Upper Dolpo Trek - 21 Days

Upper Dolpo Trek is one of the finest remote treks in the mid-western region of Nepal. This trek takes you to the beautiful landscapes of the region including deep valleys, arid mountains, pristine lakes, high passes, and green forests. The stunning snow-capped mountain views will welcome you all along the trail.

The pristine Phoksundo Lake and the spiritual hub of the Shey Gompa are the major attraction of the Upper Dolpo circuit trek. You will pass through the spectacular Shey Phoksundo National Park along the journey. The beautiful region and the unique lifestyle of people will enchant you.

Moreover, you will also explore the varying topography of the region that ranges from grassy alpine pastures to arid desert-like landscapes and the remote settlements. The breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains will welcome us all along the beautiful trail.

Furthermore, the cultural exploration of the region is also on the cards. You can also explore the culture, lifestyle, and heritage of the Tibetan influenced ethnic community. The pilgrimage of the ancient Buddhist monasteries and the temples is enchanting. You will get a warm welcome and hospitality along the trail.

Overall, this spectacular trek is exciting off the beaten adventure in the remote landscapes of the Upper Dolpo region. This incredible trek package is available at a reasonable cost. Read further for the Upper Dolpo Trek detailed itinerary and other relevant information.

Significant Highlights of the Trip

  • Exploring the deepest lake in Nepal, Shey Phoksundo Lake
  • Spectacular mountain views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain range
  • Incredible sunrise view from various points along the trail
  • Pilgrimage of the Shey Gompa which is the 12th-century monastery in Dolpo
  • Exploration of the Bon and Buddhist culture of the region
  • Tasting the delicious cuisine of the local people
  • Incredible hospitality of the Nepalese people
  • Exploring the diverse flora and fauna of the area

The Final Say

The Upper Dolpo Trek is incredible in the remote landscapes of western Nepal. The Dolpo region is incredibly beautiful and diverse. You will pass through the diverse landscapes of the area, including the dry and arid desert landscapes and the forested trails in the lower region.

The prime attractions of the trek include the pristine Phoksundo Lake and Shey Gompa. The rugged landscapes along the trail provide an adventurous trekking experience. Overall, the Upper Dolpo Trek is a lovely off the beaten adventure. Contact us for more details regarding this exciting trek.

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Day 1
Day 01: Flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj

Maximum Altitude: 1350m

Flight duration: 45 mins

After breakfast, our representative will pick you up from the hotel and transfer to the airport. You can take the Kathmandu to Nepalgunj flight early in the morning. The scenic flight takes you over the terraced hills to arrive at the Mahendra Airport in Nepalgunj.

Nepalgunj is the southern city of Nepal close to India. It is also a junction from where you can take many flights and buses into various parts of the country. Nepalgunj is also the gateway to Simikot, Humla and has a diverse culture.

You can visit the local market, nearby villages, and the mini-zoo while in the city. The hot and tropical climate of the region is quite different from the hills. Our staff will brief you about the Upper Dolpo Trek Itinerary in the evening. We will stay overnight at a hotel in Nepalgunj.

Day 2
Day 02: Flight from Nepalgunj to Juphal and Trek to Dunai

Maximum Altitude: 2850m

Flight duration: 45 mins flight

Trek duration: 2-3 hours

After breakfast, we take an early morning flight from Nepalgunj to Juphal, which takes around forty-five minutes. The high winds in the Thulo Bheri Valley after 10 AM makes the Upper Dolpo flights almost impossible.

The incredible views of the green ridges, terraced farmed hills, and the snow-capped mountains will enchant you. The flight lands at the Juphal airport of the Dolpo region. The adventurous landing takes place on a small landing strip over a small ridge. After arriving at Juphal (2500 m), we start our trek to Dunai.

Moreover, we pass through several Hindu and Buddhist villages alongside the Thuli Bheri River. You can observe the Shamanist culture in the middle hills of Nepal. Women in the region wear traditional Nepali dress with nose-rings and colourful glass beads. You can observe the Himalayan foothills with the views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain peaks.

Furthermore, the trails pass through the terraced fields along the Bheri River and its narrow gorge. Finally, after a trek of a few hours, we arrive at Dunai, the administrative headquarter of the Dolpo region. We explore the little hill town in the evening and stay at a camp in the afternoon.

