The Upper Dolpo Trek is an epic, adventurous trekking destination that leads you to the most remote areas of mid-western Nepal. It is among the best off-beaten trekking routes in Nepal and lets you experience both the natural and cultural richness of the Lower and Inner Dolpo Region.
During your Upper Dolpo trek itinerary, you'll witness a very isolated and unspoiled region beyond the Himalayan valleys of Nepal. The unparalleled beauty of the diverse landscape, high pass trails, turquoise Shey Phoksundo Lake, centuries-old Shey Gompa, Bon Gompa, Yanjer Gompa, and ancient Buddhist Bon religion are some major highlights of this trek.
The adventurous Dolpo trek begins with a scenic flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and Juphal. From Juphal, passing through the amazing settlements of Dunai, Chhepka, and Chunuwar (Amchi Hospital), you reach tranquil Phoksundo Lake, one of the prominent features of the Upper Dolpo trekking region. It is the high altitude and deepest lake in the country. The beauty of the turquoise lake is simply breathtaking!
The magnificent trail crosses through the Shey Phoksundo National Park behind Mt. Dhaulagiri towards the Tibetan plateau. This isolated and serene wild natural reserve is also home to a great variety of wildlife. The far western Upper Dolpo region is also famously called the hidden kingdom of Nepal. On the trail, you can witness the ancient trans-Himalayan trade route.
After a wonderful stopover at Ringmo village around the pristine Phoksundo Lake area, the trail moves to Shey Gompa. It is indeed another highlight of the Upper Dolpo trip. The trail traverse through impressive high passes of Nagdalo La (also called Kang La Pass), Sela La, and Chhoila La, from where you'll get some of the most mind-blowing vistas of river valleys and magnificent panorama of snow-capped mountains.
Further exploring the remote landscape, you continue your trek towards Dho Tarap Valley. It is one of the highest settlements on the planet. Dho and Tarap are two significant villages situated in this remote valley. While it's no secret that the Upper Dolpo trek route is an eye-catcher, what you may not know is how fascinating local Dolpo people are. You'll witness their self-sufficiency and learn about their proud Bon religion. In fact, you'll find a truly rustic lifestyle strongly influenced by Tibetan culture and tradition.
Spending an excellent time at Dho Tarap valley, you'll come across Langa Camp and pass through villages such as Sisaul, Toltol, Nawarpani, Laisicap, Tarakot, Lawan, Dunai and retrace back to Juphal and fly back to Kathmandu through Nepalgunj. Finally, spending nearly four weeks in the wilderness of the Trans-Himalayan region of Nepal, you'll get back to your home, and the trip concludes.
|Day 1||Arrival in Kathmandu|
|Day 2||Kathmandu Sightseeing and Trip Preparation|
|Day 3||Fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj (150m/490ft) - 1-hour flight|
|Day 4||Fly to Juphal (2,500m/8,200ft) and Trek to Dunai (2,850m/9,350ft) - 3 to 4 hours trek|
|Day 5||Trek from Dunai to Chhepka (2,687m/8,815ft) - 5 to 6 hours trek|
|Day 6||Trek from Chhepka to Chunuwar (Amchi Hospital) (3,000m/9,850ft) - 6 to 7 hours trek|
|Day 7||Trek from Chunuwar to Phoksundo Lake (3,600m/11,811ft) - 5 to 6 hours trek|
|Day 8||Acclimatization Day at Phoksundo Lake|
|Day 9||Trek from Phoksundo Lake to Sallaghari (3,630m/11,910ft) - 5 to 6 hours trek|
|Day 10||Trek from Sallaghari to Nagdalo La HC (4,717m/15,480ft) - 5 to 6 hours trek|
|Day 11||Trek from Nagdalo High Camp to Shey Gompa (4,500m/14,770ft) via Nagdalo La Pass (5,350m/17,552ft) - 5 to 6 hours trek|
|Day 12||Trek from Shey Gompa to Namgung Gompa (4,360m/14,310ft) via Sela La Pass (5,100m/16,740ft) - 6 to 7 hours trek|
|Day 13||Trek from Namgung Gompa to Saldang (3,770m/12,370ft) - 4 to 5 hours trek|
|Day 14||Day Hike from Saldang to Yanjer Gompa (4,590m/15,060ft) - 4 to 5 hours trek|
|Day 15||Trek from Saldang to Komash Village (4,060m/13,320ft) - 6 to 7 hours trek|
