Upper Dolpo Trek

The Upper Dolpo Trek to Shey Gompa brings you into an enchanted land where hundreds of years old Buddhist and Bonpo conventions, intertwined with shamanistic impacts, are as yet an essential piece of day by day life. The towns, gompas, and individuals you meet amid this trek will leave an extraordinary impact on you. The scenes here are much more devastate and the towns considerably more detached and immaculate. Outdoors is as yet important for this experience.

Dolpo is the most remote and minimum created region in Nepal. In spite of the fact that a couple of anthropologists and geographers had investigated the locale, the whole region was shut to trekkers until 1989, when the southern piece of Dolpo was opened to composed trekking bunches. Dwindle Matthiessen’s book The Snow Leopard and David Snellgrove’s Himalayan Pilgrimage have added to the persona and fascination of Dolpo.

The Upper Dolpo Trek course passes numerous immense mountain ranges: Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Kanjiroba, to give some examples. It likewise goes through Lower Dolpo, at one time a little kingdom in its own privilege. The principle highlight is Shey Gompa, however lesser-known spots incorporate Saldang and Dho Tarap. Trekkers in this district enthuse about the wild remoteness, the shocking mountain landscape and the fact that the nearby individuals still have that honest kind disposition impossible to miss to individuals who live in exorbitantly remote hilly locales.

Share
Itinerary

Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu & Transfer to Hotel.
Day 02: Cultural Tours in Kathmandu/Preparation for Trek.
Day 03: Fly to Nepalgunj, Check in Hotel.
Day 04: Fly to Juphal (2475m) & Trek to Dunai, Overnight in Camp.
Day 05: Dunai to Ankhe.
Day 06: Trek to Renje (2940m), Overnight in Camp.
Day 07: Ranje to Phoksundo Lake (3,6oom).
Day 08: Phoksundo Lake to Phoksundo Khola.
Day 09: Trek to Phoksundo Bhanjyang.
Day 10: Trek from Phoksundo Bhanjyang to Shey Gompa (4,126m) via Kang La pass (5,151m).
Day 11: Rest and exploration day at Shey Gompa.
Day 12: Trek from Shey Gompa to Namduna Gaon (4,400m) via Saldang La pass (4,785m).
Day 13: Trek from Namduna Gaon to Saldang (3,903m).
Day 14: Trek from Saldang to Sibu (3,942m).
Day 15: Trek from Sibu to Jeng La base (4,369m).
Day 16: Trek from Jeng La Base to Tokyu Gaon (4,240m) via Jeng La pass (4,845m).
Day 17: Trek from Tokyu Gaon to Dho Tarap (4,090m).
Day 18: Trek from Dho Tarap to Serkam (3,630m).
Day 19: Trek from Serkam to Khani Gaon (2,550m).
Day 20: Trek from Khani Gaon to Tarakot (2,281m).
Day 21: Trek from Tarakot to Dunai (2,052m).
Day 22: Trek from Dunai to Juphal (2,404m).
Day 23: Fly Back to Nepalgunj and Nepalgunj to Kathmandu, Check in Hotel.
Day 24: Free Day in Kathmandu, Hotel.
Day 25: Upper Dolpo Trek Ends/Final Departure.

Itinerary Detail

Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu & Transfer to Hotel.
Upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, we will be greeted by a representative from Good Day Nepal. After that, you will transfer to Hotel.  At the evening Your Guide gives some information about this trek and a rest in Hotel.

Day 02: Cultural Tours in Kathmandu/Preparation for Trek.
After breakfast the day will start to our guided trip to cultural world heritage sites in Kathmandu valley; including visits to the pilgrimage sites of Hindus Pashupatinath temple, the world biggest Bouddhanath Stupa, visit Swoyambhunath Stupa also known as monkey temple and historical Kathmandu Durbar Square with temple, unique architectures and Kumari (living goddess) in central Kathmandu. Evening pre-trip discussion and introduce with our fellow trekking staff for your adventure trip. O/N at Hotel.

Day 03: Fly to Nepalgunj, Check in Hotel.
As per the flight schedule for Nepalgunj, we transfer to the domestic airport for one and half hour scenic flight to Nepalgunj. At Nepalgunj, we will have time in the late afternoon or evening to have a look around the town which is situated on the southern Nepal border with India. Here it is quite hot and tropical in character.

