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Upper Dolpo Trek: Himalaya’s Secret Trail

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24 days
Availability : All Year Round
Kathmandu Airport
Nepalgunj - Juphal Airport
Min Age : 18+
Max People : 10
Home » Holiday Packages » Dolpo Region » Upper Dolpo Trek: Himalaya’s Secret Trail

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

Upper Dolpo Trek
Phoksundo Lake: A shimmering blue gem nestled amidst the rugged beauty of Upper Dolpo. A serene oasis on an epic trek.

Discover the Spiritual Heart of Nepal: Embarking on the Upper Dolpo Trek

Nestled in the remote corners of northwestern Nepal lies a pristine and virtually untouched haven—the Upper Dolpo. With its captivating landscapes and ancient Buddhist and Bon traditions, this region seems frozen in time. The Upper Dolpo Trek offers the intrepid traveller an unparalleled trekking experience. Today, let’s delve into the wonders that await you on this transformative journey: a voyage through the majestic mountains and a rich tapestry of cultural heritage.

Mystical Landscapes Awaiting Discovery

Exploring Upper Dolpo offers a glimpse into a culturally Tibetan area marked by stark landscapes, lush valleys, and pristine blue lakes, turning it into an oasis for nature lovers. The journey includes visiting Shey Phoksundo National Park, a crucial part of the trek, where adventurers are treated to the stunning Phoksundo Lake. This protected area is rich in distinctive plant life and uncommon wildlife, offering the opportunity to glimpse the elusive snow leopard.

Embarking on a Spiritual Journey

Setting out on the journey through Upper Dolpo presents a rigorous adventure and a spiritual escape. The region has old monasteries and holy sites deeply linked to Bon and Buddhism. A highlight includes Shey Gompa, the Crystal Monastery, at Crystal Mountain’s (Shey Ribo Drugta) base. Legend suggests that circumnavigating this mountain cleanses the soul and absolves previous misdeeds.

Journey Through Time

As you venture deeper into the Upper Dolpo Trek, you’ll notice that the villages here have preserved their traditional way of life for centuries. The Dolpo Pa inhabitants give travellers a glimpse into unique customs and practices, portraying a culture as captivating as the landscape. Ringmo village, embodying this enduring culture, greets trekkers with its flat-roofed stone homes and scenic surroundings.

Upper Dolpo Trek Routes and Itinerary

Frequently regarded as one of Nepal’s most demanding treks, the journey through Upper Dolpo takes trekkers across towering passes, deep valleys, and age-old paths. The journey typically commences from Juphal, weaving through landmarks such as the mesmerizing Phoksundo Lake, Saldang Village, and the historic Shey Gompa. A well-planned itinerary, spanning about 25-28 days, ensures that travellers can fully absorb the mesmerizing beauty and cultural richness of the Upper Dolpo region while accounting for necessary acclimatization days.

Festivals and Celebrations

If timed right, your Upper Dolpo Trek can coincide with the region’s vibrant festivals, such as the Shey Festival, which takes place every 12 years. These celebrations burst with vibrant colours and traditions, profoundly understanding the Dolpo Pa’s spiritual and cultural essence.

Getting Ready for the Upper Dolpo Trek

Before embarking on the Upper Dolpo Trek, being adequately prepared is crucial. This trek demands a high level of physical fitness and proper acclimatization to prevent altitude sickness. Additionally, those planning to undertake the Upper Dolpo Trek should have essential gear and supplies to handle the region’s variable weather conditions.

Conclusion

Embarking on the Upper Dolpo Trek is more than just an adventure; it’s a venture into a land where time seems to have stood still. Here, nature and culture exist in harmonious symbiosis. So, are you ready to immerse yourself in the mystical charm of Upper Dolpo?

Prepare to have your spirit uplifted and your heart captured by the untouched beauty and spiritual depth of this hidden gem in Nepal during the unforgettable Upper Dolpo Trek.

Tour Details

Departure & Return Location

Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu

Departure Time

Flexible

Price Includes

  • Domestic flight to and from Nepalgunj
  • 2 nights hotel accommodation in Nepalgunj
  • Tented camp and meals during the trek
  • Special trek permits
  • Support of guide, cook and helpers

Price Excludes

Complementaries

  • Nepal Hiking T-Shirt

What to Expect

  • Explore ancient civilization of Dolpa people
  • Experience the lifestyle and culture of Tibetan Buddhism
  • Witness the deepest lake of Nepal- Shey Phoksundo
  • Pay visit to ancient old Bon and Buddhist monasteries

Itinerary

Day 1Fly to Nepalgunj from Kathmandu (1 hr)

● 1-hour scenic flight to Nepalgunj in the Terai region.

Overnight in Nepalgunj. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 2Fly to Jhupal (2400m) and trek to Dunai (2150m) (3 hrs)

● Early breakfast.
● 35 minutes scenic flight.
● Trek to Dunai through the terraced fields to the Bheri fields and its narrow gorge.
● Explore the small towns in Dunai in the evening.

