Upper Dolpo Trek as a holiday destination
The Upper Dolpo trek is one of the highlights of the restricted area trekking. The Upper Dolpo region is located in the Western Part of Nepal, between the Tibetan Plateau and the Dhaulagiri range. Trekking in this isolated and undeveloped region has only been permitted since 1989, and even now no more than 250 trekkers are allowed in every year. It has remained largely untouched by tourism, and the cultures and traditions of the isolated mountain villages are the same as they have been for centuries. This Himalayan experience is off the beaten path, but well worth the endeavour.
Embarking on the Upper Dolpo Trek provides a unique opportunity to experience an otherwise closed-off community that has dwelled in the mountains for many generations. The ethnic Tibetan peoples of Dolpo are traditionally traders, exchanging barley for Tibetan rock salt via yak caravan. In the summers they take their yaks to the plateau for grazing. The culture of Dolpo is an intriguing hybrid that adopts elements of Buddhist, Bon Po and shamanistic traditions and influences that are unique to Nepal. The desolate landscape and isolated villages have an incomparable purity, a delicate balance that higher levels of tourism would irreversibly change.
Getting there/coming back
Getting to Upper Dolpo entails a 45 minute flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, and another domestic flight to Juphal (35 minutes). Both flights will feature spectacular views of the mountains and are a great taster of the trek to come.
Trekking in the restricted area
This route is off the beaten-path, away from the ‘teahouse treks’ walked by the vast majority of trekkers to Nepal. These relatively untouched areas are called ‘restricted’ due to the limited number of visitors permitted to enter every year. Please check with us for availability. Unlike the more popular treks, the practise of catering to trekkers is not as ‘developed’, and while there are some basic lodges and homestays available, part of the trek will involve camping. Tents for dining and sleeping will be provided and set up at each site, and porters will be available to carry all of the supplies throughout the route. This trek requires an additional permit fee that can only be arranged via a trekking agency (we can provide this). The initial permit is valid for 10 days, with each additional day costing extra after that.
The trek passes through the Shey Phoksundo National Park (3500km2) of which most 4000m is above sea level, encompassing the spectacular mountains of the Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Kanjiroba ranges. The route also crosses three dramatic mountain passes at Nagdalo La (5350m), Shey La (5000m) and Jeng La (5110m). The national park is also home to many varieties of wild animal, including the Musk Deer, the Himalayan Blue Sheep and the Snow Leopard. The movie ‘Himalayan Caravan’ directed by Eric Valley (1999) was filmed in this region, and nicely captures the remote beauty of this part of the Himalayas.Beginning form the world’s deepest gorge in Kaligandaki, the trail leads on to the world’s highest region of Lo-Mangthang Valley, with a landscape akin to that of the Tibetan highlands boasting excellent panoramic views of Nilgiri, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and several other peaks along the way. The trail also passes through the scenic mountain pass at Taklam La, glaciers and alpine valleys.
This trek is challenging, it is strongly recommended that you have some prior trekking experience. Every trek in the Himalayas requires a certain level of physical and mental fitness. You should be in good physical shape and feel comfortable hiking up and down 7-12 miles per day whilst carrying about 10 pounds. It is recommended that you carry out at least one hour of aerobic activity 3-4 times per week for at least 1 month before starting the trek. Aerobic conditioning is important, as it enables your body to better metabolize oxygen and prepare for thinner air (there is 40% less Oxygen than at sea level). If you are in any doubt of your physical readiness, please consult with a doctor beforehand. Always remember that stamina, confidence and continuity are more important than speed.
Timing / Season
The best timing for your trekking will be late April to maximum to start for multi days trekking. The other time can be the September and October.
Its the perfect time to see flowers. Its not good before 25th April. After this time, snow gets melted, the way will be much clearer, and little flowers seem blooming, though they are not intoxicated due to their fragrance. There wont be snow fall in this time. It can be a bit windy in Juphal but not like in Jomsom. Other alternative season can be September
Staying for longer than 10 days in the restricted area becomes increasingly expensive, but there are plenty of opportunities for trekkers to explore nearby non-restricted routes such as the Annapurna base camp, Poonhill or Jomsom-Muktinath trails.
Packing List for Upper Dolpo Trek
If you are planning to venture on the Upper Dolpo Trek in other season
If travelling during winter
Day 01:Arrival in Kathmandu (1,350 m), transfer to hotel . O/N at Hotel
Day 02:Free Walking Tour Kathmandu, visiting local areas, Hindu temples and shrines and trek preparation. O/N at Hotel
Day 03:Fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj (200m)
Day 04:Fly from Nepalgunj to Juphal & trek to Dunai, 2-3 hrs (2,850m)
Day 05:Trek to Ankhe, 5-6 hrs (2,896m)
Day 06:Trek to Sulighat, 5-6 hrs (3,500m)
Day 07:Trek to Phoksundo Lake 4-5 hrs (3,500m)
Day 08:Rest Day at Phoksundo Lake (3,500m)
Day 09:Trek to Phoksundo Khola, 4-5 hrs (3,550m)
Day 10:Trek to Phoksundo Bhanjyang, 6-7 hrs (5,300m)
Day 11:Trek to Shey Gompa via Kang-La pass, 5-6 hrs (4,500m)
Day 12:Rest day at Shey Gompa the crystal monastery (4,500m)
Day 13:Trek to Namduna Gaun via Saldang La 6-7 hrs (4,800m)
Day 14:Trek to Saldang, 4-5 hours (3,620m)
Day 15:Trek to Yangze Gompa, 4-5 hrs (4,960m)
Day 16:Trek to Sibu, 6-7 hrs (4,560m)
Day 17:: Trek to Jeng-la Phedi, 5-6 hrs (4,900m)
Day 18:Trek to Tokyu Gaon via Jeng la, 5-6 hrs (4,200m)
Day 19:Trek to Dho Tarap, 4-5 hrs (4,040m)
Day 20:Rest Day at Dho Tarap (4,050m)
Day 21:Trek to Tarap Khola (Kamakharka), 6-7 hrs (3,800m)
Day 22:Trek to Khanigaon, 4-5 hrs (3,150m)
Day 23:Trek to Tarakot, 4-5 hrs (2,537m)
Day 24:Trek to Dunai, 5-6 hrs (2,140m)
Day 25:Trek to Jhuphal, 2-3 hrs (2,320m)
Day 26:Fly from Jhuphal to Nepalgunj to Kathmandu (1,300m)
Day 27:Leisure at Kathmandu, final get-together for dinner (1,300m)
Day 28:Departure to airport