|Day 16||Trek from Komash Village to Shimen (3,850m/12,630ft) - 5 to 6 hours trek|
|Day 17||Trek from Shimen to Tinje (4,110m/13,490ft) - 5 to 6 hours trek|
|Day 18||Trek from Tinje to Yak Kharka (4,040m/13,260ft) - 4 to 5 hours trek|
|Day 19||Trek from Yak Kharka to Tokyu (4,240m/13,910ft) - 4 to 5 hours trek|
|Day 20||Trek from Tokyu to Dho Tarap (3,944m/12,940ft) - 4 to 5 hours trek|
|Day 21||Trek from Dho Tarap to Nawarpani (3,475m/11,400ft) - 5 to 6 hours trek|
|Day 22||Trek from Nawarpani to Laisicap (2,775m/9,110ft) - 5 to 6 hours trek|
|Day 23||Trek from Laisicap to Dunai (2,850m/9,350ft) - 5 to 6 hours trek|
|Day 24||Trek from Dunai to Juphal (2,500m/8,200ft) - 2 to 3 hours trek|
|Day 25||Fly from Juphal to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj|
|Day 26||Free Day in Kathmandu|
|Day 27||Final Departure from Kathmandu|
Upon your arrival in Kathmandu, meet a representative from Third Rock Adventures at the International Airport and transfer to the hotel. After check-in at the hotel, you can take some rest. Later, you can stroll around to visit nearby places or local streets. There are a plethora of excellent restaurants and cafes in Kathmandu for hangouts.
Overnight stay in Kathmandu.
Enjoy your hearty breakfast, and go sightseeing of cultural world heritage sites in Kathmandu valley. The vibrant capital city hosts some major tourist attractions like Kathmandu Durbar Square, Swayambhunath (famous as Monkey Temple), the sacred Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, and the largest Boudhanath shrine.
After completing sightseeing, you'll attend a small meeting where your tour guide will brief you about the upcoming trekking plans. After that, you can head towards the hotel and prepare for the trek. Also, you can spend some time on important trek shopping (if needed).
Overnight stay in Kathmandu.
The Upper Dolpo Trek adventure starts with a short and scenic flight to Nepalgunj city, one of the main terai cities of Nepal. Upon reaching the Nepalgunj, you'll get to the hotel. The rest of the time you can explore the city and get familiar with the local culture, and even you can try some street food.
Overnight stay in Nepalgunj.
You'll catch an early flight to Juphal from Nepalgunj. Then, enjoying the breathtaking scenery of green hills with the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri range, you'll land at Juphal airport in the Dolpo region. It is the only airport in the Dolpo district that connects local people to other parts of countries. From Juphal, the Upper Dolpo Trek commences with a short walk to Dunai. Lies on the bank of the Bheri river, a small village, and the district headquarter of the exotic Dolpo region.
Overnight stay in Dunai.
From Dunai, you'll begin your hike from Dunai to Chhepka. At first, you'll enter the Sulighat post, where you'll get your Shey Phoksundo National Park Permit. On the way, there are a couple of villages and majestic mountain views to admire. Eventually, the trail goes through a densely forested area, and you reach Sulighat. Gradually, you'll ascend Thuli Bheri Valley and enter into Phoksundo River Valley.
Initially, you'll follow the trail alongside Phoksundo River to Kageni. Today, you'll walk on rocky terrain and come across many small water streams. Besides continuing your walk through lush forest areas, you cross mid-hill villages like Jutung and Shyangta. After crossing the bridge over the confluence Phoksundo Khola and Maiba Khola, you head north towards Chhepka.
Overnight stay in Chhepka.
Following the famous Lower Dolpo Circuit trail, you approach Amchi Hospital, which lies on the other side of the river. You cross the bridge over Phoksundo Khola twice and continue walking on an isolated path to Rechi (3,011m/9,880ft).
Further, from Rechi, you proceed to Suligad Dovan, where you cross the bridge over the Phoksundo Khola. After this, you reach Amchi Hospital, where still the doctors are following the traditional methods and using herbal medicine to treat the local people of Dolpo.
Overnight stay in Chunuwar.
