Upper Dolpo is a camping trek which brings you into a mystical land where centuries-old Buddhist and Bon Po traditions, with shamanistic influences, are still an important part of daily life. The landscapes here are even more desolate than on the Dolpo Circuit and the villages even more isolated and authentic.
The upper Dolpo trekking route passes many gigantic mountain ranges of Mt. Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Kanjiroba, to name but a few, pass through Lower Dolpo, at one time a small kingdom in its own right. Meanwhile, Shey Phoksundo Lake that lies at Shey Phoksundo National Park during the trek to Upper Dolpo is also the main attraction of the trek.
Upper Dolpo is located in the restricted region of Nepal. Because of that, a restricted permit is required to explore this untouched area. Meanwhile, the cost of special permits is comparatively low during the Lower Dolpo Trek. The Upper Dolpo Trek itinerary is one of the longest trek itineraries that passes through the rural and isolated places of Nepal. We have mentioned the detailed itinerary of the upper Dolpo trek so that you could understand the trekking route and the lifestyle and the culture and traditions of the people living in this region.
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- Crossing Kang La, Saldang La and Jeng La pass.
- Explore mesmerizing Phoksundo Lake (Deepest lake of Nepal).
- Superb view of Kanjirowa Himal, Crystal Mountain and many more.
- Visit ancient monasteries of Dolpo district.
- Observe Unique Tibetan Buddhist culture.
- Adventurous camping trek to the remote Himalayan region of western Nepal.
Upper Dolpo is one of the challenging treks of Nepal. Meanwhile, there are no technical difficulties throughout the trekking routes. Kang La Pass, Saldang La Pass and Jeng La Pass are 3 of the high passes that you will be crossing during your upper Dolpo trek. All of these passes are situated above 5,000 meters in altitude. Because of such high altitudes, high altitude sickness is one of the major problems around this region. But you will be taking enough acclimatization and following other instructions by the experienced trekking leader to avoid altitude sickness.
Trekkers admire the wild remoteness, the stunning mountain scenery and the fact that the local people had that innocent friendliness peculiar to people who live in excessively remote mountainous regions in this trekking route. Trekking in Nepal’s Dolpo region allows you to experience the grandeur of Nepal’s rugged and remote far west. Dolpo borders Tibet, where the culture and much of the landscape is reminiscent of its northern neighbour.
Best time to visit Upper Dolpo is February, March and April and October, November and December when temperatures are pleasant, skies are the clearest, and there is minimal chance of snow at high altitudes. Late/early snow can affect this trek in April and November, making some passes impossible to cross.
Summary of Upper Dolpo Trek
A scenic flight will take you to Nepalgunj situated at an elevation of 1,50 meters above sea level. The small aircraft will take you to the beautiful airport in Juphal. The trail Dunai village is mostly descending down. The trail then takes you to the Sulighat which is followed by Shey Phoksundo National Park check post. The view of magnificent waterfalls, lush vegetation, and the tropical forest is throughout the trail reaching Chhepka.
During the walk to Jharana Hotel, you will get the first view of the Shey Phoksundo Lake. You walk through the trail of rocky hills on the western end of the lake. The trail continues through a lush grassland to the floodplain of Phoksundo Khola. The height of the Kang La is 5,360 meters above sea level. On descending steeply to the valley floor, not more than 45 minutes, you make a long meandering trek along the banks of the river, crossing it once. A red chorten heralds your arrival at Shey Gompa.
The path begins to zig-zag over bare rocks and coarse eroded soil until it eventually brings you to the top of Saldang-la. Surrounded by terraced fields, Saldang is an agriculturally prosperous settlement of Inner Dolpo. You walk further to Yangze village. The trail then leads to Namdo village. You then trek for two more hours to reach Sibu. From Jeng La Pass, you can witness picturesque views of Dhaulagiri massif. You walk through a broad fertile valley visiting several chortens on the way. About 4-5 hours of the trek will take you to Dho Tarap.
Sometimes there is no trace of any path and you may have to walk across stone slabs fitted on logs in between the walls which act as a bridge. The gorge also provides unexpected adventure and thrills. Through such an adventurous trail, you will reach Khanigaon. Tarakot is a small town which once used to be a fortress and capital of Tichorung Kingdom and was a popular trading point. You will be following the same route from Dunai Village to reach Jhuphal and take a flight back to Nepalgunj.
