Upper Dolpo Trekking- 24 Days

Upper Dolpo Trekking

Upper Dolpo Trekking takes you to one of the most isolated and challenging treks that far western Nepal has to offer. The steep terrain, high altitude crossing requiring long climbs and long descents, remote environment, and rugged hilly terrain are sure to test the resolve of adventurers that dare to venture out and experience the exotic far west.  This region is by far the last major enclave of Tibetan culture in far western Nepal and it probably reflects more authentic Tibet of the old days compared to the modern one, which is being upgraded to suit the 21’st century. This makes the Upper Dolpo region an interesting place to trek and its uniqueness needs no further explanation.

Upper Dolpo Trekking
upper dolpa chorten

Trek Venture Nepal has tailored this to Upper Dolpo Trekking in such a way that you will get to experience the ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture and shamanistic Bon religion in its full glory. It is important to note that this region was not open for foreign tourists until 1996 and thus this region is largely insulated from the tentacles of modern life. Hence, the cultural richness, diversity, and way of life of people here are still as raw and authentic as in the old days.

Upper Dolpo Trekking is one of the major attractions on the trail is one of the oldest monasteries in Nepal, 800 years old Shey Gompa at the base of Crystal Mountain, immortalized in Peter Matthiessen’s “The Snow Leopard”. Furthermore, the beauty of Shey Phoksundo lake which fluctuates between a turquoise and ultramarine hue is quite a reward for both eyes and soul after the worthy hike. Overlooking this unique lake that is without any aquatic life form, is the “Pal Sentan Thasoon Chholing Gompa”, a Bön-PO Gompa said to have been built 60 generations ago!

You have to cross three high passes, Nagdalo La (5350 m), the Shey La (5010 m), and Jeng La (5220 m) and the hike is quite challenging. Furthermore, the hike costs $50/day per person, so it will add up to $500 per person for ten days for the upper Dolpo trek. This relatively high permit fee makes this trek a bit expensive but also special, as you will get to see and experience something that very few people have seen and experienced. There are few basic guesthouses in Dunai, Jhupal, Lingdo, Dho Tarap, Ringmo, Kageni and Chekpa. Because of the sparse population and remoteness, one will have to camp for the rest of the trek.

Upper Dolpo Trekking
Upper Dolpo Trekking

Apart from that, the fact that this is a camping trek doesn’t appeal to many visitors who tend to seek a comfortable hike with outstanding views. But, for those that dare; the deep valleys, high passes and peaks, unique amalgamation of ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture with that of Hindu and Bon religion, age-old monasteries that are imbued with the essence of this place, will surely make any arduous trek worth it!

Trek Venture Nepal has tailored this to Upper Dolpo Trekking in such a way that you will get to experience the ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture and shamanistic Bon religion in its full glory. It is important to note that this region was not open for foreign tourists until 1996 and thus this region is largely insulated from the tentacles of modern life. Hence, the cultural richness, diversity, and way of life of people here are still as raw and authentic as in the old days.

Upper Dolpo Trekking is one of the major attractions on the trail is one of the oldest monasteries in Nepal, 800 years old Shey Gompa at the base of Crystal Mountain, immortalized in Peter Matthiessen’s “The Snow Leopard”. Furthermore, the beauty of Shey Phoksundo lake which fluctuates between a turquoise and ultramarine hue is quite a reward for both eyes and soul after the worthy hike. Overlooking this unique lake that is without any aquatic life form, is the “Pal Sentan Thasoon Chholing Gompa”, a Bön-PO Gompa said to have been built 60 generations ago!

You have to cross three high passes, Nagdalo La (5350 m), the Shey La (5010 m), and Jeng La (5220 m) and the hike is quite challenging. Furthermore, the hike costs $50/day per person, so it will add up to $500 per person for ten days for the upper Dolpo trek. This relatively high permit fee makes this trek a bit expensive but also special, as you will get to see and experience something that very few people have seen and experienced. There are few basic guesthouses in Dunai, Jhupal, Lingdo, Dho Tarap, Ringmo, Kageni and Chekpa. Because of the sparse population and remoteness, one will have to camp for the rest of the trek.

Upper Dolpo Trekking
Upper Dolpo Trekking

Apart from that, the fact that this is a camping trek doesn’t appeal to many visitors who tend to seek a comfortable hike with outstanding views. But, for those that dare; the deep valleys, high passes and peaks, unique amalgamation of ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture with that of Hindu and Bon religion, age-old monasteries that are imbued with the essence of this place, will surely make any arduous trek worth it!

