The remote Dolpo region is the least developed in Nepal—an area that was closed to tourists before 1989, but is now open to organized groups of trekkers. These isolated valleys in the north of the country, constituting Nepal’s largest national park and conservation area, is also an ancient sanctuary for devout Tibetan Buddhists and remains a stronghold for traditional Tibetan culture.
A trek in the upper Dolpo offers opportunities for adventure, for exploring some wild high county as well as the serene rhododendron and pine forests of the lower valley slopes and the ancient villages along the trail. This the land of the musk deer, the Himalayan blue sheep, and the rare and elusive snow leopard—not to mention the yak herds to be seen on the high slopes and pastures of the region and which are the ubiquitous beast of burden for the local people.
After crossing the Numala Pass (5,400m), the trek reaches one of the highlights of the trip, the magical waters of the Phoksundo Lake. The rocky slopes of the surrounding mountains plunge almost vertically into the lake, which is renowned for its ever-changing shades of deep blue, reflecting the intense color of the sky at these altitudes. The nearby village of Ringmo and its monastery perch on a ledge above the lake. Traveling higher still, the trail follows the ancient trade route up to the Crystal Mountain at Shey Gompa, the holiest mountain in this region, a ridge of snow capped peaks rising above the dry, treeless lower slopes.