Introduction: Jomsom Muktinath Short Trek
Jomsom Muktinath short trek takes trekkers around the lower Mustang region of Nepal. The Mustang region is located beyond Annapurna Massif and is also known as the “Forbidden Kingdom.” This region is also the ancient Trans-Himalayan Salt Trade and Caravan Route across Tibet and Nepal, where trading activities have existed since ancient times.
Short trek to Jomsom Muktinath is a grand experience that allows trekkers to pass through a picturesque village. The landscape around the region is dry and less vegetated; however, this rugged beauty provides a surreal experience and a captivating atmosphere. Besides the off-beaten tracks and eroded vegetation, Jomsom Muktinath trekking offers a close insight into Hindu and Buddhist culture. Jomsom and Muktinath is full of Buddhist and Hindu monuments that reflect traditional Tibetan farm life and spiritual aspects.
Jomsom is a district that lies to the north of Pokhara and is considered the gateway to Upper Mustang and Manang. This area is famous for its stunning landscape, beautiful sights, and apple orchards.
The main highlight of the trek is Muktinath Temple, which portrays the spiritual importance of both Hindu and Buddhist followers. Muktinath Temple is one of the world’s highest temples, situated at an altitude of 3,710 metres (12,172 feet). This temple is a sacred temple devoted to the Hindu gods Vishnu and Vaishnava in Nepal. Muktinath is located at the foot of Thorang La Pass in the Mustang district. The Hindu pilgrims call this site Mukti Kshetra, which translates to place of salvation, which means visitors in this area seek Nirvana.
There are 108 water sprouts and two kundas in the back of the temple, which is called Muktidhara. It is believed that taking a bath in all of these water sprouts and two kundas helps to achieve salvation. Besides the temple being the major attraction, there are other popular artefacts and monuments around the area. These consist of Narshing Cave, Gumbas, Jwalamai Temple, Padmasambhav’s statue, and a stone statue of Lord Buddha.
How does Jomsom and Muktinath short trek begin and end?
Jomsom Muktinath trekking begins in the beautiful city of Pokhara. This scenic city holds the famous Phewa Lake, which is the major attraction of the city. The city itself is a paradise, lying in the lap of the Himalayas, known as the “Gateway to Annapurna Circuit.” Other popular attractions in Pokhara are Shree Bindhyabasini Temple, International Mountain Museum, Tal Barahi Temple, Devi’s Falls Pokhara, Phewa Lake, Sarangkot, Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave, Gurkha Memorial Museum, Pokhara Lakeside, Chamero Gufa, Mahendra Cave, Pumdikot Religious Area, and many more. Visitors require at least two to three days just to thoroughly visit Pokhara.
After spending time in Pokhara, the journey moves towards Jomsom. Visitors can take a scenic flight from Pokhara to Jomsom, which takes 20 minutes. Upon reaching Jomsom, visitors initiate their trekking towards Marpha, which takes about two hours from Jomsom Airport. Marpha is one of the villages in the Panch Gaun (five villages) region of Mustang village. This village is famous for the apple orchards, which have three distilleries that manufacture apple alcohol, wine, and other beverages. Mountains, including Machhapuchre, Annapurna, and Dhaulagiri, can be seen.
As we explore Marpha village and savour Apple products, the trek moves towards Kagbeni, “Gateway to the Hidden Kingdom of Mustang.” Kagbeni is, as mentioned, a famous religious site for both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims. Kag Chode Monastic Zone, Kag Ghar Ruined Palace, Devthen Chhorten, and Tharwa Chyoling Nunnery are some of the major attractions of the place. Other Buddhist monasteries, traditional houses, and views of arid landscapes make this a top destination for local as well as international travellers.
After exploring the great city of Kagbeni, trekkers further move towards Muktinath, which is another holy site in the Mustang region. Muktinath is of great significance to Hindu pilgrims in terms of religious, natural, and cultural aspects. Bathing in 108 water sprouts and two kundas is a must-do activity in Muktinath. Besides the religious aspects, trekkers can see the astounding periphery of Muktinath with views of Mount Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, and Annapurna.
The next destination on the Jomsom Muktinath Short Trek Map is Lupra village. Lupra village is located in Panda Khola, between Kagbeni and Jomsom. This area was not visited by travellers, but in the present condition, it has gained popularity. Visitors can visit the Bon Po monastery here and see highlights of the Upper Mustang and Dolpo regions.
The Jomsom Muktinath Short Trek route returns after visiting Lupra Village. The journey now follows back to Jomsom. The trail is the same as before, wandering through the arid landscapes and rugged terrain. After reaching Jomsom, trekkers board their planes and fly back to Pokhara, marking the end of Jomsom Muktinath Short Trekking.
