Upper Dolpo Circuit Trek

Trip Facts

  • Duration 24 Days
  • Trip Difficulty strenuous
  • Max. Altitude 5,670m
  • Start and End Kathmandu - Kathmandu
  • Best Time March – May and Aug – Dec
  • Accommodation Hotel & Camping

Trip Highlights

  • The tranquil Shey Phoksundo lake “Nepal deepest lake”.
  • Picturesque landscapes of the Upper Himalayas and pristine Buddhist culture and lifestyle.
  • Location of the Oscar nominated movie “Himalayas” and inspiration for the book “The Himalayan Leopard”.
  • High passes over 5000 meters and explore diverse flora and fauna in the Shey Phoksundo Natioanal Park.

Dolpo lies in the remote north west of Nepal, between Dhaulagiri Mountain ranges and Tibetan Plateau. As the name suggests, the upper part of the region, the Upper Dolpo trek takes in even more remote and rarely visited sites. Upper Dolpo is considered as a restricted area, which only opened to visitors at the end of the 1980s. It requires a special permit to visit this site.

The major attractions of the trek are Shey Gompa, Phoksundo Lake, Buddhist monasteries, Bon Po practitioners, views of Dhaulagiri, Crystal Mountain (a mountain whose cliffs are laced with marine fossils and quartz), unique Tibetan cultures, rare snow leopard, and many more.

In general, Dolpo is a dry, bare place which is laced with roaring waterfalls, fast flowing rivers, lush meadows, deep river gorges, and valleys of tilled fields. The other attractions of this region are remote villages with interesting cultures, including the Bon Po religion, and of course the beautiful icy waters of Phoksundo Lake. Some part of Dolpo falls within the Shey Phoksundo National Park, homes of the snow leopard, goral, thar, Himalayan black bear, rare Himalayan blue sheep, etc, are protected.

This trek is not suitable for the faint-hearted people because the trials are high, steep, difficult, shaky, and sometimes barely there. During the trek you have to walk a long distance at high altitude, also cross the several high passes. People with good stamina, fitness level, and sheer willpower can make this trek, a once-in a lifetime trip.

Outline Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival at Kathmandu (1,300m).

Day 2: Free day and trek preparation.

Day 3: Flight to Nepalgunj (150m.).

Day 4: Flight to Juphal (2,475m) and trek to Dunai.

Day 5: Trek Dunai to Chhepka (2,630m.) – 6 hrs.

Day 6: Trek Chhepka to Chunuwar (3,170m.) – 6 hrs.

Day 7: Trek Chunuwar to Phoksundo Lake (3,620m.) –  4 hrs.

Day 8: Acclimatization and exploration day !!!

Day 9: Trek Phoksundo Lake to Forest Camp (3,640m) – 6 hrs.

Day 10: Trek Salla Ghari to Base Camp (4,120m) – 6 hrs.

Day 11: Trek Base Camp, cross  Kang-La Pass to Shey Gompa (4,320m) – 7 hrs.

Day 12: Rest Day; Shey Gompa the crystal monastery.

Day 13: Trek Shey Gompa to Namgung (4,430m.) –  6 hrs.

Day 14: Trek Namgung to Saldang (4,046m.) – 4 hrs.

Day 15: Trek Saldang to Sibu (4,000m.) – 6 hrs.

Day 16: Trek Sibu to Jeng-La Base Camp (4,480m.) – 5 hrs.

Day 17: Trek Jengla Base Camp, cross Jeng-La Pass to Dho-Tarap (4,200m.) – 7 hrs.

Day 18: Trek Dho-Tarap to Serkam (3,630m.) – 7 hrs.

Day 19: Trek Serkam to Shahar Tara (2,280m) – 5 hrs.

Day 20: Trek Shahar Tara to Dunai (2,109m.) – 5 hrs.

Day 21: Trek Dunai to Juphal (2,404m.) – 3 hrs.

