Dolpo Trek

Trek Highlights

Dolpo is a remote region, most of which is protected by the Shey Phoksumdo National Park. It is bounded in the east and south by the Dhaulagiri and Churen Himal ranges and in the west by the Jumla district.

Isolated by the rest of Nepal by high passes to the south, Dolpo is also known as a Ba-yul, or hidden land. There are Tibetan style villages in Tarap and at Phoksumdo Lake. Much of Dolpo remains culturally and religiously linked with Tibet and the people continue to trade with Tibet on the ancient grain for salt trade routes, but the southern part of Dolpo is a region of Hindu influence.

Video Overview

Trek Itinerary

Day 01: KATHMANDU/ POKHARA  Overland Drive

Depart early morning from Kathmandu and arrive(early afternoon) to Pokhara. You have a free afternoon at Pokhara. On a clear day, one can view the great Annapurna Range from this beautiful city. Pokhara is situated beside a beautiful lake called, Phewa Tal. You have the afternoon to relax and enjoy the scenery and culture.

Day 02: POKHARA/ JUPHAL/ TREK TO DUNAI (approx 3 hrs) Elevation: 2100m

Fly from Pokhara(early morning) to Juphal. The flight takes approximately 45minutes and upon arrival your guides will receive you at the take airport. From Juphal you will start your trek towards Dunai which will take you through small villages. The path will you alongside a river and is mostly downhill and flat.

Day 03: DUNAI/ TARAKOT (approx 5 hrs) Elevation: 2500m

Follow the trail eastward out of Dunai along the south bank of the Thulo Bheri. A short distance beyond Dunai the route crosses to the north bank near the end of the day crosses back to the south bank at Lawan. There is a police check post near this bridge, the trail passes below the fields of Tarakot to a campsite near the Yalkot Khola at 2520m, just below the fortess of Tarakot village. It’s worth a climb to the village for a look around.

Day 04: TARAKOT / LAHINI (approx 8 hrs) Elevation: 3160m

Above the Tarakot, the Thulo Beri is known as the Barbung Khola. There is a new trail that climbs over a ridge on the west bank of the river to a village, then stays high above the river and, after a few ups and downs, crosses it on a 120m- long, high suspension bridge at 2560m. It is a short distance along the Tarap Chu to the Kani Gaon police post. Kanigaon is on the hillside above, and there is a small Gompa(monastry) across the Tarap Chu that you can visit if you feel secure crossing a rushing stream on a single log. From the Kani Gaon police post, trek through the cedar forest and fields as the trail climbs over the tops of some spectacular landscapes. The river drops steeply alongside the trail  600mts in only 3 kms. Finally, the gorge begins to widen at LAHINI, a meadow at 3160m. There is no village or house here, Lahini was a camp used by the trail construction crew and is now abandoned.

Day 05: LAHINI/ SISHUL KHOLA (approx 7 hrs) Elevation: 3770m

The trail follows the riverbank for a while to another meadow, and then climbs a rock cleft to cross a ridge as the gorge narrows again. The trail switch backs and climbs stairs to a crest at 3540mts, then makes a long high traverse on an exposed but wide and safe trail to another crest at 3600mts. The trail stays high for a while before descending to a rushing side stream, the TILBA KHOLA, at 3570mts. Then, climb one more ridge and descend to CHHEUR, a small campsite beside a stream at 3610mts. There are large rose shrubs and yellow poppies along the route. The trail now climbs a slope to cross a ridge, but if the Tarap Chu is low and the river is not washed out, you can cross the river here, walk 10 minutes upstream, and cross back to the west bank to avoid the climb. The trail continue along the river bank for a while, then crosses two rocky ridges a small camp site between them. The local slate like rock is excellent for building bridges and stairs for the trail. The trail stays on the west bank, making some short climbs before reaching Nawor Pani, a trail crew shelter at 2620m. What forest remains  mostly spruce, fir, juniper and cypress – is high on the cliffs and inaccessible to humans. Then the trail crosses and re-crosses the Tarap Chu on a series of log and stone bridges past Tar Tar at 3660m and Tal Tole at 3680m. The trail switches back up a steep slope to a ridge at 3710m and descends back to the riverside, following the river at Gyam Gyar at 3740m.

The route crosses the Tarap Chu on a very short bridge where the river emerges from a narrow, steep gorge. Climb on the east bank through a true trans-himalayan landscape to a Chorten (prayer flag) on a ridge at 3870m. This is Serkam, an abandoned border post that was the checkpoint between Nepal and Tibet in the 19th century. This is blue- sheep country: there are numerous herds living among the yellow rocks and cliffs. Be sure to look for white breasted dippers, only found in western Nepal, along the river. Descend from Serkam and cross back to the West bank on a crooked wooden bridge high above the Tarap Chu. A kilometer of walking brings you to the Sishul Khola, where there is a grassy camp site with good caves for porters at 3770m. The high trail back to Dunai via Cherka Dingla and Lawan heads west and climbs high before making a spectacular drop to the Thulo Bheri north of Tarakot.

