Make a rendezvous with the remote Himalaya mountains of Dolpo
Lower Dolpo Circuit Trek Highlights
The Lower Dolpo Circuit is set in the isolated and remote western region of Dolpo where the landscape and people are more Tibetan than Nepali. This mysterious land has a dry atmosphere and is at high altitude, despite being in ‘lower’ Dolpo. With ever increasing altitudes up to the maximum 5,190m and with days averaging 6 – 7 hours of walking, this two week trek is recommended for experienced and fit hikers. But the rewards are astounding: the crisp, clear blueness of Phoksundo Lake (3,611m); unique flora and fauna; a unique religion; diverse culture; colourful festivals; challenging passes; high snow-covered Kanjirowa Himal peaks and the list goes on!
Much of lower Dolpo falls under the protection of Shey Phoksundo National Park. This has ensured pine, fir and birch forests as well as wildlife such as the elusive snow leopard, rare Himalayan blue sheep, goral, thar, Himalayan black bear, langur and rhesus monkeys, among others, maintain their strength in today’s world.
Isolated villages of people closely related to Tibetans, and ancient monasteries offer a glimpse back in time are another feature of this area. Additionally, this is one of the few remaining places where the Bon Po religion is practiced. Bon Po is similar and yet different from Buddhism – one difference being practitioners walk anti-clockwise round stupas and shrines.
Phoksundo Lake is almost 500 ha in size and was designated a Ramsar site (wetlands of international significance) in 2008. But most probably, people recognise this lake from the film which was made here about, and staring, the people of this area. Known as Caravan in Nepal, the film was called Himalaya on the international stage.
Naturally there is a reason why this area is remote and isolated – difficult and rough, and at times very high and narrow, paths and mountain passes over 5,000m. But for those who have an interest in the Buddhist and Bon Po culture, are excited by windswept scenery interspersed with pine forests and the possibility of sighting rare mammal and medicinal plant species, this is a truly wonderful trek!
DAY 01: Arrival day in Kathmandu [1,300m/4,264 ft]
Upon your arrival in the Kathmandu airport (TIA), you will be greeted by a representative from Nepal New Generation Trek & Adventure. After completing your custom formalities (Visa, etc) pick up your luggage and look for our representative with a New Generation Trekking display board at the arrival gate. You will be then transferred to Hotel. After check in, you can either take a rest, hang around in the city, visit our office; it all depends upon your interests and condition. In the evening we will organize a Welcome Dinner at an excellent traditional Nepalese Restaurant where you will enjoy a Nepalese cultural program as well as a fine meal. Included meal: Dinner
DAY 02: Kathmandu valley sightseeing & trek preparation
We start a guided tour to four of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu. Kathmandu Durbar Square holds the palaces of the medieval Kings who ruled over the then Kathmandu Kingdom. Pashupatinath houses a sacred lingum, or the phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. The Aryaghat alongside Pashupati and on the banks of the Bagmati River is a famous funeral site for the Hindus. The Buddhists shrine of Boudhanath is one of the largest stupas in the world, and one of the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage and tourist destinations in Kathmandu. The area of Boudhnath is also famous for over 50 Tibetan Gompas or monasteries. Swayambhu meaning the "the self-existent" is popular among the foreigners as the Monkey Temple owing to the large number of monkey population residing in the area. Overnight at Kathmandu. Breakfast
DAY 03: Fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj & transfer to Hotel
We take an hour's flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj in Western Nepal. Nepalgunj which is a border town near Nepal-India border is the gateway to Simikot of Humla. The town itself is an interesting Terai town of Nepal with influences from both the Nepal hills and plains well as local Hindu & Muslim cultures. Some sightseeing places in Nepalgunj include Mini Zoo, Muslim bazaar, or if possible and interested take a walk into nearby villages. We have to also make preparation for tomorrow's flight to Jhupal.
