Upper dolpo trek

The Upper Dolpo, one of the remotest, the least exposed, less explored and naturally isolated

Best season


The Upper Dolpo, one of the remotest, the least exposed, less explored and naturally isolated by the difficult topography in the north-west region of Nepal, beats all other remote trekking destinations in Nepal. Along with the unparalleled beauty of the landscape, trekking in this region of Nepal also allows you to experience Bon (religion older than Buddhism) – the original Tibetan religion and their culture, social life and religious practices. Another treasure of this trekking destination is the Shey Phoksundo National Park (3555 km2), the biggest national park in Nepal and the Shey Phoksundo Lake (the deepest lake in Nepal).

This area in Nepal is also very rich in medicinal herbs, despite being thinly vegetated and shadowed from the seasonal rain. In order to preserve the unique culture, the ancient tradition of the people and the exceptional beauty and ecosystem, the Upper Dolpo region is restricted and requires a special permit.

Upper Dolpo trek starts with a flight, first from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and then to Jhuphal- the starting and the ending point of the Upper Dolpo Trek. This trekking also covers certain parts of the Lower Dolpo Trek. It’s a long, strenuous trek, which requires a physically fit body with previous trekking experience. Spring and autumn are the best season to plan this trek.


Day 1: Kathmandu

Upon your arrival the Tribhuvan International airport (TIA) in Kathmandu, you will be greeted by a representative from Nepal Wanders who will take you to our hotel. In the evening, there will be a welcome dinner in a traditional Nepali cuisine restaurant where you will be able to enjoy authentic Nepali meal with a brief cultural program. Overnight at hotel in Kathmandu

Day 2: Kathmandu

This is a day to explore Kathmandu where we organise guided sightseeing to the Buddhist and Hindu sights in Kathmandu, to Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, Swayambunath – the Buddhist monkey temple and Pashupatinath – a sacred Hindu temple complex on the banks of the Bagmati River. Three major towns are located in the valley, Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, each having a great artistic and architectural tradition. Kathmandu is the capital and the largest city in the country. Patan, the second largest is separated from Kathmandu by a river. Bhaktapur, the third largest, is towards the eastern end of the valley and its relative isolation is reflected in its slower pace and more distinctly mediaeval atmosphere. In the Kathmandu Valley the landscape is dramatically sculpted by the contours of the paddy fields. The towns and villages are alive with the colours of farm produce, ranging from pyramids of golden grain to the vivid reds of chilli peppers laid out on mats to dry in the sun. In the streets and towns there is a constant bustle of activity, especially in the bazaars and markets where the farmers sell their vegetables and fruit. You should get back to the hotel after your sightseeing tour around midafternoon and the rest of the day is free for you to explore the city further and pack bags ready for the start of the trek the following morning. You can leave a bag at the hotel with items you will not need on the trek. Overnight at hotel in Kathmandu

Day 3: Fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj

After breakfast at the hotel in Kathmandu, you will be transferred to the airport (in a private vehicle), to board a flight to Nepalgunj. After about an hour of scenic flight the plane will land at the Ranjha Airport located in Nepalgunj. From the airport, you will be transferred to the hotel booked for you in Nepalgunj. If time permits, we can spend the remaining day visiting the attractions of Nepalgunj: mini zoo, Muslim bazaar and the Tharu villages. Overnight in a hotel in Nepalgunj

Day 4: Fly from Nepalgunj to Juphal (2320m/7601ft) and trek to Sulighat (2070m/6790ft) (2-3hrs)

After breakfast at the hotel in Nepalguj, we will be transferred to the airport in Nepalgunj, to board an early morning flight to Juphal. The plane flying over the high mountains will land at the airport in Juphal, where we meet the rest of the crew members (especially porters), awaiting our arrival. The luggage will be prepared for the porters, while you enjoy your lunch. Once the arrangement is finalized, we will walk down, toward the bank of the Thuli Bheri River, past a beautiful village and terraced fields. As we reach the river, following the bank of the river we further walk down towards the bridge across the Thuli Bheri River. Crossing the bridge, we now head up towards our destination, Sulighat. Sulighat is about 2-3 hour walk from the airport in Juphal. Overnight in a camp in Sulighat

Day 5: Trek from Sulighat to Renje (3010m/9873ft) (5-6hour)

After breakfast, the walk continues towards Renje. Crossing the bridge, and now on the west bank of the river, we first head towards Jyalhasa- a winter settlement of Rimgmo village, past abandoned settlement of Raktang, herders’ hut and horse pastures over the ridge. Before heading ahead, we again cross the bridge and now following the up and down trail, passing through grasses and fern along the east bank of the river we reach the trail junction to Phoksundo Lake. Following the Phoksundo Lake trail, we first continue up on a ridge and then down on a rocky path to Chepka. From here, staying close to the river, we climb a small ridge, cross to the west side and continue upstream climbing up and down to the Renje campsite. Overnight in a camp in Renje

Day 6: Trek from Renje to Ringmo village (3640m/11940ft) and the Phoksundo Lake (3620m/11874ft) 5-6 hrs

