Upper Dolpo Trek

Duration: 22 Days / 21 Nights
  • Destination: Nepal
  • Trip Difficulty: Moderate
  • Style: Camping Trek
  • Transportation: Tourist Bus, Car & Airplane
  • Meals: BLD (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
  • Accommodation: Hotel, Lodge &Tent
  • Group Size: 2-25
  • Max Altitude: 4,480m/14,698ft

Highlights of Upper Dolpo Trek

  • Exploration of the hidden valleys of the gem of Nepalese trans-Himalayan region
  • The deepest lake of Nepal, Shey-Phoksundo Lake
  • Flora and fauna of Shey-Phoksundo National Park
  • The Bon-Po and Buddhist monasteries of Shey Village on the backdrop of the Sacred Crystal Mountain
  • Lifestyle, culture and tradition of one of the highest altitude human settlement areas in the world

The Upper Dolpo trek leads to the northern highlands of Dolpo district of Karnali Province bordering with the Tibetan Autonomous Province. It is the most remote, the least developed, and the highest inhabited region of Nepal, yet full of natural and cultural wonders. Moreover, this region remained practically secluded for centuries from Nepal but closely connected geographically and culturally with Tibetan Plateaus. The hidden valley was popularized significantly by the books titled ‘The Snow Leopard’ and ‘Himalayan Pilgrimage’ and the movie titled ‘The Himalaya.’ In the recent years, more and more hardcore trekkers who prefer cultural experience to the usual luxurious trips have been embarking upon the Inner Dolpo Trek.

No matter how distant Dolpo may seem, it is abundantly blessed by nature and within this blessed land lies Nepal’s largest national park, the Shey Phoksundo National Park, named jointly after the famous Shey Village and Phoksundo Lake. Dolpo region is situated between the Dhaulagiri mountain range and the Tibetan Plateau. In fact, Dolpo is the hidden gem of Nepal having the geographical extension of Tibet and home to a unique race of Tibetan-speaking natives. You cannot compare anything else with the cultural shock our Inner Dolpo trek offers in the company of th hardy Dolpo dwellers.

A would-be World Heritage Site, Dolpo is famous for centuries old Bon-Po and Buddhist monasteries justifying the existence of Tibetan culture. The Sacred Crystal Mountain is the most important pilgrimage site for the Buddhist people from all over the world. The three gompas: Komoche Gompa, Sel Sumdo Gompa and Tsakang Gompa are the cultural highlights of Shey Village of Upper Dolpo. These monasteries are on the backdrop of the Holy Crystal Mountain that the pilgrims take a kora (circumambulation) of the mountain for religious purpose. This is way, Dolpo region is said to be the last enclave of authentic Tibetan culture left on earth.

Upper Dolpo trekking excursion starts from Jhupal, then, you will visit several interesting villages, valleys and serene forest of pines, oaks and rhododendron. While the trail crosses numerous mountains, ultimately you ascend to a staggering altitude of 5,360m at Kang La Pass. Visits to the ancient Shey Gompa (Shey Monastery), Phoksundo Lake and Ringmo Village will make this trek even more memorable and enjoyable. Dho Tarap, one of the largest villages of Dolpo is one of the highest altitude permanent human settlement areas in the world.

Trekking to Inner Dolpo can be done even in rainy season as it lies in the rain shadow area, so, low or no rainfall. The best time to make a journey around Upper Dolpo region is spring (April and May) and autumn (October and November). This time, the temperature is pleasant and the skies are clear that you can have the full-fledged panoramic vistas of the surrounding. Nevertheless, planning to visit Dolpo region in winter may not be as appropriate as in other seasons because of the snowfall. As there are three high passes over 5,000m, the trekking trail may be blocked due to heavy snowfall.

Upper Dolpo trek has a large scope for traversing into other regions of the trans-Himalayan region of Nepal. Some of the popular trekking packages of this region are Juphal to Lake Phoksundo trek, Upper Dolpo to Annapurna region trekking, Upper Dolpo to Jomsom trek and Dolpo to Rara Lake trek. You can find Upper Dolpo region trekking itineraries ranging from 22 days to 27 days based on the duration, route and your stamina of walking. Orbit Alpine Adventure has designed Upper Dolpo trek 22 itinerary to assist you explore the hidden valleys and rustic lifestyle of the northern part of Nepal. For customized Dolpo region trekking package, you can reach Orbit Alpine Adventure via email, phone call, WhatsApp or online booking facilities.

FAQs:

1. Where is Upper Dolpo trek?

Brought by the 1999 OSCAR-nominated film, ‘Himalaya’ into limelight, Upper Dolpo lies in Dolpa district of western Nepal sharing its northern border with Tibet. It is famous for the hidden valleys yet to be explored and the rustic lifestyle untouched by the modernity. Similarly, the deepest lake of Nepal, Shey-Phoksundo Lake and Shey-Phoksundo National Park are the landmarks to popularize this hidden gem of Nepalese tourism.

