“So close yet the cultural difference so huge. The people of high Dolpa still practices the nomadic lifestyle whereas, the people of Mustang practiced and enjoyed luxury even in the past because of living in the village that situated in the famous silk route.”
Dolpa has a Legend has it that the revered Buddhist saint, Guru Rimpoche, who spread Tibetan Buddhism throughout the Himalayas, discovered this hidden land over 1700 years ago. This land, also called “beyul” or refuge has been inhabited by Tibetan nomads, called Drokpas, for over a thousand years. It has remained isolated, due to its remote location and has only been open for trekking and tourism since 1989. One of the highest inhabited places on earth, Dolpa is also still a stronghold of the pre-Buddhist, Bon Po religion. It is a high, mountainous region of fortified villages, ‘dzongs’ and many high passes.
We pass through many ancient monasteries and highland villages and wonderful natural scenery as we make our way to Phoksundo Lake and the fabled Shey Gompa. You can even explore alpine meadows and exotic villages in Upper Dolpa which has kept Bhoriya culture alive. We also get to experience Thakkali culture in Mustang.
The most interesting factor of this trek is that we get to witness the cultural difference of the people of different regions, had centuries ago. Dolpa the high mountainous settlement holds the nomads that migrated to the region ages ago. Similarly the people of Mustang also called Lopas also migrated from Tibet almost during the same time. Still the contrast between the people of these two regions in the past and in the recent times is so huge in terms of civilization; it is an interesting discovery.
This itinerary can be change as per your interest and time frame.
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu/ (1400 m)
As you fly into Kathmandu, the views of snow-capped mountain peaks greet you. A representative and driver from our office will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. Our representative will help you check into your designated hotel. At the hotel you will be briefed about your daily activities.
Day 02: Kathmandu to Nepalgunj (150m)/ flight
From Kathmandu, we take a bus or fly on any domestic carrier to Nepalgunj. Nepalgunj, a town in the western Terai, is very close to the Indian border and the Bardia Nationl Park. It is a major transport hub for western, mid-western and far-western regions of Nepal. Our representative will pick you up from the airport and take you to the hotel. Overnight stay will be at hotel that is 10 to 15 minutes drive from the airport.
Day 03: Nepalgunj to Juphal (2475m)/ flight and Juphal to Dunai/ 3 hrs trek.
Today we take a 35 minutes long flight to Juphal .Our trekking starts from Juphal. The trail from Juphal to Dunai is comfortable and easy as the trail on this part of trek also has few jeeps running to and fro. The first forty five minutes of the trek descends down to Kalagauda followed by two hours of hike along the trail above Thuli Bheri River. We trek by the riverside and pass Roop Ghar with the water mill and finally reach the Dunai (2150m) a small town, the head quarter of the district. Dunai has some schools government and private, college, police check post and some government offices. You can visit the Bon Stupa and school, Central Buddhist monastery and the very first English medium school across the river, From the Stupa you can have the view of whole town and another village, upper Dunai too.
Day 04: Dunai to Chhepka (2687m)/ 6 hrs
The real adventure of Dolpa Mustang Trek begins today. As the trek begins we initially trek along classic trekking route of Dolpa via Sulighar, which is pretty much comfortable walk along the levelled trail. We shall produce the trekking permit to Dolpa and the Shey Phoksundo National Park Permit at the Sulighat Check-post. Now we are officially inside Shey Phoksundo National Park. Beyond Sulighat our trek follows the trail beside Phoksundo River till Kageni. As the trek goes further, the landscapes in the vicinity begin to change.
We trek through the lush tropical forest frequently emerging at isolated mid-hill villages like Jutung and arrive to Shangta. At Shangta we cross the bridge twice- once over Phoksundo River and once over the confluence of Phoksundo Khola and Maiaba Khola and begin to head north towards Chhepka. Trekking upstream along the trail beside Phoksundo Khola for a while we arrive to Chhepka. We put our camps at an ideal location in Chhepka for the overnight stay.
Day 05: Chhepka to Chunuwar (3110m)/ 6 hrs
Today the the trail leads you beside Phoksundo Khola- the trail of famous Lower Dolpa Circuit. We trek in the opposite direction of the river flow to Amchi Hospital. The trek crosses the bridge over Phoksundo Khola twice. As we approach closer to Kharka trekking along the amazingly peaceful region the trail goes high above Phoksundo Khola to Rechi 3011m, where we stop for the lunch. Beyond Rechi we again hike along the river side trail to Sulligad Dovan where we cross the bridge over the confluence of Phoksundo Khola and Yulung Khola and arrive to Chunuwar. We will settle our camps here for the night.
