Upper Dolpo Trekking takes you the mysterious highlands of far-west Nepal, beyond globally admired Phoksundo Lake and Shey
Ba-Yul, the hidden land of Dolpo, was first settled by Rokpa farmers and Drokpa nomads from Tibet in the 10th century. It is one of the highest inhabited places on earth, with scattered fortress-like villages and monasteries nestling amongst mountains of stark, ascetic beauty. Though part of Nepal today, Dolpo remains culturally and economically firmly tied to Tibet, the people of this desolate area are cut off from their southern neighbors by snow-covered passes for much of the year. This is fascinating and adventurous country to travel in.
Most of Dolpo is protected by SheyPhoksumdo National Park. It is bounded in the east and south by Dhaulagiri and ChurenHimal ranges and in the west by Jumla district. Dolpo has been bypassed by development and until recently by tourism. Although a few Anthropologists and geographers had explored the region, the entire district was closed to foreigners until 1989, when southern parts of Dolpo was opened to organized trekking groups.
Peter Matthiessen’sSnow Leopard and David Snellgrove’s Himalayan Pilgrimage have contributed to the mystique and attraction of Dolpo. Both writers visited SheyGompa, to the north of Phoksumdo Lake, in inner Dolpo. This is the goal of most trekkers but Upper Dolpo trekking will take you even further into this mysterious land.
Dolpo is Bon-po country, where people practice shamanistic religion predating Tibetan Buddhism.Much of Bon-po symbolism is the opposite of Buddhist practice. You should walk to the right of ancient mud chortens, which are inscribed with swastikas with their arms pointing in the opposite direction to the Buddhist chant of “ommanipadme hum”, the Bon-pos chant ‘om ma tri mu ye sa le du”, in Tibetan means “in clarity unite’.
The lake is spectacular, it is 4.8km long, 1.8km wide and said to be 650m deep. It is known for its aquamarine color, a greenish blue similar to a special Tibetan turquoise .There is no aquatic life in the lake, which helps to make the waters brilliantly clear. If you toss a rock in, you can watch it for a long time as it sinks to the bottom. According to legend, Phoksundo Lake was formed by a spiteful female demon.
In Buddhist Himalaya, David Snellgrove recounts how the demon was fleeing from the saint Padmasambhava and gave the village people a turquoise after they promised not to tell that she had passed by. Padmasambhava turned the turquoise into a lump of dung, which upset the local people so much they revealed the demon’s whereabouts. She, in return caused a flood. It is said you can see the remains of a village below the lake’s surface.
Day 1 Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 Sightseeing tour of Boudhanath, Pashupatinath & Patan
Day 3 Fly to Nepalganj
Day 4 Fly to Juphal [2475m] (45min Flight, Trek to Dunai [2140m] (6-7 Hrs)
Day 5 Trek to Chepka [2838m] (6-7 Hrs)
Day 6 Trek to Renje (6-7 Hrs)
Day 7 Trek to Ringmo [3733m] (6-7 Hrs)
Day 8 Rest and exploration
Day 9 Trek to Chunemba [4919m] (7-8 Hrs)
Day 10 Trek to Lar Tsa [3756m] (7-8 Hrs)
Day 11 Trek to Mendok Din (6-7 Hrs)
Day 12 Trek to Shey Gompa [4160m] (7-8 Hrs)
Day 13 Rest-Exploration
Day 14 Trek to Namgung [4430m] (6-7 Hrs)
Day 15 Trek to Karang [4284m] (6-7 Hrs)
Day 16 Trek to Mugaon (6-7 Hrs)
Day 17 Trek to Shimen Gaon [3870m] (6-7 Hrs)
Day 18 Trek to Tinje Gaon [4150m] (6-7 Hrs)
Day 19 Trek to Rakpa [4353m] (7-8 Hrs)
Day 20 Trek to Chharka Bhot [4110m] (7-8 Hrs)
Day 21 Trek to Norbulung [4750m] (7-8 Hrs)
Day 22 Sangda Phedi [4190m] (6-7 Hrs)
Day 23 Trek to Sangda [3710m] (6-7 Hrs)
Day 24 Trek to Dhagarjun [3080m] (6-7 Hrs)
Day 25 Trek to Jomsom [2720m] (3-4 Hrs)
Day 26 Fly to Pokhara
Day 27 Drive/Fly Kathmandu
Day 28 Depart Kathmandu
PRICE: per person on twin sharing basis
PRICE INCLUDES: Fully Catered Camping Trek (FOT)
English speaking guide and porter
Lower Dolpo trekking permit
Phoksundo National park permit
Trekkers' Information Management System fees
All guided sightseeing tour in Kathmandu with entry fees.