Upper Mustang Trekking is completed in 24 days. In the mentioned days arrival in Kathmandu, Sightseeing, flight transfer, final departure are included. The trek duration is 17 days. It is one of the most highlighted treks of Nepal.

It is because Upper Dolpo Trekking is still untouched by modernization. The unique taste of the 90’s camping trek can be still experienced in this special permit trek. The permit fees are expensive,  500 USD per person but the experience of a lifetime is worth it.

In alternate to this trek, Manaslu Trek is highly recommended due to less trek duration, cheaper permit fees, and the same Tibetan culture. If you have short time and would like to travel Dolpo

Lower Dolpa Trekking is the most rewarding trek, due to the beautiful turquoise Phoksundo lake and famous Dolpali habitat Dho Tarap, and most amazing Numla and Bagala Pass.

Most Amazing trek to Upper Dolpo

Upper Mustang Trekking is completed in 24 days time frame. In the mentioned days arrival in Kathmandu, Sightseeing, flight transfer, final departure are also included. The trek duration only is 17 days. Due to high passes, ancient culture, and tradition, lifestyle. It is one of the most highlighted treks of Nepal.

 Upper Dolpo Trekking is still untouched by modernization. The unique taste of the 90’s camping trek can be still experienced in this special permit trek. The permit fees are expensive,  500 USD per person but the experience of a lifetime is worth it.

In alternate to this trek, Manaslu Trek is highly recommended due to less trek duration, cheaper permit fees, and the same Tibetan culture. If you have short time and would like to travel Dolpo

Lower Dolpa Trekking is the most rewarding trek, due to the beautiful turquoise Phoksundo lake and famous Dolpali habitat Dho Tarap and most amazing Numla and Bagala Pass.

