Upper Dolpo Trek Itinerary

Upper Dolpo Trek Itinerary

The Upper Dolpo trek is an amazing, adventurous trek that takes you to the most remote parts of mid-western Nepal. It is one of Nepal’s best off-the-beaten-path trekking routes. This Upper Dolpo trek itinerary allowing you to experience both the natural and cultural riches of the Lower and Upper Dolpo areas.

This thrilling remote trek in Nepal takes you to the tranquil, beautiful, and mysterious Upper Dolpo region. Upper Dolpo trek also leads you around the breathtaking Shey Phoksundo glacial lake and to Shey Gomba monastery, one of Nepal’s most well-known monasteries.

Despite being one of the long and challenging treks with several camps above 4000 meters as well as several high passes, the arid trans Himalayan landscape and daily hardships of locals, leaves the travelers in wonder of Dolpo. It is also a spiritual journey as shamanistic Bon religion and Tibetan Buddhism dominates the entire area.

The adventurous Dolpo trek starts with a scenic flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and Juphal. Upper Dolpo one of the remote trekking destination in Nepal required to camping arrangements with support staffs. Upper Dolpo trek combines landscapes, untouched traditional Buddhist culture, traditional local lifestyle, and old Buddhist monasteries with a great trip itinerary.

Things to Know Before You Trek

Upper Dolpo, like many other trekking routes in Nepal, spring and autumn are the best times to visit.

Having said that, we must also say that due to unpredictable snowfall, early spring and late autumn may not be the ideal time to trek. This might result in it being very difficult to cross the high passes during this time of year.

As the most of Dolpo lies in the rain shadow of the Dhaulagiri Range it receives little or no rain, including when other parts of the country are under monsoon rain conditions. Mainly due to this, this area is a high-altitude desert.

Temperatures are ideal from the beginning of August till the end of October, and often through to the middle of November.

Highlights of Upper Dolpo Trek

  • Trek through parts of Nepal that few travelers ever see.
  • Look for snow leopards in Shey Phoksundo National Park, one of the world’s highest animal concentration parks
  • Admire the crystal-clear waters of Lake Phoksundo.
  • Explore Shey Gompa, an 800-year-old monastery at the base of Crystal Mountain.

Dolpo Nepal

See Detailed Upper Dolpo Trek Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Kathmandu, 1400m.

Arriving at the airport of Kathmandu after completing your custom formalities Visa, etc. Pick up your luggage and look for our Himalaya Discovery airport representative who will show your name on the board at the arrival gate. You will be greeted by our representative and transferred by private tourist vehicle to the hotel. Overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 2: Free in Kathmandu / Sightseeing / Preparation and gear check.

Today in Kathmandu is free for sightseeing and permit preparation. You may want to visit Durbar Square in the heart of the old town where the old Royal Palace is located with its intricate wood-carving. The entire area is a labyrinth of temples and images.

The narrow alleys leading away from the square in all directions, full of the most amazing variety of shops and stalls. Some of these landmarks are considered World Heritage Sites, including the historic Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the famous’ Monkey Temple ‘ Swayambhunath and the Buddhist Shrine Boudhanath, one of the world’s largest stupas.

There will also be a trip briefing today with gear check. If you need to rent or buy equipment locally, there will be time to do so today. Overnight in Kathmandu

Day 3: Fly to Nepalgunj, 150m.

As per the flight schedule, it’s about an hour’s flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, superb airstrip. It crosses the western Himalayas, like Langtang, Manaslu, Annapurna, and Dhaulagiri. It is warmer than Kathmandu. Nepalgunj is situated near the Indian border.

We’ll get together in the evening for an early dinner once we arrive. Overnight at hotel.

Day 4: Fly to Juphal – 2490m and trek to Dunai.

It requires to make a fight in Juphal in the morning. A 45-minute flight offers incredible views of the Himalayan foothills, with views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mastiff. After arriving in Juphal and arrange luggage and other stuff, it’s a short walk to Dunai. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 3: Trek to Sulighat, 2075m.

