Upper Dolpo Circuit Trek
- Explore some of the UNESCO world heritage sites inside Kathmandu valley.
- Walk through the untouched and unexplored trekking trails in Nepal.
- Witness the amazing landscape throughout the trek.
- Scenic flight to Juphal and back to Nepalgunj.
- Experience the unique culture, traditions, and lifestyle of the locals.
- View the amazing Shey Phoksundo Lake.
When it comes to Nepali hiking routes, the upper Dolpo circuit trek is one of the most undiscovered and uncharted. Located in central Nepal, it is a popular tourist destination. And throughout the journey, you'll be passing through a number of high trekking passes that are above 5,000 meters above sea level. The Shey Phoksundo lake and the Shey Gumba are both featured on the upper Dolpo circuit hike. In the remote, undiscovered region of upper Dolpo, yaks, mules, and horses are still the primary means of transportation. Meanwhile, people are still adorning themselves with antique accessories and feeding their dead to vultures. As of now, the Upper Dolpo is one of Nepal's off-limits regions. Only about 250 persons each year are authorized to visit this area. Meanwhile, its use is limited to ensuring that distinct cultural practices continue into the future. The hike offers breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding mountains and scenery.
Because it's a restricted area, the paths leading to the Upper Dolpo circuit are undeveloped and relatively secluded. There are 12 stunning national parks in Nepal, with Shey Phoksundo being one of the largest. Shey Phoksundo lake's striking turquoise hue is a major draw for tourists. Yet, there are fewer places to stay along this trail than on others because of its lack of development. On your journey, you will stay in luxurious three-star hotels, rustic local lodges, and spacious camping tents. If you want to see how people from other cultures live and see stunning natural landscapes up close, this tour is for you. Upper Dolpo is one of the few regions left in the world where people still live simple, traditional lives. There is still seasonal farming, and in the summer the domesticated cattle are moved to higher ground.
The trails to the Upper Dolpo circuit are untouched and mostly isolated as it is considered a restricted area. The Shey Phoksundo national park is one of the biggest national parks among 12 gorgeous national parks in Nepal. The eye-catching turquoise color of the Shey Phoksundo lake attracts thousands of travel enthusiasts. The trail is not as developed as other trekking trails meaning you don’t have many options for accommodation. You will spend your nights in 3-star hotels, local lodges, and comfortable camping tents during your trek. This trek is perfect if you want to experience the different cultures and raw natural beauty. Upper Dolpo is some of the few places where you will witness the old and rustic lifestyle of the locals. Farming, and moving the domesticated livestock to upland pastures in summer are still practiced.
The culture is remarkably preserved by the people here as centuries old monasteries and Gompas still stand, and the cultural heritage retains a living pre-Buddhist religion that is active in the everyday life of the people, along with its religious monuments. Besides that, the main attraction of the Upper Dolpo circuit trek is the Shey Phoksundo lake. It is one of the most beautiful lakes in Nepal situated at an elevation of 3,589 meters above sea level. The unique culture, traditions, and lifestyle of the locals attract tourists every year. You can also add a short visit to Bardia National Park during your stay at Nepalgunj. There are various things to do in Bardia National Park.
Upper Dolpo is in the far-western region of Nepal, certainly a mythical place straight out of story books. The untouched routes of Upper Dolpo take you into one of the most remote areas of the Himalayas. The ancient salt trading routes of far west Nepal and Tibet open a new way to experience the Himalayan desert of Nepal. This almost magical place has several names given by its visitors according to their experience. Some like to call Dolpo a magical region of the frozen desert, some call it piercing blue skies and some call it the Shangri-La of unnamed peaks.
Major attractions of the Upper Dolpo Circuit Trek
The Nepali desert is rich with history and culture. Both the landscapes and the culture are very breathtaking. Notwithstanding its otherworldly scenery, Dolpo is well-known for its catchy rhyming namesake festival and lake (Shey festival and Shey Phoksundo, respectively). Here are some of the highlights and must-sees along the Upper Dolpo Circuit that you won't want to miss.