Upper Dolpo Trek Itinerary- 24 Days

Welcome to Kathmandu, an ancient city rich in cultural heritage, vibrant, and full of diversity in every sense of the word. Our guide will receive you at the gate of Tribhuvan International Airport(TIA) with your name on the board. He/she will brief you about your schedule and the information you might need the most while driving towards the hotel room. We make sure you are comfortable and leave the rest of the day to yourself to relax.
We start the day by visiting one of the most revered, ancient, and believed to have self-emerged atop green hillock west of Kathmandu, the great stupa of Swayambhunath, a site over 2,500 years old. The pilgrim’s approach to the shrine is through a wooded park up a steep flight of 300 stone steps, lined with stone sculptures of animals and birds, vehicles of gods. Our guide will brief you while exploring the sites. Afterward, we drive east of Kathmandu valley to one of the important World Heritage Sites “Pashupatinath”, a renowned Hindu temple. The main deity is Lord Shiva, both destroyer and creator of the world according to the Hindu belief system. Throughout the year, Shiva is worshipped at Pashupatinath as a lingam(phallus) in his incarnation as the Lord Pashupati. The Bagmati River is lined with many dharmsalas and cremation ghats. There is usually cremation in progress on one of the platforms of the river. The ashes will be scattered in the river, regarded as holy as it flows into the sacred Ganges. At the end of the day, we return back to the hotel and go through pre-briefing about the next schedule. Our guide will assist you to prepare your necessary gear as per the need of the upcoming trek.
Transfer to domestic airport and fly to Nepalgunj. About an hour of scenic flight brings you to the southern Nepal that borders India. This flat land has quite tropical, hot and humid climate. Transfer to Hotel and check in air-conditioned room which is top most necessity to avoid from mosquito and heat. 
After a pleasant overnight in Nepalgunj, early morning transfer to the 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 staff receives you. Our first-day adventure begins with an hour downhill walk through the village below the airstrip, then leads through the terraced fields to the Bheri River. Follow the upstream of the Bheri river along the road to the large suspension bridge. Cross Bheri river, where we enter the Phoksundo River valley. Follow the trail and pass the hospital then it’s a level walk along the Phoksundo Khola to Sulighat. 
Cross to the west bank of the river and abandoned settlement of Raktang and trail crosses herders’ hut and horse pastures over the ridge to Jyalhasa a winter settlement of Ringmo village. Keep walking upstream to the east bank at 2460 meters. The trail makes some ups and downs through grasses and ferns to a trail junction to Phoksundo lake. The Phoksundo Lake trail climbs over a ridge and a short descend on a rocky path to Chepka. The trail stays near the river, climbing over a small ridge then, crossing to the west side to avoid a steep ridge. The trail continues upstream climbing ups and downs from the campsite to Renje. 
After breakfast, our trail climbs over a ridge and descends to a wooden bridge that continues its’ ups and downs along the valley floor an hour to the confluence of Sulighat (known as Phoksundo Khola) and Phungmo Khola and eventually brings you a Tibetan village Sumduwa.  In Tibetan, Sum means ‘three’ and Duwa is ‘Trail’. After 5 minutes you will come to a yellow roofed building that looks like Gompa. It’s actually a Tibetan cultural school for Tibetan refugees. The trail eventually leaves the forests and traverses a grassy slope high above the river. The route switchbacks steeply on a sandy trail through the open country then starts up even steeper gaining over 400 meters ridge at 3730m. Just before the ridge, prayer flags mark a choose-up view of spectacular 200 meters high waterfall the highest in Nepal. Shortly, afterward, you will get the first view of Phoksundo Lake. The trail makes a descend through a forest of birch and pine to the upper reaches brilliantly clear, rushing water of Phoksundo Khola. The trail climbs gently to the charming village of Ringmo at 3640m. The trail continues along with the Ringmo village to the edge of the village with a breathtaking view of Phoksundo Lake and Campsite right on the bank of the Lake.
It’s nice to have an easy rest day after 3 days and acclimatization on this elevation. Explore Ringmo village and visit white Thasung Chholing  Gompa. The Phoksundo Lake is surreally spectacular. It’s 4.8km long, 108km wide, and said to be 650m deep, making it Nepal’s deepest Lake. It is famed for its intense aquamarine color- a miraculous greenish-blue likened to Yu or Tibetan turquoise. If you have more energy, you can walk the left bank of the lake upward lake source.
From Phoksundo Lake, the adventure continues towards Upper Dolpa skirting the shore of the lake as it contours on a rocky ledge along the western bank. This unsteady trail suspended on a gangway of wood supported on pegs driven into crevasse in the rocks, signals the remoteness of the area we are about to enter. At the westernmost edge of the lake, the path leads through a lush meadow that opens up into the flood plain of the Phoksundo Khola. Then the walk leads through the valley, crossing the river and avoiding the occasional boggy marsh underfoot and then coming on the bank of the river.
Today's first-hour walk leads along the level path through a glacial valley that now heads north. At the confluence of the Phoksundo Khola and another mountain stream, there is an old wooden bridge. Here taking the barely distinct path to the north-east of the valley. There is no trail as such, so it is necessary to clamber over the rocks and boulders and to ford a stream that rushes down the steep valley. A long climb brings us to a sheep meadow where the trail veers up a steep ravine. A hard climb to the top brings to yet another valley where one can see the Kang-La, the pass which will lead towards Shey Gompa. 
Morning walk leads up to a steep climb littered with slate towards the pass. The climb is quite strenuous, especially on the slate screed. From the top of Kang-la 5,160m/16925ft, there are excellent views down upon a large valley which is bisected by a gushing river. On descending steeply to the valley floor, then the path leads a long meandering trek along the banks of the river, crossing and re-crossing it several times. There are mud caves lining the hills overlooking the river and we pass through meadows where hairy yaks, hundreds of sheep, and domestic mountain goats can be found grazing as well near the odd nomadic hut of the herders. A red chorten heralds our arrival at Shey Gompa 4,390m/14,440ft where a quaint wooden, log bridge leads up to our destination at Shey Gompa compound for our overnight camp. 
Another well-earned rest day for a local hike around. Shey meaning crystal, this monastery is also known as the Crystal Mountain (well described in Peter Matthiessen's classic novel Snow Leopard). The lama of Shey resides at a red hermitage known as Tsakang gompa which is north of Shey. It is rather a retreat than a monastery. Tsakang had been a meditation center of many famous lamas from Tibet. Shey Gompa belongs to the Chaiba community, followers of great saint Padmasambhava, known as Guru Ringpoche and Kagyu sects. It was the first Kagyupa monastery and its founder was the lama Tenzing Ra-Pa, built during the 11th century. Shey is famous for its ancient pre-Buddhist culture the Bon Po. In Dolpo, the ancient Tibetan way of life combines animism with the teaching of Buddha. Drutup Yeshe first introduced Buddhism in the Dolpo valley. Hundreds of years ago he came to Dolpo encountering a wild people whose supreme God was a 'fierce mountain and nature spirit. Crystal Mountain is to the east of Shey gompa it is one of the strangest mountains, as 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 River. Near the confluence, there is a group of prayer mills turned by water wheels. Each year people from all over the Dolpo region travel great distances to attend the festival at Shey and to complete the circuit of Crystal Mountain. This is an amazing trip here that certainly makes this trek as special as only a few Westerners have ever ventured up to Shey gompa. 
