This real adventure trekking holiday visits Upper Dolpo, one of the least accessible and yet most alluring corners of Nepal. Few travellers have penetrated to the heart of Dolpo, a region beautifully portrayed in Eric Valli’s excellent film – ‘Himalaya’. This is very much the land that time forgot, with a mix of ancient Tibetan religions and a hardy people who make their living through farming and through trade with both Tibet and Nepal.
Permits & Regulations
All trekkers heading into Upper Dolpo are required to purchase a $500 per person permit, which is valid for 10 days. You can stay longer, but every day after that will cost $50. At Dunai, you’ll be required to show your permit on the way in and out.
For more detail Information please our FAQs section thank you.
Welcome to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. The hotel is close to the central Thamel District which contains the majority of tourist amenities – shops, restaurants, internet cafes etc. Himalaya Memories Trek package services begin with the evening meal and Nepali cultural show. Your guide will brief you about what to expect in the days ahead.
The morning is free to relax or for sightseeing and shopping in Thamel for any extra gear needed for the trek. In the afternoon we take a short flight down to the gateway town of Nepalgunj down in the Terai. The climate here is sub tropical and we will be relieved to reach the cool of our guesthouse. We stay overnight in Nepalgunj.
Flights into Dolpo are always early in the morning since the anabatic winds of the Thulo Bheri Valley prevent afternoon flights, rather like Jomsom in the Kali Gandaki further east. We therefore have an early start for the spectacular 40 minute flight. At Juphal we meet our trek crew and after an early lunch, during which final preparation are made and the baggage is assigned to our porters, we set out downhill to the river and our first night’s camp at Ruup Ghat (2050m).
The Suli Ghat River flows down from Phoksundo Lake through a steep and highly vegetated valley. The trail undulates, sometimes beside and sometimes high above the tumbling white-water river. There are scattered villages along the route including the deserted crude stone houses of Jaya Lhasa where we take our lunch. Many of these villages are only occupied during the winter months when the communities of Upper Dolpo bring their animals down from the high pastures and at the time of our trek they can be almost hidden in an overgrowth of tall grasses. After lunch we cross the Anke Khola and it can be quite hot as we make our way up the river to our campsite at Chepka (2970m).
We cross and re-cross the river today as we make our way up the narrow gorge, ascending the undulating trail through forests of bamboo, and conifer. As yesterday, we are sometimes high above tumbling waterfalls and at others the trail is right beside the river or with stepping stones providing the only means of keeping feet dry where the river cuts into the steep bank. At one point the trail climbs steadily for an hour or more to bring us out of the forest and into flower-strewn meadows. Eventually the valley opens up a little and the going becomes easier until we reach a bridge leading to several houses which make up the village of Renje (3010m). Beyond here the valley narrows once more and the trail continues to climb and descend as we negotiate spurs of the steep hillside. At the confluence of the Suli Ghat and Pungmo Khola we cross to the west bank and reach the village of Samduwa (3085m).
From Samduwa upwards, the river is known as the Phoksumdo Khola and runs crystal clear from the lake. We pass Palam, another deserted winter village and enter the National Park. The trail climbs to a ridge which separates the open fields of Ringmo from the narrow valley below. A ROARING WATERFALL, THE HIGHEST IN NEPAL, lies below and we get our first glimpse of Phoksundo Lake. Descending steeply through the forest we then climb steadily to reach the charming Dolpopa settlement of Ringmo with its collection of flat roofed stone houses, stuccoed chortens and long walls of prayer-carved mani stones. Just below the village we cross the river and follow it to the lake where we set up camp. (3600m).
It is necessary to spend a day here to give our bodies’ time to acclimatise to the new altitude. This will also be a welcome rest after the last few days of trekking and a chance to catch up on laundry. There are various options for excursions in this fantastic location and a visit to Ringmo and its overlooking monastery is a must.