Descending steeply through the terraced Sangibada village, the people weathered by the harsh mountain sun, and contouring through the village fields, we cross wooden bridge posts carved with shamanistic faces connecting fields of red sorghum as we drop to the main trail far below.

We setup camp just before the bridge beside the river, taking a short day to allow us to remain at the better campsites further up the Suligad towards Phoksundo Lake. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 4: Trek to Chhepka, 2675m.

A lovely day is follows by a real trekking day as we go along the Suligad River through forests of pine, fir, and birch through stunning, steep valleys. The trail is mountainous, at times high above the river and often right along the bank. It should take us the next three-quarters of an hour to reach the grassy campsite at Chhepka, a small Tibetan community tucked away among the steep hillsides, overnight at tented camp.

Day 5: Trek to Amchi Hospital, 3110m.

Today promises to be another beautiful day of wooded gorge trekking. We cross the Suligad four times after leaving Chhepka, mostly staying close to the river as we hike through flowering, dense forest of bamboo and other indigenous trees, including firs, birches, and larches turning autumn hues, and a dramatic, deep-sided gorge, often trekking right by the riverside on flat, stone steps.

This area of the valley is ideal for birdwatchers. Around four hours after leaving Chhepka we reach the campsite. Around four hours after leaving Chhepka we reach the campsite. The trail climbs steeply to an incredible viewpoint up and down the Suligad from the trail, which is hewn out between rock and tree trunk.

After passing several bridges leading westwards we reach our beautiful, grassy river-side camp just past the Amchi Gompa and Tapriza Cultural school at Sumduwa and across the river from the Amchi Hospital. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 6: Trek to Ringmo Gaon (Phoksundo Lake), 3725m

We have a shorter, classic Himalayan day of trekking ahead of us as we ascend towards Phoksundo Lake and Ringmo, the gateway to Upper Dolpo. We retrace a few minutes to the bridge right below the school and over the Phoksundo Khola to the west, continuing through the small Amchi Hospital and then up pretty steeply through a forest of larches and birches and through Polam, the Ringmo-Pa winter village.

We continue to climb hard for another hour or so, switchbacking over a spectacular, dusty alpine route. After a short distance, we can see the blue Phoksundo Lake itself, which is a breathtaking sight. We continue down this high, sandy trail, gradually descending through a lush forest to Phoksundo Khola. Overnight at tented camp.

Upper Dolpo Trekking

Day 7: Discover Ringmo Gaon (Village)

A day of rest and discovery in this charming Tibetan village of flat-roofed stone houses, mani walls, and impressive chortens surrounded by juniper and larch forests. In town, there is a small gompa and two impressively repainted Kane chortens, one three hundred and the other five hundred years old.

The historic, white-washed Thasoon Chholing Bon-Po Gompa is a twenty-minute walk from our campsite along the forested eastern sides of the lake, and is well worth the short hike to visit. The largest is Kanjiroba, and the snow-peak to the east of it is Sonam Kang. Ringmo is part of the Paleozoic geological region formed of shallow marine environments.

A restricted area permit is required for Inner (Upper) Dolpo above Ringmo, so our guide will head into the village to show the permits and do some restocking later in the day. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 8: Trek to Chabluk Phu, 3625m.

Some Himalayan trekking ahead of us today, we leave from our idyllic campsite after breakfast, heading north along a beautiful, rocky trail high on the lake’s western side. The views are incredible, with Kanjiroba and Sonam Kang rising to the south, if you can take your eyes off the slightly risky trail!

After about a half-hour, we descend to the lake, cross a small stream and some scrubby wooded areas, and then climb steeply, much higher this time. We make the long, gradual descent through a lovely forest of craggy Himalayan birches near the northern end of the lake to reach our scenic lakeside campsite at Chabluk Phu. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 9: Trek to Ngongda La Base Camp (Snowfields Camp), 4625m.

Another spectacular day of hiking, beginning with a level walk to the northwest through scrub and briar changing to bright fall colors. We are entering the real Dolpo, and to get there, we must cross the Ngongda La or Kang La. Prepare for a challenging river crossing early in the morning, about an hour from camp.

As we head north, the valley is magical as we pass a small campsite marked by a beautiful mani stone. Soon after, the valley narrows and fills with an open forest of birches and rose-buds.