Day 06: Chunuwar to Phoksundo Lake (3600m)/ 5-6 hrs
We will join the direct trail to Phoksundo Lake today climbing through forests of big cedars on to Palam (3710m), a winter settlement used by the people of the Ringmo village. The entrance station for the Shey Phoksundo National Park is at the south end of the village. The route then descends on switchbacks through open country to an elevation of 3300 meter, and then starts up another set of dusty switchbacks to a ridge at 3780 meter to the highest waterfall in Nepal (200 meter high). Our route then continues on to Ringmo village, a picturesque settlement of flat-roofed stone houses with lots of mani walls. Just below Ringmo we cross a bridge and follow the trail to Phoksundo Lake, where we camp at the national park camping grounds west.
Day 07: Phoksundo – Rest day
Today we explore the area around Ringmo Village and the magnificent Phoksundo Lake. First, we explore around Ringmo Village and head to Tshowa (the lake-shore Bon Monastery).
The Gompa nestling a ridge top above Phoksundo Lake was built about 900 years ago. Exploring this culturally rich Bon Monastery is fascinating experience.
Then we drop down to Phoksundo Lake along steep-sided cliffs. The lake is famous for its magnificent turquoise colour and spectacular scenery. Ringmo village, a typical Tibetan village, is scenic view from Phoksundo Lake.
There are several monasteries (Gompas ) and Bon-po religious sites at the park and we spend our time visiting some of these. We also explore the wonderful natural sites and enjoy our nature tour.
Day 08: Phoksundo- Sallaghari/ 5-6hrs trek
Today’s trek is probably one of the best trekking days of Dolpa to Mustang Trek. It climbs along the narrow trail cut on a cliff standing vertically straight above Phoksundo Lake. This treacherously fascinating trail brings us to another side of Phoksundo Lake.
This particular part of the trek is like fantasy walk portrayed by a writer in their fiction novels. To get to the Phoksundo Khola camp on other side of the lake, we slide down for ninety minutes along the beautiful forests. The final part of today’s trek slides up to the beautiful campsite at Sallaghari. Enjoy the night in the camps amongst beautiful pine forest.
Day 09: Sallaghari to Nangdala HC (4717 m)/ 5-6 hrs trek
Today’s trek is relatively short; we trek for almost three hours to reach Nangdala High Camp 4100m. As the trek begins we ascend up the narrow defile of Tuk Kyaksa River.
The trail switches to opposite side of the river several times. Soon we arrive to a place where the rapids of the river are calmer. We cross the bridge over the river at that point.
Thirty minutes of walk after the bridge, we come across the wide valley followed by two hours of walk along the canyon brings us the potential campsite. A walk for a while further reaches to the massive rock slab, which is Nangdala High Camp- our campsite for the night.
Day 10: Nangdala HC to Shey Gompa/ ( 4280m) Crossing Nangdala pass (5240m)/ 5-6hrs
Today we trek to the fabled Shey Gompa and the nearby ‘Crystal Mountain’, the most sacred peak in Dolpa which Dolpa pilgrims circumambulate each summer before the harvest. We are now entering the real Dolpa, and to enter into this mystical land we have to cross the Kangla/Nangdala pass . The trek to the top of Kang La/Nangdala Pass is along the graveled trail uphill for three continuous hours. However, all the efforts put to come up to the top of the pass rewards us with wonderful views.
The eye feast views from the Kang La Pass includes Cyrstal Mountain, the mountains in Tibetan territory and the mesmerizing landscapes of Dolpa. We also have views of the peaks Shey Shikkar and Kang Chunne, both just over 6000 meters, before descending steeply down to the valley floor and along the river. A red chorten marks the entrance to Shey.
Every Dragon year according to the Tibetan calendar that comes in every 12 years there occurs a grand festival. People from different places and countries come to join this festival. We camp for the night.
Day 11: Shey Gompa to Namgung Gompa / 6-7 hrs crossing Shey La Pass (5100m)
Today we will explore Shey Gompa. It is said to be about 800 years old monastery, with murals inside and an ancient scroll describing the mythology behind the Crystal Mountain.
The monastery is locally known as Shelri Sumdho Gompa. Shey Festival, the summer festival observed by the people of Dolpo with huge enthusiasm is hosted at Shey Gompa. Peter Mattheissen wrote quite a lot about his stay in Shey in ‘The Snow Leopard’, and it was shown in Eric Valli’s movie ‘Caravan’ as Thinley’s son’s gompa.
