Tiji Festival 2018; May 04-22, 2018 | Upper Mustang, Nepal

NepalCulture, Festivals, Hike & Trek

The Mustang region of western Nepal is one of the country’s most recent districts to be opened to international visitors and trekkers. Until relatively recently it was the Kingdom of Lo and its people lived as part of the Tibetan Himalayan culture. Tibetan languages are still spoken there and the culture, practices, and beliefs of the people are still strongly Tibetan. While the Kingdom of Lo has been a part of Nepal from the late 18th century, the position of monarch, or king, was only abolished by the Government of Nepal in 2008. So the Mustang region offers visitors a glimpse into a unique culture in a stunning high Himalayan desert landscape.

A visit to the annual Tiji Festival, the biggest festival in Upper Mustang, is a special experience. This is a chance to look back in time and see mud-walled villages much as they were for centuries. This is also a chance to meet the welcoming people of Mustang, learn a little of their culture and explore some of the most stunning desert landscapes on earth.

You will trek through what is considered to be the deepest gorge in the world where massive snow-capped Himalayan peaks rim the valley skyline high above you. You will feel tiny as you make your way slowly through this ancient landscape and wonder at nature, and the spirit of the Mustang people. This a very special trek to a very special place.

19 Days
From USD 2,110Per Person

2017 Tour Itinerary

Arrive in Kathmandu (1,360m) and transfer to our hotel in Thamel, the heart of Kathmandu city. The rest of the afternoon is free for taking in the sights and sounds of this unique and bustling medieval city.

Overnight in Kathmandu.

Full-day sightseeing tour around Kathmandu visiting the Swayambhunath Monkey Temple, Pashupatinath, Bouddhanath and Kathmandu Durbar Square. Escorted by an English-speaking guide (other language-speaking guides available on request), the tour will allow a glimpse of the vivid culture and an enchanting manner of its people.

Overnight in Kathmandu.

Drive to Pokhara (there is an option to fly).
Pokhara located about 200km west of Katmandu on the shores of the beautiful Lake Fewa, is a mixture of restful and busy. It has the atmosphere of a relaxed “resort town” where visitors take it easy seeing the sights and resting before their Annapurna or Mustang trek and once again upon their return. But is also a busy place with all these visitors arriving, leaving and exploring the lake and nearby sights of Pokhara. The option to drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara provides an opportunity to experience more of the real Nepal beyond the national parks and trekking trails. The scenery and people you will meet on the drive is also worth the experience.

Overnight in hotel in Pokhara.

The early morning flight to Jomson is very short and very scenic. In the 30 minutes of flight time you will be treated to spectacular views as your aircraft flys up the Kali Gandaki Valley towards Jomson. The Annaourna Massif and its many stunning peaks will be to your right and the mass of 8,172m Mount Dhaulagiri will be to your left. But too soon you will be on the ground at dusty Jomson Airport. Once all your team and gear is organised your guide will lead you out on to the trail and commence the four hour trek to the village of Kagbeni. The ancient mud and stone village of Kagbeni sits on a ridge high above the dry riverbed where it is safe from the occasional flood that roars down the valley after heavy rains higher in the catchment.

Overnight in trekking lodge.

The trek continues along the twists and turns of the hugh Kali Gandaki riverbed. The gradient is gentle and the walking easy as you gain about 400m in altitude over the course of the walk. You will pass through the unspoiled traditional villages of Tangbe and Chhusang and take short detour breaks to rest and explore their narrow lanes and architecture. A chance to share a cup of tea with the local people is also very likely. As you get closer to Chele the river valley narrows to a deep gorge and the gradient steepens. The last effort for the day is to trek up the steep trail that takes you to Chele village and its fields perched above the narrow southern gorge exit. There are many vantage points around the village where you can look down into the dark gorge and contemplate the surging torrents of water that have cut this spectacular cleft over thousands of years. The views to the east and the Annapurna Massif peaks and Mount Nilgiri are spectacular as the sun sets and the peaks fade to pinks, greys and then nightfall.

Overnight in trekking lodge.

The trek becomes a little more challenging today as you leave the riverbed and follow the ancient trails along the western slopes of the valley. There is hardly a level step today as you always seem to be climbing or descenting a ridge or gully slope. The landscape to the east is dominated by the giant gorge that cuts a gash through the solid rock of the lower valley. You trek through arid land that barely supports hardy goat herds of the few tiny villages you pass though. Eventually you will summit the main ridge and high point of 3,540m before slowly descending towards the welcome sight of Geling sitting high above its terraced fields stretching down the foothill slope.

Overnight in trekking lodge.

