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Upper Dolpo Extensive Trek (25 days)

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Trip Code: NET-TR-UPD2

  • Trip Type Camping Trek
  • Duration 25 days
  • Grade Strenuous
  • Max.Altitude 5010 m.
  • Group Size 2+
  • Travel Mode Land/Flight
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Upper Dolpo : Remote Valley in Nepal

Upper Dolpo : Remote Valley in Nepal

Being the longest trek route in Dolpo region, Upper Dolpo trek takes anywhere between 20 to 30 days. Trekkers can opt to travel to Nepalgunj either by bus or plane and from there must fly to the small town of Juphal, the stating point for the trek. The highlights of the Upper Dolpo trek include visiting Shey Phoksundo Lake at 3600m and coming face to face with Sisne, Kanjiroba and Dhaulagiri Himalayan ranges. The trekking trail passes through villages, forests, rivers, lakes and hills. Trekkers have to overcome the challenges of crossing Kagmara La (5225m), Bag La (5182m) and the Numa La (5148m), the three high Himalayan passes. 
 
Dolpo came to prominence with the international release of the Oscar nominated documentary Himalaya in 1999. Dolpo has been recently opened for tourism although special permit is still required for trekkers.
 
Located in western Nepal, Dolpo is geographically an extension  of Tibet with barren landscape and few vegetation. Upper Dolpo trek falls in the ancient salt trade route between Tibet and Nepal.
 
The people living here follow Tibetan culture and lifestyles which is inspired by the Bon religion, the precursor of Tibetan Buddhism. The region is a religiously sacred zone where Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated. You will be able to observe prayer walls and visit monasteries. Shey Gompa (4200m) and Tsering Gompa (4400m) are two popular monasteries set beyond Kagmara La pass. Dolpa lies within Shey Phoksumdo National Park which means a unique biodiversity with its flag species being Blue Sheep and Snow Leopards. The trail drops down to Jomsom, the headquarters of Mustang, inhabited by Thakali ethnic group. Trekkers will have the option to fly or drive to Pokhara whilst returning to Kathmandu.  
 
Upper Dolpo trek is a purely camping trek and has been categorized as strenuous. Trekkers are required to be physically fit and have experience of walking in rugged terrains. Nepal Environmental Treks & Expedition provides experienced trekking crews including guides, cooks and porters who are adept in local nature, culture and history to assist you every step of the way. 

overview

 Trip code: NET-TR-UPD2
  Region Dolpo Region
 Trip Rating
 Trip Duration 25 days
 Trip Type: Camping Trek
 Trip Grade: Strenuous
 Min. Group Size 2+
 Max Altitude: 5010 m.
 Trip Start: Kathmandu
 Trip Ends: Kathmandu
 Best Season: Autumn: Sep-Oct-Nov
Spring: Mar-Apr-May
 Transportaion: Land/Flight
 Meals: 3 times a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
 Acommodation: 2-3 Star Accommodation in Kathmandu
Camping Accommodation during Trek

itenerary

Fly from Kathmandu to Nepalganj. You fly from Kathmandu to Nepalganj in the southwest part of the Terai, right on the border to India. After checking into your hotel you can have a look around the Bageshwari Mandir, a temple dedicated to Kali. You stay overnight at lodge.

Fly from Nepalgunj to Juphal and trek from Juphal to Dunai. Dolpo flights are always early in the morning. This is because high winds in the Thulo Bheri Valley begin around 10 am, making later flights impossible. You start out on the short walk from Juphal to Dunai. You walk downhill through meadows and past a few houses to the small hotels at Kala Gaura (2090m). From here you follow the river trail upstream to Dunai. You camp near Dunai and explore this bustling little hill town for the rest of the afternoon.

