Come on an incredible journey
Upper Mustang is the former Kingdom of Lo where Tibetic languages are still widely spoken and traditional Tibetan culture remains. The region was closed to the world until 1992 and even now, visitor numbers are restricted. The Logged On Foundation invites you to take part in an expedition to Mustang and remote Upper Mustang on a trip of a lifetime.View Itinerary
Nestled amongst the isolated peaks of the Himalayas, with the guarded Tibetan border in its backyard, lies an ancient kingdom virtually untouched by foreign influence for hundreds of years. Until recently, the region of Upper Mustang was ruled by a King and is one of the least-explored areas in the world. Rich Tibetan culture permeates the arid lands, with centuries-old Buddhist monasteries, walled kingdoms and medieval villages, to the sacred dome structures known as chortens and the cheerfully-coloured prayer flags that line the Kali Gandaki River.
To venture into Upper Mustang is to truly take a step back in time. The region has been described as the best-preserved example of old Tibetan life and culture in the world and has hardly changed since the kingdom was founded in 1380. To fully appreciate this, one need only visit Upper Mustang’s capital, Lo Manthang, a walled city where seven hundred-year-old mud brick buildings still stand, monks in red robes chant daily prayers at dawn and foot traffic down the city’s cobbled alleyways consist of goats and cows as well as people. Able-bodied men and women work hard in the fields during the day, the elderly sit together in the street spinning prayer wheels and the children attend school to learn the art of ancient Tibetan medicine.
The region was untouched by the Chinese entry into Tibet in the 1950s, serving as a refuge for many who fled across the border. With support from the CIA, Upper Mustang became a stronghold for resistance during this time and, despite being the subject of political struggle, has managed to maintain its unique Tibetan lifestyles and traditions.
This could all be about to change. The development of a road from Nepal to China directly through Upper Mustang has caused concern about the preservation of life in the region. While many residents (known affectionately amongst themselves as Lobas) are welcoming the opportunities the thoroughfare will provide – basic infrastructure, medical care and the chance to revive a shaky economy – others are worried that it will encourage greater government control and the loss of traditional skills, crafts and rituals in favour of more modern practices. While it is unclear exactly how the road will impact on Mustang and its residents, it is certain that there has never been a more opportune time to travel to this unique and pristine environment.
Every year we bring more and more people from around the world to experience the beauty of Nepal and the hospitality of its people. We want to share the excitement and passion we have for this country and in helping rural schools provide a quality education for their children. Whatever profit we make, we put back into helping the communities we visit.
On this expedition, we will spend a few days in the community we are helping in a corner of the Chosyar Valley in Upper Mustang. On our journey, we want to experience the wonders of this region and understand the life and culture of its local people. The villages we are assisting have agreed to open up their homes and share their stories and a traditional way of life that most tourists don’t get to experience.
This is an expedition for trekkers, travelers, researchers, students, or the adventurous at heart who want to experience something a little different. Not only will we show you Nepali cultural sites, hospitality, and mountains and forests of the Himalayas, we will also connect you with how tourists and supporters can have a positive impact on helping struggling communities in rural Nepal.
The money raised from this trip will be used to help 6 schools from the Upper Mustang region realise their dream of having a winter school on the outskirts of Pokhara (more below).
Until recently, many children from Upper Mustang did not attend school. Even now, government schools in the region are seriously underfunded.
During the winter, when temperatures dip far below zero during the day, schools either close their doors with children staying home with their families, or they pack up and move to lower altitudes to continue their schooling. Essentially, there is a winter ‘migration’ of some schools to warmer areas of Nepal for around 3 months of the year.
At the end of 2014, we were fortunate to have met teachers from a small school from the Chosyar Valley who were committed to the education of their children. Before the start of winter, students and teachers pack up their belongings and undertake a 3 day journey from their mountain home at an altitude of 3,800 meters to the warmer outskirts of the city of Pokhara situated at 900 meters.
We also met the children in their one room winter school, which is rented for 3-4 months, after which they return back to their homes. At one end of the room was a large shrine dedicated to the Dalai Lama and a makeshift partition made out of sheets ran down two sides of the room that separated the boys and girls sleeping quarters. The children slept on mattresses a few inches thick on a bare concrete floor and a courtyard at the rear of the building, which was covered with a plastic tarpaulin and furnished with plastic chairs, was their classroom.
