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The Upper Dolpo trek leads to the northern highlands of Dolpo, the most remote, the least developed, and the highest inhabited region of Nepal, which lies in Karnali Zone and Dolpa District. Moreover, this region remained practically secluded for centuries and was popularized significantly by the books titled ‘The Snow Leopard’ and ‘Himalayan Pilgrimage’ and the movie titled ‘The Himalaya.’ In the recent years, more and more hardcore trekkers who prefer cultural experience to the usual luxurious trips have been embarking upon the Upper Dolpo Trek with the expert crew of Orbit Alpine Adventures.
No matter how distant Dolpo may seem, it is abundantly blessed by nature and within this blessed land lies Nepal’s largest national park, the Shey Phoksundo National Park, named jointly after the famous Shey Village and Phoksundo Lake. The Dolpo region is situated between the Dhaulagiri mountain range and the Tibetan Plateau, and is in fact, the geographical extension of Tibet and home to a unique race of Tibetan-speaking natives. You cannot compare anything else with the cultural shock our Upper Dolpo trek offers in the company of these hardy Dolpo dwellers have been trading commodities with their Tibetan counterparts since ages.
After starting our Upper Dolpo trekking excursion from Jhupal village, you will visit several interesting villages, valleys and serene forest of pines, oaks and rhododendron, while the trail crosses numerous mountains, ultimately ascending to a staggering altitude of 5,360m at Kang La Pass. Visits to the ancient Shey Gompa (Shey Monastery), Phoksundo Lake and Ringmo Village will make this trek even more memorable and enjoyable.
Day 01: Arrival at Kathmandu International Airport
Upon your arrival at the international airport in Kathmandu, we will greet you and take you to your hotel. We will provide brief overview about the itinerary. Overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 02: Trek preparation, sightseeing in Kathmandu
Upon arrival at the Kathmandu, you will be preparing for the trek while enjoying sightseeing around Kathmandu Valley. Several monuments, UNESCO enlisted sites including Kathmandu Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple, and other temples and Stupas are the places you will visit on the second day. Overnight stay at a hotel.
Day 03: Fly to Nepalgunj from Kathmandu
On the third day you will be take a flight to Nepalgunj from Kathmandu. Nepalgunj is a vibrant city located in the Mid-Western Region of Nepal. The flight duration is around 60 minutes and in that time you will reach the lowlands of Terai from the Capital. Nepalgunj is nearby the border Indian states of Rupediya and also Baharaich. The rest of the day you will sightsee around the local bazaar using horse cart which might come as a wonderful moment for the foreigners. Bageshowri Temple in Nepalgunj is quite popular and a visit to the Hindu temple in the evening will be a good thing to do the evening. Overnight stay at a hotel.
Day 04: Fly to Jhupal (2320m) from Nepalgunj
A 35-minute flight from Nepalgunj Airport takes you to Juphal on the fourth day. The flight is awesome as the aircraft flies over the mountain ridges, the beautiful valleys and the majestic-looking mountains. Jhupal Airport is a small airstrip amidst the mountains and the hills. You will also get a first-hand experience of the geographical diversity of Nepal as in an hour or so you will reach a small village amidst the mountains from a hot city of Tarai. From Jhupal, you will walk for a few hours until you reach Dunai, the headquarters of Dolpa district. Overnight stay at a guesthouse.
Day 05: Trek to Chhepka (2850m) 6hrs
The next day, we take breakfast in the morning and start out trek as per the itinerary. We descend through several vegetable fields before reaching Thuli Bheri River. Then we cross a suspension bridge over the river and enter the premises of Shey Phoksundo National Park, considered as Nepal’s largest national park. Trekkers and foreigners who are not the member countries of SAARC have to pay certain amount before entering the region. We then cross several trees and forests of fir and Juniper and reach Chhepka, a small village in the Dolpo region. Overnight stay at a tented camp.
Day 06: Trek to Palam (3820m) 7hrs
It is a long day’s trek on day six as we trek for around seven hours, crossing and passing through beautiful forests and the flowing rivers. The trail goes upwards sometimes and yet at times it come down, much to the delight of the trekkers. Local people grazing their Yaks can be seen all along the way. After trekking for over 4 hours we reach Reechi village and then a couple of hours trek takes us to Palam. Overnight stay at a tented camp.
Day 07: Trek to Shey Phoksundo Lake (3620m) 4hrs
The next day, we make our way towards Shey Phoksundo Lake, one of the major highlights of the Upper Dolpo region. It takes around four hours to reach the lake from Palam. Before reaching the lake, we also come across Phoksundo waterfall, Nepal’s highest waterfall. Shey Phoksundo is quite popular for its exotic location and for the pristine natural beauty it commands. We spend the rest of the night at a tented camp nearby the lake.
Day 08: Exploration in Shey Phoksundo
We will spend the next day exploring around the Shey Phoksundo Lake and the adjoining area. The bluish lake and the surrounding ambience is just breathtaking and you can take your time get over the beautiful lake. The trekkers also have the chance to talk and converse with the local people from the region and learn about their great old Buddhist and Bon culture. Overnight stay in a tented camp.
Day 09: Trek to Salla Ghari (3700m) 5hrs
The next day, we will make our entrance towards the real restricted region of Upper Dolpo. The trail follows the famous region where the famous documentary movie ‘Caravan was shot. Caravan was directed by foreign director Eric Valli and it even made it to the Oscars after it was selected in the best foreign movie category. We come across the beautiful lake of Ringmo, evergreen pine forests and the snow-capped mountains as we make our way to Salla Ghari. Kanjirowa Himal (66612m) is also visible along the way. Overnight stay at a tented camp.
