Dolpo is the largest district of Nepal located in the northern trans-Himalayan region of the country attached to the Tibetan Plateau. The topography of the Dolpo region extends between 1,525m and 7,751m having diverse climatic zones that shelters varieties of culture and tradition. Dolpo trek lets you experience the natural and cultural richness of the Lower and Inner Dolpo Region that shows you the snowy mountains. Also known as the ‘district across Himalayas’, Dolpo region lies in rain shadow zone that gets rain in winter season rather than in rainy season.
Opened only after 1989 AD, Lower Dolpo Trek is allowed for the travellers whereas Upper Dolpo Trek is still restricted. Peter Matthiessen’s 1978 book ‘The Snow Leopard’ introduced the forbidden land of Dolpo Region and later popularized by Eric Valli’s 1999 movie ‘Himalaya’.
Dolpo Region contains Shey Phoksundo Lake which is Nepal’s deepest lake and world’s deepest lake located at the trans-Himalayan region as well. The turquoise water of the lake gives you an incomparable bliss even though there is no organism found in the lake.
The largest in Nepal, Shey Phoksundo National Park which shelters diverse species of wildlife and vegetation attracts many travellers from around the world. You can have the rare glimpse of the snow leopard, musk deer, Himalayan blue sheep and others. Another attractive side of the park is about 200 species of birds, 29 species of butterflies and six reptile species. Similarly, you can find numerous species of vegetation like rhododendron, white Himalayan birch, blue pine, cedar and juniper.
Just like the variation in topographical structures, Dolpo region is beautified by the varieties of socio-cultural practices and shrines. Dho and Tarap are two of the major villages situated in Dho Tarap Valley standing at the elevation of 4,080m. Dwelt by the people following traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture, Dho Tarap Valley is the highest human settlement area in the world. You can find the Tibetan Buddhist and Bon culture in Upper Dolpo Region while a mixture of Buddhist and Hindu cultures in Lower Dolpo region. Although Dolpo trek is hard due to off the beaten path, you can enjoy learning about the hundreds of years old Buddhist monasteries. Shey Gompa, Bon Gompa and Yangze Gompa are some of the monasteries which reflect the Buddhist culture in Dolpo region.
As the infrastructures of tourism are not well-developed due to complicated geography, Dolpo trek is mostly camping trekking. You have to take your camping equipments and food supplies yourselves with the help of porters. However, the local residents of Dolpo Region have started to facilitate the limited number of trekkers with teahouses at some stations. As trekking to Upper Dolpo Region is restricted, it is expensive worth of $500 for first 10 days and then $50 per day. You don’t need TIMS card for Dolpo trek, however, Lower and Upper Dolpo trek permits are issued by Government of Nepal.
Dolpo trek package can be customized in a mutual consent between you and the trekking agency you book your trekking through. Dolpo trek cost is determined according to the trekking package and destination of your choice. You can find many Lower and Upper Dolpo trek detailed itinerary uploaded by different trekking agencies on their web.
The trekking agencies located at Thamel, Kathmandu prepare and different trekking packages to give a diverse taste to the trekkers coming to Nepal. You can find customized Dolpo region trekking packages via the trekking agencies run by the experts in this field. Some of them areLower Dolpo Circuit trek, Upper Dolpo to Upper Mustang trek,Phoksundo Lake trek, Dolpo to Rara Lake trek via Shey Gompa and so on. Dolpo to Rara Lake trek gives you a lifetime opportunity to experience Rara Lake, the largest lake of Nepal. In Rara Lake, you can study about three endemic fish species: Nepalese snowtrout, Cyprinid fish and Rara snowtrout and an endemic Rara Lake frog. Likewise, you can see various species of wildlife and vegetation in the Rara National Park in the region.
This blog has given you a detailed 27 days Dolpo trek itinerary for your convenience. By choosing the package, you can experience rare species of wildlife and vegetation, snowwhite peaks, typical culture and tradition of the isolated Himalayan region.
Day to Day Itinerary
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu
The representative of the trekking agency will receive you at the Tribhuvan International Airport and then guide you up to the hotel. You take a full rest to recover from the travel fatigue.