Day 04: Fly to Juphal (2475m) & Trek to Dunai, Overnight in Camp.
After a pleasant overnight at Nepalgunj, early morning transfer to airport for the 45-minute flight to Juphal over the Himalayan foothills, with views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri peaks to the north. On arriving at Juphal our trekking staffs will receive you, who have walked all the way from Nepalgunj with the camping gear and food supply taking 5-6 days. Here at Juphal, a short 2-3 hrs walk from the airstrip leads to our overnight camp at Dunai village. Our first-day adventure begins with an hour downhill walk through the village below the airstrip, then leading through the terraced fields to the Bheri River and the narrow gorge taking 2-3 hours to camp at Dunai. This is a much larger village or small township, with a new hospital and it is administrated headquarter of the Dolpo region. Here we have ample time for the leisure walk around the village.

Day 05: Dunai to Ankhe.
In the morning having our breakfast and start our trek from Dunai to Ankhe. Around 4 to 5 hours walking to hankie. Today we walked quite little because it’s better to walk on the 1st day. Overnight at camping.

Day 06: Trek to Renje (2940m), Overnight in Camp.
Through the frantic trail, we head to the river bed and cross the suspension bridges. The trail we stroll further is narrow and we scramble through the huge hanging rock cliffs. Again we descend to the river and climb on a steep trail. We have an opportunity to capture the fascinating panoramas in our camera. Gently we reach to Renje and take a rest at tented camp.

Day 07: Ranje to Phoksundo Lake (3,6oom).
From here the initial hours of the trek is fairly easy. But from Sumdo the trail becomes very much like an incline. Here the river is left behind and you follow the path high above the water. Climb up to a ridge, about 3,875m, from where you will have the most staggering views of a 300m waterfall, the highest in Nepal, and your first view of Phoksundo Lake. You then descend through birch forests to the upper reaches of the Phoksundo Khola and on to the picturesque settlement of Ringmo with its mud plastered chortens and mani walls. The village now has solar panels helping to improve the quality of life of the villagers. From the settlement, it is a short walk to the shores of Phoksundo Lake where you set up the campsite.

Day 08: Phoksundo Lake to Phoksundo Khola.
You follow the trail that skirts the edge of the lake itself. This precarious trail is suspended on a gangway of wood supported on pegs, driven into crevices in the rocks and signals the remoteness of the area you are about to enter. You go very steeply up, to 4,040m, and then plunge down again to the valley bottom to enter the floodplain of the Phoksundo Khola and trek to your night stop alongside the river, within the confines of the forest to avoid the worst of the wind which is prevalent in the valley bottom.

Day 09: Trek to Phoksundo Bhanjyang.
Today you should take sandals or footwear suitable for Knee deep as you are crossings a few streams. This morning you continue along the level path through a glacial valley that now heads north. As this becomes narrower and narrower there are impressive vertical cliffs and contorted rock formations. At the confluence of the Phoksundo Khola and another, unnamed, mountain stream there is an old wooden bridge. Here you take the barely discernible path to the northeast up a side valley which has a cavernous look. There is no trail as such, so it is necessary to clamber over rocks and boulders and to ford a stream that rushes down the steep valley. A long climb brings you to a sheep meadow where the trail veers up a steep ravine. A hard climb to the top brings you to yet another valley where you can see the Kang La, the pass will lead you to Shey Gompa. You camp just before the pass in a place that Peter Matthiessen christened ‘Snowfields Camp’.

 

Day 10 – Trek from Phoksundo Bhanjyang to Shey Gompa (4,126m) via Kang La pass (5,151m)
The somewhat indistinct track is physically demanding, especially on the loose slate screed. It will take about 2.5 to 3 hours to reach the top of the Kang La. The views from the top are magnificent and well worth all the hard work. The height of the Kang La is variously given between 5,200m and 5,500m depending on the map one uses. On descending steeply to the valley floor, not more than 45 minutes, you make a long meandering trek along the banks of the river, crossing it once. A red chorten heralds your arrival at Shey Gompa where a quaint wooden log bridge leads up to the Shey compound.