Nature rewards this isolated western region of Nepal with exceedingly amazing landscapes and serene beauty. Upper Dolpo is a paradise unexplored. It resembles the roofs of the world- Tibet. At places, the beauty of Dolpo by far surpasses the striking views people get to behold in Tibet. The villages, gompas and people you meet during this trek will leave an unforgettable impression on you. The Dolpo region lies between the Tibetan plateau and the Dhaulagiri ranges. Meanwhile, Shey Phoksundo National Park is another highlight while trekking in the Dolpo region.
The entire district was bound to trekkers until 1989 when the southern part of Dolpo was opened to organized trekking groups. Dolpo region which was made famous by Peter Matthiessen’s book – The Snow Leopard. Nepal’s first English subtitled movie on Dolpo, The Caravan, was also a huge success. Also, Within the trek route scheduled by Snowy Horizon, at Ringmo, the highlight of our Upper Dolpo. Trekking Trip is to have two nights here to enjoy the beauty of the deep blue waters of the Shey Phoksundo Lake. Our classic journey continues to the amazing country of Crystal Mountain at Shey Gompa. After following the ancient Trans Himalayan Trade route and back to Juphal.
Shey Phoksundo Lake
Shey Phoksundo Lake is located at an elevation of 3,620 meters above sea level inside the Shey Phoksundo National Park. It is an alpine freshwater oligotrophic lake, in the Dolpo district of Nepal. All-weather the crystal bluish water on the lap of mountains along the Yak routes. It is more beautiful with a real view than a virtual one. Shey Phoksundo Lake is the Deepest lake of Nepal which itself is pristine and untouched by the modern world. The length of the Shey Phoksundo lake is approx 5 km. There are more than 20 stupas in the southern belt and one gompa in the eastern side of the lake, where annual prayers and worship are carried out.
When you trek there you will find fresh air, pure natural water, the sounds of the river, the sound of horses walking through the trails, the people are very kind and helpful. Mirroring the snowy Kanjiroba massif, the turquoise lake waters look heavenly. Shey Phoksundo is considered to be a holy place by the Buddhists living in the Dolpo region and around.
If our trip itinerary doesn’t suit your holiday schedule or you wish to modify the itinerary then feel free to inbox us. We want our valuable guests to enjoy their travel according to their needs and wills. We provide a variety of packages for student groups/family groups/corporate teams and many more. Every travel package is different according to the group size and the demand of the guests. We are also more than happy if you combine it with any travel plans, please let us know and we’ll create a tailor-made itinerary, designed especially for your travel group.
Your Arrival Time (?) Our office representative will meet and greet you at Kathmandu Airport and transfer to your hotel in Kathmandu. At 06:00 PM: In the evening we will meet for a coffee and will brief you the details of your trek program.
Kathmandu Sightseeing and Trek Preparation
At. 10:00 AM: You will visit for a full day sightseeing of Kathmandu Durbar Square and Swayambhunath, Boudhanath and Pashupatinath. Besides sightseeing, you can do the required shopping for your trek.
Fly to Nepalgunj
At 09:00 AM: This day we will prepare the paperwork for the restricted area trekking. After that, we will be flying to the Nepalgunj on the southwestern side of Nepal which is also considered as the gateway to the far west.
Fly to Juphal, Trek to Shyanta
At 06:00 AM: Today early morning we will take the flight to Juphal which is on the northern side of Nepalgunj. The small aircraft will take us to the beautiful airport in Juphal. The view of mighty snow-capped peaks are visible throughout the flight. Juphal is our starting point of the trek and from here we will start our first day of the trek.
The trail then takes us to the Sulighat which is followed by Shey Phoksundo national park check post. The trail ascends up from here and passes through the hemp fields before reaching Kageni village. The view of magnificent waterfalls, lush vegetation, and the tropical forest is throughout the trail reaching Shyanta.
Trek to Jharana Hotel
At 07:30 AM: After breakfast, we will start our trek towards the Jharana hotel. Today we will get the first view of Phoksundo lake from the distant. The trail today passes through the wide meadows and forests. The gorge of phoksundo is just below us when we pass through the meadows. After the climb, we will see one of the most beautiful and largest waterfalls.
