Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek
Trekking to the Tsho Rolpa Lake: Adventure in the Himalayas

An Unforgettable Journey to Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek from Kathmandu

Tsho Rolpa Lake is the biggest glacial lake in Nepal, located at an elevation of 4580 m above sea level in Dolakha district of Nepal. This is the story of my trek to the gorgeous Tsho Rolpa Lake as a first-time trekker.

Karuna Bhattarai
Author | Karuna Bhattarai Date Published:
Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek

On a bright morning of June 15, precisely at 7 am, our merry band of “adventurers” bid farewell to the streets of Kathmandu and started on a road trip leading to the start of our trek. With a mixture of excitement and mild exhaustion from the early morning wake-up call, we settled into our seats, putting bags and gears in the trunk, ready to embrace the journey that lay ahead.

As the hours passed and the wheels spun, the monotony of the road threatened to lull us into a drowsy state. But the bumps, pits, and sharp turnings along the road kept us wide awake and the mere thought of the upcoming trek breathed a new life into me. Well, at least for the first couple of hours. Our destination? Chhyot Chhyot (also called Chet Chet), the starting point of our grand adventure to the ever-so-gorgeous Tsho-Rolpa Lake. Considering “Tsho” means lake in Tibetan, we are basically calling it Lake Rolpa Lake.  

After a long and, let’s be honest, tiresome drive, we finally arrived at Chhyot Chhyot at around 2 pm. Ah, the relief of stretching our legs and taking in the scenery that surrounded us! Tsho-Rolpa Lake beckoned, its beauty teasing us from afar.

Our journey commenced with a rather rude awakening. Within the first few minutes, our path turned into an arduous climb up a seemingly never-ending set of stairs. I couldn’t help but wonder if the trek had a secret pact with gravity. Up, up, and up we climbed, with each step pulling me and my excessively heavy bag down with greater force than the last one. With trickling sweat and wobbling legs, sanity seemed like a questionable concept.

stairs in tsho rolpa lake trek

The first hour of my first-ever trek and I was already questioning my sanity. What an experience! But here’s the twist: while I questioned my life choices with every step, my fellow trekkers appeared almost immune to the stair-induced madness. Okay, I might be exaggerating a little but they sure seemed like mountain goats in a game of hopscotch, their spirits soaring higher than the altitude we were yet to reach. 

While they maintained their cheery spirits, I trudged behind, struggling to find my rhythm. It was at that moment that I realized this trek would not be a walk in the park. It would be a test of my physical endurance and mental fortitude, and perhaps even a lesson in appreciating the absurdity of it all.

With each step, as my legs protested and my mind wavered, I couldn’t help but smile at the absurdity of the situation or maybe I was actually going mad. Here I was, a first-time trekker, questioning my sanity and yet reveling in the joyous madness of it all. Little did I know that this initial struggle would be the catalyst for a journey of calm, resilience, and a healthy dose of good-natured laughter.

From stumbling over rocks to marveling at the breathtaking landscapes, this is the story of our humorous escapade to Tsho-Rolpa Lake with a lot of added drama. Join in and let the absurdity unfold!

Table Of Content

Table Of Content

    Trail Details of Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek

    Trek Name

    Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek


    Gaurishankar Conservation Area

    Dolakha District, Nepal


    • Gaurishankar Conservation Area Permit

    • TIMS for foreigners

    Trek Starting Point

    Chhyot Chhyot (also called Chet Chet)

    • 1398 m elevation

    • 185 km from Kathmandu

    Chhyot Chhyot to Simigaun

    • 2000m elevation

    • 2.5 km distance

    Simigaun to Surmuche

    • 2480 m elevation

    • 4.75 km distance

    Surmuche to Dongang

    • 2790 m elevation

    • 5.5 km distance

    Dongang to Thangding

    • 3100 m elevation

    • 4 km distance

    Thangding to Beding

    • 3721 m elevation

    • 5 km distance

    Beding to Naa

    • 4200 m elevation

    • 6 km distance

    Naa to Tsho Rolpa

    • 4580 elevation

    • 5 km distance

    First Day of Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek

    tsho rolpa lake trek

    I have already told you about the early morning start and those damned stairs leading to Simigaun. Fortunately, even with all those stairs, the trail wasn’t all doom and gloom. As we climbed, the trail offered occasional resting spots and water taps, providing much-needed relief and hydration along the way. The water taps every kilometer or so meant we didn’t have to burden our bags with liters and liters of water. Of course, we took advantage of these opportunities to catch our breath, replenish our water bottles, and admire the picturesque surroundings. Oh, the view!! The hills around us looked alive with vibrant hues of green and white scarves of pre-monsoon clouds.

