Upper Dolpo Trek
Nepal , Restricted Region Trek
Breakfast , Lunch , Dinner
- Hidden valleys of the gem of the trans-Himalayan region
- Shey-Phoksundo Lake
- Shey-Phoksundo National Park
- The Bon-Po and Buddhist shrines, lifestyle, culture and tradition
- the Sacred Crystal Mountain
- Dho Tarap, one of the highest altitude human settlement areas in the world
- Breathtaking view of the numerous snowy peaks of Nepal
- Camping Trekking in Nepal
Do you want to experience trekking in Nepal differently? Are you ready to trek to unexplored valleys distinct from Everest Base Camp trek or Annapurna Circuit trek? If it is so, Upper Dolpo Trek is the right option.
Upper Dolpo Trek (also called Inner Dolpo Trek) takes you to the Karnali Province of Nepal. As the rain shadows of Dhaulagiri (8,167 m) and Tibetan Plateau, it is the hidden gem of Nepal. Although the region lies in the territory of Nepal, geography and culture resembles with Tibetan Plateau.
Almost abandoned part of Nepal until 1989, this region has become a hotspot of international tourism these days. This hidden gem got its popularity along with the publication of two books and making of a movie.
The author duo Matthiessen and Schaller published a book titled “The Show Leopard” in 173. Next, David L. Snellgrove released another book “Himalayan Pilgrimage” in 1988. Both the books describe about the natural and cultural assets of Dolpo region.
Eric Villi’s 1988 movie “The Himalayas” brought this forbidden kingdom of the Nepalese Himalayas into the limelight. This movie was also nominated for the OSCAR, the greatest film award of the world. The movie has featured the hardships, yet beauties of this remote region.
Gradually, the Nepalese tourism agencies realized the captivating caliber of this hidden valley. Then, collaborating with the Nepal Government, they managed to open it for the foreign travelers. Since 1990, this virgin land has been continuously drawing the attention of the avid trekkers.
The snow capped peak of western Nepal and the Dhaulagiri Massif (8,167 m) make your Upper Dolpo Trek more valuable. Explore the flora and fauna of Shey Phoksundo National Park, Nepal’s largest conservation area, and Shey Phoksundo Lake, Nepal’s deepest lake.
Upper Dolpo Trekking Permit
To know about Upper Dolpo Trekking Permit, let’s discuss Free Individual Trekking (FIT) and Restricted Area Trekking (RIT). You can make FIT towards the Nepal trekking region which doesn’t have any restricted areas while RIT is a rule-bound package.
The human encroachment of such culturally and naturally fragile regions may be unproductive to the local nature and culture. To protect cultural variety and biodiversity, the government of Nepal has declared this region as a restricted area. Therefore, you cannot do Upper Dolpo Trek as a solo trekking in Nepal.
If you want to explore the genuine natural and cultural assets of such a place, you need a special permit. Talking about Upper Dolpo trek permits, you are supposed to have:
- TIMS Card
- Lower Dolpo Restricted Area Entry Permit
- Shey-Phoksundo National Park Entry Permit
- Upper Dolpo Restricted Area Entry Permit
Upper Dolpo Trekking Cost
Being it an RIT, Upper Dolpo Trekking Cost is higher than FIT in Nepal. You need a restricted area trekking permit by paying a special cost. Besides this, you need to pay for other permits for Upper Dolpo Trekking.
It is a camping trekking in Nepal requiring a crew consisting of cook, porters, and crew leader. You have to pay their daily wages (plus tips only if you want). But you don’t have to spend for accommodation services because you sleep at the tented camp.
To reach to Juphal from Kathmandu via Nepalgunj and return the same way, you need air tickets. Obviously, flight tickets are more expensive than bus tickets.
Upper Dolpo Trekking Cost can be minimized because you need not bear personal expenses. As the Upper Dolpo Trekking route moves through a complete wilderness, there are no shops, cafés, hotels, etc. to spend extra money.
Upper Dolpo Trekking Itinerary
Upper Dolpo Trekking Itinerary ranges from 8 days to 27 days. Shot Upper Dolpo Trek is suitable for the ones having limited time but want to explore the hidden valleys. However, 27-Days’ itinerary is the ultimate way to explore the diverse culture, landscape, and biodiversity of Inner Dolpo.
Dolpo Region is divided into Lower Dolpo Trekking and Upper Dolpo Trekking. This region is surrounded by Mustang in the earth and Rukum in the west. Similarly, in the south lie Jumla and Mugu while the Tibetan Plateau lies in the northern part.
Upper Dolpo Trekking Itinerary is generally started from Juphal of Dolpo District. However, you can also begin it from Kagbeni, the gateway to Upper Mustang Trek.
