Upper Dolpo Trek

Upper Dolpo Trek: 25 Days

Key Information

  • Duration:25 Days
  • Primary Activity:Trekking
  • Group Size:2-25 Peoples
  • Country:Nepal
  • Arrival on:Kathmandu
  • Trip Grade:Difficult
  • Meals:All meals included
  • Accomodation:Hotels & Camping
  • Max-Altitude:5151 m.
  • Transportation:Private vehicle/Airplane
  • Departure from:Kathmandu
  • Culture:Tibetan

Upper Dolpo Trek: 25 Days

Be prepared for the ultimate trek of a lifetime in Upper Dolpo!

Upper Dolpo is situated in the western part of the country and is one of the most remote regions in Nepal. This region has been severely off-limits until recently, so the traditions and way of life have remained strong within this area. Expect to see extremely remote villages, ingrained customs and authentic traditions along this trek.

Upper Dolpo trekking routes pass through enormous mountain ranges – Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Kanjiroba, to name but a few. Very few trekkers have completed this trek, so if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, this is the trek for you. You will be inspired daily by the wild remoteness, the stunning mountain scenery and the local people who are not used to seeing people outside of their excessively remote mountainous regions.

Only a few hundred people live in Upper Dolpo region and are among the world’s highest inhabitants. The villages in Upper Dolpo are 4,300meters and above. It is here specifically that people still practice the pre-Buddhist Bon Po religion.

Books such as Peter Matthiessen’s ‘The Snow Leopard’ and David Snellgrove’s ‘Himalayan Pilgrimage’ have contributed to the mystique and attraction of Dolpo. Both writers visited the Shey Gompa, to the north of the Phoksumdo Lake. This is the goal of most trekkers but this Dolpo trek will take you even further into this mysterious land.


  • Experience very remote villages
  • Learn about an ancient pre-buddhist religion
  • Challenge yourself on difficult, trecherous trails
  • Visit historically famous monasteries
  • Explore the village of Nepalgunj

Day 01: Arrival at Kathmandu (1,300m /4,264ft).

Upon your arrival at Kathmandu International Airport, you will be welcomed by a representative from Travel Society Nepal. After sorting out your custom formalities (Visa, etc) you will be then transferred to the hotel. The representative will help you check into your designated hotel and give you some time to freshen up. After this, we will attend an orientation about your trek led by our Trekking leader over a typical Nepali welcome dinner that will include a cultural dance performed by the local women. You then return to your hotel for your first overnight stay at the hotel (D)

Day 1

Day 02: Kathmandu: Sightseeing and Trek Preparation (1,300m /4,264ft).

Kathmandu is the cultural heart of Nepal and has been a famous destination for tourists ever since Nepal opened its borders to visitors. The city displays an interesting combination of Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism and Western influences in the valley. Patan and Bhaktapur, the two important neighboring cities bear much cultural and religious significance to Nepal’s landscape. There will be a full-day guided tour to the historic sights such as Kathmandu Durbar Square, the sacred Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, the famous ‘Monkey Temple’ (Swayambunath) and Buddhists shrine (Buddha Nath). In the evening, there will be a pre-trip discussion where we meet our trek leader and other stuff for your adventure trip. Stay overnight at hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 2

Fly to Nepalganj

In the morning, you will take a flight to Nepalganj. You’ll be able to see stunning views of the Himalaya to the north from your plane! Today can be spent exploring the town of Nepalganj, which is situated 3km from the southern Nepalese border of India. Here it is quite hot and tropical. Stay overnight at hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 3

Fly to Juphal and trek to Dunai (2,150meters) – 3 hours

From Nepalgunj, you will take a flight to Juphal. From here, you will trek through terraced fields to the Bheri River and the narrow canyon. This will take approximately 3 hours. Finally, you will reach your destination – a larger village called Dunai. Stay overnight at a tented camp. (B, L, D)

Day 4

Trek from Dunai to Ankhe (2,660meters) – 6 hours

From Dunai, you will cross the new suspension bridge and turn west, following the trail past a new hospital.  As you trek along the ascending trail, you are never far from the river. You will then pass through an area that is overgrown with marijuana plants! These fields are also home to crops for the villagers and animals including millet, pumpkin, potatoes, sweet corn and chillies. Many of the villages in this area are involved in the production of a lotus-like plant called ‘chuk’ that is used to make vinegar and medicines. You will continue to trek alongside the river and eventually reach the settlement of Ankhe, which is also the entrance to the Phoksundo National Park. Stay overnight in the National Park at a tented camp.

