Upper Dolpa Circuit Trek to Shey Gompa
Very less people or adventurers of the world know of Upper dolpa circuit trek to Shey Gompa as the famed routes of Everest, Annapurna and Langtang has somehow overshadowed other trails in Nepal. When it came to nature, terrain and beauty, dolpa and its landmark was unknown to even Nepalese encounters. It is only after the movie ‘Caravan’ which made it to the oscars and the book named ‘Snow Leopard’ written by Peter Matthiessen that Nepal and the rest of the world were aware of its potential.
Dolpa being the largest district of Nepal is the most rural as well and very untouched district. Upper dolpa circuit trek to Shey Gompa trek still receives less than 1000 trekkers a year, which is a mere fraction of the trekkers other trails receive. The region has culture dating back to over 2000 years and yet you would witness people practicing it with all joy and pride. The striking Dhaulagiri, which was once believed to be the tallest mountain in the planet, sets stage and is impeccable.Upper dolpa circuit to trek Shey Gompa, which is 800 years old, is located in the deepest and the most serene of all ambiance. The rituals carried out by the monks guarding this holy pilgrimage is the most significant and rustic that you have ever come across. The lake namely Shey Phoksundo, fresh water lake which is strikingly navy blue, is the most awaited and appreciated sceneries. The yak caravans, which till the day trades salt with goods in the Tibet, share the trails with you. The never ending passes, which is one of the best viewpoints for the high mountains and deserted terrain towards the south, will challenge you to your optimum. This trek offers it all and this is the most adventurous treks that you would ever come in Nepal and probably world that will offer you surreal and wilderness experience.
Upper dolpa circuit trek to Shey Gompa is the highest regarded off the beaten trek in Nepal. Since its located in the farthest most western corner of the country, getting access to the terrain is the most difficult thing. To add up, the entire area of Dolpa is a restricted area as the border that leads to Tibet is easily accessible. The terrain isn’t easy as well and justifies the statement ‘You will get the most beautiful views after the toughest climb’. This is one of the most arduous terrains which requires crossing 3 passes above 5000 meters and remaining above 3000 meters at most of the times. However, rare culture of communities namely Bon people is nowhere available than Dolpa. These people exhibit a very significant culture.
From the hunting ground of precipitous snow leopard to the strikingly beautiful topography to the most amazing cultural practice in the country, Upper Dolpa circuit trek to Shey Gompa offers all in all experience. Above all this is one trekking holiday that leaves you with experience that many will not be able to experience due to one or the other reasons.
- Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu
- Day 02: Trek preparation and sightseeing
- Day 03: Kathmandu - Nepalgunj
- Day 04: Nepalgunj - Juphal - Chepka (2838 m)
- Day 05: Chepka - Chunuwar (3110 m) 6 - 7 hrs
- Day 06: Chunuwar (3110 m) - Ringmo village (3641 m) 3 - 4 hrs
- Day 07: Ringmo (3641 m) (rest day)
- Day 08: Ringmo (3641 m) - Forest camp (3730 m) 6 hrs
- Day 09: Forest camp (3730 m) - Kang da la low camp (4400 m) (6-7hrs)
- Day 10: Kang da la low camp (4400 m) - Shey Gompa ( 4310 m) via Nagda La (5350 m)
- Day 11: Shey Gompa (4310 m) (Rest day)
- Day 12: Shey Gompa (4310 m) - Namgung (4430 m) via Shey La (5010 m) 6 - 7 hrs
- Day 13: Namgung (4430 m) - Saldang (4060 m) 3-4 hrs
- Day 14: Saldang (4060 m) - Chagaon (3840 m) 4 hrs
- Day 15: Chagaon (3840 m) - Jayanta La base camp (4550 m)
- Day 16: Jayanta La Base camp (4550 m ) - Tokyu (4210 m) via Jayanta La (5220 m)
- Day 17: Tokyu (4210 m) - Dho Tarap (4080 m) 2 - 3 hrs
- Day 18: Dho Tarap (4080 m) - Toltol (3523 m) 6 - 7 hrs
- Day 19: Toltol (3523 m) - Laina odar (3370 m) 6 - 7 hrs
- Day 20: Laina odar (3370 m) - Dunai(2390 m) 6 -7 hrs
- Day 21: Dunai (2140 m) - Juphal (2475 m) 3 - 4 hrs
- Day 22: Juphal - Nepalgunj - Kathmandu
- Day 23: Farewell
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu
Welcome to Kathmandu! A representative from Karma eco trek will receive you at the airport and drop you off to your hotels. No plan is set aside for the day. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Day 02: Trek preparation and sightseeing
Although the trek requires preparation from long back and almost everything is prepared by this day, you will do last minute shopping if anything is require. Once you short things out in the morning, you head out to see couple of UNESCO heritage sites in the city. These sights are considered national heritage and exploring them is a beautiful way to get along Nepalese way of life and culture. You will do last minute packing in the evening. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Day 03: Kathmandu - Nepalgunj
Day 04: Nepalgunj - Juphal - Chepka (2838 m)
The trek begins as soon as our flight lands in Ranjha airport, Juphal. From Juphal you would embark on a motorable road where rarely you will come across motor and within an hour you will hit the gates of Shey Phoksundo National parks. After getting out permits checked we enter the restricted area. On this section of the trail you will find teahouses in good amount, which is not the same in the days to come. You will stop in between either in Khalaripi or Kageni or in Sangta. We will hike further down to Chepka and pin down our tents. Chepka is more densly populated and have better water as well as toilet facilities. Overnight in Chepka.