It is not possible to proceed north of Phoksundo Lake without the special Inner Dolpo permit. We start our trek to Shey Gompa in Inner Dolpo with a spectacular trail aroundh the western end of the lake. The precarious path is chiseled from the steep rock walls and in places is supported on wooden trestles woven with saplings and covered with rocks. The sparkling pure turquoise waters of the lake lie directly below and it is wise to proceed with full attention to your footing. This trail was dramatically featured in Eric Valli’s brilliant film about the life of the people of Dolpo who bring their yaks over difficult passes bearing salt from Tibet to trade for vital grain in the south. The film was originally released with the title ‘Caravan’ but later this was changed to ‘Himalaya’. After this high traverse, the trail climbs to a ridge giving spectacular views over the lake, the dark green forest, and the bright fields of Ringmo with the snow peak of Kang Norbu to the south. A cairn and prayer flags mark our highpoint on the ridge at a little above 4000 metres, beyond which we make a gradual descent to the lake’s northern shore where we take lunch. We ascend a wide flat valley with scattered knee-high thorn bushes and across sponge-like turf criss-crossed with several tributary streams, to reach a drier ‘alpine’ zone of conifers where we make camp (3700m).
The Phoksundo Valley now becomes quite narrow with high rock walls on both sides. We are forced to cross several tributaries and some may have to be waded. After 20 or 30 minutes we leave the main valley and head north again entering a narrow gorge. We have a long climb, often with no trace of any trail as we progress up the steep sided valley, passing occasional grazing areas and crossing several side streams. The overnight camp is at the foot of the pass that will lead us to Upper Dolpo. Altitude at camp is approximately 4650m meters.
It will take 2 to 3 hours from our camp, climbing awkwardly on loose slatey scree slopes which may have a covering of snow, to reach the summit of the Kang La (5350m). This high pass into Inner Dolpo is also known locally as the Ngadra La and is adorned with cairns and prayer flags. We make a steep descent of around 45 minutes to the valley floor and follow the river easily for a further 3 hours to reach Shey Gompa, the entrance of which is marked by a red and white chorten and snaking lines of mani stones. The monastery is located beneath the strange Crystal Peak on a small grassy plain created by the confluence of two rivers. Physically the gompa itself is not very imposing and is surrounded by half a dozen red colored buildings but the setting is very dramatic and there is no doubt why this place is so revered by both Buddhists and followers of the Bon religion. We set up our camp just below the gompa in a meadow containing a few herders’ huts.
We have a day to explore the environs and to catch up on laundry and other camp chores. A worthwhile side trip is to visit the amazing Kagyupa monastery of Tsa Kang which is perched on a narrow ledge high on a cliff face. To get there we have to climb part way on the trail which pilgrims follow to make the ‘Kora’ or circuit of Crystal Peak.
Continuing our journey through Upper Dolpo we now head east up another narrow valley and climb to the summit of the Shey La (5100m). On reaching the top of the pass the view north to Tibet and east towards Mustang, suddenly opens out and we have some notion of the vastness and arid nature of the Tibetan Plateau. Turning to the north we now make a long descent to the pastures at Namgung (4415m) consisting of a few stone houses and a relatively new gompa.
A shorter day today, beginning with a brilliant traverse high above the Namgung Khola and then a steep descent to the large Dolpopa village of Saldang. Saldang is close to the Tibetan border and the some of the salt trade Yak caravans are routed through here. This trading of Tibetan salt for rice from the southern lowlands is a vital, age-old practice which still prevails in Inner Dolpo. Saldang is really a collection of five separate villages and is the biggest settlement in Inner Dolpo. We set up camp in time for lunch and have the afternoon free to explore. Altitude at camp is 4070 metres.
Leaving Saldang we turn south following the Nagaon Khola through terraced fields of barley the staple crop of the Dolpopa. We pass through the scattered village of Namdo which boasts two monasteries, one beside the river and another high on a cliff top. Our riverside camp tonight is near the smaller settlement of Sibu (4150m).
The day begins gently as we follow the river. After 2 hours of trekking we turn away from the main river and climb steeply to a yak grazing area located at 4850 metres, below the Jeng La. This is our overnight camping place.
