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The Himalayas at its fantasy movie best…

Incredible images taken by an intrepid explorer show the ‘fantasy movie’ landscape of one of the Himalayas’ most remote regions

  • Darius Radkevicius visited Upper Mustang, a semi-autonomous part of Nepal that opened to tourists in 1992
  • He trekked across its mesmerising landscape with a team of five, including a guide, chef and 10 mules
  • The locals live in brutal conditions, with piped water turning to ice at night and dried manure burned for heat 

The ‘fantasy movie’ landscape of one of the most isolated and remote regions in the Himalayas has been revealed in a series of incredible pictures. 

They were taken by Lithuanian explorer Darius Radkevicius in Upper Mustang, a semi-autonomous region of Nepal that only opened to tourists in 1992.

While there he took part in a 28-day trek across the otherworldly landscape and discovered how the local population still live very much like their ancestors – cooking on dry manure and herding yaks – and in brutal conditions.

Lithuanian explorer Darius Radkevicius captured this incredible image at the foot of Dhaulagiri mountain during his trek across Upper Mustang. Dhaulagiri, at 8,167 metres (26,794ft), is the world’s seventh-highest mountain

The stunning Muktinath Village, a place which is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. It is home to one of the world’s highest temples, which lies at an altitude of 3,800m (12,467ft)

Darius found the perfect spot for meditating on day seven of the trek when he walked between Samar and Ghiling 

Darius said: ‘The people are fantastic and welcoming. Though it seems that they still live the same life their ancestors used to live – herding animals, farming and little trade.’ Pictured is the landscape on the way to Dhakmar 

Some of the houses in the settlement of Kagbeni. It is a popular stop-off for people trekking through Upper Mustang 

The Ghar Gompa monastery, pictured, dates back to the 8th century and is thought to be the oldest in the Mustang region

An aerial shot of Lo Manthang in Upper Mustang. It has a population of around 876 people 

One of the colourful buildings in Lo Manthang. The town is known for its tall, whitewashed mud-brick walls 

The view that greeted Darius in Kagbeni after the first leg of the trek. It has a population of around 1,200 people 

His trip took place last November and he explored the area with a team of five – a guide called Karma and his assistant, a chef and his assistant, and a mule handler who wrangled 10 mules and one horse.

One of the first things Darius noticed about trekking in Upper Mustang was the extreme conditions.

He told MailOnline Travel: ‘There is strong sunshine during the day at altitudes of about 2.5 miles (4km/13,200ft) but harsh ice-cold winds starting at 1pm.

‘The air in the icy peaks of the Himalayas cools and turns into harsh, rather cold and very strong winds.

While trekking to the village of Chhusang, Darius came across this former settlement, which had been carved out of the cliffs  

The ruins of an old fort at an elevation of 12,598ft (3,840m) that Darius passed on his way to Lo Manthang

The team’s mules are prepped before setting off for the journey between the villages of Kagbeni and Chhusang

On the seventh day of his trek, while walking from Samar to Ghiling, Darius came across this bone-like rock formation

Darius said: ‘There is daily changing beauty, never repeating views, polarising clouds and sun and moon together from midday.’ Pictured is Dhakmar 

The view that surrounds the Lori Cliff Monastery. Darius said: ‘There is strong sunshine during the day at altitudes of about 2.5 miles (4km/13,200ft) but harsh ice-cold winds starting at 1pm’ 

Barren trees stand against the red mountains in a stunning image that Darius captured in Dhakmar 

The Luri Cliff Monastery, which is perched on top of dramatic cliffs. Darius says it is a place where Indian and Tibetan art meet 

On his way to Dhakmar, Darius was told that this spot was said to be where Guru Rimpoche fought a dragon and spilt its blood 

This incredible picture of a red rock face was captured in the old town settlement in Dhakmar 

Darius was joined on his trip by a guide called Karma and his assistant, a chef and his assistant, and a mule handler who wrangled 10 mules and one horse

A view through one of the windows of the Lori Cliff Monastery out on to the rocky terrain below 

‘At dusk the air cools to minus temperatures and there is no heating in the local houses.

‘Burning wood isn’t really an option because trees stop growing at 5,000ft and bringing it up from the lowlands is very expensive. 

‘They cook on dried manure, which is picked by shepherds and yak herdsmen in the mountains. The water in the room freezes to ice at night, leaving no water in the toilet or tap until the sun rises.

‘The air is very dry with about 30 per cent moisture, which causes the nose to dry and become covered with bloody scabs.’

So life there is not easy. In the past though, it was far grander.

Upper Mustang is a semi-autonomous region of Nepal that only opened to tourists in 1992 

Darius said: ‘Mustang has beautiful mountains with winding paths. Each day the colours of the mountains are different – yellow, red, green and grey’ 

‘The Himalayas are unfriendly in nature and are a harsh environment for living, but they call you, you breathe differently there’, says Darius

Talking about the weather conditions in Upper Mustang, Darius said: ‘The air is very dry with about 30 per cent moisture, which causes the nose to dry and become covered with bloody scabs’

Darius added: ‘Maybe once when the Silk Road passed through people were rich. The past greatness of the region is now only visible in the ruins left around.

‘However, the people are fantastic and welcoming. Though it seems that they still live the same life their ancestors used to live – herding animals, farming and little trade.

‘You will maybe see one or two jeeps and a few satellite antennas.

‘However, if you are travelling in Mustang in late November you might miss the local population.

‘They might have migrated to the lowlands of Nepal as wintering in Mustang is nearly impossible.’

Despite the harsh environment, Darius says he is eager to return to Upper Mustang to gaze upon its stunning landscape once again.

A view out across Choser village from an old settlement carved into the cliff. It overlooks a makeshift football pitch

A cosmic-looking airfield close to the Luri Cliff monastery, which is at an elevation of 13,123ft (4,000m) 

This incredible rock formation was captured on camera by Darius on his way to the village of Dhakmar 

The village of Dhakmar, pictured, sits at an elevation of 12,523ft (3820m). Darius says that life in Upper Mustang ‘is not an easy one’ 

The trekking team get ready to start the first leg of their hike, which took them from Jomson to Kagbeni 

The ruins of a fortress near the Lori Cliff Monastery. Darius said: ‘The past greatness of the region is now only visible in the ruins left around’ 

On his way to Yara, Darius came across this ancient settlement, carved into the wall of a mountain 

He added: ‘The impression is that you are travelling in time or in some fantasy movie.

‘Mustang has beautiful mountains with winding paths. Each day the colours of the mountains are different – yellow, red, green and grey.

‘All in all, the Himalayas are a very mysterious place.

‘They are unfriendly in nature and are a harsh environment for living, but they call you, you breathe differently there, you get an understanding of how small you are and many secrets open up here.

‘There is daily changing beauty, never-repeating views, polarising clouds, sun and moon together from midday, heat and cold, flow and static and peace and danger.’ 

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