Trek to Phoksundo Lake
At 07:30 AM: After breakfast, we will be leaving the Jharana hotel and then continue toward the Ringmo village which is the bank of the Phoksundo lake. The trail first passes descending down inside the birch forest and then ascends up to reach the Phoksundo Khola. After crossing the bridge we will be heading towards the north to reach the ranger station at Phoksundo lake.
Phoksundo Lake Exploration Day
At 07:30 AM: Today we will explore the Ringmo village., Phoksundo lake, surrounding areas and monasteries. Phoksundo Lake is an alpine turquoise-coloured freshwater lake and the deepest lake of Nepal at 3,600 m. We will visit a 900-year-old Bon monastery, Tshowa Gompa. The lake is famous for its striking turquoise colour and spectacular scenery.
Trek to Phoksundo Khola
At 07:30 AM: The trail flanks the Shey Phoksundo Lake from the western side. You walk through the trail of rocky hills of the western end of the lake. The trail continues through a lush grassland to the floodplain of Phoksundo Khola.
Trek to Low Camp
At 07:30 AM: After breakfast, we will continue along the level path through a glacial valley that now heads north. As this becomes narrower and narrower there are impressive vertical cliffs and contorted rock formations. At the confluence of the Phoksundo Khola and another, unnamed, mountain stream there is an old wooden bridge.
Here you take the barely discernible path to the northeast up a side valley which has a cavernous look. There is no trail as such, so it is necessary to clamber over rocks and boulders and to ford a stream that rushes down the steep valley. A long climb brings you to a sheep meadow where the trail veers up a steep ravine. A hard climb to the top brings you to yet another valley where you can see the Kang La Pass.
Trek to Shey Gompa via Kang-La Pass
At 07:30 AM: It will take about two and a half to three hours to reach the top of the Kang La. The views from the top are magnificent and well worth all the hard work. The height of the Kang La is 5360 meters above from sea level. On descending steeply to the valley floor, not more than 45 minutes, you make a long meandering trek along the banks of the river, crossing it once. A red chorten heralds your arrival at Shey Gompa.
Acclimatization in Shey Gompa
At 07:30 AM: After breakfast, we will explore the village and monastery. Shey meaning crystal, this monastery is also known as the Crystal Mountain. The lama of Shey resides at a red hermitage known as Tsakang Gompa which is north of Shey. It is rather a retreat than a monastery. Walk around the area and explore Shey Gompa. Shey Gompa is the most popular monastery in Upper Dolpo. Hundreds of Buddhist devotees visit Shey Gompa yearly.
Trek to Namgung
At 07:30 AM: After breakfast, we will be following a pleasant trail amidst juniper which descends into a grey, stony canyon. Then the path begins to zig-zag over bare rocks and coarse eroded soil until it eventually brings us to the top of Saldang-la 5,200m. From there, the trail descends for a long time towards north to Namduna Gaun which is 4,800M above from sea level. You can visit Namgung monastery perched on the northern wall of a ridge.
Trek to Saldang
At 07:30 AM: After breakfast, our route leads to a climb up a scree slope. Further on it begins a long traverse along some dusty barren mountains. After 3-4 hours of walk, you start to see Saldang Village which stretches through a slope above Namga River. Saldang Village is the largest settlement of Inner Dolpo. Surrounded by terraced fields, Saldang is an agriculturally prosperous settlement of inner Dolpo.
Trek to Chagaon
At 07:30 AM: After breakfast, You follow Nang Chu river on your trail to Tiling, and Lurigaon village. You walk further to Yangze village. Here, you can explore the Yangze region, Bon-Po monastery, and Panzang river.
Trek to Darsumna Dhobhan
At 07:30 AM: You will start your day after breakfast. Today's walking distance is about 10 km from Chagaon to Darsumna Dhobhan. It takes approx. 6-7 hours of walking through the Dachun river gorge. You will set up a camp overnight.
Trek to High Camp
At 07:30 AM: The trail follows to the high camp which is at the elevation of 4700m. Today’s walking distance is 6.5 Km and you will gain 500m of height. You will follow the river bank walk and take a rest to cross the Jayanta La pass (5220m).