Despite their desperate circumstances, we have been impressed by this school’s resourcefulness and ambitions. For more than five years they persistently fund raised and managed to collect enough money to purchase a piece of land near their current temporary winter school. When we met them, they told us about the difficulties they were facing in their current situation and that they had commenced a campaign to raise money to build a new school with classrooms, accommodation and dining facilities.
Their own winter school will mean an escape from the high rent and poor standards they have had to endure for over 7 years.
Bishow has been involved in the tourist industry in Nepal for over 24 years and is a Member of the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN). We think he is one of the best guides in Nepal and he has been instrumental to the success of many community service projects in the Pokhara region. When he is not volunteering his time helping the community, including being Logged On’s Manager of Community Relations, he helps run the family businesses which includes Amrit Treks and Expeditions, Marigold Hotel Pokhara and the Astam Eco-village Resort. Bishow is a professional and licensed guide and will head the expedition.
Tashi is a teacher, trekking guide and business owner with 18 years’ experience. He has guided treks in the Annapurna circuit, Naar Phu, Upper Mustang, Upper Dolpo, Manaslu area (Larke pass), Thum Valley, Langtang area and is a fully government licensed guide. He speaks English, Nepali, Tibetan and Hindi and his home is in the Chosyar Valley in Upper Mustang. Tashi will help guide us through Upper Mustang and will share with us the secrets of this remote area.
Mark is the CEO and founder of the Logged On Foundation. His love of the Himalayan region began 18 years ago and has made numerous return journeys to travel and trek in the mountains of Northern India, Tibet and Nepal. He is a social anthropologist by training, has a passion for digital technologies and photography, and is an intrepid traveller with a commitment to philanthropy. Since 2011, Mark has been sharing his enthusiasm for all things Nepal and creating pathways for travellers, adventurers and volunteers to spend time in the villages where Logged On is working. Mark will be conducting research in Upper Mustang and will enlighten you on grass-roots development and the joys of Nepal.
A little more about who we are, our experience in bringing people to Nepal, and what we want to do.
Logged On was established in 2011, is a Public Company governed by a Board of Directors, and is endorsed by the Australian Government as a not-for-profit institution with charitable objectives.
We believe in the power of education and feel privileged to be able to help children in rural Nepal access a quality education. This is the primary focus of our work. We have provided technology for education, scholarships to underprivileged kids, helped rebuild schools, installed water treatment systems for child health, provided schools supplies, brought teachers to help with education and training, and the list goes on.
More details about us are available at: www.loggedon.org.au
Since 2011, we have been working side-by-side with local people, groups and business on grass roots projects. We have all shared a deep sense of purpose in creating opportunities in rural Nepal.
As a result, we have built lasting friendships and trusting relationships with local individuals and businesses that are grounded on an ethos of community development. This has allowed us to bring in volunteers and travellers alike to experience something quite unique.
We have been placing volunteer teaching students in schools in Nepal for several universities and have created cultural tour packages for institutions. We have also brought in friends, colleagues and associates to experience the beauty of Nepal.
If you participate in our expeditions, you become more than a customer. You become part of a growing group of adventurers, travellers, volunteers, helpers and well-wishers who have given something special to Nepal, and we are certain you will bring something deeply positive back with you.
Last year, we brought a group of volunteers up to Lower Mustang. The photos from that trip can be seen in our Album below. We didn’t make it to Upper Mustang, but in 2015 we will continue where we left off at Kagbeni and head all the way up until we can’t go any further.
The Logged On Foundation and HANDS in Nepal are raising the capital to help the community in Upper Mustang achieve the following:
- Build a winter school from the foundations up. This includes classrooms, accommodation for children and dining facilities.
- Provide infrastructure within the new school, especially beds so children don’t have to sleep on the floor.
- Library and computer and internet facilities for education.
We are raising the money through fundraising, sponsorship and our Upper Mustang expedition.
Our travel partners, Amrit Treks and Expeditions, are not only guiding us through our journey, they are also providing community consultation support and are an important partner in this project. We would like to acknowledge Bishow Adhikari for being a core member of the project team as well as Tashi Pasang Gurung who is our liaison for the Upper Mustang community.
