• Upper Dolpo Trek

Upper Dolpo Trek

Trip Overview

The Upper Dolpo is even more isolated part of the Dolpo region and the lifestyle here is quite challenging. People living here still follow the Bon Po culture and speak the Tibetan language for daily communication. Trekking to this area is considered quite strenuous due to lack of tourism infrastructures and involvement of challenging high passes crossing. The trekkers visiting this area cannot visit alone without a special permit in hand and has to be accompanied by a licensed guide and full camping crew.

Despite of all these challenges, the visit is worth rewarding. The views seen in the area are truly mesmerizing and magnificent. The unspoiled culture, peoples lifestyle, landscapes, rare wildlife, vegetation, all add a feeling of true adventure that can't be felt while staying inside a cozy room of your home.

 

Highlights

  • Explore the land where not much travelers take their footsteps.
  • Visit the turquoise lake of Shey Phoksundo and visit centuries-old monasteries.
  • Observe the ancient Buddhist culture of Nepal and interact with locals who rarely see any westerners.
  • Experience the true adventure crossing high passes and intense trekking with full camping crew.

Itinerary


Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu.

Welcome to Kathmandu. You will be received by one of our office representatives at the TIA exit section and escort you to your hotel afterward.

Depending on your arrival time, you will have the chance to stroll around the places nearby your hotel on your own.

  Hotel

Day 02: Permits preparation and trip briefing day.

Today you will have a free day in Kathmandu while your specialist will take time to arrange permits for your trek. You will have time to explore around the Kathmandu valley on your own or enjoy the cultural tour with an experienced tour guide arranged by Trek Guiders.

In the evening, you will be met by your specialist in your hotel lobby. S/he will introduce you to your guide for the trek and brief you shortly about your trek, things to do/ not to do, and any optional activities you may enjoy during the trip. You can ask any queries or share feelings with your specialist during the briefing.

  Hotel

  Breakfast

Day 03: Fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj.

Depending on your flight time, your guide will pick you up from your hotel for drive to the domestic airport terminal. After an hour flight, you will reach Nepalgunj, from where the next flight to Dolpa will be operated next morning.

Nepalgunj is an interesting town that showcases the diverse culture of Nepal. Here you can explore the local market, mini-zoo and nearby villages if you are not willing to have rest for next day.

  Hotel

  Breakfast

Day 04: Fly from Nepalgunj to Juphal (2320m). Trek to Dunai (2140m).

After breakfast, transfer to Nepalgunj airport and take an approximately 45 minutes flight to Juphal, Dolpo. This small town is located on the foothills of Himalayas with beautiful views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri to its north. You will meet your trek staffs at Juphal and start trekking downhill for around an hour and then through the terraced fields of the Bheri river and narrow gorge for around 2 - 3 hours before you reach the village of Dunai, which is the administrative headquarter of the Dolpo region. After some time rest, you can explore this village and visit local hospital of this area.

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 05: Trek from Dunai to Ankhe (2896m)

After your breakfast at Dunai, start your trip crossing a suspension bridge and turn west following the trail past a hospital. At the meeting point of Thuli Bheri and Suli Khola, you will follow the trail of Suli Knola viewing a part of Dhaulagiri range. Gradually hiking up, you will pass Dheera and Raha Villages before entering the Shey Phoksundo NP area. Your guide will take care of all paperwork related to NP permits and you will continue walking down dense jungle afterward finally reaching Ankhe.

 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 06: Trek from Ankhe to Sulighat (3500m)

Your today's trail starts with ascending and descending along a wooded riverbank followed by climbing a steep trail afterward through a lush forest. After the trail leaves the forest, you will pass through a grassy slope high above the river. Then trekking downhill afterward on the stone staircase towards the river, you will continue following the trail to Sulighat.

 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 07: Trek from Sulighat to Phoksundo Lake (3600m)

Continue your today's journey along the valley floor to the confluence of the Phoksundo River and Pungmo River. Follow the western bank of Pungmo River after crossing the bridge. The trail will pass through a Cedar Forest before reaching Palam Village. 