3 nights' accommodation at 3 star hotel in Kathmandu on twin sharing with breakfast
1 night’s accommodation at 3 star resort in Pokhara on twin sharing with breakfast
Airport transfers with an escort
Equipment and clothing for porter and staff
Insurance for all staff and porter
PRICE EXCLUDES: Nepal visa - Multiple Entrée 30 days - USD 40
Upper Dolpo trekking permit (USD 500 per person for first 10 days and USD 50 per person per day thereafter).
Lunch & dinner during hotel stay in Kathmandu
Tips, any expenses incurred in emergency evacuation/road block due to any reason, table drinks, snacks while walking
Extra baggage charges, Personal gears & clothing (available on hire)
Arrival in Kathmandu
It is a panoramic thrill flying into Kathmandu on a clear day. The views of snow-capped mountain peaks sprawling down below you are almost ecstatic, beginning a whole chain of memorable experiences that stay with you for a long, long time. A representative and driver from our office will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. The representative will help you check into your designated hotel. At the hotel you will be briefed about your daily activities..
Sightseeing tour of Boudhanath, Pashupatinath & Patan
Kathmandu is the historical and cultural heart of Nepal and has been a popular destination for tourists ever since Nepal opened its doors to visitors. The city presents a wonderful mix of Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism and Western influence.
There will be a guided tour to the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal Boudhanath and after that to the most popular Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva- Pashupatinath. We take a tour to Patan or Lalitpur (the City of Artisans), which is 5km away from Kathmandu. We walk through Patan Durbar Square, and delight in the architectural wonders of Malla era. Mahaboudha Temple, Kumbeshwor Temple, Krishna Temple and Golden Temple are the major attractions at the square..
Fly to Nepalganj (1 Hrs Flight)
We fly from Kathmandu to Nepalganj, which lies in the southwest part of the Terai, right on the border to India. After checking into our hotel we might visit the Bageshwari Mandir, a temple to honour Goddess Kali. Nepalganj is known for its local bazaars, which have goods with cheap price rates. Here, not only do we see people from all over Nepal, but also people from Tibet and India; they all come here for trade.
Fly to Juphal [2500m](45min Flight), Trek to Dunai [2100m] (6-7 Hrs)
We take an early morning flight to Juphal. Dolpo flights are always scheduled early in the morning. This is because high winds in the Thulo Bheri Valley begin around 10 am, making later flights impossible. Once we arrive at Juphal (2500m), we start out on the short walk from Juphal to Dunai. We walk downhill through meadows and past a few houses to the small hotels at Kala Gaura (2090m). From here we follow the river trail upstream to Dunai. We camp near Dunai and explore this bustling little hill town for the rest of the afternoon. .
Trek to Chepka [2670m] [6-7 hours, 770m ascent]
We start trekking from Dunai, cross the big steel suspension bridge and turn west, following the trail past the hospital, and then it's a level walk along the bank of the Thulo Bheri to its confluence with the Suli Gaad at 2070m. We follow the new trail north up the east bank of the Suli Gaad to a collection of teashops run by the wives of army personnel in Dunai. Another hour of walking takes us to Kal Rupi and then on to Raktang (2260m). We cross to the west bank and trek past numerous goths and horse pastures, over a ridge to the rough stone houses of Jyalhasa, a wintering spot for the people of Ringmo. We keep walking upstream to another bridge, cross it to the east bank, and make our way past some crude teashops and a bridge over a side stream, the Ankhe Khola, at 2460m. The trail moves up and down through grass and ferns to a trail junction. The fork is the old trail leading to the army and national park post at Ankhe, and on to the old trail that passes the villages of Rahagoan and Parela, high on the ridge above.
These three villages have a strange name connection: Parela (parela means eye-lashes), Rahagoan (raha means eyebrow) and Ankhe (ankha is eye).
The trail Phoksumdo Lake climbs over a ridge at 2710m then descends on a rocky path to Chepka (2670m), which is inhabited by three brothers and consists of collection of interconnected shops, rakshi stalls and lodges. We camp here or at another good spot beside a huge rock in walnut grove about 20 minutes beyond Chepka. .