    After what felt like an eternity, we finally reached Simigaun at around 5 pm. The village nestled amidst the rolling hills exuded a tranquil charm that instantly made us feel at ease. The weariness in my legs was momentarily forgotten as I took in the peaceful ambiance. While walking through the village, we spotted a plum (aka aarubakhada,  aalucha)  tree full of the juiciest plums ever. The owner told us we could eat as many as we wanted and we did just that. That, to me, was the highlight of the day.

    Since the daylight was still on our side when we reached Simigaun, we decided to push further and trek to the next stop on the trail. We had intended to stop at Uttise but midway through, we got to know Uttise only had a teashop and no lodging facility. Adjusting our plans on the fly, we continued our trek to Surmuche, the next available lodging option. For reference, Simigaun to Uttise is 2.75 kilometers of not-too-exhausting trail, and Uttise to Surmuche had another 2 kilometers mostly constituted of stairs.

    As there was no second option, we pushed through, finally reaching our destination at around 8 pm. By the time we arrived in Surmuche, exhaustion had taken its toll on me. Each step felt like a monumental effort, but the thought of a warm bed and dinner kept me going. As we settled into the lodge, laughter filled the air, and we passed time playing ludo until dinner was served. The weariness from the day’s trek melted away as we savored our meal, and soon, succumbed to a well-deserved slumber.

    ludo in surmuche

    Throughout the day, one thing that proved to be a constant annoyance was the leeches. As this trek was during the pre-monsoon season, these little suckers were in their element, making their presence known at every opportunity. We had to constantly be on guard, flicking them off our shoes and clothing. I even saw a couple of leeches, bigger than the size of my thumb, feasting on poor Yaks and other cattle passing through.

    As the first day of our trek came to an end, I obviously felt a great sense of achievement despite the occasional moments of doubt during the day. It did test my patience and endurance but the breathtaking landscapes and little moments like stopping to pick wild berries and laughing at lame jokes, made it all worth it. I was told the first day is the hardest of all. Let’s see how the other days compare.

    The Second Day at Beding

    Oh, boy! The second day of our trek to Tsho Rolpa Lake was no joke. My muscles were feeling the aftermath of yesterday's grueling trek. The lodge had provided a comfortable bed and insulated warm room, and I couldn't be more grateful for it, considering how exhausted I felt. As I stepped outside after a restful night’s sleep, I was greeted by a jaw-dropping view. The surrounding hills had a radiant glow from the previous night's rain, and in the distance, the rising sun cast a golden shadow on the snow-capped mountains. That sight made me lose myself in its sheer beauty.

    After taking a moment to soak in the scenery, I freshened up and had a light breakfast with the rest of the group. We knew we had a long day ahead of us, with the goal of reaching Beding approximately 15 kilometers away. The trail we were following included several stops along the way - Kyalche, Dongang, Thangding, and finally, Beding. Although this trail might not be as popular as others in the region, it was well-marked, ensuring that we stayed on track. What I loved most was the roaring Rolwaling River running alongside us, and its sound provided a soothing soundtrack to our journey.

    rolwaling river, tsho rolpa trek

    Our first stop, Kyalche, was a small open area at an elevation of 2810 meters. We took a well-deserved break there before continuing our trek to Dongang, where we planned to have our lunch. The path led us through a wonderland of multiple waterfalls and picturesque bridges, captivating us at every turn. At 11 am, we reached Dongang, a village situated at the base of a hill, surrounded by awe-inspiring scenery and the gently flowing Rolwaling River. It was a refreshing sight and to top it off, the hotel there offered more facilities than those in previous stops.

    After a delicious meal and some intense rounds of a card game, we resumed our journey at around noon. With one-third of our day's target behind us, we eagerly anticipated what lay ahead. The grandma at the hotel gave us a rough idea of the upcoming terrain. She mentioned three bridges, spaced about a kilometer apart on average, followed by a half-hour climb up steep stairs. After that, the path was supposed to become relatively flat and more manageable. Her estimated arrival time at Beding was around 5 pm, so we thanked her for the information and continued our trek with new energy as the saying goes “Daal Bhat Power 24-Hour”.

    As we ascended to higher elevations, we encountered fewer leeches, much to my relief. However, the strain of the journey was taking its toll on my energy levels. I found myself taking frequent breaks, and snacking on candies to keep myself going. The higher we climbed, the fewer water taps we found along the way, so we had to carry an adequate supply. Despite the fatigue, we couldn't help but be captivated by the natural wonders surrounding us. We stopped to capture photos and videos of the enchanting bridges and cascading waterfalls, trying to immortalize the beauty we were witnessing.

