Dolpo region that is situated between the Dhaulagiri region and Tibetan plateau is a land beyond Himalayas. This place is famous for its remoteness, mysterious monasteries, untouched and antediluvian lifestyles of the people, unique culture and tradition and of course the isolated land in itself. The fact that Snow Leopard can be sighted in this region from time to time only makes this place even more fantastic.
Until 1990, this place was closed to foreigners. In the autumn of 1990 the first British tour operator organized a trek from east to west, from Pokhara to Jumla through Lower Dolpo. That is why the culture and lifestyle of the people of this region is untouched and is totally unaffected by modernization. It only means that the trekkers can enjoy a great deal of the Buddhist cultures and traditions.
The trekking route passesUpper Dolpo Trekking various high passes, rivers, villages and monasteries. The Phoksundo Lake is tranquil and gives us a wonderful view of the blue lake surrounded by barren hills all around. This lake has religious importance too.
Upon your arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport, you will be welcomed officially in Kathmandu and in Nepal formally by a representative of Noble Treks Nepal. You will then be escorted to a hotel for Check In. As per your wishes you will either be taken to a short visit to the City of Temples or stay in the hotel. In the evening before dinner, you will meet with the guide of the tour and staffs. You can enjoy the excellent Nepali cuisine in an excellent Nepalese fashion afterwards.
After having breakfast, we will take you to some of the famous heritage sights in Kathmandu valley. We will take you to Kathmandu Durbar Square, Lalitpur Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Pashupatinath, Swoyambhu and many more. These sites are all listed in the UNESCO world heritage sites. While you are doing all these, you will also be preparing for the trekking that starts from tomorrow.
After breakfast, you will be taken to Tribhuwan International Airport where you will make an hour long flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj. You will get a chance to have aerial view of the plains of the Terai region. The city of Nepalgunj is more like an Indian because the living lifestyle of this place highly resembles that of India and you will get chance to explore around the city. In the remaining time, you will get a chance to visit nearby villages and a mini-zoo of the same place. You will also get to know the diverse culture of Nepal too.
Early in the morning we make a flight to Jhupal. The flight is of nearly 45 minutes, with the aerial views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountains on the northern side. After flying above the Himalayas, we will have to make a trek of 3 hours to Dunai. This is the starting of a wonderful trekking journey, by the end of which, it will have already been a life-changing experience. After uniting with the other members of the trek, we will then trek from the airstrip to Dunai through terraced farms and narrow gorge, of Bheri River. Dunai is also the administrative headquarter of Dolpo region that is dolpa district. As we will have some time left, we will explore the village too. The village is comparatively larger than other villages of this place.
At first, we cross a suspension bridge after which we will also go past a newly built hospital. Then after some time, we reach the confluence of Thuli Bheri and Suli Gad River. The trial ascends up the Suli Gad River and we are never too much far from the River as we can hear the sound of the water flowing down. After crossing Thuli Bheri valley, we go through Phoksundo River valley. In-between we will come across an area that has marijuana plants. However, this place is also the place where the farmrs grow their crops which mainly includes millet, pumpkin and potatoes. The villagers also grow a plant named “chuk” that is used to make vinegar and various medicines. Then you pass through three villages that have a very strange connection. One is named Parela meaning eyelash, another Raha meaning eyebrow and the third and final is Ankhe meaning eye.
Our day begins as we have our breakfast and then get ready for yet another exciting day of trekking. Today’s trek is of 5-6 hours depending on the speed of the walking of the crew members. The trekking route is a transverse one; ups and downs are frequent. After cooling ourselves on the small streams that are very regular, we cross the same river twice and make a steep climb on a very narrow path. After that, we go past forests filled with fir and birch. The sight is amusing in itself. Along the trial, we can have views of eye-striking steep cliffs that leave a mark in our memory. Then we continue to trek until we reach Sulighat. This is where we will spend the rest of the night.
After crossing the confluence of Pungmo and Phoksundo River, we cross a bridge and we walk on the bank of the Pungmo Khola. We reach Palam village we trek up to an edge of a hill to have mind-blowing spectacular views of Phoksundo Lake and a 300m waterfall too. The views are distant, however. But we are nearing the lake every minute. The ridge that we will be standing on is of 3,875m.
After that we descend down to move forward towards a birch forest, after crossing which we will arrive at Ringmo village. Ringmo village is a beautiful and antediluvian village; a mountain and a forest behind give the village a charming touch. From the village, it is only a short trek to reach Phoksundo River. We stay overnight at Phoksundo lake in a tent.