Day 11 – Rest and exploration day at Shey Gompa.
Shey means crystal – this monastery is also known as the Crystal Mountain. The Lama of Shey resides at a red hermitage known as Tsakang Gompa which is west of Shey. It is not really a monastery but a retreat. Tsakang has been a meditation center to many famous lamas from Tibet. Shey Gompa belongs to the Chaiba community, followers of the Padmasambhava and Kagyu sects.

It was the first Kagyupa monastery and its founder was the Lama Ten-szin-Ra-Pa. The monastery was built during the 11th century. Shey is famous for its ancient Buddhist culture. In Dolpo, the ancient Tibetan way of life combines animism with the teachings of Buddha. Drutup Yeshe introduced Buddhism in the Dolpo valley. Many years ago he came to Dolpo and came across wild people, whose supreme God was a ‘fierce mountain spirit’. Crystal Mountain is to the west of Shey monastery. It is a very strange mountain indeed. Its contorted cliffs are laced with quartz and embedded with a rich variety of marine fossils. Shey Gompa stands above the confluence of Kangjunala and Yeju nala. Near the confluence, there is a group of prayer mills turned by water wheels.

Day 12 – Trek from Shey Gompa to Namduna Gaon (4,400m) via Saldang La pass (4,785m)
Today, you start by following a pleasant track amidst juniper, which ascends to a gray, stony canyon. This begins to zig-zag over bare rocks and coarse eroded soil until it eventually brings you to a flat spot, suitable for a brew or lunch, if the weather is fine. Then continuing very steeply up for 20 minutes before traversing to the top of the Saldang La pass. Here you will enjoy great views towards the arid landscapes of Mustang and the distant snow peaks of Tibet. The subsequent descent towards the north is long and tiring, but you finally come upon the welcome sight of pastures of grazing yaks and sheep and nomadic tents made from yak hair. This signals your approach to Namduna Gaon. Like Shey, the Namgung monastery is of the Karma-pa sect. The monastery, a red stone structure, is built against the backdrop of a cliff on the north wall of a gorge. The red and white colors of the Gompa and its Stupas are the only color in this stark landscape. The village itself consists of only six stone houses and has terraced fields on both sides of the tributary, which flows down to the Nam Khong valley. The economy of the region is based on agriculture, animal husbandry, and trading. In Dolpo, only one crop a year can be grown and this is mainly barley. In some village buckwheat, oilseed, potato, and radish are also cultivated. Recently the main cliff temple collapsed and the villagers have now built a beautiful new monastery in the village itself.

Day 13 – Trek from Namduna Gaon to Saldang (3,903m)
Leaving Namgung monastery and start climbing. Further on it begins a long thrilling traverse along some dusty barren mountains. Looking down into the valley bottom it is very evident that the people have made the best use of the fertile valley as one sees the neatly terraced fields showing bright patches of green and ripening crops. You ascend before going down steep slopes to the picturesque village of Salding, situated on a plateau high above the Nam Khong nala and the biggest village of the inner Dolpo area. Though the village lies at about the same altitude as Ringmo, it is totally different. Ringmo, a Himalayan village is situated below the tree line while Saldang belongs to the arid zone of the trans-Himalayan Tibetan plateau. The village stretches for two kilometers on an open slope and consists of five villages having eighty well-built houses with nearly six hundred villagers. It is prosperous, not only agriculturally, but also for its strategic location on a trade route to Tibet.

Day 14 – Trek from Saldang to Sibu (3,942m)
After leaving Saldang on the way down to the river bed you pass through terraced fields, Stupas, Chortens, heaps of Mani stones and a Chaiba monastery. Namdo, the next village is also prosperous with sixty houses having nearly four hundred inhabitants. It stretches for more than 5 km on the high slopes to the left of Nam Khong Khola. The Namdo monastery is located near the river bed. There is also another monastery on top of a high cliff. You camp near the small Settlement of Sibu, right on the river bank.

Day 15 – Trek from Sibu to Jeng La base (4,369m)
Following the line of the river valley, the trail is fairly easy going initially. After about two hours it is necessary to wade another stream before turning into a side valley and the rise becomes very sharp. This is a pleasant meadow but be strewn with rocks, yak, and other animal droppings.

