Upper Dolpo is isolated region situated between Dhaulagiri range and the Tibetan plateau. Also referred as the last enclave of pure Tibetan culture, landscape, Buddhist religion this place was only open after 1996 for the foreigners. People here live 4300m high above sea level and still practice the pre-Buddhist Bon po or shamanistic religion. Peter Matthiessen’s “The Snow Leopard” and David Snellgrove’s “Himalayan Pilgrimage” and Eric Valli’s superb film “Himalaya” has contributed mystique Dolpo to outer world.
To begin this Upper Dolpo Shey Gompa trek, we first fly to Nepalgunj and onward to Juphal, headquarter of Dolpo region. We walk through vast and rugged landscape; villages inhabited by Tibetan descendent people. Likewise, we cross few high Himalayan passes, enjoy serenity of Phoksundo lake, visit different monasteries such as Shey gompa, Yanze gompa, Shukser gompa etc. From Shey Gompa, we continue our trek following ancient Trans-himalayan trade route and return back to Jhuphal ending our trek in this Wild West region of Nepal.
Things to Remember
a. Upper Dolpo Shey Gompa trek crosses high Himalaya altitude of over 5360m with extreme temperatures of -10 to -20 degree. It is crucial to follow expedition style camping trekking facilities with highly experience Sherpa and staffs.
b. The itinerary is well designed in order to allow proper rest and acclimatization to cope high altitude. Though trekkers should have well fitness and in good health condition.
c. Flight between Nepalgunj to Juphal and vice versa is generally reliable. In case of bad weather, flight is cancelled often and to avoid missing international flights, we recommend 2-3 days extra at end of your trip.Also be prepared to pay some extra money for Helicopter flights. Which may cost $ 300 – $ 800 or more depending on persons on the flight. For group, we normally charter helicopter flights. Make sure that you have full-fledged insurance coverage arrangement. In our program there is two night as buffer day in case of unforeseen circumstances.
Day 01- Arrival in Kathmandu
Welcome to Nepal! Ramdung Expedition representative will meet you at the airport and bring you to your hotel in Kathmandu. You can take a rest or if you are arriving earlier, can visit around the city.
In the evening we will hold a briefing session regarding your trip and get to know your Nepali trekking companion. We’ll be happy to answer any question you may have. O/N Hotel.
Day 02- Sightseeing trip / Trek preparation
Kathmandu valley is has fantastic UNESCO world heritages all around. Today after the breakfast, you’ll be visiting Boudhanath Stupa (the largest Buddhist shrines in the world), Pashupatinath (the holiest Hindu temple in the world), Durbar Squares (Palaces and fortresses of medieval Kings). The lifestyle of the Nepalese people, holy sadhus and monks, the fascinating history and the awe-inspiring architecture will be the highlight of this day. You can also buy or rent any needed gear or clothing from trekking/mountaineering shops. O/N Hotel (B)
Day 03 – Fly Kathmandu to Nepalgunj. 1 hr
We take an hour's flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj in Western part of Nepal. Nepalgunj is a border town near Nepal India border and is the gateway to Simikot of Humla. The town itself is an interesting Terai town of Nepal with influences from both the Nepal hills and plains well as local Hindu & Muslim cultures. Some sightseeing places in Nepalgunj include Mini Zoo, Muslim bazaar, or if possible and interested take a walk into nearby villages can be done. We have to also make preparation for tomorrow's flight to Jhupal. O/N Hotel (BLD)
Day 04 – Fly Nepalgunj to Jhupal (dolpo). 45 mins.. Trek to Sulighat (2280m). 2-3 hrs
After an early breakfast, we take a morning flight to Jhupal Airport, the only airport to connect Dolpo via air. The 45minutes flight over the high mountains brings you at Jhupal. On arriving at Jhupal our trekking staffs will receive you, who already been there some days before. Our first day adventure begins through the terraced fields to the Bheri River and the narrow gorge taking 2-3 hours to camp at Sulighat. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 05 – Sulighat to Chepka (2835m). 5-6 hrs
Today is interesting to note the variety of crops grown in this area, which include millet, pumpkin, potatoes, sweet corn and chilies. Occasionally, you come across areas overgrown with marijuana plants. Then, we reach the entrance of Phoksundo National Park at a village and to our camping place for today Chepka. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 06 – Chepka to Amchi Hospital (3100m) near Sanduwa. 6 hrs
