Every time we share stories about Phoksundo Trek, Dolpo trail and Ringmo village, we can’t help going back to the memory lane when we were first awestruck by Peter Matthiessen’s Snow Leopard. Yes, today we are talking about the same trail to Shey Phoksundo Matthiessen took some 40 years ago – the trail that has turned many of us into a mystic!
Trail to Phoksundo Lake can still be called as off the beaten path. Traversing into the remote and wilder Himalayan area towards the beautiful holy turquoise lake Phoksundo, indulging in the majestic views of Kanjirowa massif, surrounding glaciers, dense forest around the Lake, and unspoiled beauty of Western Nepal, this beautiful adventure offers everything a visitor would expect in his wildest dreams. The trek, however, is not just about the rugged wilderness, but also a blend of wonderful cultural spectrum of rich Bonpo heritage set against the most dramatic biodiversity of Shey Phoksundo National Park, Nepal’s largest National Park.
This extraordinary trek starts from Juphal, a small hill town at an altitude of 2475m. The trail descends down the motorable road and goes southeast up the valley of Thulo Bheri before winding to the village of Kalagaunda through the terraced fields and following the south bank of the Bheri River towards Dunai. The trail then follows the northern bank of the river and crosses the big suspension bridge to reach a tiny beautiful village, Sulighat, followed by Shey Phoksundo National Park check post from where it ascends along the rock-strewn route and goes further through a series of fluttering prayer flags, waterfalls, and lush greenery until it reaches Kageni. Furthermore, the trail ascends up to a winter settlement used by the people of Ringmo village through a forested path filled with big cedar and climbs up through wide meadows situated above the gorge of Phoksundo River, from where the astonishing view of high waterfall can be seen.
The route becomes easy and flat and continues through the dense forest of birch and coniferous trees until it reaches Ringmo, the settlement of flat stone houses at the foot of a big rocky cliff. As the journey moves ahead, the trail then crosses a bridge and follows the north ranger station of Phoksundo river which leads to the beautiful alpine turquoise colored freshwater lake, Phoksundo Lake at 3660m. This strikingly beautiful lake is the deepest lake of Nepal. After exploring the lake and its magnificent surrounding including Tshowa Gompa, a 900-year-old Bon monastery on a ridge above the lake, the trail retraces back to Juphal through beautiful forests, fields, and villages.
If this appeals you, maybe you should plan your next adventure to this magical land! We assure you that you will return home a happy soul.
Trip days – 11 days
Trip Grade – Moderate
Max. Altitude – 3660m
Trek Type – Teahouse
Start/End – Juphal/Juphal
Enchanting turquoise colored lake Phoksundo, the deepest lake of Nepal (145m deep)
Rich biodiversity of Shey Phoskundo National Park, Nepal’s biggest and the only trans-Himalayan region National Park (3555 sq. km.)
Unique culture of Bon-po, an ancient religion with roots in Animism and Buddhism
Rewarding views of mountains, monasteries, hamlets, waterfalls etc.
Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu
Day 02: Fly to Nepalgunj (1 hr)
Day 03: Fly to Juphal (2475m) – 30min and trek to Dunai (2140m) – 30min
Day 04: Trek to Chhepka village (2720m) – 5/6 hrs
Day 05: Trek to Jharana Waterfall (3040m) – 4/5 hrs
Day 06: Trek to the Tibetan village of Ringmo (3640m) – 2/3hrs
Day 07: Explore sacred Phoksundo Lake and Tshowa Gompa (3611m)
Day 08: Trek to Chhepka village (2720m) – 5/6 hrs
Day 09: Trek to Juphal (2475m) – 5/6 hrs
Day 10: Fly to Nepalgunj, Fly to Kathmandu
Day 11: Depart Kathmandu
SOME HELPFUL INFO:
Shey Phoksundo trek is a wilderness trekking in remote region of Nepal. You can find tea houses in the trail but they are very basic with modest facilities. You will get twin sharing room consisting of beds with pillow and blankets. There won’t be attached bathroom with hot shower, but they will provide hot water with some extra charge.