It is a steep climb to the summit of the pass at 5110 metres which is reached after approximately 2 hours. From the top we have a spectacular view southwards to Dhaulagiri. Beyond the pass, we descend into the extensive Tarap Valley, eventually reaching a stream and following this to Tokyu Village, where we camp. Altitude here is 4160 metres.
In contrast to the majority of our trekking so far the trail down the Tarap Valley is well used and is well maintained providing relatively easy trekking through a broad fertile valley. There is much cultural interest during today’s short descent beside the Tarap Chu and opportunities to visit several gompas before reaching Dho Tarap, a cluster of stone houses below the Ribo Bhumpa Gompa with its unusual chorten within the arch of a larger chorten. The women of Dho Tarap wear very striking headpieces of beaten silver (known as a ‘tikpu’) and also usually have large amounts of turquoise, amber and zee stone hanging from their necks and ears. The men of Dolpo often wear red woollen BRAID in their hair in the manner of the Khampas of Eastern Tibet. As in the Kali Ghandaki Valley on the other side of Dhaulagiri there can be a fierce anabatic wind here from late morning to sunset and the construction and arrangement of the houses reflects this. We’ll walk on to Yak Kharka beyond the village, where it is less windy, to set up camp.
Descending gradually beside the river we cross to the west bank and continue below imposing cliffs, before crossing a ridge marked with two ancient chortens. Dropping down to the pastures of the Shishul Khola, home to large herds of the blue sheep (or bharal), which George Schaller came to study in 1973. Beyond, we cross and re-cross the Tarap Chu on a variety of bridges old and new to reach the grazing area of Shim Ora (3647m) where we make camp.
An interesting day of trekking through gorges of the Tarap Chu on a well engineered trail including flights of stone steps mostly on the west bank of the river. After approximately 4 hours of descent we break for lunch. After lunch the descent continues for a further 2 – 3 hours to Kani ghauu where there is a police check post. We make camp just outside the village, below the check post in a stand of juniper beside the river. We are now at an elevation of just 2620 metres and it is noticeably warmer.
Leaving Kani Ghauu we come to a confluence of the Tarap Chu with the Barbung Khola and shortly after, cross this latter river on a high suspension bridge. The trail continues generally high above the river with some ups and downs until a final DESCEND to Tarakot where we camp just below the village. This is a short day of trekking (approximately 2 -3 hours) and after lunch, there is the option to make the 1-hour (400 metre) climb up to the commanding, fortified settlement of Gumba Tara, where there is a monastery. In this lower valley there are 13 settlements which are collectively known as Tichurong.
We complete our trekking circuit today following the Barbung Khola (which becomes the Bheri River) to Dunai 2090m). This is another short day and provides us with a free afternoon. Dunai has a couple of small lodges and those who are ready for a beer should be able to find one. Our penultimate night’s camp.
Continuing alongside the Bheri River on a lovely trail with some excellent stands of large conifers, there is a sting in the tail as we make a final climb through terraced farmland to reach the airstrip at Jhupal (2480m). We set up camp beside the airstrip and, this being our final camp of the trip; we will want to celebrate with our crew on the COMPLETION OF ONE OF NEPAL’S FINEST TREKS!
The early morning flight takes us out of the cool, fresh mountains of Dolpo and into the hot and humid Terai region at Nepalgunj. This time, however, it is a short stop and we soon connect with our flight to Kathmandu, where we check into our hotel. Time now for a clean up and a look in the mirror (if you dare). This evening we have to get used to some fine dining and the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu’s busy streets.
This is a contingency day in case of problems with the weather-dependent flight out of Jhupal. If we have flown on schedule this will be a day to relax and enjoy the delights of Kathmandu. In the morning there is an optional complimentary guided sightseeing tour of the city’s main attractions. Alternatively, you may prefer to do your own thing, especially if you have visited Kathmandu before. One of the attractions of any visit to Nepal is the chance to walk the streets of Kathmandu, which presents a fascinating mosaic of shops, cafes and restaurants, food markets and street vendors, as well as a bewildering array of colourful temples and shrines. This evening we will have an end of trip dinner in one of the city’s finest restaurants.