From Palam, you need to climb steeply for about 2 hours before reaching the top of the ridge from where you can enjoy the distant view of Phoksundo Lake and a spectacular waterfall known as Phoksundo Waterfall (107m). The trail then descends through the Birch Forest to the upper reaches of the Phoksundo Khola, and then to Ringmo village.

Briefly talking about this village, people residing here practice Bonpo religion, a religion related to Buddhism but is actually older than Buddhism. This religion was founded 18 thousand years ago by Buddha Lonpa Shanrab Miwo and Dolpa used to be the center of Bon Kingdom called Zhang. Zhang was defeated by the Buddhist Kingdom of Tibet, which was a big and powerful kingdom of Tibet and Bonpo disappeared completely. But still some people in Dolpo follow this religion and practice it.

From Ringmo, a short walk will take you to the shores of Phoksundo Lake where you will be camping for the night.?

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 08: Acclimatization day at Phoksundo Lake.

Today is the rest day of your trip which is quite necessary for your body to get properly acclimatized with the altitude. You can either choose to rest by the side of Phoksundo Lake bank admiring the beauty or take a short walk to visit the local monasteries and learn some local Buddhist culture. Return back to your camp for overnight.

 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 09: Trek from Phoksundo Lake to Phoksundo Khola (3500m)

Today's trail depicts you the remoteness of the area when you will be walking on an adventurous trail that is suspended on a footway of wood supported on pegs driven into the gaps in the rocks. Climbing steeply up to 4040m and then descending down to the bottom of the valley, you will reach the bank of Shey Phoksundo Khola where you will be camping for the night.
 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Trek from Phoksundo Khola to Phoksundo Bhanjyang (4402m)

After breakfast, you will walk on a trail that leads along the level path through a glacial valley which heads north. Crossing an old wooden bridge at the confluence of Phoksundo Khola and another mountain stream, you will head towards north-east. Climbing up a long steep climb will take you to the sheep grazing land from where the trail turns up a still gorge. Another long and tiring climb will take you to another valley from where you will see the Kang La pass.

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Trek from Phoksundo Bhanjyang to Shey Gompa (4500m) via Kang La pass (5350m)

After breakfast, set out for the big day. Today's trek is going to be tiring and demanding day as you will start your trek with long and strenuous 3 hours climb over a dusty path towards the top of Kang La pass. But once you reach the top, you will find your efforts worth rewarding. From the top of the pass, the excellent view of the large valley dissected by a gushing river is truly astonishing.

Descend is also equally challenging while you trek downhill on a steep trail which will take only about 45 minutes to reach the valley floor. Walking further for 2 hours along the banks of the river, crossing and re-crossing it several times and enjoying yaks and mountain goats grazing in the meadows will take you to Shey Gompa.

Shey Gompa is a small village with a very limited number of houses and a Gompa which is believed to be built during the 11th century. This Gompa is situated beneath the crystal peak on a small grassy plain at the confluence of two rivers. Every year, many pilgrims visit this Gompa to make Kora, meaning clockwise circuit, of crystal peak.

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Restday at Shey Gompa.

Today is another well-deserved rest day of your trip allowing you to take some rest and enjoy the local places and culture of Shey Gompa. You can visit Shey Gompa and take the blessings from the Lama and also visit the Tsakang Gompa, which is located to the west of Shey. Tsakang Gompa can be considered as a retreat in fact as this place has been the meditation center of many famous Lamas from Tibet.

Enjoying the day witnessing the perfect blend and harmony of Tibetan Buddhism and ancient pre-Buddhist religion, Bon Po, spend your overnight in camp at Shey Gompa.

 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Trek from Shey Gompa to Namgung (4360m) via Shey La pass (5095m).

After breakfast at Shey Gompa, start your trek with the crew towards Shey La Pass, which is also named Glen La Pass. You will pass through a pleasant track covered with juniper shrubs which descends into a grey, stony canyon. The path then begins to zigzag over bare rocks and coarse eroded soil until the top of the pass. From the top, you will see the beautiful view of the northern part of the Tibetan plateau, which is the highest plateau in the world. To the east, you can see the great view of the barren, coppery red landscape of Mustang. You will then descend down to the north to the pastures of Namgung watching the yaks grazing in the pastures. You can visit the Namgung Monastery here after a few moments of rest.