There will be network of NCELL and NTC in lower altitude but after reaching higher altitude the network doesn’t work properly. If you want to get connected throughout your trek, we recommend you to get rental satellite phone.
You will have your meals at the teahouses. They offer nutritious and hygienic food with limited variety of dishes. Normally, they serve Nepali food (Daal Bhaat – rice, lentil and curry), noodles, pasta, chapattis, omelets, bread, porridge etc. Since, the food option is limited, it’s better to carry instant food/drink like soup, instant noodles, dry fruits and nuts, coffee, juice, herbal tea etc.
Water is important while trekking. You should probably drink 3-4 liters per day for hydration. But there is no need to worry as you will be provided enough filtered water. You can also buy bottled water in lower altitude but it’s a good idea to bring your own bottles and refill it.
Electricity and charging
Electricity and charging facility can’t be very reliable in remote areas. Some teahouses have charging facilities and you need to pay extra for it. So, having a power bank is handy.
Clothing and equipment
Shey Phoksundo trek is an adventurous trek in the Dolpo region which lies in the higher altitude. So, you need to be properly geared with warm and comfortable clothes, and support equipment. Trekking gears include hiking boots, thermals, down jacket, hiking pants, caps, wind cheater, gloves etc. Since, this is not a technical trekking, you will need some basic accessories and equipment only like trekking poles, sunglasses, torchlight, water bottles etc. All gears can be purchased or rented in Kathmandu at reasonable price. You can get both branded as well as imitation items. Even the imitation items are good to go.
As you trek in the protected area, you need to get some permits.
Shey Phoksundo National Park: Approx. $30 (Per Person)
Upper Dolpo restricted area permit: $500 (per person for 10 days )
Lower Dolpo special permit : $20 (per person per week)
Best time to travel:
The best time for traveling is Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to May). The weather is clear and you can get the best views. During Spring, the trail gets filled with rhododendron bloom and wild flowers, making it a piece of heaven. And autumn is always marked with great visibility. It’s cold during winter (December to February), but traveling is possible as the trail doesn’t go beyond 3600m. Traveling during summer and monsoon (June to August) is possible as Shey Phoksundo lies in the Trans Himalayan region meaning it receives very less rainfall and also it is less humid. But the chance of flight cancellation and delay is common during this time due to rain in the rest of the part of the country. So, be prepared with contingency days.
Trek Difficulty Level
Shey Phoksundo trek is a moderately challenging trek. The trails are well defined, making it quite easy. But there is less accessibility in the region due to its remoteness and some days are in complete wilderness. So, being prepared for the uncertainty is a good decision. The maximum altitude you gain in this trek is 3611m, which means you are less prone to high altitude harsh weather conditions, and there is very minimal chance of altitude sickness.
Every year November brings some great news! This year also, in November, continuing its glorious legacy, Pokhara Skydive 2021 took place at its usual dropzone at Pame, 11km west of Phewa Lakeside. The event was organized from 16th to 21st November 2021. The event couldn’t take place in 2020 due to pandemic. But this year, it came back with its same glory and charm, in fact, with some more add-on charisma than before as it had altogether 178 jumpers from India and Nepal, the highest number till date. All the jumps were executed by the expert crew team of Everest Skydive that includes Team Leader Paul-Henry de Baère (France), Nadezda Solovyeva (Russia), Gregory Lee Shelton (USA), Sabina Kotarba (USA), Arnold Camfferman (Netherland), Matthew Larry Yount (USA), Lauren Nicole Weikle (USA), Alberto Avalis (Italy), Peter Piotrowski (USA), Peter Svalo (Denmark), and Christopher Lee Whitley (USA). All heli flights were carried out by the professional team of Fishtail Air. A joint venture of Everest Skydive and Explore Himalaya, Pokhara Skydive 2021 was supported by BEEP – Beautiful Experiences Extraordinary Places, Aloft Kathmandu Hotel, Turkish Airlines, Buddha Air, Fishtail Air and Alma Artes.
