Gone are the days when the only way to reach Charang was on foot, involving many days of arduous trekking at high altitude.
Although intrepid trekkers still do enjoy the challenges of trekking in Upper Mustang.
But, nowadays you can reach Charang by 4WD vehicle as a "rough and ready" jeep road extends all the way up the Kali Gandaki Valley from Pokhara to Lo Manthang and beyond to Tibet via the Kora La, although foreigners are presently not allowed to cross into Tibet from Mustang.
For both tourists and locals alike the advent of the jeep road has made a positive impact in many ways, yet traditions hold fast and strong up here in Upper Mustang, so other than we are now better connected to the outside world in Charang, we're still the same and the wild, spectacular landscape of Mustang has not been tamed!
Of course most tourists visiting Upper Mustang come to see and experience the region as a whole, spending a night or two in Charang before heading to Lo Manthang.
But, don't forget that Upper Mustang remains a restricted area, so a special permit is required (see further below) to enter Mustang beyond the village of Kagbeni.
The nearest airport is at Jomsom.
There are daily flights (usually early morning) between Pokhara and Jomsom.
Flight time is a mere 18 minutes!
From Jomsom it's a full days drive by 4WD vehicle to Charang
It's a spectacular two day drive by 4WD vehicle up through the Kali Gandaki Valley from Pokhara to Charang. You can come by mountain bike too!
Travelling between the mighty peaks of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna then across the Tibetan Plateau must surely rank as one of the greatest road trip adventures on the planet.
Of course there remains the traditional way of travel in Upper Mustang.....trekking!
Most trekkers fly up to Jomsom from Pokhara. From Jomsom it's a 3-4 day hike (with acclimatisation along the way) to reach Charang
Until as recently as 1992 the Kingdom of Lo (Upper Mustang) was famously off limits to foreigners, earning it the unofficial title of "The Forbidden Kingdom".
Even now, Mustang remains a restricted area and a special permit is required to venture beyond Kagbeni.
The combination of cost, permit restrictions and not least the challenges of travelling across a high altitude desert deters most tourists. Not least the independent "Nepal On a Shoestring" backpacker hordes.
This ensures that the uniqueness of Mustang has remained and not despoilt by the ravages that mass tourism usually brings.
Less than 3,000 tourists per year visit Mustang. Compare that with 80,000+ that attempt the Everest Base Camp trek each year.
A special permit to enter the restricted area of Mustang beyond Kagbeni costs in excess of $US 500 per person for ten days.
The permit (minimum of two persons) can only be obtained through a licensed tour operator.
You must also be accompanied by a licensed guide. The permit is for a minimum of two persons travelling together. If you’re travelling solo you will have to pay for two Mustang permits and a little extra to “facilitate” the permit process.
You can arrange a private, custom made Mustang trek or Mustang Jeep Tour with Snow Cat Travel.
Please tell Snow Cat Travel that you want a visit to Charang included in your tailor made itinerary!