7 - 8 Hours

We retrace our trail back via Syanboche and stay overnight in a different village of Samar. Samar is a hill high above Chele, our first overnight stay in the restricted area of Upper Mustang.

  • Accommodation Local Tea House
  • Meals Not Included
  • Time 6 - 7 Hours

We start early today to catch our bus to Jomsom. Leaving Samar we steeply descend to Chele and further descend to Kali Gandaki river where we cross the bridge and walk to Chhusang. From Chhusang we will take the bus to Jomsom. This drive depends on the availability of transportation. Enjoy the ride and the views. 

Being it the last night its time to have fun followed by dancing, singing, and Tipping your Staff. 

  • Accommodation Local Tea-House
  • Meals Not Included
  • Time 1 hour / 2 Hours Drive

An early wake-up call will be set - we will take the earliest flight from Jomsom to Pokhara. This 18 minutes flight cruises through the Kali Gandaki, the Deepest Gorge of the world that delivers you the most stunning view of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and the awesome valley. Being at Pokhara, The Lake City is another highlight of this trip. At Pokhara, you can do various activities like boat ride, paragliding, bungee jumping, ultralight aircraft, etc. Your Group Leader will assist you over organizing any of these activities. 

  • Accommodation 3 Star Hotel
  • Meals Not Included
  • Time 20 Minutes

Early morning Tourist bus ride to Kathmandu. 

  • Accommodation 3 Star Hotel
  • Meals Not Included
  • Time 7 Hours

As per your flight schedule transportation will be provided and your Group leader will accompany you. The reporting time is 3 hours prior to your flight. 

  • Meals Breakfast
  • Time 25 minutes
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Trip inclusion

  • National park entry fees, conservation fees, trekking permit, TIMS permit.
  • Mustang special permit.
  • Airport pickups and drops facility on both Domestic and International flights.
  • Three-star twin bed sharing hotel Accommodation in Kathmandu and Pokhara on Bed / Breakfast basis.
  • Welcome dinner in a typical traditional Nepali restaurant.
  • All Government and Local tax.
  • Tourist Bus from Kathmandu/Pokhara and Pokhara/Kathmandu
  • Domestic flights from Pokhara/Jomsom, Jomsom/Pokhara.
  • Fundamental trekking gears like a sleeping bag, down jacket fleece liner, etc.
  • Tea-house accommodation on the entire trek.
  • An accomplished trekking Group Leader and assistant guides.
  • Oxygen cylinders and an all-inclusive medical kit on all trips.
  • Take away Himalayan Dynasty duffel bag, T-shirt, and trekking Map.
  • All ground Staff, their allowances, and insurance.
  • The fee levied on a Nepali visa.
  • International flight fares.
  • Lunch and Dinner in Kathmandu/Pokhara.
  • All FOOD and DRINKS while trekking.
  • All entrance fees in Lo Manthang eg. monasteries or museum and Jeep/Horse used for side excursions.
  • A medical examination or emergency rescues.
  • Donations.
  • Staff Tipping.
  • Extra night accommodation in Kathmandu OR in Pokhara on early arrival or late departure.
  • Travel or medical insurance.
  • Optional tours and sightseeing or any activities during free time.
  • Other personal expenses – laundry, battery charges, shower, etc.

Dates & Availability

Departure DatePriceStatus 
Start: 30 Apr, 2021End: 15 May, 2021US$ 1700Save US$ 200Available