Day 02: Exploration of Kathmandu and Preparing for Dolpo Trek
Today, the guide will lead you through the UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in the Kathmandu valley. You can visit Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple and Bouddhanath Stupa for your refreshment. In the evening, the guide will instruct you all about Dolpo trek gear, highest altitude to traverse, flora and fauna, etc.
Day 03: Fly to Nepalgunj
Now, you will catch a flight to Nepalgunj, one of the main cities in Nepal. After your plan lands at Ranjha Airport, the guide will usher you up to the hotel for the night stay. In the day time, you can stroll around the city for experiencing the local cultural and religious sites like Bageshwori Temple.
Day 04: Fly to Juphal and Trek to Dunai
Today, you will fly to Juphal Airport of Dolpo from Ranjha Airport. After landing there, you will begin your Dolpo trek up to Dunai which is situated on the banks of the Thuli Bheri River. Dunai is also the district administrative headquarters of Dolpo district. As you can find some teahouses and hotels here, you will stay at a hotel to rest for the night. You can also purchase some gears needed during the Dolpo trek at the shops located in Dunai.
Day 05: Trek to Ankhe
Now, you will follow the trail that goes across a suspension bridge to western side of Dolpo region. By passing a ridge, you will enter in to the Phoksundo River valley which has typical human settlement areas, culture and tradition. You will traverse Rahagaun on the way and reach Ankhe by crossing another edge in the valley. Enjoying the majestic view of Kagmara Peak, you will walk past the beautiful walnut groves. You will spend the night here in the tented house by assimilating the lovely surrounding of the place.
Day 06: Trek to Suligad Ghat
Today, you will walk along the sloppy and steep rocky trail following the banks of the Suligad River that flows out of Phoksundo Lake. On the way, you will also get to observe several rivulets that join the Suligad River and the lush forests to soothe your boredom. By passing a steep stone staircase, you will reach Suligad Ghat (Sulighat) for the night stay.
Day 07: Trek to Shey Phoksundo Lake
By following the trail along the union of the Suligadh River and the Pungmo Khola, you will walk past a cedar forest. You will walk past Palam Village, another station during Dolpo trek, by enjoying the waterfalls out-flowing from Phoksundo Lake. Then, you will move on along the Phoksundo Khola to reach today’s night station, Phoksundo Lake. During the trekking along ups and downs, you will have a distant view of the mani walls and mud coated chorten of Ringmo village. You will forget all of the hurdles faced during the journey by seeing the turquoise water of Phoksundo Lake, an alpine freshwater lake.
Day 08: Acclimatization Day around Shey Phoksundo Lake
Because you’re gonna spend the day around Shey Phoksundo Lake, you can wake up late if you prefer complete rest. After you take your breakfast, you can take a short walk to Ringmo village, a Sherpa village in Dolpo region. In the village, you can find an 11th century Tibetan Buddhist monastery decorated with the prayer wheels and flags. You can interact with the local people to learn more about their totally different culture and tradition. If you like, you can take some photographs with the local residents who are equipped in their cultural dress, ornaments and other stuffs. You can also visit the places around Phoksundo Lake for lifelong experience of the alpine freshwater lake in the Himalayan region.
Day 09: Trek to Phoksundo Khola
Today, you will march ahead westwards through a rocky trail by crossing the floodplain of the Phoksundo Khola to reach your rest point. On the way, you will encounter with the crevasse among the hard rocks which indicate the remoteness of the further trail. Crossing the stream and avoiding the boggy plain, you will reach the valley where you will set up your tent.
Day 10: Trek to Phoksundo Bhanjyang
Your destination for the day is to reach Phoksundo Bhanjyang to settle down for the night. By following a steep rocky trail, you will head northwards through a glacial valley of Lower Dolpo Region. En route you will have to cross a wooden bridge over the confluence of the Phoksundo Khola and a small glacial rivulet. Although the trail is quite hard and rocky, the magnificent view of Kang La (5,320m), Chhamlang Peaks 6 and 7 (6,739m and 6,105m) helps you cross it easily. You will set up your tent at the Phoksundo Bhanjyang and spend the night in the wilderness of Dolpo Region.
