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Upper and Lower Dolpo

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26 DAYS UPPER AND LOWER DOLPO TREKKING

The Upper Dolpo border, the Phokdundo Lake, can be reached in 2 days by horse or three days Trekking from Juphal airport. The upper Dolpo region is historically divided into four valleys: Tsharka (good growing-place), Tarap (auspiciously excellent), Panzang (abode of monks), and Nangkhong (innermost place) and among which the Tarap valley falls into Lower Dolpo trekking region.

The Upper Dolpo parts are filled with numerous centuries-old monasteries many of them are Bon, a religion whose origins predate Buddhism but whose modern form is officially accepted as a fifth school of Tibetan Buddhism. The remote region has preserved its Tibetan culture relatively in pure form, making it attractive, not only to westerners but also to the modern generation of Tibetan family. Despite its high royalty for trekkers, as a try to restrictions on tourism, Upper Dolpa is a popular destination for Trekkers, and many of the trekkers take this area as a pilgrimage or spiritual trip.

Among the many monasteries in Dolpo, the Shey Gonpa is considered the musts to visit, and the mountain above it is known as the Crystal Mountain or their Mount Kailash.

The largest gathering, here, takes place in July when villagers from all over Dolpo come to Shey. They meet here for a pilgrimage around ‘their Mount Kailash’ – Crystal Mountain. The festival lasts for several days, and this is also the time for sharing news and doing business, drinking, dancing, and singing.

The mythology speaks the vastness of Shey Gonpa and Crystal Mountain, including where to find the milky lake in the interior of the Crystal Mountain kora. It describes; even the greatest of celestial feats cannot equal once rounding on foot this Crystal Mountain. The Crystal Mountain Kora allows the pilgrim to see Mount Kailash, the most sacred place for all religions, more than a dozen times from the passes, in the far distance.

Trip Highlights

  • The complete circuit of fame filled upper and lower Dolpo
  • Travelled by only very few tourists compare to many trekking regions of Nepal
  • Walking into one of the best known national parks of the west of Nepal
  • Visit and experience the villages and life of Kham Magar and Tibetan tribes
  • Visit the fabulous Shey and other ancient pre-Buddhist and present Buddhist monasteries
  • Visits the innermost ancient villages of Tsharka and Nangkhong and Tarap valley
  • Experience the anciently preserved Tibetan culture in its purest form
  • Enjoy the complete view of the Shey Phoksundo lake
  • See the most precious range of flora and fauna including various medicinal herbs
  • Enjoy the most magnificent Himalayan panorama including the Kanjiroba and Dhaulagiri range

Trip Profile

The total length of the trip: 26 days from arrival to the day of departure
Number of the night in Kathmandu: 4-nights / visit UNESCO sites
Trek starting point: Juphal
Trek ending point: Juphal
A domestic flight in: Kathmandu – Nepalgunj – Juphal
A domestic flight out: Juphal – Nepalgunj – Kathmandu
Highest elevation achievement: 5,220 metres Jeng-La
Accommodation: Hotel with breakfast in Kathmandu and tented camps on full board basis on the trek
Meals: Each day a wide variety of complete meals will be prepared and served by our mobile cook and kitchen staff.
Trip grade: Moderate to strenuous
Best season to trek: from the end of May to the end of October

Short Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu

Day 2: Sightseeing and resting day in Kathmandu

Day 3: Fly to Nepalgunj

Day 4: Fly to Juphal (2475m) and trek to Roop Ghar (2,100m.)

Day 5: Trek to Chepka (2,720m.)

Day 6: Trek to Renje (2,840m.)

Day 7: Trek to Phoksundo Lake (3,640m.)

Day 8: Rest day

Day 9: Trek to Phoksundo Khola (3,510m.)

Day 10: Trek to Phoksundo La or Snowfields Camp (4,400m.)

Day 11: Cross Kang La (5,150m.) and trek to Shey Gonpa (4,125m.)

Day 12: Rest day at Shey Gompa

Day 13: Cross Sela La (5,095m.) and trek to Namgung (4,360m.)