Day 06: SISHUL KHOLA/ DO TARAP (approx 7 hrs) Elevation: 4080 m

Climb gently to two weather worn Chortens atop a ridge, then descend to the river. The trail is rock-strewn as it traverses beneath cliffs to a bridge at 3890m. Cross to the east bank where a huge side valley enters the Tarap Chu valley. The Tarap trail heads north up the Tarap Chu, climbing slowly alongside the river; before long you can see the white Ribo Bhumpa Gompa (monastery) ahead in Do Tarap. Climb to a line of ancient Chortens at 4010m; it’s then an easy walk through the fields of barley to Do Tarap (4080m). There are campsites in grassy meadows south of the village at the confluence of the Tarap Chu and the Doto Chu.

The name Tarap refers to the entire region. The correct name of this village is Do meaning “lower end of the valley” in Tibetan, but most local people refers to the village as Do Tarap. It consists of clusters of closely packed stone houses with tiny windows. The Ribo Bhumpa Gompa above the village was rebuilt in 1955; beside it is the unique “chorten in a chorten containing the remains of a demon killed by Guru Rimpoche. There are paintings inside the chorten representing both Bon-po and Nyingma Buddhism, although the Gompa is itself Buddhist.

The women of Do Tarap wear elegant Tibetan dress with huge amounts of jewelry and ornate but cumbersome silver headgear. The men wear red head gear in their hair in the style of the Tibetan Khampas. The wind blows fiercely in Tarap from noon to sunset. The houses are smoky from the desert shrubs they burn in the hearth in lieu of firewood.

Day 07: DO TARAP / TOK KHYU High Camp (approx 6hrs) Elevation: 4180 m

Tarap is worth exploring, so do not hurry through this region. If you are having altitude problems, continue on to Tok khyu for a visit and then return down the Tarap Chu valley Dunai.

Head west out of Do Tarap, past a cluster of stone houses, soon you will reach a school building. This is the Crystal Mountain School, this is the first attempt to bring education to this remote region and it was established through an NGO. The Gompa (monastery) is richly decorated and has gold lettered manuscripts in its library. The guardian lives on the first floor. Further on, the trail finally crosses the Tarap Chu (known here as the Thakchio Khola) on a wooden bridge that leads to Mondo (4170m). Here the valley divides; the northern fork of the Tarap Chu leads to Nangkhong and remote regions of northern Dolpo.

Further on, numerous fat marmots and rabbits live in burrows in the nearby hillside side. The large white building high on the hill and across the valley is Sharring Gompa; below it is Joglung Gompa. There is a chapel and a library at Joglung, which has been there for atleast six generations. Sharring Gompa was rebuilt in 1965, using stones from the former temple. If you are heading for Shey Gompa and inner Dolpo, you will do best to take the trail starting between Numa La and Baga La. An alternate route to Shey crosses the river at Tok Khyu and follows a trail at the north branch of the Tarap chu. It is a high, difficult and remote route over the 5110m Jengla Bhanjyang into wild country.

Day 08: TOK KHYU High Camp / PELUNGTANG (approx 7hrs) Elevation: 4465m

It is a long pull over Numa La, so start early, new snow can make the trek a tough climb. If there is snow then you will have to make an additional, higher camp in order to cross the pass in the early morning when the snow is still hard. Under normal conditions, however, the pass crossing is reasonably straight forward – just long and high.

From the camp, follow a stream, crossing it on rocks, then climb steeply up a grassy slope to a ridge where there are several mani(prayer) walls and a Chorten at 4580m. It is said a hermit monk lives in the cave below the chorten and spends his life making mani(prayer) stones. Continue up the ridge to a grassy knoll and a tiny stream at 4930m; this is a possible campsite.

The route is not obvious, but it crosses a small stream and makes a long climb along a moraine at Numa La at 5318m, about 4 hours from the high camp. From the pass on a clear day you can see Shey Shikar (6139m), Kanjeralwa and Dhaulagiri I (8167m)

Descend from the pass into a U shaped rock valley. The trail turns left and you can see across the valley, Baga La, the next obstacle on the trek. Watch for wild life, especially blue sheep and snow leopards, in this remote valley. Follow the rocky valley as it descends; the route crosses a large stream and numerous slopes and there are several alternative trails. There is a small, rocky camp site at about 4520m and another at 4360m near the foot of the valley. The valley is joined by another large valley from the east and the two streams join to form the Poyon Chu. Follow the river downstream, then cross it on a combination of rocks and logs and climb again up the south bank. The trail along the right bank climbs and eventually crosses several passes on yet another route to the restricted region of Saldang and Shey Gompa. The trail along the left bank climbs gently, but continually, and the river drops steeply, so you are soon high above the river. After traversing in and out of a few small side valleys, the trail makes a sharp turn to the left, leading into another large side valley.

