Jomsom Muktinath Trek is an exciting trek in the Annapurna and Mustang regions of Nepal. Jomsom is a great place to start trekkking. The diverse landscapes and cultures to be found along the trekking routes give marvelous insight into the way of life of rural Nepali people. Not to far from Jomson you find Muktinath, the famous pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Hindus. To Hindus, Muktinath is a sacred place of salvation. They believe that bathing in the waters here guarantees salvation after death. The Hindu god, Brahma, is said to have lit the eternal flames that burn at Muktinath. To Buddhists, Muktinath is a place where the great sage guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) came to meditate.
The area is a perfect place to find fossilized ammonites, known locally as Shaligram, which are found all along the upper reaches of Kali Gandaki. This part of Nepal is inhabited by Gurungs and Magars in the lower regions of the Kali Gandaki, Thakalis around Jomsom and people with obvious Tibetan roots, the Lopa, around Muktinath and up to Mustang. Their customs and attire are distinct and this trek is ideal for observing the diversity among the people and their customs. Hinduism dominates the lower parts while as one climbs further up, Tibetan Buddhism predominates. If you happen to be in Muktinath in early September, you are likely to be in time for one of Nepal’s unique festivals, the annual horse race known as Yartung. This is a week of some serious horse racing, Tibetan style, and some equally serious merrymaking. Most of the route along the Jomsom trek has been described as part of the Annapurna circuit and Annapurna foothill treks. The usual starting point is Naya Pul on the Pokhara to Baglung road and from there, via Ghorepani and Tatopani, into the gorge of the Kali Gandaki. Dipping our bodies into the hot spring at Tatopani will also be a pleasing experience.
Between Tatopani and Lete Khola, there is a dramatic change of scenery. Pine forests crowd in on the trail and the villages take on a quite different appearance. The layout of the villages and the design of the houses are unique to this area. The houses are designed to protect the inhabitants from the strong winds that blow up the valley everyday from the late morning onwards. Jomsom is best known for its airport that offers a quick entry or exit to the valley with regular daily flights from Pokhara. The strong winds that blow up the valley prevents flights from taking off from Jomsom after 11 a.m. Jomsom can also be considered a place to use as a base for exploring the upper part of the Kali Gandaki region. There are numerous accommodation options including a new high-class resort complex. An alternative to Jomsom as a base for the trek is the village of Kagbeni which lies a further two-hour walk up the valley. Kagbeni is not as commercialized as Jomsom and certainly much quieter. This is the furthest trekkers are allowed to go towards Upper Mustang without a special permit and an accompanying Environmental Officer.
The 13-day trek begins in Kathmandu with the tour of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Next, we fly to Pokhara, the beautiful Lake City and begin trekking from there. We trek in the beautiful Annapurna region and gradually enter the Mustang region. Our trail passes through quaint villages, cascading waterfalls, lush forests and surprisingly an almost-barren leeward side of the Himalayas. The diverse Nepalese landscape combined with the rich culture of its people makes this trek all the more rewarding. On our Jomsom Muktinath Trek, we also walk on trails along the Kali Gandaki gorge which is the deepest gorge on earth and then visit Muktinath Temple which is an important place of pilgrimage for Hindus and Buddhists alike. Dipping our bodies into the hot spring at Tatopani will also be a pleasing experience. The trek ends with our flight to Pokhara from Jomsom followed by a drive to Kathmandu.