After breakfast, the walk continues first up the ridge and then down to the wooden bridge. From the bridge about an hour of up and down walk, along the valley floor will take us to the confluence of the Pungma River and the Phoksundo River. Crossing the river, and now on the west bank of the Phuksundo River, the trail continues through the forest, traverses a grassy slope high above the river and switches back steeply on a sandy trail through open country. From this place, the trail gets much steeper (around 400 meter ridge). Shortly after we cross the ridge, we will get the first view of the Phoksundo Lake. We will then descend through the forest of Birch and Chir pine to the upper ridges that allows us to enjoy the rushing water of Phoksundo River. Finally a gentle climb will take us to the charming village of Ringmo. Following the trail along the edge of the village, we walk all the way up to the Phoksundo Lake. Overnight in a camp in Phoksundo Lake

Day 7: Rest day in Phoskundo Lake and explore around Ringmo Village

This day can also be taken as an acclimatization day or the rest day after 3 days of walk without proper rest. Therefore, today, instead of heading further after breakfast, we set out to explore the very beautiful Phoksundo Lake- alpine fresh water oligotrophic and the deepest (145m) lake in Nepal. After exploring the lake area, we also explore the Ringmo village, located south of the lake and white Thasung Chholing Gompa. If time and energy permits, we also walk all the way up to see the source of the lake. Overnight in a camp in Phoksundo Lake

Day 8: Phoksundo Lake to Phoksundo Khola (3,630m /1190ft) (4-5 hrs)

After breakfast, the hike continues skirting the shore of the lake as it curves on a rocky ridge along the western bank of the lake. The trail is uneven and is suspended on a gangplank of wood that is maintained by pegs driven into the crevasse in the rocks -the first example of the remoteness of the area. As we reach the westernmost edge of the lake, the path leads through a lush meadow that later opens up into the flood plain of the Phoksundo River. From here onwards, we walk through the valley, cross the river and avoiding the rare marshy land we stop today’s hike at the bank of the Phoksundo River. Overnight in a camp near Phoksundo River

Day 9: Phoksundo Khola to Phoksundo Bhanjyang (4,120/13,514ft) (6-7 hrs)

After breakfast, leaving the camp site, we head towards the confluence of the Phoksundo River and Ghyampo Kapuwa River through a glacial valley. Crossing the wooden bridge, we continue on a hardly distinctive path, towards the north-east of the valley on the Shey Gumba trekking trail. The trail is difficult, which makes us climb over the rocks and boulders and ford a stream that rushes down the steep valley. After a long climb, we reach a sheep meadow, where the trail swerves up a steep gorge. From here, a steep and hard climb to the top will take us to another valley that presents us the view of the Kang La pass. The night will be spent in a tented camp in Phoksundo Bhanjyang

Day 10: Phoksundo Bhanjyang to Shey Gompa (4390m/14400ft) via Kang-La pass (5160m/16325ft) (5-6hrs)

Today we start early. After breakfast, the walk continues towards the Kang-La pass. The steep trail littered with slate scree makes the walk quite strenuous. The top of the pass presents the amazing view of the large valley cut across into two halves by a gushing river. As we descend from the pass, the path leads us on a long winding trek along the banks of the river, which also requires us to crossing it several times. We walk past the meadow and the old nomadic hut of the herders. Soon we will see a red chorten that marks our arrival at the Shey Gompa. Here we cross the old wooden log bridge and walk up to the Shey Gompa. The night will be spent in a tented camp in Shey Gompa

Day 11:Rest day at Shey Gompa the crystal monastery

Today, both for the purpose of exploration and acclimatization we visit a monastery, Shey Gompa and the Crystal Mountain, built during the 11th century. The monastery belongs to the Chaiba community, who are the followers of saint Padmasambhava and is the first Kagyaupa monastery. Shey Gompa is located above the confluence of Kangjunala and Yeju Nala River. After exploring the monastery we also visit the crystal mountain and then get back to the camp for overnight stay

Day 12: Shey Gompa to Namgung village (4430m/14530ft) via Saldang La (5010m/16432ft) (6-7hrs)

The Namgung Village is the destination set for the day. After breakfast, we continue to walk towards the destination. Initially the trail is pleasant as it runs through the juniper and descends into a gray, stony canyon. Then a zigzag path over bare rocks and coarse eroded soil will lead us to the top of Saldang La. The long, tiring trail steeply descends north until we see the first sight pastures of grazing yaks and sheep and nomadic tents. This is a sign that we are approaching towards the Namgung village. Soon we will see a red stone structure build against the backdrop of a cliff on the north wall of a gorge. The structure is Namgung Monastery of the Karma-pa sect, which has now collapsed. We will explore the monastery, village and the nearby area. The night will be spent in the tented camp in Namgung village

Day 13: Namgung village to Saldang (3620m/11,874ft) (4-5hrs)

Leaving the beautiful village of Namgung, we will head towards today’s destination, after breakfast. Initially, we ascend a scree slope and then continue along the dusty barren mountains. After some hours of hard climb, we will be greeted by the picturesque view of Saldang (the largest village of the Inner Dolpo) below on a plateau high above the Nam Khongmala. We walk all the way down to Saldang. If time permits, we also explore the village and the lifestyle of people living in the village. The night will be spent in a camp in Saldang village

