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Since director Éric Valli filmed Himalaya aka Caravan (1999) in Upper Dolpo, the magic Nepal Himalayan region has become very popular, but is still very remote and remained inaccessible due to the long and hard trek and the absence of any touristic facilities. The movie was set as a story set against the backdrop of the Nepalese Himalayas. At an altitude of five thousand metres in the remote mountain region of Dolpa, Himalaya is the story of villagers who take a caravan of yaks across the mountains, carrying rock salt from the high plateau down to the lowlands to trade for grain.
So you want to go where only few people have gone before and explore a part of the Himalaya that can be described as ‘the real thing’ where the authentic Tibetan culture still flourishes? Than this trip should be on your bucket list! We proudly present our unique Upper Dolpo trek with your Himalayandreamteam and offer one of the first ever full teahouse/lodge trekkings for this remote area (!).
Dolpo is a high-altitude culturally Tibetan region in the upper part of the Dolpa District of western Nepal, bordered in the north by China. The remote region has preserved its Tibetan culture in relatively pure form, making it attractive to Westerners. It is surrounded by Himalayan mountain chains including the Dhaulagiri (8,172 metres). Although people of Upper Dolpo are poor, the region is abundant in natural resources. Dolpo has an abundance of green lush meadows, subalpine and alpine forest and snow-covered mountains. The wilderness of Upper Dolpo is a home to snow leopard, blue sheep, mountain musk deer and more. People here all live above 4000 meters.
Dolpo presents you with the raw nature in the Shey-Phoksundo National Park. You see yaks, mules, and horses, the only means for transportation. Roads do not exist. Trekking is the only option to get to and explore the fascinating Upper Dolpo.
Advised: during the summer months july-august
This trek can be booked as from two persons. We provide trained English speaking guide and porters.
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu (1340m), o/n in a hotel, +D
We pick you up from the airport, transport to the hotel in Thamel and of course our famous welcome dinner in the evening where you will meet our team and your guide.
Day 02: Kathmandu: sightseeing and trek preparation, o/n in a hotel, +B
Today we start exploring the beautiful temples in Kathmandu, like the Monkey Temple, the most famous and fascinating Hindu temple at Pashupatinath and the Tibetan Stupa in Boudanath.
Day 03: Fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj (1 hour), o/n in a hotel, +B
Today after early breakfast we leave for the domestic airport and fly to the remote city of Nepalgunj in the far southwest of Nepal. It is the first of two domestic flights we have to catch to reach the starting point of our trek. We stay and explre the city and get ready for our next flight the morning after.
Day 04: Fly from Nepalgunj to Jhuphal (45 mins flight, 2475m) (Dolpo) and trek to Dunai (2,850m, 2/3 hrs), o/n in lodge, +b, +l, +d
Today’s flying destination is Jhupal. After breakfast we leave for the airport and have a longer domestic flight, right into the Himalaya. The town of Jhupal is beautifully located over the Himalayan foothills, with views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri peaks to its north. Here, we meet our trekking staff and start walking. Our adventure has begun We walk through terraced fields to the Bheri River and its narrow gorge. We continue walking to Dunai, which is the administrative headquarter of the Dolpo region. We explore the small town in the evening and stay in a basic, but cozy lodge for the night.
Day 05: Dunai to Ankhe (5/6hrs, 2,896m), o/n in lodge, +b, +l, +d
After breakfast we leave Dunai and start with crossing a suspension bridge and turn to the west following an ancient trail into the treeless, Thulo Bheri valley before we can enter the beautiful Phoksundo river valley. During the trek we get a nice view of the Kagmara Peak up the valley. We pass through walnut groves, the original Dhera and Rahagaun cultural villages, walk down through dense jungles and finally reach our destination for today: Ankhe.
Day 06: Ankhe to Sulighat 5/6hrs, o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
Our trail continuously ascends and descends along the riverbank and starts also to become more steep. These ups and downs (the so called Nepali flat) can be a bit monotonous, but there are several streams along the way that offer a chance to cool off. The trail than leaves the forests and passes through a grassy slope high above the river. We trek downhill on a trail surrounded by lush forests before reaching a cliff followed by a dizzying drop on a wobbly stone staircase to the river bank. We continue trekking until we reach Sulighat where we spend the night in a lodge.
Day 07: Sulighat to Phoksundo Lake (4/5hrs, 3,611m), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
We continue our adventure along the valley floor to the confluence of the Phoksundo and Pungmo rivers. After crossing the bridge, we are now on the western bank of the Pungmo river. The trail passes through a cedar forest before reaching Palam village. From here we walk up to a ridge and enjoy the first distant views of the famous Phoksundo Lake and a spectacular waterfall, one of the highest in Nepal. Next, our trail descends through birch forests to the upper parts of the Phoksundo river, and then to the picturesque Ringmo village with its mud-plastered chortens and mani walls. From here it is a short walk to the shores of the Shey Phoksundo Lake that we will explore before our well deserved rest in the teahouse.
