Caravan of Yaks/Mules/Horses/Tzopas
Upper Dolpo Trekking in Nepal is a remote and unspoiled area near the Tibetan border. It opened for trekkers in the late 80s and was previously closed to foreigners. Peter Mathesons wrote about his journey through Dolpo in his book, The Snow Leopard. The Oscar-nominated movie, Himalaya or Caravan, was also shot in this region. Dolpo is a mystical and beautiful region with customs and traditions similar to those of Tibet. It is a restricted trekking region requiring a special permit, which costs USD 500 for the first ten days and USD 50 per day after that. A group of at least two people is required to obtain a permit.
The Dolpo trek passes through beautiful valleys, local settlements, gigantic mountains, and greenery forests of pines, Rhododendrons, and Oaks. The main highlights of the trek are the ancient, spectacular landscapes, the mesmerizing Shey Phoksundo lake, isolated villages of Ringmo, and the centuries-old monasteries. Dolpo is home to the deepest lake in Nepal, the Shey Phoksundo lake, with a depth of 145m. The region also has a holy mountain called “Crystal Mountain,” where pilgrims visit each year to make a circuit. The people of this region mostly speak Tibetan languages.
The trek begins with a flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and then to Jhupal. The best time to do this trek is in the Spring and autumn season, while the winter season is avoided due to heavy snowfall.
Caravan of Yaks/Mules/Horses/Tzopas
Upon arrival at Kathmandu airport, which sits at an elevation of 1,302 meters or 4,270 feet, our staff will be waiting to receive you and will escort you to your hotel. After settling in, you can take some time to refresh yourself or explore the surrounding area before accommodating in your hotel.
You will be transported to the airport to catch a flight to Nepalgunj. If the weather is clear, you will be able to enjoy spectacular views of the Himalayan range during the flight. Upon arrival in Nepalgunj, our staff will be waiting to escort you to your hotel. Nepalgunj is located in the Terai region and can get quite hot during the summer months. You will have the afternoon free to explore Nepalgunj or simply relax at the hotel. We will spend the night at the hotel before continuing our journey
The journey to Jhupal commences early in the morning with flights departing from Nepalgunj. The crew will be eagerly waiting at Jhupal with all the necessary camping equipment. The first day’s hike will take approximately three hours to Dunai, which serves as the administrative capital of the Dolpo region. The trail today is characterized by terraced fields as we make our way towards the Bheri River gorge. Once we reach Dunai, there will be ample time to explore the small town before we retire for the night.
On this day, we will ascend through the Thulo Bheri Valley before making our way into the Phoksundo River Valley. Along the way, we will come across a few charming villages and stunning walnut groves to marvel at. Of course, we can’t forget about the majestic Kagmara Peak which will be in plain sight. Eventually, the trail will lead us down through lush and dense jungle-like vegetation until we reach Ankhe.
On today’s hike, we will navigate through forests and trek across a grassy slope overlooking the river. When descending along the trail, exercise caution as you make your way down a stone staircase towards the riverbank and eventually onto Sulighat.
Today’s journey leads us to the breathtakingly clear waters of Phoksundo Lake. However, before we arrive at our destination, we’ll trek along the valley floor, passing by the Phoksundo and Pungmo rivers and amidst pine forests. As we climb up a high ridge, we’ll catch our first glimpse of the shimmering lake beneath the sun, and we’ll also come across one of Nepal’s tallest waterfalls. Our path then descends through birch forests until we arrive at the charming village of Ringmo, situated on the edge of Phoksundo Lake.
Today’s route involves departing from the lake and following the trail towards the west, crossing over wooden bridge-like structures until we reach a meadow that leads to the Phoksundo Khola flood plain. Our path continues over boggy and marshy terrain through the valley until we reach the riverbank where we will be spending the night.
Today’s hike involves traversing through a glacial valley until we reach the confluence of the Phoksundo Khola and another stream, which is indicated by an old wooden bridge. As we head towards the northeast, we’ll come across a sheep meadow, followed by a steep ravine. Although the climb up the ravine is challenging, we need to reach another valley where we can rest well before crossing the Kang La Pass.