Overnight in Dunai. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 3Trek to Aakhe (2660m) (5-6 hrs)

● Leaving Dunai behind, you will cross a suspension bridge and follow the west trail past the hospital.
● Follow the trail ascending to the treeless valley of Thulo Bheri before reaching Phoksundo river valley.
● Amazing walnut trees, Dhara and Rahagaun villages on the route.
● Descend lush, dense forest and reach Aakhe.

Overnight in Aakhe. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 4Trek to Sulighat (3500m) (5-6 hrs)

● Follow the ascending and descending trail along the wooded river bank.
● Ascend on a steep trail and pass through the forest and grassy landscape.
● Head downhill until you reach a cliff followed by a stone staircase to the river bank.
● Continue the trek until you arrive at Sulighat.

Overnight in Sulighat. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 5Trek to Phoksundo Lake (3600m) (4-5 hrs)

● Early breakfast and head towards today’s destination.
● Walk along the valley floor to the junction of the Pungmo and Phoksundo rivers.
● Cross a bridge and follow the path to the western bank of the Pungmo River.
● Walk through the trail passing through the lush cedar forest, and reach Palam village.
● Walk to the ridge for 2 hours and witness one of the highest waterfalls in Nepal.
● Trek down through birch forests to the upper reaches of Phoksundo River and a beautiful Ringmo village. (Village has beautiful chortens and mani walls.)
● Further walking and you will reach the bank of Phoksundo Lake.

Overnight in Phoksundo. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 6Acclimatization day

● Immerse into the beauty of the lake and schedule a short walk to Ringmo village.
● Explore the village, experience the lifestyle of the locals and pay a visit to ancient Tibetan monasteries. (Most locals can be seen in their cultural attire with Tibetan-style Dacha and Samba as footwear, maroon-dyed homespun clothing and pieces of jewellery made of coral, amber, and turquoise.)
● Roam round the lake and relax in the evening.

Overnight in Phoksundo. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 7Trek to Phoksundo Khola (3507m) (4-5 hrs)

● Depart from Phoksundo Lake and head towards the path leading to Phoksundo Khola.
● Follow the lake’s western bank and gently walk through a slippery trail.
● Flooded plain of Phoksundo Khola opens up at the westernmost edge of Phoksundo Lake.
● Slow down your walk and watch every step as the path becomes more difficult.
● Walking through the valley and crossing a river, you reach the bank of Phoksundo Khola.

Overnight at camp in Phoksundo River. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 8Trek to Phoksundo Bhanjyang (4402m) (6-7 hrs)

● Hike for an hour along a level path through the glacial valley up north.
● Cross an old wooden bridge between Phoksundo Khola and a mountain stream.
● Walk towards the northeast and ascend to the sheep meadow where the trail bends a steep ravine.
● A harder climb takes you to the valley where you can witness Kang La Pass
● Set up a camp adjacent to the pass at “Snowfields Camp” christened by Peter Matthiessen.

Note: Admiring views of Chhamlani peak 6 (6739m) and 7 (6105m) on the route.

Overnight at camp in Bhanjyang. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 9Trek to Shey Gumpa (4126m) via Kang La Pass (5151m) (5-6 hrs)

● The day starts by ascending a steep trail towards Kang La Pass.
● Cherish the magnificent vista of the valley from the top of the pass.
● Then, the path descends into the valley floor.
● Cross the river multiple times along with yak grazing in the fields.
● Finally, cross a river through a log bridge and reach Shey Gumpa.

Overnight in Shey Gumpa. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 10Acclimatization day

● Today, you will explore the village in Shey steeped in ancient animism and rituals.

● You will get to experience the pre-Buddhist culture, Bon Po.

Note: Shey Gumpa was built in 1655 and is well-known for a giant golden copper statue of seated Shakyamuni Buddha).

Overnight in Shey Gumpa. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 11Trek to Namduna Gaun (4400m) via Saldang La Pass (4785m) (6-7 hrs)

● Leaving Shey Gumpa behind, follow a trail leading you through Juniper trees which descends into a grey stone canyon.
● Then, you will follow the zigzag path until you reach the top of Saldang Pass.
● The following trail descends to the north, where you will pass by yaks and sheep grazing in the grassland and the nomadic tents made of yak hair.

Overnight in Namduna Gaun. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 12Trek to Saldang (3903m) (4-5 hrs)

● Depart from Namduna Gaun, ascend to a slope, and walk through dusty Barren Mountains.
● 3-4 hours of tough climb leads you to Saldang village above the Namga Khola stream.
(Saldang village is the largest village in the inner Dolpo region with eighty well-built houses with nearly six hundred people).

Overnight in Saldang. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 13Trek to Yanze Gompa (4960m) (4-5 hrs)

● Trek towards an unexplored area in the north, leaving Saldang village behind.
● You will walk through a path that ascends and descends here and there.
● Pass through Ki and Mirang village and cross the tributary of Panzang River.
● Final crossing of the river and you reach Yanze village, which is popular for ancient BonPo Monastery.