Day 14: Trek to Saldang (3,770m.)

Day 15: Rest day

Day 16: Trek to Sibu (3,940m.)

Day 18: Cross Jeng La (5,220m.) and trek to Tok-Kyu (4,240m.)

Day 19: Trek to Do (3,944m.)

Day 20: Trek to Lahini (3,379m.)

Day 21: Trek to Tarakot (2,540m.)

Day 22: Trek to Dunai and Juphal

Day 23: Extra Day

Day 24: Fly to Nepalgunj and then to Kathmandu

Day 25: Kathmandu

Day 26: Departure

Detail Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu

Our personnel will be waiting at the Kathmandu international airport to receive you with a traditional welcome. After checking into the hotel and refreshment, your guide of the circuit will inform you about the necessary formalities and the upcoming program. Depending on arrival time, you will have the choice of visiting nearby shrines or resting.

Day 2: Sightseeing and resting day in Kathmandu

Today we take a round of Kathmandu and Patan cities where one gets to see and experience fascinating aspects of Buddhism and Hinduism and many other charms. Those not willing on a rest while we finalize trekking area permits. O/N in Kathmandu.

Day 3: Fly to Nepalgunj

We take the flight to Nepalgunj in the far west of Nepal. This one hour's flight is quite remarkable since it traverses the entire length of the Nepal Himalayan west of Kathmandu, with superb views of Langtang, Manaslu, and Annapurnas and Dhaulagiri and finally to Nepalgunj. Nepalgunj is close to the Indian border and quite warm in comparison with Kathmandu. We check into the Hotel and the rest of the time is free.

Day 4: Fly to Juphal (2475m) and trek to Roop Ghar (2,100m.)

A 3 hours’ trek After an early start we take the flight to Juphal, this takes about 45 minutes, and from the plane, there are superb mountain views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. At Juphal, we meet our trek crew, get introduced and stop for an early lunch. After lunch we continue the day, the trail descends to the Bheri River through terraced fields and then follows the gorge to Dunai. We camp at Roop Ghar, before Dunai, at the southern bank of Bheri River.

Day 5: Trek to Chepka (2,720m.)

5 to 6 hours’ trek The usual start of the day is with bed tea at 6.00 am and away by 7 to 7.30 am. We cross the suspension bridge to the other side of the river until the confluence with the Suli Gaad that comes from Phoksundo Lake. The trail follows a steep valley with the raging river below with hillside covered with lush vegetation. Further up we reach the entrance to the Phoksundo National Park at the village of Hanke. Continuing another hour of walk, we cross the west bank past horse pastures to the village of Celas. We then trek upstream to another bridge and arrive at Ankhe Khola. Continue the trek, which climbs to a ridge at 2,700m and then descends to Chepka 2,670m where there are some shops.

Day 6: Trek to Renje (2,840m.)

4-hours’ trek We trek by staying nearby river and arrive at a collection of stones at a riverside bank. In summer if the water is high, then this part can be treacherous. The trail makes several ups and down and arrive at a bridge which leads to Renje village 3,020m, a small village of around 11 houses, where we camp for the overnight rest.

Day 7: Trek to Phoksundo Lake (3,640m.)

5-hours’ trek The Suli Gaad valley turns eastwards and becomes narrower. The trail continues with its ups and downs and reaches to its confluence of the Suli Gaad with Pungmo Khola. From on here, the Suli Gaad is known as Phoksundo Khola. We cross a wooden bridge and arrive at Shey Phoksundo National Park Headquarter, at Sum-Dowa, now abandoned. We then follow the west bank and climb through big cedar trees and come to Palam, a winter settlement of people from Ringmo. The afternoon's walk up to Ringmo is delightful. A sheer cliff wall guards the upper valley which hides the lake until we reach some prayer flags at 3800m. Equally impressive is the huge waterfall, 330m.-high, down from the Phuksumdo Lake. The village of Ringmo and camp is on the opposite side of the village at 3,700 metres with impressive views of the lake and entire surrounding.