2. How long does Upper Dolpo trek take?

There are various trekking itineraries for Upper Dolpo trek. Basically, it takes from 22 days to 27 seven days depending upon the route, acclimatization days and your desire to trek.

3. How difficult is Upper Dolpo trek?

Upper Dolpo trek is one of the moderate type of trekking through the restricted area of the Northern Trans-Himalayas of Nepal. As it is a restricted area, you must be at least two in each group supported by a professional trekking guide and a porter. Orbit Alpine Adventure manages all the things you require and gives complete information about the trip.

4. What is the best season for Upper Dolpo trek?

Although you can do Upper Dolpo trek throughout the year, doing this trek in winter is not as appropriate as in other seasons. You can do this trek even in rainy season as there is very low rainfall in this region which lies in rain shadow area. The best season for Upper Dolpo trek is spring and autumn when the weather is pleasant and the skies are clear. You can have the stunning views of the plateaus, amazing landscapes and the snowcapped peaks in this season.

5. What are the attractions of Upper Dolpo trek?

Upper Dolpo trek is full of alluring attractions to offer to the daredevil trekkers who want to explore the unexplored part of Nepal. Flora and fauna of Shey-Phoksundo National Park and Phoksundo Lake which is the deepest lake of Nepal are the prime beauties. Similarly, Bon cultural practices and ancient Bon-Po monasteries including authentic pastoral lifestyle and unexplored valleys of Tibetan Plateaus also make this trip remarkable. Last but not the least, experience of the camping trekking in the alpine deserts of the trans-Himalayan region is the lifetime reward.

6. Can I suffer from altitude sickness during Upper Dolpo trek?

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) like altitude sickness is a very common phenomenon while trekking in the 3,000m+ terrain. However, you can avoid this health problem by taking enough precautions and following the advice given by the trekking guide. You must walk slowly while ascending to higher landform; drink enough clean water and avoid smoking or drinking during the trip. If you feel any difficulty, don’t hesitate to share it with your guide so that he can help you further. Finally, you can pack some AMS preventive medicines like Diamox Oral that helps you in case of emergency.

7. What type of accommodation facilities are found in the course of Upper Dolpo trek?

While in the urban area or main stopovers, you can find quality hotels and basic teahouses. Due to the complex geographical structures, don’t expect higher facilities during Upper Dolpo trek. You will have to spend the night at the tented camp by eating the food prepared by the crew organized by the agency. You must be flexible while doing the camping trekking which is harder yet more interesting than teahouse trekking.

8. What are the permits required for Upper Dolpo trek?

The permits required for Upper Dolpo trek are:

  • TIMS Card
  • Lower Dolpo Restricted Area Permit
  • Shey-Phoksundo National Park Entry Permit
  • Upper Dolpo Restricted Area Permit

9. What is camping trekking?

Camping trekking is fully an organized trekking which is one of the most popular trekking types in Nepal. It is useful to do camping trekking in the regions where basic infrastructures of mountain tourism are not developed. In this trekking, food supplies and tents are organized by the trekking agency you book your trip through. By managing the crew consisting the trekking guide, porters, cook and kitchen helpers who carry the necessary materials by themselves. Sometimes, the domestic animals like yaks, sheep, mules and dzopas are employed to transport the camping trekking gears and other equipments.

10. How long should I walk every day during Upper Dolpo trek?

The longest duration to walk each day is seven hours and the shortest is three hours during Upper Dolpo trek. To cover the distance of the trekking trail comfortably, we recommend you to take complete rest, drink enough water and eat hygienic food.

Day to Day Itinerary

OPEN ALL DAYS Outline Itinerary

Upon your arrival at the international Airport in Kathmandu, we will greet you and take you to your hotel. We will provide brief overview about the itinerary. Overnight stay at the hotel.

  • Meals: Wellcome Dinner
  • Accommodation: Three Star Hotel
  • Place: Kthmandu
  • Altitude: 1,350m/4,429ft

Upon arrival at the Kathmandu, you will be preparing for the trek while enjoying sightseeing around Kathmandu Valley. Several monuments, UNESCO enlisted sites including Kathmandu Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple, and other temples and Stupas are the places you will visit on the second day. Overnight stay at a hotel.