Day 11: Trek to Shey Gompa via Kang La
Trek to Shey Gompa is quite strenuous as you will have to cross Kang La (5,320m) for the night station. From atop Kang La, you will have a mesmerizing outlook of Crystal Mountain and valley of Shey Gompa region. While descending to Shey Gompa village, you will have to cross a small rivulet time and again. Here, you can either set up your tent or choose a teahouse for your night rest.
Day 12: Acclimatization Day in Shey Gompa
Today is your second day of acclimatization during Dolpo trek at Shey Gompa Village. For the purpose, you can visit an 11th Century Tibetan Buddhist monastery reflecting Bon Po religion. You can gather the experience of close view of Crystal Mountain on whose lap Shey Gompa lies. Thousands of Buddhist pilgrims who visit Shey Gompa every year regard this mountain as sacred shrine where people observe Shey Festival before harvesting time. You can talk to the local people to know about their culture, tradition, lifestyle and main occupation as well. You can also visit the private monastery of the Lamas and look at their thanka paintings if they allow you.
Day 13: Trek to Namduna Gaun
After storing enough memories of Shey Gompa, Shey Village and its people, their culture and tradition, today you leave the place. Now, you will move on to Namduna Gaun for the night stay by crossing Saldang La (5,200m), one of the three high passes of Upper Dolpo Region. You will walk a rocky steep trail across juniper forest to reach the Saldang La. Even though walking along the trail may be boring, the sight of sheep and yaks grazing in beautiful meadows freshens your mood. Another attractive point of trek to Namduna Gaun is the seasonal sheds to shelter the cattle in the high Himalayan region. In this village, you can visit Namgung monastery that is made up of a red stone against the cliff of a gorge.
Day 14: Trek to Saldang
Today, you will descend a rocky trail through barren hills to reach Saldang that stretches along the banks of the Nagma Khola. Saldang, one of the largest human settlement areas in Inner Dolpo region has about eighty houses with around 600 population. Saldang is one of the oldest Dolpo Tibet trading routes, so this village is developed both in agriculture and trade. Here, you will stay at a teahouse for the night rest relishing the typical food in the best hospitality.
Day 15: Trek to Yangze Gompa
Today, you will trek towards the least explored northern part of Upper Dolpo Region from Saldang village. You will have to cross the Nagon Khola and walk past a wild and barren landscapes on the way. You will come to see some typical Tibetan Buddhist villages like Tiling, Lurigaun, Marang and Ki. By crossing the Panzang Khola time and again, you will reach Yangze village. Here, you can visit Yangze Gompa, a Bonpo monastery and the surrounding of the Panzang Khola.
Day 16: Trek to Sibu
You will find two trails that lead to Sibu village situated on the bank of the Nam Khong Khola for the night stay. But you had better follow the trail back through Saldang village as it is easier and shorter route. You will walk along the terraced fields full of seasonal crops and vegetables and Chaiba monastery decorated with mani walls and chortens. En route, you will come along Namdo village, a thriving settlement area having about 60 houses and around 400 residents. The village has fertile soil for agricultural production as it has stretched 5km along the Nam Khong Khola. By visiting Namdo monastery on the way, you will arrive Sibu and set up your tent for the rest.
Day 17: Trek to Jeng La Phedi
Today, you will have to trek up to Jeng La Phedi (‘Phedi’ means ‘foot or bottom’) for the night settlement. You will follow the Nam Khong Khola along the meadows where you can spot yaks grazing and moving towards Tibetan border. The steep trail ends at the foot of Jeng La (4,850m). You will set up your tent over there and spend the night in the wilderness of Dolpo region.
Day 18: Trek to Tokyu Gaun via Jeng La
This is one of the unforgettable moments of the entire Dolpo trek as you will cross Jeng La (4,850m). You will continuously climb up for about two hours to reach one of the high passes in Upper Dolpo region. From the top of the pass, you can have the glittering view of the Dhaulagiri Massif and the fertile Tarap valley. While you descend from the pass, you walk past Tarap Khola valley, a really fertile land extending almost 20 km along the Tarap Chu Khola. You also can see about ten villages settled within the green valley embroidered with many monasteries, mani walls, chortens and typical houses. You will set up your tent at Tokyu village, one of the ten there for the night rest.