Day 5

Trek from Ankhe to Renje (3,104meters) – 7 hours

The trail starts becoming very steep from here. As soon as you cross the river twice on well-made bridges, there is a steep ascent on a very narrow path, hugging the cliff face. Having descended to the river again, the trail takes another steep ascent requiring frequent stops to soak in the panorama views of the mountain landscape. Stay overnight at a camp on the side of Suligad River in Renje.

Day 6

Trek to from Renje to Phosundo Lake (3,600meters) – 6.30 hours

In the morning, the trek is fairly easy. But from Sumdo, the trail turns into a steep incline as you follow the path high above the water. Climb up to a ridge, about 3,875meters, from where you will have the most staggering views of a 300meters waterfall (the highest in Nepal), and your first view of Phoksundo Lake. You then descend through birch forests to the upper reaches of the Phoksundo Khola and on to the picturesque settlement of Ringmo. The village now has solar panels to help improve the quality of life for the villagers. From the settlement, it is a short walk to the shores of Phoksundo Lake where you can set up camp. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 7

Trek from Phosundo Lake to Phoksundo Khola (3,507meters) – 6 hours

In the morning, follow the trail that skirts the edge of the lake itself where you will reach a trail that is suspended on a gangway of wood supported on pegs that are driven into crevices in the rocks. This signals the remoteness of the area you are about to enter. From here, you will trek very steeply up to 4,040meters and then plunge down again to the valley bottom to enter the flood plain of the Phoksundo Khola. Trek to your night stop alongside the river within the confines of the forest to avoid the worst of the wind which is prevalent in the valley bottom. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 8

Trek from Phoksundo Khola to Phoksundo Bhanjyang (4,402meters) – 7 hours

Today, you will be advised to wear sandals or footwear suitable for walking in knee-deep streams of water. This morning, you continue along the level path through a glacial valley that now heads north. This path will become narrower and narrower close to impressive vertical cliffs and contorted rock formations. At the confluence of the Phoksundo Khola and another unnamed mountain stream, there is an old wooden bridge. Here you take the barely discernible path to the northeast up a side valley. There is no trail as such, so you will need to climb over rocks and boulders towards a stream that rushes down the steep valley. A long climb brings you to a sheep meadow where the trail veers up a steep ravine. A hard climb to the top brings you to yet another valley where you can see the Kang La, the pass will lead you to Shey Gompa. Camp overnight just before the pass.

Day 9

Cross Kang La Pass (5,151meters). Trek to Shey Gompa (4,126meters) – 7 hours

The Kang La trek is physically demanding, especially on the loose slate screed. It will take about two and a half to three hours to reach the top of the Kang La. The views from the top are magnificent and well worth all your hard work. On descending steeply to the valley floor, you make a long meandering trek along the banks of the river, crossing it once. Finally, you will arrive at Shey Gompa where a quaint wooden log bridge leads you up to the Shey campground. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 10

Rest and exploration day at Shey Gompa

After such a hectic trek, you will need a rest day! Today can be spent relaxing and exploring Shey Gompa. Visit a famous Tibetan monastery, which is home to many famous lamas from Tibet. Shey Gompa belongs to the Chaiba community, followers of the Padmasambhava and Kagyu sects. It’s home to the first Kagyupa monastery and its founder was the lama Ten-szin-Ra-Pa. The monastery was built during the 11th century. Shey is very famous for its ancient Buddhist culture. In Dolpo, the ancient Tibetan way of life combines animism with the teachings of Buddha. Drutup Yeshe introduced Buddhism in the Dolpo valley. Many years ago he came to Dolpo and came across wild people, whose supreme God was a ‘fierce mountain spirit’. This small village will leave you in awe and newly inspired and refreshed. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 11