Today, the real adventure begins as you head to Phoksundo Lake, the world's deepest magical lake. Passing through the forest of Cedar, you'll reach Polam Village (3,397m/11,145ft). Gently ascend a ridge, and soon you'll discover the captivating views of Phoksundo Lake. In addition, you'll see the alluring sight of Nepal's highest Suligad/Phoksundo Waterfall. Continuing the walk, you arrive at a Tibetan Buddhist settlement of Ringmo, lying next to Phoksundo Lake.
Overnight stay in Ringmo Village.
Your adventure to Upper Dolpo would not be complete without exploring Shey Phoksundo Lake, an utterly beautiful turquoise lake. Next, you can visit the Tshowa Monastery (900-year old Bonpo monastery) at the east bank of Phoksundo Lake. After exploring the Lake area, you can wander around Ringmo village, where you'll get a close insight into Bon's religion, a unique and primitive culture of Bon people.
Overnight stay in the Ringmo Village.
After spending a lovely day around Phoksundo Lake this morning, you'll journey down to Sallaghari. Your hike continues along the western bank of the lake. Following an uneven isolated trail, you'll enter a more remote part of the Dolpo region. As you reach the westernmost edge of the lake, the path follows a lush meadow. After crossing the floodplain area of Phoksundo River, you reach Phoksundo Khola camp. Eventually, the few hours of the walk lead you to the beautiful Sallaghari surrounded by dense pine forests.
Overnight stay in Sallaghari.
You continue north this morning, towards the Nagdalo High Camp. You gradually ascend a remote trekking trail and enjoy some enchanting views of snow-capped mountains. Then crossing the river over the bridge, the trail stretches to an open campsite. Finally, after a few hours of a climb to the top of the ridge, you'll enjoy the astonishing view of Kangla/Nagdalo La Pass.
Overnight stay in Nagdalo La High Camp.
Today will be one of the remarkable days of Upper Dolpo Trek. The reason is, you'll trek down one of the high passes of the Dolpo region, i.e., Kangla/Nagdalo La Pass. This is a challenging pass to cross, though it offers the best way to soak in the entire Dhaulagiri mountain range views.
Crossing this high pass, you'll enter into Inner Dolpo and head down to Shey Gompa. The village welcomes you with red and white chorten and mani stones. The trail leads you through the most epic landscapes you'll ever witness. So, prepare yourself for an adventure of a lifetime!
Once you arrive at Shey Gompa, you can explore the monastery and its surroundings. Located at the base of Crystal Peak, Shey Gompa is the major attraction of the Dolpo trek. Also known as Crystal Monastery, it belongs to the Chaiba community, the followers of Saint Padmasambhava.
Overnight stay in Shey Gompa.
A hearty breakfast in Shey Gompa fuels you for the long trekking towards Namgung Gaon via Shey La Pass. The top of the pass grants you magical vistas of snow-clad mountain peaks. However, the rewards don't stop there; on the way to the Namgung Gaon, you'll get the best views of the Tibetan Plateau. Furthermore, you'll turn northside and hike to the pastures of Namgung. It consists of a few stone houses and a famous Namgung monastery.
Overnight stay in Namgung Gaon.
From Namgung, you'll take a hike to another beautiful settlement of Saldang. Traversing through the Namgung Khola and taking a steep uphill walk, you reach Saldang. You'll witness some of the old salt trade routes. It is the largest settlement in Inner Dolpo and generally comprises five separate villages.
Overnight stay in Saldang.
Yanjer Gompa is the destination of the day. Today, you'll further head north, following the gradual path of a few ups and downs along the Nagao Khola. En route, you come across several small settlements like Tiling and Kigaon. Finally, after few hours of walk, you reach Yanjer Gompa. It is an ancient Bon-Po Monastery. You can explore the monastery and the village. Then you can get back to Saldang, retracing the same rugged path.
Overnight stay in Saldang.
After exploring the ancient Bon Po monastery, today, you'll head towards the Tibetan village of Komash. As you continue your walk along the Raphya river, you'll pass through small stupas, mani walls, and chortens. After walking on a steep trail for few more hours, you reach the final destination of the day, Komash Village.
Overnight stay in Komash Village.
After having early morning breakfast at Komash, you'll begin your trek towards Shimen. Today, you'll witness a landscape similar to the highland desert. You may also spot some rare animals like a snow leopard or blue sheep. Enjoying the captivating view of snow-capped peaks and surroundings, you arrive at Shimen. This small settlement hosts Shimen Gompa, another ancient monastery.