This is another delightful trekking day along forested gorge passing through birch, deciduous larches, and fir trees, some with autumn colours. From now on we really starts to feel like we are in Tibetan village with flat roofed houses and fields of buckwheat. Our camp is near the Amchi Hospital and Tapriza school. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 07 – Amchi Hospital To Phoksundo lake (3611m). 5 hrs
we start walking along Phoksundo river. In some time, we reach Palam village and climb ridge viewing distant Phoksundo lake and stunning view of a 300m waterfall, Nepal’s highest. We then reach Ringmo, a picturesque village, from where Phoksundo is just a stone’s throw away and we camp near to the lake. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 08 – Explore around Phoksundo lake
Today we’ll be acclimatizing in Phoksundo lake. We also have short hike to Ringmo village and Tibetan Buddhist monastery there. We can see local culture and people with clothing dyed with maroon color and Tibetan-style somba or dhocha. Dhocha means boot with unturned toes. And off-course with jewelry made of religious amulets, coral, amber and turquoise. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 09 –Phoksundo lake to Phoksundo khola. 4-5 hrs
We walk around top west end of Phoksundo lake. The trail is unsteady and is signal that we’ll be entering remote area. At westernmost edge of lake, the path leads us to flood plain of Phoksundo khola. We then walk through the valley, crossing the river and camping in the bank. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 10 – Phoksundo khola to Phoksundo Bhanjyang . 6.5hrs
We cross several streams walking knee deep in the cold water. The trails along this route seem
less trodden, which is an indication that not many people frequent this remote region. After a steep climb, we reach walk through a ravine and reach a valley from where we can see the Kang La Pass. We reach Phoksundo Bhanjyang after a 6 and half hour trek. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 11 – Phoksundo Bhanjyang to Kangla Pass (5360m) to Shey gompa (4500m). 5.5 hrs
A challenging 3-hour walk takes up to the top of the Kang La Pass, which is at an elevation of 5,151 meters. You are rewarded with stunning views from Kang La Pass. After admiring the panorama, we continue on the trails which bring us along the banks of the river again, which we cross once, then finally taking us to Shey Gompa. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 12 – Rest or explore day.
We spend the day exploring the village. Shey Gompa is really famous for its Gompa, which means monastery. Shey Gompa (also called Crystal Mountain; Shey means crystal) was built almost a thousand years ago. Besides being a historical monument, the monastery is also famous for its Buddhist tradition. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 13 – Shey Gompa to Saldang pass (5200m) to Namgung gaon (4400m). 6.5 hrs
We trek through an easy trail, which gradually ascends to a canyon. After about half an hour from the canyon, we reach Saldang La Pass situated at 4,785 meters above sea level. From Saldang La Pass, we can see Mustang’s amazing landscape and small peaks. As we descend from the pass, we come across yak herds and traditionally woven nomadic tents. We then reach the beautiful Namgung Gaon which has a beautiful monastery. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 14 – Namgung gaon to Saldang (3770m). 4-5 hrs
As we leave Namgung Gaon, we start an ascent atop small barren cliffs. After trekking for four hours, we are brought to Saldang which is 3770 meters in elevation. It is a beautiful village and the biggest one in this area of Dolpo. The region is arid and belongs to the trans-Himalayan Tibetan plateau. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 15 – Saldang to Yanze Gompa (4960m) 4.5 hrs
Start walking north along Nagon river to wild and barren terrain. We will be walking gradual up and down trail. We pass marang and Ki village then cross tributary of Panzang river. Then walk east and cross river again before reaching Yangze Gompa monastery. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 16 – Yanze Gompa to Sibu (4560m) 6 Hrs
Today, we walk along the river and through terraces, we can see several chortens and stupas along the way. We pass by Namdo village, which is a huge 5-km across settlement, with a huge monastery on near the river. We then head to Sibu and camp on the banks of the river. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 17 – Sibu to Jengla phedi (4900m). 5.5 hrs
We continue our trek from Sibu along the river valley on a fairly flat trail. A couple of hours of walking will bring us to the side of the valley, after which the trail climbs sharply. We enjoy the view and the pristine lifestyle of the people. We camp at the base of the Jeng La Pass. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 18 – Jengla Phedi to Jengla pass (5090m) to Tokyu Gaon (4200m). 6 hrs