Our day begins by following a pleasant trail amidst juniper which descends into a grey, stony canyon. Then the path begins to zig-zag over bare rocks and coarse eroded soil until it eventually brings us to the top of Saldang-la 5,200m/17,056ft. The subsequent descent towards the north is long and tiring but we finally come upon the welcome sight of pastures of grazing yaks and sheep, and nomadic tents made from yak hair. This signals our approach to Namgung Gaun at 4,800m/15,744ft. 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 gimpy 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 flow 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 villages, 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. 
On leaving the Namduna Gaun our route leads to a climb up a scree slope. Further on it begins a long traverse along some dusty barren mountains. After 3-4 hours of hard climb, Saldang 3,620m/ 11,874ft appears below on a plateau high above the Nam Khongmala. It has a picturesque appearance. Saldang is the largest village in the inner Dolpo area. Though the village lies at about the same altitude as Ringmo it is totally different then 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 nearly two kilometers on an open slope. Saldang consists of five villages having about eighty well-built houses with nearly six hundred people. Saldang is a prosperous village not only agriculturally but also for its strategic location on a trade route to Tibet. After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, trade with Tibet was virtually stopped. It has been restored to some extent through the barter system by which Tibetan salt reaches mid-Nepal. The Drokpa people from the western plains of Tibet collect salt from the dried lakes north of Tsangpo. 
Our journey from here diverts further far north to the least unexplored area by westerners or by any other commercial adventure trekking companies. The trail follows the Nang Chu river most of the way on this wild barren windswept terrain. The walk begins along the fairly gradual path with a few ups and downs slope and then passing through the small settlement of Tiling and Lurigaon till we reach our overnight camp at Yangze also known as Yangtsher, just before Yangze near Lurigaon. Here we cross the tributary Panzang river, a short walk from here brings us to an unexplored region of Yangze 4,960m/16,267ft and its very old Bon-Po Monastery for the overnight halt with time for exploration around the villages and the Monastery. 
From Yangze there are two trails that connect Sibu (4,560m/14,957ft), the long way trail heads due west passing through the very remote villages of Nishalgaon and further past Shimengaon. To save time and energy we will retrace the path back towards Saldang village which will be much easier and shorter than the other northwestern route. From Saldang the trail following the river bed we pass through terraced fields, stupas, chortens, heaps of mani stones, and a Chaiba monastery, then passing through the Namdo village which is also prosperous with about sixty houses having nearly 400 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. Our journey continues further down the river for another two hours to camp near the small settlement of Sibu. 
Today's trail follows the Nam Khong Khola for a while on the morning walk coming across a caravan of laden yaks that are on their way towards the Tibet border. After days of following the same river, finally, we part turning east till we arrive at the confluence of two small tributaries, from here our walk leads to a steep climb to the bottom of Jeng La (4,900m/16,072ft), where we stay for the overnight on a nice meadow.
Morning trek leads to two hours climb towards the top of the Jeng La (5,090m/16,695ft). An excellent view of snow ranges emerges to the south. The north face of the Dhaulagiri massif shines in the morning light. After a wonderful moment here at the pass, our walk leads us to descend on the rough path towards Tarap valley. By afternoon we come to the green valley which leads us on the pleasant track down towards Tarap Chu. Tarap is a fascinating valley with vast plains in high mountains. It extends twenty-kilo meters along the river. Tarap Chu is having ten villages with its cultivated fields and many gompas, chortens of both sects. Visit Tokyu monastery at 4,200m/13,776ft. This monastery also belongs to the Chaiba sect. The route leads eastward along the downhill course of Tarap Chu in a plain valley with patches of lush verdant grass on both sides of the river which is completely different from other parts of inner Dolpo. There is also a marsh which is a common feature in the Desert Mountains of Tibet and the Ladakh Himalaya. In this valley, both Bon Po and Chaiba sects reside together in harmony. After a short trek on this beautiful valley, we come to Do Tarap (4,080m/13,382ft).
The name Tarap refers to the entire region. The correct name of the village is Do meaning ‘lower end of the valley’ in Tibetan, but most local people refer to the village as Do Tarap. It consists of several clusters of closely packed some houses and corrals, surrounded by fields of Naked barley. The Ribo Bhumpa Gompa above the village was rebuilt in 1955, beside it is a unique Chorten in a chorten containing the remains of a demon killed by Guru Rinpoche. The painting inside the Chorten represents both Bonpo and Nyingma traditions, although the Gompa itself is Nyingma. The view over the valley is superb. For leisurely half day excursion head east up to the valley to Dero Gompa and Shipchok Gompa a school of Bonpo. 
Today's walk can be quite a long day or moderate walk depending upon the choice of several different campsites so the itinerary can be as flexible as you like. From the quite bare country around Tarap, we descend towards a wide valley which eventually narrows into a gorge. We walk along the juniper bush and wild rose, typical of dry inner Himalayan valleys, to just above the tree line. On this route we might see herds of blue sheep. By the afternoon time we reach at the confluence of the Tarap Chu and the Lang Khola, a stream that joins with Tarap River from further east. We will make our camp on a nice meadow, this place is also known as Karmakharka (3,800m/12,464ft), while our porters will perhaps take shelter in a nearby spacious cave. 
Trek of upper dolpa, continues down the gorge of the Tarap River, at times alongside it, rising high above on a trail built from the steep slopes might come across people from Dolpo taking their herds to lower pastures for the winter. There are many possible campsites by the river. This will be one of the exciting days of this trip walk, as the valley becomes so narrow in a deep gorge that in some places we can jump from one side to another. Sometimes there is no trace of any path and we have to walk across stone slabs fitted on logs in between the walls which act as a bridge. The gorge also provides unexpected adventure and thrills. At some places, the bridges are either damaged or washed away and we may be forced to cross the icy torrent on foot. Finally, reaching the camping spot beside the Tarap Khola at Khanigaon (3,150m/10,332ft).
Today's trek from the campsite follows an indistinct trail to the village of Lalberi. Then passing through an area of impressive forest, before descending into another gorge our walk continues following the river again downstream to reach Tarakot where colorful terraced fields greet us. Tarakot (2,537m/8,321ft) is an old fortress town known by the local people as Dzong, meaning 'fort'. Before the Gorkha dynasty, Tarakot was the capital. After lunch, the walk continues beside the Bheri River in a tremendous gorge with pine trees and an ingenious path built about seven meters above the river. On reaching Dunai (2,030m/6,658ft) after completing the circuit with time for celebration, particularly as bottled beers are available in Dunai. 
We retrace the journey back to Jhuphal, which is a short distance walk along the Bheri River to the small airstrip for the last overnight camp of this great memorable adventure. 
A short scenic flight for thirty-five minutes to Nepalgunj, over the Himalayan foothills overlooking stunning views of the main peaks including Annapurna and Dhaulagiri to the north. On arrival at Nepalgunj depending upon the connecting flight schedule to Kathmandu. If it is in the afternoon have time for a few hours’ refreshments in the comfort of the Hotel Batika or similar at Nepalgunj. Then connect with the flight back to Kathmandu. 
You will drop at Tribhuvan International Airport 3 hours before your boarding time. Baggage check and boarding formalities.Flight to your destination. End of service.