Day 3
Day 03: Trek from Dunai to Ankhe

Maximum Altitude: 2896m

Trek duration: 6-7 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Dunai to Ankhe through a suspension bridge and turn west past a hospital. We then climb up the barren Thulo Bheri valley before entering the spectacular Phoksundo river valley. We later arrive at a ridge at 2,499m from where we observe the incredible Kagmara Peak up the valley.

The trail then leads us to the walnut groves at Dhera (2,810m) which is a winter settlement for cows and goats. We then climb up the path to Rahagaon (2,900m). You can find a Gompa dedicated to the local god, Mastha, the guardian of this village. The trek then leads us to a canyon, and we then descend into the deep dark forests to arrive at a large stream before arriving at Ankhe. We stay overnight at Ankhe.

Day 4
Day 04: Trek from Ankhe to Renje

Maximum Altitude: 3104m

Trek duration: 6-7 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Ankhe to Renje along a trail that ascends and descends a lot. The trail passes through the wooded river bank and climbs the steep path through the forested riverbed. You can also observe the several streams along the trail.

Moreover, the trail leaves the forest and turns into a grassy slope above the river. The downhill trek then leads us to the lush forests towards a cliff from where we descend towards the riverbank on a dangerous stone staircase.

You can find a collection of rocks and sticks that form a dyke along the river bank. We then trek towards the bridge near Sulighat before arriving at the settlement after a trek of a few hours. We spend the night at a camp in Sunlight.

Day 5
Day 05: Trek from Renje to Phoksundo Lake

Maximum Altitude: 3350m

Trek duration: 4-5 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Renje to Phoksundo Lake. The trail then takes us to the valley floor that leads us on the confluence of the Phoksundo and Pungmo rivers. We then cross the bridge over the rivers and continue along the western bank of Pungmo Khola.

We then pass through the beautiful cedar forest towards the Palam village. The trail then arrives at a ridge with an altitude of 3,350m and observes the spectacular view of the Phoksundo Lake and one of the highest waterfalls in Nepal. We stop here to have our lunch and then continue our trail through birch forests to arrive at the Phoksundo Khola and then the Ringmo village.

You can find mud-plastered Chortens and mani walls in a beautiful town. The Phoksundo Lake looks incredibly beautiful from the town. We can observe the Shey Phoksundo National Park at the south end of the village. We get our entrance tickets checked at the gate. We will stay overnight at camp in Phoksundo Lake premises.

Day 6
Day 06: Trek from Phoksundo Lake to Phoksundo Khola

Maximum Altitude: 3611m

Trek duration: 4-5 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek to the western bank of the Phoksundo Lake. The trail is up and down along the forested path as we pass through the rocky crevasses in the remote area.

We trail ahead of the westernmost path along the lush meadow and plains of Phoksundo Khola. The trail then arrives at the valley, where we cross the river and the boggy marsh underfoot. We later arrive at our camp at the bank of the river where we will stay overnight.

Day 7
Day 07: Trek from Phoksundo Khola to Phoksundo Bhanjyang

Maximum Altitude: 4126m

Trek duration: 4-5 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Phoksundo Khola to Phoksundo Bhanjyang. The trail then follows along a glacial valley towards the north to arrive at the junction of the Phoksundo Khola and other water streams. We walk towards the north-east, and a climb leads us to a sheep meadow.

Furthermore, the trail passes through the stunning Kang-La pass to arrive at a campsite called the ‘Snowfields Camp’. We can also observe the snow-capped mountains, including Chhamlang peak 6 (6739m) and peak 7 (6105m). We will stay overnight at a campsite in Phoksundo Bhanjyang.

Day 8
Day 08: Trek from Phoksundo Bhanjyang to Shey Gompa Crossing Kang La Pass

Maximum Altitude: 5010 m

Trek duration: 6-7 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Phoksundo Bhanjyang to Shey Gompa. You can visit the famous Shey Gompa and the ‘Crystal Mountain’. The Crystal Mountain is a sacred peak in Dolpo where locals circumambulate before the yearly grain harvest during the full moon in July or August.

It is also known as the Kailash of Dolpo. According to mythology, the Tibetan Buddhist lama battled the fierce local mountain spirit on a snow-lion and also built the Shey Gompa. The trail then leads us to the steep trail on a difficult path littered with slate towards the pass.

The trail then leads us to the Kang-la pass from where we observe the snow-capped mountains of Shey Shikkar and Kang Chunnel. We then descend to a wide floor valley and then ascend further to a crest at 5010 m and 4860 m. The trail then descends to the Tar valley.

