Monsoon is considered as the off-season for trekking in Nepal. However, with a huge portion of Great Himalayan Trail, Nepal offers a wide range of option for trekking. Some of the rain-shadowed regions here provide the possibilities of trekking in Nepal during monsoon. The isolation of theses restricted areas is the best part of these trekking. One more reason to trek to these places is with no phones or lights, one can get disconnected to the world and purely enjoy the nature.
Except in the winter, the region can be trekked anytime of the year. The rain-shadowed valley also known as the forbidden kingdom has preserved the Tibetan Buddhism spread by Guru Rinpoche over the centuries. The region also holds several important cultural landmarks with the arid landscape like the desert making this trek more attractive. The hospitality of people of this region makes your stay even better.
The most isolated region of the country is popular as a must do trekking in Nepal. The rain-shadowed region is one of the strenuous trekking. However, the rewards of the trek can overcome the effort you give. The Bon Po (people of Dolpo) following the Bon religion influenced from Tibet and their culture is the highlight of this trek. Next, is the remoteness of the area. Apart from this; landscapes, views of the snowcapped mountains, monasteries including Shey Gompa are the reason why this is a must do trekking.
“Nepal’s one of most challenging treks that traverses across the barren highland deserts on Great Himalayan Trail of isolated west, Upper Dolpo Trek is a lifetime adventure for trekkers who can endure hardships of different kinds. Nature in the rawest form and the culture nomadic than expected, Upper Dolpo Trek is truly an amazing trip that every avid trekkers must undertake. The word “MUST” is used here because Upper Dolpo Trek, which is almost a month long adventure every day takes you to scattered pieces of heaven on earth – unexplored by adventurers and unharmed by human influence.”
Today’s post is a Photo Essay that highlights incredible features of Upper Dolpo Trek.
Before Upper Dolpo Trek, the sightseeing tour of Kathmandu’s Heritage Sites offers cultural glimpse of Nepal’s rich history – A day required to acquire all documents to trek to Dolpo well used
After the flight to Nepaljung, a lowland town of Western Nepal, we fly to remote airport of Juphal, the trek starting point
The trail that stretches through the lush vegetation of Shey Phoksundo National Park caters tremendous biodiversity of floral and faunal species
Nepal’s one the most magnificent lakes, Phoksundo Lake is the first major highlight of Upper Dolpo Trek. The lake has unique attributes. It is devoid of living creatures and it has color changing features
Upper Dolpo Trek also highlights Bon Culture, Buddhism based on Shamanism and which is also believed to Buddhism prior to Buddha. Ringmo is the Bon Village that lies atop a spur right above Phoksundo Lake
Upper Dolpo Trek is challenging because it comprises several high passes. Charka La 4920m, Sangda La 4990m, Mushi La 5030m, Shey La 5010m & Sehu La 5160m are the important passes trekkers traverse during the trek
The culture of Upper Dolpo is close to nomadic one. For fire natives depend on fire woods and ignite the fire the yak dung is still in practice
To heal the illness, natives faith on local Amchis (Traditional Doctors), who gather knowledge from ancient manuscripts and treat patients with medicinal herbs found in the region
Neither technology nor science has made impact in Upper Dolpo, animals and humans both has to go through painful and traditional treatments to heal the illness
Sparsely populated with mythical monasteries, Villages of Upper Dolpo located in the middle of nowhere manifest traditional Buddhist Culture. The major villages we explore during Upper Dolpo Trek include Ringmo, Shey, Namgung, Tinze & Mu Gaon among others
Wilderness walk continues for hours and sometimes days during Upper Dolpo Trek. No teahouses and hence trek in Upper Dolpo are based on Fully organized Trek – Camps for Accommodation and Sherpa Cooks for three hearty meals a day
From one restricted region to another – entering Upper Mustang – the fabled town of walls and the forbidden Kingdom in the rain shadow of dazzling Dhaulagiri
The caves in the cliffs of Upper Mustang were the sky cemeteries in the ancient days, Nat Geo Explorers have already verified the fact
Lo-Manthang, the fascinating capital of Upper Mustang, where history, culture and spirituality ideally blend with a slight modern essence
The monks of Upper Mustang, marching for the performance during Tiji Festival
Thousands of Himalayan peaks and as many trekking trails, Nepal is truly the biggest trekking hub in the world. Solely housing 8 out of 14 8000m+ peaks including world’s highest peak Everest, Nepal caters many world class trekking adventures to the Base Camps of these mighty Himalayan Peaks. Based on trekkers interest, the number of trekkers trekking along the particular trail and highlights of the trek, here we have 10 most popular treks in Nepal.