    I can't recall the exact time, but we arrived at Thangding relatively early. With the dark clouds looming overhead, we didn't want to risk getting caught in a downpour during our walk. We took a brief tea break before donning our rain gear and continuing the journey. The trail beyond Thangding proved to be easier, with gentle slopes and captivating landscapes. The wildflowers scattered on our path added an extra touch of charm. Unable to resist, I plucked a few to press in my journal, preserving their delicate beauty for years to come or so I thought. Spoilers: they were moldy the next day because of improper storage. 

    flowers in tsho rolpa lake trek

    True to the grandma's words, we reached Beding right on schedule at 5 pm. However, we soon discovered a new challenge awaiting us to add an extra touch of drama. We got to know, most of the village residents were away for harvesting potatoes, leaving only two hotels open. Both establishments were jam-packed, with no available rooms for us. We made a few trips for alternative options within the village but to no avail. The thought of walking another 6 kilometers to Naa village in search of accommodations was daunting.

    Thankfully, a closed-off hotel, whose owner currently lived in Kathmandu, showed us a gesture of kindness. As long as we promised not to create a mess and arranged our own food, they agreed to provide us with rooms. Lakpa Baini, a young girl staying in the same residence with six other people, offered to prepare our meals. With our lodging situation sorted, we retreated to our rooms briefly to freshen up before gathering for dinner. We spent the evening playing cards and engaging in delightful conversations with the residents of our impromptu abode.

    And just like that, the second day of our Tsho Rolpa Lake trek came to an end. Tomorrow, we will embark on the final stretch of our adventure, reaching the grand destination itself—the Tsho Rolpa Lake. Just thinking of tomorrow was making me all excited and giddy!

    Finally! The Third Day to Tsho Rolpa

    Ahh finally the day I was waiting for! On the third day, we all woke up at the crack of dawn to soak in the beauty of Beding. This little town, home to just a few hundred residents, was an absolute stunner. Picture rocky hills, and snow-capped peaks, and the Rolwaling Valley’s sprawling grasslands stretched as far as the eyes could see. Add in some yaks and a gushing river, and you’ve got yourself a picture-perfect postcard moment.

    tsho rolpa lake trek

    With our spirits high and cameras ready, we were ready to start the third day of our adventure. Our goal was to reach the mesmerizing Tsho Rolpa Lake and make our way back to Beding for the night. However, the journey held an extra treat in store for us - the enchanting Naa village.

    Leaving Beding after a refreshing cup of tea, we set our sights on Naa village, a mere 6 kilometers away. Easy-peasy right? Well, not when your stomach is growling louder than a grizzly bear and your body is feeling the accumulated exhaustion from past days. Nevertheless, we pushed forward, determined to soak in every moment and make the most out of our time there.

    As we reached Naa village, we were overwhelmed by its natural splendor. We took a moment to lie down on the grasslands, gazing up at the vast sky, mountains, and grazing yaks. The air was crisp and refreshing, rejuvenating our spirits and tired bodies. Then, we stopped by a local hotel for lunch. As the lunch was being prepared, we also got to try yak milk and yak butter milk.

    With our bellies satisfied, it was time to tackle the next leg of our adventure: the hike to Tsho Rolpa Lake. The trail mostly snaked through sprawling grasslands, decorated with pretty wildflowers and echoing with the thunderous roar of the Rolwaling River. However, the final stretch was a steep climb, making us work hard even when so near to our destination. By the time we reached the sparkling Tsho Rolpa Lake, the clock had already struck noon. The wind was howling, but did it dampen our spirits? Not a chance! Surrounded by majestic hills and jaw-dropping mountains, we couldn’t help but feel like we’d stumbled upon nature’s very own masterpiece. It was a moment of pure, unadulterated bliss.

    tsho rolpa lake

    The Tsho Rolpa Lake, FYI the biggest glacial lake in Nepal, sitting in front of us, momentarily made us forget all of our exhaustion. We clicked so many pictures and videos of the scenery. The clouds fading in and out of frame, though not ideal, added a dramatic touch to all the snaps. We spent about an hour there simply relishing in the beauty and peace. There were only 2 other travelers besides our group at the time, so we got all the space and peace we wanted.