A 2-hour climb brings on to the top of the Jeng La Pass, at 4,845 meters. The trail itself is not very difficult as the altitude gain is not very significant – we gain less than 500 meters in altitude. After we descend to the other side of the pass, we walk along pleasant trails to reach Tarap Chu, which is a picturesque valley with fantastic landscape. O/N camping (BLD)
Day 19 – Tokyu gaon to Dho Tarap (4090m). 5 hrs
Today, we trek along a well-trodden trails after we leave Tokyu Gaon. The local folks will be seen doing their daily chores in agriculture and animal husbandry. The French School is just outside the mostly Tamang village called Dho Tarap. You can visit the surroundings monasteries and enjoy the breathtaking views. Have a conversation with locals who have hardly seen westerners. The Dolpo people wear home spun clothing that is sometimes dyed maroon and they favor Tibetan style somba or dhocha (boots with upturned toes) for foot wear. Both men and women often wear religious amulets and strings of coral, amber and turquoise.O/N camping (BLD)
Day 20 – Dho Tarap to Nawarpani (3475m). 5-6 hrs
The trails today move mostly downhill with narrows gores and rivers below. There are several small uphills and downhills, though, along which we will be able to see blue sheep, yaks, marmots and so forth. Narrow at some stretches, the trails are really exhilarating to walk on due to the way it’s been carved inside cliff faces. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 21 – Nawarpani to Laini (3370m) 5-6
The trails today range from narrow and rocky to wide and well made as we trek down towards Tarap River. The trail also tends to get steep at some places. It is important to pay attention to the trails because it can get precarious at times. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 22 – Laini to Dunai (2140m). 6-7 hrs
We pass through Khanigaon village. Then cross a suspension bridge, then hike on the banks of the river. The trail is undulating and at a few points we may have to cross the rivers on either shaky wooden bridges or large stepping stones laid on the river. 3 to 4 hours of trekking on exciting trails and through farms of sweet corn, barley, buckwheat and even marijuana brings us to Tarakot village. Then we walk beside the Bheri River on trails that are generally downhill and well travelled. After 3 hours, we reach village of Dunai, which is district headquarter of Dolpo. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 23 – Dhunai to Juphal. 3-4 hrs
Today is last day of trekking in this beautiful region. We follow a trail that seems to gradually climb up, we reach Juphal – from where we started the trek of the celebrated and mystifying Upper Dolpo region. O/N Camping (BLD)
Day 24 – Fly Jhupal to Nepalgunj to Kathmandu
We take a flight from Jhupal to Nepalgunj. On reaching Nepalgunj, we return to Kathmandu on the next available flight. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, you will be transferred to your hotel. O/N Hotel (BLD)
Day 25/26 – Contingency or rest day
You can spend time resting/buying souvenirs back to home. In the evening, we will host farewell dinner in traditional restaurant with cultural dance performances in celebration of your amazing trip. O/N Hotel (BD)
Day 27 – Trip ends, farewell and departure
The journey in the mountains of Nepal comes to an end today ! At last approximately 3 hours before your scheduled flight, a representative from Ramdung Expedition will drop you to the airport. (B)
Normally, we use following 3 star standard hotels in Kathmandu depending on availability in our trekking package.
Hotel Manang. Located in touristic hub, Thamel. www.hotelmanang.com
Hotel Utse. Located in touristic hub, Thamel. www.utsehotel.com
Hotel Manaslu. Located in Lazimpat near to Thamel area. www.hotelmanaslu.com
while on trek, the lodges are fairly basic but perfectly adequate for the mountain type service. Two people will be accommodated in each room mostly in twin beds with foam mattresses. If you prefer private accommodation, you can choose “single supplement” option. It is important to consider that some places in the trek do not have sufficient lodges and rooms; in this case you’ll have to share room. Some lodges now have showers (charged at $3-$5).
FLIGHT DELAYS IN NEPALGUNJ TO JUPHAL (DOLPO)
Flight between Nepalgunj to Dolpo is generally reliable. Being Short Take-Off & Landing (STOL) mountain airstrips, flight is dependent on the weather. Delays often happen if there is poor visibility or high winds. In case of bad weather, flight is cancelled often and to avoid missing international flights, we recommend 2-3 days extra at end of your trip.