What is the best season or time for a short trek to Jomsom Muktinath?
The best season to travel to Jomsom and Muktinath is during the spring and autumn. However, this trek can be done all year round, but the best experience is during spring and autumn.
Spring in Nepal falls from March to May. During spring, the skies are clear with moderate temperatures during the day and cool at night. The forests are filled with rhododendrons, which add to the landscape, creating a colourful environment. The skies are clear, providing uninterrupted views of the surrounding mountains, including Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri.
Similarly, autumn in Nepal falls from September to November. This is the second-most preferred season for the Jomsom Muktinath short trek. The weather is dry and stable, with clear skies. The temperature is moderate, with stunning views of the mountain ranges. The trails are less muddy and slippery during this time.
Local culture and religion around Jomsom and Muktinath
Jomsom Muktinath region is highly influenced by both Hinduism and Buddhism. Visitors are welcomed by the Buddhist monks and can see various monasteries along the Jomsom Muktinath route. Similarly, the main temple, Muktinath, is the Hindu pilgrim site dedicated to Lord Vishnu (the god of preservation). The natural flame in the premise represents the elements of fire and water.
As we trek through the Muktinath map, there are numerous Buddhist monasteries and stupas. They are covered with multi-colored prayer flags and surrounded by prayer wheels. These flags and wheels are encrypted with Buddhist chants and mantras. These sites hold spiritual and religious importance in the region.
Cultural diversity can also be seen along the trail. Ethnic groups like the Thakali, Gurung, and Mustangi people live in these regions. These ethnic groups have their own identity, culture, language, and way of life. They each have their own major festivals, which they celebrate in their own way. The Thakali people in particular have made an identification for their hospitality and local cuisines. The Thakali Khana set (Dal Bhat) is well-known all over Nepal.
Talking about festivals, visitors can have the opportunity to witness various festivals and celebrations. However, these all depend on the time of visit, which must coincide with the festival time. Major festivals like Dashain and Tihar are celebrated once a year by the Hindu deities. Likewise, Loshar (the new year) is celebrated once a year by the Buddhist deities. These festivals are the grandest among the ethnic groups and are celebrated with great interest and cultural activities.
Visitors, on the other hand, can find local artefacts and handicrafts like carpets, pashmina, leathers, ornaments, and other souvenirs in and around local settlements. This region is known for its skilled craftsmanship and rich artistic heritage. Travellers can buy items of interest and support local businesses.
What types of accommodation is available at Jomsom and Muktinath?
There are several options for accommodation in the Jomsom region. From smaller teahouses to luxury houses, trekkers can find all sorts of amenities in the area. These facilities, however, do come with a cost. Some of the accommodation options are listed by Holiday Planner Nepal below:
- Teahouses: They are relatively smaller and have cheaper accommodation services in the region. Visitors booking a teahouse have to settle for fewer amenities, like adequate beds and blanket facilities. Electric blankets and heating services may not be an option, but if they are, they may come at a higher price. Similarly, the bathroom facility may be compromised as it needs to be shared.
- Guesthouse: They are a moderate-accommodation place. Here, trekkers get the opportunity to stay with local families in their house by paying a fair price. Visitors can try homemade local cuisine and get insights into their way of life.
- Camping: Camping is another option during the Muktinath short trek. Campers can rest in the lap of the Himalayas, which gives a recreational and rejuvenating experience. Camping as a whole provides stress reduction and calmness. Despite all these advantages, camping at high altitudes requires more logistical preparation, which is handled by Holiday Tours Nepal.
- Luxury houses: These are more lavish and expensive accommodation places. They provide premium facilities, including good bed and blanket facilities. Hot showers, electric blankets, heating systems, and good room service are some of the amenities of luxury houses. However, it is important to note that such luxury can be found only in certain locations along the route.
Facilities available at Jomsom and Muktinath region are described briefly below:
- Electricity: Electricity is available in all the lodges, teahouses, and other accommodation options. However, as we trek to higher altitudes, the cost of electricity use must be paid. As most of the area may be powered by solar, the cost of charging cameras and cellphones can be extra. So Holiday Planner Nepal recommends each of our fellow trekkers carry extra batteries and power banks to reduce the cost of charging.
- Food and Drinks: Accommodation options along the Muktinath route offer a variety of food options. Popular dishes in the Jomsom region include Dal Bhat (rice with lentil soup), momos (dumplings), noodles, and chowmein (noodles with vegetables and meat). Other popular snacks can be Thukpa, thenduk, pasta, sandwiches, pizza, burgers, and potato chips. Visitors can buy quick snacks like chips, energy bars, dry noodles, biscuits, and bottled water at local grocery vendors.