    Now, the journey back to Beding wasn’t all smooth sailing with our tired legs, a downhill slope, and wobbly knees. Yeah, it wasn’t easy but we powered through and made it back to Naa village in an hour and a half. I was sure I had acquired some superhuman strength when descending so fast. But again, I didn’t want to slow the group down, so the only option was to keep up. We went to the same hotel where we had our lunch and lounged around sipping on some piping hot tea with coconut biscuits (the one with yellow packaging), reminiscing about the views we had just witnessed. Did I mention we also got to see some fluffy cute baby yaks? They were definitely the cutest animals I have encountered so far. Ah, sweet memories!

    As the sun began to set, we found ourselves back in Beding, a mix of exhaustion and accomplished emotions filling the air. The trek had whizzed by in a flash, partly because the group had somehow mastered the art of turbo-charged hiking (seriously, slow down, people!). There were moments when I contemplated throwing in the towel, but I stuck it out, and you know what they say - the best views come to those who persevere!

    We wrapped up the day with a simple yet delicious dinner prepared by Lakpa Baini. The night was filled with lively conversations, and, of course, more rounds of cards. Succumbing into our beds, we were ready to bid the Rolwaling Valley farewell, holding special memories in our hearts.

    beding village, tsho rolpa lake trek

    The Last Day, Back to Kathmandu

    Did I mention, we completed what was planned to be a 6-day trek in just 4 days? Looking back, I still can’t wrap my head around it. Who needs time when you have sheer determination with a dash of insanity?

    Bright and early, at the crack of dawn (okay, maybe 7 am), we had a cup of tea and bid farewell to Beding. That cup of tea did nothing when hunger and exhaustion hit me like a ton of bricks within the first hour of the return trek. Everything wrong seems to happen in the first hour for some reason. Meltdowns? Oh yeah, I had a few, perhaps more than I anticipated.

    Our first pitstop was Dongang, where we had Kwati and bhuteko makai for breakfast and played this trip’s last round of cards. At 11:30 we were back on the trail, taking breaks for pictures and much-needed rest. As we had to cover a lot in a single day, I couldn’t focus much on the scenery. It was a little sad considering I wasn’t appreciating the journey enough because of how fast it was going. Still, I managed to find pockets of enjoyment, especially when we encountered the waterfalls scattered around the trail. Seriously, there were so many!! Lesson learned: Don’t forget to appreciate nature’s show, even when you are on a mission to break speed records.

    tsho rolpa lake trek

    Let’s not forget the not-so-glamorous moments (you thought I was done huh). My body was screaming for a break, but my FOMO and fear of being a buzzkill by slowing down the gang were in full swing. In hindsight, that was so unnecessary, I’m sure they’d have understood. Listen to your body! It knows better than your stubborn, adrenaline-fueled brain.

    Anyway, as we stopped in Surmuche for a tea break, dark clouds had rolled in, threatening rain. Of course, we were not going to let a little rain dampen our spirits (pun intended). We hit the trail again, brushing off the pesky little blood suckers so eager to give us some company. My knees and soles were basically on fire but the thought of reaching home and sleeping for 3 days straight kept me going.

    At around 3 pm, Simigaun greeted us with its eye-soothing scenery and a steaming hot bowl of thukpa with sukuti. After three days of daal bhat tarkari, every spoonful of that savory thukpa felt like a feast. We took a moment to rest before facing those dreadful stairs again.

    Descending was a challenge, as my knees protested with each slow step, while my soles ached when I attempted to run. If we wanted to return home that day and also take a dip in the waterfall at Chet Chet, I had to HURRY. So, the only sane option seemed to sprint. I ran like there was no tomorrow, playing “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” in my head and daring fate to trip me up. Don’t try this at home kids. One miss and I would have been a goner, but I made it in one piece.

    tsho rolpa lake trek

    Just like that, in an hour, we were at the very first waterfall that marked the start of our trek to Tsho Rolpa. Without a second thought, we dove into the cold pond under the waterfall, a moment of sheer bliss that washed away the weariness from our soles and souls. Ah, sweet relief!

    After relaxing there for a while, went to the vehicle waiting for us concluding this rollercoaster of journey to the Tsho Rolpa Lake and back. Or so I thought. The road trip was another fun chapter as we sang along to Nabin K Bhattarai and Narayan Gopal, a perfect 90’s vibe with a thundering storm as backdrop. A fog so thick you could cut it with a knife, and limited visibility forced us to move at a snail’s pace. It was the dramatic ending this trek needed.

    At midnight, we finally arrived in Kathmandu, greeted by a pouring sky, soaked to the bone with unforgettable memories. Cards, stairs, breakdowns, waterfalls, mountains- what a trip it was!