It’s your last day in Nepal! Grab some breakfast, and then take in some last-minute shopping in Kathmandu. We’ll make sure you arrive at Kathmandu International Airport with plenty of time before your flight home. At this time, we’ll say our goodbyes and bid you farewell, armed with warm memories and gorgeous photos to show your loved ones.
- * 1. All DOMESTIC FLIGHTS AND GROUND TRANSPORTATION TOURIST BUS OR PRIVATE VEHICLES.
- * 2. ACCOMMODATION IN 3 STAR CATEGORISED HOTEL IN KATHMANDU.
- * 3. HIMALAYAN MEMORIES TREK DUFFEL BAG,
- * 4. WELCOME DINNER WITH NEPALI CULTURAL SHOW.
- * 5. A PROFESSIONAL AND QUALIFIED TREKKING GUIDE
- * 6. ALL MEAL BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER, AND TEA, COFFEE, ON THE TREK.
- * 7. ALL STAFF EXPENSES
- * 8. PORTER WAGES
- * 9. NATIONAL PARK ENTRY FEE.
- * 10. MUNICIPALITY CHARGE.
- * 11. ALL GOVERNMENT TAXES.
- 12. UPPER MUSTANG RESTRICTED AREA PERMIT FEE ($500)
- * 1. LUNCH AND DINNER IN KATHMANDU EXCEPT WELCOME AND FAREWELL DINNER.
- * 2. BOTH WAY INTERNATIONAL AIRFARE.
- * 3. PERSONAL TRAVEL INSURANCE AND EMERGENCY RESCUE INSURANCE.
- * 4. NEPAL ENTRY VISA FEE
- * 5. ALCOHOLIC STUFFS.
- * 6. FILMING PERMIT OF DRONE AND CAMERA
- * 7. EXTRA NIGHT ACCODAMATION IN KATHMANDU IF LATE DEPARTURE.
- * 8. PERSONAL EXPENSES, LAUNDRY, WIFI CHARGE, SOO ON.
- * 9. STAFF TIPS (MINIMUM OF 5% OF YOUR TOTAL TRIP COST
On your trek, every morning, you are awoken early by a Himalayan Memories Trek staff with a first cup of native tea or coffee, along with a bowl of warm water to freshen up. Next, you are served a full breakfast of local fare. Such as fresh fruit and vegetables where it is available. We mainly serve freshly made porridge, eggs, camp made breads etc.
While you have breakfast the Sherpa’s use this time to disassemble the tents, so make sure you pack all bags before sitting for breakfast. while some porters set off on the daily walk in order to make setups in advance of our arrival at the next stop/camp, so that when we get there, all you have to do is relax and enjoy the area.
Typically, our walks start soon after breakfast. After a couple of hours walk, we will stop for lunches. In general, the afternoon walk is shorter than the morning one, to give people time to visit neighbouring villages, to rest and to chat while the chefs prepare the supper.
As soon as you book your trip with Himalayan Memories Trek you should purchase a policy which covers trekking upto 5500m this will cover you any unexpected events force you to cancel. Your policy should also cover helicopter rescue in the event of an emergency evacuation.The only two methods of travel mostly are on foot or by helicopter once in the mountains. Obviously certain medical conditions are either so debilitating or urgent that the first option is not practicable as an evacuation method. Helicopter evacuation is very expensive and is also dependent on favourable weather conditions. Many of the helicopters are working at the limit of their operating altitude in the higher parts of the valley. Himalayan memories trek will be well placed to coordinate an efficient rescue but we must stress that there is no single definitive cost for a helicopter rescue, much depends on what else the pilot is doing in the area, how far the helicopter has to fly, where it started from and so on. The maximum is about $10,000 from Everest base camp (for example) Itself, so your travel insurance should cover up to this figure specifically for rescue costs. The helicopter company will require a payment guarantee before they fly, this will be done by your insurance provider, opening a case number and arranging the relevant exchanges of information and certification. For this purpose, it is essential that you have the right policy and provide us with all the policy details. Our staff have got mobile phones and generally, there is somewhere near with a phone signal, or else one of the staff will go to the nearest place. The safety and stability of the injured person is the job of the group and the staff and anyone nearby who can assist because sometimes it can take hours for a helicopter to arrive. Thankfully many of the trails have first aid posts along the way, but every group should be prepared to help deal with an injured person and in this case, it goes without saying that the needs of that person are more important than the trek itinerary.