Day 16 – Trek from Jeng La Base to Tokyu Gaon (4,240m) via Jeng La pass (4,845m)
The trail is generally well compacted making the going underfoot easy, much easier than loose shale, but it is steep. It is only a 2-hour climb to reach the top of the Jeng La. From the top of the pass, there are good views of the Dhaulagiri massif, glittering in the morning light. A rough track descends towards the Tarap valley. By the afternoon you find a green valley which leads you by a pleasant track down towards the Tarap Chu. Tarap is a dream valley with vast plains in high mountains extending 20kms along the river Tarap Chu. It has ten villages with cultivated fields, many Gompas, and Chortens of both sects. You halt for the night at Tokyu monastery. This monastery also belongs to the Chaiba sect.

Day 17 – Trek from Tokyu Gaon to Dho Tarap (4,090m)
Before leaving Tokyu a short visit can be made to the Chaiba Gompa. The trail is broad and well-traveled, making the going easy and there is evidence of work in the fields, where the women will be bringing in the harvest – the men are away bringing down the herds of animals for the forthcoming winter. There are many Mani walls but some of the Chortens are in a bad state of repair. The ‘ French School ‘ is just outside the village of Dho Tarap where you have your night stop. Tarap is inhabited mostly by Magars who have lived here for generations but also by a few Tibetans. They wear home-spun clothing that is sometimes dyed maroon and they favor Tibetan style Somba (boots with upturned toes) for footgear. Men and women often wear both religious amulets and strings of coral and turquoise. The inhabitants of this village are both Bon Po and Buddhist (Nyingmapa). In the afternoon a walk up to the Buddhist Gompa is very worthwhile. There is a resident lama who is very happy to show off his monastery and might even let you see his private Gompa and the Tankas he has made himself. The Bon Gompa is about half an hour’s walk from camp.

Day 18 – Trek from Dho Tarap to Serkam (3,630m)
Your route follows the course of the Tarap Khola, generally downhill. You go through narrow gorges with the river rushing through. One may see blue sheep, marmots, yaks, sheep, and goats and perhaps meet people from Dolpo taking their flocks of sheep and goats to lower pastures for the winter. The afternoon brings more undulations in the path when it leaves the immediate course of the river. There is evidence of improvements to the trail where parts of the rock have been blasted out. You will also see the first of the modern steel suspension bridges which have been built to facilitate movement of people and animals. The track is very narrow in places. You reach your overnight camp on a grassy strip by the river.

Day 19 – Trek from Serkam to Khani Gaon (2,550m)
You continue to walk down the gorge of the Tarap River, at times alongside it and at others high above, on a narrow trail built out from the steep slopes. The quality of the path varies from broad, smooth and firm to very narrow and crumbly. There are also flights of manmade stone staircases which need to be tackled with care – some of the constituent rocks wobble when stepped upon! An exciting day in deep and awe-inspiring gorges. Your campsite is a pleasant meadow in the shade of a stand of trees.

Day 20 – Trek from Khani Gaon to Tarakot (2,281m)
Leaving Khanigoan by the new suspension bridge and then walk alongside the river, sometimes going very high before reaching down to the water again. Some of the trails are quite demanding and one bridge said to have been out for six years, necessitates crossing on wet stepping-stones.

Coming into the broad fertile valley of the Barbung Chu, you walk amongst the various crops of millet, sweet corn, barley, buckwheat, green beans, chilies, and marijuana. Your lunch and night stop is high above the river but there is a standpipe for water. Tarakot is an old fortress town known by the local people as Dzong, meaning ‘fort’. Before the Gorkha dynasty, Tarakot was the capital and had a dzong. The famous Sandul Gompa, which lies 8km east of Tarakot and at the junction of Barbung Khola and Tarap Chu, stands on a knoll to the south of the Bheri river and at one time supervised collections of tools for the trading caravans traversing an area called Tichu Rong.

Day 21 – Trek from Tarakot to Dunai (2,052m)
The trail is mostly down and fairly firm. Walking beside the Bheri river, you use the ingenious path built twenty feet above the river. All too soon you have reached the village of Dunai and the camp site you used before. You will now have completed the circuit of mysterious land Dolpo and a celebration party is sure to happen.

 

Day 22 – Trek from Dunai to Juphal (2,404m)
You now retrace your steps to Juphal. Initially, the way is flat but the final hour up to your destination seems steeper than you remember on Day One!