We arrive at a grassy slope on a trail that leads us to the 800 years Tsakang Gompa perched dangerously on the side of a cliff. The trail moves along the banks of the river and also crosses several times. You can observe the mud caves overlooking the river. There is also a vast meadow where you can find yaks, sheep and goats (Chyangra) grazing freely.

We pass through the long, ancient mani wall and arrive at the famous Shey Gompa. The village of Shey is a tiny settlement covered in Red Chortens. We stay overnight at a camp in Shey.

Day 9
Day 09: Acclimatization and Exploration Day in Shey Gompa

After breakfast, we start our exploration and acclimatization tour of the famous Shey Gompa. We hike around the Shey village and observe the ancient Buddhist culture of Bon Po. You can observe the Tibetan settlement with flat-roofed stone houses, mani walls and Chortens.

There are juniper and larch forests around the forests as well. The incredible Shey Gompa built-in 1655 has a giant copper (gilded with gold) statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. The lama of the Gompa resides in the Tsakang gompa nearby. Tsakang is a meditation centre for lamas from Tibet.

You can find the Crystal Mountain towards the east which is a series of contorted cliffs embedded in quartz and other marine fossils. The 800 years old building has wall painting done in the 1970s. You can find the statues of Guru Rinpoche, Milarepa, and Sakyamuni and in the monastery. The ancient Tibetan scroll in the monastery details the myth of the Crystal Mountain and Shey Gompa.

The scroll states that there is a holy lake in a crater among the mountains around Shey. After making nine circumambulations of this lake, the water turns milky. When the pilgrims take the sip of this milk, they can observe Mt. Kailash in the distance. You can observe the ancient Tibetan way of life influenced by the teachings of Lord Buddha. We will stay overnight at a camp in Shey Gompa.

Day 10
Day 10: Trek from Shey Gompa to Namduna Gaon Via Saldang La Pass

Maximum Altitude: 5220m

Trek duration: 6-7 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Shey Gompa to Namduna Gaon via the Saldang La Pass. The trek from Shey Gompa begins on a pleasant trail alongside the juniper trees. We move through the winding paths over bare rocks and soil eroded regions to arrive at the Saldang-la Pass.

Furthermore, the trail then descends the Northside where we can find yaks and sheep grazing and nomadic tents made from yak hair. We also visit the famous Namdung monastery in the Namdung Gaun. The beautiful monastery made of red stone sits atop a cliff on the north wall of a gorge. We will stay overnight at a camp in the Namuda Gaun.

Day 11
Day 11: Trek from Namduna Gaon to Saldang

Maximum Altitude: 3620m

Trek duration: 5-6 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Namduna Gaon to Saldang. The trail passes through a steep slope along the barren mountains. We ascended for 3-4 hours to arrive at the Saldang Village on a plateau above the Namga Khola stream.

Saldang is a large settlement in the inner Dolpo area. The two kilometres distant village situated in a slope consists of at least six hundred people and eighty households. It also falls under the trade route to Tibet. We stay overnight at a camp in Saldang.

Day 12
Day 12: Trek from Saldang to Sibu

Maximum Altitude: 3942m

Trek duration: 5-6 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Saldang to Sibu. The trek passes through the settlement of Yangtze to arrive at the junction of two trails that lead to Sibu. We will take the route that is relatively easier and shorter. We then pass through a river, terraced fields, mani stones, stupas, chortens, Chaiba monastery, to arrive at the Namdo village.

Moreover, the village is beautiful and stretches around 5 km on the cliffs next to the pristine Nam Khong Khola. You can also visit the beautiful Namdo monastery near the river bed. We trek for two hours to arrive at the small settlement of Sibu where we camp overnight.

Day 13
Day 13: Trek from Sibu to the foot of Jeng La Pass

Maximum Altitude: 4,900m

Trek duration: 5-6 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Sibu to the foot of Jeng La Pass. We start our trek along the Nam Khong Khola and pass the caravans of yaks towards the Tibetan border. We walk towards the east towards the confluence of two small streams.

Furthermore, the trail passes through the cliffs ascending to a meadow where yaks graze and pass through the Jeng La pass (4,900m). We will set our camp at the Jeng La pass and stay overnight.

