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How to Obtain Upper Mustang Trek permits?


Upper Mustang, the ancient kingdom of Lo, was opened to foreigners for trekking purposes as a Restricted Area in 1992 and still upholds the status. You need to obtain two Upper Mustang trek permits with the help of a licensed Nepali trekking agency, namely Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and Restricted Area Permit (RAP).

To obtain the ACAP, trekkers can apply and collect it from designated offices in Kathmandu and Pokhara. On the other hand, RAP can only be applied for and collected by the trekking agency on the trekker's behalf.

Trekking is highly popular in the Upper Mustang region during the summer, monsoon, and spring seasons. Hence, we have detailed below the queries of permits, costs, documents, and more on obtaining the Upper Mustang trek permit.

Required Permit For Upper Mustang Trek and its cost

1. Restricted Area Permit for Upper Mustang

Upper Mustang is restricted because it is located near the Tibetan border, and for border security, to control tourism and other activities in the area, it got the status. Upper Mustang is a designated restricted area by the government of Nepal, which is why a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is required for trekkers to enter the region. This permit covers the areas of Lo Manthang Rural Municipality (All areas of ward no. 1 to 5), Lo-Gekar Damodar Kunda Rural Municipality (All areas of ward no. 1 to 5), Baragung Mukti Chetra Rural Municipality (All areas of ward no. 3 and Satang Village of ward no.5). You would be required to show this permit at the entry point of Chele.

On your behalf, this permit can only be acquired by a government-registered, licensed local trekking agency. RAP costs depend on the number of days you stay in the restricted areas on the Upper Mustang trekking trail

Permit Cost:

  • For foreigners: US$ 500 per person for the first ten days and then US$ 50 for each additional day spent in the restricted area thereafter
  • For Nepali nationals: Free of cost

2. Annapurna Conservation Area Project

Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) permit is also required for this trek because the trekking trail will pass the Annapurna conservation area, stretching the entirety of the Mustang. The proceeds from the permit fee go to the protection of flora and fauna and for developing trails in the Annapurna region.

Permit Cost:

  • Fee for SAARC nationals: NRs. 1000 per person (US$ 10 approx.)
  • Fee for other nationals: NRs. 3000 per person (US$ 30 approx.)

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Required Documents For Upper Mustang Trekking Permit

To obtain an Upper Mustang Trekking permit, you will need the following documents during the application process:

  • 1 Passport-sized photo (For ACAP permit)
  • One scanned photograph (to be uploaded for Upper Mustang RAP's online form)
  • Photocopy of your passport (with at least six months validity)
  • Travel insurance papers (includes helicopter evacuation)
  • Nepal tourist visa

As you would require the help of a travel agency to get the RAP, you might as well hire them to assist you in getting the permits. They will ensure that all required documents are ready for application.

Upper Mustang Trekking Permits Terms and Conditions:

We have listed down the terms and conditions, and considerations set out for acquiring the Upper Mustang Trekking permit:

  • The permit fee is not required for a child under ten years of age, so it is free.
  • The permit is non-refundable, non-transferable, valid for single entry only, and valid for individual trekkers only.
  • Entry permits can only be issued from designated offices in Kathmandu and Pokhara and not from any checkpoints along the trekking trail.
  • While entering the Annapurna Conservation Area, you must abide by the regulations of the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act, 2029 B.S. (1973)
  • You are to carry the entry permits throughout the trek and show it at the checkpoint as and where it is asked by the concerned officials.
  • Both the permit costs are inclusive of Value Added Tax (VAT) and other government taxes.
  • Permit holders can only enter the designated areas inside the conservation area and restricted area.

Recommended To Read :The 5 Best Upper Mustang Trek Itinerary for 2022 and 2023

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Frequently Asked Questions for Upper Mustang Trekking Permit

1. Where and how to obtain the Upper Mustang trekking permits?

Following are the details on where to obtain the Upper Mustang Trekking permits:

Annapurna Conservation Area permits: The trekkers can choose to collect this permit either from Kathmandu or Pokhara.

  • In Kathmandu: Nepal Tourism Board, Pradarsani Marg is open from Saturday to Sunday except on public holidays from 9 am to 5 pm.
  • In Pokhara: Nepal Tourism Board, Lakeside is open from Saturday to Sunday except on public holidays from 10 am to 5 pm.

The trekkers or the representing trekking agency must fill out the required form along with all the details and documents mentioned.

Upper Mustang Restricted Area Permit: This special permit cannot be obtained by trekkers but must be applied for and collected by a valid Nepali trekking agency on their behalf. The agency will apply for this permit online with all the documents received by the trekker in Kathmandu. They will collect the issued permit from the Trekking Department of Nepal Immigration office in Kalikasthan, Kathmandu.

Note: Nepal Tourism Board or TAAN does not issue Upper Mustang Restricted Area Permit.

2. How long does it take to get the Upper Mustang trekking permits?

The ACAP will take an hour or so to be issued. At the same time, the RAP might take close to 2 to 3 hours to be issued. Your hired trekking agency will take care of this and ensure that the permits are received on time for the trek.

3. Do you need a TIMS card for the Upper Mustang trek?

The Upper Mustang trek does not require a Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card because the mandatory RAP already has all the information of the trekker along with the route, emergency contact, and more. However, if you are going only to Lower Mustang and not the Upper, then you would not require the RAP but only the TIMS card and the ACAP.

4. Do you need a guide for the Upper Mustang trek?

As the Upper Mustang region is restricted, taking one licensed professional guide is compulsory. Although there are no significant high passes, the trail is still not well defined. Moreover, taking a guide makes it safer and easier. You get to communicate with the locals, understand the history, ethnicity, and traditions of the locals, and more. Hiring a guide also contributes to the Nepali economy and uplifts their living standard.

5. Can you do the Upper Mustang trek solo?

Due to Upper Mustangs' restricted status, one cannot do the trek alone. It is compulsory to have a minimum of two trekkers (including one guide) for the trek. If you don't have a group with you, then you can hire an agency to pair you up with a guide or with a bigger group.

6. How difficult is Upper Mustang Trek?

In terms of difficulty level, Upper Mustang is graded as an easy to moderate trek. The trail passes through a maximum elevation of 4,210m/13,517ft at the PA pass, so there are lesser chances of getting altitude sickness. A standard itinerary takes 15 days for the trip with 12 days of trekking. You have to walk an average of 4 to 5 hours per day with a maximum of 9 hours and a minimum of 3 hours some days. The terrain is not very demanding but is arid and dusty.

If the itinerary and instructions are followed properly, then it can be easily done by both professional and novice level trekkers.

The Conclusion

The Upper Mustang Trekking permit requires you to hire a trusted professional trekking agency based in Nepal to apply for the special restricted area permit. Companies like Third Rock Adventures are experts in planning and organizing trips in Upper Mustang and getting you access to the required two permits promptly and easily. Hence, feel free to contact our representatives to embark on this journey of a lifetime.

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