Upper Dolpo Trekking Map
Upper Dolpo Trekking Map moves westwards from Kagbeni, the gateway to Upper Mustang Trek. Moving along the diverse landscapes of the Mountain Desert of Nepal, the Upper Dolpo Trekking Route continues like this:
Kagbeni – Tsaile/Chele – Syangboche – Dhakmar – Lo Manthang – Tsarang – Ghami – Yak Kharka – Ghami La (5,100 m) – Chharka Bhot – Rupka – Tinje Gaun – Shimen Gaun – Nisal Gaun – Saldang – Namrung – Shey Gompa – Nanda La Phedi (4,600 m) – Phoksundo Khola – Phoksundo Lake – Rechi – Chhekpa – Dunai – Juphal.
Upper Dolpo Trekking Map from Juphal moves further to end up in Juphal via Dunai. The outline map of Upper Dolpo Trekking goes like this:
Juphal – Dunai – Chhekpa – Palam – Shey Phoksundo Lake – Sallaghari – Lar Tsa – Shey Gompa – Namdung Gaun – Saldang – Jeng La Phedi – Dho Tarap via Jeng La Pass (5,090 m) – Serkam – Tarakot – Dunai – Juphal.
Dolpo Trekking Guide
Upper Dolpo Trek is a restricted area trekking in Nepal, so you cannot do it independently. For an organized trekking, you need to find Upper Dolpo Trekking Guide. Among hundreds of local tour operators in Nepal, we are among some of the most trusted Nepal trekking guides in the Nepalese Himalayas.
After you book this trip with us, we will provide you the best guide for Upper Dolpo Trekking. The guide introduces you with the natural and cultural wonders of the region. Our guides are highly professional and always committed to provide the best quality services to our valuable clients.
The crewmember of NTR welcomes you at the Kathmandu Airport after the planes lands. Then, he relocates you to the respected hotel. When you become fresh, you can visit Thamel Bazaar on your own.
In the morning, the tour guide of our agency takes you around the Kathmandu Valley. During this guided tour, you will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Swayambhunath Stupa (the Monkey Temple), Patan Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple and Bouddhanath Stupa are the must-visit sites. The history, cultural, art and architectural importance and beauties are worth of visiting.
After you return to the hotel, the team leader gives you all the information regarding Upper Dolpo trek itinerary. This provides you opportunity to pack the required stuffs for this epic trek.
After breakfast, you will be fetched to the Kathmandu Airport in a private jeep. Then, you fly to Nepalgunj by enjoying the aerial scenery. You witness the snowy peaks, green forests, lush valleys and plains of the Terai region.
From the Ranjha Airport, the representative of NTR takes you to the hotel. After becoming fresh, you can travel around Nepalgunj City. One of the places to visit is Bageshwori Temple as an important site for the Hindus.
Before flying to Juphal, you take breakfast. During the flight, you enjoy the lovely view of the Himalayas, green hills and high altitude villages. From Juphal, you formally begin Upper Dolpo trek by moving towards Dunai.
Dunai is a Himalayan town giving you the vistas of the majestic peaks of Annapurna (8,091m) and Dhaulagiri (8,167m) Massifs. It is also the administrative headquarter of Dolpo district.
Walking along the cultivated lands with seasonable crops and vegetables, you move further. By crossing a suspension bridge over the Thuli Bheri River, you enter into Shey Phoksundo National Park.
It is the largest national park of Nepal conserving a large variety of animal, bird and plant species. You need to buy a permit to continue the journey towards Chhekpa. By penetrating through the dense forests of birch, fir, oak, bamboo and rhododendron, you reach the destination.
By following the trail that runs along the Suli Khola banks, you continue today’s trip. The trail is steep up and down running in the middle of the dense forests. On the way, you might see some mules carrying or going to fetch load in this remote region.
Then, you walk past two villages: Reechi and Chumuwar en route. Besides, you can visit an Amchi Hospital that diagnoses the patients by using Tibetan herbal treatment and medicines. If you want, you can talk to the traditional healers to know about the important medicinal herbs as well.
You begin to ascend further after having breakfast. It is an interesting trekking today as you’re moving towards the deepest lake of Nepal, Shey Phoksundo Lake. By following the steep uphill trail, you proceed going ahead.
On the way, you will see the Phoksundo Waterfall (107m), one of the highest waterfalls of Nepal. Then, you descend towards Ringmo Village, which is one of the ancient villages of Lower Dolpo region.
The majority of the people living here follow the Bonpo religion that is said to be older than Buddhism itself. In the long past, it used to be the centre of this religion founded by Tongba Shenrab who lived between 8,000 and 18,000 years ago. Later on, with the extension of Tibetan Buddhism, this religion lost its priority.