Trek to Renje [3010m] [5-6hours, 500m ascent, 320m descent]
We continue on the new trail, which stays near the river, climbing over a small ridge ,then crossing to the west side to avoid a large ridge and returning to the east side an hour later near a national park camping ground. Alongside the river at 2900m, the trail becomes a collection of rocks and sticks forming a dyke along the river bank. The trail makes several more ups and downs through forests of firs and larches as it continues upstream to a bridge that leads to nine houses comprising the village of Renje on the opposite side of the river at 3010m. We camp at a good camp site here or another about five minutes further on. .
Trek to Ringmo [2650m] [6-7 hours, 880m ascent, 90m descent]
We follow the Suli Gaad valley, which turns eastward and becomes even steeper and narrower. We then climb over a ridge and descends to a wooden bridge then continue along the ups and downs along the valley floor to the confluence of the Suli Gaad with the Pungmo Khola. From here the trail to Phoksumdo Lake and Shey gompa follows the west bank of the river. We climb through a forest of big cedar to a good camp site and then on to Palam (3710m), a winter settlement used by the people of Ringmo village. The houses are almost buried in the sandy soil. The entrance station for Shey Phoksumdo National Park is at the south end of the village. After our park entrance ticket is examined, we may be subjected to a baggage inspection-ostensibly for drugs and stolen art objects. It's very peculiar formality in this remote locale.
We continue on the route, which switchbacks steeply on a sandy trail through open country to an elevation of 3300m, then we start up another steep set of dusty switchbacks to a ridge at 3780m. From the ridge there are distant views of a spectacular 200m -high waterfall, the highest in Nepal. The trail makes a steep descent in birch forests to the upper reaches of the brilliantly clear, rushing waters of the Phoksumdo Khola. Then we climb gently to Ringmo village, a picturesque settlement of flat-roofed stone houses with lots of mud -plastered chortens and maniwalls. Just below Ringmo, we cross a bridge and follow a trail north to the ranger station at Phoksumdo Lake (3730). We continue to the shores of the lake near the point where the Phoksumdo Khola flows out of the lake. There are national park camping grounds on both sides of the river on the south-east shore of the lake. Park rules prohibit us from camping in other places. .
Rest and exploration
A trail leads from the lakeside through juniper trees to the white Pal Sentan Thasoon Chholing gompa, a ramshackle Bon-po gompa overlooking the lake that is said to have been built 60 generations ago. There are five other private gompas in various houses of small monastic community near the lake. The insides of the temples contain dusty Buddhist paintings and statues, but the trappings also reflect the animistic elements of the Bon-po religion, so some of the chapels are reminiscent of an ancient witch's cavern. A donation to the ragtag collection of dirty monks will gain us entrance to the gompas; our Sherpas will be equally fascinated by the strange iconography and practice of the Bon-po religion. .
Trek to Chunemba [3630m] [5-6 hours, 570m ascent, 560m descent]
From our campsite near Ringmo on the southern end of Phoksumdo Lake, the trail contours on a rocky ledge as it skirts the western lip of the lake. In places it's precariously suspended on a gangway of wood supported on pegs driven into crevices in the rocks. As we cross a stream, look up at the glacier descending from the upper slopes of Kanjeralwa (6612m). We then climb to a crest at 4060m for a spectacular view of the lake with the snowy peaks of Sonam Kang in the background. The trail makes a step and dusty descent through birches and blue pines to the westernmost edge of the lake at 3630m where the Phoksumdo Khola enters. The route now heads west, up along a wide valley. We follow an indistinct trail through thorn bushes and scrub trees, crisscrossing boggy marshes and tributaries of Phoksumdo Khola. We camp in a forest of blue pines at Chunemba, an undeveloped national park camping ground at 3630m. .
Trek to Lar Tsa [4120m] [4 - 5½ hours, 570m ascent, 80m descent]
We begin the day along the level path that now heads north through a glacial valley. We then cross to the east bank of Phoksumdo Khola. We follow the main valley for another hour to Kang Gompa. We climb steeply from Kang Gompa and stay on the grassy ridge. It's a long climb up the ridge past a few groves of birch trees. There are spectacular mountain views with Shey Shikar (6139m) and Kang Chunne (6443m) dominating the skyline to the west. We continue on a crest at 4200m then the route descends gently on a rocky trail to Lar Tsa, a camp site besides the river at 4120m.