Overnight in Yanze Gompa. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 14Trek to Sibu (3942m) (6-7 hrs)

● Take the shorter trail. So retrace back the route to Saldang village.
● From Saldang, follow a river leading you to Namdo village.
● About 2 hours of trekking will take you to the settlement of Sibu.
(Namdo village is a small beautiful village having about 60 houses with 400 habitats located 5 km on the high slope of Nam Khong River.)

Overnight in Sibu, inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 15Trek to Jeng La Phedi (4369m) (5-6 hrs)

● The trek begins by following the Nam Khong River.
● Few hours of walking take you to the junction of two streams.
● Further, you will ascend a steep trail to a grazing area at the base of Jeng La Pass.
● Set up a camp in a beautiful grassland.

Overnight at camp in Jeng La Phedi. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 16Trek to Tokyu Gaun (4240m) via Jeng La Pass (4845m) (5-6 hrs)

● Early breakfast and two hours of climbing to reach Jeng La Pass, where you will see the breathtaking beauty of Dhaulagiri.
● Later, descend slowly towards the valley of Tarap.
● Follow the stream on your route and reach Tokyu village.

Overnight at camp near Tokyu village. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 17Trek to Dho Tarap (4090m) (4-5 hrs)

● This region has an easy trail; following that trail, you walk through a plain valley.
● Arrive at Dho Tarap after a short trek.

Overnight in Dho Tarap. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 18Acclimatization day

● A rest and exploration day at Dho Tarap.
● Stroll around the villages of Dho Tarap and experience the lifestyle and witness the culture and tradition of the locals.

(Dho Tarap is one of the highest settlements in the world with around 40 houses with Magars and Tibetan habitants. It is also a confluence of trails leading Mustang, Jomsom and Tibet with many Buddhist monasteries. Bon Po is one of the most popular ones).

Overnight in Dho Tarap. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 19Trek to Tarap Khola (6-7 hrs)

● Your day kicks off by descending towards a wide valley, and the trail takes you to a narrow gorge as you walk further.]
● You hike through the trees of juniper and wild rose bushes.
● Further trekking takes you to the Tarap Chu River and Lang River junction.
● You reach Tarap Khola with a beautiful meadow where you will set up a camp.

Overnight at camp in Tarap Khola. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 20Trek to Khani Gaun (2250m) (4-5 hrs)

● Trek alongside the gorge of Tarap River. (The gorge gets narrow at some points. You can easily cross by jumping.)
● 4-5 hours of trekking takes you to Khani village.
● Set up a camp near the village and spend the rest of the night.

Overnight at camp near Khani Gaun. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 21Trek to Tarakot (2281m) (4-5 hrs)

● Follow a trail leading you to the village of Lalberi.
● Pass through a lush, dense forest descending into another gorge.
● Reach Tarakot by following the river.
● Set a camp 150 meters down Tarakot by Tarap Chu River.

Overnight at camp by Tarap Chu River. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 22Trek to Dunai (2052m) (5-6 hrs)

● Start the day by trekking behind the Bheri River and passing Lawan village.
● Ascend firmly alongside the Bheri River until you reach Byas Gadi.
● Pursue an easy trail going westwards and cross a river at Lochakhola village.
● Finally, an ascending path takes you to Dunai.

Overnight in Dunai. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 23Trek to Jhupal (2402m) (2-3 hrs)

● Last day of trekking
● Trekking along the Bheri River while relishing the beauty of the landscapes.
● Follow the trail passing through Dhupichaur and Rupgad villages along with a temple.
● Continue the trek passing through Kalagaonda village and Motipur village until you reach Jhupal Airstrip.

Overnight in Jhupal. Inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 24Fly to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj (1 hr)

● Earliest flight to Nepalgunj from Jhupal.

● Catch the earliest available flight to Kathmandu from Nepalgunj.

● Farewell dinner.

Remarks

Upper Dolpo Trek ventures along a less-trodden path, proving more challenging and extensive than other iconic treks. Nestled between the Tibetan plateaus and the Dhaulagiri ranges, its enchanting beauty transcends expectations. While it might be lesser known to newcomers, seasoned trekkers are captivated by its verdant meadows. The journey showcases mesmerizing Himalayan views, the serene Phoksundo Lake, age-old Buddhist monasteries, and the profound cultural heritage of the locals. Embarking on the Upper Dolpo Trek is, undoubtedly, a memorable experience every traveller will cherish.

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1 Review
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Vincenzo

Couple Traveller

Our Upper Dolpo trek with Nepal Hiking was amazing! Everything was planned out well from the beginning to the end. Ramesh, our guide, was great and taught us a lot about the area. He also kept us safe. The cook, Santosh, made really tasty food, even when we were far from cities. The whole team was strong, professional, and very kind. They made sure we were okay the whole time. This trek was a big adventure for us, and we thank Nepal Hiking for it. We really suggest others try it too!

18 June 2023
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