It will be a matter of the helicopter company ascertaining that it is safe to fly to the relevant location and then flying the casualty to a nominated location, almost certainly a hospital in Kathmandu. The helicopter will then be met by Himalayan Memories trek who will help to coordinate any further stages in the process. The helicopter will also fly into Kathmandu airport and our staff will arrange for a car or ambulance to take the person to the hospital. If for any reason the helicopter is unable to fly we will use our many local staff and contacts to coordinate an alternative rescue and treatment regime. Normally this means using horses or simply stretchering a person off the mountain to the nearest safe place or safe helicopter landing area. Again, this is something that will generally involve everyone.
Our treks allow a good time to acclimatise and as a mountain guiding outfit we always want to ensure the trek is safe. Reducing the number of days may make the price cheaper but the chances of safely reaching base camp also greatly reduce. We follow established mountaineering principles of height gain on all treks to altitude.
The basic idea of the trekking gear for the Himalayas. This Himalaya trekking kit list aims to keep you warm, dry, protected from the sun, able to move comfortably in the mountains and able to be comfortable in the evenings and night.
You will be given a detailed kit list after booking, but the main points to cover are as follows:-
* BAGS – Rucksack or duffel bag for a porter to carry plus a day pack to be carried by you. Your day-pack should be comfortable and capable of carrying everything you need for the day, plus any valuable items such as a camera and passport.
* SHELL – Top and bottom waterproofs to keep off wind/rain.
* PUFFY LAYER – A puffy jacket, filled with either down or synthetic, designed to be worn while doing physical activity in the outdoors is essential for your kit. This layer will not only keep you warm on the trail should it be cold, but also help you stay cosy in lodges and tea-houses. Often times, these places do not have heat outside of the common area, so a warm puffy jacket will come in handy.
* LAYERS – Shirts, trousers, shorts, T-shirts, jumpers and jackets, hats and gloves. We advise that you do not wear cotton while trekking. Cotton can actually make you colder, and in certain cases, give you hypothermia. Look for synthetic or merino wool material for your layering system.
* BASE LAYER – Thin layers to wick away any sweat and to wear for cold mornings. Both top and bottom. At least two sets.
* UNDERWEAR – We recommend non-cotton. 5-7 pairs.
* FEET – Comfortable Lighter footwear to change into in the evenings. Always be sure that footwear is well-broken in prior to arriving in Nepal. For socks we advise using non-cotton socks with plenty of cushion. If you are prone to blisters, consider getting silk sock liners. 3-5 pairs.
* SLEEPING – Warm sleeping bag (3-4 season) to get a good night’s sleep at the lodges (they also have blankets)
* DRINKING – Water bottles should be hard plastic (Nalgene), not throwaway bottles. We also advise that you do not bring a water bladder. Hose lines can freeze, and if you use boiled water, the hot water will melt your water bladder. For purification methods, we encourage you to bring a UV Filter (SteriPEN), iodine tablets, or a back-country water filter. Please bring spare batteries if you have a UV filter and at least one other method for sterilising water.
* WASHING & MEDICAL quick-dry travel towel, first aid kit, blister kit, extra toilet paper, hand sanitiser, lotion (the air is quite dry), lip balm,
* SUN CARE – sunglasses, sunhat, sunscreen
* TREKKING – trekking poles, umbrella, dry bags, waterproof cover for your rucksack
* PERSONAL ITEMS – cameras, books, headlamp, music, journal, etc.