Day 22: Trek Juphal to Nepalgunj to Kathmandu

Day 23: Free day in Kathmandu.

Day 24: Final departure

What's included

What's not included

Detailed Itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrival at Kathmandu (1,300m).

    Upon your arrival at Kathmandu, the official representative will greet and welcome you at the airport. He / She will escort you and helps you to reach your booked hotel in a private vehicle. You can rest at the hotel or you can visit our office. Overnight stay at hotel.

    Altitude: 1,300m
  • Day 2: Free day and trek preparation.

    Kathmandu is a city of temple and today, you will visit the historical sites that were listed in an UNESCO World Heritage sites. Yow will explore the Hindu temple, “Pashupatinath”, also you will visit the Kathmandu Durbar Square. In the noon, you will meet the trekking guide and other team members where you will be informed about the upcoming trek. The guide will brief you about the team formation, trekking equipment, nature of trek, and other necessary information. Overnight stay at hotel.

  • Day 3: Flight to Nepalgunj (150m.).

    You will take a flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, as per the flight schedule. The scenic flight offers the whole range of the western part of the Himalayas like Langtang, Manaslu, Annapurna, and Dhaulagiri. Nepalgunj lies near the Indian border and comparatively it is quite hotter than Kathmandu.

    Altitude: 150m
  • Day 4: Flight to Juphal (2,475m) and trek to Dunai.

    Early morning, we will take a flight to Juphal from Nepalgunj airport. It takes about forty five minutes flight to reach Juphal. The amazing flight provides super visibility of Himalayan foothill, with mesmerizing views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massif. After landing at Juphal, we will start our trekking. The trail is not difficult, you can walk comfortably and descend for 45 minutes to reach Kalagauda. From Kalagauda, it takes about 2 hrs. to reach Dunai, after walking along Thuli Bheri River.

    Dunai is the headquarter of Dolpa district where you will find government and private schools, college, government offices and police check post. To enjoy the view of whole Dunai village, you can hike up to Bon Gumba. Overnight stay at guesthouse.

  • Day 5: Trek Dunai to Chhepka (2,630m.) – 6 hrs.

    In general, today is the day, we start our trek adventure by begin along the classical route of Dolpo. We will present the trekking permits to Dolpo and Shey Phoksundo National Park, at Silughar check-post. We will follow the trail along Phoksundo River, witnessing a drastic change in the landscape, walking through the lush tropical forest. We will leave behind a Kageni, Jutung and Shangta and we will cross bridge over Phoksundo Lake and at the junction of Phoksundo and Maiba khola. We continue our journey towards north till we reach Cheppka. At Cheppka, we will put our camps at a suitable location. Overnight stay at tent camp.

    Altitude: 2,630m
  • Day 6: Trek Chhepka to Chunuwar (3,170m.) – 6 hrs.

    We begin by walking along the famous trail of Lower Dolpa Circuit trek. We will walk the opposite direction of the flowing river and cross the bridge over Phoksundo River twice. The trail is so peaceful to walk. We will stop at Rechi, at an altitude of 3,010m for our lunch break.

    After lunch, we will follow the path of the river side. We will cross a bridge at Sulligad dovan, to pass the junction of Yulung Khola and Phoksundo River. We will trek till we reach the today’s destination, Chunuwar. At Chunuwar, we will put our camps for overnight stay.

    Altitude: 3,170m
  • Day 7: Trek Chunuwar to Phoksundo Lake (3,620m.) - 4 hrs.

    Early morning, we leave Chunuwar and head towards the Phoksundo Lake, deepest Lake of Nepal. We pass the forest of cedars to reach Palam, a winter settlement of locals from Ringmo village. We decend to an elevation of around 3,300m., and we will climb up to a ridge about 3,875 m. From the ridge, the views of a 300 m. waterfall, is so mesmerizing, also, we will see the first view of Phoksundo Lake. Then, we will descend through the birch forests to the upper reaches of the Phoksundo Khola, and head towards the settlement of Ringmo village. Ringmo village is decorated with its mud plastered chortens and Mani walls. It is a short walk to the shores of Phoksundo Lake, from the settlement, where we will set up the camps. Overnight stay at camps.