Round Annapurna Trek or Annapurna Circuit Trek
1. Round Annapurna Trek (RAT)
The most popular trek in Nepal, Round Annapurna Trek (RAT) is a stretch of 100+ kilometers circumnavigation around Annapurna Range. The trek that offers diverse beauty from mid-hill jungles to striking alpine landscapes, Round Annapurna Trek is also pleasures with cultural encounter at several ethnic villages nestling in the highlands. The trek also known as Annapurna Circuit Trek caters magnificent views of the Annapurna, Fishtail, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Langtang Himal. Although the construction of roadways deeper into the circuit has reduced the real essence of the trek, still almost 100km of stretch of the fascinating route makes Round Annapurna Trek, Nepal’s number one trekking trail.
Everest Base Camp Trek
2.Everest Base Camp Trek (EBC)
The classic trek that brings trekkers to the proximity of world’s highest mountain, Everest- Everest Base Camp Trek is itself an achievement. Everest Base Camp, which is higher than almost every mountain in Europe, Australia, Africa and America, is the place where every mountaineer who has conquered this beautiful white Goddess began here. The trail full of amenities in scores of teahouses is interesting for two particular reasons- the thriving Sherpa culture and the alpine beauty that even open eyes in the broad daylight cannot capture wholly.
Langtang Valley Trek
3.Langtang Valley Trek
Avoiding difficulty sighting supreme beauty in diversity- Langtang Valley Trek is the best-opted trek in the category. The shortest approach from Kathmandu, Langtang Valley Trek offers 3600 view of snowcapped Himalayas dominated by Langtang Lirung. Authentic Tibetan culture in frequent Tamang villages, sacred highland monasteries like Kyangjin Gompa and sacred alpine lakes like Gosainkunda are prime highlights of Langtang Valley Trek. Langtang is so close to Tibet that from some high vantage points, the glimpses of villages in Tibet can be viewed.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek
4. Annapurna Base Camp Trek
One of the most popular easy treks in Nepal is Annapurna Base Camp Trek. The trek caters the alpine experience blended with diverse terrains. From beautiful glaciers to terraced fields, from rock-strewn trails to snowy paths- the trail of ABC Trek has it all. The Gurung culture at its best traditional form and their indelible hospitality are recreating factors during Annapurna Base Camp Trek. The view of Annapurna from the Annapurna Base Camp, the widespread Himalayan view from Poonhill and the view of Mt. Fishtail from Machhapuchhre Base Camp are striking views of the trek.
Manaslu Cicuit Trek
5. Manaslu Circuit Trek
Ever since in 2010 Manaslu became teahouse trek, Manaslu Circuit Trek is emerging as one of the most popular trekking trails in Nepal. Few trekkers also have acknowledged this trek as replica of Round Annapurna Trek. However, Manaslu Circuit Trek is by far untouched and raw compared to Annapurna Circuit Trek. The trail during Manaslu Circuit Trek winds through the lower slope of Mt. Manaslu (eighth highest mountain in the world) through Larkya La Pass. The views of Himalayas are excellent and the cultural experience is more authentic.