Price Includes

  • Pickups and drop-offs from airport/hotel
  • Accommodation in 3 star or any equivalent hotel in Kathmandu
  • Accommodation at Teahouse/Lodge during the trek
  • All three meals (BLD) per day during the trek/climb
  • Wages, lodging, accommodation, insurance and meals for the guide and porter
  • Professional, well-trained and multilingual guide
  • Strong, experienced and capable porter
  • Domestic flights ticket as well as airport taxes
  • All taxes (government and local), necessary paper works and permits
  • First-aid kit
  • Complimentary trekking map for the group
  • Duffel bag and sleeping bag for use while trekking
  • Guest tents, Sherpa tents, sleeping mattress, essential kitchen utensils for whole trek
  • Tented accommodation during trek on twin sharing basis
  • Trek permits, TIMS card and required trek documents
  • Sightseeing in Kathmandu Valley
  • Trekking completion certificate as a memento to all our valued guests
  • Welcome and farewell Nepalese Traditional dinner
  • Company T-shirt or Jumper

Price Excludes

  • Visa fees
  • Travel and Emergency Helicopter Evacuation Insurance
  • Meals( Lunch & Dinner) & other expenses during Kathmandu( breakfast included at Hotel)
  • Any types of bottled/boiled water, soft drinks or Alcoholic drinks during trek
  • Personal expenses like hot shower, laundry, unforeseen cost due to bad weather, flooding, landslide, urgent helicopter evacuation, etc.
  • Trekking gears and clothing
  • Tips for guide, driver and porter
  • Climbing gears & personal Equipment
  • Any other expenses not listed above.

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

Upper Dolpo Trekking- 24 Days