After the exploration of Shey Gompa as the trek begins, it follows the trail beside Sephu Khola for almost couple of hours. The landscapes during this part of the trek are typical Dolpo landscapes- barren and enchanting.
Then we begin to climb up towards the top of Shey La Pass, which is almost two hours of hike. The acme of Shey La Pass west of Shey, rewards us with the magnificent views of Mustang to the East, Tibet to the North and Kanjiroba, Kagmara and Riu Dhukta, or the Crystal Mountain, to the West.
The final push downhill from the Sela La (5095m), which is almost 2 hours of hike brings us to Namgung. We spend our night at Namgung, a local nomadic herding settlement.
Day 12: Namgong Gompa to Saldang/ 4-5 hrs camping.
Before setting out towards Saldang, we explore the monastery of Namgung set on the flanking cliff. As the trek from Namgong Gompa begins we follow Namga Khola cross pass more summer herding spots and emerge out of spur for a short hike down to Saldang. Saldang is a beautiful village with lots of dry land surrounded hills. Amchi tradition and Buddhism in Dolpo thrives here at Saldang. We’ll get a chance to visit some local houses, drink some salt butter tea or chhyang (Tibetan barley beer) and sample the local fare at Saldang.
Namgong Gompa Image
Day 13: Saldang to Day hike to Yangjer Gumba/ 4599m
Today we will have a day hike after early breakfast to Yanjer the richest monastery of this region. We will have packed lunch and will come back to Saldang for the night stop after the exploration of the monastery.
Day 14: Saldang to Khoma village
Today we trek for six hours and reach the village of Komash. Initially, the trail follows the Saldang Lek along the Rapyha Khola to the barren hillside. Exiting out to the elevated ridge (Khom La) of almost 4500m, the trail descends down steeply to Komash Village a village which bears similarity to a Tibetan village. Overnight in tents at Komash.
Day 15: Khoma village to Shimen
As we trek from Komash village we may sight some endangered animals like snow leopard or Blue sheep. On the way we pass small villages. The landscapes in the vicinity is full of highland deserts with few shrub like vegetation. On the trail there is one small pass Shimen La (4260m). After almost five hours of comfortable hike we arrive to Shimen. Overnight in the tented camps at Shimen.
Day 16: Shimen to Tinje
Today the trail goes by the side of Panjyang Khola. There are some villages and gompas on the way to Tinje. Tinje is a very beautiful valley. There is a natural air strip where once a British aircraft had landed and taken off.
Day 17: Tinje to Yak Kharka
From the village of Tinje we trek to Yak Kharka, which is an open grazing ground for yaks and sheep. The grassy meadow of Yak Kharka makes for an excellent camping site.
Day 18: Yak Kharka (4780m) to Chharka / 5 hrs walk crossing Mola Pass (5030m)
From yak kharka we trek towards Chharka. Crossing the pass Mola (5030m) we reach Chharka. We can visit beautiful village and the Bon Monastery in Chharka.
Day 19: Chharka to Norbulung/ Nulungsumda
Today the trail goes through the arid high land. There are some up hills on the way. We trek up to Norbulung and have a night camp there.
Day 20: Nulungsumda/ Norbulung to Ghalden Ghuldum (4247m) Crossing Niwala (5120m) and Jungbenla (5550m) passes.
From Nulungsumda ascending trail takes us to the pass Niwas La. Crossing the pass the trail we again proceed towards another pass Jungbenla then the trail goes down hill up to Ghaldang Ghuldung, where we make the night stop.
Day 21: Ghalden Ghuldum/ (4247m) to Sangta/ (3777m)
Today the trail goes with several ups and downs and finally reaches to the village Sangta.
Day 22: Santa to Phalyak/ (3175m)
We climb the hill behind Santa and spent most of the day making a high traverse, crossing nine ridges to a final crest at 4280m. We then descend into the Kali Gandaki valley, traversing under high cliffs and descending to the large village of Phalek.
Day 23: Phalyak to Jomsom/ (2720m)
We climb to a ridge at 3360m and make a final descent on a challenging trail of loose rocks to Jomsom at 2670m. Jomsom is also one of the famous places for the tourist.
Day 24: Jomsom to Pokhara/ flight and Pokhara to Kathmandu/ flight.
We fly from Jomsom to Pokhara and to Kathmandu today. Our representative will pick you up at Kathmandu airport and take you to the hotel.