Juphal is one of the popular villages in the Dolpo district of Nepal. Similarly, the only airport in the Dolpo district is also in Juphal. Juphal lies at an elevation of 2,500 meters above sea level. And it is also the trek starting as well as the ending point for the lower as well as the upper Dolpo circuit.
Upper Dolpo Region
Upper Dolpo is one of the most remote places in Nepal. Situated in the northern side of Kathmandu people live here with the basic facilities available. Besides that, the people of the upper Dolpo are very friendly and helpful to every traveler passing by. You can also experience the warm hospitality of the locals during your stay. Meanwhile, marvelous views of the landscape, valleys, and mountain views are also the main highlights of upper Dolpo.
Shey Phoksundo Lake
Shey Phoksundo is one of the most popular as well as beautiful lakes in Nepal. It is situated at an elevation of 3,589 meters above sea level. The maximum depth of Phoksundo lake is 145 meters. Because of that, it is also listed as the deepest lake at such a high altitude around the globe. It is a freshwater lake and no aquatic life has been recorded in this lake.
The icy cold water from the Himalayas is collected by Shey Phoksundo Lake. Similarly, the aquamarine blue color of the lake attracts many tourists. Meanwhile, if you observe them then you can notice that this lake changes its color according to the amount of ambiance of light.
Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal and it is rich in Newari culture and traditions. You can witness various art and architecture in different temples and patis built centuries ago. There are 10 UNESCO world heritage sites in Nepal. Among them, 7 of those world heritage sites lie inside Kathmandu valley. You could stop by some of the most popular heritage sites inside Kathmandu valley.
There are various heritage sites to explore inside Kathmandu valley. Among those heritage sites, you will explore Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Pashupatinath, and Kathmandu Durbar Square. You can also choose to explore some other heritage sites of your choice. Similarly, you can also do some last-minute shopping before your trek. Besides these, there are also various tourist places to visit in Kathmandu.
Shey Phoksundo National Park
Shey Phoksundo national park lies in the mid-western part of Nepal in the Dolpa and Mugu districts. Shey Phoksundo National Park is one of 12 majestic national parks in Nepal. With an area of 3,555 square kilometers, it is the largest national park in Nepal. Established in 1984 the elevation starts from 2,130 meters. Similarly, the highest elevation of the Shey Phoksundo national park is 6,885 meters above sea level.
The landscape and the beautiful scenarios that can be seen inside the national park attract many visitors. Besides that, the most popular Shey Phoksundo lake also lies inside this national park. Meanwhile, Yarsagumba, Jatamasi, Panchaunle, Chimailo, etc are some of the medical herbs found inside the national park. Similarly, some of the rare species of animals can also be seen inside the national park. These animals include majestic Snow Leopard, Blue sheep, Ghorals, Yaks, and Cheetahs.
High Passes During the Upper Dolpo Circuit Trek
The upper Dolpo circuit trek is one of the most difficult and high trekking passes in Nepal. There are some high trekking passes that make this trek a difficult one. The highest pass of the upper Dolpo circuit trek is Neng la pass situated at an elevation of 5,402 meters above sea level.
Nagdalo La Pass (Kang La Pass)
Nagdalo La Pass lies at an elevation of 5,350 meters above sea level. Also known by the name Kang la pass, you will reach Shey Gompa after crossing this pass. It is also the first pass that you will cross during the trek. Walking through the bank of the Tuk Kyaksa Khola you will reach High camp and then to the Nagdalo la pass. Marvelous views of the mountain ranges as well as the beautiful villages can be seen from the top.
Neng La Pass
Neng la pass is another high pass that you will be crossing during your upper Dolpo circuit trek. It lies at an elevation of 5,402 meters above sea level. Similarly, it is also the highest point of our upper Dolpo circuit trek. You will cross this pass during your 11th day of the trek. This pass joins the Bhijir village with Saldang village. Marvelous views of the mountain ranges and the Saldang village can be seen from the top.
Jayanta La Pass
Jayanta la pass is the last pass that you will be crossing during your upper Dolpo circuit trek. It is situated at an elevation of 5,220 meters above sea level. You will need to stay overnight at the high camp to cross this pass and reach Dho Tarap. Similarly, due to the high snowfall in this area, this pass is open for April to November only. Meanwhile, in other months of the year, it is quite difficult to cross this pass.