Trek to Tokyu
At 07:30 AM: After breakfast, we will start climbing to the top of Jyanta La Pass that takes about two hours from the high camp. From Jyanta La Pass, you can witness picturesque views of Dhaulagiri massif. After that, you descend towards Tarap valley. As you reach a stream, you follow the stream to Tokyu village which is 4,209M above sea level.
Tokyu to Dho Tarap
At 07:30 AM: After breakfast, the route leads eastward along the downhill course of Tarap Chu in a plain valley with patches of lush verdant grass on both sides of the river which is completely different from other parts of inner Dolpo. You walk through broad fertile valley visiting several chortens on the way. About 4-5 hours of the trek will take you to Dho Tarap.
Acclimatization Day in Dho Tarap
At 07:30 AM: You can explore the village, visit the gompas and interact with local people. Dho Tarap is one of the highest settlements of the world, is the junction of trails leading to Mustang, Jomsom, and Tibet. Inhabitants consist of mostly Magars and Tibetans. There are many Buddhist shrines in Dho Tarap. Bon Gompa above Dho Tarap is a famous one.
Trek to Tol Tol
At 07:30 AM: After breakfast, we descend towards a wide valley which eventually narrows into a gorge. We walk along with the juniper bush and wild rose, typical of dry inner Himalayan valleys, to just above the treeline. On this route, we might see herds of blue sheep. By the afternoon time, we reach the confluence of the Tarap Chu and Lang Khola, a stream that joins with Tarap River from further east.
Trek to Khanigaon
At 07:30 AM: After breakfast, we trek alongside the gorge of Tarap Khola. This will be one of the most exciting days of this trip, as the valley becomes so narrow in a deep gorge that in some places we can jump from one side to another. Sometimes there is no trace of any path and we have to walk across stone slabs fitted on logs in between the walls which act as a bridge. The gorge also provides unexpected adventure and thrills. Through such an adventurous trail, we will reach Khanigaon.
Trek to Tarakot (Drive to Juphal)
At 07:30 AM: After breakfast, we start our day trek following a trail to Lalberi village. Then, we pass through a forest, descend to a gorge then trek alongside the river. We will reach Tarakot after a total of 4-5 hours of walking from Khanigaon. Tarakot is a small town which once used to be a fortress and capital of Tichorung Kingdom and was a popular trading point. After reaching Tarakot, you will take a drive to reach Juphal the same day for your overnight stay.
Fly to Nepalgunj and Kathmandu.
At 06:30 AM: Today you will take an early morning flight from Juphal to Nepalgunj. After reaching Nepalgunj you then further fly back to Kathmandu and celebrate our final dinner together.
You will be free until your flight time; we will drop you at Kathmandu airport 3 hour before your flight.
Get all related informations about upper Dolpo trek here or feel free to contact us anytime.
Frequently Asked Questions
How difficult is Upper Dolpo trek?
The upper Dolpo trek is one of the challenging and difficult trek in Nepal. It combines a camping stay along with tea houses. Trekkers must cross several high passes to complete this upper Dolpo trek.
- All arrival and departure at Kathmandu airport as mentioned.
- Flight (Kathmandu/ Nepalgunj/ Juphal/Nepalgunj/Kathmandu) as mentioned in the itinerary.
- 2-star hotel accommodation in Kathmandu as per the trek itinerary.
- Daily breakfast throughout the trip.
- Lunch and Dinner from trek start day to trek end day.
- Necessary gears for camping.
- All necessary paper works. (National Park Entry Permits and TIMS Card)
- English speaking licensed trek guide.
- Porter during the trek. (Can carry 20KG Baggage of 2 people)
- Lodge/Tea house or Tentet Camps accommodation during the trek.
- 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 by your traveller’s insurance company.
- Sleeping bag, duffle bags and trekking route maps – if necessary.
- Farewell Nepali dinner on your last night.
- Personal expenses.
- Kathmandu sightseeing entrance fee.
- Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu.
- Nepal visa cost. (You will require 2 passport size photos and 30 USD)
- International flight ticket.
- Travel health insurance. (Recommended)
- Tips for the guide, porter and driver.
- Sweet things like dessert/chocolate.
- All alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
- Hot shower/batteries charge/heater during the trek.
- Any other expenses which are not mentioned in including section.