Finally, several tough hours later, we reach our ‘high’ camp, which Mattheissen named Snowfields camp. We’ve made a significant altitude gain today, so take some Diamox, drink plenty of water, and have a rest as we set up our cold but scenic campsite for the night. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 10: Trek to Shey Gompa, 4375m.

Now begins our journey to the fabled Shey Gompa and neighboring ‘Crystal Mountain’ (named after the veins of quartz that run through its base), Dolpo’s most sacred peak, which Dolpo pilgrims circumambulate each July or August, during the full moon, before the yearly grain harvest.

The sacred mountain is known as Dolpo’s Kailash. We’ll leave early for the difficult pass crossing, ascending the rocky valley and then climbing steeply for about an hour to a small resting spot. Our climb is even steeper as we turn left and hike up screed or snow to the base of the pass, where we will soon turn left and hike up a steep trail traversing loose slate to the crest of the Ngongda La (Kang La) at an impressive 5345 meters.

And what a panorama we are treated to our efforts. A red chorten marks the entrance to Shey, where we will spend the next two nights just below the gompa at a lovely grassy campsite near the threshing circles and the long mani wall. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 11: Discover Shey Gompa

For those needing a rest day, the 11th – 13th century, ochre Shey Gompa is a magnificent monastery, with colorful Tibetan paintings and ancient statues within which the gate-keeper, a monk from Sikkim, will open up for us. The 400-year-old Kagyupa gompa is said to have been built by a Tibetan Buddhist lama arriving on the back of a mythological snow-lion.

The murals are not old, but there is a valuable scroll that tells the mythology behind the sacred Crystal Mountain and Shey Gompa, including where to find the milky lake in the interior of the Crystal Mountain kora, which allows the pilgrim to see Mount Kailash in the distance. Another gompa, built into the cliffside to the left of Shey Gompa.

Upper Dolpo Ringmo

Day 12: Trek to Namgung, 4430m.

The next few days covers some of the most historically interesting places of the trek, and the scenery is equally magnificent. We leave Shey Gompa and head east via the Sephu Khola towards the Saldang La (or Shey La), a three-hour gentle trek through the valley past doksas (seasonal villages) and numerous ancient mani walls.

We are treated to spectacular panoramic views of the peaks around Dolpo from the windy pass, with Mustang to the east, Tibet to the north, and Kanjiroba, Kagmara, and Riu Dhukta, and the Crystal Mountain to the west.

As we descend through this otherworldly region, the landscape begins to resemble the arid plateaus and canyons of neighboring Mustang. We descend very steeply to a small river, before contouring around the hillsides towards Namgung. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 13: Trek to Saldang, 3980m.

A short but amazing day on the high trail heading to Saldang, with enormous birds of prey and occasionally migrating Demoiselle Cranes soaring above us and passing several doksas and villagers along the way.

We summit a ridge topped with prayer flags after a few hours of easy contouring and a few climbs and look down on Saldang below us and the crinkle of dun-colored mountains bordering Tibet to the north.

The route to the Panzang valley can be seen from the ridge. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 14: Trek to Khoma Gaon, 4100m.

We continue up the Nagon Khola past Sugu-gaon, a bustling, white-washed village, and past long mani walls, painted chortens, and old gompas standing high up along the mountainsides, past Saldang Gompa.

We cross the Nagon Khola on a small bridge in Chagaon and continue for an hour up the dusty ridge on a steep, rocky switchbacking trail. A further fifteen minutes leads us to the Khoma La (4565 meters), from where we contour gradually down to the beautiful village of Khoma-gaon (Khoma), where we camp in the middle of town on a large, flat, and somewhat grassy plateau. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 15: Trek to Mendo, 4000m.

After fortifying with a couple cups of freshly brewed coffee, we leave Khoma-gaon (‘gaon’ village in Nepalese), descend to the river, and cross the Gurchhu Khola on a wooden bridge after about an hour.

Soon afterward, we hike up and contour for another hour to a small pass, the Shimen La (4270 meters). From the top, you can see down valley into the expansive and green Shimen village. The northern trail from Saldang, which follows the Panjyan (Panzang) Khola, is a short but steep and sandy walk down from here.