 

Day 23: Fly Back to Nepalgunj and Nepalgunj to Kathmandu, Check in Hotel.
We take the earliest flight from Jhupal to Nepalgunj. Upon reaching Nepalgunj, we return to Kathmandu on the next available flight. After arriving in Kathmandu, we will be transferred to our hotel. There is nothing to do but trade emails with travel companions and organize the photos. To celebrate the successful completion of our journey, we will have a farewell dinner hosted by Good Day Nepal. Overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 24: Free Day in Kathmandu, Hotel.
This is an extra day set aside for you to explore Kathmandu on your own. You can spend the day getting ready for your next day’s flight, do some souvenir shopping, or if there is a place is Kathmandu that you really want to visit, then we can arrange that too. In the evening, there will be a farewell dinner to celebrate the successful completion of your journey in the Dolpo region of western Nepal. Overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 25: Upper Dolpo Trek Ends/Final Departure.
Our Upper Dolpo Trekking in Nepal comes to an end today! A representative from Good Day Nepal will take us to the airport approximately three hours before the scheduled flight. On our flight back home, we take with us amazing memories of our Upper Dolpo trip and Nepal.

Include/Exclude

Upper Dolpo Trek Cost Includes

  • Airport Pick and Drop in Kathmandu by Private vehicle.
  • Tourist Standard Hotel Accmmodiation in Kathmandu in B/B Basis.
  • Half day guided city tour with world heritage entrance permit as listed in itinerary.
  • Private transportation to and from the starting and ending points of the trek.
  • Kathmandu-Nepaljung-Juphal and Juphal-Nepaljung-Kathmandu round flight ticket with Airport Tax.
  • Standard Lodge/Guest House accommodation (best available) with twin sharing basis during the trek.
  • Full Board Meals (3 Meals a day) while on the trek.
  • Trekking Permit and Trekker’s Information Management System (TIMS) card fees.
  • Professional & highly expertise government licensed holder local Trekking Guide.
  • All expenses of the staffs (Guides/Porters) that includes Food, Accommodation, Salary, Insurance, Equipment during your travel period.
  • All the necessary trekking gear for porters like jacket /trousers, trekking shoes, gloves, shocks, sunglasses etc.
  • Comprehensive First Aid Kit.
  • Arrangement of all rescue and evacuation promptly, in Worst Condition.
  • Trekking Map, Friends Adventure Team’s special Souvenir.

 

Upper Dolpo Trek Cost Excludes

  • Any packed food/snacks, aerated drinks, energy drinks, mineral water, alcohol, cigarettes, chocolates, nutria-bars.
  • All desserts, sweet things like chocolate, cake, pie, pudding.
  • Items of personal nature, Laundry Expenses, Tips.
  • Clothing, Packing Items or Bags, Personal Medical Kit, Personal Trekking Gears.
  • Any additional staff other than specified.
  • Medical and Travel Insurance and Emergency rescue by any means of Transportation including.
  • Helicopter evacuation if required.
  • Rescue, Repatriation, Medicines, Medical Tests and Hospitalization expenses.
  • Airfare of international flights.
Equipment List

Climbing Gear

  •        Alpine climbing harness with adjustable leg loops- should fit over clothing
  •        2 locking screw gate carabiners- Large, pear-shaped carabiner  type recommended
  •        3 regular non-locking carabiners- Light weight Black Diamond Hot wire are recommended
  •        Ice axe with leash – Black Diamond, Raven, or Camp
  •        Plastic Mountaineering boots -La Sportiva, Lowa Civetta, or Scarpa Alpha
  •        Crampons fit to plastic boots
  •        Adjustable trekking poles
  •        Belay rappel device (Figure 8 preferred)

Upper Body

  •        2-Light weight thermal tops- long sleeved (medium weight merino or equivalent)
  •       3-T shirts or cool-max trekking shirts
  •       1- pull over or jacket (Merino, polartec power-stretch, soft shell, 100 weight fleece)
  •       1-200 weight fleece jacket or prima loft jacket
  •       1-Waterproof shell jacket with hood (lightweight, breathable)
  •        1-Down parka with hood