    Altitude: 3,620m
  • Day 8: Acclimatization and exploration day !!!

    Today, is a rest day and we will acclimatize at higher altitude. We will explore the Lake Phoksundo and Ringmo village. Ringmo village is a typical Tibetan village with its own unique culture and tradition. We will visit the Tshowa, a Bon monastery at the lake-shore, which was built around 900 years ago, which will be a fascinating experience. Then, we will descend down to Phoksundo Lake. We will also visit the other monasteries and Bon-po religious sites of this village. We will enjoy the wonderful natural sceneries. Overnight stay at camp.

  • Day 9: Trek Phoksundo Lake to Forest Camp (3,640m) – 6 hrs.

    Ringmo village is the boundary between Lower and Upper Dolpo. Today, we will enter a restricted area of Upper Dolpo region. We will follow the trail that is shown on Oscar-nominated movie “HIMALAYA”, directed by Eric Valli. The route is a salt trade route between the people of Dolpo and Tibet. The twisted trail is more adventurous along the lake. We will be walking at an altitude of 4,085 m., after then we will descend through the dense forest.

    Again, we ascend towards an open valley, from where we have a spectacular view of Kanjirowa Himal with an elevation of 6,612 m. Then, we reach a wonderful camping place. Overnighrt stay at camp.

    Altitude: 3,640m
  • Day 10: Trek Salla Ghari to Base Camp (4,120m) – 6 hrs.

    We will leave Salla Ghari behind and head towards a base camp, the trekking trial is unique. We will pass through high rocks on both sides, in a trial. We will also cross a couple of streams without bridges, where the river flows inside the gorge. Then, we will take an uphill walk but not steep. After we reach on the river shore, we will tent a camp. The river shore is wide open space, with stony ground and thorny juniper bushes. Overnight stay at camp.

    Altitude: 4,120m
  • Day 11: Trek Base Camp, cross Kang-La Pass to Shey Gompa (4,320m) – 7 hrs.

    Today, the walk is quite difficult and challenging. For the first two and a half hours, the trial goes inclined steeply, over Sandy Mountain to Kang-La with an elevation of 5,350m. At this point, altitude sickness may take hold, and the feet may slid at every step, so we have to be careful during our trek journey. After walking down, about four hours form the pass, we will reach to Shey Gompa. We will tent a camp at Shey Gompa for overnight stay.

    Altitude: 4,320m
  • Day 12: Rest Day; Shey Gompa the crystal monastery.

    Today, is another rest day at a high altitude to acclimatize ourselves to the environment. We will explore around Tsakang Gompa, which is not a monastery but a retreat. Tsakang had been a meditation center of many great lamas from Tibet. The followers of the Padmasambhava, and Kagyu sects’ dominants the Shey Gompa which belongs to the Chaiba community. The lama Ten-szin-Ra-Pa is the founder of Kagyupa monastery and it was the first Kagyupa monastery, which was built during the 11th century. Shey is famous for its ancient Buddhist culture. In Dolpo, Drutup Yeshe introduced the Buddhism; the ancient Tibetan way of life combines animism with the teachings of Buddha. Many years ago, Drutup Yeshe came to Dolpo and came across a wild people whose supreme God was a ‘fierce mountain spirit.’

    Crystal Mountain lies to the west of the Shey monastery, which is an extraordinary mountain, indeed. Its twisted cliffs are laced with quartz and set with a wide variety of marine fossils. Shey Gompa stands above the junction of Yeju Nala and Kwangju Nala. Near the junction, there is a group of prayer mills turned by water wheels.

  • Day 13: Trek Shey Gompa to Namgung (4,430m.) - 6 hrs.