As this is the acclimatization day, you explore the villages and wilderness around Ringmo Village. You can witness the turquoise watered lake Shey Phoksundo as well as the flora and fauna around it.
Nearby the alpine freshwater lake, there is a 900-years-old Tshowa Gompa. It is one of the most noteworthy shrines of Bonpo people. Apart from this, you can visit the villages around the lake premises.
You can get the firsthand knowledge about Bonpo religion and its unique practices. Dolpo region is the only place of Nepal located in the Trans-Himalayan region introducing you with this religion.
Walking along the lush forests of Shey Phoksundo National Park, you continue the trip after breakfast. Today, you enter into Inner Dolpo (Upper Dolpo) region, which is a restricted area trekking in Nepal. Therefore, you need to have a special permit to explore the hidden assets of this belt.
The stunning view of Mt. Kanjirowa (6,612m) and the surrounding hills of the Tibetan Plateau pushes you ahead. The hidden valleys and the rustic lifestyle are the rewarding factors of this trek. A French movie director, Eric Valli in his 1998-movie “Himalayas”, features these secret attractions of Dolpo.
After breakfast, you continue today’s voyage towards a higher altitude place. Following the steep trail along the barren landscapes, you move ahead. As the trail is rugged and steep, be careful to walk slowly by talking enough rest.
Or else, you may suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). This region is covered by heavy snowfall during the winter season. Moreover, being a rain shadow area, it receives no or low rainfall. The soil of this place doesn’t support any plant, crop or vegetation as well.
Today’s journey is quite challenging yet more memorable as you go across a high Himalayan pass to reach Shey Gompa. Among the four high passes of Dolpo region, Kang La Pass is the highest one.
Despite its height, this pass is probably the most walked in Dolpo. It comes across in most of the moderate to challenging treks of Inner Dolpo. The summit serves the striking views of Himalayas and the deep deserted valleys plus the lush vegetation of Phoksundo National Park.
This is another day for adjustment with the high altitude to prepare for the further ascend. To make this day more meaningful and memorable, you have a few options. You can visit the Tsang Gompa founded in the 11th century by the Lama Guru Ten-Sin-Ra-Pa. It is the first Bon Gompa ever built in Inner Dolpo region.
Towards the west of this gompa lies the Crystal Mountain. This strange shrine stands at the confluence of the Kangju Nala and the Yeju Nala (“Nala” means “stream”). You can see the deposits of quartz and fossils on the river beds with your eyes live.
Finally, you can visit Shey Village, one of the largest human settlement areas of this region. You can talk to the people to know more about their socio-cultural aspects of the Bonpo religion.
After having energetic breakfast, you begin to move towards one of the high passes. By following the rugged trail going uphill, you will cross Shey La Pass (5,010m) (also called Glen La). From the top of this pass, you will see the fascinating sights of Tibetan Plateau and Upper Mustang region.
This pass is an adventurous pass while making Upper Dolpo to Mustang Trek. Then, you descend towards a beautiful village Namduna Gaun (Namgaun) by walking across some yak pastures. The friendly people living in the congenial environment welcome you to their hamlet.
Today’s trek starts with climbing up along the barren hilly sector and descending along the Nangma Khola banks. After climbing the hard trail for about 3 hours, you reach Saldang Village.
Saldang is a beautiful hamlet consisting five villages within 2 km area. It is the largest village of Upper Dolpo region having nearly 80 houses. Occupied by around 600 people, this is also a prosperous village in terms of agriculture and trade as well. This is the junction of the ancient trading route to Tibet from Dolpo region.
By walking past the terraced fields, chortens, mani walls and a Chaiba monastery, you continue the trip. You have to walk across Namdo Village having around 60 houses and around 400 inhabitants. Moving across the Nam Khong Khola, you reach the bottom of one of the highest passes of Dolpo region. You will set up the tented camp for tonight’s rest.
You are going to climb across another high pass of Dolpo region higher than 5,000m. Ascending further, you hike to Jeng La Pass that shows you the south face of Mt. Dhaulagiri (8,167m). You can also see the mesmerizing view of the bizarre landscapes and high altitude villages of this region.
Descending gently, you follow the trail to Dho Tarap that is quite easy and extensively travelled by the trekkers and locals alike. It takes around three hours to reach this village. This beautiful village is the most striking feature of trekking to Inner Dokpo region.
You can visit a ‘French School’ just outside the village of the village, set up by the French people. Dho Tarap (4,080m) is one of the world’s highest altitude human settlement areas. Based on Nepal Census 2011, there are 205 households and 923 people in this Himalayan village. Similarly, you will be visiting Buddhist Gompas, talking with Sherpas and learning the art of weaving Thankas.