Day 8: Rest day

A rest day in Ringmo camped by the beautiful clear waters of Ringmo Lake. The nearby monastery is worth a visit. Visit the Pal Sentan Thasoon Chholing Gonpa; a Bon-Po Gonpa said to have d 60 generations ago. There are several various Gonpa owned by monastic communities and may be permitted to visit on request.

Day 9: Trek to Phoksundo Khola (3,510m.)

A 5 to 6 hours’ trek The trail follows the western side of Phoksundo Lake and is rather precarious with several sections supported by wooden stakes and rocks. This path, along with views of the stunningly blue lake was featured in the film by Eric Valli. It is not possible to proceed north of Phoksumdo Lake without the special Inner Dolpo permit. Once we have walked around the lake, the trail descends into a wide valley, and we set up camp near the Phoksundo River.

Day 10: Trek to Phoksundo La or Snowfields Camp (4,400m.)

From Camp, we head northwards in a narrow valley crossing several streams, so it is a good idea to bring sandals for in case you have to wade through some of them. We are following the same route as taken by Peter Mathieson in his Snow Leopard book and tonight we camp at the place he called "Snowfields Camp" located below the pass heading to Inner Dolpo. Day 11: Cross Kang La (5,150m.) and trek to Shey Gonpa (4,125m.)

Day 11: Cross Kang La (5,150m.) and trek to Shey Gonpa (4,125m.)

A 5 to 6 hours’ trek The trail up to the Kang La pass is quite steep on a slope of loose slate scree. There is a steep descent to the valley floor, and they follow the banks of a river to Shey Gompa, the entrance has a red Chörten and mani-stones. The famous Buddhist monastery is located beneath Crystal mountain, as Shey means crystal in the local dialect.

Day 12: Rest day at Shey Gompa

One may use the day as a chance to explore the area or have a total relaxing in the camp.

Day 13: Cross Sela La (5,095m.) and trek to Namgung (4,360m.)

A 6 to 7 hours’ trek Coming out of Sela, we start to head east up a narrow valley followed by a steep climb to Sela La (Saldang La). There are views from the pass north into Tibet and east towards Mustang. Turning northwards we make the long descent from the pass to and finally arrive at the pasture of Yaks and Sheep with nomad tents which is a signal that we are near to Namgung village. The Namgung monastery is of the Karma-pa sect. It is built against the backdrop of a cliff on the north wall of a gorge. The red and white colours of the Gonpa and its Stupas are the only colour in this stark landscape. The village itself consists of only six stone houses and has terraced fields on both sides of the tributary.

Day 14: Trek to Saldang (3,770m.)

A 3 hours’ trek Today is a shorter day. The day starts with a traverse high above Namgung Khola, before descending to Saldang village. Looking down into the valley bottom you will see the fertile valley with a lot of terraced fields. This settlement is the largest in inner Doplo and is situated on the salt trading route from Tibet to the southern lowlands. The village stretches for about two kilometres on an open slope.

Day 15: Rest day

One may use the day as a chance to explore the area or have a total relaxing in the camp or extend a day excursion to Khoma village.

Day 16: Trek to Sibu (3,940m.)

A 6 hours’ trek On leaving Saldang, we head south following the Namgung Khola passing through terraced fields, Chörtens and mani walls. Namdo is the next village, and we carry on to Sibu village where we camp for the night. A 4 to 5 hours’ trek Morning trail follows the Nam Khong river and passes by the caravans of laden yaks that are on the way towards Tibet. Continuing a long walk, we get to part turning east till we arrive at the confluence of two small tributaries. The trail from here steepens up to the Jeng La Phedi. We camp at near a yak grazing area known as Langmo Che.

Day 18: Cross Jeng La (5,220m.) and trek to Tok-Kyu (4,240m.)

A 6 to 7 hours’ trek It takes around 2 hours to reach the Jeng La pass at 4,845m where there are superb views of Dhaulagiri. Going down from the pass we enter the Tarap Valley and continue to the village of Tokyu Gaon. Tarap is a valley with vast plains in high mountains extending about 18kms along the river Tarap Chu. It is composed of ten villages and accordingly many monasteries and Chörtens of both sects.