It's possible to continue walking, but we have now ascended more than 500m in a day and should spend the night at Lar tsa for acclimatisation. .
Trek to Mendok Din [4610m] [2-3 hours, 520m ascent, 130m descent]
We cross a new bridge and climb to the top of a scree slope at 4490m, then make our way up a grassy ridge to a crest at 4640m. We contour and then drop gently into Mendok Ding (flower valley). We again climb alongside a stream to a campsite at 4610m. You are almost certain to spot a herd of blue sheep on the slopes above the camp. .
We continue on the route that follows the upper reaches of the Phoksumdo Khola, then we turn north towards the peak of Riwo Drugdra (Crystal Mountain). There is a choice of trails here; we follow the more scenic pilgrim route across the Sehu La to the west of Crystal Mountain, making a kora (circumambulation) of this sacred peak. The Dolma trail turns north soon after camp while the pilgrim trail starts up a steep scree slope on the opposite side of a stream that flows from the north.
After a long pull to Sehu La (also known as Mendok Ding La) at 5160m the trail descends a scree slope to a grassy meadow besides a stream valley and begins a series of long ascents and descends across ridges in and out of side valleys as it traverses around Crystal Mountain. After a steep, rough climb to a crest at 5010m and another at 4860m, we begin the descent to the Tar valley. Soon after the route reaches grassy slopes, a side trail leads to Tsakang, a gompa said to be 800years that is perched dramatically on the side of a cliff. The final descent is on a wide trail to a campsite in a large meadow near a few huts of nomads at 4310, just below Shey gompa. .
Cross the river on a log bridge and climb past a big Chorten and a huge field of mani stones to the Shey gompa compound at 4390m. The gompa itself is not large, and there are no artifacts or paintings of note inside. Although the building is said to be 800years old, the wall paintings are relatively recent, probably done in 1970s. The statues on the altar are of Guru Rinpoche, Sakyamuni and Milarepa. The gompa also houses an ancient Tibetan scroll that describes the myth of Crystal Mountain and Shey gompa. According to the inscription, there is a holy lake in a crater among the mountains that surrounds Shey. When a pilgrim makes nine circumambulations of this lake the water turns milky. A sip of this milk and the pilgrim can see Mt Kailash in the distance. The ones, who don’t need a day of rest, can try to find this lake..
Trek to Namgung [4430m] [6-7½ hours, 1029m ascent, 900m descent]
We trek east from Shey gompa and across the 5010m Shey La. Here we turn north and descend before climbing again to Namgung (4430m). .
Trek to Karang [4050m] [5-6 hours, 150m ascent, 530m descent]
We traverse high above the Namgung Khola to Karang (4050m). It's also possible to descend to Saldang on the banks of the river, but this village is of little interest. .
Trek to Mugaon [4100m] [6-7½ hours, 490m ascent, 550m descent]
We descend to Torak Sumdo (3670m), the confluence of the Namgung and Polang kholas, and cross to the northern bank. We then climb to Yanger gompa at 3750m and trek along the river side valley. We camp at one of the campsites along the side of the stream at about 4100m before Mugaon. .
Trek to Shimen [4010m] [7-8½ hours, 1040 m ascent, 890m descent]
We continue up the valley to Mugaon and climb towards the Mushi La at 5030m. Then we descend towards Shimen village, we end the day at a good campsite in pastures above the village at 4010m. .
Trek to Tinje [4150m] [7-8 hours, 550m ascent, 170m descent]
We drop down to Shimen village at 3870m and make a long trek upriver through Pha (4090m) to Tinje (4150m). .
Trek to Rakpa [4530m] [7-8 hours, 550m ascent, 170m descent]
We trek past the runway of mysterious Tinje airport to a trail junction at 4130m, where a high route leads to Tarap. We continue southward to a campsite on the banks of the river at Rakpa (4530m). .
We trek past the runway of mysterious Tinje airport to a trail junction at 4130m, where a high route leads to Tarap. We continue southward to a campsite on the banks of the river at Rakpa (4530m).
We begin our day with a long climb to the Chharka La (4920m). We continue on the trail descending along the side of the valley, then make a big drop into a side valley at 4290m. We then make a long traverse down to the picturesque village of Chharka on the banks of Barbung Kola at 4120m. .