Round the ridge into the valley and climb gently to a good campsite in a meadow at 4465m. This spot is known as Pelungtang; tang in Tibetan means meadow. The large glaciated peak at the head of the valley is Norbu Kang (6005m)

Day 09: : PELUNGTANG TO DAJOK TANG (approx: 6 hrs) Elevation: 4080 m

This is a tough day when the pass is covered with snow, but it’s not difficult when the route is clear. The trail crosses the stream, then climbs above Pelungtang, making its way along the side of several moraines to a large bowl. The trail contours around the bowl on a scree slope to several rough cairns atop Baga La.(5190m)

Descend from the pass, steeply at first, then more gently staying high above the right bank of the stream. The trail is well defined in most places, although it sometimes disappears into loose slate- like scree and crosses two large side streams that present a rock hopping challenge. At 4390m, the trail turns a corner and enters a huge valley, making a final descent on steep switchbacks to Dajok Tang at 4080m. The stream drops beside the trail in an impressive series of step like waterfalls. This is truly a spectacular valley, with a large moraine, said to encompass a lake at its head and numerous waterfalls shooting off near vertical rock cliffs. At the foot of the valley are several snowy peaks, including Kanjeralwa. If you have energy, you can push on to another camp site 20 minutes below, or 15 minutes further again to more sites at the foot of Sonam Kang.

Day 10: DAJOK TANG/ PHOKSUMDO LAKE (Approx 3hrs) Elevation: 3730m

Follow a trail down to a marmot-infested meadow at the foot of a waterfall at 3970m, then descend into a forest of cedars. It’s a lovely walk through the trees to a camp site in yak pastures at 3830m near the junction of a stream descending from Sonam Kang to the south. There is a bridge over the Manduwa Khola, but it leads only to Sonam Khang (which is off limits to climbers) and high yak pastures. Trek through more meadows, forests, yak pastures, stone and sod herder’s hut on a trail rising high above the river. Eventually, the trail emerges into an area of thorny shrubs and descends a bit, then climbs on a high Cliffside trail to a ridge at 3780m. There is a good view across he valley to the huge waterfall formed by the Phoksumdo Khola.

The trail levels out again and renters forests as it climbs to another crest at 3820m. It then descends gently through a blue pine forest to two Bon-Po Chortens and the fields of Ringmo at 3730m. It is then a short distance through a forest of birch and pines to the national part camping ground near the shores of Phoksundo Lake at 3730m.

Day 12: RINGMO / SEKPA (Approx 6 hrs) Elevation: 2670 m

Follow a straight to a jungle trail at the foot of a Phoksundo waterfall, from this point the scenic view of the mountains are very clear. It’s a lovely walk through the trees of the cedar forest which is comparatively quite a steep descend. The lunch point is near the fileds of the place called an army camp. You can also visit the museum at the camp. After the lunch the trail which leads to the campsite for the day at Sekpa is a straight hike. Along the route to the campsite you will be able to pass through Ranga Gaon. This is the only ascend for the day which is about 30 minutes . After the climb to the hill descend towards the campsite at Sekpa. The walk is along the Phoksundo river.

Day 13: SEKPA / ROHAGAON (Approx 7 hrs) Elevation:

The new trail stays along the cliff, climbing across a small bridge. The trail becomes a collection of rocks and sticks. The path makes several ups and downs. Cross the west bank and walk past several horse pastures. The route enters birch and juniper forest, which gives way to blue pines as the trail crosses the river. Descends half an hour towards the Tharo Khola . After crossing the river the trail stays is an easy walk to the lunch point.

After lunch the trail towards Rohagaon is an easy walk to the campsite.

Day 14: ROHAGAON / JUPHAL (Approx 6hrs) Elevation: 2490m

The valley near Juphal is called the Thulo Bhrei. It takes at least three hours to walk to the lunch point. To get back to Juphal, head along the south bank of the Tulo Bheri past the Suli Gaad confluence and onto Roop Gaad. Stay high and climb less steeply around the head of the valley towards Juphal. There is a maze of trails but ultimately you will arrive at Juphal, a collection of houses, offices and small hotels. Above the village are some basic shops in a complex at flat roofs, mud houses besides the airport. There is a good campsite just below the settlement.


Fly from Juphal to Pokhara and then transter onto a bus or flight on your way back to Kathmandu.

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