The pristine beauty of Nepal lies in the remote Himalayan region. Among many such stunning trekking destinations, the Dolpo region has its own story to share. Dolpo rests in Nepal’s northwest part, between the unique Tibetan Plateau and the majestic Dhaulagiri mountain ranges. The soaring peaks called Dolpo rises to form a ringed horseshoe shape. With the landscape representing a cold high desert feel, the Dolpo region is the true blessing of natural beauty.
Eric Valli, in 1999 directed a movie named Caravan in Nepal to feature the elegance and charm of Dolpo. This movie captivated any cinema-goers and adventurers into this deserted section of Nepal. Only after 1989 were foreigners allowed to visit Dolpo. But even now, Dolpo carries the untouched and unexplored feel as this area remains restricted without a special permit to enter. In such unsullied nature, this is the ultimate destination for your soul searching and adventurous pleasure.
So, are you ready to explore the best trek of Nepal and find more about it? Well, you must.
Why take the Dolpo trek?
The Dolpo trek is hard to match for its immense beauty and rugged charm. Both Upper Dolpo Trek and Lower Dolpo trek bestows an endless variety of landscapes and incredible diversity. As one explores the elevation from 1650 meters (5,412ft) to 5136 meters (16,846ft), one can witness the numerous change in vegetation and the landscape. The farmlands and the hills gradually change into the sub-tropical forest and then into alpine grassland. The colorful landscape looks right out of some outlandish movie you dreamt of being a part of.
Walking on such remote and deserted land for weeks can be challenging to your body. That said, the rewards of the Dolpo trek are astounding! Living in an area discovered only by few outsiders, witnessing the rich Buddhist traditions of the Dolpo people; flying into the high mountains; marvel at Phoksundo Lake, and challenging yourself must sound heavenly.
Other than the crystal blue lake of Shey Phoksundo, you get to witness the Shey Gompa; Bon practitioners; and Buddhist monasteries that appear out of nowhere. Not to mention the stunning mountain views of the Dhaulagiri range in the east and south and Mt. Sisne, along with Kanjiroba in the west. And that’s not the end. You get to explore the Shey-Phoksundo National Park that homes the elusive snow leopard, blue sheep, Himalayan black bear, goral, and many other mammals flora.
The hospitable local people with rich culture and tradition are a huge plus. Tibetan descent, since the initial centuries of Christianity, influences the culture and tradition of this region. These Tibetan refugees continue to trickle into the villages of Dolpo. The colorful prayer flags, chortons, craves stones, and artwork all present the best of Dolpo.
Dolpo Trek Difficulty
First and foremost, you should know you have two trekking options- Lower Dolpo and Upper Dolpo. The Lower Dolpo trek is a classic path that demands about 15 days of walk. But, exploring the upper Dolpo insists one more week. The desert-like landscape of Dolpo bestows a challenging trek with some steep ascents. With the two high-passes to be crossed at 5,000m and several days spent at 4,000m asl, you cannot take this trek lightly. The highest you get is Kang-La Pass at 5,151m and Bagala Pass at 5190m.
For more than two weeks, you will be walking for 5 to 7 hours each day. While that sounds easy, gaining 500m height on average is going to be a tough climb. Covering more than 10km every day is a challenge to you.
Do not forget to note that Upper Dolpo is the least developed territory of the nation. It’s not just the altitude you suffer; remoteness and lack of essential facilities are other challenges. Ignoring acclimation days and dehydration can be the primary enemy of your journey. So, yes, it isn’t effortless to trek to Upper Dolpo in a precise sense. While some high-altitude trek experience can be a significant plus, you can hike without expert knowledge and climbing equipment. That said, you need to be in excellent physical health and have mental dedication with a superior strolling stamina level. Nonetheless, challenging climbing, outdoor games, cycling, vigorous exercises, and other cardio-muscular exercises can prepare you well.
Best season for Dolpo trek
Trekking in the right season is the biggest plus. The trail during the monsoon season (June to August) of Nepal is exceptionally unsafe and hazardous. On the other hand, the winter season (December to February) in Dolpo offers shallow temperatures with thick clouds. But with the right kind of clothes and other equipment, the winter trek has its own perk.
Anyway, the remaining season, i.e., autumn (September to November) and spring (March to May), is considered Dolpo trek’s ideal moments. Stable weather, warm temperature, and the clear make for the prodigious Dolpo trek.
Dolpo Trekking Permit
You need a group of at least two people to trek into Lower or Upper Dolpo. You also need to book your tour or have a guide with you before getting these permits. An individual will not be issued this permit. But just in case you are a solo traveler, consult if your trekking agency can arrange the tour for you alone. Also, the agency will organize all of these permits for you.
Upper Dolpa Trekking Permit
- Dolpo Buddha Rural Municipality
- Shey Phoksundo Rural Municipality
- Charka Tangsong Rural Municipality
Dolpo offers an expedition in the most remote area of Nepal. Along with the pristine natural beauty, this tour provides intriguing insights into the local culture. This trip opens up a plethora of opportunities to explore the prodigious landscape of this Himalayan country. If such an amusing destination is not on your bucket list yet, add it to the top.
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