Day 08: Acclimatization and rest at Phoksundo Lake, o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
Today we have a rest day for acclimatization at the enchanting Shey Phoksundo Lake. During the day still practice on a short hike to the village of Ringmo and it’s Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. During our short walk, we also get a chance to get acquainted with the local culture. The Dolpo people wear homespun clothing that is sometimes dyed a maroon color and they favor Tibetan-style ‘somba’ or ‘dhocha’ (boots with upturned toes) for footwear. Both men and women often wear religious amulets and strings of coral, amber and turquoise. We overnight in the same teahouse as yesterday.
Day 09: Trek to Phoksundo Khola (4/5hrs), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
Our trail continuous around the top western end of the Phoksundo Lake. This somewhat unbalanced trail on a gangway of wood supported on pegs driven into crevasse in the rocks, already shows the remoteness of the area we are about to enter. At the western edge of the lake the path leads through a lush meadow that opens up into the flood plain of the Phoksundo Khola (Khola means river). We overnight in a local teahouse.
Day 10: Phoksunds Khola to Phoksundo Bhanjyang (6/7hrs), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
After breakfast and a try for the salty Tibetan tea we walk for an hour on a trail that leads us along a glacial valley to the north. We cross an old wooden bridge over the Phoksundo Khola and from here, we walk towards the north-east. A long climb brings us to a sheep meadow where our trail veers up a steep ravine. A hard climb to the top brings us to yet another valley where we can see the Kang-La pass. We overnight near the pass in a place known for Peter Matthiessen’ christened ‘Snowfields Camp’. During our trek today we also get a fantastic view of Chhamlang peak 6 (6739m) and ‘peak 7’ (6105m).
Day 11: Phoksundo Bhanjyang to Shey Gompa (4,500m) via Kang-La pass (5,360m, 5/6hrs), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
In the early morning, we ascend on a steep trail littered with slate towards the Kang La pass. The climb to the top of the pass is quite strenuous. From the top we get excellent views of the large valley dissected by a gushing river. We descend to the valley floor on a steep trail. Next, we walk on a meandering trail along the banks of a river, crossing and re-crossing it several times. There are mud caves lining the hills overlooking the river. We also pass through meadows where we see grazing yaks, hundreds of sheep and domestic mountain goat (Chyangra). After crossing a quaint log bridge we reach the Shey Gompa compound where we will be spending the night.
Day 12: Acclimatization and rest at Shey Gompa (4.500m), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
We need to get our bodies get used to the high altitude before moving on. We rest and explore the beautiful surroundings of Shey Gompa, 8oo years old. The including monastery (from 1655) is noted for its giant copper with gilded gold statue of a seated Shakyamuni Buddha. To the east of the gompa is Crystal Mountain which is one of the strangest mountains, as its contorted cliffs are laced with quartz and embedded with a rich variety of marine fossils. Shey village is famous for its ancient pre-Buddhist culture, the Bon Po. In Dolpo the ancient Tibetan way of life combines animism with the teaching of Buddha.
Day 13: Shey Gompa to Namduna Gaun (4,800m) via Saldang La (5,100m, 6/7hrs), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
We start today, freshly revitalized by following a more pleasant trail amidst juniper trees which descends into a grey, stony canyon. Then the path begins to zigzag over bare rocks and coarse eroded soil until it eventually brings us to the top of Saldang-la pass. The subsequent descent towards the north is long and tiring but grazing yaks and sheep, and nomadic tents made from yak hair is a comforting sight. In Namduna Gaun we visit the Namgung monastery. This red stone monstery is built against the backdrop of a cliff on the north wall of a gorge. We overnight in a basic teahouse.
Day 14: Namduna Gaun to Saldang (4/5hrs, 3,620m), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
We leave the village and climb up a slope and start a long walk along dusty barren mountains. After 3-4 hours of a hard and steep climb, we see Saldang Village below us on a plateau high above the Namga Khola stream. It has a picturesque appearance. Saldang is the largest village of the inner Dolpo area. The village stretches for nearly two kilometers on an open slope and consists of five villages having about eighty well-built houses with nearly six hundred people. It is a prosperous village not only agriculturally but also for its strategic location on a trade route to Tibet. It is a real privilege to stay a night in this authentic Dolpo place that forms the most Northern point of our trek.
Day 15: Saldang to Yangze Gompa (4/5hrs, 4,960m), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
From Saldang, we walk further north along the Nagon Khola (river) on a wild and barren terrain. We begin our walk on a fairly gradual path with few ups and downs. On the way, we pass through Marang and Ki villages. Next, we cross a tributary of Panzang River and walk towards the east and cross the river again before reaching Yangze gompa which houses an old Bon-Po Monastery. Overnight in Yangze Gompa.
Day 16: Yangze Gompa to Sibu (6/7hrs, 4,560m), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
From Yangze, there are two trails that connect Yangze Gompa to our next destination, Sibu. To save time we will retrace the path back towards Saldang village, which will be much easier and shorter than the other route. From Saldang we walk along a river and pass through terraced fields, stupas, chortens, heaps of mani stones and a Chaiba monastery, then pass through the enchanting Namdo village, which is also prosperous, with about sixty houses having nearly 400 inhabitants. It stretches for more than 5 km on the high slopes to the left of Nam Khong Khola. The Namdo monastery is located near the river bed.