Day 14: Saldang to Yangjze Gompa (4960m/16267ft)(4-5 hrs)

After breakfast at Saldang, the trail further heads north towards the destination, Yangze Gompa. A fairly gradual path with few ups and downs along the Nagon River will also make us walk past the small settlement like Tiling, Kigaon and Lurigaon. We will the cross the bridge over the Panjyang River and a short walk from here will lead us to a rarely explored area of this region, the Yangje Gompa – a very old Bon-Po Monastery. We will spend the remaining day exploring the monastery and the village. Overnight in a camp in Yangje Gompa

Day 15: Yangje Gompa to Sibu (4560m/14957ft) (6-7 hrs)

Sibu is the destination of the day. There are two trail options to Sibu. However, in order to save time, we retrace the path leading towards Saldang village. As we reach Saldang, following the river bed we walk past the terraced fields, stupas, chortens, mani stones, Chaiba monastery, and Namdo village located left of the Nam Khong River. From here, we further continue for about two hours to reach the destination, Sibu. The night will be spent in a tented camp in Sibu

Day 16: Sibu to Jeng La Phedi (4900m/16072ft) (5-6 hrs)

After breakfast, leaving Sibu, we set off towards Jeng La Phedi. Initially we continue following the same Nam Khong River. However, later we turn east and continue until we come across the confluence of two small tributaries. From here, we walk all the way up to the bottom (Phedi) of the Jeng La. The night will be spent in a tented camp in Jeng La Phedi

Day 17: Jeng La Phedi to Do Tarap (4080m/13382ft) via Jeng La pass (5090m/16695ft) (6-7 hrs)

After breakfast at the Phedi, around two hours of uphill climb will take us to the top of the Jeng La pass that greets us with a beautiful view of snow ranges and the north face of Dhaulagiri massif. After spending some time here on the pass, we descend through rough path towards the Tarap valley. Around the afternoon, we come to the green valley, which further leads us on a pleasant track down towards Tarap Chu. On the way, we also visit Tokyu monastery belonging to Chaiba sect. The trail further leads east along the downhill couse of Tarap Chu in a plain valley with patches of lush verdant grass on both sides of the river. After a short trek in the valley we reach Do Tarap. The night will be spent in a tented camp in Do Tarap

Day 18: Exploration and acclimatization day in Do Tarap

After sever days of tiring walk, this day is set aside for exploration and acclimatization. Therefore, after breakfast, we set out for a leisurely half say excursion up to the valley to Dero Gompa and Shipchok Gompa –a school of Bonpo. We also visit Ribo Bhumpa Gompa above the village, rebuilt in the year 1955 and the village of Do Tarap. The night will be spent in a tented camp in Do Tarap

Day 19: Do Tarap to Tarap Khola (Karmakharka) (3800m/12464ft) (6-7 hrs)

After breakfast, the trail descends towards the wide valley and then into the gorge. We then walk along the juniper bushes and wild roses, just above the tree line. Around the afternoon, we reach the confluence of the Tarap Chu and the Lang River. We walk further towards the meadow in Karmakharka, where we set up our camp for overnight stay. If time permits, we can also go and visit nearby caves. The night will be spent in a tented camp

Day 20: Tarap Khola to Khanigaon (3150m/10332ft) (5-6hrs)

After breakfast, we continue on a trail down the gorge of Tarap River. We walk past many possible camp sites by the river, narrow deep gorges, stone slabs fitted on logs in between the walls acting as bridge. We will continue until we reach the camping spot beside the Tarap River at Khanigaon. The night will be spent in a tented camp in Khanigaon

Day 21: Khani Gaun to Dunai (2030m/6658ft) via Tarakot (2537m/8321ft) (5-6 hrs)

After breakfast, we set out on the trail that passes through the forest and then descends into another gorge. We continue following the river downstream to reach Tarakot, where we can enjoy colorful terraced fields. Soon we will cross the bridge at Lawan and now seven meters above the river we walk past the remote village in the shades of pine trees and deep gorges. Crossing the bridge we gradually descend and head east and following the bank of the Thuli Bheri River, we finally reach Dunai. Overnight in a basic lodge in Dunai

Day 22: Dunai to Jhuphal (2320m/7610ft) (2-3 hrs)

After breakfast, we continue on a flat trail along the Thuli Bheri River. The trail then passes through terraced fields, and beautiful villages all the way up to Jhupal. About 2-3 hours walk will take us to Jhuphal. It is the last day of the trek in this region. The night will be spent at a lodge in Jhuphal

Day 23: Fly from Jhupal to Nepalgunj to Kathmandu

After breakfast at the lodge, we first fly back to Nepalgunj and then from Nepalgunj, we fly back to Kathmandu. As you reach the Kathmandu airport, a company representative will pick you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in Kathmandu in a private vehicle. In the evening, we meet for a farewell dinner and discuss the trek. The night will be spent in a hotel in Kathmandu

Day 24: Farewell Nepal

Our representative will pick you up at the hotel and transfer you to international airport for onward journey