Our day begins with a demanding ascent towards the summit of the Kang La Pass, but the stunning vistas of the valley below from the top make it worthwhile. The trail then descends steeply towards the valley floor, and we’ll follow the river’s banks, crossing and re-crossing the frigid waters. Along the way, we’ll notice the mud caves adorning the hills overlooking the river. Before we reach Shey Gompa, we’ll trek through lush meadows teeming with yaks, sheep, and mountain goats.
Today’s journey takes us through a juniper forest and into a canyon, where the path twists and turns over rocky and unstable terrain until we finally arrive at the summit of the Saldang La Pass. The descent down the other side is equally challenging. During our trek, we’ll witness nomadic herders accompanied by their yaks and sheep. Upon reaching Namduna Gaun, where we will be spending the night, there will be an opportunity to explore the magnificent red monastery constructed at the base of a gorge cliff.
Today’s path leads us through desolate mountains until we reach Saldang village, situated on a plateau overlooking the Namga Khola. As the largest village in the inner Dolpo region, Saldang is scattered across a lengthy slope spanning approximately 2 kilometers. It’s worth noting that Saldang isn’t just one village but rather a cluster of five villages, boasting a total of around 80 houses. Given its strategic location on the trade route to Tibet, it’s likely that this accounts for the high concentration of homes in the area.
As we trek through the villages of Marang and Ki, following the Nagon Khola, the landscape around us is stark and unyielding. We’ll need to cross a few tributaries of the Panzang River along the way before finally reaching the Yangze Gompa, another Bon monastery that awaits us.
Our journey today will take us through a picturesque landscape adorned with terraced fields, mani walls (stone walls engraved with prayers), stupas, chorten, and a monastery en route to Namdo village. Situated on a lofty perch above the Nam Khong Khola, Namdo is a thriving village with roughly 60 houses. We’ll continue trekking for another 2 hours before arriving at our final destination for the day, Sibu, where we’ll set up camp for the night.
As we head out today, we can expect to encounter more caravans of yaks as we make our way eastward and then begin our ascent towards a grazing meadow located beneath the Jeng La Pass.
Starting from Jeng La Phedi at an altitude of 4,900m, we will only need to climb a mere 200m to reach the summit of the Jeng La Pass. Once we’re at the top, we’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the north face of the Dhaulagiri Massif. Following the descent from the pass, the trail will take us over rugged terrain until we reach the Tarap Valley and, ultimately, the Tokyu Monastery.
As we proceed with our journey today, the landscape changes dramatically, with the river banks being flanked by marshes and grasslands. The village, which is home to about 40 houses, is mainly inhabited by the Magars, a hill tribe from Nepal. A number of Tibetans also reside in the area, and Buddhism remains a significant part of the local culture. Additionally, there is a Bon Gompa situated a short distance from the village.
Today’s trail leads us through a picturesque landscape of juniper and wild roses as we approach a broad valley, which then gradually narrows into a gorge. As we make our way, we’ll catch sight of flocks of sheep along the way. Finally, we’ll reach the confluence of the Tarap Chu and Lang Khola rivers before setting up camp near the Tarap River for the night.
Today, we encounter a lot of local folks on our way, who are primarily moving their livestock to the lower pastures. The trail we tread upon is a combination of stone slabs, logs, and rugged bridges. We might even have to wade through the river at some points!
Today, we will hike towards Lalberi village through dense forests and a winding gorge until we reach the river again. We will have the opportunity to visit another monastery situated on a hill overlooking the Bheri River. Our camping spot for tonight will be at Tarakot since there is no other suitable camping place between Tarakot and Dunai, which is our destination for tomorrow.
The day’s hike is moderate, as we follow a picturesque gorge with towering pine trees and walk alongside the tranquil Bheri River to eventually arrive at Dunai.
As we embark on the last day of our journey, we will take a leisurely stroll towards our final destination of Jhupal. The trail will be relatively easy, with no significant ascents or descents to tackle, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in the beauty of the surrounding landscape. As we approach Jhupal, we can reflect upon the incredible experiences and memories we have made during our trek, feeling a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment at the completion of our journey.
In the morning, we will embark on an early flight from Jhupal to Nepalgunj, ensuring that we have ample time to make our connecting flight to Kathmandu
Our final departure will be from Kathmandu, where we will bid farewell to each other. It has been a pleasure to serve you, and we look forward to the opportunity to do so again in the future. Thank you for choosing us for this unforgettable trekking experience.