Would you love to see the snow-capped Mountains of the Himalayas in Nepal? Then Kagbeni is an easy gateway to do so. You take a scenic flight from Pokhara to Jomsom (only 20 minutes), and from Jomsom it is an easy 2 – 3 hrs walk to Kagbeni. Straight forward, no uphill. You will not even notice that you are walking, as the scenery is so beautiful. This makes Kagbeni a perfect start of a trek for beginners.
Kagbeni´s location is quite unique. It is situated at an altitude of 2800m, in Lower Mustang. The medieval village is also the gateway to Upper Mustang and it lies in the popular Annapurna Circuit. Lower Mustang has been a popular trekking area for many years, and is considered as one of the easier trekking routes you can do in Nepal.
While on trekking, most people change location every day. However, I highly recommend you to stay at least two nights in Kagbeni, get an in-depth understanding of the culture and the strength of the mountain people that are living here, through all kinds of weather. Here are five reasons why you should stay more than one night in Kagbeni.
1) MEET THE MONKS AT THE MONASTERY
Kagbeni is, as many places in Lower Mustang, a Tibetan Buddhist community. In the middle of the village you will find their famous red monastery, Kag Chode Monastery, which is more than 500 years old. Today this is also a school for young Monks up to 19 years old. You can visit the old Monastery and get a tour by one of the elder students. Learn the history of the Monastery and the daily life of a Monk! This is a very nice experience to do on the day of arrival. If you´re there at the right time, you could also join them in a game of football!
The next day, wake up early and take part in their morning ritual, chanting and meditation in the old Monastery. It starts about 05:45 (get the accurate time the day before) and last for about one hour. A beautiful start of the day and you will feel a part of a monk-community, at least for an hour!
After your breakfast, do a morning hike to Tiri Village (about one hour) and visit their Monastery. Built on a hill, it gives a great view over the valley!
2) SIPPIN´ TO A CUP OF ORGANIC HIMALAYAN COFFEE WHILE EATING AN APPLE-PIE AND TELLING THE WORLD THAT YOU ARE IN #NEPALNOW
Kagbeni is a beautiful medieval village that know how to take care of its visitors. People have
been passing through Kagbeni for ages. Here you will find many small restaurants and cafes, all with wifi (as long as there are no power cut!) for you to be connected and tell the world where you are. If you love your coffee, do not miss out of an organic Himalayan coffee.
To go with the coffee, any kind of bakery with apple! This area is famous for their organic, high altitude apples. If you are visiting during the apple-season, they are well worth a taste!
#nepalNOW and I am in Nepal NOW (Jeg er i Nepal NÅ) is a campaign to encourage travelers to visit Nepal and spread good vibes and stories. You can read more on nepalnow.org.
3) GET ENERGIZED BY THE BUCKWHEAT – FROM CROP TO HOMEMADE BREAD
Have you heard about buckwheat? It is a plant cultivated as a grain in the Himalayas. It is the seeds that are eaten and they are very rich on a lot of good stuff! The high content of carbohydrates makes the bread perfect as breakfast for trekkers! It is a very interesting plant, its history and use of it today.
In Kagbeni, you can see it grow (if you visit during the right time), get its story and enjoy it for breakfast the day after! That will give you a kick-start of the day!
4) INDULGING INTO THE LOCAL CULTURE
You might argue, that if you trek from place to place, you also experience the local culture. So true, BUT you don’t really get to understand it, unless you take your time.
What do they do on a normal day? How is the family structure set up? Agriculture? Are they self-sufficient? Where do the kids go to school? Has the local culture been influenced by the travellers? How do the locals cope through the tough winter season? Why do they store the wood on the roof? Or where do they get wood from in the first place, as there are no trees here…
When you are passing by, you don’t get all of your answers. If you stay for a couple of nights you will get a deeper understanding. Interact with the locals and be a part of their rhythm! This is also a time when it is good to have a good guide with you. Not everyone speaks English and for sure not the elder generation.
5) FIND THE SHEEP THAT GAVE THE WOOL TO YOUR NEW HANDMADE KAGBENI-HAT!
You probably wont find the sheep that gave the wool to your hat, but yes it is possible to follow the chain from wool to a ready made product. This is because the people of Kagbeni do it all! The ready-made products have been through the process of taking the wool off the sheep, washed it, spun and dyed it. The dying process is very interesting and they produce a huge range of different colours (some of the colours takes at least a month to produce!). After that process the women either knit or weave their products.
While talking to the ladies and going through that process, they might also show you some of their hand-made national costumes.
After this interesting talk, and understanding how much work that is involved by producing one hand-knitted hat, I promise you that you happily pay the price!
Have you been to Kagbeni? We would love to hear your best memory from your visit!