Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Asian Adventure: Day 16 Leaving the Crowds Behind

Mustang Trek Day 1
Muktinah (3800 m) to Chele (3100 m)

This morning we had to part ways with Alberto after ten days trekking together,  he was continuing along the Annapurna Circuit towards the Annapurna Sanctuary and we were now heading north into the restricted district on Mustang. 

The trail to Mustang set out across the valley through Chhengar and up to the top of a high plateau. After about an hour go gradual climbing the trail reached the top of Gyu La  Pass at a measly 4077 m. The pass did offer stunning views of Thorong La Pass, Tilicho and Nilgiri  mountains behind us. 


Gyu La Pass

Looking back towards Thorong La Pass

Crossing the pass revealed our first glimpses into the arid Tibetan plateau landscape of Mustang. Below us was a deep gorge with steep rocky sides reminiscent of the Badlands at home.

We were once again faced with a long walk down. The trail zig zagged down the steep canyon walls. Some times the trail was no more than a foot width of loose black scree. Often it would be impossible to even distinguish the path from the rock slope in front of you, only to magically find a meter wide trail when you reached it.

Canyon trail

Narrow trail

The trail dropped down to a large plateau covered in nothing but gravel and scrub brushes - practically a moonscape compared to the lush tropical valleys we started out in - before dropping into another narrowing gorge below it. After loosing almost 1000 m of elevation we finally reached the flat river bottom and the village of Tetang.

Crossing a plateau
River bottom

We continued across the wide flat river bed framed by 600 m red rock walls on either side, passing through the village of Chhuksang. Old caves could be seen dotting the canyon walls.

River bed


When the river valley closed in to form a narrow gorge, we veered up the hillside to the village of Chele. Chele was a collection of a down tightly packed mud homes conveniently hidden behind a ridge to protect it from the howling winds.


Guardian spirit
View from Chele down the Kali Gandaki river

We checked into the Hotel Mustang Gate which was a huge house with rooms arranged around a bright inner courtyard. We were the only guests so they invited us to spend the evening relaxing in front of the charcoal heaters in their Tibetan-style formal living room.

Hotel Mustang Gate

Cosy room


Formal living room


  1. you're photos are amazing. i'm in complete awe. i would LOVE to do this.


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