Lower Body

  •        2-Thermal bottoms (merino or polartec powerdry)
  •        1-Fleece or polartech powerstretch pants
  •       1-Light weight hiking trousers
  •       1-Heavy weight hiking trousers (wind proof soft shell for warmth at higher altitude)
  •       1-Hiking shorts (optional)
  •       Waterproof shell pants (lightweight, breathable)
  •       *Under Garments

Feet

  •       4- Warm Trekking socks (wool)
  •       *4- Lightweight Cotton Trekking socks
  •       2-Thick wool socks to wear at night in lodges
  •       *Gore-tex waterproof hiking boots- (you should buy at home and break them in before you come)
  •       *Spare laces for hiking boots
  •       Snow Gaiters (optional)
  •       Camp shoes/sandals (crocs are ideal)

Hands

  • 1-Lightweight gloves-Polypro
  • 1-Heavyweight gloves or mittens with a waterproof shell outer (seasonal)
  • 1 pair expedition shell gloves

Head

  •         Warm beanie hat
  •        Tubular Headwear (buff)
  •         Sun hat or cap (cap and buff all fit under your hood)
  •        Polarised Sunglasses with UV protection

Accessories:

  • 1-Daypack (approximately 2500 to 3000 cubic inches)
  • 2-Water bottle or camel bag, 1-liter (one with an insulated cover is recommended)
  • large duffle bag (and a lock as the porters will carry this)
  • Stuff sacks, dry bags, garbage bags etc (to organise and waterproof your things inside the duffle bag)
  • Trekking pole set
  • Sleeping bag (- 30’C)
  • Head lamp and spare batteries

Personal First Aid kit (we suggest the following items):

  •         *Personal medication
  •         Broad spectrum antibiotics (e.g. Ciprofloxacin)
  •        Diarrhea stopper (e.g. Immodium)
  •        Rehydration salt sachets
  •        Medication for giardiasis (e.g. Tinidazole)
  •        *Blister kit (tiny roll of 3M medical tape/breathable surgical tape)
  •        Antiseptic (iodine or alcohol wipes for cleaning wounds)
  •       *Sterile non-stick absorbent dressing/gauze (for more serious wounds)
  •        *Antibiotic cream (sample size)
  •       10 ibuprofen tablets (anti-inflammatory; pain relief)
  •       4 antihistamine tablets (for bites, allergic reactions; e.g. Benadryl)
  •        throat lozenges
  •        Small Swiss Army knife (which has knife, scissors and tweezers)
  •        Small whistle
  •        Diamox (consult your doctor about this)

Toiletries/hygiene:

  • Toothbrush & *paste (preferably biodegradable)
  • Toilet paper
  • Light weight towel and *soap (preferably biodegradable)
  • *Face and body moisturizer (the low humidity at high altitude dries the skin)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Small mirror
  • *Deodorants
  • Nail clippers
  •  Wet wipes/ baby wipes (in case there is no warm water for a wash)
  • Antibacterial hand gel
  • Sunscreen (with a high UV factor needed for high altitude )
  • Sunblock lip balm (kept in a pocket and regularly applied)

Extras/Luxuries:

  • *Lightweight reading material
  • Trail Map/Guide book
  • Journal & Pen
  •  *Travel game i.e. chess, backgammon, scrabble
  •  Small pillow
  • Thermarest (optional – in case the mattress in the lodge is inadequate)
  •  *Earplugs (in case group member snores)
  • Personal treats and snacks
  •  *Zip-lock bags for snacks so you can divide each day
  •  A bag to leave these in Kathmandu (very cheap in Kathmandu)
  • Shoulder bag or small backpack for exploring around town (optional)
  • *Music player
  • *Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Town clothes and shoes
  • *Swimming costume (for Kathmandu)
  • Tips for your Sherpa guide and porter
Photo Gallery

Trip Highlights

  • Discountonly for group %
  • Trip Grade
  • Price USD Ask me
  • Duration25 days
  • Starting PointKathmandu
  • Ending PointKathmandu
  • TransportationFlight/Drive
  • ActivitiesTrek and Tour
  • Trek StyleCamping trek
  • Max. Altitude5093meter
  • Min. Altitude3358meter
  • Best SeasonSpring & Autumn

Trip Graph

Trip Map