Day 14
Day 14: Trek from Jeng La Pass and trek to Tokyu Gaon

Maximum Altitude: 4,900m

Trek duration: 5-6 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Jeng La Pass to Tokyu Gaon. We walk for two long hours to arrive at the top of the majestic Jeng La pass. We can observe the outstanding views of the north face of the Dhaulagiri massif.

Moreover, we descend on a rough trail to arrive at the Tarap Valley. It is a fascinating valley with plains along the twenty kilometres Tarap Chu river. We arrive at the Tokyu gaon after a trek of a few hours and stay overnight at a camp.

Day 15
Day 15: Trek from Tokyu Gaon to Dho Tarap

Maximum Altitude: 4240m

Trek duration: 5-6 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Tokyu Gaon to Dho Tarap. The trail then takes us downhill on a plain valley. We pass through the lush grass on the riverside that is quite different from other parts of the Dolpo region.

Moreover, we pass through the marsh in the Desert Mountains. There we observe the Bon Po and Buddhist sects of the region. We will reach Dho Tarap after a trek of a few hours. We stay overnight at a camp in Dho Tarap.

Day 16
Day 16: Trek from Dho Tarap to Serkam

Maximum Altitude: 4040m

Trek duration: 4-5 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Dho Tarap to Serkam. We leave the village of Tarap as we descend towards a wide valley and then into a beautiful gorge. The trail then leads us to the juniper and wild rose bushes above the treeline.

Moreover, we can observe sheep and yaks grazing in the meadows before arriving at the confluence of the Tarap Chu and the Lang Khola. We camp and stay overnight at the Serkam.

Day 17
Day 17: Trek from Serkam to Khani Gaon

Maximum Altitude: 3150m

Trek duration: 5-6 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Serkam to Khani Gaon. The trail moves down the gorge of the Tarap River. We pass through the lower pastures where locals come down during the winter.

Furthermore, the narrow trails pass through the deep gorge and walk across stone slabs in woods that act as a makeshift bridge. We may have to cross the bridge on an icy torrent as well. After a trek of a few hours, we arrive at the camp where we stay overnight.

Day 18
Day 18: Trek from Khani Gaon to Tarakot

Maximum Altitude: 2537m

Trek duration: 5-6 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek from Khani Gaon to Tarakot. The trail passes through Khanigaon as we continue towards the village of Lalberi. We then descend into another gorge and pass through the lush forested trails.

We arrive at Tarakot where we can visit the Sandul Gompa located at a hill to the south of Bheri River. The Gompa is around 8 km east towards the confluence of Barbung Khola and Tarap Chu. We camp around the Tarap Chu river about 150 meters below Tarakot and stay overnight.

Day 19
Day 19: Trek from Tarakot to Dunai

Maximum Altitude: 2140m

Trek duration: 5-6 hours

After breakfast, we will start our trek from Tarakot to Dunai. The trail passes through the Tarakot behind the Bheri River before leading to the Lawan village. We continue our path towards the Bheri River and ascend towards the Byas Gadi.

Moreover, the trail then leads us to the relatively easy path towards the Lochakhola Gaon and then ascends to Dunai. The trek then passes through the gorge along the pine-forested trail. We stay overnight at a camp in Dunai.

Day 20
Day 20: Trek from Dunai to Juphal

Maximum Altitude: 2449m

Trek duration: 5-6 hours

After breakfast, we start our trek alongside the Bheri River, observing the beautiful landscape of the region. We then pass through the Dhupichaur, Rupgad village and also a temple. The trails also pass through the Kalakonda village and Motipur village before arriving at a small airstrip. We stay overnight at Juphal.

Day 21
Day 21: Flight from Juphal to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj

Maximum Altitude: 2449m

Flight duration: 15 minutes (Juphal to Nepalgunj)

Flight duration: 45 minutes (Nepalgunj to Kathmandu)

After breakfast, we start our journey from Juphal to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj. We then take an early morning flight to Nepalgunj from Juphal. After arriving at Nepalgunj, we will take a scenic flight to Kathmandu. Our Upper Dolpo Trek Itinerary comes to an official end. We stay overnight at the hotel in Kathmandu.

When is the Best Time for the Upper Dolpo Trek?

The Upper Dolpo trek is ideal during the Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November). These are the peak times for trekking and touring in Nepal.

Autumn (September to November)

The stable environment and minimal rainfall is the highlight of the trek in these seasons. You will also get moderate temperatures during the trek. There is also an opportunity to explore the cultural aspect of the region in the Autumn season trek. Many local festivals like Dashain, Tihar, Chhath fall under this season.

