Dolpo, the land of the elusive snow leopard in Nepal’s ‘Wild West,’ was opened up to visitors three years before Mustang – in 1989 – but is at a higher altitude and is even more remote, making it one of the most challenging and rewarding trekking territories in the world.
A rich and diverse area, lying west of the Kali Gandaki Valley, behind the Dhaulagiri Massif in mid-western Nepal, Dolpo is home to many rare and endangered animal species including musk deer and blue sheep as well as the legendary snow leopard.
With their sweeping windswept vistas and traditional Tibetan culture, the northern high valleys of inner Dolpo are some of the Himalayas’ most remarkable gems.
The excessive remoteness of this region cannot be emphasized enough – Dolpo is truly hidden away from the rest of the world, with most villages being isolated by treacherous passes, their people having to import grain from the south to feed themselves. This means that any outsiders entering the region must be sure to carry enough food to be completely self-sufficient.
Dolpo consists of the valleys of the upper Bheri and Langu watersheds, and is divided into sub-regions called Tarap, Tsharbung, Namgung and Panzung.
The few hundred people living in Dolpo’s upper villages are among the world’s highest-dwelling residents. The only grain that will grow here is barley, which the villagers serve roasted and ground, as tsampa.
Although Dolpa has long been part of Nepal, its villages have looked to Tibet for their culture and the people come from southern Tibetan clans, being mainly Rongpas (valley farmers) or Drokpas (semi-nomadic yak herders).
As if to emphasize Dolpo’s seclusion from the rest of the world, some villages in the area still practise the Bon religion, which pre-dates Buddhism and includes the rituals of circumnambulating anti-clockwise rather than clockwise, and using the enigmatic mantra ‘Om matri muye sa le du’ instead of the more familiar ‘Om mani padme hum.’
A journey of two halves, the trek is a difficult one with the high pass at Jhangla to negotiate. Quite a few days are taken up hiking through lower elevation forests with panoramic mountain views before entering some spectacular high mountain scenery.
The inhabitants of Dolpo continue to live, cultivate and trade in the same way they have done for centuries. They are skilled traders who often traverse the Tibetan plateau with their yak caravans.
The itinerary includes rest and acclimatisation days and enough time for thorough exploration of the area.
Such is the lure and fascination of Dolpo that some trekkers travel to Nepal regularly, simply and specifically to return to this region. For them Dolpo IS Nepal and bustling Kathmandu almost an inconvenience that they must encounter on the way!
The ideal time to visit Upper Dolpo is September – November.
Day 01 : Arrival Kathmandu – transported toHOTEL – tour briefing
Day 02 : A full-day sightseeing within the Kathmandu Valley
Day 03 : Transported to airport – fly Nepalgunj – transported to hotel
Day 04 : Transported to airport – fly Juphal (Dolpo) – trek Hanke (2660 m)
Day 05 : Hanke/Samduwa
Day 06 : Phoksumdo Lake (3600 m)
Day 07 : Rest at Phoksumdo Lake
Day 08 : Cross Baga La (5090 m) camp over pass
Day 09 : Numla base camp (5190 m)
Day 10 : Chutung Dang (3967 m)
Day 11 : Chibu Kharka (3915 m)
Day 12 : Saldang (4100 m)
Day 13 : Yang Tser village (4300 m)
Day 14 : Karang (4100 m)
Day 15 : Ramanan (4600 m)
Day 16 : Samling Gompa (3800 m)
Day 17 : SheyGompa (4500 m)
Day 18 : Rest day, Visit Chakang Gompa
Day 19 : Yak Kharka (4500 m)
Day 20 : Ringmu (3600 m)
Day 21 : Rachi
Day 22 : Roha Village
Day 23 : Juphal Airport
Day 24 : Fly Kathmandu – transported toHOTEL
Day 25 : Free time Kathmandu
Day 26 : Transported to airport – flight to onward destination