Best Time for Upper Dolpo Circuit Trek
Upper Dolpo is one of the remote areas of Nepal. Because of that proper facilities of accommodation, meals, and transportation are not available almost throughout the trail. Because of that, you will need to completely depend upon the locals for accommodation as well as meals.
The best time for the Upper Dolpo circuit trek is during May and June. During these months of the year, you can witness the marvelous rhododendron flower blooming all over the forest in the lower region. Marvelous views of the lakes, waterfalls, mountains, lakes, and valleys can be seen during these months of the year.
Similarly, another best time to visit Upper Dolpo is during September and October. During these months of the year, there is very little chance of rainfall. After October the chances of snowfall are very high. Because of that, it makes it almost impossible to trek during these months of the year.
Kathmandu Arrival. [1400m/4593 ft]
Your Arrival Time (?)Our office representative will meet and greet you at Kathmandu Airport and transfer you to your hotel in Kathmandu.
At 06:00 PM: In the evening we will meet for a coffee and will brief you on the details of your trek program. If your arrival is late after 5 PM we will meet the next morning during breakfast.
Extra activity that you can participate in upper Dolpo circuit trek, let us know your preference in advance so we can schedule the program accordingly and book as needed.
Everest Mountain Flight (It is a 1-hour flight (scheduled at 6:30 AM) with a breathtaking view of the mountain range.) (USD 250 PP)
Gosaikunda Helicopter Tour from Kathmandu. (USD 400 PP)
Everest Helicopter Tour from Kathmandu with Kala Patthar Landing. (USD 1100 PP
Kathmandu Sightseeing, Trek Preparation.
At. 09:00 AM: Have your morning meal and get ready for your cultural tour, you will devote your full day to cultural sightseeing inside Kathmandu valley. Explore the Pashupatinath temple devoted to Lord Shiva which is famous for its awe-spiring and amazing pagoda architecture. Visit Boudhanath stupa, where you will be welcomed by the divine smell of incense and the cooing and grunting of the pigeons. After arriving at the Boudhanath stupa the divine aura will declare peace among people's souls. You can also enjoy the rooftop view of the entire place while sipping aromatic coffee and yummy food.
Pay a visit to the ancient Buddhist complex Swayambhunath stupa also known as the Monkey temple. At last you will visit Kathmandu Durbar Square, the ancient palace of the Malla kingdom. Kasthamandap, Gaddi Baithak, Kaal Bhairav Statue, Hanuman Dhoka Palace, and several other Pagodas are the things to explore around durbar square. If you need anything for your upcoming trek you can do shopping at Thamel.
Fly to Nepalgunj. [150m/492 ft]
At. 09:30 AM: Wake up and have breakfast at the hotel. Your trekking guide will receive you and take you to the Kathmandu airport for your flight to Nepalgunj. The duration of the flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj is about 45- 50 minutes. Upon reaching Nepalgunj you will be transferred to the hotel.
At. 01:00 PM: After completing your checking-in and short refreshment you can visit a nearby market to explore local people, food, culture, and attractions.
Flight to Juphal, Trek to Shyanta [2520m/8267 ft]
At. 07:00 AM: After breakfast at the hotel, you will move towards the Nepalgunj airport for your flight to Jhuphal. The duration of the flight to Jhuphal from Nepalgunj is about 45 minutes.
Upon reaching Jhuphal you will meet your further team (porters) for the trek and move towards Shyanta. You will stay overnight at Shyanta village situated at an elevation of 2,520 meters above sea level. There are only a few villages throughout the trail and Shyanta village is one of them. You can find decent local lodges with basic amenities. Overnight at a comfortable local lodge.
Trek to Samduwa. [3040m/9973 ft]
At. 08:00 AM: Have your breakfast at the lodge and start today’s trek. You will walk through the beautiful and well-maintained trail inside the Phoksundo National Park admiring the beauty. During this day you will walk through the peaceful path to reach Samduwa.
Samduwa is a small village settlement. Samduwa lies at an elevation of 3,040 meters above sea level surrounded by scenic nature. As you go to the higher elevation you will notice fewer trees and more of an arid landscape, nonetheless, you will enjoy the view. Overnight stay at a lodge.
