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.
Nepal Government has recently revised its travel guidelines and set new entry protocols for the people who wish to travel to Nepal. Now, fully-vaccinated travelers can get on arrival visa and don’t need to follow seven-day quarantine rule, which means they can start their travel right after their entry! The latest update is as follows:
1. There is no quarantine rule for fully vaccinated travelers, but they need to make sure that they have received their last dose at least 14 days before they enter Nepal.
2. On arrival visa service has resumed for fully vaccinated travelers. They need to present the following documents at immigration desk:
✔️ Vaccination Certificate (WHO approved vaccines)
✔️ RT-PCR negative test issued within 72 hours or less before first flight
✔️ Proof of hotel booking
✔️ Print copy of filled International Online Arrival Form available at CCMC website (https://ccmc.gov.np/arms/person_add_en.php)
✔️ Permit copy of mountaineering or trekking
3. There is no on arrival visa provision for non-vaccinated or semi-vaccinated travelers. They need to have prior visa from Nepalese Diplomatic missions in their respective countries.
4. Non-vaccinated or semi-vaccinated travelers need to stay 10 days in quarantine at their own cost in the hotels designated by Nepal Government. https://ccmc.gov.np/arms/attachments/Quarantine_HotelsList_Recent.pdf . On the 11th day, they need to have PCR negative report to continue their travel.
5. Upon arrival, non-vaccinated or semi-vaccinated travelers need to present all the documents specified in no. 2 (except vaccination certificate), plus proof of quarantine hotel booking and recommendation letter from travel/trekking/tour agency in Nepal.
6. Vaccination is not mandatory for children below 5 years and age group of 5 – 18 years old but PCR negative report is compulsory for the age group of 5 – 18 years old.
7. Travelers leaving Nepal should present PCR negative report issued within 48 hours or less before the flight and also fill CCMC Departure Form available at https://ccmc.gov.np/atms/person_add_atms_en.php
So, now it is possible to travel to Nepal. Though, there are still some travel restrictions with new entry protocols, if you abide by the rules, travelling in Nepal will not be a hassle. Once you are in Nepal, make sure you follow the protocols of local destinations as well. Don’t stress too much about your safety as Government is launching inoculation campaign more aggressively. More than 21% of the total population is fully vaccinated with 26% already receiving their first dose. As tourism professionals belong to the prioritized frontline groups, above 95% of the tourism workers have been fully vaccinated by now (97% in Khumbu and Mustang region).
At Explore Himalaya also, almost all the office and field staffs are fully vaccinated. As there is some silver lining finally, we are now trying to go with V2V (vaccinated to vaccinated) service approach, which is the best thing to do as of now. We ensure our travelers that we will follow all the health and safety measures strictly during all our operations. This autumn, we are preparing more than ever to make our visitors feel welcomed and safe.
If you are a mountain lover, then you might have been to or heard about Nepal’s treasured Everest and Annapurna regions. But when it comes to mountains, Nepal is more than Everest and Annapurna. Sharing the immediate east frontier with Everest, lies Mt. Makalu (8458m), world’s fifth highest mountain as imposing and grand as Everest, if not more. Trekking to Makalu Base Camp is full of amazing adventures, and what’s more, the trail is quieter where you can have nature all by yourself.
Among the countless trekking destinations throughout the country, Makalu Base Camp is one of the most diverse and awe-inspiring one that offers you a wonderful opportunity to explore the unique cultural heritage of Rai and Sherpa people, and exceptional floral & faunal richness of Barun River Valley. Considered as adventurous and challenging trek, this trip takes you through the heavenly panorama of some of world’s highest peaks including the rare angle of Everest (8848 m), Makalu (8458 m), Lhotse (8516 m), Kanchenjunga (8586m) and many more. A trip to this land of unsurpassed beauty definitely deserves to be in your wish list. If you want to dig in further about this adventure, here we have some helpful details for you.
Accommodations during Makalu Base Camp Trek are very basic. You will find local teahouses along the trail. Num, Sedua and Tashi Gaun have comparatively better teahouses than other places. Teahouses have rooms consisting of beds with pillow and blankets. (Make sure to bring your own sleeping bag as the blanket may not be warm enough). You can’t find rooms with attached bath and hot shower. However, if you request, they will provide bucket full of hot water with extra charges. Majority of teahouses have rooms in twin sharing basis and dormitory rooms. And they can accommodate up to 10-12 guests at once. If you have large group, it’s better to take back up camping support in case you don’t find enough rooms.