Day 10: Trek to Lar Tsa (4120m) 6hrs
The trail now gets steep as we move along the way continuously uphill until Lar Tsa. Because of heavy snowfall round the winter and lack of vegetation, the region looks quite barren. However, the landscape and the natural beauty are unmatched. Keeping in view of the high altitude sickness problems, we hike in a slow and steady manner. Overnight stay at a tented camp.
Day 11: Trek to Shey Gompa (4320m) 6hrs
On day eleven, we first reach Kang-La (5350m) after almost three hours of difficult and strenuous trek from Lar Tsa. Kang-La Pass is quite popular in the region. We then cross and descend the pass and climb downhill for about 3 hours to reach Shey Gompa. Shey Gompa is a small village in the Dolpo region with few houses and a Buddhist Gompa. There is a very old Gompa believed to have been built several hundreds of years ago. Shey Gompa is one of the attractions of the Upper Dolpo region and is also considered as the spiritual centre of Dolpo. Overnight stay at a tented camp, inclusive of full board meal.
Day 12: Rest day for acclimatization
The next day will be spent at the Shey Gompa itself, exploring the monastery and the adjoining region. As the altitude has risen quite considerably, the rest day will also be a good one for acclimatization purpose. Visiting the popular monastery and talking with the local Sherpa people will be a good experience for the foreign trekkers. Overnight stay at a tented camp.
Day 13: Trek to Namgung (4430m) 7hrs
On the 13th day, we cross Sheyla Pass and another pass called the Glen-La Pass, exceeding around 5000 meters of altitude. While crossing the Glen pass, we can see the beautiful view of the Tibetan plateau, the highest plateau in the world. We can also spot Mustang to the east. After crossing the two passes, we descend to the village of Namgung. Overnight stay at a tented camp.
Day 14: Trek to Saldang (4050m) 3hrs
The trail from Namgung descends through steep slopes and in three hours time we reach the beautiful village of Saldang. Saldang is a big village in the Dolpo region with many people inhabiting the area. The village basically prospers through tourism and to a lesser degree from agriculture. Overnight stay at a tented camp.
Day 15: Trek to Jengla (4480m) 5hrs
The next morning we have quick breakfast atSaldang and then make our way to Jengla, located at an altitude of 4480 meters. Jengla will be the highest point during the trek and the trail is undoubtedly adventurous as we move pass through several terraced fields and monasteries. During the mid-point of the trek, we come across one village called Namdo. Namdo is sparsely populated and has close to fifty-sixty houses with relatively less number of people. Jengla is not too far from Namdo as we reach there in couple of more hours. Overnight stay at a tented camp.
Day 16: Trek to Tarap (4200m) 3hrs
It is a relatively short trek the next day, as we move towards Tarap from Jengla. The way to Tarap is quite easy and the trail is extensively travelled by the trekkers and locals alike. It takes around three hours to reach Tarap. There is a ‘French School’ just outside the village of Tarap, set up by the French people. Like Jengla, Tarap is also sparsely populated and the rest of the time we spend visiting Buddhist Gompas, talking with Sherpas and learning the art of weaving Thankas. Overnight at tented camp.
Day 17: Trek to Serkam (3600m) 6hrs
Trek to Serkam is adventurous and the trail now follows along the course of Tarap Khola. It is mostly a downhill trek from Tarap, the trail passing through narrow and deep gorges. If you are lucky enough you will meet people from Upper Dolpo region coming down with their flock of sheep, Yak and goat in search of pastures for the winter. The trail is also undulating at times. After almost six hours of trekking, we reach Serkam. Overnight stay at a tented camp.
Day 18: Trek to Tarakot (2543m) 5hrs
It is an exciting day of trek on this day as we climb downhill from Serkam. At some places we cross small rivers by stepping on the stones and at other times we cross rivers through long suspension bridges. People near Tarakot raise various crops like millet, barley, buckwheat, chillies and marijuana and we pass through many such crop fields. Tarakot is a small and prosperous village of the Dolpo region and is extremely popular around the otherwise barren region. Overnight stay at a tented camp.
Day 19: Trek to Dunai (2100m) 5hrs
Trek to Dunai from Tarakot is relatively easy and we walk along the banks of the Bheri River for almost 4-5 hours before we reach the beautiful Dunai. Dunai is the district headquarters of Dolpa. Dunai was attacked by the Maoist rebels during the period of insurgency. Dunai is also the end of the Upper Dolpo Trek and from here on we return back to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj. Overnight stay at a tented camp.
Day 20: Trek to Jhupal (2320m) 3hrs
Today we climb uphill for a short period of time to reach Jhupal from where the entire trek started almost three weeks ago. It is a short trek as we reach Jhupal in less than three hours. For the rest of the day we will stay at a guesthouse in Jhupal while preparing for the flight to Nepalgunj next day.
Day 21: Fly to Nepalgunj and then to Kathmandu
Early in the morning, we will fly to Nepalgunj from Jhupal. The flight will again remind you of the amazing landscape of Nepal. After some time of reaching Nepalgunj, we will take another flight to Kathmandu, the Capital city. In the evening, you are invited for a Nepalese dinner. Overnight stay at a hotel in Kathmandu.
Day 22: Departure Transfer
We will take you to the airport after breakfast, or a few hours before your scheduled flight time.