Trek to Ringmo Village. [3640m/11942 ft]
At. 08:00 AM: The trail today includes a long and steep climb of about 2 hours. Mesmerizing views can be seen from the top. The best part of the day is that you can witness one of Nepal’s highest waterfalls. The waterfall is about 167 meters high. Similarly, it is called the Phoksundo waterfall. However, locals also call it the Sulighat waterfall.
Besides that from the pass, you can also view the breathtaking Phoksundo lake from a distance. The bright turquoise color is easily noticeable from a distance. Further, the path goes down and gets closer to the river. Once you complete the uphill trail, you will reach Ringmo village where you will stay overnight. You will stay at a local lodge.
Trek to Lower Forest Camp. [3670m/12040 ft]
At. 08:00 AM: You can also add an extra day to explore the Phoksundo lake if you wish to. There are various places to stop by during your day at Ringmo village. The trek to the lower forest camp is more challenging than on other days. The lower forest camp lies at an elevation of 3,670 meters above sea level.
Similarly, you will pass through dense forests and beautiful traditional villages on the way. Your porter and other team will move ahead of you to set the camping tents and prepare food for you as you will spend your night in comfortable tents. Stay at the lower forest camp for an overnight stay.
Trek to Lower Camp. [4450m/14599 ft]
At. 09:00 AM: Have breakfast and pack up pre-made lunch for the day. The trek to Lower Camp is easy as on other days. You will gradually gain altitude during the day. (Drink plenty of water to avoid altitude sickness) You will walk on the bank of Tuk Kyaksa Khola (river). Have your packed lunch during a day break and continue your walk towards lower camp.
As you reach your destination you will get some light snacks and hot tea. Explore the surrounding area as your dinner gets prepared or simply rest and enjoy the moment. There are no hotels around so you will stay overnight at the tented camps.
Trek to Shey Gumba. [4360m/14306 ft]
At. 06:00 AM: You will get up early and start your hike towards Shey Gumba. You will have to walk uphill from the beginning of the day. After two hours of walking, you will reach a high camp situated at an elevation of 4,460 meters above sea level. You will further walk uphill until you reach the top.
From the pass above 5,000 meters, you can witness marvelous views of the valleys. Explore the ancient monastery and the surrounding area. Although there is a monastery there are no accommodation facilities meaning you will stay at a camping tent. Spend some time at the Gompa (Monastery) and descend down to your camping site.
Trek to Namgung. [4090m/13418 ft]
At. 08:00 AM: You will begin your journey to Namgung right after breakfast. Today's hike includes both an uphill and a downward portion of trail. The descent is a little rough on the knees, but the reward is well worth the effort. Today's destination is Namgung, which you'll reach by traveling across the Saldang-la pass.
While walking you can see snow capped peaks around you but there is no vegetation and you will walk through rocky and deserted trails. You will stay at a tent today too as there are no settlements. You will be surrounded by the rocky hills with little to no vegetation.
Trek to Saldang. [3770m/12368 ft]
At. 08:00 AM: After breakfast, you will move towards Saldang. Saldang is one of the popular villages of the upper Dolpo. The trail goes uphill until you reach the top from where you get the Marvelous views of the Sladang and the nearby village. You will descend downhill to reach the Saldang village situated at an elevation of 3,770 meters above sea level, where you will spend your night.
Trek to Rhakyo. [4150m/13615 ft]
At. 08:00 AM: During the first few minutes of the trek, you will descend downhill until you reach Nagaon Khola. After that, you will start walking uphill. The trail to Rhakyo is both smooth and rugged. Walking through the trails you will reach a gumba decorated with praying flags and thousands of mani stones.
After collecting the memories and capturing the moments you will start walking toward Rhakyo. Walking beside the Nagon Khola you will reach a small forest before reaching the Rhakyo village.
Trek to High Camp. [4590m/18011 ft]
At. 08:00 AM: Rhakyo is a small village in the middle of nowhere and you can also interact with the locals. After breakfast, you will start the walk. The trail today is an uphill walk only. You will gradually gain altitude until you reach the high camp.
