The Upper Dolpo Trek:
At the edge of the Tibetan Plateau lies Dolpo, the legendary “Hidden Land” that for years has been off-limits to outsiders. The Upper Dolpo trek into this beautiful, wild, and crystalline landscape begins as we head north in the massive gorge of the Kali Gandaki. Crossing the Toudje La (18,250 feet) beyond Dhaulagiri we gain access to a world of rugged people and remote monasteries including Dho, Saldang, Shey (Crystal Mountain), and Ringmo on the shores of Phoksumdo Lake. All restricted-area fees and in-country flights are included. On the Tibetan Plateau — in the great Himalayan rain shadow — lies Dolpo, the legendary Ba-Yul or “Hidden Land”; geographically cut off from the rest of the world by a barrier of high mountains, deep gorges and thick forests. Our 30-day trek through true Himalayan wilderness will gain us access to this unique place, which is home to one of the few enclaves of un-oppressed traditional Tibetan culture. En route we pass many of the highest and most beautiful mountains in the world: Maachapuchhare, the Annapurnas, the Dhaulagiri massif, and the remote Kanjiroba Himal. It is not difficult walking, but there is a lot of it!
The Upper Dolpo trek is no tourist tea-house trek, and you will not find our route outlined in any of the Himalayan trekking guidebooks. It is rugged, unspoiled, and unforgettable – arguably the best trek in all of Nepal.
Crystal Mountain, the holiest mountain in Upper Dolpo, is the English name of a mountain near Shey Gompa, the most important monastery in Dolpa. Dinesh Gurung, Crystal Mountain Treks founder, named the company after a trek to the area in the early 80’s. After successfully running the trek to Upper Dolpo for several consecutive years, we have now adopted the Crystal Mountain Trek as our signature trek.
Our Nepal and Tibet treks and climbs are operated by our sister company based in Nepal. Crystal Mountain Treks is managed by our founder’s family. And has been in business for over two decades. We employ only the best guides with a minimum of 15 years experience. We treat our staff with the utmost care and respect. Each staff member is provided high-quality equipment and paid higher-than-average wages. Our clients have commented that our treks provide a better value than other companies they researched, comparing services, quality and price. We are happy to provide references of people who have journeyed with us in the past upon request.
Day 01 - Kathmandu
Arrive Kathmandu. You will be met on arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport. Transfer to Hotel. Day Free. Enjoy welcome dinner. Briefing during dinner. (Dinner)
Day 02 - Kathmandu
Full day sightseeing in Kathmandu. You will be accompanied by our in-house city guide. In the morning, visit Bodhanath, the Stupa of a million dew drops, to watch monks and devotees circumambulate the largest stupa in Nepal. Then visit Pashupatinath, Nepal's most sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, with its two-tiered golden roof and silver door. Drive to Patan for lunch in the garden of the Patan Museum Café. After lunch, visit the well-maintained Patan Museum. Drive back to Kathmandu. (Breakfast and Lunch)
Day 03 - Kathmandu to Pokhara
Morning flight to Pokhara. Overnight Hotel Fairmount. (Breakfast)
Day 04 - 07 - Pokhara to Kagbeni (9,100 ft.)
Fly to Jomsom and descend to Marpha. From hot, windy Jomsom (8,900 feet) where the landscape has become truly desert-like. Here, we turn away from the Kali Gandaki and begin to seriously gain altitude. We first go in the opposite direction to Muktinath at 12,400 ft., towards the Thorung Pass, to acclimate better. Then we descend to Kagbeni, the gateway to Mustang, the Kingdom of Lho.
Overnight camp. (All meals)
Day 08 - Kagbeni to Dangorjung (10,300 ft.)
From Kagbeni, we turn away from the Kali Gandaki towards Dolpo. Our first night away from the river will be at the prosperous little village of Dangorjung (10,300 feet) with its small red-walled Buddhist temple and rows of ancient cottonwoods. Overnight camp. (All meals)
Day 09 and 11 - Dangorjung to Sangda (12,300 ft.)
The following day, we cross our first pass of note (13,700 feet) - from there we can enjoy unmatched views of the Annapurna area, the Kali Gandaki gorge up to Kagbeni, and to the north-east the entire kingdom of Mustang. Dropping from the pass to a meadow at about 13,100 feet, we make camp and plan to spend two nights (for acclimatization).
Sangda is considered to be the ‘gateway to Dolpo’. Overnight camp. (All meals)
Day 12 to 14 - Sangda to river camp (16,000 ft.) crossing Thuje La (18,250 ft.)