Day 19: Trek to Do (3,944m.)

A 3 hours’ trek Due to the opens of the Tarap Valley, the sun hits the tent early, giving a spring feel to the morning. The mornings' walk passes through the villages off Clumaga and Kagar, both extremely interesting with many Chörten, again both Bun-Po monasteries (the ancient pre-Buddhist religion) and Choba (orthodox Buddhist). There are six Gonpas in Dho, but we visit only the Kagar and Champa Gonpa.

Day 20: Trek to Lahini (3,379m.)

A 6 hours’ trek Leaving Dho, the Tarap Khola is followed for two hours, at first on its left bank, to a bridge where lunch usually get organized. From here another three to four hours, the valley becomes narrow with deep gorges crossed by innumerable small bridges. However, it is an exceptionally well-made path, one of the finest gorge paths in the region, offering an entertaining afternoon's walk.

Day 21: Trek to Tarakot (2,540m.)

A 5 hours’ trek We descend to Kanigaon and from the check post, head east for a few hundred yards to a well mad bridge which is crossed to the left bank of the Barbung Khola, into which the Tarap Khola now flows. We follow the river for another three hours to the village of Tarakot, where we stop.

Day 22: Trek to Dunai and Juphal

A 5-6-hour's trekking. We continue the descent along the Barbung Khola through a beautiful alpine valley to Dunai. Then further one and half hour final walk to Juphal airstrip. This evening is the ceremonial evening, to celebrate the happy end of the trek and to see off with the kitchen crews and porters.

Day 23: Extra Day

One extra day to use whenever or wherever the group may be needed. Otherwise, we will spend it in Kathmandu.

Day 24: Fly to Nepalgunj and then to Kathmandu

We take the flight to Nepalgunj, for an afternoon's rest before flying on to Kathmandu the following day.

Day 25: Kathmandu

A free day or optionally take a guided city tour

Day 26: Departure

Breakfast and free time till the time limit. In the indicated time, our office representative and vehicle arrive at your hotel to serve you till the airport. Drive to Kathmandu international airport to see off formalities and departure.

Cost

COSTS PER PERSON
NUMBER IN GROUP 3-Star Hotels 4-Star Hotels
2 - 3 Persons 5388$ 5538$
4 - 5 Persons 4800$ 4950$
6 - 7 Persons 4512$ 4662$
8- 10 Persons 4242$ 4392$
Single room supplement 550$ 700$
HOTELS / ACCOMMODATIONS
CITIES 3-Star Hotels 4-Star Hotels
KATHMANDU Marshyangdi or similar Hotel Shanke or Malla
NEPALGUNJ Hotel Siddhartha Hotel Siddhartha
DURING TREK Tented camp Tented camp

What is included

  • Airport pick up and departure services as per itinerary
  • 4-nights of hotel accommodation in Kathmandu on twin sharing basis, breakfast.
  • Kathmandu to Nepalgunj / Juphal / Nepalgunj / Kathmandu airfare (Tax included). 1 Night Hotel in Nepalgunj on full board and day-use room while flying back to Kathmandu on a full board basis.
  • Guide, cook, kitchen boys, Sherpa helpers and the necessary number of porters/mules for entire trekking. All camping equipment such as a two-men domed tent, dining tent, kitchen tent, staff tent, toilet tent, hard and soft mattresses for each member and kitchen equipment for common use.
  • All necessary food and beverages for trekking
  • Lower Dolpo permit and Upper Dolpo permits and National Park entry fees.
  • A good sleeping bag to each member. A pair of a trekking pole to each member. A trekking map and duffel bag
  • A satellite mobile phone for communication in an emergency (Personal usage available with 4$ per minute call).
  • Small medical kit box for first add medical purpose.
  • Insurance and expenses of all local staff.