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Trek from Namgung to Saldang (3770m)

Leaving the village of Namgung behind, start walking up a slopy trail on the dusty barren mountain. After 3 - 4 hours of a tiring climb, you will start seeing the picturesque village of Saldang on a plateau high above the Nam Khong Khola. Saldang is a large village of Dolpo area stretching nearly two kms with around 80+ well-built households and inhabited by almost 600 people. With the benefit of being located in a strategic location on a trade route to Tibet and having good cultivable land, Saldang is a quite prosperous village in comparison to other villages here. 

 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Trek from Saldang to Namdo Sibu (3945m)

After breakfast at Saldang, start walking along the Nam Khong River passing through the terraced fields, beautiful chortens and stupas. You will also get to see many Mani Stones with prayers written and visit the Chaiba Monastery on the way before you reach Namdo village. This village is also a prosperous village with 60 households and around 400 inhabitants. Take some time to visit the Namdo monastery too. Your journey will continue further down the river up to a small village of Sibu where you will camp for overnight.

 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Trek from Sibu to Jeng La Phedi (4480m)

Today, your trail is going to be fairly easy for around first two hours until you reach the confluence of two small streams. Afterwards, the trail will start giving steeper ascend until you reach a pleasant meadow bestrewed with rocks. You will be camping here for the overnignt.

 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17: Trek from Jeng La Phedi to Tokyu Village (4209m) via Jeng La pass (5090m)

Start your day trek with two hours long climb to reach the top of Jeng La. From here, you will get to enjoy the astonishing view of the north face of Mt. Dhaulagiri. Capturing few moments for the memory in your camera, you will then descend through the rough trail downhill towards the Tarap valley.

Tarap valley has got vast plains on the lap of Himalayan giant and extends 20 km along the Tarap Chu River. Continue further to Tokyu village where you will be camping for the night. Upon reaching Tokyu, you can take some time to visit the Tokyu Monastery which belongs to the Chiba sect.

 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 18: Trek from Tokyu to Dho Tarap (4080m)

After breakfast, start trekking downhill on a plain valley along the fields enjoying the locals working with irrigation. Passing through numerous Mani walls and Chortens (damaged currently and requires re-construction), you will reach the village of Dho surrounded by a stone wall.

Dho Tarap is the world’s highest human settlement at 4,080 meters and is a junction where the trail leading to Jomsom, Mustang, and Tibet emerge.  The houses of Dho Tarap are designed as per traditional architecture and hence have a larger living space underground with small portion peeking above the ground surface. The natives of Dho Tarap are simple and kind as they are truly God-fearing persons unknown of changes in the other parts of the world. Truly visiting Dho Tarap is like traveling to a primeval era. 

 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 19: Restday at Dho Tarap.

Today is the final rest day of your trip. You can either choose to have rest and relax the whole day or take a chance to get acquainted with the local culture by meeting and interacting with local people. Since, the Dolpo area is hard to access, needs a good trip planning, and of course a bit expensive trip in comparison to other treks, not much tourists visit these areas frequently. Some locals might have hardly seen westerners for ages. Hence, it's good to make some local friends here. During the rest of the free time, you can visit Bon Gompa, which is about half an hour walk further from the village.

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 20: Trek from Dho Tarap to Serkam (3623m)

After finishing your breakfast at Dho Tarap, you will start trekking downhill and cross narrow gorges with the river rushing through. You may get to see the locals taking their flocks of sheep and goats to lower pasture for grazing and also you might get to see grazing blue sheep which is named "Naur" in Nepali.

While you walk away from the river, you will be walking the path with more ups and downs. You will also find some trails has been constructed by blasting the rocks for easy movement. However, the track somewhere is quite narrow and needs your attention and carefulness while walking. Crossing one of the modern suspension bridge of the area, you will reach Serkam for overnight.

