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Upper Dolpo Trekking

28 Days

The Upper Dolpo Trekking route is located in a remote area near the Tibetan border and was opened to trekkers in the late 1980s in Nepal. Prior to that, it was closed to foreigners. In Peter Matheson’s book ‘The Snow Leopard,’ he vividly describes his journey through the beautiful land of Dolpo. The region also served as the backdrop for Nepal’s first English subtitle movie, ‘Himalaya’ or ‘Caravan,’ which received an Oscar nomination. Upper Dolpo, with its mystical beauty and remote location, offers a sense of adventure to its visitors. The customs and traditions observed here are quite similar to those of Tibet. It is a restricted trekking region in Nepal, requiring a special permit that costs USD 500 for the first ten days and an additional US $50 for each day thereafter. A minimum of two persons is required to obtain a trekking permit for this region; single individuals cannot obtain a permit. The park covers an area of 3,500 square kilometers. The trek begins with a 45-minute flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and continues the next morning to Jhupal. This trek is best undertaken during the summer and monsoon seasons, while winter is avoided due to heavy snowfall.

Overview

Duration: 21 days Trip Grade: 4 (Challenging)
Country: Nepal Activitty: Trekking and Hiking
Arrival on: Departure From:
Attractions: Route: Annapurna Region

Short Itinerary

Day 01: Arrival Kathmandu, Transfer to Hotel (D)

Day 02: Sightseeing in Kathmandu valley o/n in a hotel.(B)

Day 03: Flight to Nepalganj, Overnight in a hotel. (B)

Day 04: Flight to Juphal (2475m) and trek to Dunai (2/3hrs, 2145m) o/n in camp. (B.L.D)

Day 05: Dunai to Chhepka (2687 m)/ 6hrs

Day 06: Chhepka to Chunuwar / Amchi Hospital (3000 m)/ 6hrs

Day 07: Chunuwar / Amchi Hospital to Phoksundo Lake (3600m)/ 5-6hrs

Day 08: Rest Day at Phoksundo Lake o/n in camp

Day 09: Phoksundo lake to Sallaghari (3630m)/ 5-6hrs trek

Day 10: Sallaghari to Nangdala HC (4717m)/ 5-6 hrs trek

Day 11: Nangdala HC to Shey Gompa (4343m) crossing Nangdala/KangLa pass (5350m)/ 5-6hrs

Day 12: Rest day at Shey Gompa the crystal monastery

Day 13: Shey Gompa to Namgung Gompa (4360m) crossing Shey La Pass (5100m)/ 6-7hrs

Day 14 : Namgong Gompa to Saldang (3770m)/ 4-5hrs

Day 15: Day hike to Yangjer Gumba (4590m) and back to Saldang

Day 16: Saldang to Komash Village (4060m)/ 6 hrs trek

Day 17: Komash Village to Shimen (3850m)/ 6hrs walk

Day 18: Shimen to Tinje (4110m)

Day 19: Tinje Village to Yak Kharka

Day 20: Yak Kharka to Tokyu (4240m)

Day 21: Tokyo to Dho Tarap (3944m) Rest day

Day 22: Dho Tarap to Naworpani (3475m)

Day 23: Naworpani to Lashicap (2775m)

Day 24: Lashicap to Dunai- 6hrs

Day

25:

Dunai to Juphal

Day 26: Juphal to Nepalgunj flight and Nepalgunj to Kathmandu flight

Day 27: Rest day in Kathmandu for shopping o/n in a hotel +B

Day 28: Final departure

Detail Itinerary

Day 01: Arrival Kathmandu, Transfer to Hotel 

Upon your arrival at the International Airport in Kathmandu, our representative will warmly greet you and facilitate your transfer to the hotel. In the evening, BG Travel will host a welcome dinner for you at a local restaurant, providing an opportunity for a pleasant start to your journey.

Day 02: Kathmandu Valley Sightseeing, Overnight in Hotel

Today, embark on a guided tour after breakfast, exploring some of Kathmandu’s most historical and spiritual landmarks. Among these sites are the UNESCO-listed Durbar Square, the sacred Hindu temple Pashupati Nath, the renowned ‘Monkey Temple’ (Swayambhunath), and the Buddhist shrine BouddhaNath, one of the largest stupas globally. The day’s itinerary offers a cultural and religious immersion into the rich heritage of Kathmandu.