Teahouses provide both accommodation and food. As teahouses in Makalu region are basic, their food menu is also very simple, consisting of local Nepali food (Daal Bhaat – rice, lentil and curry), noodles and chapatis. It’s always a good idea to carry supplementary food which you can prepare easily like soup, instant noodles, dry fruits and nuts, coffee, juice, herbal tea etc. Since you don’t have many food options, it’s better to have Daal Bhaat as they are always freshly made and good for calorie replenishment.
Communication facility in Makalu region is not very advanced. There are signals of telecommunication in the starting point of the trek only (up to Tashi Gaun). As you trek higher, you won’t find network connection. If it is important for you to get connected with your family and friends during the trip, you can get rental satellite phone.
Electricity and Charging
This trek takes you through the isolated valley. Electricity is a problem in the area. Num, Sedua and Tashi Gaun have electricity facility. Places beyond this have solar energy but they are not always reliable. Because of electricity problem, you can’t get charging facility in teahouses. So, always make sure to carry fully charged power bank.
Makalu Base Camp Trek is a bit challenging trek. So, for that you need best trekking clothing and gears like boots, hiking pants, winter caps, down jackets, Poncho, wind cheater etc. Thermals and layers are really important to keep you warm and comfortable. Trekking poles and crampons (while crossing high pass during winter) are very essential during this trek as you follow snowy and steep trails.
You need some permits in order to trek in Makalu region. Since you travel through Makalu Barun National Park during your trip, you must have the National Park permit which you need to display if asked. You also need TIMS Card and local permit.
Makalu Barun National Park permit: Approx. $30 per person
Trekkers’ Information Management Systems (TIMS) Card: $10 per person
Rural Municipality – $10
Best Time to Travel
Autumn (from mid-September till November end) and Spring (from the beginning of March until mid-May) are considered to be best season for Makalu Base Camp Trek. The weather in these months are likely to be finest and the skies are clear during these days. Trekking during monsoon and winter is not recommended as the visibility is poor during rainy days whereas the temperature is extremely harsh during winter. It is possible to trek during winter but the teahouses at the high altitude aren’t especially well equipped.
Makalu Base Camp Trek is a challenging trek as the trail goes through remoteness, unpredictable weather, high altitude passes and changing terrain with few trekking amenities available. The terrains at the trail gets more difficult and the markings get fainter as you trek higher. The highest point of the trek is Makalu Base Camp (4,900 m). Although this trek is difficult, that doesn’t mean it is less achievable. Right preparation and precaution can make this adventure successful.
Day 1: Kathmandu to Tumlingtar (flight) and Drive to Num (Approx. 1505m)
Flight time: 35 minutes
Drive time: 3 hours
Tip: leave Kathmandu early after breakfast to reach the destination on time. Though local transportation is available, it’s better to hire a private vehicle.
Day 2: Trek to Sedua (Approx. 1530m)
Trek time: 6-7 hours
Day 3: Trek to Tashi Gaon (Approx. 2065m)
Trek time: 6-7 hours
Day 4: Trek to Kauma (Approx. 3562m)
Trek time: 6-7 hours
Day 5: Rest Day Kauma
Day 6: Trek to Dobate (Approx. 4170m)
Trek time: 7-8 hours
Tips: Walk gently and gradually while you pass through Keke la pass. The trail is very steep and dangerous. You might get injured if you don’t walk carefully in this pass.
Day 6: Trek to Yangri Kharka (Approx. 4150m)
Trek time: 6-7 hours
Tips: Always follow the guidance and precautions provided by the experienced crew while you trek to Yangri Kharka as the path is dangerous in the starting of Dobate
Day 7: Trek to Nebuk/Langmale (Approx. 4410 m)
Trek time: 5-6 hours
Tips: Do not miss the beautiful sunset on Pyramid Peak, Peak 4, Chamlang, Peak 3 and Peak 5 and Mt. Makalu (8458m) from Shershong.
Day 8: Trek to Makalu Base Camp (Approx. 4900m)
Trek time: 6-7 hours
Tips: Ascent the small ridge of large buttress of south face from the base camp for the stunning views of Peak 6, 7 and Baruntse (7220m), Everest (8848m) and Lhotse (8516m)
Day 9: Rest Day – Exploration
Tips: Your body needs rest after the trek. So consider this day as rest day to explore around.
