Asphalt paves the intersection of ecotourism and development at a famed Himalayan trekking hub.
In north-central Nepal, the remote district of Mustang has become a renowned Himalayan trekking destination for those seeking to hike through a place that in some ways has remained unchanged for centuries. Soaring, snowy peaks loom over landscapes riven by rocky clefts. Vibrant Buddhist prayer flags top summits, and burgundy-hued monasteries hug steep hillsides in this region bordering Tibet.
But change is coming quickly to Mustang, as it is throughout Nepal. The country has embarked on a fast-paced road-building program that’s transforming the landscape as well as the lives of residents and the experiences of travelers. While some visitors bemoan the expansion of roads into what they view as pristine regions, many Nepalis living in remote settlements welcome easier access to cities and opportunities to enhance their economic prospects.