In the afternoon, engage in a pre-trip discussion where you’ll meet your trek leader and fellow team members. This session includes a comprehensive briefing about your upcoming trek, providing an opportunity for any questions or clarifications you may have. Conclude the day with an overnight stay in Kathmandu.

Day 03: Flight to Nepalganj, Overnight in Hotel

Following the flight timetable to Nepalgunj, proceed to the domestic airport for a captivating one-and-a-half-hour scenic flight. Upon reaching Nepalgunj, take advantage of the late afternoon or evening to explore the town. Situated on the southern border of Nepal with India, Nepalgunj has a hot and tropical character, offering opportunities to immerse yourself in its unique atmosphere.

Day 04: Flight to Juphal (2475m), Trek to Dunai (2/3hrs, 2145m), Overnight in Camp

Commence your day with an early morning transfer to the airport for a 45-minute flight to Juphal (2,420m), offering breathtaking views of the Himalayan foothills, including the majestic Annapurna and Dhaulagiri peaks to the north. Upon arrival in Juphal, our dedicated trekking staff, who have journeyed from Nepalgunj with camping gear and supplies over 5-6 days, will welcome you.

Embark on a short 2-3 hour walk from the airstrip to reach our overnight camp at Dunai village (2,850m). The initial part of the adventure involves descending for an hour through the village below the airstrip, traversing terraced fields to the Bheri River, and navigating a narrow gorge for 2-3 hours before reaching the camp at Dunai. As the administrative headquarters of the Dolpo region, Dunai is a larger village with modern amenities, including a new hospital. Take advantage of the ample leisure time to explore the village and its surroundings.

Day 05: Dunai to Chhepka (2687 m)/ 6hrs

The true adventure of the Dolpo Trek unfolds today. Embarking on the journey, we commence our trek along the classic Dolpo route via Sulighart, enjoying a comfortable walk on a level trail. At the Sulighat Check-post, we present our trekking permit for Dolpo and the Shey Phoksundo National Park Permit, officially entering the national park.

Continuing beyond Sulighat, the trek follows the trail beside the enchanting Phoksundo River until reaching Kageni. The surrounding landscapes undergo a transformation as we progress, traversing lush tropical forests and passing through isolated mid-hill villages like Jutung before reaching Shangta. In Shangta, we cross the bridge twice – once over the Phoksundo River and once over the confluence of Phoksundo Khola and Maiaba Khola – before heading north towards Chhepka.

Trekking upstream along the trail beside Phoksundo Khola, we eventually arrive at Chhepka, where our camps are set up in an ideal location for a peaceful overnight stay.

Day 06: Chhepka to Chunuwar / Amchi Hospital (3000 m)/ 6hrs

Today’s journey takes us along the renowned Lower Dolpa Circuit, tracing the path beside Phoksundo Khola in the opposite direction of the river flow towards Amchi Hospital. The trek involves crossing the bridge over Phoksundo Khola twice, offering serene views of the landscape.

Approaching the tranquil region, the trail ascends high above Phoksundo Khola to reach Rechi at an elevation of 3011 meters, where a well-deserved lunch break awaits. Continuing our trek beyond Rechi, we follow the riverside trail, eventually arriving at Sulligad Dovan. Here, we cross the bridge over the confluence of Phoksundo Khola and Yulung Khola before reaching Amchi Hospital.

Amchi Hospital serves as a crucial healthcare facility for the locals of Dolpo, where skilled Amchis practice traditional medicine using herbal remedies. Our camp is set up beside Amchi Hospital, providing a peaceful and scenic setting for the night.

Day 07: Chunuwar / Amchi Hospital to Phoksundo Lake (3600m)/ 5-6hrs

Our journey today takes us along the direct trail to Phoksundo Lake, leading us through lush forests dominated by towering cedars. The ascent brings us to Palam (3710m), a winter settlement utilized by the residents of Ringmo village. At the southern end of the village, we encounter the entrance station for the Shey Phoksundo National Park, signaling our official entry into this protected area.

Descending through open country on switchbacks, the trail reaches an elevation of 3300 meters before ascending once more, navigating dusty switchbacks to a ridge at 3780 meters, home to the highest waterfall in Nepal standing at an impressive 200 meters. Continuing our journey, we arrive at Ringmo village, characterized by its charming flat-roofed stone houses adorned with numerous mani walls. Crossing a bridge just below Ringmo, we follow the trail leading to Phoksundo Lake, where our camp awaits at the national park camping grounds to the west.