6. Upper Mustang Trek
North of Jomsom up on Kali Gandaki basin, the deserted kingdom of Mustang nestles where the Tibetan culture till date spills over. A restricted trekking region in Nepal demands heavy permit fee of US Dollars 500 for 10 days. The windswept landscapes, colorful barren hills and the caves carved in vertical cliffs are geographical delights whereas; the culture in Mustang is exclusive unique in whole Nepal. Preserved centuries world monasteries, the remains of historic palace in Lo-manthang and celebration of Tiji festival are major sights trekker to Upper Mustang crave to watch. In brief Upper Mustang is a true Tibet outside Tibet.
Gokyo- Everest Base Camp Trek
7. Gokyo, Everest Base Camp Trek
Getting to Everest Base Camp via more isolated and remote trails makes Gokyo Everest Base Camp Trek intriguing trek in the Everest Region. In addition to the highlights of EBC Trek, Gokyo Everest Base Camp Trek caters the beauty of five emerald lakes together with Himalayas. The trek along the challenging Cho La Pass to get into Khumbu Valley from Gokyo Valley is also the major highlight of this trek. Gokyo Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the few trekking route in Nepal, which offers remote experience, rich local culture, and the supreme beauty of Himalayas.
Upper Dolpo Trek
8. Upper Dolpo Trek
Crystal Mountain, snow leopards, sacred monasteries and the endless isolation- Upper Dolpo Trek is truly a lifetime experience. Every place trekkers reach and every people they meet leave an indelible impression. Upper Dolpo Trek is truly fascinating. The trek rewards in very early stage with the magnificence of Phoksundo Lake. Trekking further, trekkers cross three high passes, Nagdalo La (5350m), Shey La (5000m) and Jeng La (5110m) to Shey Gompa, which is a spiritual heart of Upper Dolpo. Hundreds of pilgrims visit Shey Gompa that lies dramatically at the base of Crystal Mountain each year to circumambulate the mountain in act of prayer. Upper Dolpo is a restricted area which demands 10-day permit for $500.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek
9.Kanchenjunga Base Camps Trek
The trekking to the Himalayas in the extreme east of Nepal, Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek is probably the most popular offbeat trekking in Nepal. Trekking along the foothills of world’s third highest mountain, Kanchenjunga is a wonderful adventure. To experience the treks based on tented camps, Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek is suitable option. Snow Leopard can be sighted during the treks in the region. The Kanchenjunga Base Camps Trek is a long and challenging walk while visiting both the North and South base camps. The authentic culture of Rai and Limbu tribes can be well observed during the trek to this part of nation.
Makalu Base Camp Trek
10. Makalu Base Camp Trek
This is an outstanding trek in the eastern region of Nepal, which offers a combination of rich cultural heritage, unsurpassed beauty and biological diversity. The trail takes you from the steamy lowlands of Tumlingtar on the Arun River, through one of the least frequented areas of Nepal, to the base camp of Makalu [8475m]. The trail follows the beautiful Barun river valley in the Makalu Barun National Park, crossing Shipton pass at 4127 meters before arriving at Makalu Base Camp [5000m]. From here, views of the south face of Makalu, as well as Everest and Lhotse are truly regal and fantastic.
Rara Lake Trek
+ Rara Lake Trek
This trek through the remote wilderness of western Nepal offers a superb experience of nature and a visit to Rara Lake, Nepal’s Largest Lake at 3062 meters. During this easy trek, the trail passes through green countryside, which provides unusual glimpses of a culture, and scenery quite different from that found elsewhere in Nepal and which eventually culminates to the Rara Lake National Park. Alpine meadows and forests of pine, juniper and spruce surround this beautiful high altitude lake, whilst in the background trekkers can view the magnificent snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. The entire route is ‘off the beaten track’, which involves the crossing of Ghurchi Lagna Pass 3450m and a few ridges at around 3000 meters.