Today, even if you enjoy sleeping till late, you might want to wake up early to see the first rays of the sun hit the blue water of the lake to have a fascinating sunrise scene. The fact that you do not have to hurry today to go anywhere today might lighten up the burden for you. But this day is very much important as it is a rest day and it will also help you in acclimatization in the environment of the Dolpo region. The Phoksundo Lake also holds a religious significance too.
However, we are not to stay idle in the place. We will be going to back to Ringmo village to explore the village and also pay a visit to a local Tibetan Buddhist monastery. This will also make us familiar with the Sherpa culture too. We can also go to the waterfall too, an there are two ways to go there.
Today’s trekking trial moves up north. We first cross a bridge. The bridge is made of wood, supported on either end by huge rocks; it is somehow unsteady. But it is not hard to cross. It is a signal of what the world beyond this lake is like- remote. After that we come across a valley, and then we cross it too, to come on the bank of the Phoksundo Khola to stay overnight there in a camp.
We trek in a glacial valley for about an hour after which we arrive at the conflucense of the phoksundo Khola and a mountain stream. We cross the wooden bridge there. Then we keep walking forward to the northern-east side, which takes to another valley. Before reaching the valley, we have to make a hard climb- the climb is pretty steep. From the valley, we can clearly see the Kang La pass. This is the same pass that will take us to Shey Gompa. Along the trial, we also admire the view of the Chhamlang peak 6 (6739m) and peak 7 (6105m).
Today we will be crossing the Kang La Pass at 5,151m. To reach up to the pass, we will have to trek for nearly 3 hours. The trekking can be physically tiring, but the hard work is totally worth it. The view of the valley ahead is made interesting by a river in-between that divides the valley into nearly two equal halves. The fact the valley is all brown all around with many dimples within itself makes it even more fascinating. The scene is somehow appealing to our senses. We then cross the valley within 1 hour, to make a long trek alongside the river we earlier talked about. Then we arrive at Shey Gompa the same day. On the way, after crossing the valley, we will be able to encounter the scenes of the grazing yaks and mountain goats. Overnight stay in the compound of the Shey Gompa.
Shey Gompa always becomes the centre of attraction Upper Dolpo during a festival in June known as Kora. Shey means Crystal, and the place around the Gompa is also known as Crystal Mountain. The crystal mountain is very strange- it is laced with quartz and embedded with a rich variety of marine fossils, which is very strange indeed to be at such a place. The Gompa was built in 1655 and it contains a giant copper with gilded gold statue of a seated Shakyamuni Buddha. This is also an acclimatization day, as we are gaining higher altitude; it is important that we go slowly and be properly familiar with the environment. Today, we will explore around the monastery and Shey village.
The trial at first takes us through the juniper trees and then the trial starts to descend to valley. The trial forward is crisscrossed, with bare stone and eroded soil all over. Then the trial takes us to the top of the Saldang La (5,200m/17,056ft). Here we will enjoy great views towards the arid landscapes of Mustang and the distant snow peaks of Tibet too. After that we make a descent to a grazing field of the yaks. After we arrive in Namduna gaon, we pay a visit to Namduna Monastery. 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 Gompa 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 flows down to the Nam Khong valley.
We leave Namduna village behind us, and then we continue to climb an inclined hill. The walk ahead is a long walk of many hours on the dusty and deserted mountain. However the trekking will be fun as we chat along the guide and he tells us all about the history and everything about the Dolpo region. After some time, we will see Saldang village down us, which is the largest village of the area. The village stretches for two kilometers on an open slope and consists of five villages having eighty well-built houses with nearly six hundred villagers. The village is very important not only agriculturally, but because of it’s location too. The location there is very much favorable to do trade with the Tibet. The village is nearly on the same altitude as that of the Ringmo village, but its composition is totally different.
We walk along the bank of the Nagon Khola. Passing through many ups and downs, we also pass across Marang and Ki villages. After that we come across Panzang River, and we cross it’s tributary to leave it behind. Then we travel east and cross the river again.
Today, we head back to trial of the Shaldang village. Even though there is another way, we prefer to walk through this one because it saves us a lot of time. Leaving Saldang behind, you pass through terraced fields, Stupas, Chortens, heaps of Mani stones and a Chaiba monastery. Then we reach to Namdo village, which is also very similar to Saldang in many ways. As we have a lot of time, we will also go through the Namdo Monastery, at the end of the village. There is also another monastery at the end of top of cliff. After another 2 hour s of walking takes us to Sibu village. This village is comparatively smaller. We camp on the river bank, and spend our night there.