Day 08: Rest Day at Phoksundo Lake, Overnight in Camp

Today’s exploration takes us around Ringmo Village and the stunning Phoksundo Lake, immersing ourselves in the cultural and natural wonders of the region. Our first destination is Tshowa, the lakeshore Bon Monastery, perched on a ridge above Phoksundo Lake. This ancient Gompa, constructed approximately 900 years ago, offers a captivating glimpse into the rich Bon tradition.

Descending along steep-sided cliffs, we reach the shores of Phoksundo Lake, renowned for its mesmerizing turquoise color and breathtaking scenery. The picturesque Ringmo Village, with its Tibetan charm, unfolds as a scenic backdrop from the lake. The area boasts several monasteries (Gompas) and Bon-po religious sites, inviting us to explore the cultural heritage of the park. Amidst this exploration, we also revel in the beauty of natural sites, enhancing our connection with the pristine surroundings during our nature tour.

Day 09: Phoksundo Lake to Sallaghari (3630m)/ 5-6hrs trek

The thrilling and mesmerizing trail unfolds a different perspective of Phoksundo Lake on today’s trek, making it one of the highlights of the Dolpo Trek. The path ascends along a narrow trail etched into a cliff, soaring vertically above Phoksundo Lake, akin to a fantastical journey depicted in fiction novels. The breathtaking scenery and precarious walk contribute to the allure of this trail.

Descending for ninety minutes through picturesque forests, we reach the Phoksundo Khola camp on the opposite side of the lake. The final stretch of today’s trek leads us to the enchanting campsite at Sallaghari, nestled amidst a beautiful pine forest. Embrace the tranquility of the surroundings as you spend the night in the camp, surrounded by the natural beauty of Dolpo.

Day 10: Sallaghari to Nangdala HC (4717m)/ 5-6 hrs trek

Embarking on today’s relatively short trek of approximately three hours, we make our way to Kangla/Nangdala Base Camp at an elevation of 4100m. The journey commences with an ascent along the narrow defile of Tuk Kyaksa River, crossing the river multiple times. Upon reaching a point where the river’s rapids ease, we cross a bridge, and a 30-minute walk leads us to a wide valley. Continuing for two more hours along the canyon, we find a promising campsite. A brief further walk brings us to the expansive rock slab, our designated campsite for the night at Kang La/Nangdala Base Camp.

Day 11: Nangdala HC to Shey Gompa (4343m) crossing Nangdala/KangLa pass (5350m)/ 5-6hrs

Embarking on a journey to Shey Gompa and the revered ‘Crystal Mountain,’ a pinnacle of sanctity for Dolpo pilgrims, marks our entry into the authentic realm of Dolpo. Crossing the Kangla/Nangdala Pass is a transformative experience, involving a challenging three-hour uphill trek on a graveled trail. The arduous ascent is generously compensated with panoramic views from Kang La Pass, embracing the mystical beauty of Crystal Mountain, glimpses of Tibetan territories, and the enchanting landscapes of Dolpo. Notable peaks such as Shey Shikkar and Kang Chunne, both soaring above 6000 meters, add to the visual spectacle.

Descending steeply to the valley floor, our trail meanders along the river, leading us to Shey. The entrance is marked by a red chorten, setting the stage for a night of camping in this sacred haven. The grand festival, occurring every Dragon year in the Tibetan calendar, attracts people from diverse places, creating a vibrant celebration that enhances the spiritual significance of Shey.

Day 12: Rest Day at Shey Gompa or visit Crystal Mountain

Resting in Shey Gompa, renowned as the Crystal Mountain, offers a well-earned break from the trek. Peter Matthiessen’s “Snow Leopard” poignantly captures the essence of this unique location. The lama’s abode at Tsakang Gompa, a red hermitage north of Shey, serves as a retreat rather than a conventional monastery, attracting famous lamas from Tibet for centuries. Belonging to the Chaiba community, followers of Guru Ringpoche and Kagyu sects, Shey Gompa, founded in the 11th century, embodies the ancient Bon Po culture—melding animism with Buddhist teachings.