Trek to Norbulung [4750m] [6-7 hours, 820m ascent, 190m descent]
Another Climb to a crest at 4380m begins this day. We then descend again to a river. We follow the right fork southward, climbing in and out of side valleys on a rough trail. The valley narrows, we then emerge into a big meadow and climb to our campsite at Norbulung (4750m). .
We begin the day climbing to a yak pasture at Molum Sumna (4860m) and on to a crest at 5130m. We then make a long traverse across meadows to the foot of the Sangda La, then a long, steep final climb to the pass at 5460m. Switchbacks descend down to our camp site by a stream at 5100m. .
Trek to Sangda [3700m] [7-8 hours, 460m ascent, 1860m descent]
We climb to a lower Sangda La at 4990m, then descend through loose shale towards the village of Sangda Ghunsa (4190m). We drop to the Chalung Khola, crossing it at 3750m, and then climb steeply up the opposite bank. A long high traverse leads to a cairn at 4090m, we then come to a set of steep switchbacks descends to a stream at 3580m. We do another climb to the compact settlement of Sangda, were we end a long day at 3700m. .
Trek to Dhagarjun [3290m] [7-8 hours, 970m ascent, 1380m descent]
We climb the hill behind Sangda and spend most of the day making a high traverse, crossing nine ridges to a final crest at 4280m. We then descend into the Kali Gandaki valley, traversing under high cliffs and descending to the large village of Dhagarjun (3290m)..
Trek to Jomsom [2670m], [3hours, 870m ascent, 690m descent]
We climb to a ridge at 3360m and make a final descent on a challenging trail of loose rocks to Jomsom at 2670m. .
Fly to Pokhara
We take an early flight from Jomsom to Pokhara - a fantastic way to round off the trek, flying right along the Kali Gandaki Gorge between the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. In Pokhara we check into the Hotel, get the dust of the last three weeks washed off and head out for a nice dinner. .
We either take a 35 minutes flight or a six hour drive to Kathmandu. After reaching Kathmandu, you can indulge in independent activities of your choice..
Our Nepalese support team will take you to the airport for your flight home. On the other hand, if you prefer to stay longer, you can go for short tours such as game drive at National parks, rafting, Tibet tours, mountain biking, etc. – ask us..
TRIP GRADE - Strenuous Trek
This is a long trek that goes far beyond the normal haunts of trekkers and tourists, to remote areas of the country where the landscapes are wild and untamed and where the local inhabitants have seen little change in their way of life for centuries- untouched corners of an increasingly crowded planet. It is physically challenging, likely to include unfavorable weather conditions and strenuous activities, such as, climbing/ scrambling across high passes.
Camping trek (no lodge available)
Includes: Guide, Porters, Cook, All meals and tents
Camping trek means sleeping in tents. On a camping trek, the tents provided are ‘Two men dome’ or ‘A’ shaped. Foam mattress with insulation underneath is provided for sleeping. Clients need to have their own sleeping bag. Bags or cloth packs are used as pillows. If you wish, you can bring your own ‘Air pillow’.
We have a pool of hotels in Kathmandu under 3 Star categories which we provide to clients in connection to this itinerary, unless it is mentioned otherwise or clients have a special choice. You can check on the description of such hotels through our website.
MEALS & DRINKING WATER
We provide three tasty, plentiful and nutritious meals daily with a variety of local and Western dishes. To start the day, breakfast consists of a choice of porridge, muesli and cereal followed by omelet, fried or scrambled eggs with chapattis or bread. Lunch is generally a selection of salad, cooked vegetable dishes, pasta and traditional breads.
After a long day on the trail, dinner is a hearty 3 course meal - soup, followed by a variety of vegetable, meat, rice and pasta dishes and completed with a simple dessert. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are also provided at all meals. We use as much fresh produce as possible and special diets are regularly catered for. The leaders are able to maintain very tight controls on health and hygiene in the kitchen with respect to general cleanliness and food preparation and also within the group with respect to personal hygiene. This has allowed us to maintain remarkably high standards of health over many years of trek organization - and good health is vital to an enjoyable and successful trek and climb. All foods are well cooked and vegetables are treated by potassium permanganate or iodine. Boiled water is served for drinking. Antiseptic soaps and potassium or iodine treated water are provided for washing. Special dietary requirements can always be catered for.