Pokhara Skydive started its commercial operation from 2013. Since then, hundreds of adventurers from around the world have enjoyed the ride in the Himalayan sky. Pokhara Skydive is one of the most thrilling ways to experience freefall in which you exit from a helicopter while being among the Himalayan giants Manaslu, Machhapuchhre and Annapurnas before you surf through an ocean of clouds down to the magnificent valley of Pokhara. Due its uniqueness, the event is being one-of-a-kind adventure in the whole South Asia. And most importantly, unlike other skydiving events, it’s an annual event taking place in November only with some occasional special editions in Spring. So, it’s a rare experience that deserves to be in the bucket list of any extreme adventure buffs. This year’s immense success has also proved it right. Well, now who can say no to an epic Himalayan skydiving adventure with legendary skydiving instructors and videographers from around the world? If you want to be a part of this exclusive adventure, Pokhara Skydive awaits you! Please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
This trip offers you a wonderful opportunity to explore the rich bird life in Nepal. You begin your birding journey from Phulchowki Hill that lies on the outskirts of Kathmandu. With some 288 bird species recorded to date, Phulchowki is the most popular bird watching spot in the valley. The hike to verdant Shivapuri National Park will offer you glimpses of the Spiny Babbler and Hoary-throated Barwing. Taudaha Lake located in the southern part of the valley is a favorite nesting site for migratory birds and water fowls.
You take a drive to the scenic lakeside town of Pokhara and enjoy myriad activities including bird-watching. You further proceed to Chitwan National Park & Hetauda and spot many of the endangered winged creatures while indulging in exciting jungle activities. A total of 540 species of birds has been recorded at Chitwan National Park till date. The park is especially important for grassland species like the Bengal Florican, Grey-Crowned Prinis, Slender-billed Babbler and Lesser Adjutant. Hetauda situated at an altitude of 474m is a stopover point for high altitude birds like the Ibisbill, seeking a warm site in winter. Cattle egrets, swallows, mynah and bulbuls are resident birds.
Further you drive to the next destination, Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve which covers an area of 175 sq km and is in the eastern Terai region of Nepal. It is a beautiful and fascinating aquatic environment and is home to an astonishing variety of water birds that flock to its ponds full of flowering plants. The reserve provides an important habitat for a variety of wildlife but, in particular, water birds, including several migratory species such as the sarus crane from Siberia. In all, a total of 280 different species of birds have been recorded and these include many varieties of ducks, ibis, storks, egrets and herons, as well as the endangered swamp partridges and Bengal floricans. Koshi Tappu is also home to the last surviving population of wild water buffalo and its other inhabitants include blue cows, various species of deer, Gangetic dolphins and gharial crocodiles.
No doubt, this special 2 weeks’ tour provides you wonderful locations with high species count and best sightings. But most importantly, it also offers you an accomplished birding expertise of Andy Teasdale, a brilliant tour leader known for handling such remarkably challenging tasks.
Andy Teasdale, Team Leader
A passionate photographer, bird expert, qualified Mountain instructor and International Mountain Guides Carnet, Andy Teasdale runs a company based in Snowdonia offering sheltered and joyful guiding service that provides special outdoor adventures including photography, climbing, walking, alpinism and ski touring in Snowdonia and the Alps. An ardent birdwatcher and outdoor adventure enthusiast, Andy spends a lot of time in the mountains of Snowdonia and the European Alps instructing, guiding and leading expeditions year round to the greater ranges.
Andy’s expertise combines excellent birding knowledge, seamless photography skill and a vast experience of leading outdoor tours. Beside his profound interest on birds, his other photographic interests involve adventure sports and landscape. Never away from his adventure ingenuity and his loved camera to capture the spirit, Andy feels that photography is the best way to enhance and immortalize stories and experiences. You can visit his Facebook and Insta pages to see an impressive collection of his engagements. Explore Himalaya is really proud to partner with Andy Teasdale for a bird watching photography tour during November 2020, a relief project to uplift Nepali tourism that is severely hit by covid-19 setback.