Saldang La Pass (4,785meters). Trek to Namduna Gaon (4,400meters) – 7 hours

Today, you start by following a pleasant track, which ascends to a grey, stony canyon. This begins to zig-zag over bare rocks and coarse eroded soil until it eventually brings you to a flat spot, suitable for a brew or lunch, if the weather is fine. Then continuing very steeply up for 20 minutes, you will reach the top of the Saldang La pass. Here you will enjoy great views towards the arid landscapes of Mustang and the distant snow peaks of Tibet. The subsequent descent towards the north is long and tiring, but you finally come upon the welcome sight of pastures of grazing yaks and sheep and nomadic tents made from yak hair. This signals your approach to Namduna Gaon. Here lies the Namgung Monastery, a red stone structure, built against the backdrop of a cliff on the north wall of a gorge. The red and white colors of the Gompa and its Stupas are the only color in this stark landscape. The village itself consists of only six stone houses and has terraced fields on both sides of the tributary, which flows down to the Nam Khong valley. The economy of the region is based on agriculture, animal husbandry, and trading. Recently the main cliff temple collapsed and the villagers built a beautiful new monastery in the village itself. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 12

Trek to Saldang (3,903meters) – 4 hours

Leaving the Namgung monastery, you will start the climb early in the morning along dusty barren mountains. Looking down into the valley bottom, you can see neatly terraced fields showing ripening crops. After ascending for a few hours, you will go back down steep slopes to the picturesque village of Saldang – the biggest village of the inner Dolpo area. Saldang belongs to the arid zone of the trans-Himalayan Tibetan tribes and stretches for two kilometers on an open slope. It consists of five villages, eighty well-built houses, and nearly six hundred villagers. It is prosperous, not only agriculturally, but also for its strategic location on a trade route to Tibet. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 13

Trek from Saldang to Sibu (3,942meters) – 6 hours

After leaving Saldang, you will pass through terraced fields, Stupas, Chortens, heaps of Mani stones and a Chaiba monastery. Namdo, the next village is also prosperous with sixty houses and nearly four hundred inhabitants. It stretches for more than 5km on the high slopes to the left of Nam Khong Khola. The Namdo monastery is located near the river bed. There is also another monastery on top of a high cliff. You will camp near the small settlement of Sibu, right on the river bank.

Day 14

Trek from Sibu to Jeng La (4,369meters) – 5 hours

Following the line of the river valley, the trail is fairly easy going initially. After about two hours it is necessary to wade through another stream before the trek turns into a side valley and the rise becomes very sharp. Jeng La is a pleasant meadow but bestrewn with rocks, yak and other wild animals. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 15

Jeng La Pass (4,845meters). Trek to Tokyu Gaon (4,240meters) – 7 hours

The trail is generally easy, but it is steep. It is only a 2-hour climb to reach the top of the Jeng La. From the top of the pass, there are good views of the Dhaulagiri mountain range, glittering in the morning light. A rough track descends towards the Tarap valley. By the afternoon you find a green valley which leads you by a pleasant track down towards the Tarap Chu. Tarap is a valley with vast plains in high mountains extending 20kms along the river Tarap Chu. It has ten villages with cultivated fields with many Gompas and Chortens. You can visit the Tokyu monastery when you arrive. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 16

Trek from Tokyu Gaon to Dho Tarap (4,090meters) – 4.30 hours

The trail is broad and well-traveled, making the trek easy. There are many Mani walls but some of the Chortens are in a bad state of repair. There is a ‘French School’ just outside the village of Dho Tarap where you will stay for the night. Tarap is inhabited mostly by Magars who have lived here for generations but also by a few Tibetans. They wear home-spun clothing that is sometimes dyed maroon and they favor Tibetan style Somba (boots with upturned toes) for footgear. Men and women often wear both religious amulets and strings of coral and turquoise. The inhabitants of this village are both Bon Po and Buddhist (Nyingmapa). In the afternoon a walk up to the Buddhist Gompa is very worthwhile. There is a resident lama who will be very happy to show you his monastery and might even let you see his private Gompa and the Tankas he has made himself. The Bon Gompa is about half an hour’s walk from camp.

Day 17

Trek from Dho Tarap to Serkam (3,630 meters) – 6.30 hours

Your route follows the course of the Tarap Khola, generally downhill. You go through narrow gorges with the river rushing through. You might see blue sheep, marmots, yaks, sheep, and goats on this trail and perhaps meet people from Dolpo taking their flocks of sheep and goats to lower pastures for the winter. The afternoon brings more adventure as you leave the immediate course of the river and onto a path that leads you to one the first modern steel suspension bridges which have been built to facilitate movement of people and animals. The track is very narrow in places. You will camp overnight on a grassy strip by the river.