LUGGAGE WHILE TREKKING
During trek your main luggage will be carried by porters. You simply carry a day pack with water bottle, camera, sun-screen, spare jacket, etc. - a small load that allows full enjoyment of the trek. A trek bag is ideal for your main luggage, plus a small lockable bag for travel clothes or anything that you do not need during trek which you can leave at hotel’s locker room/safe deposit box in Kathmandu for free of charge. Weight allowance at Nepal’s domestic airlines is 15 Kgs, excess weight is chargeable at USD 1 or more per Kilo depending on sectors.
GROUP LEADER AND CREW
We provide different options concerning leadership in order to match your requirements:
1) Western leader
2) Trained Nepali Trek leader (experienced and knowledgeable)
3) Sherpa Guide (handles the logistics and guides you and your team on the trek)
The Sherpa guide (commonly called Sirdar) will be accompanied by a crew of porters. On camping trek, there will be 2/3 porters for each members.
JOIN A GROUP OR PRIVATE TRIP
Our trips are available on both fixed departure and private basis. If you are looking for a group to join this trip please check our ‘2015/16 departures’ link for availability, dates and price. If you would like to travel independently, or with your friends, families & colleagues you are invited to choose any of the trips at your convenient timeframe for any number of people (minimum 1 & maximum 100 at a time).
If you want to do something that is not included in our trip list we are ready to tailor a trip to suit your exact requirements. In short, we will make every effort to get you on the trip you want, when you want.
GROUP SIZE ON FIXED DEPARTURE TRIP
If you opt to join our ‘fixed departure trip’, you are likely to be joining people from different countries of any age group except minors. The size of group varies, minimum no of persons required to operate a trip is 2 the maximum is 12 people.
On this trek all meals will be provided. You only need money for table drinks (alcoholic/non alcoholic beverages), snacks while walking (a few smaller shops are available along the trail in some areas) tips, souvenirs, hot shower (available in some places).
Tips are appreciated by your support team after the trip. The amount depends on your budget and appreciation of their work. As a suggestion, we advise you to allocate 5 - 10% of the total tour cost as tips.
While trekking you may not have an access to telephone facility for some days or weeks. However, en route there may be few places where telephone facilities may be available and likely to be working.
If it is crucial for you to keep in contact with your family or others, EXPLORE HIMALAYA can provide you a mobile satellite phone (rental charge on request).
TREKKING GEARS & EQUIPMENT
You will need walking boots, sleeping bag (4 seasons/ -20C rated), waterproof jacket and trousers, fleece jacket, warm hat and gloves, sunglasses, water bottle, sun-screen and day pack.
Comprehensive list of equipments will be provided once you book your trip or check CLOTHING AND
EQUIPMENT LIST LINK.
GEARS AVAILABLE IN KATHMANDU
It's not necessary to spend a lot of money buying extra equipment and clothing before your trip. Majority of these gears can be bought or hired at reasonable rates in Kathmandu. Explore Himalaya will thoroughly help you to buy or rent trekking gears in the outlets of Thamel, which sell or rent both international and local gears.
TYPICAL DAY ON TREK
Your typical day begins with a hot cup of tea brought to the tent at about 6 am, followed by a bowl of hot water for washing. After packing all your bags and having a good breakfast, we set off on the morning’s walk. All you need to carry is a small day pack containing water bottle, camera, sun cream, hat, rain jacket and a warm jumper, just in case. The porters will carry the rest of your gear for you. After walking for 3-4 hours, we stop for lunch at around midday. The afternoon’s walk is generally shorter and we arrive at camp in time for afternoon tea. The remainder of the afternoon can be spent exploring the nearby villages, doing a bit of washing or simply relaxing with a good book. On some days, we will arrive at camp by lunchtime and the entire afternoon will be free.
Dinner is usually served between 6 and 7 pm. After dinner, the evening will often be spent playing cards and talking with the crew, or perhaps even joining in some singing and dancing, before heading off to the tent for a well-earned sleep.
MEETING AND GREETING IN KATHMANDU
You need to pass on your International flight details to us for a “meeting and greeting” service at airport. You just pass on the Customs and come out of the Terminal building where you will see someone standing with a placard with either ‘Explore Himalaya’ or your name written on it. Our airport representative or tour officer will greet you and welcome you with a garland.
