Dolpo Trek: The Hidden Trails & Daring itineraries
Dolpo Region

Nepal is home to the mountains and some of the most spectacular treks in the world. The trek ranges from classics like Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit, and Langtang to up-and-coming expeditions consisting of the Manaslu Circuit Trek and the Nar Phu Valley Trek. If you intend on going hiking in Nepal, read on to find out the best variant itineraries of the Dolpo Trek and which trek is best for you.

Trekking alongside and through these beauties to the Upper Dolpo is one of the most unique adventures I’ve ever experienced. If you’re reading this, you have either agreed or are trying to decide if this trip is right for you.

To be sure, Himalayan trekking is not a walk in the park. It’s a challenge that will test you mentally and physically – which is emotionally rewarding. Where else can you try to climb some of the challenging high mountains, visit ancient Bon monasteries, experience unique cultures, and build friendships with the locals of these mountains?

Dolpo Trek: Overview

The Dolpo is the most significant district of Nepal and extends north to Tibet. Dolpo region is the hidden jewel of Nepal, which is even untouched. It encompasses the most extensive territory, which includes Shey Phoksundo National Park. However, most of the land of upper Dolpo lies between 4 to 5000 meters.

The Dolpo region brings you into the hidden areas where medieval Buddhist monasteries, interlacing with Bon culture influences, are still crucial in life. Dolpo is the rain shadow area that lies behind the Himalayas. It contains the magnificent Himalayan range, high passes, and barren landscapes. Hence, the trans-Himalayan desert, a part of the Tibetan plateau, is called Bio-Hyul in local dialects.

However, it is part of the Bon religion; the Shey monastery symbolizes the Bon Buddhist. The Dragon Festival is held every 12 years to get a blessing from Rabjam Rinpoche at Shey Gompa. It introduces the Shey festival.

Dolpo Trek And Its Variation Itineraries

Dolpo region is one of the most exciting trekking destinations in Nepal. The deepest lake in Nepal, Phoksundo Lake, also lies in this area. The Dolpo region is one of the rain shadow areas and is a high-altitude desert, strongly reminiscent of Tibet. The track is through various landscapes, ranging from green pastures to the European Alps and its barren landscapes. Depending on the timeframe, difficulty, and interest, 8-30 days itineraries are available for Dolpo trekking.

Dare to wonder “Nepal’s off the beaten track” The hidden trails and daring itineraries

Kumar Lama

Like most trekking hot spots worldwide, the Dolpo region has many trails to explore. Although most involve getting you to experience the majesty of Phoksundo Lake, you can influence the difficulty level and how trodden you want to be on your route. Here is an overview of trekking in the Dolpo region of Nepal.

Shey Phoksundo Lake Trek

Shey Phoksundo Lake is established as one of the most prestigious and rare tourist destinations of the Dolpo Trek. It is the essential territorial district, among many other beautiful places in Nepal.

Phoksundo Lake is the most fantastic place for natural beauty and exploring the Shey Phoksundo National Park. The park is also a sanctuary for various flora and fauna. If you are keenly interested in visiting Upper Dolpo or Lower Dolpo, make a loop at Phoksundo Lake.

Upper Dolpo Trek

The Upper Dolpo is an even more isolated part of Nepal, and the lifestyle is challenging. Here, people still adopt the tradition of Bon Po and use the Tibetan language for daily conversations. Trekking to this area is considered very strenuous due to the lack of tourism facilities and the difficulty crossing high passes.

Despite all these obstacles, the visit is worth rewarding. The views in the area are hypnotic and majestic. A trek alongside the Shey Phoksundo National Park allows us to explore rare wildlife, alpine pastures, and nature.
The unspoiled culture, the lifestyle of the people, and the beautiful mountains are the attractions of the Upper Dolpo Trek. It, of course, all adds a sense of real adventure that can not be felt when staying in a cozy room of your home.

The Upper Dolpo trek is ideal for experienced trekkers seeking more challenges and walking along the off-the-beaten track with unique insights. Upper Dolpo Trek – 24-day itinerary starts from Nepalganj to Juphal by flight, then Dunai. Furthermore, walk through the Phoksundo River valley to Ringmo.

Once explored and excursion around the lake, the trails lead you to Shey Gompa, cross over the Kang–La Bhanjyang (Ngondala). Finally, the trip to Tarap Valley via Saldang village and Jeng La pass to complete the Upper Dolpo Trek to Dunai.

Upper Dolpo Trek
The Bon Monastery at Saldang Village in Upper Dolpo

You May Also like to read: A Complete Guide to Upper Dolpo Trek

Lower Dolpo Trek

The Lower Dolpo trek is considered one of the most challenging hikes in the far west of Nepal. Walking along with the traditional villages, the enchanting lakes, and the enchanting beauty of Lower Dolpo, one can witness the dignity and ever-welcoming gestures of the locals. You’ll also cross two high passes on this trek, Numa La and Baga La, with picturesque views of the mountains.