You begin the voyage after having breakfast by following the Tarap Chu Khola banks. You might see some wild animals like blue sheep, marmot, etc. and the Dolpalis travelling with their flock of sheep or dzopas. By walking past a suspension bridge, you reach Serkam for the night station.
By following the steep uphill and downhill trail, you continue going further. Then, you come across the Barbung Chu Valley that has a large plot of cultivated fields. Moving ahead along the rugged trail, you reach Tarakot.
Tarakot used to be the capital of a principality before the unification campaign led by King PN Shah. It is a dzong (fortress) located at the top of a foothill. You can visit a famous local monastery named Sandul Gompa which is located on a riverbank. Instead of Tarakot, you can also set up the tented camp on the riverbed.
by following the narrow trail along the Thuli Bheri River banks, you keep moving ahead towards Dunai. You will go across a few scanty villages like Lawan, Byas Gadi and Lochha Khola Gaun. As the trail goes through the dense pine forests, you can also have some glimpses of wild animals and birds.
Today is the last day of trekking in Dolpo region. After having breakfast, you begin to move along the banks of the Thuli Bheri River. You come across Dhupichaur, Rupgad, Kholagaun and Motipur villages en route. Here at Juphal, you can merry make to mark the grand success of Upper Dolpo trek.
When you have breakfast, you catch a domestic flight to Nepalgunj that takes nearly 40 minutes’ time. You will again enjoy the in-flight view of Annapurna Massif and Dhaulagiri Massif. Observe the spellbinding beauties of Dolpo region for the last time this season.
From Nepalgunj, you will fly to Kathmandu as per the flight schedule. From the Kathmandu Airport, the member staff of our agency relocates you to the hotel. In the free time, you can go shopping around Thamel Bazaar. In the evening, we invite you for farewell dinner at some cultural restaurant around Thamel.
This is the last day of Upper Dolpo trek itinerary for 22 days. You are returning your home country by spending more than 3 weeks in Nepal. The representative of the company escorts you up to the Tribhuvan International Airport to catch the flight.
- All kind of trekking permits
- Three meals (B/L/D) a day on trekking from teahouse/lodge and at our own kitchen
- Accommodations at teahouse/lodge/tents in the mountains
- Group leader, Cook and kitchen crew for camping period
- Necessary porters
- Staff insurance, salary, food, accommodation and their transportation
- Kathmandu-Chautara and Larcha-Kathmandu overland transfers by public bus [Private vehicle available on request and extra]
- First aid kit box
- Emergency co-operation service
- Hotel and meals in Kathmandu
- Bar and beverages bills, bottled water
- Nature of personal expenses
- Personal cloths and equipment such as sleeping bag, jacket, boots etc.
- Insurance for accidental, medical and evacuation
- Tips to the staff
- International Airfare and Taxes
You can find many Upper Dolpo trek blogs with various trekking itineraries. The general itinerary of this restricted area trekking ranges from 22 days to 27 days depending upon the route, acclimatization days and your desire to trek.
You can also extend the given time towards other regions or cut short the proposed duration as well. Upper Dolpo to Mustang trek, Dolpo to Rara Lake trek, Lower Dolpo Ciucuit trek, etc. are some of the variants.
Upper Dolpo trek is a moderate type of trekking through the restricted area of the Trans-Himalayan region of Nepal. As a restricted area, you must be at least two in each group. And, there must be a professional trekking guide and a porter.
You have to go across a couple of high passes above 5,000 metres as well. Despite their extreme elevation, you don’t need climbing gears to do with them. Follow the instructions of the trekking guide and take the necessary precautions, you can do this trek easily.
You can do Upper Dolpo trek throughout the year as it doesn’t lie in the Great Himalayan Ranges. However, doing this trek in winter is not as appropriate as in other seasons. This trek can be done even in rainy season as there is very low rainfall due to its location in the rain shadow area.
The best season for trekking to Upper Dolpo region is spring and autumn. In this time of the year, the weather is pleasant and the skies are clear. You witness the stunning views of the Tibetan Plateaus, bizarre landscapes and the snowcapped peaks in this season
The following are Dolpo Trek permits:
- Lower Dolpo Trek permit – USD 10 per person per day
- Upper Dolpo Trek permit – USD 50 per person per day (minimum 10 days)
- Shey Phoksundo National Park Entry permit – NRs 3,000 per person per entry
The best seasons for Dolpo Trek are April and May in spring and October and November in autumn.
No, you can’t. Upper Dolpo is a restricted area trekking (RAT) region of Nepal. Therefore, a free individual trekker (FIT) is not allowed to make this trip.