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Upper Dolpo Trek

on the snow leopard trail to Nepal’s Far Wild West to Upper Dolpo

Trip Summary

Trip Mode
Hotels / Lodge and camping.
Trip Grade
Moderate-adventurous to challenging (in snow condition).
Highest elevation
At Kang-la pass 5,360 m high.
Trek duration
20 nights & 21 days (Jhupal to Jhupal)
Total trip
24 nights & 25 days (Kathmandu to Kathmandu)
April to November (July-August monsoon and wet months but least affected on rain shadow areas of Dolpo).

Trip Highlights

  • A unique destination around Nepal’s remote Far Wild West to Shey Gompa,
  • Captivating views of dramatic landscapes, mountains and of Phuksumdo Lake,
  • Panoramic views during the sweeping flight to and from Dolpo,
  • Exploring interesting Bon / Buddhism cultural villages of inner Dolpo.

Trip Overview

Enjoy the adventure to Upper Dolpo trek & Crystal Monastery or Shey Gompa trekking, around Nepal’s remote and wildest hidden areas of Upper Dolpo.

This fabulous and interesting adventure will certainly make you feel out of this world as this fascinating walk leads you to enjoy with incredible scenery of Upper and inner Dolpo area of Nepal Far North West.

The adventure begins following old Trans-Himalayan caravan route of Nepal / Tibet and on snow leopard trail (as described on famous classic novel “Snow Leopard by Peter Matthesian) trek leads around turquoise Phuksumdo Lake and Bon village.

Exploring villages of ancient Bon and Buddhist cultural villages as the journey continues over a high Kang-la pass to reach our destination at Crystal monastery or Shey Gompa, here with fascinating time then heading back to Jhupal through more lovely villages of Saldang-Tokyu-Dho Tarap and Tarakot with a short drive from Dunai the major town of Dolpo region.

A sweeping scenic flight to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj concludes this fabulous Upper Dolpo trek & Crystal Monastery trekking with excellent guidance and service of View Nepal Treks.

Upper Dolpo Trek Outline Itinerary

Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu and transfer to hotel.
Day 02: Morning sightseeing tour afternoon fly to Nepalgunj.
Day 03: Fly to Jhupal 2,320 m then trek to Dunai 2,850m – 03 hrs.
Day 04: Trek to Ankhe 2,896m – 06 hrs.
Day 05: Trek to Sumdu / Sulighat village 3,500m -06 hrs.
Day 06: Trek to Phuksumdo Lake 3,500 m – 05 hours.
Day 07: Rest day at Phuksumdo Lake for local excursion.
Day 08: Trek to Phokshumdo-Khola 3,640 m- 05 hrs.
Day 09: Trek to Phuksumdo Bhanjyang – 07 hrs.
Day 10: Trek to Shey Gompa 4,500m via Kang-La 5,360 m -06 hrs.
Day 11: Rest day at Shey Gompa the crystal monastery.
Day 12: Trek to Namduna Gaon 4,800m via Saldang La 5,200m.
Day 13: Trek to Saldang 3,620 m -05 hours.
Day 14: Trek to Yangze Gomba 4,960 m – 05 hrs.
Day 15: Trek to Sibu 4,560m – 07 hrs.
Day 16: Trek to Jeng-la phedi 4,900 m -06 hrs.
Day 17: Trek to Tokyu Gaon 4,200m via Jeng la 5,090m-06 hrs.
Day 18: Trek to Dho Tarap 4,040m- 05 hrs.
Day 19: Trek to Tarap Khola ( Kamekharka) 3,800m – 07 hrs.
Day 20: Trek to Kharigaon 3,150m – 05 hours.
Day 21: Trek to Tarakot 2,850 m – 05 hrs.
Day 22: Trek to Dunai – 04 hrs then drive to Jhupal – 01 hr jeep ride.
Day 23: Fly to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj and transfer to hotel.
Day 24: In Kathmandu free day.
Day 25: International departure homeward bound.

Cost Includes / Excludes

Cost Includes

  1. All arrival and departure transportation airport / hotel / airport.
  2. Accommodation in Kathmandu at tourist standard hotel on bed / breakfast basis
  3. A professional English speaking government licensed guide
  4. Porters (every 2 clients : 1 porter) and necessary porter in camping trek
  5. Food in Trekking (B-L-D)
  6. Accommodation in tea house/lodge
  7. Necessary  permit for restricted area.
  8. TIMS (Trekking Information Management Systems) card.
  9. Service of trekking guides his equipment, daily wages-medical insurance, meals and transportation allowance.
  10. Service of trekking staff -porters their daily wages-medical insurance, meals and transportation allowance.
  11. Welcome and  farewell dinner in Kathmandu at authentic Nepalese restaurant with cultural programs.
  12. Down jackets-sleeping bags  and comprehensive medical kits.
  13. Domestic airfare as per the itinerary Kathmandu / Nepalgunj /Jhupal-Dolpo / Kathmandu via Nepalgunj.
  14. Private transportation before and after trek as per the itinerary.
  15. Trips briefing with full information and reconfirmation of international air tickets

Cost Excludes

  • Nepal Visa-International airfare-personal travel / medical insurance.
  • Expenses of personal nature and meals in Kathmandu, hard / soft drinks throughout the trip.
  • Personal trekking gear and personal medical kit.
  • Tips for Guide and staffs.
  • Emergency evacuation by any means of transportation including Heli services and personal medical kit.
  • Early return from the trip due to personal / medical problem in this case clients should bear his / her own expenses on return from trek and in Kathmandu including expenses of accompanying guide / porters.