Trek from Dunai to Chepka takes about seven hours. You start trekking from Dunai, cross the big steel suspension bridge and turn west, following the trail past the hospital, and then it's a level walk along the bank of the Thulo Bheri to its confluence with the Suli Gaad at 2070m. You follow the new trail north up the east bank of the Suli Gaad to a collection of teashops run by the wives of army personnel in Dunai. Another hour of walking takes you to Kal Rupi and then on to Raktang (2260m). You cross to the west bank and trek past numerous goths and horse pastures over a ridge to the rough stone houses of Jyalhasa, a wintering spot for the people of Ringmo. You keep walking upstream to another bridge, cross it to the east bank, and make your way past some crude teashops and a bridge over a side stream, the Ankhe Khola, at 2460m. The trail makes some ups and downs through grass and ferns to a trail junction. The fork is the old trail leading to the army and national park post at Ankhe, and on to the old trail that passes the villages of Rahagoan and Parela, high on the ridge above. The trail to Phoksumdo Lake climbs over a ridge at 2710m and then descends on a rocky path to Chepka (2670m), which is inhabited by three brothers and consists of a collection of interconnected shops, rakshi stalls and lodges. You camp here or at another good spot beside a huge rock in a walnut grove about 20 minutes beyond Chepka.
 

Trek from Chepka to Renje and it takes about six hours. You continue on the new trail, which stays near the river, climbing over a small ridge ,then crossing to the west side to avoid a large ridge and returning to the east side an hour later near a national park camping ground. Alongside the river at 2900m, the trail becomes a collection of rocks and sticks forming a dyke along the river bank. The trail makes several more ups and downs through forests of firs and larches as it continues upstream to a bridge that leads to nine houses comprising the village of Renje on the opposite side of the river at 3010m. You camp at a good camp site here or another five minutes further on.

Trek from Renje to Ringmo which takes about seven hours. You follow the Suli Gaad valley, which turns eastward and becomes even steeper and narrower. You then climb over a ridge and descend to a wooden bridge before continuing along the ups and downs along the valley floor to the confluence of the Suli Gaad with the Pungmo Khola. From here the trail to Phoiksumdo Lake and Shey gompa follows the west bank of the river. You climb through a forest of big cedar to a good camp site and then on to Palam (3710m), a winter settlement used by the people of Ringmo village. The houses are almost buried in the sandy soil. After your park entrance ticket is examined, you may be subjected to a baggage inspection for drugs and stolen art objects. You continue on the route, which switchbacks steeply on a sandy trail through open country to an elevation of 3300m, then you start up another steep set of dusty switchbacks to a ridge at 3780m. From the ridge there are distant views of a spectacular 200m -high waterfall, the highest in Nepal. The trail makes a steep descent in birch forests to the upper reaches of the brilliantly clear, rushing waters of the Phoksumdo Khola. You then climb gently to Ringmo village, a picturesque settlement of flat-roofed stone houses with lots of mud -plastered chortens and maniwalls. Just below Ringmo, you cross a bridge and follow a trail north to the ranger station at Phoksumdo Lake (3730). You continue to the shores of the lake near the point where the Phoksumdo Khola flows out of the lake. There are national park camping grounds on both sides of the river on the south-east shore of the lake. Park rules prohibit you from camping in other places. You camp for the night.

Rest and exploration. A trail leads from the lakeside through juniper trees to the white Pal Sentan Thasoon Chholing gompa, a ramshackle Bon-po gompa overlooking the lake that is said have been built 60 generations ago. There are five other private gompas in various houses of the small monastic community near the lake. The insides of the temples contain dusty Buddhist paintings and statues, but the trappings also reflect the animistic elements of the Bon-po religion, so some of the chapels are reminiscent of an ancient witch's cavern. A donation to the ragtag collection of dirty monks will gain us entrance to the gompas; your sherpas will be equally fascinated by the strange iconography and practice of the Bon-po religion. You camp for the night.

Trek from Ringmo to Chunemba takes approximately six hours. From your camp site near Ringmo on the southern end of Phoksumdo Lake, the trail contours on a rocky ledge as it skirts the western lip of the lake. In places it's precariously suspended on a gangway of wood supported on pegs driven into crevices in the rocks. As you cross a stream, look up at the glacier descending from the upper slopes of Kanjeralwa (6612m). You then climb to a crest at 4060m for a spectacular view of the lake with the snowy peaks of Sonam Kang in the background. The trail makes a steep and dusty descent through birches and blue pines to the westernmost edge of the lake at 3630m where the Phoksumdo Khola enters. The route now heads west up a long a wide valley. You follow an indistinct trail through thorn bushes and scrub trees, crisscrossing boggy marshes and tributaries of Phoksumdo Khola. You camp in a forest of blue pines at Chunemba, an undeveloped national park camping ground at 3630m.