Dolpo offers unspoiled natural treasures and one of the rarely visited trekking trails in the Himalayas of Nepal. Lower Dolpo Trek begins with a scenic flight to Juphal from Nepalgunj. The track goes along the Bheri River and then turns to Burbung Khola Valley. It continues to Dho Tarap and crosses two high passes before getting to the famous Phoksundo Lake.

Upper Dolpo to Jomsom Trek

Upper Dolpo is a mosaic of colors and textures, sculpted gorges and ochre gompas, yak herders, and villages perfectly blended into the sacred landscape. Our Upper Dolpo to Jomsom Trek route is a beautiful trek, competing for the most scenic hike in Nepal and an extensive trekking experience.

Dolpo is also still the bastion of the pre-Buddhist, shamanistic religion of Bonpo and Tibetan Buddhism, one of our highest populated realms. The fortified village region is harsh and mountainous; some have a dzong or stronghold, turquoise lakes, revered mountains, and breathless high passes.

Shey Gompa, one of its most essential pilgrims in Upper Dolpo, is primarily interested, whereas the pilgrim makes a crystal mountain kora twice a year. Crystal Mountain is known as the younger brother of Mount Kailash in Tibet.

Lower Dolpo Trek
The Phoksundo Lake

Rara Lake Trek via Upper Dolpo Loop

Nepal is one of the most wide-ranging and off-beat trekking trails covering the mysterious route between two of the most spectacular lakes in western Nepal. Phoksundo Lake to Rara Lake Trek is an adventurously challenging trek that has to give every rare encounter a forgotten trail via Upper Dolpo.

Best time for Upper Dolpo Trek

As with many other treks of Nepal, the best time to visit Upper Dolpo is in the spring (April-May) and autumn (October-November) when temperatures are pleasant. The months of March to September are good for embarking on this trek. Late or early snow will impact this trek in April and November, making crossing some passes difficult.

But some passes will not open from November to March. It is still possible only with heavy-duty equipment. The best time is from March to May, as it may rain in June and July. The Dolpo Trek Itineraries are ideal for the rainy season, too.

SPRING: PRE-MONSON (MAR-MAY)

During the season, when the weather conditions are favorable and the lower areas are covered with lush greenery, it is considered an ideal time to embark on a trail. This period also coincides with the locals’ journey to winter shelters, making it a time when they tend to be more active. However, navigating certain passes during this time may present potential challenges, so it is crucial to be well-prepared.

SUMMER: MONSOON (JUNE – SEPTEMBER)

When embarking on a trek, rainy weather is not uncommon. Although some trails may appear deserted during this season, some regions are unaffected by the rain. The Dolpo region is one such area since it lies in the rain-shadow zone where rainfall is relatively low. However, the breathtaking views of this region are often concealed by clouds that mask the peaks. This can make it challenging to appreciate the area’s natural beauty fully.

Here’s the list of the summer treks in Nepal that you may love to do.

FALL: POST-MONSOON (OCT – NOV)

As the monsoon season ends, the previously cloudy and hazy skies start to clear up, and the days become more fantastic and refreshing once again. This marks the beginning of the post-monsoon season in Nepal, when the lush green hills and valleys come alive with vibrant colors and breathtaking views. With the arrival of this season, the trekking trails that were closed during the rainy season open up, and adventure enthusiasts from around the world flock to Nepal to witness its natural beauty. It’s no surprise that Nepal’s post-monsoon season is considered the busiest time for trekking.

WINTER: POST MONSOON (NOV – FEB)

The Dolpo region experiences early sunsets and a decrease in the number of people who trek during winter. Due to heavy snowfall, some passes may be closed, challenging travel within the area. However, this time of the year can be perfect if you’re interested in winter expeditions. To ensure a safe and enjoyable trek, it’s essential to have appropriate winter gear, as temperatures at night can drop well below freezing. Being fully prepared and equipped is crucial to exploring Dolpo’s stunning winter landscape.

Upper Dolpo trekking diaries

Amazing Camping Experience

Camping is an excellent way to escape modern life and enjoy adventure and nature. You can pitch your tent amid the wilderness and appreciate the peaceful sounds and sights of the natural surroundings. Trekking through the Himalayan plateau to reach remote places like Upper Dolpo can be an unforgettable experience for those who seek a real challenge. Here, you can camp under the stars, enjoy breathtaking views, and experience the freedom of being in the wild.

The Dolpo region is an ideal destination for camping, offering a remote and adventurous wilderness experience. Furthermore, the secret of Upper Dolpo that no one is talking about.

To Wrap up

In conclusion, Dolpo Trek is an adventurous and challenging journey that takes you through the hidden trails of the Himalayas. The daring itineraries and breathtaking scenery make it a unique experience not to be missed by any avid trekker. Despite the difficulties, the trek is worth every effort as it offers a glimpse into the rich culture and traditions of the Dolpo people. Dolpo Trek is worth considering if you seek an adventure of a lifetime.

About Author

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Kumar Lama
Kumar Lama is a founder of Himalayan Exploration Treks Pvt. Ltd. He is leading a team of travel professional offering tailor made travel services across Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.

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