We hike for about an hour on this trail before turning right up a narrow canyon and climbing steeply to our campsite. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 16: Trek to Tinkyu (Thinje), 4110m.

We pass two trails leading north to the Tibet border on our left, more mani walls, and further along Pu Gompa on the other side of the river as we travel south along the Panjyan (Panzang) Khola, staying on the eastern bank. Another hour is required to reach Namgyal chorten, which is located in the hills across the river.

We stay along the riverbank and enjoy the easy hiking to a seasonal village and then to Phalwa, a small village where another trail branches off to the north, leading to the Tibetan border, showcasing how important trade with Tibet is still to the Dolpo-pa.

We climb slightly to an impressive group of large chortens and manis adorned with fluttering Tibetan peace flags after crossing the intersecting stream, and then continue another hour to Thinje (Tinkyu). Overnight at tented camp.

Day 17: Trek to Rapka, 4535m.

We’ll most likely pass villagers from Chharka on their way to or from Tibet, or picking up supplies from their yak caravans, a timeless site. The trail is relatively easy going at first, following the Panzang River south before veering to the left.

After about three scenic hours, we arrive at the intersection where the Panzang Khola meets the Sulun Khola and continue along the smaller, intersecting river.

The trail now climbs and descends frequently, and we lose the scenery as we pass through narrowing, winding valleys, but, after a few hours, the valley widens, and after crossing a small stream feeding from a huge glacier valley, we ascend and descend to the wide plateau of Rapka. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 18: Trek to Chharka Bhot, 4110m.

We have a long day ahead of us, with a pass in the middle, so we’re getting up early to get a head start. After continuing down our wide valley for an hour, we must cross a wide, icy but shallow river to reach the Chharka La access valley (Mola Bhanjyang). The Lakkyan Khola, like the Myantoku Khola, flows into the floodplain, and we have to cross several times.

We have to climb a bit on the right side off the river, then descend to the chortens and begin climbing again. We still have about an hour to go before we reach the Chharka La. (5030m).

At the top, an easy summit, look to the right for a breathtaking view of Mount Dhaulagiri, which we’ll have views for a few days.

We’ll need another two or three hours of contouring, sometimes steeply up or down, to get to Chharka. We’ll be close to camp once we reach the line of impressive chortens along the trail. Chharka Gompa is just below us on the right, and Chharka Village is straight ahead. Overnight at tented camp.

Upper Dolpo Trek

Day 19: Trek to Norbulung, 4750m.

On towards the series of passes that will ultimately lead us to Jomsom and Lower Mustang. We have a lovely day of walking ahead of us, crossing the small bridge over the Chharka Khola to the other section of Chharka, then continuing for about 15 minutes and crossing the Chharka Khola again on a new, metal bridge.

We take the right side of the river for another hour or so, mostly level, and then begin to climb gradually, only to descend back to the river at Naliyang Sumdo, the intersection of the Chharka Khola and the Thansan Khola.

We cross a bridge on another new bridge and then ascend very steeply to the top of the ridge, where we follow this high trail that gradually ascends up the high plateau to a more defined trail.

The map shows the trail crossing the river before arriving at Norbulung, which should take about two hours of gradual climbing on the same side of the river as our last stop. We sleep at 4750m, so it will be cold tonight! Overnight at tented camp.

Day 20: Trek to Molum Sumdo, 4860m.

We have a fairly short day today because we have the double pass the next day. We follow the Thansan Khola, which widens after the valley on the right emerges from the cluster of 5000-meter peaks and then narrows after another hour or so.

Molum Sumdo is only a few hundred meters higher than Norbulung, so we’ll have plenty of time to acclimatize before attempting the pass. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 21: Trek to Sangda Phedi 5100m via Sangda-La Pass

We follow the riverbed for about an hour, passing through the high yak pastures of Molum Sumdo, before climbing to a ridge just before the Thansan Khola intersects the Malun Khola and branches off to our left. We descend to the Thansan Khola, cross it on a bridge, and then begin our ascent to the Niwar Pass (5130 m).