    Things I Would Do Differently

    Looking back on our trek to the Tsho Rolpa Lake, I would do a few things differently if I had a chance to do it all over again. While I enjoyed and appreciate every single experience, these might help you avoid making the same mistakes and make the most of your trip.

    tsho rolpa lake trek

    1. Pace myself better

    During the trek, I pushed myself to complete the journey in a shorter time frame. In hindsight, I would slow down and allow for more breaks to prevent exhaustion and fully enjoy the stunning scenery along the way. I would also stick to the original plan of 6 days trip. Completing the trek so fast meant missing out on some leisurely moments and interactions with locals. On some days, we ascended above 1200 meters in a single day increasing the risks of altitude sickness. Even though none of us suffered anything serious, having a few extra days would have reduced these risks significantly.

    1. Listen to my body

    There were moments when I ignored the signs of fatigue and pushed through despite the physical strain. I am glad everything went well but it could have gone wrong so easily with one small misstep. Trying to catch up to experienced trekkers as a beginner was a risky move. Next time, I would pay closer attention to my body’s signals and voice out my fatigue instead of acting on a whim to ensure a safe trek. 

    1. Pack lighter and smarter

    You won’t need a new set of clothes for each day, no matter how sweaty you get. There were so many items, mostly clothing, I carried but didn’t use. I would pack lighter, only bring essentials, and keep my bag comfortable and manageable throughout the trek. Fewer clothes and more snacks!!

    1. Appreciate the journey’s solitude

    The monotony of walking, sometimes, kept my eyes glued to the ground. Rather than being solely focused on reaching the destination, I would relish the small moments and unexpected surprises that come with trekking in the Himalayas. The sound of rivers, cooing birds, varying trails, bugs, and flowers, I would give more time to appreciate and soak in everything.

    1. Capture more memories

    Although I captured some incredible photographs, I wish I had taken more time to document my journey and experiences. I had carried a journal but couldn’t muster the energy to write anything by the end of the day. Next time, I would not only carry one but also write in it to record my thoughts, emotions, and memorable moments along the way, creating a more comprehensive account of my trek.

    1. Pack better rain gear

    Even though I knew of the chances of rain, I relied on some measly plastic cover to protect me against of rain. We were lucky that it rained heavily only during the night, otherwise, that raincoat wouldn’t have protected a single inch of me. So, for next time, I would invest in a good quality waterproof jacket and pants and also update my packing list for the next trek. 

    1. Carry a good pair of trekking poles

    This may feel unnecessary for a few people but I’d carry at least one trekking pole in my trek. The steep ascents and descents on the trail were pretty tough on my knees and ankles. Trekking poles would have provided some extra stability and support, reducing the strain on my legs during the challenging sections.

    1. Interact more with locals

    While I admired the natural beauty, I realized that I didn’t engage as much with the local communities along the route. Next time, I would make a conscious effort to interact, and learn about their culture, and build connections with the people I encounter. I would also try out more local Himalayan cuisine instead of just sticking to good ol’ daal bhat.

    That’s it, the journal entries I didn’t make during the trek. Hopefully, it was fun to read and provided a brief rundown on how the Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek experience was. I hope I didn’t scare you all too much. There will be a whole new blog for the informatic side of this trek including possible itineraries, cost factors, permits, and the like. Learn from my mistakes and make smart decisions. Happy Travels!!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • How difficult is the Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek?

      The Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek is considered a moderate to challenging trek. It involves steep ascents and descents, high altitude, and varied terrains. It requires a good level of physical fitness and prior trekking experience is recommended though not mandatory.

    • How long does the Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek take to complete?

      The Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek usually takes around 6-7 days to complete. This duration includes trekking days, acclimatization, and rest days. If you are an advanced trekker, you can complete the trek within 4 days. 

    • What type of accommodation is available during the trek?

      Accommodation during the Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek is primarily in teahouses or lodges along the trail. These teahouses provide basic amenities such as a bed, blanket, and meals. However, facilities may be more basic at higher altitudes.

    • What should I pack for the Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek?

      Essential items to pack for the Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek include trekking gear (boots, backpack, clothing layers), personal medications, sunscreen, a hat, snacks, a water bottle, and trekking poles. It's important to pack light and carry only the necessary items.

    • Are there any altitude-related risks on the Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek?

      Yes, altitude sickness is a potential risk on the Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek due to the high altitudes involved. It's crucial to acclimatize properly, stay hydrated, and ascend gradually to minimize the risk. If symptoms of altitude sickness occur, it's important to descend and seek medical assistance.

    • Can I hire porters for the Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek?

      Yes, if you prefer not to carry a heavy backpack, you can hire porters in Kathmandu or through trekking agencies. Porters can assist in carrying your luggage, allowing you to trek with more ease and comfort.


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