Dolpa district (also referred to as Dolpo) lies in the trans-Himalayan region of north-west Nepal. Dolpo remains as an isolated and one of the remotest areas and is generally dry, cold and sparsely vegetated. Dolpo made open to foreign trekkers since mid-1989 only and then Upper Dolpo Shey Gompa trek program came in operation. The air strip at Juphal allows access connecting a flight between Nepalgunj and Juphal.
The major attractions of Dolpo are the wild and pristine landscape, unlike to most other parts of the Nepal Himalayas. The scenery of fascinating ancient villages, high passes, beautiful Phoksundo Lake and remote Buddhist monasteries are the additional highlights. It is a part of the Tibetan Plateau and is still a land of mystery and also well-known as “Ba Yul” or the ‘hidden valley’. The Dolpo region splits between two very distinctive areas, such as Lower Dolpo and Upper Dolpo.
Special Permits are necessary to enter both the sections. The finally preserved ecosystem encompasses a wild and wonderful variety of plants and wildlife. The park is home to many rare and endangered animal species including the snow leopard, musk deer, blue sheep, Tibetan wolf and 29 species of butterflies including the highest flying butterfly in the world. Therefore, a trek through Dolpo will be an experience of lifetime.
Trek to Upper Dolpo starts after the Phoksundo Lake and includes a visit to the popular Shey Gompa monastery (4,500m/14,764ft). This region has a long characteristic of mysticism about it. A great Tibetan influence can be experienced while travelling inside Dolpo. The villagers of Tibetan stock are skillful traders taking their yak caravans between Tibet and Nepal.
Looking for softer Dolpo trek? Then Lower Dolpo Trek would be the right option.
Permits for Upper Dolpo Trek
Upper Dolpo is a regulated region so that trekkers need special permits to enter into the area. People trekking in Dolpo will also require Shey Phoksundo National Park permit. The special trekking permits are available for a group of minimum TWO persons. It is also important to note that permit for Lower Dolpo is necessary while travelling into Upper Dolpo and Shey Gompa Monastery.
The permit for Upper Dolpo trek will cost US $500 per person for 10 days and US $50 per person per day beyond 10 days. Similarly, permit for Lower Dolpo will cost US $20 per person per week and Shey Phoksundo National Park permit will cost rupees 3000 (US $27) per person. Trekking permits should be organized in Kathmandu, hence no upfront permit is available in Dolpo except for the national park.
Upper Dolpo Trek Difficulty
We have categorized Upper Dolpo and Shey Gompa trek as one of the hard treks that requires a passion to travel in the virgin and isolated northern Himalayan region of west Nepal. Trekkers need to prepare themselves for a walk of 6-7 hours daily and 7-8 hours or more on the high passes crossing days. Upper Dolpo Circuit trek is a demanding trek because of its remoteness, availability of comfort and accessibility.
Exercising regularly at home and jogging for some weeks prior to the trip can enhance strength and develop confidence. So, previous experience of trekking in the region or elsewhere would be an asset. It is also important to consult your doctor before making a decision for this trek if you have any medical problems in the history. Trekkers with pre-existing medical conditions such as heart, lungs or any other serious disease should inform Trekking Encounters before booking the trip.
Trekking Encounters– Accuracy of Itinerary
It is our intention 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 the duration of the day may vary from those outlined. So, we request your patience and understanding in the events that are beyond our control.
Meals and Accommodations on Dolpo Trek
Food on the trek is supplied from our own kitchen. Upper Dolpo doesn’t have facility of teahouses or lodges in every stop like in the Annapurna or Everest region. So, our camp crew will set up camp for meals and accommodations. They will prepare local, Tibetan, Indian, Continental and Western dishes on a routine 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.
Accommodation during the Upper Dolpo trek will be managed in tents. We have a variety of camping equipment necessary for the remote trekking where there are no teahouses. We supply dome, kitchen, toilet and shower tent along with thick and light mattresses on this trek. A good set of kitchenware will also accompany the trek including an experienced cook. Local porters will be hired to transport the logistics throughout the trek.
Best Seasons for Upper Dolpo Shey Gompa Trek
Trekking in Dolpa region is the best in late spring (April to June) and autumn (Sept to Nov). The high passes on the Upper Dolpo trail remain closed during winter and early spring. Being in the rain shadow area, trekking in summer around Dolpo region is also suitable. The only issue during summer is the weather which can affect the flights between Nepalgunj and Juphal.
Altitude sickness is a serious concern on the Upper Dolpo trek. However, our itineraries allow reasonable amount of time for your body to acclimatise. Trekking gently, drinking sufficient water and avoiding smoking during the trek are some useful tips to keep away from altitude sickness. Headache is the most common symptom and there are other signs of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) for different people but include fatigue, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, difficulty in walking and rattling breath.
Rescue and Evacuation
There are provisions for rescue and evacuation by helicopters in Nepal. If any member of the group becomes seriously ill and determined by the group leader that rescue is necessary, one of the staff (or group member) should initiate communication with us in Kathmandu. The operations section will immediately report the case to the insurance company and obtain clearance for evacuation. Rescue helicopter will be sent as immediately as possible. Usually, it can reach on asked place within 2 or 3 hours depending on the weather and visibility. Helicopters cannot fly at night.
We provide a detailed list of equipment while booking this trek. Specialist items such as a 4 season sleeping bag and down jacket can be hired or purchased in Kathmandu. Excess items not necessary for the trek can be left with the hotel in Kathmandu safely. It’s a good idea to leave a pair of travel clothes with the hotel laundry so that you can wear them after the trek.
There is yet another trail leading through the more wild and adventurous passes that ends at Jomsom of Annapurna region. Please Contact Us for Dolpo to Jomsom Trek Itinerary.
- Scenic mountain flight to and from Juphal
- The spectacular view of the Phoksundo Lake
- Shey Gompa and many other isolated monasteries
- Some challenging high passes
- Various species of flora and fauna
- Panoramic views of the snowy peaks
- Ancient and lonely villages
- Enthralling Buddhist culture and traditions
- Experience of the remoteness of Nepal