  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Accommodation: Three Star Hotel
  • Place: Kathmandu
  • Altitude: 1,350m/4429ft

On the third day you will be take a flight to Nepalgunj from Kathmandu. Nepalgunj is a vibrant city located in the Mid-Western Region of Nepal. The flight duration is around 60 minutes and in that time you will reach the lowlands of Terai from the Capital. Nepalgunj is nearby the border Indian states of Rupediya and also Baharaich. The rest of the day you will sightsee around the local bazaar using horse cart which might come as a wonderful moment for the foreigners. Bageshowri Temple in Nepalgunj is quite popular and a visit to the Hindu temple in the evening will be a good thing to do the evening. Overnight stay at a hotel.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Place: Nepalgunj
  • Altitude: 492m/1,614ft
  • Time: 55 Minutes

A 35-minute flight from Nepalgunj Airport takes you to Juphal on the fourth day. The flight is awesome as the aircraft flies over the mountain ridges, the beautiful valleys and the majestic-looking mountains. Jhupal Airport is a small airstrip amidst the mountains and the hills. You will also get a first-hand experience of the geographical diversity of Nepal as in an hour or so you will reach a small village amidst the mountains from a hot city of Tarai. From Jhupal, you will walk for a few hours until you reach Dunai, the headquarters of Dolpa district. Overnight stay at a guesthouse.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Dunai
  • Altitude: 2,000m/6,567ft
  • Time: 3 Hours

The next day, we take breakfast in the morning and start out trek as per the itinerary. We descend through several vegetable fields before reaching Thuli Bheri River. Then we cross a suspension bridge over the river and enter the premises of Shey Phoksundo National Park, considered as Nepal’s largest national park. Trekkers and foreigners who are not the member countries of SAARC have to pay certain amount before entering the region. We then cross several trees and forests of fir and Juniper and reach Chhepka, a small village in the Dolpo region. Overnight stay at a tented camp.

  • Meals: breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Chhepka
  • Altitude: 2,850m/9,350ft
  • Time: 6 Hours

It is a long day’s trek on day six as we trek for around seven hours, crossing and passing through beautiful forests and the flowing rivers. The trail goes upwards sometimes and yet at times it come down, much to the delight of the trekkers. Local people grazing their Yaks can be seen all along the way. After trekking for over 4 hours we reach Reechi village and then a couple of hours trek takes us to Palam. Overnight stay at a tented camp.

  • Meals: Bfreakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Palam
  • Altitude: 3,820m/12,533ft
  • Time: 7 Hours

The next day, we make our way towards Shey Phoksundo Lake, one of the major highlights of the Upper Dolpo region. It takes around four hours to reach the lake from Palam. Before reaching the lake, we also come across Phoksundo waterfall, Nepal’s highest waterfall. Shey Phoksundo is quite popular for its exotic location and for the pristine natural beauty it commands. We spend the rest of the night at a tented camp nearby the lake.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Shey-Phoksundo Lake
  • Altitude: 3,620m/11,877ft
  • Time: 4 Hours

We will spend the next day exploring around the Shey Phoksundo Lake and the adjoining area. The bluish lake and the surrounding ambience is just breathtaking and you can take your time get over the beautiful lake. The trekkers also have the chance to talk and converse with the local people from the region and learn about their great old Buddhist and Bon culture. Overnight stay in a tented camp.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Shey-Phoksundo Lake
  • Altitude: 3,620m/11,877ft

The next day, we will make our entrance towards the real restricted region of Upper Dolpo. The trail follows the famous region where the famous documentary movie ‘Caravan was shot. Caravan was directed by foreign director Eric Valli and it even made it to the Oscars after it was selected in the best foreign movie category. We come across the beautiful lake of Ringmo, evergreen pine forests and the snow-capped mountains as we make our way to Salla Ghari. Kanjirowa Himal (66612m) is also visible along the way. Overnight stay at a tented camp.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Sallaghari
  • Altitude: 3,700m/12,139ft
  • Time: 5 Hours

The trail now gets steep as we move along the way continuously uphill until Lar Tsa. Because of heavy snowfall round the winter and lack of vegetation, the region looks quite barren. However, the landscape and the natural beauty are unmatched. Keeping in view of the high altitude sickness problems, we hike in a slow and steady manner. Overnight stay at a tented camp.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Campinf
  • Place: Lar Tsa
  • Altitude: 4,120m/13,517ft
  • Time: 6 Hours

On day eleven, we first reach Kang-La (5,350m) after almost three hours of difficult and strenuous trek from Lar Tsa. Kang-La Pass is quite popular in the region. We then cross and descend the pass and climb downhill for about 3 hours to reach Shey Gompa. Shey Gompa is a small village in the Dolpo region with few houses and a Buddhist Gompa. There is a very old Gompa believed to have been built several hundreds of years ago. Shey Gompa is one of the attractions of the Upper Dolpo region and is also considered as the spiritual centre of Dolpo. Overnight stay at a tented camp, inclusive of full board meal.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Shey Gompa
  • Altitude: 4,320m/14,173ft
  • Time: 6 Hours

