Jeep Tour during Tiji Festival
Embark on a journey of a lifetime! This jeep tour is designed to explore the spectacularly vast, arid valleys in the Nepalese Himalayas where the Tibetan culture is present. Along with a guide you will visit ancient caves, historic monasteries and archaeological sites in the Upper Mustang. Your jeep adventure begins in Pokhara and finishes in Jonsom where you explore the diverse culture and topography of one of the most fascinating areas in Nepal.
In Lo Manthang, enjoy three days of the Tiji Festival, an annual festival celebrated in front of the King's palace, which is one of the most well-known and revered festival in the Mustang region. It is a time of celebration and religious pilgrimage for the people of Lo.
This is an authentic experience to explore an unusual and unique festival in Nepal. Days may be long and occasionally challenging. Itinerary is based on rustic accommodation throughout.
Day 1: Kathmandu You will be met on arrival at the International airport & transferred to Kathmandu Guest House. The city of Kathmandu is located on a bluff at the confluence of the Bagmati and Vishnumati Rivers. Afternoon sightseeing tour of Pashupainath Temple. Nepal's most sacred Hindu shrine. Also visit Bouddhanath Stupa, one of Nepal's most distinctive monuments and one of the most important Buddhist sites in Nepal and, with a diameter of over 100 meters, amongst the largest in the world.
Day 2: Kathmandu Morning sightseeing tour of Kathmandu Durbar Square & Swayambhunath Stupa. Kathmandu Durbar Square is in the heart of old city Kathmandu in Basantapur. Swayambhunath Stupa is the most ancient and enigmatic of the Valley's holy shrines. This afternoon enjoy a sightseeing tour of Bhaktapur Durbar Square to see the special art and architecture. See the Palace of 55 Windows and the National Art Gallery. The palace entrance, the Golden Gate known as SunkoDhoka in Nepali is a masterpiece in repousse art. In front of the palace building is a medley of temples of various designs.
Day 3: Kathmandu > Pokhara (approx. 210 km & 6 hours drive) After breakfast drive to Pokhara & transfer to Mount Kailash Resort. Pokhara is a place of remarkable natural beauty. The enchanting city has several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panaromic views of Himalayan peaks. The serenity of the lakes and the magnificence of the Himalaya rising behind them create the ambience that has made Pokhara such a popular place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Day 4: Pokhara > Thasang (1750 m) (driving time approx. 5 - 6 hours) Your overland journey begins. Board your Land Cruiser4WD vehicle and head out of Pokhara and into the lower reaches of the Kali Gandaki Valley. Around Beni, the road becomes a dusty 4WD track that skirts the river. Reaching Tatopani the road now climbs as dust gives way to cobbles. First you get views of the Niligiri Himal and as you ascend further the mesmerizing peak of Dhaulagiri and the Annapurnas come into view. Things then begin to level out as the Kali Gandaki Valley broadens out. Then wind your way p to your guesthouse at Thasang village.
Day 5: Thasang > Kagbeni (2810 m) (driving time approx. 3 - 4 hours) Today everything changes! Back down to the valley floor and onto the stony jeep track, which now rises less acutely up towards Jomsom. Pretty soon the trees start to disappear and as you approach Jomsom virtually all vegetation disappears abruptly, marking the furthest extent of the Himalayan rain shadow. On your right the sharp peak of Nilgiri South is more spectacular than ever before and you have now crossed through the Himalayas. The arid landscape of the Mustang region is stretched out before you in the form of the upper reaches of the Kali Gandaki. Not only has the landscape changed, the culture has changed too and the villages from now on have a distinctly Tibetan flavour to them. An hour or so beyond Jomsom, you stay overnight in Kagbeni.
Day 6: Kagbeni > Charang > Lo Manthang (3840 m) (driving time approx. 7 - 8 hours) Journey into Upper Mustang begins today. After the permits are checked at the police post in Kagbeni, the jeep track today skirts the side of the Kali Gandaki River Valley. Whether there is any water in the river depends on what time of year you're undertaking the journey. Usually from October to mid-May the broad river floor looks more like a level boulder field. Take a walk onto the river bed and you may just hear water flowing underneath. You could also look for fossils too as evidence that this now high altitude region was once the sea bed of the Tethys Ocean. Along the way you can explore the small village of Thangbe and see how their carefully tended terraced fields are irrigated in a landscape that is otherwise a dry and barren wilderness.
At Chusang there is a river tributary to cross and shortly thereafter the Kali Gandaki River bed itself. At certain times of the year ( June - October) it may not be possible for the vehicle you're in to make the crossing safely. During the other months, it is usually a straightforward case of driving across a stony, flat and wide dried up river bed. When it is not possible to cross, then you will change to a locally chartered jeep.
Please note: the local jeeps are not of the same standard or as comfortable as the 4WD vehicle you've been travelling in so far. After crossing the Kali Gandaki the jeep track now climbs away from the valley and there are a couple of high passes to cross before dropping down into Charang. Up and over another mountain pass of around 4000m and then a slight descent and in around 2 hours you've arrived at the fabled city of Lo Manthang, a village with less than 200 homes and around 875 people. Afternoon to explore Lo Manthang before you check in to your guest house.