Trek from Chunembe to Lar Tsa takes almost five and half hours.

You begin the day along the level path that now heads north through a glacial valley. You then cross to the east bank of Phoksumdo Khola. You follow the main valley for another hour to Kang Gompa. You climb steeply from Kang Gompa and stay on the grassy ridge. It's a long climb up the ridge past a few groves of birch trees. There are spectacular mountain views with Shey Shikar (6139m) and Kang Chunne (6443m) dominating the skyline to the west. You continue on a crest at 4200m before the route descends gently on a rocky trail to Lar Tsa, a camp site beside the river at 4120m. It's possible to continue walking, but you have now ascended more than 500m in a day and should spend the night at Lar tsa for acclimatization. You camp for the night.

Trek from Lar Tsa to Mendok Din takes about three hours. You cross a new bridge and climb to the top of a scree slope at 4490m, then make your way up a grassy ridge to a crest at 4640m. You contour and then drop gently into Mendok Ding (flower valley). You again climb alongside a stream to a campsite at 4610m. You are almost certain to spot herds of blue sheep on the slopes above the camp. You camp for the night.

Trek from Mendok Din to Shey Gompa which takes approximately eight and half hours. You continue on the route that follows the upper reaches of the Phoksumdo Khola, and then you turn north towards the peak of Riwo Drugdra (Crystal Mountain). There is a choice of trails here; you follow the more scenic pilgrim route across the Sehu La to the west of Crystal Mountain, making a kora (circumambullation) of this sacred peak. The Dolma trail turns north soon after camp while the pilgrim trail starts up a steep scree slope on the opposite side of a stream that flows from the north. After a long pull to Sehu La (also known as Mendok Ding La) at 5160m the trail descends a scree slope to a grassy meadow besides a stream valley and begins a series of long ascents and descents across ridges in and out of side valleys as it traverses around Crystal Mountain. After a steep, rough climb to a crest at 5010m and another at 4860m, you begin the descent to the Tar valley. Soon after the route reaches grassy slopes a side trail leads to Tsakang, a gompa said to be 800years old that is perched dramatically on the side of a cliff. The final descent is on a wide trail to a campsite in a large meadow near a few nomads huts at 4310, just below Shey gompa. You camp for the night.

Rest and Exploration day. Cross the river on a log bridge and climb past a big chorten and a huge field of manistones to the Shey gompa compound at 4390m. The gompa itself is not large, and there are no artifacts or paintings of note inside. Although the building is said to be 800years old, the wall paintings are relatively recent, probably done in the1970s. The statues on the altar are of Guru Rimpoche, Sakyamuni and Milarepa. The gompa also houses an ancient Tibetan scroll that describes the myth of Crystal Mountain and Shey gompa. You camp for the night.

Trek from Shey Gompa to Namgung takes almost seven and half hours. You trek east from Shey gompa and across the 5010m Shey La. Here you turn north and descend before climbing again to Namgung (4430m). You camp for the night.

Trek from Namgung to Karang takes almost six hours. You traverse high above the Namgung Kola to Karang (4050m). You camp for the night.

Trek from Karang to Mugaon takes approximately seven and half hours. You descend to Torak Sumdo (3670m), the confluence of the Namgung and Polang kholas, and cross to the northern bank. You then climb to Yanger gompa at 3750m and trek along the river side valley. You camp at one of the camp sites alongside the stream at about 4100m before Mugaon.

Trek from Mugaon to Shimen which takes almost eight and half hours. You continue up the valley to Mugaon and climb towards the Mushi La at 5030m. You then descend towards Shimen village and end the day at a good camp site in pastures above the village at 4010m. You camp for the night.

Trek from Shiment to Tinje and it takes about eight hours. You drop down to Shimen village at 3870m and make a long trek upriver through Pha (4090m) to Tinje (4150m). You camp for the night.

Trek from Tinje to Rakpa takes approximately eight hours. You trek past the runway of the mysterious Tinje airport to a trail junction at 4130m, where a high route leads to Tarap. You continue southward to a camp site on the banks of the river at Rakpa (4530m). You camp for the night.

Trek from Rakpa to Chharka takes almost eight hours. You begin your day with a long climb to the Chharka La (4920m). You continue on the trail descending along the side of the valley, then make a big drop into a side valley at 4290m. You then make a long traverse down to the picturesque village of Chharka on the banks of the Barbung Kola at 4120m. You camp for the night.