What is not included

  • Travel insurance (Should include helicopter evacuation and cancellation eventualities as well)
  • International air tickets.
  • Nepal entry visa and visa fee (One can apply on arrival to Kathmandu airport).
  • Lunch & dinner in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
  • Personal expenses.
  • Alcoholic and mineral beverages during the trek.
  • Other charges such as usage of internet, telephone, laundry services.
  • Tips for Nepali staff/porters and those, not mentioned in the above price include section.

Best Seasons

Nepal has four primary seasons:
1. Winter: December–February
2. Spring: March-May
3. Summer: June–August
4. Autumn: September – November

General Weather:
The best time is from mid-September to the end of January or from mid-February to the end of May. July and August are rainy months for Nepal, but each season has its richness. During rainy month the jungles will be lush to the rain forest, and the rivers will swell, the lowlands or the fields of the hills will be full of rice and other crops.

During these month Japanese tourists and from other countries, loving the high Himalaya flower, comes to sight flowers. And most of the tourist willing to travel to Tibet comes from May to mid-October. And we also have a lot of Spanish tourists touring and trekking in Nepal in these months.

During rainy months the parts of Terai may see with flood and travelling during these months is hot and temperature may reach to around 38 degrees, but during this time the Indian tourists visit Nepal to escape the heat in their lowlands. During winter months the part of Terai will be misty and may find under winter mist until late morning (11 a.m.).

End of February to mid-May is the best time for fauna and flora both in the mountains and in Terai. During this time one may find a lot of rhododendron flower, magnolia, wild orchids and birdlife. The weather mostly remains fine in all parts of Nepal.

January February are winter, and from the end of January to February, the high passes in the mountain valley will be in the snow. During this time, the temperature around the Everest Base camp will be -17 degrees (after sunset and before sunrise). During day time will be around 5 to 11 degree and more if sunny. Nepal is a sunny country, so the temperature, even full winter, is much better than some European country and in America and in Canada. Many of them from those countries travel to Nepal to escape their cold weather and to enjoy the sunny Himalaya Panorama.

NOTE
The best months to take this itinerary is from the end of May to the end of October

FAQ

Where do we sleep?
In Kathmandu and Pokhara we stay in comfortable 3-star hotels with private en-suite bathrooms. While on trek we stay at Nepalese lodges which offer welcoming but straightforward accommodation and wonderful traditional hospitality. Lodges typically have one large communal room where you can sit and take meals, and there is an adjoining kitchen where you can order your food and drinks. Bedrooms are twin bedded with or without private bathroom, and dormitories with shared bathrooms.

What Equipment do I need?
You will need to bring appropriate warm outdoor clothing and a good pair of walking boots. A complete equipment list gets supplied when you sign up. Many of the necessary items can be purchased or rented in Kathmandu so don’t worry if you can’t buy everything where you live. The guides will check your equipment and clothing before departing from Kathmandu, so if anything is missing, there will be time to obtain anything necessary.

Can I arrive early or extend my stay?
Yes, you can! All you need to do is to tell us what your flight details are and how many extra nights you need and we will book your hotel accordingly. Additionally, if you would like to arrange a program of activities either before or perhaps after the trek, there are a range of options to choose from including the jungle safari at Chitwan national park, or perhaps white water rafting on one of Nepal’s spectacular rivers such as the Sun Kosi. The Kathmandu has several not to miss UNESCO World heritage sites and to visit all of them with time require at least 3-5 days.

Can I have a single room?
Yes, you can! There is a single room occupancy supplement indicated in the price list.

What about insurance?
It is a condition of joining the trek that you have insurance in place which will cover you for the costs of medical treatment, cancellations, emergency rescue and repatriation to your home country. You must ensure that it provides cover for trekking to altitudes above 4000 metres and includes helicopter rescue. We do not sell insurance scheme so requires to manage on your own.

Do I need a visa?
Yes, you do. Everyone needs to get a visa for Nepal, but you can obtain it on arrival at Kathmandu airport. You will need to bring two passport photos and the appropriate visa fee, which is the US $30 for 15 days, US $50 for up to 30 days, and the US $125 for 90 days. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry to Nepal.