Dolpo’s Tibetan heritage, introduced by Drutup Yeshe, blends seamlessly with nature worship, evidenced by the locals’ reverence for a fierce mountain and nature spirit. Crystal Mountain’s peculiar cliffs, adorned with quartz and marine fossils, add a mystical touch. Each year, Shey Gompa hosts a festival drawing people from Dolpo for spiritual celebrations and completing the circuit around Crystal Mountain. This journey to Shey Gompa stands as a unique experience, ventured by only a handful of Westerners, unveiling a tapestry of ancient culture, breathtaking landscapes, and spiritual richness.

Day 13: Shey Gompa to Namgung Gompa (4360m) crossing Shey La Pass (5100m)/ 6-7hrs

Our focus today is on exploring Shey Gompa, an ancient monastery believed to be around 800 years old. Inside, we discover murals and an ancient scroll that narrates the mythology surrounding the Crystal Mountain. Locally known as Shelri Sumdho Gompa, this monastery holds cultural and historical significance. The Shey Festival, a summer celebration observed with immense enthusiasm by the people of Dolpo, takes place at Shey Gompa. Notably featured in Peter Mattheissen’s ‘The Snow Leopard’ and Eric Valli’s movie ‘Caravan’ as Thinley’s son’s gompa, Shey Gompa provides a captivating glimpse into the region’s rich heritage.

As our trek resumes from Shey Gompa, we follow the trail beside Sephu Khola for a couple of hours, encountering typical Dolpo landscapes characterized by barren yet enchanting surroundings. The journey then involves an ascent towards the summit of Shey La Pass, requiring almost two hours of hiking. The pinnacle of Shey La Pass, located west of Shey, treats us to breathtaking views of Mustang to the East, Tibet to the North, and the majestic Kanjiroba, Kagmara, and Riu Dhukta, also known as the Crystal Mountain, to the West. Descending from the pass, a final push of almost two hours brings us to Namgung, a local nomadic herding settlement where we spend the night.

Day 14 : Namgong Gompa to Saldang (3770m)/ 4-5hrs

Before commencing our journey towards Saldang, we take the time to explore the Namgung Monastery situated on a flanking cliff. Once we set out from Namgong Gompa, we follow Namga Khola, passing through more summer herding spots. Emerging from a spur, we embark on a short descent to reach the picturesque village of Saldang. Saldang is adorned with dryland hills, and it stands as a beautiful settlement where the traditions of Amchi (traditional doctors) and Buddhism thrive. During our visit, we can explore local houses, partake in salt butter tea or chhyang (Tibetan barley beer), and savor the local cuisine, immersing ourselves in the rich culture of Saldang.

Day 15: Day Hike to Yangjer Gumba (4590m) and Back to Saldang

Today, we embark on a day hike to Yanjer, the most opulent monastery in this region. Setting out after an early breakfast, we carry packed lunches for our journey. After exploring the richness of the monastery, we will return to Saldang for the night stop. This day promises cultural immersion and a chance to witness the spiritual wealth of the region.

Day 16: Saldang to Komash Village (4060m)/ 6 hrs trek

Embarking on a six-hour trek, our journey leads us to the charming village of Komash. Initially, the trail traces the Saldang Lek along the Rapyha Khola, navigating through barren hillsides. As we ascend to an elevated ridge reaching almost 4500m, the trail then descends steeply, unveiling the picturesque Komash Village. With its Tibetan village resemblance, Komash offers a unique cultural experience. We’ll spend the night in tents, surrounded by the serene beauty of the landscape.

Day 17: Komash Village to Shimen (3850m)/ 6hrs walk

While trekking from Komash village, there’s a possibility of encountering endangered animals such as the elusive snow leopard or the nimble Blue sheep. The trail takes us past small villages, offering glimpses of local life along the way. The surrounding landscapes showcase highland deserts with sparse shrub-like vegetation, creating a unique and captivating setting. After a comfortable five-hour hike, we reach Shimen, where we’ll spend the night in tented camps, immersed in the tranquil ambiance of the surroundings.

Day 18: Shimen to Tinje (4110m)

The trail for today’s trek winds along the side of Panjyang Khola, passing through several villages and gompas en route to Tinje. Tinje unfolds as a remarkably beautiful valley, adorned with its unique charm. The presence of a natural airstrip in this picturesque locale adds an interesting historical note, as it once served as a landing and takeoff site for a British aircraft. The scenic beauty, coupled with the historical touch, makes Tinje a noteworthy destination along our trekking journey.