As you continue north into the heart of Upper Mustang the valley widens and the deep gorge you have been skirting oepns out again to a wide and gravelly river bed. However, the trail today continues its winding path through the lower foothills. As you descend the valley slopes you pass spectacular red cliffs that glow in the strong sunlight. You then cross a small bridge over the Tangmar Chu River and ascend again to be rewarded with one of the longest and most interesting prayer walls, or mani, in all of Nepal. Say a prayer as you pass just as many thousands of local people have done before you for perhaps a thousand years or more. Upon reaching Tsarang you will be amazed by the sight and community effort that has gone into the construction of the five–story Dzong, or fort, and the nearby Buddhist gompa or monastery. Take the time to appreciate the wonderful statues and thanka paintings of the Buddha.

Overnight in trekking lodge.

Start the day by exploring more of Tsarang and its rich heritage. Then head north on the trail along the wide valley floor towards Lo Mantang. You will see the walled town well before you reach it and then discover there is just one entrance gate to this once well defended town. The ever happy and welcoming people of Lo Manthang will be delighted to see your arrival.

Overnight in trekking lodge.

Early in the afternoon, horns resounded, announcing the two twelve-foot copper dunchens, with their elephantine blurting, followed by two double-reeled horns, all accompanied by drum and cymbals. Next an ancient and enormous tanka three stories high is unrolled down the entire south wall of the square. The thanka portrayed Padma Sambhava or Guru Rimpoche who brought this ceremony to Tibet in the 8th century. At mid-afternoon eleven lamas in maroon and gold, wearing high red hats, will came from the palace and take their places along the wall beneath the thanka, with Tashi Tenzing on the elevated seat just in the center. As the monks and lamas commence chanting, twelve more monks come from the palace in maroon and royal blue and glittering gold brocade, with cymbal-shaped hats decked with upright peacock plumes. Soon they withdraw, to be replaced by the masked dancers who start the portrayal of the Tiji myth. Dorje Jono repels the demon through the power of his magical dancing – he dances fifty-two separate dances, one of them in ten different bodies, each with a different head. As the dances end Dorje Jono kills the demon after which his people are relieved of their plague of misfortunes, water becomes plentiful once more, and the balance and harmony of existence are restored.

Overnight in trekking lodge.

Numbers of Loba have arrived from the outlying hamlets and the small square will be thronged with wild beautiful people, with all of the women and children, at least, in traditional dress. The King of Mustang will appear wearing a whole crown of tiny river pearls set off by dozens of large red coralline tones interspersed with matched ornaments of turquoise. The theatre of the festival then becomes a blur of costumes and masks, the twelve-foot horns, gold cups of wheat, butter cakes, snow peaks and wind and dust and sun, rajas and foreigners, dogs and yaks.

Overnight in trekking lodge.

Tiji ends with the ceremonial destruction of the evil remains, represented by some long black yak hair and red torma cakes minced to a dark red gurry. The demons red remnants are set out on an old tiger skin, where-upon they are attacked by bow and arrow, slings, and the old guns. The poor devils remains are over- turned upon the ground, each time to a wild cannonade from the old muzzle-loaders and a wave of cheers and smoke. After enjoying the festival you still have a chance to do excursion around other gompas close to Lo Manthang.

Overnight in trekking lodge.

The return journey follows different trails and lets you explore new sights and villages. Today’s trek takes you through the western foothills and up and down winding trails to the small village of Lo Gekar. While may seem an insignificant little village it actually has what is thought to be the oldest Buddhist Gompa or monastery in Nepal and Tibet. This fact attests to the significance of the hidden Mustang region in byegone eras. After some time exploring the monastery and learning some of its history it is time continue down the valley to Ghami.

Overnight in trekking lodge.

The walk today continues down the western flank of the valley. You pass through the village of Gheling again and finish the day at the tiny settlement of Samar perched above its terraced farm plots trailing down the hillside below.

The walk starts with a slow winding descent from the western foothills towards Chele where you once again return to the dry Kali Gandaki Riverbed and then on to Kagbeni.

Retrace your footsteps in reverse as you continue down the riverbed to Jomsom.

Your early morning flight will take you quickly from Jomsom to Pokhara where you will have free time to boat on the lake, do some shopping or relax in one of the many great restaurants.

After breakfast in the morning you say goodbye to Pokhara and head back to bustling Kathmandu by road. You may also choose to fly back to Kathmandu as an optional extra to your itinerary. You will be delivered back to your Kathmandu hotel at the end of today’s travels.

Enjoy a day exploring some of the quieter streets of Kathmandu, stocking up on souvenirs and presents for friends and family.

This evening you have a farewell dinner.

Overnight in Kathmandu.

The morning is free until your transfer to the airport for your homebound flight.