* OPTIONAL ITEMS – Buff or neck gaiter, down booties (for warmth in the tea-house), ear plugs, camping pillow, trekking crampons (like Kathoola Micro-spikes) if you are travelling during a snowy season, silk sock liners for extra warmth or blister prevention, she-wee or other female urinary device, dry shampoo, and snacks. You can buy snacks along the trail, purchase them in Kathmandu, or bring your favourite treat from home. Bringing a treat from home is a fun way to share some of your culture on the trail. It’s also helpful for those days in which nothing looks tasty.
* ELECTRONICS – Charging your electronics will cost money while on a trek in Nepal. If you would like to avoid this cost, consider bringing your own portable charger. Electronics do not like the cold. Sleep with your phone and any batteries in order to avoid bad battery life due to cold weather.
Your main item of luggage should be a sturdy kit bag, duffel bag or similar. This will be carried during the trek by porters or pack animals and must weigh no more than 15kg. You should also bring on your holiday a day-pack of approximately 30 litres capacity. It is possible to leave items not required on trek at the hotel in Kathmandu. For your international flights, please check the baggage allowance with your airline.
(Personal first aid kit contents)
Water Purification Tablets
1) Go slowly and take a full day for the hike rather than get there as fast as possible.
2) Drink lots of liquid.
3) Always give way to yaks right of way and when you meet one on a path with a drop to one side, always stand on the uphill side.
4) Don’t get caught out with inadequate clothing to cope with a rapid change in weather This is the high Himalaya and a clear bright morning does not mean the same in the afternoon.
5) Do not wander off by yourself and always make sure people know where you are. Anything can happen and a slip on scree or moraine can mean getting cold very quickly while waiting for someone to come and help.
6) Part of the trek is on lateral moraine and some places are slippery. There is no need for crampons but simple care where you are walking is important.
7) Remember that the best approach to safety is to prevent an accident happening in the first place.
Approximately $450 (or equivalent in pound Sterling, Euros) changed into local currency, should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses including porter and trek crew tips, drinks etc. It is not necessary to obtain local currency prior to departure. Pound Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are equally acceptable for exchange in Nepal. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of cash, since you will exchange the majority of this on the day of your arrival in Kathmandu. If you prefer not to carry all of your spending money in cash, it is possible to withdraw money from ATM’s in Kathmandu using your debit or credit cards. (Fee applies) During the trek it is possible to buy snacks, chocolate, soft drinks and beer on most days. Please be aware that since everything has to be carried up by porters or animals, these items become more expensive as you gain altitude.
Tipping is the accepted way of saying thank you for good service. Normally the porters and any other trek staff are given their tips at the end of the trek and this is best done as a group. Your Guide will advise the group on an appropriate level of tipping. Most groups will hand out the tips with a bit of ceremony (or sometimes a party) on the last evening, to mark the end of the holiday. we recommend that each group member contributes around 5 to 10 % of your total trip cost to these tips. At the end of their trek many people also like to donate various items of equipment to the porters and trek staff who work so hard to make the trip a success. Boots, gloves, hats, scarves and even socks are always warmly received by the porters. Your guide will make arrangements for a fair distribution (possibly by raffle) amongst the trek crew. Please note that you will have the opportunity to tip your guide separately during dinner on the final evening of the holiday. If you felt your guide was especially helpful, please consider an appropriate bonus to him or her of 20% of group tips.
Our prices are competitive and good value, and we offer quality, service, security and an ethical stance on tourism in a developing country. We don’t want to be so expensive to run fewer trips and have our staff idle, but on the other hand we believe that running cheap trips that promote the practice of skimming budgets would result in the porters getting next to nothing, which is something we cannot consider. Your porters work extremely hard to carry your gear, advance set ups and keep your journey safe and enjoyable, sometimes at their own risk and peril. We could not complete our journey without them. They have families, too, and we all want to have an enjoyable, rewarding expedition full of great memories! Tashi Delek!