Day 19: Tinje Village to Yak Kharka

Our journey from the village of Tinje leads us to Yak Kharka. Initially, the trail follows the course beside the Panjyan River, leading to the small settlement of Chhamdang. Continuing beyond Chhamdang, the trek progresses along the riverbank until reaching the confluence of Chholtam Khola and Panjyan Khola. Further trekking takes us across the bridge over Thalum Khola, which originates from Thalum Lek, ultimately bringing us to Yak Kharka. This region serves as an open grazing ground for yaks and sheep, featuring a picturesque grassy meadow that provides an ideal camping site.

Day 20: Yak Kharka to Tokyu (4240m)

Our trek today commences with the crossing of Sulun Khola via a sturdy bridge, followed by traversing numerous streams on various bridges. The journey leads us to the challenging Choila North Pass at an elevation of 5040 meters. This part of the trail demands strenuous effort, involving almost two hours of steep ascent before reaching the summit of Choila Pass. From this vantage point, the captivating panorama unfolds, revealing the Tokyu camps below. The subsequent descent follows a leveled trail beside Choila Khola, culminating in our arrival at Tokyu, where we establish our camps for an overnight stay.

Day 21: Tokyu to Dho Tarap (3944m), Rest Day

In Dho Tarap, our day begins with a brisk one-and-a-half-hour walk, immersing ourselves in the charm of this large village adorned with colorful prayer flags, chortens, and monasteries. The villagers, resembling the Khampas of Tibet, cultivate crops in terraced fields, and the village offers essential amenities. Dho Tarap gained fame through its appearance in Eric Valli’s ‘Caravan,’ depicting the starting point for expeditions trading salt for barley over high passes.

During our stay, we’ll explore Ribo Bumpa Monastery, Drakmar Dewa Monastery, and other significant sites. The village hosts a cultural program featuring traditional Tibetan dances and songs, providing an immersive experience into the unique lifestyle of the Dolpo-pa people. The day in Dho Tarap promises a blend of nature, culture, and exploration of ancient monastic treasures.

Day 22: Dho Tarap to Naworpani (3475m)

Today’s trek involves covering a considerable distance. We kick off by walking along a level trail beside Tarap Khola to Mirububane Khola Dovan, where Tarap Khola and Mirubabane Khola converge. The trek then descends to the bridge over Klang Khloa at Langa Camp. Continuing to follow Tarap Khola, the trail offers picturesque views of arid landscapes. As the trek progresses, it emerges and crosses through several villages, including Sisaul, Gyamghar, Toltol, ultimately reaching our night stop at Nawarpani.

Day 23: Naworpani to Lashicap (2775m)

Today’s trek commences along the trail beside Tarap Khola. As we progress, the surroundings undergo a gradual transformation. The vibrant green forest begins to appear. After a stretch, we ascend to higher ground above Tarap Khola, reaching Lamchaur. Continuing past Lahini Odar, we descend the hill to Chhedhul Gompa. Following a brief walk along the trail beside Tarap Khola, we finally reach Laisicap, our camping site for the day.

Day 24: Lashicap to Dunai- 6hrs

From this point onward, we hike through lush green woodlands situated high above the Thuli Bheri River, heading towards Tarakot. Just before reaching Tarakot, we cross a bridge over a small stream. The final day of the trek remains equally captivating. We traverse the trail that runs alongside the Thuli Bheri River to Dunai via Lawan and Byasgad. The trail features a forested area to its west, the Thuli Bheri River, and cultivated terraced fields to its east. 

Day 25: Dunai to Juphal

The path follows the course of the Bheri River until reaching Kalagawda, after which it ascends towards Juphal. After trekking for a couple of hours from Dunai, we reach Juphal.

Day 26: Fligjht Juphal to Nepalgunj  and Nepalgunj to Kathmandu 

The journey begins with an early morning flight from Juphal to Nepalgunj. Upon arrival in Nepalgunj, you can explore the airport settlement or opt to rest at a hotel for some time. In the afternoon, you will catch a flight to Kathmandu. Our representative will be waiting at Kathmandu airport to pick you up and escort you to the hotel.

Day 27: Rest Day in Kathmandu for Shopping, Overnight in a Hotel

Take a day for shopping and relaxation in Kathmandu.

Day 28: Final Departure

Prepare for your departure, and our representative will assist you in transferring to the airport for your journey home.

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Upper Dolpo Trekking

  • Destinations
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