Spring (March to May)

In Spring, the wildflowers bloom all over the hills providing a beautiful scenario for all trekkers. You will get mild temperatures during the trek. The Spring trek in the Upper Dolpo region is an incredible adventure.

The monsoon season treks from June to August are challenging mainly due to the heavy rainfalls. You will get landslides and avalanches in the region. Besides that, the trails also get slippery. The winter season treks from December to February bring heavy fog and frigid conditions in the area that makes the trek quite tricky.

Hence, the Autumn and the Spring season are the best season for the Upper Dolpo trek.

How Difficult is the Upper Dolpo Trek?

Upper Dolpo Trek is a moderately challenging trek on rugged terrains. The remote landscapes of the trail require continuous ascending and descending. You will have to hike for 5-6 hours on the hilly terrain with rests in the middle. The trek is ideal for all skill levels.

However, a basic level of fitness and a proper training regime before the trek is essential. The trek is long duration, and hence you might suffer from fatigue in the middle. Besides that, you will also have to trek with a backpack. A good practise hike with weight will help you immensely during the trek.

Moreover, this trek takes you on high altitude conditions, and hence you should apply necessary precautions to tackle altitude sickness. Therefore, you should acclimatize properly with regular hydration during the trek. Overall, the Upper Dolpo trek is moderately challenging, but with proper preparation and packing, it is possible with ease.

Food and Accommodation Along the Upper Dolpo Trek

The accommodation and food along the trail are quite basic. There are not many teahouses and lodges in the remote Dolpo region. You will have to camp at various points during the trek. However, camping is a fun adventure, and you will not face any difficulties during the trek.

Moreover, the basic teahouse and lodge facilities provide a twin bed, a pillow, and a warm blanket. The accommodation facilities are not fancy, but they are satisfactory. You need to carry a sleeping bag to tackle the frigid conditions along the trek.

Furthermore, the food facilities are also basic. The Upper Dolpo region has food shortages. Hence, you should bring enough food supplies to last the trek. If you book with us, you don’t have to worry as we will take care of all these facilities so that we can trek without any hassle.

Essential Tips for the Upper Dolpo Trek

  • Start your trek early
  • Hire a guide and a porter for the trek
  • Acclimatize and hydrate regularly
  • Pack well for the trip
  • Carry enough food supplies for the trek
  • Carry anti-nausea tablets like Diamox
  • Get a proper travel insurance
  • Pre-book all the food and accommodations facilities
  • Carry an accurate Upper Dolpo Trek map
  • Check the weather forecast before starting the trek

Trekking Permits and Regulations

The rules and regulations for the Upper Dolpo Trek are stringent. The number of permits issued for the trek in the Upper Dolpo region is only 250 each year. Besides that, the permits for the Upper Dolpo circuit trek are quite expensive. You will also need to get the permit for Lower Dolpo as the trails pass through the region.

The Upper Dolpo region consists of the Dolpo Buddha Rural Municipality, Shey Phoksundo Rural Municipality, and the Charka Tangsong Rural Municipality. The cost of the trekking permit is USD 500 per person (for the first 10 days) and USD 50 per person per day after the first 10 days.

Moreover, the cost of the trekking permit for the Lower Dolpo region is USD 20 per person per week and USD 5 per person per week after the first week. The TIMS Card fees are NRs. 1,000 for Free individual trekkers (FIT) and NRs. 2,000 for Group trekkers. The cost is per trekking route per person per entry.

For SAARC countries, the TIMS Card fees are NRs. 300 for Group trekkers, and NRs. 600 for FITs. You should also hire a guide on the organized tour in the Upper Dolpo region. A registered tour operator will help you get these trekking permits.

Packing List for the Upper Dolpo Trek

Clothing

  • Trekking pants
  • Trekking jackets
  • Trekking trousers
  • Waterproof jackets
  • Half sleeve/full sleeve shirt
  • Trekking boots
  • Woollen socks
  • Woollen caps
  • Raincoats

First aid

  • Band-aids
  • Anti-nausea tablets
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Sanitary napkins/ Tampons
  • Sanitizer
  • Anti dehydration oral salts

Accessories

  • Camera
  • Solar Chargers
  • Power Banks
  • Extra batteries
  • Head Lamp
  • Upper Dolpo Trek map

Important documents

  • Passport
  • Travel permits

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

Upper Dolpo Trek