The high camp is situated at an elevation of 4,590 meters above sea level. You will spend your night at the tent as accommodations are not available throughout the trail. Overnight at a tented camp.
Trek to Dho Tarap. [3945m/12942 ft]
At. 08:00 AM: Breakfast at the campsite and then you will start your trek. First few hours of the trek you will walk uphill until you reach the top of the pass. You can rest for a while and capture gorgeous pictures. After the pass, the trail to Dho Tarap is quite easy. Though the hiking distance is quite long.
You will descend downhill. It might be a bit hard on your knees but it is easier than ascending. Before reaching Dho Tarap you will reach Tokyu village and then witness Gagar Takmar village from a distance. Once at the destination you can rest your bags and explore the village area. You will spend your night at a local lodge and taste local food. Enjoy your stay.
Trek to Nawarpani. [3738m/12263 ft]
At. 08:00 AM: Dho Tarap is one of the civilized villages of the upper Dolpo circuit trek. There are many beautiful traditional houses and other facilities available here. The trek to Nawarpani is one of the easiest of all the trekking days. You will walk on the bank of Tarap Khola until you reach Nawarpani. You will also pass through the beautiful village of Tol Tol before reaching Nawarpani for an overnight stay at camp.
Trek to Khanigaon. [2950m/9678 ft]
At. 08:00 AM: Walking through the bank of the Tarap Khola you will reach Chhyugar in a few hours. After that, you will leave the Tarap Khola and move towards the trail. Meanwhile, before reaching the Lain Odar you will again meet the Tarap Khola and move towards the Khani Gaon. Before reaching the village you will descend downhill and climb for a few minutes finally reaching the village of Khanigaon.
As you lose the elevation you will come across trees and vegetation. You can see seasonal local crop fields near the village area and might as well taste organic fruits and vegetables if you travel in harvest season. Overnight stay at teahouse.
Trek to Dunai. [2140m/7020 ft]
At. 08:00 AM: Walking beside the Tarap Khola you will cross a small bridge before reaching a small village. From there you will walk further on the bank of the Thuli Bheri and reach Takakot. Takakot is a small village and you can also explore the gumba in this area. From Takakot the trail goes downwards until you reach Dunai. People are very hospitable and interesting here. You can interact and pass your time by learning and knowing about their day to day lifestyle. Overnight at local lodge or tea house.
Trek to Juphal. [2475m/8120 ft]
At. 08:00 AM: You will leave the teahouse after breakfast and head for the Juphal. The path to Juphal is quite level at first, but the final hour of the ascent is much more strenuous than the one you may recall from the first day of the excursions. Located at an altitude of 2,475 meters, Juphal is a great place to see the stars. Once you arrive, you can spend the day wandering around the village or chatting with the residents.
Flight to Nepalgunj, Back to Kathmandu.
At. 08:00 AM: After breakfast, you will take an early morning flight to Nepalgunj from Juphal. This is a wonderful 35-45 minute flight over the Himalayan foothills, with fine views of the main peaks including Annapurna and Dhaulagiri to the north. You will then catch a connecting flight back to Kathmandu from Nepalgunj.
Once you reach Kathmandu airport our office representative will pick you up from the airport and transport you to your respective 3-star hotel. Spend your free time however you like and In the evening, join us for a traditional Nepali Dinner (Thakali Cuisine) with a live performance of folk songs as a farewell.
You will be free until your flight time, we will drop you at Kathmandu airport 3 hours before your flight. you will get to the airport 3 hours before your flight time. Carry loads of souvenirs, memories, and lifetime experiences back home, and Have a safe home return! We hope you enjoyed the trip! If you plan to extend your stay, we (Altitude Himalaya) are more than happy to make your visit memorable and enjoyable.
The information about the Upper Dolpo Circuit Trek is in-depth; feel free to contact us 24/7. We will be available on WhatsApp to assist you instantly. You can write an email if this trip doesn't fit your vacation schedule and requirements. Altitude Himalaya aims to offer the best possible travel experience to customers. Depending on the needs of the visitors and the group size, we customize each vacation package. We will put together a bespoke itinerary just for your private group.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best time for the Upper Dolpo circuit trek?