Upper Dolpo Trek Detail Itinerary

On arrival at Kathmandu international airport received by View Nepal Treks guides / staff for short drive to respective hotels around Thamel area, a tourist hub of Kathmandu.

After rest and getting refresh our guide briefs you regarding hotel, Kathmandu and Upper Dolpo Trekking with evening welcome dinner in an authentic Nepalese restraint with culture programs.

Morning optional tour around Kathmandu at places of interest full of World Heritage Sites, the Pashupatinath temple, Bouddhanath (Little Tibet), Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) & monasteries, old Royal Palaces courtyard; after the tour back to hotel for afternoon flight to Nepal Far South West at Nepalgunj city.

Nepalgunj located close to UP state of India border, during 50 mins flight excellent views of Mountains, at Nepalgunj in a nice hotel for overnight halt.

Starting with early breakfast and then connect the flight to Jhupal in Dolpo, on reaching Jhupal meet our trekking / camping staff, and then a short drive to Dunai for overnight stop.

Dunai an interesting and major town of Dolpo districts with time to explore its markets of shops and stores.

From Dunai, morning walk leads to cross over Thulo Bheri River with a climb above a ridge leading to Phuksumdo River valley, with wonderful views of Kagmara peak, walk leads downhill passing many scattered farm villages lined with walnut trees.

Then walk close to a stream at Dhera, a small cattle herders settlements continue with short climb to Rahagaon village of Hindu Thakuri people.
Walk continues downhill into forest reaching at Ankhe for overnight stop, Ankhe a small village and entrance to Shey Phuksumdo National Park.

After Ankhe village a short climb and then descend into a forested area to reach a river bank. From here a climb to ridge top with great views, and then downhill to cross a small bridge at Ryajik village, trek further to Sumdu near Sulighat village for overnight stop.

Morning leads towards our first destination at Phuksumdo Lake after crossing streams, following Pungmo Khola downhill into pine and birch trees to reach upper side of Phokshindo Khola, after short stops continue walk to Ringmo village.

An interesting and attractive Tibetan like village with mud plastered chortens and Mani (prayer) walls.

From here short walk to Phuksumdo Lake for overnight camp by the turquoise Phuksumdo Lake.

A wonderful spot for free and rest day, relax and enjoy beautiful views of surrounding landscapes and peaks of Kagmara, explore interesting Ringmo village and walk around lake side.

From this scenic place starts morning walk towards higher upper Dolpo area to our next highlight and destination, walk contours around rocky ledge above the river bank on unsteady path, then approaching western side of the lake into a summer pasture which opens up into a wide plain of Phuksumdo Khola to stop for overnight by the river.

Morning walk leads on a good path around northern area of Phuksumdo Khola and then climb up to reach a ridge top, offering incredible views of wide green valley overlooking at Kang-La pass which leads to Shey Gompa, here overnight stop on nice green pasture.

Starting the day towards our destination at Shey Gompa the high lights of this trip continue walk with a climb on stone and rocky path over Kang-la pass at 5,360 meters, the highest point of the adventure.
The top offers superb views of snow clad peaks including Dhaulagiri mountain range.

After the top descend to the base of the hill by the river then across cattle herder camps, then continue towards Buddhist prayer monument Chortens and Mani on reaching at Shey Gompa located below Crystal Mountain, regarded as Holy Mountain with an old monastery.

A fascinating place for rest day around high mountainous area, in complete harmony of nature and monks chanting, tour of Shey Monastery also known as Crystal Monastery, this area is well described by Peter Matthiessen in his classic novel “The Snow Leopard”.

From here journey continues through a wall canyon, as the trail meanders atop Saldang-la, offering views of Dhaulagiri peaks, then downhill to grazing area and end the walk at Namduna Gaon for overnight stop.

After this village walking on dusty and dry terrain, leading to steep climb to reach overnight camp at Saldang, another impressive and large village of Dolpo area, situated higher side of the windswept plateau.

From here, morning walk follows river Nang chu all the way with short ups and down then passing Tiling and Lurigaon a cattle herders settlement. Continue walk to our overnight camp at Yangze village with an old Gomba of pre Buddhist Bon-Pa culture.

Morning walk leads back on the same path to reach main route close to Saldang village, then taking North West direction to Sibu and beyond, walk follows the river through farm fields, and into Namdo village, another large village with an old monastery, from here walk leads to pasture land at Sibu for overnight stop.