Day 7: In Lo Manthang Today if you would like to get up early, you can sit in the shafted light of Thupchen monastery as monks perform rituals for the Tiji festival which begins today. For the adventurous, today is a day to explore some of the cave complexes north of Lo in the Choshar area "“Tingkar, Garphuk and Niphuk, perhaps Konchokling for the intrepid. While the 6,000 year old caves carved in sheer cliffs where 15th century texts and wall paintings were recently discovered (2007) are not open to the public, we will explore similar caves, some still in use. The findings of mixed Buddhist and Bon texts found in the caves suggest they were either stored and used 100 years after the conversion in the region to Buddhism in the 8th century, or that they were deliberately hidden. Recent funerary masks similar to masks found in western China were recently discovered in upside down Popsicle funerary caves inside ceramic urns with bones recently dated as 3,500 years old. Overnight at guest house.
Day 8: In Lo Manthang Some may choose to join the monks at Thupchen monastery in early morning ritual, prayers and chants. Tiji Festival, actually called Tenpa Chirim, is the most important festival of Lo, celebrated by all 7 provinces in a courtyard by the palace. Tenpa Chirim literally means "the hope that the Buddha's Dharma will prevail in all places and among all people of the world". The festival is based on the myth of deity Dorju Shunu (Manaslukila) who was reborn in order to defeat the demons and evil forces that created hell and suffering on earth bringing peace and prosperity to the country. During the three day masked dance festival, Dorje Shunnu reveals his various forms, and an ancient thangka of Padmasambhava is unfolded. "¨It is believed that simply attending Tiji will bring merit to those who observe. An accomplished monk is chosen as the key dancer and leader of the ceremony, regarded as the deity Dorje Shunu who slays the demon and wards off all evil. He must have special initiations, be well versed in scripture and particular dance steps and recite passages during the trance. He must go on a three-month solitary retreat remaining in isolation to prepare his mind and purify himself reciting mantras. Like an ancient passion play, brilliant masked dancers leap in brocade costumes as the mesmerized audience watches on rapt as evil is defeated. Overnight at guest house.
Day 9: Lo Manthang On the final afternoon of Tiji Festival, the ritual master offers ritual offerings of nectar to appeal for help from all the gods. Before and after the effigy is cut, animal masked dances are performed by the monks. An effigy of dough is made and as the ritual master faces northeast, pierces the effigy with the symbolic dagger. The cut head of the effigy is buried in front of the palace entrance. As the dances end, a raucous procession forms led by the masked dancers followed by the King and members of the royal family to the outskirts of the town. The king and his aides fire a few rounds from a musket into the air. The ritual master prays to the gods and to different symbols of protection from evil: bow and arrow, sling and other instruments for defeating evil. The offerings are flung to the ground, the demon is declared banished amidst loud cries and firing of muskets as the community joyously shout Lha Gyalo! Victory to the gods! Signifying the end of the festival until next year. Overnight at guest house.
Day 10: Chusang (3100 m) (driving time approx. 5 - 6 hours) Begin your journey home. You'll see the Himalayas in the horizon, getting closer and closer as you progress. Travel to Chusang arriving mid-afternoon. Perhaps take a hike to the fascinating and picturesque ancient village of Tetang. Overnight at guest house.
Day 11: Chusang > Jomsom (2700 m) (driving time approx. 3 - 4 hours) Heading back along the side of the Kali Gandaki Valley the mighty Himalayan peaks get closer and closer. Nligiri South Peak becomes even more impressive and the bulk of Dhaualgiri comes into view and with luck you should be in Jomsom for lunch. Overnight at Om's Home.
Day 12: Jomsom > Pokhara Take a short morning flight (18 minutes) to Pokhara, you'll be met upon arrival at Pokhara airport and receive a private transfer to your lakeside hotel. Enjoy a lazy afternoon by the lake or even out on the lake in a rowing boat, or relax in one of the many local cafe bars. Overnight at hotel.
Day 13: Pokhara > Kathmandu After breakfast drive to Kathmandu which is about a 6 hour drive. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, transfer to hotel. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Day 14: Kathmandu Breakfast at hotel. Later transfer to airport to board the flight for onward journey.
• 3 nights' accommodation at Kathmandu Guest House with daily breakfast. • 2 nights' accommodation at Mount Kailash Resort in Pokhara with daily breakfast. • 1 night accommodation at Om's Home in Jomsom with breakfast, lunch & dinner. • 7 nights accommodation at best available lodge in Upper Mustang with breakfast, lunch & dinner. • Airport / Hotel / Airport transfers by an AC private vehicle. • Sightseeing tours as per the itinerary in Kathmandu escorted by an English speaking guide by an AC private vehicle. • Entrance fees at the sightseeing tours. • Transportation Kathmandu / Pokhara / Kathmandu by an AC private vehicle. • Air-conditioned Land Cruiser 4WD jeep from Pokhara / Thasang / Kagbeni / Charang / Lo-Manthang / Chusang / Jomsom as per the itinerary • An English speaking guide during the jeep tour of Upper mustang. • Airfare Jomsom / Pokhara including domestic airport tax. • Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP). • Special Permit for Upper Mustang of US$500 per person. • All necessary parking fee and road taxes. • Present government taxes.
Pricing (per person) $NZD
Departs 17 May 2017
17 May 2017
Booking conditions Pricing is based on a minimum of 4 people travelling together.
Pricing is based on a minimum of 4 people travelling together.
Not included • Visas
• Items of a personal nature.
• Tipping at hotel / laundry, telephone calls etc
• Any meals during the tour program except as mentioned.
• Beverages, camera / video camera fee (if any)
• Visas • Airfares • Items of a personal nature. • Tipping at hotel / laundry, telephone calls etc • Any meals during the tour program except as mentioned. • Beverages, camera / video camera fee (if any)