Today also, the trial is going alongside the river. After some time, we pass by the caravans with yaks and after about two hours, we pass the confluence of two streams. Then we have to make a steep climb which in turn will take us to meadow. The meadow is the grazing of yaks and mountain goats. The grazing meadow is just below the Jeng-La Phedi. We stay overnight in the middle of the meadow.
The trial is fairly steep today initially. After 2 hours of climbing forth, we will reach the Jeng La Phedi. From the top of Jeng La, there is an excellent view of the Dhaulagiri Mountain accompanied by other peaks of the same region. From here, we go down to the Tarap Valley which a green valley. The valley is a amazing one with plains all around, along the Tarap Chu River for about 20 kilometers. The valley is cultivable, and it also serves as a grazing site for the yaks and the mountain goats. It has 10 villages and many monasteries. We camp near the Tokyu monastery of the Tokyu Gaon.
Today, we will first pay a visit to the nearby Chaiba monastery. We trek downhill, with the trekking route filled with patches of grasses all over the place. The vegetation of this region is quite different to that of the other parts of the Inner Dolpo. The trial is very easy, as we walk along the valley itself. We reach Do Tarap in about 5 hours after having started our trekking.
Today is our rest day in Dho Tarap, which will give us some time to restrengthen our body. We explore around the village. Tarap is a village inhibited by the Magars(tribe of the Hills of Nepal), but a few Tibetans reside too. We visit Buddhist Gompa which is near our campsite. We can also visit a Bon Po Gompa, after walking or 40 minutes. This village like many other of the Dolpo region is isolated from the outer world. The daily life of the inhibits is spent being busy on the agricultural fields, while many other take the yaks and other animals to grazing fields nearby. Animal dung is dried in this place as there is no other option for fire in this treeless land of Dolpo. The inhabitants of this village are both Bon Po and Buddhist (Nyingmapa). The ‘ French School ‘ is just outside the village of Dho Tarap where the local kids are educated.
We descend downhill towards a valley, which in turn transforms to become a narrow gorge. On the trial, we walk through the trees of the Juniper and Wild Rose Bushes. One may see blue sheep, marmots, yaks, sheep, and goats and perhaps meet people from Dolpo taking their flocks of sheep and goats to lower pastures for the winter. By the afternoon, we will reach the confluence of the Tarap Chu and Lang Khola. When we reach grazing field named KamaKahrka, we will set up our camp there and spend the night there.
Our trial is the walking alongside the gorge of the Tarap Khola. Sometimes we have to walk high above on a narrow trail built out from the steep slopes. As the valley begins to narrow yet again, it forms a deep gorge. The gorge provides surprising ecstasy, fun and adventure. The route sometimes becomes narrow and disintegrating, and at other times, the trial becomes broad and smooth. After crossing various staircases and bridges, we finally reach the Khanigaon, where we will spend the rest of day in a camp.
Our trial first crosses the newly made suspension bridge and then takes us to village of Lalberi. After that, we go past a lush forest, descend into another gorge and continue to follow the river again.We also walk amongst the various crops of millet, sweet corn, barley, buckwheat, green beans, chilies and marijuana. Tarakot was an old fortess town until Gorkha dynasty flourished in the medieval period. We stay overnight at tented camp.
First of all, we cross a bridge near Lawan village. The trekking route today is easy and solid. Until we reach Byas Gadi our trial continues alongside Bheri River. We cross another bridge near LochaKhola gaon and then ascend to Dunai to stay there overnight. You have completed a great adventure and a celebration is well deserved.
We enjoy beautiful landscapes as seen from the trekking route. You might remember this route because this is the same route from where you started your trekking. We pass through Dhupichaur, Rupgad, Kalagaonda and Motipur villages. After that we reach Jhuphal. As the trekkingis only oof 3 hours, you have plenty of time to rest and if you want to then you can explore around the place too.
Early in the morning, we take the flight back to Kathmandu. After you arrive in Kathmandu, you will be transferred to your hotel. A celebration is sure to happen. After that you exchange the photos and all, there is still plenty of time for you to rest.
This is your leisure day and you will have a farewell dinner from the side of NobleTreks Team. Stay in hotel in Kathmandu. This is also a rest day. This day gives you rest that you have totally deserved. You also have option to extend your trip if you want to.
Your adventurous journey comes to an end here. So you have to leave, but take with us lots of memories and joyous moments. If you ever decide to come to Nepal again, we will surely be in touch.