Day 10: Trek to Yangri Kharka (Approx .4150m)
Trek time: 5-6 hours
Tips: Be careful while you pass through Yangri Kharka. The trail is quite dangerous and steep. Always walk slowly and steadily.
Day 11: Trek to Dobate (Approx. 4170m)
Trek time: 5-6 hours
Tips: Start your day early in the morning with light meal. The landscapes you see on the way to Dobate is awe inspiring in the morning.
Day 12: Trek to Kauma (Approx. 3562m)
Trek time: 5-6 hours
Day 13: Trek to Sedua (Approx.1460m)
Trek time: 6-7 hours
Day 14: Trek to Num (Approx. 1560m)
Trek time: 5-6 hours
Tips: Visit the village and meet local people if you have spare time. Listen to their stories and make your trip unforgettable.
If you have trekked in Nepal, chances are pretty high that you have stayed in one of the local teahouses as almost every trekking in Nepal is teahouse trek. In teahouse trek, trekkers stay in teahouses that are strewn along the trail. Teahouses are small hotels found in villages in the Himalaya that offers both bedding and eating facilities for the trekkers. Often run by local families, tea houses are built of local materials and provide required comfort and safety for trekkers.
Teahouses have drastically changed the way of trekking in Nepal. In earlier times, almost all of the trekking used to be camping trekking in which trekkers used to spend nights in tented camps. But the story is different now. Due to easily available teahouses, trekking groups don’t need to carry camping and cooking equipment or plan extensive logistics. Teahouses have considerably lowered down the cost of trekking. They have also helped to reduce the impacts on environment as they are located in villages not in fragile terrain like camping trekking. They also boost the local economy as the teahouse owners and staffs are all local people. Teahouses also offer a wonderful opportunity to interact with locals and experience the local life and culture.
Nowadays, teahouses are ubiquitous in popular trekking areas such as Everest and Annapurna. In less frequented areas like Manaslu, Makalu, Kanchenjungha etc also, teahouses are growing in number. The facilities provided by such teahouses can vary as some can be basic whereas some can be luxurious. But normally all teahouses have basic facilities like western style toilets, hot showers, continental meals and internet connection. So, trekking while staying in local teahouses can be a lifetime experience you wouldn’t want to miss.
Basic facilities in teahouses:
Generally, tea house mostly consists of twin-basis accommodation. You can find a single room that have twin beds with some other furniture like a small table or a chair. The price of room differs according to the size, quality, cleanliness of tea houses and lodges. During the peak seasons, accommodation costs around $5 whereas price can go down up to $2 in off seasons. Some luxury tea houses in Everest Base Camp Trek can charge up to $50 only for accommodation.
Almost every teahouse has clean and basic rooms, but you have to pay a little extra if you want attached bathroom. Some even have single bed room. The beds are comfortable with foam mattresses, pillows and you are provided with a thick blanket. Remember, always bring your own sleeping bag so that you stay warm enough at night. And yes, don’t forget to bring a pair of earplugs for a good sleep if you are a light sleeper.
Foods and Beverages
Meals at teahouses are often cooked in their kitchens by owners. The foods are fresh and delicious. You can find a set of menu of momo, pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and other noodle dishes at almost every teahouse. Normally, trekkers choose the typical Nepali Dhal Bhat as it is fresh, healthy, filling and easily available everywhere you go. The higher you go on the trek the more you have to pay for the same food. The Dal Bhat at the starting of the trek can cost around $2. And the same Dal Bhat can cost up to $5 as you trek higher. For beverage you can find tea, coffee, hot chocolate, juice etc. which is quite similar in every trekking region. Staying hydrated is a must for every trekker. But trekkers don’t need to worry. Bottled water is easily available throughout the trail in teahouses. One bottle of mineral water can cost from $0.50 to $4 depending upon the altitude of the trek.
Wi-Fi and Electricity
Most of the teahouses in Nepal are run by solar power, therefore you can find internet and electricity facility. However, internet and network connections can be slow. Many teahouses have their charging outlets in the dining room but you have to pay a certain amount in order to charge your electronics and use the internet. An hour charge of an electronic devices cost from $2 to $5 whereas using of a Wi-Fi hourly cost up to $1 -$2. If it is cloudy during the day, then there is a chance of power shortage, so make sure you carry an extra battery pack or power bank for your gadgets.
