Upper Dolpo is one of the tougher treks in Nepal, with several camps situated above 4500 meters and several 5000-meter high passes. This trek is perfect for very fit and adventurous trekkers who want to visit an isolated extension of the Tibetan Plateau where the inhabitants, nomads descending from Tibet, follow 2500 year-old rituals related to Buddhism as well as the pre-Buddhist Bon Po religion. The locals of Dolpo rely mostly on trade with Tibetans until today.
isolated, the people of Dolpo have remained almost completely cut off from the modern world. Moreover, the world was almost completely unaware of the region until it was explored by Peter Matthiessen, who wrote the book “The Snow Leopard”, and David Snellgrove, who wrote “Himalayan Pilgrimage”. It remained off-limits for trekkers until 1989. Then, the film “Himalaya”, shot in 1999, which captured the magic of Dolpo and was nominated for the Oscar Award in the best Foreign Film Category. Since then curiosity has drawn a handful of intrepid trekkers to experience this rare land.
This is a camping trek as Dolpo is the least-developed district in Nepal and tourism infrastructure is basically non-existent. Rest assured that Himalayan Paradise carries plenty of food to avoid the food shortages that sometimes afflict Upper Dolpo.
Dolpo is a land of natural and cultural wonder: turquoise Phoksundo Lake, high Himalayan passes, fortified villages (dzongs) and many ancient gompas (monasteries), including the 800-year-old Shey Gompa and the mystic Crystal Mountain.
The Shey Phoksundo National Park is a sanctuary for many wild animals and birds: Blue Sheep, snow-leopard, marmots, wild rabbits. Hunting is strictly prohibited.
Transportation to and from the trek
Dolpo region is accessed by a flight to Nepalgunj, a tropical city in the south-west, 3km from the Indian border, and then another short flight to Juphal, Dolpo’s only airstrip. At the end of the trek there is a flight back to Pokhara from Jomsom, the headquarters of Mustang.
Lower Dolpo is semi-arid with deep gullies and narrow valleys that bloom with the spring run-off of the Dhaulagiri Range; while Upper Dolpo passes behind the Himalayan range: Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Kanjirowa, and below the Tibetan plateau, a harsh dry region of rolling highlands.
The the first three days you trek towards Phoksundo Lake, 3608m, following the Phoksundo River. You will show your park registration at Ringmo, the last settlement before entering the Shey-Phoksundo National Park. It is Nepal’s largest lake: 4.8km long and 1.8km wide, and a depth of 650m.
After taking a day to acclimatize and explore the lake, we take the trail that traverses the cliff face behind the lake and head upwards for 3 more days. The trail follows the narrow ravine becoming increasingly steep until we conquer the Kang-La pass 5360m, from where we descend to the famous Shey Gompa, 4876m, nestled beside the Crystal Mountain. She Gompa is one of the oldest monasteries in Nepal, built in 1655. From here we head toward the prosperous Saldang village, a two kilometer long ribbon of five settlements that lie on the trade route to Tibet. Finally we cross the Sangda La pass and enter the Kali Gandaki Valley on the southern side of the Himalayas.
A number of acclimatization days are built into the Upper Dolpo itinerary because flights or even the high passes during the trek are susceptible to heavy snows and can be delayed due to weather. These contingency days can be used to take side trips during the trek. The route beyond Saldang has been travelled so little, with the exception of traders in yak caravans, there are many discrepancies about the names of places and high passes and elevations.
Permits & Regulations
Permits for Lower Dolpo and Upper Dolpo are expensive and strictly enforced. On top of that, only 250 foreigners are permitted to enter Upper Dolpo each year.
Lower Dolpo: $10 USD per week
Upper Dolpo: $50 USD per day (10-day minimum)
The entry fee to the Shey-Phoksundo National Park is Rs. 3000. It’s mandatory to trek with a guide in an organised tour in Upper Dolpo. Himalayan Paradise will arrange all permits and fees will be included in the total cost of your trip.
- Day 01Welcome to Kathmandu.
- Day 02Trip preparation, sightseeing and flight to Nepalgunj.
- Day 03Fly from Nepalgunj to Juphal and trek to Dunai, 3-4 hrs.
- Day 04Dunai to Chhepka, 6-7 hrs.
- Day 05Chhepka to Samduwa/ Amchi Hospital, 6-7 hrs.
- Day 06Samduwa to Phoksundo Lake, 5-6 hrs.
- Day 07Rest day at Phoksundo Lake.
- Day 08Phoksundo Lake to Phoksundo Khola or forest camp, 5-6hrs.
- Day 09Trek from Phoksundo Khola to Snowfield Camp, 5-6 hrs.
- Day 10Trek from Snowfield Camp via Kang La pass to shey gompa, 6-7 hrs.
- Day 11Trek from Shey Gompa via Saldang La to namgung, 6-7 hrs.
- Day 12Trek from Namgung to Saldang, 5-6 hrs.
- Day 13Rest day at Saldang.
- Day 14Trek from Saldang to Khomagaon, 6-7 hrs.
- Day 15Trek from Khomagaon to Shimengaon, 6-7 hrs.
- Day 16Shimengaon to Tinjegaon, 6-7 hrs.
- Day 17Trek from Tinje to Kharka, 6-7 hrs.
- Day 18Trek from Kharka to Chharka Bhot, 6-7 hrs.
- Day 19Trek from Chharka to Nurbulung, 6-7 hrs.
- Day 20Trek from Nurbulung to Sangda Phedi, 7-8 hrs.
- Day 21Trek from Sangda Phedi to Santa village, 5-6 hrs.
- Day 22Trek from Santa to jomsom, 5-6 hrs.
- Day 23Fly to Pokara in the morning.
- Day 24Fly back to Kathmandu.
- Day 25Sightseeing tour of Bhaktapur city
- Day 26Departure from Kathmandu
- Domestic flights: Kathmandu –Nepalganj - Juphal and at the end of the trek from Jomsom - Pokhara - Kathmandu
- All transfers including airport picks-up and drops
- Twin sharing rooms in hotels: Kathmandu, Nepaljung and Pokhara
- 4 nights accommodation in Kathmandu (breakfast included)
- Twin sharing tents during trek
- National Park fees and special Permit fee for lower and upper Dolpo
- 3 meals per day (breakfast, lunch, dinner with tea,coffee) during the trek
- Required trekking staff and trekking equipment
- Food, accommodation, salary and insurance for the trekking staff
- Your travel and trekking insurance (compulsory)
- Lunches and dinners in Kathmandu and Pokhara
- International airfare
- Nepal entry visa fee
- Personal expenses such as alcoholic drinks, cold drinks and mineral water
- Personal trekking equipment
- Rescue charge if necessary
- Any cost related to flight cancellation due to bad weather
- Horses to ride during the trek (if desired)
- Tips for trekking staff, drivers etc (tips are customary)
- All expenses which are not mentioned in price included section.