DAY 04: Fly from Nepalgunj to Jhupal (Dolpo)[2,320m/7,610ft] and trek to Dunai [2,850m/9,348ft]: 2-3 hrs walk
After an early breakfast, we take a morning flight to Jhupal. The 45minutes flight over the high mountains brings you at Jhupal over the Himalayan foothills, with views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri peaks to the north. On arriving at Jhupal our trekking staffs will receive you. Our first day adventure begins through the terraced fields to the Bheri River and the narrow gorge taking 2-3 hours to camp at Dunai. Dunai is the administrative headquarter of the Dolpo region. Explore Dunai in the evening.
DAY 05: Trek to Tarakot [2,543m/8,341ft]: 5-6 hrs walk
After breakfast we start our trek continues along the south bank of the river heading upstream on a good trail. Deep gorges, hanging bridges and isolated villages. A tremendous gorge with pine trees and an ingenious path built about seven meter above the river. The colorful terraced field of Tarakot greets us. Tarakot is an old fortress town built by the local people as Dzong or fort. The village stands on a hillock to the south of Bheri River at one time supervised collection of tolls for the trading caravans.
DAY 06: Trek to Laini [3,160 m/10,365 ft]: 6-7 hrs walk
After breakfast, we continue our walking to follow the Tarap chu river upstream, crossing by bridge and crossing the same river twice. The famed Sandul Gompa lies farther east from Tarakot and at the junction of Barbung khola and Tarup chu Rriver. The path leads through the farm terraces and rural villages. After a few ups and downs, finally descend to reach our overnight camp at Laini
DAY 07: DAY 07: Trek to Nawarpani [3,545m/11,627 ft]: 5 hrs walk
After breakfast we continue walking up to the gorge of the Tarap River, rising high above on a trail built out from steep slopes. The walk is quite exciting as the valley becomes narrow gorge that in some places you can jump from one side to another. Descend to Chyugur Khola. Sometimes the path vanishes for a while, making our own path across stone slabs fitted on logs in between the walls which act as a bridge.
DAY 08: Trek to Do Tarap [4,090m/13,415ft]: 7-8 hrs walk
Our morning walk begins after breakfast with a gradual up leading us at Kamattarka at the confluence of the Tarap Chu and Lang Khola, a stream flowing from the east. After few hours of good morning walk leaving the narrow gorge, from here the path leads just above tree lines for juniper bush and wild rose, typical of dry inner Himlayan valleys. Another 3 hours or more walk brings us to the village of Dho Tarap surrounded by an irregualr stone wall. In this Valley both Bon Po and Chaiba sects reside together. Tarap is also inhabited by a few Tibetans and mostly Magars who have lived here for many generations.
DAY 09: Rest Day at Do Tarap for acclimatization
We spend a rest day in Do Tarap for gradually getting used to the altitude. Time to visit monasteries and enjoy the breathtaking views. Make friends with the locals who have hardly seen westerners. The Dolpo people wear home spun clothing that is sometimes dyed maroon and they favour Tibetan style somba or dhocha (boots with upturned toes) for foot wear. Both men and women often wear religious amulets and strings of coral, amber and turquoise. The people of the region are both Bon po and Nyingmapa of Buddhist sect. The Buddhist Gompa is nearby to the camp while the Bon Gompa (pre Buddhist) is about half an hour's walk.
DAY 10: Trek to Numa La Base Camp [4440m/14,563 ft]: 6-7 hrs walk
After a wonderful time at Do Tarap, our journey continues towards upper Tarap valley, the walk follows in this plain valley with patched of lush verdant grass on both sides of the river, which is completely different from other parts of inner Dolpo. The trek on this pleasant track leads by the Tarap chu upstream all the way. Tarap is certainly a dream valley with vast plains in high mountains. A few hours' good walk takes us to the village of Tokyu, it has a monastery belonging to the Chiba sect. After visit this village our walk continues further up this valley climbing up the rough track for almost another three hours to reach our overnight camp beneath the Numa-la.
DAY 11: Cross Numa La [5,190m/17,023ft], and camp at Pelung Tang [4465m/14,645 ft]: 6-7 hrs
This is one of the long and difficult days during the trek. After breakfast our journey continues to crossing of Numa La pass at 5,190m, the track leads to steep climb all the way to the top ridge of Numa la with great views of the surrounding landscapes. An incredible panoramic view of the barren mountains of Dolpo up to the Dhaulagiri (8167m). After getting to the top of Numa La we will descend to camp at Pelung Tang.