Hot Showers and Laundry
Most of the tea houses provide hot showers from a solar hot water system to the trekkers. You can get a bucket of warm water if there is no solar power. Using this facility can charge you up from $2 to $5. For laundry, you can get your laundry done in main villages of your trek which can take from $1 to $5 depending upon your clothes. In smaller areas, you can bring your own laundry detergent and wash your clothes as soon as you arrive and make sure to put them by the fire at night.
Always try to reach the teahouse on time before 7 pm if you have not booked one.
Don’t forget to bring your sleeping bag and liner to get extra warmth at night.
On the higher altitude of the trek, the communal toilets can sometimes be outside the tea house. So, its better to bring a flashlight for midnight toilet breaks.
Since there are no waters in toilet at high altitudes, bring enough toilet (tissue) paper and hand sanitizers. You can get toilet paper in teahouses but it costs extra charge.
Always choose to stay and eat the meals at the same teahouse. Owners of the teahouse expect trekkers to eat all their meals where they choose to stay for the night.
Always research or ask other trekkers for a good teahouse which are reliable, safe and provides good services.
Highly popular for tallest mountains, breath taking landscapes, unique highland culture, beautiful forests and endangered species, Everest region is home to many incredible trekking routes from soft trekking in lower altitudes to longer treks along the high mountain passes. For travelers seeking more challenges, less crowd and journey of a lifetime with unparalleled views and fascinating culture, Everest Three Passes Trek is an ideal adventure that takes you to the off beaten path with some of the most astonishing sights Nepal has to offer. Even the experienced hikers find this trail a true challenge. So, if you are up to take the challenge, this trek has the best of Khumbu in reserve.
Three Passes Trek offers an amazing scenic trails and adventurous crossing of Renjo La (5340 m), Cho La (5420 m) and Kongma La (5535 m) passes that join the four valleys of Imja, Khumbu, Gokyo and Bhote Koshi. Besides the panoramic views of some of the world’s highest mountains such as Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Cho Oyu, Makalu, Ama Dablam and captivating valleys, you can also experience the rich cultural heritage of Sherpa people of the region during the trek.
Considered as a longer trek, Three Passes Trek takes about 18 days to complete. This adventurous trek commences from Lukla towards the Dudh Koshi valley on a well-marked trail and crosses the green dense forest, scattered rhododendron bushes, beautiful flora and fauna, ever flowing mountain gorges and culturally rich villages like Phakding, Namche Bazaar to reach Tengboche, a hilltop settlement with its iconic monastery standing sentinel overlooking the valley. From Tengboche, the trail contours on the side of the valley which offers the stunning views of beautiful mountains of Khumbu including Mt. Everest (8848 m), Lhotse (8516 m), Nuptse (7861 m), and Ama Dablam (6812 m). The path descends downhill and crosses Imja Khola to reach the beautiful village of Dingboche and gradually hikes to the last village of Imja valley; Chhukung, which is famous for a marvelous view of Lhotse’s massive south wall.
Continuing from Chhukung, the trail passes through one of the three Everest High Passes, Kongma la (5535 m) and descends to the section of scree and boulder fields towards Lobuche. The trail then proceeds towards Cho La (5420 m) along the ridge curving towards west with amazing views of Arakam Tse (6423m), Cholatse (6335m), Taboche (6367m) and reaches Dzongla. Out of Dzongla, the trail heads northwest and descends to Dragnag and continues through the treacherous glacial walk across Ngozumpa glacier to a beautiful village of Gokyo, by the side of an enormous turquoise Gokyo Lake. Furthermore, path leads to Gokyo Ri, a perfect viewpoint of remarkable views of Gokyo Lake, Everest, Cho Oyu, Makalu and Cho-Oyu Base Camp.
After the rewarding climb, the trail traverses through the northern shore and slowly ascends towards Renjo La (5340 m) which offers the astonishing views of Makalu and Rolwaling range. The last section of the trail, then, gradually descends on a flat trail marked with cairns and stony steps to the quiet village, Thame and passes through a steady trail strewn with prayer flags and mani stones to Namche Baazar, which then retraces back to Lukla completing the exciting Everest Three Passes Trek.
We are fully satisfied with the support and service we have received. Baghman was very good, helpful and informative about the local areas we passed.he gave very good advice about trek and change of route plan according to our condition and time. We highly recommend him!