- Toilet/Bathroom Facilities: Visitors will have western-style private flush toilets in the lower elevation places. Upon ascending to higher elevations, the bathrooms are mainly shared. Some guesthouses might have bathrooms outside. Be sure to carry personal toilet paper, as you won’t have to rely on the guest house for that. Also, in higher elevations, water might be frozen due to the lower temperature.
- Internet and Wi-Fi: Although some guesthouses have Wi-Fi, it could be spotty and sluggish because of the isolated location or the unpredictable weather. Furthermore, there's a chance that you'll get a cellphone network connection in some of the villages along the trip, but it's not guaranteed. However, practically every tea house has Wi-Fi.
How to prepare for Jomsom Muktinath short trek?
The Jomsom and Muktinath short trek involves proper planning and preparation. Preparation can be done by increasing the fitness level, properly acclimatising at higher altitudes, packing essential gear and equipment, hydration and nutrition, as well as mental strength.
Short Jomsom Muktinath trek involves physical endurance and stamina. Before embarking on this trek, individuals must be engaged in physical activities. Cardiovascular exercises like hiking, running, cycling, and swimming can help to strengthen legs, cores, and back muscles for at least 45 minutes before one month at least.
Another thing that can be done is acclimatization. Before rapidly ascending to a higher altitude, it is necessary to rest and get used to the decreased oxygen level. Proper acclimatisation helps to minimise the threats of acute mountain sickness (AMS) or altitude sickness. Holiday Tours Nepal recommends practicing some easy trekking routes to get used to higher altitudes, as the maximum altitude for this trek is 3800 meters/1158 feet.
Proper packing is another crucial thing while trekking. Buy high-quality trekking gear like boots, layer cloths, a good-quality backpack, a warm sleeping bag, and a down jacket. Other essential items like water tablets, water bottles, sunglasses, sunscreen, extra socks, toiletries, tissue papers, face wipes, towels, and a hat It is more important to pack fewer but essential items. For the proper packing, do visit Suggested equipment list page to get the list of accessories provided by Holiday Planner Nepal for this trek.
Furthermore, this trek is physically and mentally demanding. Despite the physical ability, sometimes the trek challenges individuals mentally. Prepare and understand the challenges, condition of the trails, and weather situation to mentally be ready for any sort of circumstance. Staying positive and being open-minded in any scenario or situation can greatly enhance the trekking experience.
Similarly, be sure to stay hydrated and maintain a balanced diet during the trek. Proper food and enough fluids will help to keep the body fresh and strong. Do not overeat or drink impure water, as stomach problems will surely ruin the trek. Drink at least 3 litres of water per day and carry some candy bars or energy bars to energise your body in between the routes. Also, remember to carry purification tablets or a filtering system to ensure safe drinking water.
Do remember that in case of unforeseen circumstances, Holiday Tours Nepal will assist in an emergency evacuation. Trekkers need to be honest about any discomfort to the guides so that they can help you and prepare according to the situation.
How difficult is Jomsom Muktinath short trek?
Jomsom Muktinath short trek is considered a moderate-difficult trek. It is suitable for trekkers with adequate fitness and trekking experience. This trekking is not challenging, however tiresome, as the trails are steep uphill and rugged. The trekking hours can be as lengthy as 5–6 hours per day. The Jomsom and Muktinath trek typically lasts for 8 days, with an additional day at Muktinath. The maximum altitude is around 3800 metres, with a mix of flat paths and steep ascents and descents.
Jomsom is usually cool; however, the path follows the valley of the Kali Gandaki River, which can be windy at times. While there are teahouses and guesthouses throughout the trek, the towns and villages may have varying levels of amenities. A higher elevation may have restricted access to facilities like electricity and hot showers.
Is travel insurance required for Jomsom and Muktinath?
Yes, travel insurance is required for the Jomsom Muktinath trek. However, it is not mandatory. While travel insurance is not a legal requirement, having travel insurance assures any loss of equipment or emergencies. Theft is uncommon in Nepal, but having insurance can help cover some of the losses.
Furthermore, as this can be a critical component of trekking in the Himalayas, find out if the insurance covers evacuation from high-altitude areas. Make sure you have a copy of your insurance policy and your emergency contact information with you at all times while you hike. Verify whether the insurance provides for both medical treatment and the evacuation procedure.
Even though purchasing travel insurance raises the total cost of the trip, it is a wise investment to safeguard your finances and well-being in the event of unanticipated occurrences or natural disasters that may arise while traveling. Always pick a reliable insurance company, and base your choice on your unique needs and trekking goals.
While the policy covers particular activities during high-altitude trekking, you need to keep in mind the cost of purchasing travel insurance in comparison to the trekking you will embark on.