Dolpo Trek: The Hidden Trails & Daring itineraries
Dolpo Region

Nepal is not only home to the mountains and home to some of the most spectacular treks in the world. The trek range 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 which trek is best for you.

Trekking alongside and through these beauties to the Upper Dolpo is one of the unique adventures I’ve ever experienced. If you’re reading this, you have either agree or trying to decide if this is the right trip 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 was emotionally rewarding. Where else can you try, 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 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 wherever medieval Buddhist monasteries, interlacing with Bon culture influences, are still crucial in the way of life. Dolpo is the rain shadow area that lies behind the Himalayas. It contains the magnificent Himalayan range, high passes, and barren landscapes. Hence, it is the trans-Himalayan desert, a part of the Tibetan plateau, called Bio-Hyul in local dialects.

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

Dolpo Trek & Its variation Itineraries

Dolpo region is one of the most exciting trekking destinations in Nepal. The deepest lake of 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 a variety of landscapes, ranging from green pastures as same as the European Alps and its barren landscapes. Depend on the timeframe, difficulty, and interest; there are 8-30 days itineraries available for Dolpo trekking.

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

Kumar Lama

The Dolpo region, like most trekking hot spots in the world, has plenty of trails to explore. Although most involve getting you to experience the majesty of Phoksundo Lake, you have the option to influence the difficulty level and how trodden you want to be on your route. Here is an overview of the trekking in the Dolpo region of Nepal.

Shey Phoksundo Lake Trek

Shey Phoksundo Lake is established as one of the most prestigious and exotic 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 beauties and locates within the Shey Phoksundo National Park. The park is also a sanctuary for a wide variety of 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 lifestyle is very 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 presence of difficult crossing of 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 pasture, and nature.
The unspoiled culture, the lifestyle of the peoples, and the beautiful mountains are the attraction of the Upper Dolpo Trek. It’s, of course, all add 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 the experienced trekkers who are seeking more challenging and walking along the off the beaten track with unique insights. Upper Dolpo Trek – 24 days itinerary starts from Nepalganj to Juphal by flight then Dunai. Furthermore, walk through the Phoksundo river valley to Ringmo.

Once, explore and excursion around the lake, the trails lead you to Shey Gompa cross over the Kang – La Bhanjyang (Ngondala). 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

Lower Dolpo Trek

The Lower Dolpo trek is considered to be one of the most challenging hikes in the far west of Nepal. Walking along with the traditional villages, the enchanting lakes, and the beautiful hills of Dolpo, one can witness the dignity and ever-welcoming gesture 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 treasure, and one of the rarely visited trekking trails in the Himalayas of Nepal. Lower Dolpo Trek – 20 days itinerary begins with a scenic flight to Juphal from Nepalgunj. The track goes along the Bheri River then turns to Burbung Khola valley. It continues to Dho Tarap, crosses two high passes before getting 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 simply an incredibly beautiful trek, competing for the most scenic hike in Nepal and 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 realm on the planet. The fortified village region is harsh, mountainous; some of it has 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 twice a year, the pilgrim makes a crystal mountain kora. The crystal mountain is known as the younger brother of the 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 many other treks of Nepal, the best time to visit Upper Dolpo is the spring (April-May) and autumn (October-November) when temperatures are pleasant. The months of March to September are good for embarking this trek. Late or early snow will impact this trek in April and November, which makes it difficult to cross some passes.

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.

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

SPRING: PRE-MONSON (MAR – MAY)

Great time to go, since the lower areas are green and the best weather. It’s the best time on the trail to feel the excitement of the local people going to the winter shelter. Just be ready for the adventures – especially on some passes.

SUMMER: MONSOON (JUNE – SEPTEMBER)

Many trekkers have no choice to walk in the rain. There is a reason why the trails are empty this time of year. Still, the Dolpo region is the rain-shadow area, whereas the significantly less raining. It’s the clouds that appear to cover the peaks that steal the region’s breathtaking vistas.

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

FALL: POST-MONSOON (OCT – NOV)

After the monsoons, the sky will begin to clear up, and the days will become pleasant again. As in the Pre-Monsoon season, when this window opens, the trails start up again. It is Nepal’s busiest trekking season.

WINTER: POST MONSOON (NOV – FEB)

As winter starts rolling into the Dolpo region, the days get shorter, and no trekkers found on the trail, and of course, some passes will close due to the heavy snow-fall. As the days are comfortable, this time of year can be perfect for trekking too. If you wish to do this expedition in the winter, make sure that you have fully equipped with the right gear because the nights are much lower than the freezing temperature.

Upper Dolpo trekking diaries

Amazing Camping Experience

Camping is the best way to explore the off the beaten path whereas no infrastructure. Camping under the stars after a day trekking through the majestic Himalayan plateau is one of the extraordinary experiences you have in Upper Dolpo Trek. The Dolpa region is one of the best destinations for camping due to its remoteness and wilderness-based adventure. You may also like to the secret of Upper Dolpo no one is talking about its mystery. 

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.