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 21: Trek from Serkam to Khanigaon (2250m)

Today also you will continue your trail descending down the gorge of the Tarap river. The journey today can be a bit of adventure for you as the valley becomes quite narrow in the deep gorge and you might need to jump from one side to another. Somewhere you will see no path and might need to walk across the stone slaps fitted on logs in between the walls to act as a bridge. While crossing these paths with extra care, you will be filled with unexpected thrills and adventure. Crossing the unexpected hurdles along the way, you will reach a beautiful meadow at Khanigaon where you will camp for overnight.

 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 22: Trek from Khanigaon to Tarakot (2540m)

Leaving Khanigaon crossing the new suspension bridge, you will walk alongside the river. Following the trail with numerous ups and down, you will reach the valley of Barbung Chu. Your trail will pass through various crops of millet, sweet corn, buckwheat, barley, etc. Walking further, you will reach the village of Tarakot which is an old fortress town built by the local people as Dzong or fort. Tarakot was a capital before the Gorkha dynasty ruled in Nepal. The famed Sandul Gompa lies farther east from Tarakot and the junction of Barbung Khola and Tarup Chu (river). The village stands on a hillock to the south of Bheri River which at one time supervised collection of tolls for the trading caravans. 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 23: Trek from Tarakot to Dunai.

Start your trek descending down on a trail behind the Bheri River before crossing a bridge near the Lawan Village. The trail will continue alongside the river ascending until the Byas Gadi. From here the trail moves towards the west on a relatively easy trail. You will cross the river again near the Lochakhola Gaon and ascend to Dunai for the overnight.

 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 24: Trek from Dunai to Juphal.

From Dunai, you will retrace back the same path to Juphal. Passing through Dhupichaur and Rupgad village visiting the monastery and Ganesh Temple, you will continue trekking to Juphal where you will camp overnight and get prepared for next day flight. You will bid goodbye to your camping crew and this day is perfect to thank your crew with some gratitude and tips for their personal services.

 

  Camp

  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 25: Fly from Juphal to Nepalgunj and then to Kathmandu.

Taking the earliest flight from Juphal, you will land at Nepalgunj first and then directly to Kathmandu from Nepalgunj on the next available flight. Upon reaching Kathmandu, you will be picked up by one of our office representatives and transferred to your Kathmandu hotel. The rest of the time is free for you to do some last minute shopping or just relax enjoying food in the best eateries in Kathmandu.

  Hotel

  Breakfast

Day 26: Depart Kathmandu.

You will be picked up from your hotel 3.5 hours prior to your international flight time by one of our office representatives to escort you to the TIA. Trip concludes !!

  Breakfast

Commencing this trip

The trip starts with an hour domestic flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and the next day early morning 45 minutes flight will take you to Juphal Airport of Dolpa. Starting the trek from the Lower Dolpo area in a clockwise direction, you will cross the Phoksundo Lake and enter the Upper Dolpo area witnessing the even remotest parts of the area. The trail leads through some beautiful villages and deep gorges including the crossing of high passes of the areas. Enjoying some free days in selected spots and learning the people's lifestyle and culture, you will return back to Juphal via Tarakot and Dunai for the flight back to Nepalgunj and ultimately to Kathmandu.

Best time to do this trip

Upper Dolpo is located in the northern part of Nepal in far western region which makes this place impossible to be visited during winter or early spring as the crossing of high passes can get either difficult or impossible due to huge piles of snow. Winter time is pretty harsh here making lifestyle quite difficult. Hence, it's advised to plan a visit in the most favorable time of March to May and from September to November. But this trip can also be commenced during monsoon time as Dolpo region lies in rain shadow area, unlike Upper Mustang. Just make sure you will have some extra free days for Juphal flight contingencies as flights here tend to get delayed or canceled if the weather is not favorable for undertaking flight. 

26 days

Trip at a Glance

  •    Country: Nepal
  •    Trip grade: Challenging
  •    Destination: Dolpo Region
  •    Activities: Trekking, High Pass Crossing
  •    Accommodation: Hotel, Camp
  •    Meals: City (B), Trek (B,L,D)
  •    Group size: 2 - 15
  •    Best Season: April - September

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