Trek from Chharka to Norbulung takes about seven hours. You descend again to a river. You follow the right fork southward, climbing in and out of side valleys on a rough trail. The valley narrows before you emerge into a big meadow and climb to your campsite at Norbulung (4750m). You camp for the night.

Trek from Norbulung to Sangda Phedi and it takes approximately eight hours. You begin the day climbing to a yak pasture at Molum Sumna (4860m) and on to a crest at 5130m. You then make a long traverse across meadows to the foot of the Sangda La, then a long steep final climb to the pass at 5460m. You camp for the night.

Trek from Sangda Phedi to Sangda takes about eight hours. You climb to a lower Sangda La at 4990m, and then descend through loose shale towards the village of Sangda Ghunsa (4190m). You drop to the Chalung Khola, crossing it at 3750m, and then climb steeply up the opposite bank. A long high traverse leads to a cairn at 4090m, you then come to a set of steep switchbacks descending to a stream at 3580m. You do another climb to the compact settlement of Sangda, were you end a long day at 3700m. You camp for the night.

Trek from Sangdo to Dhagarjun takes about eight hours. You climb the hill behind Sangda and spent most of the day making a high traverse, crossing nine ridges to a final crest at 4280m. You then descend into the Kali Gandaki valley, traversing under high cliffs and descending to the large village of Dhagarjun (3290m). You camp for the night.

Trek from Dhagarjun to Jomson. You climb to a ridge at 3360m and make a final descent on a challenging trail of loose rocks to Jomsom at 2670m. Stay overnight at Lodge

Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara takes about 35 minutes. You take an early flight from Jomsom to Pokhara - a fantastic way to round off the trek, flying right along the Kali Gandaki Gorge between the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. You stay overnight at hotel in Pokhara.

Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu by tourist mini bus that takes about seven hours. While driving from Pokhara to Kathmandu, you head up to Damauli, Dumre, Muglin and Kurintar where Nepal's first Cable car is operated to reach Manakamana Temple. En route, you can enjoy the mountain views, green sceneries, rice terrace fields, vegetable fields and people engaged in their daily life activities. From Naubishe you climb up to Thankot, the gateway to the capital city. You can also fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu which takes about 25 minutes.


SERVICE INCLUDES/EXCLUDES

The Trip includes following services:
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off services by private A/C car or Van
  • Trekking permits for Lower Dolpo and Upper Dolpo
  • Entry permits for the Phoksundo National Park and Annapurna Conservation Area
  • Trekkers' Information Management System (TIMS) card
  • Trekking guide and Sherpa
  • Cook and kitachen helper
  • Necessary porters (one porter carries 25 kilograms of lugage)
  • All meals three times a day (breakfast, lunch & dinner) including fresh fruits, tea/coffee and hot water
  • Necessary camping equipment such as tents, mattresses, sleeping bags, down jackets, etc.
  • Cooking utensils
  • Cooking fuel
  • Camping charges
  • One night hotel accommodation in Nepalgunj and Pokhara with breakfast
  • All land transportation wherever applicable
  • Flight tickets from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, from Nepalgunj to Juphal (Dolpo) and Jomsom to Pokhara
  • Cargo charge of 30 kilograms each participants
  • Insurance and equipments for the trekking staffs
  • First aid kit
  • Rescue assistance (Should any emergency arise during your trek, we will provide prompt and professional rescue and medical services. For this, it would be better to have your own travel insurance that can cover helicopter evacuation and medical treatment cost incase required.)
  • One farewell dinner in Kathmandu with live cultural performance at authentic Nepali restaurant on the last evening
  • Souvenir (t-shirt, mug, pen, bag, etc.)
The Trip does not include:
  • Drinks, beverages, hot shower, etc.
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips
  • Personal nature expenses
  • Luncha and Dinner in Nepalgunj and Pokhara
  • Meals and hotel accommodation in Kathmandu 

Note:  There are different categories of Hotels in Kathmandu ranging from budget to 5 star hotels. We are happy to arrange your hotel accommodation in Kathmandu as per your interest and budget. Please inform us in advance about the type or category or price range of hotel that you would like to stay in.

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