Overnight stay in Shimen.
From Shimen, you'll take the route towards Tinje. Along the way, you'll come across Shimen Gompa and Pu Gompa. Following the GHT High route, you walk along the side of Panjyan Khola you reach Sonmagaon. Further, keep walking till you pass Taragaon and get to Tinje. Rest you can explore this beautiful settlement. There is a natural airstrip, and at one time, British aircraft had landed and taken off here.
Overnight stay in Tinje Village.
The journey continues towards Yak Kharka, following the trail beside Panjyan River. Move forward to the small village of Chhamdang, and the route leads to the confluence of Chholtam Khola and Panjyan Khola. Then you cross the bridge over Thalum Khola, flowing from Thalum Lek. The path gets into an alpine pasture, Yak Kharka. You can see the yaks and sheep grazing around the land.
Overnight stay in Yak Kharka.
You start the trek by crossing the bridge over Sulun Khola. The trail moves along the riverside, and after crossing small streams several times, you arrive at Chhoila North Pass (5,050m/16,570ft). As you reach the top of the pass, you'll find impressive views of the Dolpo region and the surrounding mountains, including the north face of the Dhaulagiri massif. You continue your walk on a rugged trail towards Tarap valley and reach Tokyu Gaon. This small village hosts Tokyu monastery belonging to the Chaiba sect.
Overnight stay in Tokyu Gaon.
Passing through varied terrain, you'll make your way to Dho Tarap, the highest settlement area in the world. Today's trek involves an entirely downhill walk on plain land, so it's pretty easy than the other day. Continue your walk along the riverside through a grassy land. You'll witness a slight difference in trekking route than the other parts of the inner Dolpo.
After few hours of walk, you reach a Magar settlement of Dho Tarap. It is also the main junction that connects the trail to Jomsom, Mustang, and Tibet. You can observe Tibetan-style houses with small wooden windows and flat roofs. Also, you'll see colorful prayer flags, small Gumbas, chortens, and Mani stone walls that are beautifully scattered throughout the village. While exploring the village, you get a chance to interact with the locals. You'll get to know about their remote culture and lifestyle.
Overnight stay in Dho Tarap.
Enjoying a fabulous day at Dho Tarap, you move towards Nawarpani (Pibuk). You'll begin with a downhill walk and come across the junction of Tarap Khola and Mirbubane Khola. Keep on walking and cross the bridge over Klang Khola, and you arrive at Langa Camp (4,010m/13,160ft). Furthermore, the trail continues through Tarap Khola’s bank and passes several villages like Sisaul, Ghyamghar, Toltol, and reach Nawarpani.
Overnight stay in Nawarpani.
Today, the trail descends beside the Tarap River. Walking along the riverbed for a while, you'll pass a narrow valley. You'll notice a slight difference in the trekking trail as you step on the forested area and crossing Laina Odar you arrive at Chhedhul Gompa. You move ahead alongside the Tarap Khola you get into Laisicap.
Overnight stay in Laisicap.
From Laisicap, you commence your walk along the shore of Thuri Bheri Khola. After a while, you reach a bridge and cross it to get into Tarakot. Further ascending along the river, you reach Lawan and then Byasgadh. Finally, the trail becomes easy, and you cross another hanging bridge and eventually climb to Dunai.
Overnight stay in Dunai.
After completing a long but rewarding trek today, you'll be back to Juphal from where your adventure started. It is a short and easy walk from Dunai to Juphal. Begin your hike on a flat trail along the Thuli Bheri River. The trail passes through terraced fields and reaches beautiful small settlements to Juphal.
Overnight stay in Juphal.
First, you take an early morning flight back from Juphal to Nepalgunj, and from there, you again fly to Kathmandu. Once you reach a hotel in Kathmandu, it is entirely up to you what you want to do next. You can spend your day relaxing or strolling the nearby places.
Overnight stay in Kathmandu.
Your domestic flight might get delayed or canceled due to bad weather conditions or technical glitches. In this case, it's wise to have an extra day in Kathmandu to avoid any problems with flight delays and cancellations. If you don't get any of these issues, you can savor your entire day exploring the Kathmandu valley and its surroundings. Also, after long weary treks, you can even go for spa treatments and relax, refresh and rejuvenate yourself.
Overnight stay in Kathmandu.
