Traveling to Muktinath
(Last update April 14, 2007)

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Traveling by Yourself
Permits
Various Ways to Go to Muktinath
Preventing High Altitude Sickness
Buying Bus & Plane Tickets
Lodging
Using Travel Agencies
Map of Annapurna
Map of Muktinath

Introduction
Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa is a holy place for both Buddhists and Hindus on the Annapurna Circuit in the Himalayas of Nepal. To know more about the background of Muktinath, you can have a look at the picture gallery or browse through the "Muktinath" menu item above. The information on this page is based on the feedback of visitors to this web site; our own experience and information we get from the local people we have contact with.

Can I travel to Muktinath safely by myself?
Yes, if you are physically and mentally healthy, both men and women alike, up till quite a high age, can travel to Muktinath on their own and travel quite comfortably and safely. Recently new roads have been made and it is even possible now to go by motor bike from Jomsom to Muktinath.

Travel Warings

None. The polictical situation in Nepal is stable at the moment.


What is the best time to travel?
When you are not familair with the local situation, we strongly recommend not to travel to Muktinath during the raining season in June, July, August and the beginning of September because of the possibility of landslides. Beside there is a great change plains do not fly to Jomson due to bad weather. Waiting for days to return from Jomsom to Pokhara by plain is not an exception. So all and all there is a big chance during rain season it will not be the great trip it can be.
In November and February it can be cold, but you can travel. December and January are for the die hards.

Do I need a guide?
If people ask us if a guide is needed, the answer is a bit difficult to give. To find your way you do not need a guide, but it is of course more safe to travel together in mountains. Beside by hiring a guide you provide income for a Nepalese family.

Do I need a permit to travel to Muktinath?
Yes, unless you are from Nepal or India you need an entry permit (actually it is not a permit, but a kind of eco-tax entry fee).

NOTIFICATION

There is some confusion about the exact requirements. In October 2006 the follwing message was issued:

"This is to inform you that a TRC (trekking Registered Certificate) is applicable from 26 October onwards. The TRC is checked in the check posts while on trek. The fee is USD 3 per person. From now on tourists will not be allowed anymore to trek individually; they will require a TRC. Only registered trekking agencies will issue a TRC.
The system is because several back-packers were missing on trek and there were huge difficulties to trace them. A trekkers requires at least 1 field staff of a registered trekking agency to accompany him/her."

The permit can only be bought from:
Kathmandu - The national parks/ACAP office (Tel 225393 ext. 363) in the basement of the Sanchaya Sanchaya Kosh building at the entrance to Thamel
(middle of taxi stand, while facing Thamel, downstairs at your left — or just ask). Pokhara - ACAP counter (Tel 061-32275), opposite Nepal Grindlays Bank on the lakeside in Pokhara.

Both offices are open from 9 am to 5 pm (Feb - mid Nov) and 9 am to 4 pm (mid Nov - Feb). Bring one photograph and Rs 2000, about 27 USD /
(for exact conversion and other currencies, see this currency converter).

How do I go to Muktinath?
Apart from walking to Muktinath all the way, there are many ways one can travel, depending on time and budget.

Basically the trip can be divided in two parts: from Kathmandu to Jomsom, and from Jomsom to Muktinath.

From Kathmandu to Jomsom you can:
1. Go by bus to Pokhara, then the next day by plane to Jomsom.
2. Go by plane to Jomsom.
3. Do the 6-day trek to Jomsom, starting from Pokhara.

Starting from Jomsom you can:
1. Walk to Kagbeni to Jhargot to Muktinath in about 7 hours total.
2. Go by a local rented horse in about the same time.
3. Go on the back seat of a local rented motor bike plus driver.
4. Take a helicopter
.

jomsomairport.jpg (12707 bytes)
© MFI ImageBank

Can I continue my trip after my arrival by plaine in Jomsom immediately?
When you arrive at Jomsom by plane you are at 2700 meters while you came from Pokhara at 800 meters (Kathmandu is about 1500 meters). Muktinath is at 3750 meters. We strongly recommend that you stay one night in Jomsom in order to prevent high altitude sickness instead of walking to Muktinath the very same day if you arrive by flight. Alternative is you walk for three hours to Kagbeni at 2900 meters and stay there for a night. Next day we recommend you sleep in Jhargot at 3400 meters (which is 45 minutes before Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa). Please download this PDF file for more information. The Himalayas and hurry really do do not mix. Actually that might be the very reason why you want to go there, indeed. :-)

Where can I buy bus tickets, and can I do this at the last minute?
The bus tickets can be bought at any travel agency in Nepal. Last-minute bookings are most of the time no problem. Cost for the 6-hour bus drive to Pokhara is between 250-900 NPR, or 3-13 USD.

The road is OK, and officials at government road blocks prevent the drivers of trucks and buses from going too fast by noting down there arrival time at each road block. The cheap local buses to Pokhara always have bad tires and are often run by junior drivers. You can feel comfortable travelling with a tourist bus to Pokhara though. Having said this, travelling by bus in Nepal is less save than flying.

And how about the plane tickets for Jomsom?
The plane tickets to Jomsom cost about 130 USD for a single trip from Kathmandu to Jomsom and about half of this amount from Pokhara to Jomsom. That is, if you are not from Nepal. For locals the prices are much cheaper for good reasons. Make sure you take an early flight.  Every day, between 10 and 11 a.m., it starts to be very windy in Jomsom. The planes need to arrive before that time. If the departure of a plane is delayed, it can be cancelled for that reason. So take the early flight at 7 or 8 a.m., and even with some delay the flight will not be cancelled.

Lodging
Along the route to Muktinath you'll find enough guesthouses to eat and sleep. If a local guesthouse is fine for you, you do not need to make arrangements up front. The beds are clean and the food is good. Hot showers and electricity are available during part of the day. Costs per night are about 200-500 NPR for a local guesthouse and 40 USD or more for a hotel. Food per day in a local guesthouse is about 500-700 NPR per person for three meals, including tea or coffee. Enough room is available. For Hindu pilgrims there are also free Dharamsalas.

Does it make sense to use a travel agency to make all arrangements?
Yes, no doubt this could make sense. If you are not used to travelling in Asia, or if you are feeling insecure about things, a good travel agency will make the difference between a relaxed journey and a journey full of worries. Besides, when you travel in a group of more than three persons you must make sure you make reservations not only for bus and plane, but also for the guesthouses you want to stay at. One person can always find a place to sleep. With a group - more than two persons - it can be difficult (to stay together in the same place). In that case you could consider to ask a travel agent to make the bookings up front.

Still more questions?
As a charity we have not the information of a travel agency. We hope for your understanding. For other questions on travelling to Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa, please contact a travel agency in Kathmandu or Pokhara.

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