The next day will be spent at the Shey Gompa itself, exploring the monastery and the adjoining region. As the altitude has risen quite considerably, the rest day will also be a good one for acclimatization purpose. Visiting the popular monastery and talking with the local Sherpa people will be a good experience for the foreign trekkers. Overnight stay at a tented camp.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Shey Gompa
  • Altitude: 4,320m/14,173ft

On the 13th day, we cross Sheyla Pass and another pass called the Glen-La Pass, exceeding around 5,000 meters of altitude. While crossing the Glen pass, we can see the beautiful view of the Tibetan plateau, the highest plateau in the world. We can also spot Mustang to the east. After crossing the two passes, we descend to the village of Namgung. Overnight stay at a tented camp.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Namduna Gaun
  • Altitude: 4,430m/14,534ft
  • Time: 7 Hours

The trail from Namgung descends through steep slopes and in three hours time we reach the beautiful village of Saldang. Saldang is a big village in the Dolpo region with many people inhabiting the area. The village basically prospers through tourism and to a lesser degree from agriculture. Overnight stay at a tented camp.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Saldang
  • Altitude: 4,050m/13,287ft
  • Time: 7 Hours

The next morning we have quick breakfast atSaldang and then make our way to Jengla, located at an altitude of 4480 meters. Jengla will be the highest point during the trek and the trail is undoubtedly adventurous as we move pass through several terraced fields and monasteries. During the mid-point of the trek, we come across one village called Namdo. Namdo is sparsely populated and has close to fifty-sixty houses with relatively less number of people. Jengla is not too far from Namdo as we reach there in couple of more hours. Overnight stay at a tented camp.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Jeng La Phedi
  • Altitude: 4,480m/14,698f,
  • Time: 5 Hours

It is a relatively short trek the next day, as we move towards Dho Tarap from Jengla. The way to Dho Tarap is quite easy and the trail is extensively travelled by the trekkers and locals alike. It takes around three hours to reach this village. There is a ‘French School’ just outside the village of the village, set up by the French people. Dho Tarap (4,080m) is one of the highest altitude human settlement areas in the world. According to Nepal Census 2011, there are 205 households and 923 people in this Himalayan village. The rest of the time we spend visiting Buddhist Gompas, talking with Sherpas and learning the art of weaving Thankas. Overnight at tented camp.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Dho Tarap
  • Altitude: 4,080m/13,386ft
  • Time: 3 Hours

Trek to Serkam is adventurous and the trail now follows along the course of Tarap Khola. It is mostly a downhill trek from Tarap, the trail passing through narrow and deep gorges. If you are lucky enough you will meet people from Upper Dolpo region coming down with their flock of sheep, Yak and goat in search of pastures for the winter. The trail is also undulating at times. After almost six hours of trekking, we reach Serkam. Overnight stay at a tented camp.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Sekam
  • Altitude: 3,600m/11,811ft
  • Time: 6 Hours

It is an exciting day of trek on this day as we climb downhill from Serkam. At some places we cross small rivers by stepping on the stones and at other times we cross rivers through long suspension bridges. People near Tarakot raise various crops like millet, barley, buckwheat, chillies and marijuana and we pass through many such crop fields. Tarakot is a small and prosperous village of the Dolpo region and is extremely popular around the otherwise barren region. Overnight stay at a tented camp.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Tarakot
  • Altitude: 2,543m/8,343ft
  • Time: 5 Hours

Trek to Dunai from Tarakot is relatively easy and we walk along the banks of the Bheri River for almost 4-5 hours before we reach the beautiful Dunai. Dunai is the district headquarters of Dolpa. Dunai was attacked by the Maoist rebels during the period of insurgency. Dunai is also the end of the Upper Dolpo Trek and from here on we return back to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj. Overnight stay at a tented camp.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Dunai
  • Altitude: 2,000m/6,562ft
  • Time: 5 Hours

Today we climb uphill for a short period of time to reach Jhupal from where the entire trek started almost three weeks ago. It is a short trek as we reach Jhupal in less than three hours. For the rest of the day we will stay at a guesthouse in Jhupal while preparing for the flight to Nepalgunj next day.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Place: Juphal
  • Altitude: 2,320m/7,612ft
  • Time: 3 Hours

Early in the morning, we will fly to Nepalgunj from Jhupal. The flight will again remind you of the amazing landscape of Nepal. After some time of reaching Nepalgunj, we will take another flight to Kathmandu, the Capital city. In the evening, you are invited for a Nepalese dinner. Overnight stay at a hotel in Kathmandu.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Farewell Dinner
  • Accommodation: Three Star Hotel
  • Place: Kathmandu

We will take you to the Airport after breakfast, or a few hours before your scheduled flight time.

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