    Today, we will explore around Shey Gompa, and Shey Gompa is locally known as Shelri Sumdho Gompa. This monastery is believed to be 800 years old with ancient scroll describing the myths behind the crystal Mountain. This monastery hosts a summer festival popular as Shey festival. Shey Gompa is pictured in Eric Valli’s “Caravan” movie as Thinley’s son’s Gompa and well described in “The Snow Leopard” written by Peter matthiessen.

    After the exploration of Shey Gompa, we will begin our trek. For around two hours, we will follow the trails along Sephu Khola. The route offers a beautiful view of typical Dolpo landscape. It takes about two hours to ascend Shey La top. From the top, we can admire the magnificent view of Mustang, Tibet, Kanjirowa, Kagmara and the crystal mountain. We will descend another 2 hours to reach Namgung, where we will set up the campsite.

    Altitude: 4,430m
  • Day 14: Trek Namgung to Saldang (4,046m.) – 4 hrs.

    At first, we will explore the monastery of Namgung, which is set on a flanking high cliff. After that, we will begin our walk, following the trials along Namga Khola. To reach Saldang village, we will pass more summer herding spots.

    Saldang is a beautiful village, surrounded by amazing hills. We will explore around the village and interact with the locals. We will taste some salt butter tea or Chyang (Barley beer). The village is flourished with ancient Buddhist tradition and Amchi tradition. Overnight stay at Saldang.

    Altitude: 4,046m
  • Day 15: Trek Saldang to Sibu (4,000m.) – 6 hrs.

    We will head to Sibu from Saldang and the walk goes to pass through the stupas, mani wall, chhortens, monasteries, terraced fields, and several villages. We walk along the gorge where the bottom is populated with the green field of local barley. We need to cross a knee-deep river twice, as we arrive at the campsite. The site is a beautiful open ground, with a thorny juniper bushes. Overnight stay at camp.

    Altitude: 4,000m
  • Day 16: Trek Sibu to Jeng-La Base Camp (4,480m.) – 5 hrs.

    Today, we will head towards the last pass of the journey; mentality requires preparing. We walk up a mild horizontal along with a river site. In the trail, we cross the river twice at some point for a long stretch. But at the end of today’s journey, the trial is steeper. We enter the barren hill, an almost highest camp of the journey, as we left valleys and villages behind.

    Altitude: 4,480m
  • Day 17: Trek Jengla Base Camp, cross Jeng-La Pass to Dho-Tarap (4,200m.) – 7 hrs.

    We walk up steeply uphill to the pass, Jeng-La Pass, and we cross the last pass of the journey. The pass offers the magnificent views of the Himalayas, including Dhaulagiri and the barren lands of Inner Dolpo. We gradually descend from the pass and head towards Tarap valley, after 2 hrs. walk from Tokyo Goan, we get to Dho-Tarap. Dho-Tarap is the highest village of the Dolpo and it is a junction point. From this junction point, the route diverges to Jomsom, Mustang, and Tibet.

    Altitude: 4,200m
  • Day 18: Trek Dho-Tarap to Serkam (3,630m.) – 7 hrs.

    We will walk along the Tarap River, following downhill in a windy gorge. On both sides, there are hanging ridges, which even disappears between and under the hills. The trail takes us through the narrow gorges with the rushing river. In route, we will encounter with many mules, horses, and Yak, which were used for transporting the goods. The trail seems some improvement of construction and can use a modern steel bridge which were built for the movement of people and animals.

    Altitude: 3,630m
  • Day 19: Trek Serkam to Shahar Tara (2,280m) – 5 hrs.

    As usual, we walk along the river to the narrow gorge and a gentle incline through the dense forest. The trial takes us through several ups and downs due to the huge rocky stones, which represent the quality of the trail. We have to be alert on this route while on trek because there will be a possibility of slippery.