Walking miles will still take to the place where you may not find a sign of human
The wild west of Nepal, Dolpo is a challenging destination to trek but it is the most enchanting territory of Nepal. Few trekkers who have trekked along the time forgotten trails of Dolpo have admired this place as the most beautiful corner of the planet Earth. The region beautifully revealed in Eric Valli’s movieHimalaya, the Wild West Dolpo highlights the Crystal Mountain and the 11th century Monastery Shey Gompa at its base. The alpine freshwater oligotrophic Lake Shey Phukshundo 3612m is also the major reward during the trek. Besides the people living in the far-flung villages of Dolpo are the believers of Bon, Buddhism prior to Buddha. Peter Matthiessen and George Schaller explored the region in 1973, to research on the rare Himalayan blue sheep and the rarer snow leopard. Matthiessen describes this trek a classic of its genre in his book “The Snow Leopard”. The duo also discovered the elusive Snow Leopard are more likely to be seen in the region compared to other highlands of the world. Very rarely trodden Himalayan landscapes with the people practicing the ancient religion makes Dolpo the most fascinating holiday destination to those travelers daring to scale the elevated and wild yet the beautiful nature.
Here we have a photo gallery of Upper Doplo and Shey Phuksundo Trek. Have a look.
Crossing a raging river over a narrow bridge-Adventurous
Camps that would be lifelong memories
Far-flung hamlets, untouched by modernity
Heaven isn’t elsewhere, its at Shey Phuksondo
Shadows of even giant white Himalayas are black
Culture is everywhere
Freezing cold outside, camps are warm enough
The trail that pursues spirituality
Trek that defines real adventure
Open fields are good camping sites
The journey at times could be exhausting
Following the snowy trail
A glimpse of inside Shey Gompa
The sun is bright, let us rest for a while
Where will the trail lead us to?
Camps all set, let us walk uphill and see whats there?
Opened to foreign tourists in 1996, Upper Dolpo is still one of the least explored places in Nepal. Lying in the remote western part of Nepal, close to Tibet, the landscape, religion and cultural heritage of Upper Dolpo is more Tibetan. In some parts of Dolpo people still follow the ancient Bon Po religion, an ancient religion predating Buddhism. Stunning mountain scenery, villages untouched by modern civilization and people still following the old way of life, a trek to Upper Dolpo is one of the most challenging but exotic treks in Nepal.
Lake Phoksumdo, Upper Dolpo
One of our clients Piotr Zycki from Poland trekked to Upper Dolpo during April-May. He visited the beautiful Phoksumdo Lake, crossed the high Himalayan pass of Kang La (5360m/17585ft) to Shey Gompa and traversed all the way to Jomsom. After his return, he kindly consented to answer some questions we forwarded to him via email.
Devil's Trail above Lake Phoksumdo
EH: How was your trek?
Piotr Zycki: It was a great trek, very well organized.
EH: Any special reason for choosing this particular trek?
PZ : It is a 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.
EH: Do you have any special memories that you want to share?
PZ: Certainly, crossing Kang La was non-trivial because of the snow.
High Himalayan Mountain Pass of Kang La (5360m)
EH: How was the service of the support staff?
PZ: Faultless. They were very strong, experienced, helpful and know the area very well.
Porters & support staff
EH: Which was the most difficult part of the trek?
PZ: Crossing Kang La in snowy conditions. Without the snow there are no technical problems on this trek, but it is long with a lot of going up and down.
EH: What would be your comment or advice to those who would like to do this trek?
PZ: It is not easy to choose the right time of the year to do this trek. In spring (May) the conditions can be expected to be good weather-wise (not too much snow on the high passes), although actually this year there was a lot of snow on Kang La. On the other hand, there is not much greenery, so the colors in the landscape are somewhat muted. Autumn (September-October) brings nicer colors but some of the passes may be already closed by snow. It would be a good trek to do during the monsoon, except for the problems with getting to its starting point of Juphal or returning from Jomsom.
Dust storm at Tinje
(Pics Courtesy: Piotr Zycki)
Upper Dolpo Trek
This was a trip of a lifetime and we are so grateful that your wonderful staff was able to give us this incredible adventure.