FLIGHT AND LAND TRANSFERS
First you fly to Nepalgunj from Kathmandu and then you take another short flight from Nepalgunj to Juphal. The starting point of the trek is Juphal. On your return, you shall fly from Jomsom to Pokhara. You can choose between flying or driving back from Pokhara to Kathmandu. We will arrange the transportation from your hotel to the airport (Kathmandu).
Note: There is a high probability of cancellation of flights operating between Nepalgunj and Juphal due to bad weather conditions. Hence, we advise you to keep at least one day extra in Kathmandu before your flight home.
CLIMATE AND BEST TIME TO GO
The best seasons to trek in the upper Dolpo region are Autumn (from mid-September till November end) and Spring (from the beginning of March until mid-May). Temperatures will drop considerably as you trek higher everyday. The nights are cold (between -10 C and 5C) but the days are sunny and hot (between 10C to 20C).The mornings are usually clear, with clouds building up during the afternoon, disappearing at night. Dolpo region being located in rain shadow area it may be possible to trek during monsoon but domestic flights are often disrupted by heavy monsoon cloud and rain.
March, April, October and November are the most popular and favored months for traveling. Please choose the time that is convenient for you.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
Dolpo consists of an ethnic group called Bhotias (with Tibetan origins), Magar, and Gurung. The Dolpo-pa (people of Dolpo) are mongoloid featured people with unique cultural and social traditions. Apart from speaking Tibetan, they speak kaike language which is believed to exist only in Dolpo. They are engaged in farming, sheep herding and small scale business. Agriculture on a large scale is impossible because fertile land is scarce. Historically, the men of Dolpo were salt traders. They used to travel across the great Himalayas with their yaks, horses and zos to bring salt from Tibet.
Marriages in Dolpo are very relaxed in general. Pre-marital and extra-marital sex union is not prejudiced. All the brothers in a family marry a common wife. Marriages can be of any type; by arrangement, capture or elopement.
Their main festival is ‘Losar’ (Tibetan New Year), celebrated in the month of February. Another festival they generally celebrate is ‘Yul-lha’ ceremony which is a ritual to appease the Gods.
The itineraries for each trip should be taken as a guideline only. Depending on the prevailing situation, you can modify it to some extent after consulting with your guide. However, the date of trek completion should always coincide with the original itinerary.
You should keep in mind that this is an adventure trip into the remotest region, where many unforeseen events may contribute to the need for a change in itinerary. In such cases, we or your guide will suggest the best alternative depending on circumstances.
We ensure liability as per indicated itinerary and list of services. If the holiday is cut short or completed earlier than the projected period upon client’s wish, we shall not be responsible or make refund against unutilized days or services. Clients need to pay extra for Hotels/services incurred in Kathmandu or elsewhere in such cases.
All visitors except the Indian nationals must hold passport and valid visa. Visa can be obtained at the Nepalese diplomatic missions and consulates abroad. Visa is also issued at the entry points. It can be extended at the Department of Immigration, Kalikasthan, Kathmandu. Children under 10 years need not pay any visa fee. People willing to get entry Visa at the air port or any of the land entry points are required to fill a visa form with passport photograph. So, please download form from the link below (visa form) and get ready while you are passing through the immigration Point.
VISA APPLICATION FORM
Gratis visa for 30 days available only for tourists of SAARC countries
Multiple entry 15 days - US$ 25 or equivalent convertible currency
Multiple entry 30 days - US$ 40 or equivalent convertible currency
Multiple entry 90 days - US$ 100 or equivalent convertible currency
Tourist Visa Extension
* Visa extension fee for 15 days or less is US $ 30 or equivalent convertible currency and visa extension fee for more than 15 days is US$ 2 per day
* Tourist visa can be extended for a maximum period of 150 days in a single visa year (January – December).
As vaccination requirements change frequently, we suggest you to consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to the beginning of your trip. We recommend protection against malaria, tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis and polio.
The main health consideration in high altitude is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). You may experience some mild symptoms initially, such as headache, lethargy, nausea and difficulty sleeping, but these should lessen within a few days. To avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), people take pills called ‘Diamox’. You can also use these pills after consulting with your doctor and purchase them in Kathmandu. For your safety, we also carry the ‘Portable Altitude Chamber’ or ‘Gamow Bag’. Our itinerary will allow your body to acclimatize properly and to handle the low oxygen rate.