Day 19: Trek to Dho Tarap
The trail you will walk today is quite sloppy that moves along the Tarap Chu Khola valley. The valley is quite distinct from the other places in the Inner Dolpo region as it has a marshland supporting wildlife and vegetation. The dwellers in the valley follow both Bonpo and Buddhist religion but are living in complete harmony. You will come across many mani walls and chortens which will soothe your fatigue during the journey. Your station for the night is Dho Tarap village where you will set up your tent and rest.
Day 20: Acclimatization Day around Dho Tarap
You can sleep well and wake up late as you are going to spend the day at Dho Tarap, a small but really beautiful village. Dho Tarap is a small village fenced by irregular walls of stones and has about 40 clustered houses built in a traditional way. Most of the settlers here are Magars and few are Buddhists. You can visit around the village and converse with the local people to know about their culture and tradition and way of hospitality. Likewise, you can visit a local Buddhist monastery where a Lama (Buddhist priest) lives and makes thanka paintings reflecting peace and tranquillity. If you convince him, he will show you his private gompa and thanka paintings.
Day 21: Trek to Tarap Khola (Kamakharka)
Today, you will descend to a narrow gorge from wide valley through bushes of rhododendron and juniper just above the tree line. On the way, you may encounter with the herd of blue sheep roaming here and there. You will come across the confluence of the Tarap Chu Khola and the Lang Khola. You will set up your tent just on the bank of the Tarap Khola, also called Kamakharka for the tent house.
Day 22: Trek to Khanigaun
For the night settlement, you will walk down along the banks of the Tarap Khola that passes through a narrow gorge. In winter, you can see the local people taking their herds of cattle to lowland pastures for safety from coldness. You will have to cross the stream time and again by using stone slabs, logs and somewhere by jumping from one side to another. You will forget the troubles of the journey by observing the natural landscapes full of vegetation and wildlife around. You will reach Khanigaun to set up your tent for the night stay.
Day 23: Trek to Tarakot
Today, you will trek up to Tarakot, a small fort-village for the night station by following the rocky trail. The local people call it ‘Dzong’ which means ‘fort’ in their dialect. Before the unification of Nepal into a single greater one, it was an administrative centre of a separate principality. In Tarakot village, you can visit Sandul Gompa that stands near the confluence of the Tarap Chu Khola and the Barbung Khola. The monastery is just eight kilometres away from the village. You will set up your camp on the bank of the Tarap Chu Khola and spend the night in the surrounding beauty.
Day 24: Trek to Dunai
Now, you will retreat to Dunai, the district headquarters of Dolpo after three weeks for the night settlement. You will follow narrow trail up and down along the bank of the Thuli Bheri River by enjoying the natural landscapes, wildlife and vegetation around the path. You can celebrate your accomplishment with your teammates here in Dunai to make your journey more unforgettable. You can set up a tent or stay at a teahouse for spending the night peacefully.
Day 25: Trek to Juphal
Today, you will walk back through the trail you have already come across by talking about the memories you collected during the journey.
Day 26: Fly Back to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj
Now, you will fly back to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj. You can visit the Kathmandu valley to explore more or stay at the hotel for a complete rest. Or you can celebrate the completion of the journey or go for shopping the souvenirs to your people.
Day 27: Departure from Kathmandu or New Arrangement
This is the final day of Dolpo trek today. Therefore, if you want to go back to your home country, the representative of the trekking agency will lead you up to the Tribhuvan International Airport. In case you want to explore more in Nepal, we are always and already for assisting you for more fun.
Necessary Trekking Gears:
Duffel or Rucksack bag (Provided)
Down Sleeping bag (Provided)
Down Jacket (Provided)
Waterproof & Windproof jacket
Rain coat or Umbrella
Jumper or Fleece jacket
Pair of T-shirts
Trekking Boots (water proof is better)
Sandal, Toilet paper
Cotton thick socks (2 pair), Woolen socks to wear with boots
Sun-hat & fleece hat
Sun block for lips
Goggles or Sunglasses
Thermal long underwear sets
Wind breaker pants
Flash light or Head light, Batteries
Swiss army Knife
Personal Dry Towel
Personal toiletries and medication which should be labeled
Snow leg Gaiters