The best time for the upper dolpo circuit trek is during the months of March, April, May, September and October. Because of the rain or the monsoon season in Nepal it is not suitable to go on a trek for upper dolpo in the months of June, July and August. Similarly, because of the snowfall it is difficult to cross most of the passes and is not suitable during the months of November to February.
What about the clothing and the dress requirement during the trek?
This is one of the toughest treks of Nepal. Besides that the weather condition also may change from time to time. Because of that you will need to pack all of your basic equipment and clothes. Some of the basic things you will need to pack includes Trekking boots, warm socks, warm jackets, sweat t-shirt, gloves, raincoat thermowares and flexible trousers.
What about the meals during the trek?
Throughout the trek we will provide you all the 3 meals in a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. During most parts of the trek we will have our 3 meals at the local tea house or the lodges. Meanwhile, while moving towards the passes there are no local tea houses or the lodges because of that we will carry our packed lunch.
How long do we walk each day?
Normally, 6-7 hours of walk is required every day. However, you will also walk 3-4 days also in some of the days. Similarly, while crossing the pass you will also need to walk 8-9 hours per day too.
Communications options during the Upper Dolpo circuit trek?
You may lose communication in various parts of the trek. Satellite phones may work in all parts of the trek. Phone networks which work well in other parts of Nepal do not work here. Some of the popular networks around here include Hello Nepal, Sky Nepal, Namaste and Ncell.
What permits required for Upper Dolpo circuit trek?
Upper Dolpo is one of the restricted areas in Nepal. Only about 250 trekkers can enter the upper Dolpo in a year. You will need a special permit as well as the lower Dolpo permit as well to trek in upper Dolpo. Besides that you will also need Shey Phoksundo national park permit to enter the largest national park of Nepal.
What kind of hotels and lodges can we expect during the Upper Dolpo Circuit Trek?
Upper Dolpo is one of the isolated parts of Nepal. There are very few teahouses and lodges available throughout the trek. Besides that, camping is also required in different places. Similarly you will get 2 star hotel accommodation during your stay at Kathmandu and Nepalgunj. You can also upgrade your hotels at Kathmandu and Nepalgunj.
All airport transfers and sightseeing on a private basis.
Domestic flight transfer (Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, Nepalgunj to Juphal, Juphal to Nepalgunj and Nepalgunj to Kathmandu) as mentioned in the itinerary.
A 3 star hotel accommodation in Kathmandu and Nepalgunj.
Lodge or Tea house accommodation at the available points during the trek.
Tented accommodation as mentioned in the itinerary.
Daily breakfast throughout the trip.
Lunch and dinner from the trek starting day to trek ending day.
All necessary paperwork. (Restricted area permit, National park permits and TIMS card)
An English-speaking, experienced and government licensed trekking guide.
Required number of porters, kitchen staff and mules during the trek.
A well equipped first aid kit.
One local SIM card (returnable) during your stay.
All government and local taxes.
Guide and Porter’s salary, food and accommodation during the trek.
Arrangement of emergency helicopter service which will be paid for by your traveler’s insurance company.
Sleeping bags, duffle bags, and trekking route maps – if necessary.
A farewell Nepali cultural dinner on your last night.
Kathmandu sightseeing entrance fee.
Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu and Nepalgunj.
Nepal visa cost. (You will require 2 passport-size photos and 30 USD)
International flight ticket.
Travel health insurance. (highly recommended)
Tips for the guide, porter, and driver. (Recommended)
Hot shower/sweets/mineral water/ any alcoholic beverages.
Fixed Departure Dates
Why Travel With Altitude Himalaya?
We believe in the quality services to accommodate our guests 360 degrees need with tour personalization and customization. Our dedicated and experienced team believes not only in arranging trips, but making creating life long memories. Our travel experience within the region of Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet could make a memorable trip of yours.Confirm Your reservation Now
TALK TO AN EXPERT
we can help you find your perfect holiday
Mr. Kiran has experience of 10+ years in tourism across Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet holiday arrangements to thousands of travellers from around the world. He will help you to figure out the best possible vacation plan according to your choice and preference.
Nepal, Bhutan & Tibet Expert