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Highlights of Dolpo Trek

Abhishek Subedi August 8, 2020

Dolpo offers trekkers a unique Nepalese trekking experience. Sandwiched between the Tibetan plateau and the Dhaulagiri ranges in north western Nepal. The high-altitude region of Dolpo is remote, rugged and sparsely populated. Moreover, offering the few travellers who visit striking landscapes, challenging trekking experiences and the opportunity to encounter a rich Tibetan culture. Closed to outsiders until the 1990s. Moreover, this isolated corner of the Himalaya is dotted with ancient Buddhist sites, nomadic camps and fortified villages where Tibetan culture remains largely unchanged. As we trek through this isolated environment. SImilarly, the arid landscape of sun-dappled plateaus and steep scree slopes is broken by snow-dusted peaks, fertile lower valleys and the spectacular blue waters of Phoksundo Lake.

1. Inner Dolpo Circuit Trek

Inner Dolpo Circuit Trek is one of Nepal’s classic mountain treks. Similarly, the route is most demanding as you will traverse heights in excess of 5350 m. And some of the most remote territory in Nepal. As you trek through the heart of Dolpo you are presented with a variety of both scenery and people. Similarly, from Magar villages with lush green paddy fields surrounded by dense jungles in the south of Dhaulagiri to Bhotia fortress hamlets and gompas (monasteries) amid barren ,windswept hills, this trek shows how much more Nepal has to offer than the popular trails to Annapurna, Everest and Langtang. 

Inner Dolpo Circuit Trek

About the Inner Dolpo Circuit Trek

The hills along the way are sparsely populated and the trails through them peaceful and quiet. Crossing a series of high passes, the journey takes in Shey Gompa and the exotic villages set amidst the arid, remote highlands of Dolpo, making this a classic trek. Inner Dolpo Trek is one of the best treks that extends to the far-flung wilderness of western Nepal.Inner Dolpo has a magical, mythical appeal. Moreover, the landscapes here are even more desolate than on the Dolpa Circuit and the villages even more isolated and pure. In Inner Dolpo century old Buddhist traditions, interwoven with shamanistic influences, are still an important part of daily life.

The villages, gompa’s and people you meet during this trek will leave an unforgettable impression on you.Inner Dolpo is a restricted area, for which a fee is charged of US$ 500 for the first 10 days, and US$ 50 for each additional day. Besides, there is a maximum of the number of foreigners that can enter Inner Dolpo each year. Currently this maximum is put at 250 people. This makes Inner Dolpo a very special and exclusive place. It is a very strenuous hike. You have to cross three passes, Kang La/ Ngadra La of 5350 m, the Shey La of 5000 m and Jeng La of 5110 m. 

2. Lower Dolpo Trek

Reaching the trailhead for the Lower Dolpo trek requires two flights from Kathmandu, first to Nepalgunj and then to Juphal. The landscape is very varied, with river valleys, high alpine pastures, two high passes to cross, and the final destination, beautiful Lake Phoksundo, in the Shey Phoksundo National Park. On the way there are great views of the Dhaulagiri Range to the east and Kagmara Range to the west. An interesting part of this trek is the encounter with the pre-Buddhist Bon religion. Some small communities in Nepal still practice this religion, and on the Lower Dolpo trek there’s the chance to visit a Bon monastery. 

Lower Dolpo Trek

3. Upper Dolpo Trek

The Upper Dolpo trek is one of the harder and longer treks in Nepal, with several camps above 4500 metres and some high passes. Similarly, organised tours are essential, as there is virtually no tourism infrastructure here. As with the Lower Dolpo trek, this one begins with a flight to Juphal, and a trek to Lake Phoksundo. Past this, high snowy passes, hidden valleys, the Shey Gomba monastery, and many fortified villages await. Virtually everyone who makes the effort to trek here finds it to be an incredible experience. Acclimatisation days and contingency days are built into itineraries to Upper Dolpo. Flights are often delayed or cancelled, and some members of the party may need to take some parts slowly. If you don’t encounter any delays, these extra days can be spent on side trips.

4. Phoksundo Lake

An alpine freshwater Shey Phoksundo Lake, at an altitude of 3,611.5m (11,849ft) is one of the major attractions of Dolpo Region. Shey Phoksundo Lake trekking confers you to see the blue and green water of the lake which is a sacred lake for the Bonpo religion followers. Similarly, bonpo followers believe that there is a palace and the gang of witchdoctors deep down the water for helping them in hard times. As Shey Phoksundo Lake is situated in the alpine climatic region and the water is very cold, it supports no organisms. There is a historically important 900-year old Bonpo monastery named Tshowa Gompa on the ridge of the lake. Similarly, on the holy occasions, the devotees of Bonpo religion visit for worshipping their deity every year.

 Phoksundo Lake

5. Dho Tarap Village

Dho Tarap village is one of the highest settlements on earth. Moreover, Dho village and its neighboring village Lang and Tokyou are collectively known as Dho-Tarap. Situated at an elevation from 3,900 meters to 4,200 meters above sea level. Similarly, it used to be the capital of Dolpo before Gorkhali king Prithivi Narayan Shah annexed it in the 17th century. This remote valley follows Bon culture, and there are eight different monasteries including a Bon monastery. 

Dho Tarap is located in a very strategic center and can be reached in a travel distance of one day from nine different villages of Dolpo. Also, this remote valley has a school established by Action Dolpo France which provides free education. The people of Dho Tarap are subsistence farmers growing potatoes, mustard, beans, barley, and buckwheat. Similarly, they also keep livestock for food as well as wool. For trade, they bargain with Tibetans for salt and wool. 

6. Shey Phoksundo National Park

The largest national park and only one located in the trans-Himalayan region. Moreover, Shey Phoksundo National Park covers the majority of land of Dolpo Region. Located in Lower Dolpo Region. Moreover, the park is a haven for varieties of flora and fauna befitting in the high altitude. The park inhabits the animals like blue sheep, marmot, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, etc. and six species of reptiles. Similarly, you can find about 29 species of butterflies and over 200 species of birds in Shey Phoksundo National Park. Trekking to Shey Phoksundo National Park bestows you a rare opportunity for birds and butterflies watching as well.

Shey Phoksundo National Park

As the park lies in the trans-Himalayan region. Moreover, hardly 5% of land is occupied by forests with a variety of plants. In the upper part of the park, rhododendron, caragana shrubs, salix, juniper, white Himalayan birch are found. Likewise, in Suligad Valley, the plant species like silver fir, blue pine, hemlock, cedar, bamboo and poplar are found. The park is a home for Yarsagumba (Ophiocordyceps sinensis), a medicinal herb harvested in spring and found in trans-Himalayan belt.

7. Shey Gompa

Shey Gompa at 4,200m is an 11th century Tibetan Buddhist monastery located in the heart of divine Inner Dolpo valley. Trekking to Inner Dolpo Shey Gompa, you must cross Kanga La (5,151m). Similarly, it is one of the highest passes in the trans-Himalayan region. From the gompa, you can get a majestic view of the snow-white mountains and tantalizing landscapes far and wide. 

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