For your service, we carry a medical kit with standard prescribed medicines along with a users’ manual which you can use upon your own risk. We do not take any medical liability since our staffs are not qualified to prescribe medicines.
If you have ever suffered from altitude sickness, or have a heart or breathing complaint, we highly recommend you consult your doctor about your suitability for trekking in high altitude area before booking. We suggest that you take some pain-killing pills with you and enough medicine for cold, diarrhea, nausea and fever. Some nasal ointment and throat-moistening pills will greatly be of help for those who are sensitive to chilly or freezing weather conditions.
RESCUE / EVACUATIONS
In case of a serious sickness or a casualty, which we believe will not happen; we will do everything to transfer you to the nearest hospital. Since you are entirely liable for all the expenses incurred in evacuation please make sure that it is covered by your insurance before assigning for it or be prepared to pay on your own after getting back to Kathmandu.
Before joining a tour, we recommend you to take a travel insurance which should cover cancellation, medical expenses, helicopter evacuation and emergency repatriation.
Wonderful environment of the Himalayas is also an extremely fragile one. Increasing population density and numbers of trekkers threaten the very beauty of Nepal. At Explore Himalaya, we are extremely conscious about the environment and aim to minimize our impact as much as possible.
As deforestation is one of the greatest environmental threats, we do not have camp fires and use kerosene for cooking as an alternative fuel to wood. We also discourage trekkers from using wood-fuelled hot showers in lodges along the way. Many lodges, however, now provide solar hot showers, a far more eco-friendly alternative.
Garbage disposal is another major problem and some of the busier trails can, at times, appear strew with litter. Our staff members are well motivated towards eco-friendly practices. We carry out all our garbage, apart from that which can be safely and easily burnt at the campsite. Our aim is to help protect and preserve this beautiful environment for future generations of trekkers to enjoy.
In addition to your trek, we can organize extensions both within Nepal and other neighboring countries. You may want to try water rafting or a jungle safari in Nepal or Nepal Cultural Tour. You may as well take a trip to Tibet, India or Bhutan, whichever appeals more to you.
Explore Himalaya works with the motto ‘Development through Tourism’. Keeping in line with this motto, Explore Himalaya Community Service Project (EHCSP) was conceived to empower underprivileged, marginalized, poor and minority segments of Nepal.
Since its inception, EHCSP has been incessantly facilitating and advocating for school education, health, community development, forest conservation, agriculture, culture preservation and fund raising. Explore Himalaya encourages its clients to contribute for the development of Nepal.
CARE FOR PORTERS AND STAFF
We ensure that all the porters and other staffs going into high altitude conditions are provided with adequate clothing and equipment. We are the first ever company to supply high-altitude porters with crampons.
We run the trek according to the guidelines of the International Porter Protection group (IPPG - www.ippg.net).
1) It is fundamental you acknowledge that this is an adventure tour. This requires some flexibility. The day to day itinerary is taken only as a guideline. We can not be held responsible for any delays caused by International or domestic flights, strikes, Government regulations, weather or natural casualties etc. In such cases, Explore Himalaya shall provide suitable alternatives which could be decided upon mutual agreement. If an agreement cannot be made, Explore Himalaya shall only be responsible for refunds after deducting the expenses already incurred.
2) Your booking will be confirmed by email once we receive your deposit of USD 500 and the signed copy of booking form and contract.
The balance is due no later than two months prior to departure. If you book a tour less than 2 months prior to departure, you must send the full payment within 7 days of confirmation by us.
3) If you cancel, the following scale of charges will apply:
2 months before departure – Loss of deposit (US$ 500)
29 days to 2 months before departure – 30% of total trip cost
10 to 28 days before departure – 60% of total trip cost
Less than 10 days before departure – 100% of total trip cost
If you still have any questions regarding this trip, please feel free to contact us. We answer all enquiries within 24 hours. If you want to book a trip, you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us directly by phone: 977-1-4418100.
Great trek, very well organized. Very interesting trek because of the geographical and cultural characteristics of Upper Dolpo. It is also quite challenging because of its length and remoteness. Having done a number of other treks in Nepal and elsewhere I decided to take up the challenge. Crossing Kang La was special. Support staff were faultless. They were very strong, experienced, helpful and know the area very well. See pictures and interview in our blog.