Locked away in the wilderness of the Himalayas, on the very edge of the Tibetan plateau, lies the secret, ancient kingdom of Mustang, known to its inhabitants as the land of Lo. After decades of isolation Mustang only opened its borders in the last 20 years or so. This is a spectacular land whose history and culture are steeped in ancient customs and traditions. There are few places left in the world where time is measured not in minutes but according to the rate at which crops grow in the spring and fruits ripen in the autumn. The walks pass through open valleys, deep ravines, desert canyons, grasslands with white-walled villages and ancient cave homes all set against the magnificent backdrop of the soaring snow-capped Himalayan peaks. Professor Ramble will show that Mustang is a still a land of myths and legends and even today with modernity creeping in, it still provides a taste of authentic Tibetan culture.
Historically the Lo-pas – as the inhabitants of Mustang are known – generated income by taxing the traffic in salt between Tibet and India. Around 1380 the powerful leader, Ama Pal, gained control of the salt trade, united the country and seceded from Tibet. Ama Pal brought the civilizing influence of Buddhism to his subjects and by the 15th century Mustang had earned the reputation as a centre of artistic and creative excellence. With China’s invasion of Tibet, borders with Mustang were closed, forcing the Lo-pas to become self-sufficient. Its political and geographic isolation has protected its Tibetan culture and Mustang remained quite pure and largely ‘unbruised’ by Chinese occupation though with the first road opening up recently things are changing.
The walks of the trip are classified as Moderate and do not require special technical abilities and will involve about five – eight hours of walking per day over uneven and in places steep ground. The highest altitude that the party will reach is 3,930 metres.
The journey has been organised for the Alumni of Cambridge University but is also open to the Alumni of Oxford University and friends and family.
Trip Leader: Professor Charles Ramble
The journey will be accompanied by Professor Ramble who is a former lecturer in Himalayan Studies at the Oriental Institute of Oxford University. He lived in the Himalayas for fifteen years, working as an anthropologist and a naturalist, and has travelled and researched extensively in the region. He is the author of some fifty articles and several books on the culture and history of the Himalayan countries and has accompanied five very successful journeys for the alumni since 2014.