DAY 12: Cross Baga La [5,070m/16,630ft] and camp Dajok Tang [4,080m/13,382ft]: 6 hrs
After breakfast our morning trek starts with a steep climb to reach the ridge top of Baga-la at 5,070m, which offers fantastic views of the surrounding landscapes and of the distant snow capped peaks of Kanjirowa Himal range, after a glorious moment at the pass, almost three hours of downhill walk takes to the Dajok Tang for overnight.
DAY 13: Trek to Ringmo (3,600m/11,808ft): 3-4 hrs walk
After breakfast our morning trek starts through the pine forest, on leaving the forest behind the country and the vegetation changes for pasture field and alpine shrubs most of the way to Ringmo on the gradual slopes with few ups and downs as we reach our final destination at Ringmo.
DAY 14: Rest Day at Ringmo for a hike to Phoksundo Lake
A rest and exploration day. And of course we sit right on the shore of the spectacular Phoksumdo Lake; remember the harrowing scene in 'Himalaya' when Thinley's yak caravan attempted the 'Devil's Trail'. Yak caravans will be heading in and out of Ringmo on their way north towards the border of Tibet, and our most northerly destinations, Saldang and Thinje. This is the pleasant day free from the hassle of packing and chance to visit the nearby Tibetan Buddhist monastery is well worth a visit, as is the village of Ringmo. A walk part way round the lake is also very enjoyable and relaxing. This is a great day exploring the lake areas and the crystal serene Lake of Phoksundo with a great views. overnight at camp
DAY 15: Trek to Shyanta [2520m/8265 ft]: 5-6 hrs walk
Trek downhill to Chepka. From Chepka the trail follows the massive overhanging rock. We found many important medicinal mineral which is believed to cure almost anything in this area. The route then passes through the villages, before climbing to Shyanta.
DAY 16: Trek to Jhupal
Following the trail gently sloping upwards, we march towards Jhupal via Sulighat. We meet tall birch trees on our way. From atop the ridge, we can have the most spectacular views of the mountain and Jhupal below. Utmost caution is required while trekking along this trail. After reaching Jhupal, we can spend our afternoon exploring the busy market town or simply pursuing whatever we feel like.
DAY 17: Fly to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj
We take a flight from Jhupal to Nepalgunj. On reaching Nepalgunj, we return to Kathmandu on the next available flight. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, you will be transferred to your hotel. There is nothing to do but trade emails with travel companions and organize the photos. You can spend the evening leisurely, perhaps catch up on some last minute shopping and celebrate dinner together with New Generation Trekking staffs. Overnight at Kathmandu
DAY 18: Final Departure
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The Trekking Group
For the Lower Dolpo Trek, there will be one leader, assistant leader (4 trekkers: 1 assistant guide) and Sherpa porters for luggage carrying (2 trekkers: 1 porter). This arrangement ensures that even if someone in the group gets sick or is unable to carry on, the trip can still go ahead as planned for the rest of the group. We can run the trek for groups of any size, but usually a maximum of twelve people is ideal as we've found this to be the optimum size for a successful trip.
We will be staying at Normal Accomadation Hotel in Kathmandu and teahouses during the trek. All accommodations are on twin-shared basis. Single supplement will be served on request and will cost an additional USD 350. Nepal New Generation will arrange rooms with attached washrooms; however, teahouses in some remote places only have shared washing and toilet facilities.Also note that single rooms are readily available in Kathmandu and the trekking regions at lower elevation but it might be difficult to find them at higher elevations.
Breakfast (only) will be available in Kathmandu whereas all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) will be available during the trek. We can enjoy freshly-cooked, hygienic and nutritious meals on full-board basis prepared by our trained and experienced cook during the trek. Authentic Nepalese, Tibetan dishes as well as the more common international cuisine (Tibetan, Continental, Italian, Indian, etc.) will be available.