    Altitude: 2,280m
  • Day 20: Trek Shahar Tara to Dunai (2,109m.) – 5 hrs.

    The trail is gradually inclined along the shore of the River, and easy to walk. Sometimes we climbs to the top of the hill and sometimes deep to the level of the River. After walking along with the River, the trial leads us to Dunai, which is a 5 hrs walk. Overnight stay at Dunai.

    Altitude: 2,109m
  • Day 21: Trek Dunai to Juphal (2,404m.) – 3 hrs.

    While the journey to mountain, the trail retrace the steps to Juphal. Juphal is situated at an altitude of 2,404 m. We will walk along the motorable road to Kala gouda. We will pass through the cultivated rice fields and take a steep climb up to Juphal. Overnight stay at Juphal.

    Altitude: 2,404m
  • Day 22: Trek Juphal to Nepalgunj to Kathmandu

    Early morning, we will filght back to Nepalgunj from Juphal airport. It will be wonderful flight about 35 minutes, over the Himalayan foothills, with magnificent views of the main peaks including Dhaulagiri and Annapurna to the north. You then catch up on the connection flight back to Kathmandu. Overnight stay at hotel.

  • Day 23: Free day in Kathmandu

    In case of flight interruption, this day can occupy as security day. But if you arrived on the scheduled itinerary, we use this day as a chance to explore the heritage sites of Kathmandu. Kathmandu has lots of sites that were listed on a UNESCO world heritage site. You will visit the Thamel area, a tourist hub of Nepal. Overnight stay at hotel.

  • Day 24: Final Departure

    Depending on your flight schedule, you are free to shop and explore around Thamel Bazaar until your final departure. You can buy souvenir at Thamel. Our representative will drop you at Tribhuwan International Airport in a private vehicle for your final departure. Thanks for visiting Nepal !!!

Dates and Prices

All our published dates are guaranteed departures. If this dates don’t match with your travel plans, we will plan your trip as per your requirement. Let us know what kind of trip you are looking for and our travel experts will help plan your tailor-made trips in your dream destination.

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FAQs of Upper Dolpo Circuit Trek

  • 1. How difficult is Upper Dolpo Trek?

    Upper Dolpo trek is a long camping trek in Nepal and it is a moderate trekking. People who are moderately fit and seeking for remoteness trekking in Nepal, then Dolpo trekking is suitable for those people. You don’t need any previous adventures experience to complete this trek. But you should be able to walk about 6/7 hours in a day in mountain. There is no limit on our adventure, as long travelers have good physical and willing! In general, we suggest some few days extra in your schedule for the trek.
  • 2. Is there chances of altitude sickness and what are the symptoms?

    Some people might suffer from altitude sickness, while trekking above 3,000 m altitude. Normally, it occurs when your body don’t adjust in high elevation, where the oxygen level is very low. Some of the symptoms of altitude sickness are headache, vomiting, loss of sleep, etc. If you suffer from these symptoms then you should immediately consult with your guide. The guides are well trained and experiences for altitude trekking and sickness problems. The guide will decide what will be the best option in such situation.
  • 3. How to avoid altitude sickness?

    You have to drinks lots of liquid items as much as you can i.e. water, soup, etc. Each time when you eat your foods, eat full. Do not drink alcoholic beverages, which will avoid the chances of sickness in Himalayas. Even though, if you feel sickness you can use Diamox which can avoid sickness and help to go high elevation. The next method to prevent sickness is don’t skip acclimatization because slowly and proper acclimatization adjust your body in higher altitude.
  • 4. What about weather condition and Jumla flight?

    From Nepalgunj, we have to take a flight to Jumla in early morning and start our trekking. The flight might be delayed or canceled, due to the uncertainty weather condition of Jumla. We are not sure about on time flight, if the weather is frequently bad for a long, we do arrange a helicopter flight to operate for your tip. Helicopter flights are more expensive than regular flight. You have to pay additionally after reducing Jumla flight cost.

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