My journey to Muktinath with the Logged On Foundation was the trip of a lifetime and a great adventure! The scenery of rural Nepal and the Himalayas was mind blowing and had a deep impact on all levels. We were lucky enough to have everything organized for us on the trip from fantastic accommodation, food, transport and trekking permits. Everything was taken care of and we were able to have a truly authentic, local experience with wonderful people. The trip to Muktinath was a magical pilgrimage that I will never forget and I am in gratitude to the Logged On Foundation for making it possible.--- Tania Rose Haimon
My partner Fin and I really enjoyed our trip through Mustang, Nepal in December 2014 with Logged On Foundation. Jeeping up through the mountains, we were transfixed by the continuously changing landscape, from a green forest to dark ash riverbeds, deep spilling rapids to finally a dusty alpine desert and burnt oxide red. Visiting the Muktinath temple was quite a spiritual and humbling place with breathtaking views that surrounded us with monster glacial peaks. After a night at the Bob Marley Hotel, we trekked down to Kagbeni and visited locals along the way. We met a villager who would have been at least 80, who showed us her apple orchard and we got a free taste of the bitter fruit - It wasn’t so bitter when we tasted it as a cider!
Mark and Bishow organised and led the tour and took incredibly good care of us. They ensured that we experienced not only the sights but engaged us with the local culture of Mustang. I knew that I was in good hands. They went over and above what I expected and I have lifetimes memories and friends to show for it. Thankyou Logged On for this experience!--- James Wray
Nepal a country of contrasts has delivered everything I expected and so much more. Although you need to dig through the typical façade to see the true state of the nation, re under privilege and poverty, it still amazes me that within these cultures, the people with the least to offer are the most generous and provide some of the best examples of humanity. The people are amazing and the Himalayas/Annapurna ranges are absolutely breathtaking! Trekking in the Lower Mustang region was the most spiritual experience I have had to date. The Buddhist pilgrimage site and temple at Mukthinath recharged the body and soul, a place to pray for whoever needs it and cleans your soul. The warmth shown by our guide Bishow Adhikari and his family and by the Logged on Foundation provided the base of what was a fantastic cultural and spiritual experience. To live with Nepalese families, sit with school children and help with their educational aspirations and then trek through some of the most rugged, remote and awe inspiring scenery will render this an unforgettable experience. I greatly look forward to the Upper Mustang trip with Mark at Logged On and recommend everyone to become involved in this life affirming experience. You will not be disappointed.--- Jason Dickie
My first experience of Nepal included an incredible four-day pilgrimage to Muktinath, at the southern end of the Upper Mustang region, in December 2014 and wow – what a way to see the amazing sights this country has to offer! Amongst them, lush green countryside, cascading waterfalls, snow-capped mountain peaks, the majestic Kali Gandaki river and of course the high-altitude desert surrounded by brilliant cliffs, rocks and caves. We got a taste for both Nepali and Tibetan culture in the villages we passed through on the way and were lucky enough to witness one of the three ‘eternal flames’ burning at the temple in Muktinath. The journey, including a trek from Muktinath to Kagbeni above the valley and amongst the mountains, was both quietly spiritual and full of adventure, and it was easily one of the most profound experiences I’ve ever had. It was fantastic travelling with Bishow Adhikari our professional guide and Mark Pinoli. We could relax and enjoy the trip knowing that everything was being taken care of for us – transport, accommodation, trekking permits and so on – and not only that but they ensured that our time in Mustang was educational, cultural and so much fun. Thanks for such a wonderful experience guys; I can’t wait for the next one!--- Monica Lamperd
Walking tracks and feeling like you are the first and only person to walk them. Seeing and feeling the mountains, taking in their energy and feeling like no one has ever been before you. These are the best words to describe an indescribable experience. It is near impossible to describe the emotion and inward feeling felt on my pilgrimage to Muktinath, with an amazing foundation and incredible people. For anyone in the future that contemplating a similar trek/ experience/ pilgrimage… think no longer, you will not regret it one little bit. You will come away with inexpressible connections with the mind blowing surroundings, the locals, and those that are sharing the same experience as you. I will be back in a heartbeat Nepal!--- Larissa Fry