We’re hiking through a remote region of stark Himalayan beauty, with varying hues of ochre, sable, and tan, and classic mountain scenery. The second pass, Sangda (Bhanjyang) La, is about a half-hour walk away and a 150-meter climb. Don’t underesti this double pass; it can be unbelievably windy and cold, and the Jomsom side is quite often covered in ice, making it impassable.

It’s a long, challenging pass to cross, but the views from the top are stunning. The Sangda La marks the border between the Dolpo and Annapurna ranges, so we’ve now entered the Annapurna region. We descend along a steep, rocky trail, quite tough, and follow the Bheri Khola to the intersection with the Kyalunpa Khola, Sangda Phedi (Sangda Gunsa). Finally, we set up camp for the night and rest. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 22: Trek to Sangda Village, 3710m.

We’ll have to cross the Bheri Khola on a small bridge soon after leaving camp, at the chorten to our left, and then hike along the right bank for a while. We leave the river and slowly descend to Jhyanse, where we should cross the chilly river. Heading toward the Sangtha to the east, we ford one smaller stream, the Dhundok Khola, feeding from the Sadachhe Himal to our right.

Dhampus Peak (6012m) is the massif southwestern peak, and moving east from there are the Sechi Lek (5981m), Tashikang (6386m), and Tasartse (6343m). Soon we arrive in the Sangda village. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 23: Trek to Phalyak, 3175m.

We begin climbing from Sangda and spend the most of the morning on a high trek, crossing many ridges, until we reach the ‘pass’ at about 4500 meters. We have a magnificent view from the top, looking out to snow-capped peaks and down to Mustang’s patchwork routes and villages far below.

Awe-inspiring views of Kagbeni, Jharkot, Muktinath, Thorong Peak, the Thorong La, Niligiri, Dhaulagiri, and the Kali Gandaki. Phalyak is a fascinating Mustang. Overnight at tented camp.

Day 24: Trek to Jomsom, 2724m.

Before breakfast in our dining tent, stick your heads out of your tents to see the sunrise on Niligiri and Dhaulagiri. Himalayan sunrises and sunsets are one of the many things that remind us why we’ve come all this way and endured these long, cold days.

We hike to a ridge 400m above Phalyak, then descend a steep, sandy trail to Jomsom, Mustang’s district headquarters, and then back to ‘civilization’ (road, many trekkers, shopping) on the Annapurna Circuit. Overnight at hotel.

Day 25: Fly to Pokhara & afternoon flight back to Kathmandu

The end of a great trek, and an equally impressive exit as we fly by Dhaulagiri and the Annapurna range to Pokhara, where we connect to a flight to Kathmandu.

Back in Kathmandu, your hotel rooms are waiting for you, and hot showers are the first order of the afternoon. Overnight in Kathmandu.

Upper Dolpo Trek in Nepal

Upper Dolpo Trek Itinerary – General FAQs

How do I get to Upper Dolpo?

There are two ways to get from Kathmandu to Dolpo. If you want to travel a long way from Radi, you can take a direct bus from Kathmandu to Radi and then change jeep from one place to another to get to Dunai. Another option for getting from Kathmandu to Dolpo is to fly to Nepaljung and then to Juphal.

When is the best time to trek to Upper Dolpo?

The best time to trek to Upper Dolpo is from March to October. Some passes will be closed in April, but it will still be possible to complete the circuits with the proper gear. The monsoon season (July to September) is perfect for the Upper Dolpo Trek.

How difficult is the Upper Dolpo Trek?

The Upper Dolpo trek is more challenging. It requires walking 5 to 9 hours per day and crossing several high passes over 5000 meters. So, you should have a good physical condition and some mountain hiking experience.

How long is the Upper Dolpo Trek?

There are many itineraries for Upper Dolpo trek. The entire circuit generally takes 22 to 27 days to complete.

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“ I was born and raised in Nepal, nearby Everest region. I am proud to be a native Sherpa, and I have been a Mountain guide over a decade now. Following my passion, I decided to start helping travelers with their travel plans! I think life is a journey, a trip where you collect experiences when you share with other people and with nature. “

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