Dolpa remains as an isolated corner in the far north-west region of Nepal having a great biodiversity and cultural richness. Lower Dolpo trek with the Phoksundo Lake is probably one of the most popular treks in western Nepal. The Lake is famous for its magnificent turquoise color and ranks as the most scenic mountain parks in the world.
Lake Phoksundo is one of the main highlights of Lower Dolpo Circuit trek which lies in the Shey-Phoksundo National Park. The lake is also popular as the Blue Lake and contains no aquatic life. Shey-Phoksundo is the largest national park in Nepal that covers an area of 3,555 sq.km. The park was established in 1984 in order to preserve the unique Himalayan ecosystem having widespread biodiversity.
Dolpa is one of the most remote districts in Nepal with the fascinating villages, scenery and peace that offer opportunities to visit ancient villages, passes, lake, monasteries and also to experience the vast range of wildlife inhabiting the region including Blue sheep, Mountain Goat, Jackal, Wolf and the legendary Snow Leopard.
Trekking in the Lower Dolpo region takes us to the popular Ringmo village and further to Phoksundo Lake (3,600m/11,811ft) through the Dho Tarap village (4,050m/13,288ft), a region inhabited by people practicing polyandry and pre-Buddhist religion called “Bon Po” and two high passes of Numa La (5,190m/17,028ft) and Baga La (5,090m/16,700ft). Finally, the trek ends in Juphal.
Thinking for more challenging Dolpo trek? Then Upper Dolpo Shey Gompa Trek would be the best alternative.
Permits for Lower Dolpo Trek (Updated 2019)
The entire Dolpo is a regulated zone so that trekkers travelling in Lower Dolpo will need special permits to enter into Dolpa district. It is mandatory that people trekking in Lower Dolpo will also require Shey Phoksundo National Park permit. A group of TWO persons are necessary in order to obtain the special trekking permits available from Department of Immigration.
The permit for Lower Dolpo trek will cost US $20 per person per week and US $5 per person per day thereafter. Likewise, permit for Shey Phoksundo National Park will cost rupees 3000 (US $27) per person. Trekking permit is not available in Dolpo except for the national park. Local Trekking Companies can organize the special trekking permits in Kathmandu.
Difficulty of Lower Dolpo Trek
Lower Dolpo trek is regarded as the medium-hard level trek that includes two major passes such as Numa la pass (5,190m/17,028ft) and Baga la pass (5,090m/16,700ft). Therefore, trekkers should be prepared for a walk of 6-7 hours daily and 7-8 hours or more while crossing the high passes.
Lower Dolpo trek is a demanding trek to the beginners due to its remoteness and the trail condition. We suggest for a regular exercising and jogging for some weeks prior to the trip at home. Any previous experience of trekking in Nepal or elsewhere would be a great asset.
Trekking Encounters– Accuracy of Itinerary
We intend to follow the itinerary as printed but it may be necessary to make some changes as a result of flight schedules, climatic conditions, limitations of infrastructure or other operational factors. As a consequence, the order or location of overnight stops and duration of the day may vary from those outlined. So, we expect your co-operation and understanding in the events that are beyond our control.
A Typical Trekking Day
The day starts around 06:30 to 07:00am, before breakfast you pack all your gear so that you are ready to leave camp straight after your meal. The pace on the trek will be relaxing with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, take photos and meet with the locals. Lunch is usually in a choice location by the side of the trail and, most days, you will be arriving at our overnight camp late afternoon when you can enjoy a well earned cup of tea. You will have some time to take in the surroundings and explore before you have your evening meal.
Meals and Accommodations on Lower Dolpo Trek
We prepare food on the trek at our own kitchen. There are still limited infrastructures so that it is necessary to set up camps for meals and accommodations. Our kitchen crew will plan traditional, local, Tibetan, Indian, Continental and Western dishes on a regular basis. The main meal varies from local style Dal-bhat (rice and lentils with an onion and vegetable sauce) to western style burgers, chips and pasta.
Our camp crew will organize accommodations in tents and/or teahouses where possible. We provide a variety of camping equipment such as dome, kitchen, toilet and shower tent, mattresses along with modern kitchenware including an experienced cook. Local porters or yaks will be hired in Juphal to transport the logistics necessary during the trek.
Best Time for Lower Dolpo Circuit Trek
Dolpo trekking is generally good in late spring (April to June) and autumn (Sept to Nov). The high passes on the trail can be closed during winter and early spring. The entire Dolpo region is a Himalayan rain shadow area so that trekking in summer in Dolpo is also suitable. The only issue during summer is the weather that can affect the flights between Nepalgunj and Juphal.
Altitude sickness is a serious concern while trekking in Lower Dolpo. However, we have a flexible itinerary which allows reasonable amount of time for your body to acclimatise in the mountains. There are some useful tips to keep away from the altitude sickness such as trekking gently, drinking sufficient water and avoiding smoking during the trek. Mild to severe (later) headache is the most common sign of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). There may be other signs for different people including extreme fatigue, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, difficulty in walking and rattling breath.
We provide a detailed list of equipment while booking this trek. A good 4 season sleeping bag and down jacket are available to hire or purchase in Kathmandu. You may store the excessive items not necessary for the trek with the hotel in Kathmandu. It’s a good idea to leave a pair of clean clothes so that you can wear them after the trek.
- Scenic mountain flight to and from Juphal
- The stunning view of the Phoksundo Lake
- Challenging Numa la and Baga la passes
- Widespread diversity of flora and fauna
- Breathtaking views of the snowy peaks
- Ancient villages and isolated monasteries
- Enchanting Buddhist culture and traditions
- Observation of the remoteness of Nepal