Day 18

Trek from Serkam to Khani Gaon (2,550meters) – 7 hours

Today, you will continue to walk down the gorge of the Tarap River, at times alongside it and at others high above, on a narrow trail built out from the steep slopes. The quality of the path varies from broad, smooth and firm to very narrow and crumbly. There are also flights of man-made stone staircases which need to be tackled with care – some of the constituent rocks wobble when stepped upon! An exciting day in deep and awe-inspiring gorges. Your campsite in Khani Gaon is a pleasant meadow in the shade of a stand of trees where you will stay overnight.

Day 19

Trek from Khani Gaon to Tarakot (2,281meters) – 4 hours

Leaving Khani Goan by the new suspension bridge, you will then walk alongside the river, sometimes going very high before reaching down to the water again. Some of the trail is quite demanding and requires you to cross rivers using wet stepping-stones. Coming into the broad fertile valley of the Barbung Chu, you walk amongst the various crops of millet, sweet corn, barley, buckwheat, green beans, chilies and marijuana. Your lunch and night stop is high above the river in the village of Tarakot. Tarakot is an old fortress town known by the local people as Dzong, meaning ‘fort’. Before the Gorkha dynasty, Tarakot was the capital and had a dzong. The famous Sandul Gompa, stands on a knoll to the south of Bheri River and at one time supervised collections of tolls for the trading caravans traversing an area called Tichu Rong. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 20

Trek from Tarakot to Dunai (2,052meters) – 5 hours

The trail is mostly down and fairly firm. Walking beside the Bheri river, you use the ingenious path built twenty feet above the river. Before you know it, you will have reached the village of Dunai and the campsite you stayed in previously. You will now have completed the circuit of mysterious land Dolpo! Try some of the local beer or whiskey to celebrate! Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 21

Trek from Dunai to Juphal (2,404meters) – 3 hours

Today, you will be retracing your steps back to Juphal. Initially, the way is flat but the final hour up to your destination seems steeper than you remember on Day One! Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 22

Fly to Kathmandu via Nepaljung

You have completed your strenuous trek! Congratulations! From Juphal, you will take an early morning flight to Nepalganj. This is a wonderful 35-minute flight over the Himalayan foothills, with fine views of the main peaks including Annapurna and Dhaulagiri to the north. You will then connect with the flight back to Kathmandu. Stay overnight at hotel in Kathmandu.

Day 23

Leisure day in Kathmandu.

Your day is free to be spent however you want. You can relax, explore the Kathmandu area or continue your celebrations! In the evening; you will be invited to a well known Nepali kitchen for a delicious farewell dinner of authentic Nepalese cuisine. Stay overnight at your hotel in Kathmandu.

Day 24

Transfer to Airport for your Onward Travel

Our driver will escort you to the airport. We will send you on your way with good luck and gratitude that you chose us for your adventure of a lifetime. (B)

Day 25

Cost of Upper Dolpo Trek – 25 days

Price Per Person: $3750


Note: Please feel free to ask us for a tailor-made itinerary that suits your interest, time, and budget.

Service Included

  • All airport transfer by private car/van/bus
  • Restricted Area Permits
  • Trekkers’ information management system. (Tims Card)
  • Licensed English-speaking guide trained in First Aid
  • Necessary Porters
  • Full Board (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner) during the trek
  • Accommodation in Kathmandu
  • Sleeping bags and other necessary equipment
  • Staff insurance, medication, and equipment
  • All Govt. and Local Taxes
  • First Aid Kit
  • Foods, accommodations and local tax for guide & porters

Service Excluded

  • Domestic and International airfares/ airport taxes
  • Travel/trekking insurance
  • Nepal entry visa fees
  • Mountain rescue charges or insurance
  • Drinks hot and cold.
  • Bottled drinks on trek (cold and alcoholic)
  • Lunches and dinners when not trekking
  • Additional food or drink on the trek in addition to three standard meals
  • Personal expenses, Emergency Expenses, road blocked, snakes, desert.etc
  • Special region permit and liaison officer fees (where applicable)
  • Tips

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