Day 17: Sibu to Jeng-la Phedi (5/6hrs, 4,900m), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
After a Tibetan breakfast we walk along the Nam Khong Khola for a while and pass by caravans with yaks that are moving towards the Tibetan border. The famous salt trade route which was shown so intriguing in the movie Himalaya. After turning east and walking for a while, we arrive at a confluence of two small streams. Next, the steep trail ascends to a grazing area below the Jeng La pass (4,900m/16,072ft). Overnight in Jeng la Phedi.
Day 18: Jeng-la Phedi to Tokyu Gaon (4209m) via Jeng La pass (5,090m 5/6hrs), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
We get up early in the morning and set forth on today’s trek that will lead to the highest altitude on this beautiful and adventurous trek. It will take us two long hours to reach the top of the Jeng La pass (5.090m!) from where we get remarkable views of the north face of the Dhaualgiri massif. From here we descend on a rough trail to the Tarap Valley, a fascinating valley with vast plains in high mountains that extends twenty kilometers along Tarap Chu river. We stay and sleep near the monastery at Tokyu.
Day 19: Tokyu to Dho Tarap(4/5hrs, 4,040m), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
We trek downhill on a plain valley with patches of lush grass on both sides of the river which is completely different from other parts of inner Dolpo. There is also a marsh which is a common feature in the Desert Mountains of Tibet and the Ladakh Himalaya. Both the Bon Po and Buddhist sects are practiced in the valley. After a short trek, we reach Dho Tarap where we will stay for the night.
Day 20: Rest Day at Dho Tarap, o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
Since the last days were strenuous, we spend today resting and strolling in the village of Dho Tarap which is surrounded by an irregular stone wall. Our walks will provide us a unique chance to get acquainted with the local culture of the area. At Dho, about 40 houses are divided into three clusters and built in a haphazard way inhabited by few Tibetans and mostly Magars who are a hill tribe of Nepal. While here, we can visit a Buddhist Gompa which is closest to our campsite or we could embark upon a 40-minute walk and visit and stay in Bon Po Gompa.
Day 21: Dho Tarap to Tarap Khola (Kamakharka) (3,800m, 6/7hrs), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
From Tarap we descend towards a wide valley which eventually narrows into a gorge. We walk along juniper and wild rose bushes just above the tree line. On our trek we see herds of blue sheep and by the afternoon, we reach the confluence of the Tarap Chu and the Lang Khola, a stream that joins with Tarap River from further east. We will stay near the nice meadow also known as Kamakharka and spend the night.
Day 22: Tarap Khola to Khanigaon(4/5hrs, 3,150m), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
We continue walking down the gorge of the Tarap River, at times alongside it. During our walk we pass by the local people who will be taking their herds to lower pastures for the winter. 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 a path and we 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. At some places, the bridges are either damaged or washed away and we may be forced to cross the icy torrent on foot. Finally, we reach our destination for today beside the Tarap Khola at Khanigaon.
Day 23: Khanigaon to Tarakot (4/5hrs, 2,537m), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
After breakfast we follow a trail that takes us to the village of Lalberi. Our trail then passes through a lush forest, descends into another gorge and continues to follow the river again. After reaching Tarakot, we can visit Sandul Gompa which lies about 8 km east of the village at a juncture of Barbung Khola and Tarap Chu. The monastery stands on a hill to the south of Bheri River. Today we overnight in Tarakot.
Day 24: Tarakot to Dunai (5/6hrs, 2,140m), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
We begin our trek on a trail behind the Bheri River before crossing a bridge near the Lawan village. Our trail will continue alongside the big Bheri Rriver ascending until the Byas Gadi. From here the trail moves towards the west on a relatively easy trail. We cross the river again near the Lochakhola Gaon and ascend to Dunai for an overnight stay. Today’s trek will mostly be on a wonderful gorge with pine trees.
Day 25: Dunai to Jhuphal (2/3hrs), o/n in lodge or teahouse, +b, +l, +d
Fron Dunai, we trek along the Bheri River enjoying the beautiful landscape. On the way, we pass through Dhupichaur and Rupgad villages as well as a temple. We continue trekking via Kalagaonda village and Motipur village before reaching the small airstrip which marks the ending of or phenomenal trek in Upper Dolpo. Saying farewell after all these impressions will be hard.
Day 26: Fly from Jhuphal to Nepalgunj and to Kathmandu, o/n in hotel, +b, +l
We take the earliest flight from Jhupal to Nepalgunj. Upon reaching Nepalgunj, we return to Kathmandu on the next available flight. After arriving in Kathmandu, we will be transferred to our hotel. If there is no flight, due to schedules or weather, we stay one more night in Nepalgunj.
Day 27: Reserve day for flight to Kathmandu / rest or shopping day in Kathmandu, o/n in hotel, +b
Day 28: Fly Back to home
Depending on your flight schedule we will transfer you to the international airport.