Leaving Sangda the next day, the trail floats over a small pass (13,500 feet) before descending into the Chalung gorge itself to cross the river on a bridge. Camp (at 13,700 feet) lies on a balcony below our first pass, in a beautiful juniper forest. We will stay here two nights to continue our acclimatization process
The following day is a ‘two pass day’, one of which is also notably the highest altitude of our Upper Dolpo trek. On the trail by six in the morning, swirling mists clear as we again see our way to the top of the Khog La. It is slight descent to a long basin beyond the pass, where we stop for an early lunch before continuing over the Touje La (18,250 feet). We should reach its wind-swept top after a few more hours, gaining magnificent views of Dhaulagiri and Tukuche Peak to the south. Overnight camp (All meals)
Day 15 to 19 - River camp to Dho Tarap
The next morning, after a rolling pass of about 16,500 feet, we descend into a network of canyons, continuing to work our way north. After two days, the emerald green fields of Charka come into view. We will want to visit the two gompas (temples) here before continuing north. The gompas represent the two religions of Dolpo, Buddhism and B’on.
We descend into the gentle wide valley of the Keheng Khola, and before camp that evening turn west up a small drainage, heading for Tarap. An extra day is planned to explore Dho. Overnight camp. (All meals)
Chorten (Photo: Walter)
Day 20 to 23 - Tarap to Saldang (13,000 ft.)
Leaving Tarap the following day, our route continues north over another pass (Jeng La 16,700 feet). Prayer flags strung across the river and innumerable unbelievably massive mani walls (made of stones each carved with an offering prayer) welcome us to Saldang. Overnight Camp (All meals).
Day 24 & 26 - Saldang to Shey (14,800 ft.)
Turning southwest, another major pass (Se La at 16,800 feet) needs to be crossed in order to get over to Shey. This will take us about two days, so we can enjoy a high camp en route with an excellent view of Tibet. We set up camp (14,800 feet) and plan to spend two nights to explore the area. Shey is named after the ‘Crystal Mountain of Dolpo’, which rises to the southeast. Highly recommended is the 1,500-foot climb to Tsakang, the "Red Chalk" gompa. Overnight camp. (All meals)
Day 27 to 29 - Shey to Ringmo
Turning south the next day, we have our last pass (Kang La 16,800 feet) of the Dolpo Trek to negotiate. This is the continental divide, and snow is likely to cover the pass. Camp is near the village of Ringmo. The people here are B’on, and the amiable resident lama will delight in showing his gompa to us. A layover day is planned here to enjoy the surroundings. Coming from the barren north, the green of the pines and junipers, and the blue of the lake seem almost surrealistic.
Overnight Camp. (All meals)
Mule Train above Phoksumdo Lake (Photo: Sue DeArman)
Day 30 to 32 - Ringmo to Dunai
Continuing south, we leave the lake along its effluent, the Suli Gad. You may begin to hear a roar in the distance, then coming around a corner - a massive 900-foot waterfall, the biggest in Nepal. The next day we walk along the south side of the Thulo Bheri for about an hour, then climb up for about three hours to the village of Jufal (8,700 feet). This is the location of the Dunai airfield, a steeply inclined STOL field carved out of the hillside. It is necessary to camp here one night, as our flight out on our charter plane will be in the early morning. This last evening of our Dolpo Trek, we will have a party with all our porters and staff who have been with us for 30 days. Overnight camp (All meals).
Day 33 - Dunai to Kathmandu
The next day, we will depart Jufal by chartered plane (Twin Otter) landing in Pokhara. From Pokhara we will fly to Kathmandu on a regularly scheduled flight, arriving by mid-day. Day free in Kathmandu. Overnight Hotel (Breakfast and Lunch).
Day 34 - Kathmandu
Sightseeing in Kathmandu. Visit Swayambhunath, the monkey temple, and Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Overnight Hotel Tibet. (All meals).
Day 35 - Depart for home
COST AND INCLUSIONS
Per Person Price for 2018
2 participants: $6,095 USD per person
3 participants: $5,895 USD per person
4 - 6 participants: $5,195 USD per person
7 or more participants: $4,895 USD per person
Single Supplement: $400 USD
Price does not include:
- Expert pre-trip advice and detailed information
- All airport transfers; two full days sightseeing in Kathmandu as indicated in the itinerary and entrance fees to monuments.
- 4 nights twin sharing hotel accommodation at Hotel Tibet in Kathmandu.
- Airfare: Kathmandu to Pokhara and Dunai to Kathmandu
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary; Lodge/tent accommodations on the trek
- Shey Phoksumdo National Park Fee and Annapurna Conservation Area fee
- Upper Dolpo restricted area fee
- Gamow Bag (High altitude pressure chamber) and Pulse Oximeter
- Satellite Phone
- Your international airfare
- Nepal Visa
- Meals not indicated in the itinerary
- Tips and gratuities
- Personal equipment (a suggested list will be mailed to you)
- Travel insurance (required)
- Other expenses of a personal nature
DATES AND AVAILABILITY
May 07 – June 10
September 07 – October 11
Cannot find a departure that fits your schedule? No problem. Contact us for private departures (two or more participants) for a date of your choosing.
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This trip has the minimum sign ups required and is guaranteed to run.
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