Explore Himalaya and its exclusive partner Kipling Travel Denmark organised a 5 day Free Eye Camp in the five villages of Lamjung, Tanahun and Kaski in western Nepal. The camp that took place from 12th to 17th November 2019 was conducted by a team of 10 opticians and nurses from Denmark. The team which was led by Lene S. Lindedam (Nurse) included Jette Honore (Optician), Bjorn Nielsen (Optician), Tine Ottosen (Optician), Vibeke R. Stegmann (Nurse), Knud E. Stegmann (Optician), Lotte laursen (Optician), Annegrethe S. Nielsen (Nurse), Keith T. Nielsen (Optician), and Jette Ronnenfelt (Optician). The team has been volunteering such camps in different parts of the world.
The Free Eye Camp provided diagnostic screening and eye examining services along with counselling on eye health care measures. Some patients were also treated for minor conditions and provided with free glasses. Patients with cataract were referred to the nearby hospitals. Altogether 983 patients benefited from the Camp. The program was supported by the local clubs, police and volunteers from beneficiary villages. The village communities expressed their gratitude to the organiser team for their contribution in improving the eye health of public. The Eye Camp is a part of a Free Health Camp initiative being organised by Explore Himalaya and Kipling Travel biannually.
Day 1 & 2: 12th & 13th November
Location: Kanti Mandir School, Sundar Bazaar, Lamjung
Day 1 – Time: 2 pm – 5 pm, Total Number of Patients: 41
Day 2- Time: 9 am – 4 pm, Total Number of Patients: 228
Pokhara Skydive 2019 Bollywood TV Star Parth Samthaan
Flying next to Machhapuchhre and Annapurna range, floating above magnificent Phewa Lake, relishing the sweeping view of Pokhara Valley – Pokhara Skydive is indeed one of its kind! And, this year a total of 147 adventure seekers, the highest number so far in the history of Pokhara Skydive 2019, achieved this heavenly experience. Pokhara Skydive 2019 took place from 19th to 24th November at Pame, 11 km away from Pokhara Lakeside. The event was successfully organized by Everest Skydive that comprises of an expert crew members of 13 including Paul-Henry de Baère, Wendy Elizabeth Smith, Omar Alhegelan, Nadezda Solovyeva, Anton Gilev, Jean-Philippe Audhuy, Kim Bo Larsen, Mariojulio Hoyosvargas, Gregory Lee Shelton, Sabina Kotarba, Carolyn Goldman, Robert Goldman, Ed Luciarno; and the team of Summit Helicopters and Explore Himalaya.
Puja Ceremony before the event
On the first day, 11 Nepali and 8 Indian jumpers achieved their dream of flying in the Himalayan sky. The first jump was done by Subin Limbu, Miss Nepal 2014 at 9:50 am. On the second day, a total of 22 jumpers that includes 21 Indians and 1 Nepali made their “once in a lifetime jump” in the sky of Pokhara. Third day had just 4 Indian jumpers only as the event had to be wrapped up early due to poor visibility. The fourth day’s morning brought nice weather with blue skies. The event started at about 8 o’ clock and continued till 2 in the afternoon with altogether 23 skydivers (20 Indians, 2 Egyptians & 1 American) making their jumps. The fifth day proved to be one of the most incredible days in the history of Pokhara Skydive with a total of 48 jumpers (45 Indians, 1 Nepali, 1 French and 1 Srilankan) breaking last year’s record of 45 in a single day. Bollywood TV Star Parth Samthaan also did his first ever skydive on this day as the 18th jumper of the day. The final day concluded with 31 jumpers (29 Indians and 2 Nepali) making a total of 147 jumpers in this year’s event. This year’s event, which is the 7th edition of Pokhara Skydive, has been a phenomenal success as it hasn’t just got the highest number of participants but also broken the single day jump record of last year. Since the event’s commercial operation in 2013, the event has been increasingly popular among both domestic and foreign adventurers alike. This year’s historic number of jumpers showed the growing craze of the Himalayan adventure. On its huge success, we congratulate everyone – the super-spirited crew team from around the world, the professional team of Explore Himalaya and Summit Helicopters who gave their best to make it a success, and the jumpers who brought excitement and energy to the whole team! May Pokhara Skydive reach new heights in days to come!