Day 05: Chepka - Chunuwar (3110 m) 6 - 7 hrs
Once out of Chepka you will walk along Phoksundo river upstream, through dense forest. The ascend is gradual in the beginning but soon it gets steep. The trail is amazing as it dramatically climbs up as well as goes as low as the river beds and touches the river as well. Furthermore, you will cross the river at several points on a locally made bridges. From the initial point to our final destination of the day, you will only find couple of tent shops with basic food. Chunuwar houses a hotel as well as a campsite with a village water tap and well managed public toilets. Overnight in Chunuwar.
Day 06: Chunuwar (3110 m) - Ringmo village (3641 m) 3 - 4 hrs
Straight out of Chunuwar you will walk steep uphill on barren hills. These graystone hills have very less vegetation but offers a hawkeye view of the terrains in the surroundings. After climbing for these 3 tedious hours you will reach a view tower, which is more of a rest area. Climbing to the top of the view tower you can see Phoksundo waterfall which is a 3 step waterfall that drops down over 150 meters to Phoksundo Lake. You will as well see the strikingly blue lake for the first time which gets closer and clearer once you start descending gradually from the view tower. Almost an hour down from the view tower and your reach Ringmo village, located in the periphery of Phoksundo Lake. Overnight in Phoksundo lake.
Day 07: Ringmo (3641 m) (rest day)
Ringmo village is located right on the shore of the famous Shey Phoksundo lake. This lake is the deepest in the country and the second largest. Ringmo is worth exploring because it is a typical Tibetan village where locals are involved in making different kinds of handicrafts. Walking to the southern end of the village is a typical Bon Pal Sentan Thason Choling gompa which is as well one of the attraction of this rest day. The way to the gompa is a has beautiful mani wall and stones wrapped with prayer flags. Overnight in Ringmo.
Day 08: Ringmo (3641 m) - Forest camp (3730 m) 6 hrs
From Ringmo the trail climbs on a ledge rising above the Phoksundo lake. This climb offers beautiful views of the lake from three different corners. You will come across several streams that empties in the lake and would have to cross them on foot. It is recommended to keep a spare sandal in order not have moist feet. The trail first climbs to an altitude of 4085 meters and then further descends gradually to your final destination. Once downhill bound you will walk through gorges with views of snow clad mountains on both ends. Lookout for the views of mount Kanjirowa and Sonam Kang. Finally through the bushes and scrub trees, you will reach to your final destination of forest camp. An underdeveloped camp, which is also known as Chunemba, lies in the middle of blue pine forest. Overnight in forest camp.
Day 09: Forest camp (3730 m) - Kang da la low camp (4400 m) (6-7hrs)
The walk on this day is amazing. Right after forest camp, you will once again ascend but is not arduous as compared to the days that we spent on our way up or as days to come. Again, we would time and again cross the river and sometimes waist deep. Depending on the conditions, we may take packed lunch as the condition on this day does not support the crew to cook lunch in between. Most of the time, we remain along the Pisten river and we camp our tents at around 4400 meters on the shore of the same.
Day 10: Kang da la low camp (4400 m) - Shey Gompa ( 4310 m) via Nagda La (5350 m)
This is going to be a long day and on high altitude. Right from the beginning you need to be careful on the symptoms of altitude sickness although you would be properly acclimatized by now. Right from the beginning the walk is going to be strenuous and the walk is over sandy path with high possibilities of legs sliding. After crossing the path, we walk over 4 hours to reach our final destination of Shey Gompa. Shey is regarded as the highest pilgrimage for buddhist. Overnight in Shey Gompa.
Day 11: Shey Gompa (4310 m) (Rest day)
This mecca of Buddhism is worth spending a day and exploring. Shey Gompa is believed to have divine power and holding one of the most expensive statues. Along with Shey, there are 2 other sights worth exploring and they are Kagyupa Sect gompa as well as the hermitage at Thaksang. There are several legend behind erection of this shrine. However, this is considered as one of the holiest region and this is the reason why killing or slaughtering of any animal is prohibited. This could be one of the reasons why you would witness blue sheep, yaks and even snow leopards. Overnight in Shey Gompa.