At a Glance

Duration 19 Days
Grade Moderate
Best time to go Apr - May
Trek accommodation Teahouse
Max. altitude 3,840m
Group size Min. 2 to Go
Transportation Tourist bus/private vehicle, flight

Optional Tours to Consider

Mount Everest Scenic Flight

Experience the huge expanse, awe-inspiring height, majesty and power of the Himalayan ranges offered by a panoramic mountain flight from Kathmandu to Mount Everest and return – all in little more than an hour. Flights are conducted in comfortable and pressurised twin-engine 12 to 16 seat aircraft. During the flight, passengers are all provided with an opportunity to take in the mountain panorama from the wide-view windshield of the pilot’s cockpit. This is a great opportunity to take some spectacular photographs and to really take in the full spectacle of the ice-capped mountain summits and deep alpine valleys. The view from the central plains of India to the highest mountain summit on Earth is something that mountain-flight passengers never forget.

Mount Everest Heli Flight

The Everest helicopter flight takes you east flying parallel to the Himalayan ranges at the elevation of 1800-2500m. Throughout the trip, you will have views of the hills, flora and fauna well as of many hill villages where you get a glimpse of Nepali rural life.
As the helicopter approaches over Jiri, you will see the famous trail used by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the first Everest conquerors, in 1953.
You continue to follow the trail towards Lamjura, Junbesi and then to Lukla where we will have a short stop to refuel.
Continue on your journey further up the Himalayan mountains, flying over Namche village, Periche, Lobuche and Gorak Shep. At Kalapathar, you will experience the best views of Mt. Everest and other neighboring mountains.
Another highlight of this flight is landing at Everest View hotel, a Japanese-built and managed property. From here there are superb views of Everest and the surrounding peaks, a great vantage point to enjoy your breakfast. You then return to Lukla to take on fuel before flying back to Kathmandu.

Tour Cost

Price per person in USD dollars

19D Tiji Tibetan Festival, Upper Mustang, Nepal

Valid for 2018 Festival Dates
Group size
Min. 02 To Go*SGL Supp.
May 04-22, 20182110TBA
*SGL Supplement pays for your own room in hotels and trekking lodges.
Tour prices do not include airport & related taxes of SGD $370± per person, and must be paid to Pacific Arena at the time of ticket issuance. Please note that all airport taxes are subject to change by the airlines until the air tickets are issued.
18NTIJIMIQ550ID309TT170925

Inclusions

  • Airport pick up & drop off by private vehicle
  • Twin/triple-sharing accommodation at Kathmandu in a 3-star hotel with breakfast
  • Return flights between Pokhara & Jomsom
  • Fully supported tea-house trek
    • All necessary paperwork & permits
      • National Park entrance fee
      • TIMS (Trekkers' Information Management System) Card (please bring 3 photos)
    • Government-licensed first-aid-trained English-speaking guide
    • One porter shared between 02 trekkers (max. weight to be carried per porter is 24kg); single trekker will have to pay a supplement for personal porter
    • Accommodation in trekking lodges
    • All meals (breakfast with tea or coffee, lunch, dinner) while on trek
    • Sleeping bag (a deposit may be required by ground handler)
    • First aid kit
    • Travel & rescue arrangement
    • Everest trekking map for the group
    • Accommodation, meals, salary, equipment, transportation & insurance for trekking crew
  • Farewell dinner
  • All government taxes

Exclusions

  • Air passage to/from Kathmandu
  • Nepal Visa fee @USD $40 per person for 30-day visa (please bring 01 photo, and exact change in USD)
  • Lunches & dinners in Kathmandu and Pokhara unless otherwise stated in the itinerary
  • Travel insurance covering trip curtailment, flight cancellations/delay, lost baggage, emergency medical evacuation, etc., (strongly recommended)
  • Hiring of a personal porter (each porter supports a maximum of 2 trekkers, and a max. weight of 24kg.)
  • Tips & gratuities for guides & trekking crew
  • Personal gear & clothing
  • Personal expenditure, i.e. phone calls, laundry, drinking water, hard/soft beverages, 'hot showers', charging of electronic devices while on trek, etc.
  • Expenses incurred due to mishaps, landslide, strikes, political unrest, etc. In such instances, any extras incurred will be charged as per actual
  • Silkair high season surcharge, where applicable

Departure Dates

  • May 04-22, 2018

Flights between Singapore and Kathmandu

Silkair (MI)

Silkair currently flies 4 times a week between Singapore and Kathmandu.

MON/WED/FRI/SUN MI412 SIN/KTM 09.00/11.55
MON/WED/FRI/SUN MI411 KTM/SIN 13.05/20.15

Thai Airways (TG)

Thai Airways offers daily flights between Singapore and Kathmandu via Bangkok.

DAILY TG402 SIN/BKK  07.40/09.00
DAILY TG319 BKK/KTM  10.15-12.25
DAILY TG320 KTM/BKK  13.30-18.15
DAILY TG401 BKK/SIN  19.40-22.55

Flight schedules are subject to change by the airlines with little or no notice.