After nice stop around summer grazing area walk follows Nam Khong Khola for short period, and then encountering yaks and mules laden caravan on route to Tibet, where trade with Tibet still exist since past hundreds of years and then reaching a nice flat area for overnight stop at the bottom of Jen-la pass.

From the camp of Jeng-la pehdi, morning starts with a steep climb to reach atop Jeng-la pass, with fantastic views of Dhaulagiri mountain range, from here a long descend to Tarap valley, one of the largest and longest valley of Dolpo areas which is about 20 k.m. which stretches all the way to Tarap Chu River. After a good walk for hours reaching at Tokyogaon for overnight stop. This is one of the most-lovely and interesting villages of inner Dolpo; consist of more than ten villages with nice tended farm fields and old monasteries.

After Tokyu-gaon, morning walk starts with downhill towards Tarap Chu on wider green valley, this is one of the scenic valleys with many Sheppard’s settlements tending and grazing Yaks and Sheep. Walk continues to our overnight camp at Dho Tarap, this is another interesting village with mix tribes of Tibetans origin and Magar hill tribe people.

Today, longest walk but on nice gradual path within the valley, which later forms into a narrow gorge with little vegetation of bushes of juniper and wild rose. On this area chance of spotting Blue Sheep and other mountain animals, walk continues reaching a confluence of two rivers Tarap Chu and Lang Khola for overnight stop by the river.

Morning walk continues following Tarap River and through a gorge, involves some adventure walk over some broken bridges caused by monsoon floods, and might lead to cross chilly river on foot sometimes. After an adventurous moment walk finally ends for the day to camp by the Tarap- khola close to Kharigaon a temporary cattle herders shelters.

Starting morning walk around lower Dolpo through Lalberi village and then into a small wooded area, following the river all the way to Tarakot.

Tarakot a large and interesting village steeped with past glorious history of Malla period and well maintained terraced farm fields, including old fortress (Dzong or Kot) guarding the village.

Tarakot village with famous old Sandul Gomba located at the junction of Barbung Khola and Tarap Chu River where the overnight camp is set.

After a great time at Tarakot, our last day walk takes to Dunai and then with short drive to Jhupal for the flight back to Kathmandu.

Morning starts following spread out villages a, walking on much wider trail with few short uphill into a valley and downhill towards Thulo Bheri River valley to reach at Dunai town.

From here time permitting with lunch stop then a jeep drive to Jhupal to make the day shorter. Last night in Dolpo celebrate the night among fellow staff and porters.

As per the flight time to Nepalgunj board on the small aircraft for a short flight to Nepalgunj, and then connect to another flight to Kathmandu on reaching Kathmandu transfer to respective hotels.

A free and leisure day in Kathmandu after an adventurous journey and tough trekking, on this day if interested book for sightseeing tour around places of interest in Kathmandu-Bhaktapur or Patan with rest of the day free for individual activities and shopping souvenirs.

Today, last day in Nepal with great experience and fond memories of Upper Dolpo & Crystal Monastery Trekking, as per your time for international flight, View Nepal staff transfer you to airport for your final departure homeward bound or to your next destinations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Starting with moderate walks with up hills and short rest stops, trek is pleasant but quite tough as it involves climb uphill and steep descend with high altitude to reach Shey / Crystal Monastery leads to a high pass of above 5,300 meters high where you might feel short of breathe, as the trek continues one will be acclimatized on daily walk. With rest day for acclimatization and the daily walk helps acclimatizing on this trek with slow rise in elevation, the only tough days are climb up to some passes, but taking slow walk everyone can enjoy this wonderful trek to Upper Dolpo & Crystal Monastery.
Morning and night time are always cold above 2,500 meters with day time are sunny most of the season, spring and summer above 2,500 m 15°-18° C average and minimum of 0° to 5° C, autumn / winter day time 15°-16° C and can get below -5° C during morn / night time. We do not run this trek from mid November to March due to high chances of snow on the pass and most of the lodges and guesthouses will be closed for winter vacation where local migrates to lower area of Nepal or to India also.
As this is a moderate with adventurous and as well challenging trek sometimes, one needs to be physical fit with sound health, however after booking this trip one can do short exercise jogging and climbing up and down the steps, aerobic or Jumba exercise will be great exercise preparation for this trek. Dolpo area of strong Tibetan Buddhist and ancient Bon sect culture with some Hindu religion, visit monasteries where our guide will inform of the rules while entering holy sites with dress conducts.
As this trek starts with moderate grade of walking as altitude wise as the trek progress leading higher elevation of above 3,000 meters will be adventurous overcoming high altitude and thin air, if the trails are covered in deep snow including the pass we use the word grade as challenging which is an arduous job to find the safe path to respective destinations. If the pass is completely covered in deep snow we will consider and might re-route the trek to safe area for the welfare, safety of clients including staff and porters.

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