The Upper Dolpo Trek concludes with the final flight to your home. A representative from Third Rock Adventures will drop you at the Kathmandu International Airport to depart from Nepal.
However, if you wish to extend your vacation, we can arrange the most happening adventurous treks, cultural tours in Nepal and neighboring countries like India, Tibet, and Bhutan.
Like many other trekking routes in Nepal, the best time for the Upper Dolpo Trek is the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons. During these seasons, you'll encounter pleasant weather with good mountain views and clear skies. Also, there is a minimal snowfall at the high altitude pass, so there is no risk of crossing passes during these seasons.
Besides, Monsoon/Summer (June to August) is an excellent time to trek in the Upper Dolpo region. As most of the Dolpo trail lies in the rain shadow of the massif Dhaulagiri Range, it receives little or no rain. Likewise, temperatures during this time are ideal. However, in the lower regions such as Juphal, Nepalgunj you might encounter flight delays and cancellations due to monsoon weather.
The Upper Dolpo Trek difficulty level is difficult to challenge. However, it is a very adventurous journey to an unexplored and isolated Dolpo region. The trail offers you a tremendous off-the-beaten trekking experience. Well, the shortest days will be around 3 hours long, while the longest days can reach up to 8 hours on the trek.
Basically, your Upper Dolpo journey starts at an altitude of 150m/490ft from Nepalgunj city. The trail will include several uphill and downhill walks on the steep, rugged, and uneven path. Ultimately, the isolated trek path crosses three high passes (Kangla/Nagdalo La, Sela La, and Chhoila La) over 5,000m/16,404ft, each offering stunning views.
Thus, walking in higher elevations is more physically demanding. However, if you're in excellent health with good physical fitness and have a positive attitude, you can successfully complete the trek. Past trekking experience would be an asset but no compulsorily required for this trip.
As the Upper Dolpo region lies in a restricted trekking region of Nepal, you need special trekking permits such as;
The Dolpo is one of the most beautiful and remote trekking regions that lie in the far-western of Nepal. Several Upper Dolpo Trek Route Variation combines the Dolpo trail with the neighboring Himalaya trekking trail. With these trek route variations, explore the wilderness and undiscovered land, an entirely hidden paradise in the world. Here are a few best alternative treks that lead you to Upper Dolpo and other unexplored corners of Nepal's restricted areas.
The Upper Dolpo to Mustang Trek is an awe-inspiring remote trekking trail in Nepal. The 22 days long trek offers you to experience the diversified culture of two different trekking regions, i.e., Dolpo and Annapurna. After exploring the Inner Dolpo area, such as Phoksundo Lake, Shey Gompa, the trail leads you to Jomsom. It is the main headquarter of the famous Mustang District. The trekking route is quite sometimes without human settlement. Thus, you'll get a thrilling trekking experience in isolated, remote, unspoiled, and off-the-beaten areas.
Phoksundo Lake Trek is a short version of the Upper Dolpo trek. It will take around 10-11 days to complete the trek. Shey Phoksundo Lake is one of the most prominent tourist destinations of the Dolpo Trek. Located within the Shey Phoksundo National Park, the region is home to a wild variety of elusive flora and fauna. Thus, whether you're going for Lower Dolpo Trek or Upper Dolpo Trek, make sure to explore around and relish the beauty of the tranquil lake and its surroundings.
Enthralling Upper Dolpo to Rara Traverse Trek leads you to two of Nepal's most stunning high altitude lakes, i.e., Phoksundo Lake and Rara Lake. The trek begins from the barren yet beautiful landscape of Dolpo and ends in the equally stunning Mugu District. More than three weeks itinerary will be part of the newly opened east to west Great Himalayan Trail. Throughout the trek, meet different people with different lifestyles, religions, cultures, and traditions.
Upper Dolpo To Upper Mustang Trek is one of Nepal's most adventurous and challenging high altitude treks. Both Upper Dolpo and Upper Mustang are restricted trekking regions of Nepal. Dolpo region lies between the Dhaulagiri range and Tibetan Plateau. At the same time, Upper Mustang lies between the rain shadow area of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. Phoksundo Lake, Shey Gompa, Dho Tarap Valley, Forbidden Kingdom of Lo Manthang, Muktinath, Jomsom, etc., are some major highlights of the 32 days-Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang trek.
Images: Franck Zecchin, Flickr