If you have to wait in Nepalgunj and Dolpo due to flight delays, the cost for your overnight accommodation in Nepalgunj is not included so you will have to pay extra for this.
Also be prepared to pay some extra money for Helicopter flights. Which may cost $ 300 - $ 800 or more depending on persons on the flight. For group, we normally charter helicopter flights. Make sure that you have full-fledged insurance coverage arrangement. In our program there is two night as buffer day in case of unforeseen circumstances.
it is mandatory to have travel insurance for the trekking and please submit us photocopy before departure to mountain. Standard policies often only cover medical evacuation to 4000m so make sure it covers up to 6000m.
You are expect to trek about 5-7 hours covering distance of 10-15 kilometer daily depending on trial conditions and state of the weather. You’ll be traveling through wilderness, remote countryside and high elevations. Trekking with a guide is not only safer but also for more enjoyable experience. Our guides and porters are expert in Himalayan treks and have more than one decades of experience in average.
It is recommended that you prepare for trek with suitable training such as climbing hills/stairs, jogging, exercise and gym to improve your stamina few months prior to trek. The trek will be more enjoyable if you are fit.
MEALS AND DRINKS
There are plenty of excellent restaurants to serve food and drinks in Kathmandu such as Rum doodles, Fire & ice, La Dolce Vita, Ktoo Steak House, Everest Steak, New Orleans, Gaia etc. Breakfast is provided at your hotel every morning. It will cost $ 3-7 per meal depending on meals item chosen and restaurant.
While on trek, the lodges or teahouse provide good quality food in sufficient quantities. Meals whilst on trek are included in the package which is breakfast, lunch, dinner and hot drinks. You can choose your meal from hotel menus. Meals in lodges are varied ranging from traditional Nepalese daal bhaat to pizza, apple pie, steak, pasta and so on.
It is safer to drink bottled, boiled and filtered water. A reasonable variety of both hard and soft drinks are available in cities and while on trek. You can purify your own water if you carry a canteen or water bottle and iodine drops or tablets.
Spring starts from March until May where temperature fluctuated between 20°c to 30°c. From June to August is summer season which is also time of monsoon with occasional thunderstorms and hot temperatures. From late September to end November is autumn and is best for trekking activities. Winter is from late November to February.
The trek will have a wide range of temperatures depending on the elevation and time of the particular day. In the mountains between 1000m-3500m, the night generally will be cool around 5°C and during the day temperatures every so often rise to 20°c. At the higher altitudes, temperatures range from 15° to -15°c.
Tips is not mandatory but generally after hard work something extra is expected. We recommend a tip for guide and porter as at least $70 (more will be appreciated).
CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT LIST
The following are what we recommend to bring as clothing and equipment needed for the trek. Trekking gear can be rented or purchased in Kathmandu at cheaper price; we can assist you with necessary arrangement. Except for your day pack, your luggage will be carried by porters. You’ll have strong and hospitable porter for two people. The weight limit for trek is 10-13kg per person. One porter can carry 20-25kg weight. Before the trek, you can store all your excess baggage in Kathmandu at hotel or at our office and take only which is required for the trek.
Light balaclava or warm fleece hat
Sun Hat or scarf
Cotton tees or thermals
Gloves for hand
Lightweight cotton pants (long)
Thin inner socks
Thick, warm wool hiking socks
Comfortable Trekking boots
Sleeping bag rated to -20
Trekking bag or duffel bag
Large plastic bags (keeping items dry inside trek bag)
Trekking poles (recommended, optional)
Lonely Planet Nepal: A guide book of Nepal.
Annapurna: A book by Reinhold Messner about his expedition experience in the dead zone of Annapurna.
Trekking in Nepal: Written by Stephen Bezruchka is an nice book for all treks with and bibliography of additional books.
Trekking and climbing in Nepal: Written by Steve Razzetti, this book gives comprehensive knowledge of major trekking trails and climbing peaks.
Nepal Handbook: By Kerry Morgan. Recommended specially for Kathmandu Valley sightseeing’s.
Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya: By Stan Armungton. This book has detailed trek descriptions including restricted areas of Mustang, Manaslu, Dolpo and kailash.
Into Thin Air: By Jon Krakaur. A personal account of the Mount Everest disaster.
Travelers Tales: Edited by Rajendra Khadka, Traveler’s Tales, and San Francisco.
Mustang: A lost kingdom by Michel Peissel.