How fit do I need to be?
Anyone who is in reasonable shape and good health can accomplish this trek. Some days will be harder than others, but none require much more than 5 or 6 hours of walking each day, with a leisurely lunch stop to break up the day. There is no rush or need to ‘keep up’, and you are free to walk at your own pace. We would recommend that you undertake some form of simple training in advance of the trek, such as a 30-minute walk each evening for a few weeks before the start of the trek. Another exercise, such as swimming, bicycling and playing tennis, is also ideal.

Do I have to carry my pack?
We use porters to carry the majority of our equipment so daily you need only take a very light day pack which should contain no more than the camera, water-bottle, a selection of snacks and a warm or waterproof jacket. Everything else needs to pack into a large duffle bag which will be given to a porter each morning. The kitbag will be carried by the porter each day and delivered to your lodge room each afternoon. You need to make sure you have everything you need for the day before giving your bag to the porter as it can be difficult to access while trekking.

Will I be affected by altitude?
Most of the trek takes place at lower altitudes where you are unlikely to notice anything other than mild shortness of breath at the beginning of the trek. As the days go by, you will gain acclimatisation and feel more adjusted to the higher altitudes. At a height above 4300 metres, one may experience a headache caused by the thin air and lack of oxygen, but these symptoms usually pass quickly. If you experience symptoms of altitude that does not go away, you will be accompanied by one of our Sherpas to a lower elevation, where you should quickly recover.

Do I need vaccinations to travel Nepal?
No vaccination are required to travel Nepal, but we suggest to consult with your doctor before travelling. You can get vaccination in Kathmandu/Pokhara but it is more comfortable if you get them before you travel.

How do I sign up?
All bookings need to be made through Annapurna Treks & Expeditions Pvt. Ltd. and to secure your place we will require a non-refundable deposit of minimum US $200 or as indicated in the booking and payment conditions section.

Payment Options:
1. Bank Transfer -this is our preferred method. Payments in US Dollars should be sent to the following account:

Account Name: Annapurna Treks & Expedition
Bank Name: Nepal Investment Bank
Bank Address: Durbar Marg, Kathmandu, Nepal, PO. Box 3412
Account number: 001 611710T
Swift Code No.: NIBLNPKT

2. Payment by a Card - payments can only be processed in Nepalese rupees (NPR), so if you wish to pay by card, we will convert the dollar amount to a Nepalese Rupees equivalent at the prevailing exchange rate. Card payment is accepted only on your arrival into the country. There will be a 3.5% service fee on top.

Booking Payment Conditions

Booking and payment conditions
As soon as we have your Booking, with a specific program and more or less number in the group, we will release an invoice for a confirmation deposit as per following.
(A) 200$ per person for trekking and tours
(B) 400$ per person for trekking peak climbing and trekking in restricted areas
(C) 600$ per person for mountaineering expeditions ranging 6,600m to below 8000 metres
(D) 3,000$ per person for all mountaineering expeditions above 8,000m. meter into Nepal
(E) 4,000$ per person for mountaineering expeditions above 8,000m mountain into Tibet.

1. The final confirmation will require at least three months in advance of the tours commence with 50% of the tour payment.
2. The final and total payment will require at least 25-days before the program commences.
3. The banking transaction charges of each time payment will be needed to be borne by the sender, and a net amount of the total amount will require deposited in the company account.

Trip Cancellation

  • To compensate the administrative charges, and other expenses in dealing with the booking process, the following cancellation fees will be charged:Cancellation after the confirmation - loss of the deposit
  • Cancellation 45-days before trip commences - 20% of the total cost
  • Cancellation 25-days before trip commences - 50% of the total cost
  • Cancellation less than 21-days before the trip commences - 70% of the total cost
  • Cancellation after arrival or during the trip - 100% of the total cost
Responsibility
We, Annapurna Treks & Expeditions Pvt. Ltd., accept responsibility for ensuring that the services booked with us are as close as possible to the itinerary outfitted in our mutual understanding. You agree and understand that it may be necessary to adjust the program due to unforeseen factors. In such a case, the group leader and sirdar/guide, in the team, will make the final decision.

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