Day 12: Shey Gompa (4310 m) - Namgung (4430 m) via Shey La (5010 m) 6 - 7 hrs
A day in shey gompa works like a charm when you have to cross another pass back to back. On this day you will cross another pass to reach the final destination of the day. You embark on a very muddy trail in the beginning which inclines in a gradual manner. Slowly, time and again, the trail becomes steep as well as easy. After this repetitive process for around 3 hours, you drop down to a gorge with shallow river from where you climb on dry rock to the Shey la pass. From the pass you steeply descend through the trails which surprisingly is surrounded by colorful flowers sprouting from rocky ground. From here you will walk along Namga Khola for around another 3 hours to reach the campsite of Namgung. Overnight in Namgung.
Day 13: Namgung (4430 m) - Saldang (4060 m) 3-4 hrs
From Namgung we start ascending to a hilltop for around two hours which showcases beautiful green mountains in the distance. Once on the top the way down is an easy stroll. Saldang is a very large settlement in comparison to other settlements in the region. This village has a very fertile land and people harvest barley, potatoes and wheat. The village also houses a school, health post and a campsite with running water. This village also has a beautiful gumba namely Samiye Choying Gompa which is also the oldest gumba in the region and older than Shey gompa. Overnight in Saldang.
Day 14: Saldang (4060 m) - Chagaon (3840 m) 4 hrs
You head out of Saldang on comparatively easy trail and through sparse villages. Further down the road, you would reach a gorge and from where you will see dense fields of local barley. Once in Rakhyo, which usually is our lunch stop, you will see thorny junipers. Now, from here on, you will be walking on the trail that is used for trade with Tibet. The locals trade Yarsagumba with food, clothes and other household necessities. Just 3 hours from Saldang is Chagaon and this campsite can be easily spotted because of the gompa located by the shore of the river. Overnight in Chagaon.
Day 15: Chagaon (3840 m) - Jayanta La base camp (4550 m)
Leaving the villages and the vegetation behind, we follow the trail along the river into a gorge. For most of the times, the trail is very gradual until a point from where the trail becomes very stiff. We have our lunch at some barren cliff with no or very less vegetation before heading to Jayanta La base camp. This is the highest point of the trek that you will ever accommodate in, throughout Dolpo circuit trek to Shey Gompa. We call it a night in around 3-4 hours of walk and be prepared for a long next day. Overnight in Jayanta La base camp
Day 16: Jayanta La Base camp (4550 m ) - Tokyu (4210 m) via Jayanta La (5220 m)
You would begin your day by climbing a 500 meter ascend which would take around 2 hours. Once you reach to the top of the pass you will start descending on easy gradient for around 1 ½ hours to an end where you will see deposits of rocks and sand. From here the trail becomes more easier. You further cross a river and then the walls of the trails open slowly and gets wider and you will notice prayer flags and mani walls on the either sides. These indicates arrival of Tokyu after walking for another hour and half. Overnight in Tokyu.
Day 17: Tokyu (4210 m) - Dho Tarap (4080 m) 2 - 3 hrs
From Tokyu the trail is almost horizontal and easy and an hour from here is a small settlement of Takshi. From Takshi, Dho Tarap is mere 1hour. Dho is considered as the highest permanent settlement at an altitude of 4080 meters. People here in Dho still follow centuries old culture and trend. As a part of culture, people still build their living space under the ground, whereas, only the tip of the house is seen above the ground. Dho is as well the meeting point of trails that leads to Jomsom, Upper Mustang and Tibet. Overnight in Dho.
Day 18: Dho Tarap (4080 m) - Toltol (3523 m) 6 - 7 hrs
We embark on the same trail that we left on previous day. Right after Dho, the trail leads into a windy gorge. The trail in the beginning is almost flat but we slowly and gradually start climbing on a steep rocky cliff. From the top you can see the river changing course and making its way through the gorges and at times it even vanishes in between cliffs rising on the either sides. You will also come across some narrow valleys and if fortunate witness tents of horse caravans. However, you will walk further down to open junctions which is often used as rest area for yaks and mules. One of these junction is our destination of the day namely Toltol. Overnight in toltol.
Day 19: Toltol (3523 m) - Laina odar (3370 m) 6 - 7 hrs
From Toltol we reach to Tangum, a meeting point of two rivers and a campsite. From here the trail inclines all the way to 3800 meters, from where the river below is just a beautiful music. Once you begin your descend you will witness the sudden change in vegetation and from dry arid land you will witness pine trees. These pine trees in matter of hours became pine forests. Around 3-4 hours of descend through beautiful gorges and couple of waterfall landing directly on the trail you reach Laina odar. Overnight in Laina odar.
Day 20: Laina odar (3370 m) - Dunai(2390 m) 6 -7 hrs
You will be happy to walk most of the time on a horizontal surface and through the moist vegetation. There are lots of villages that you will walk through. These villages are very near each other and separated by only narrow gap. From the first village of Tarakot you will walk on the shore of the river. From hereon, the trail sometimes climbs to the top of the hill and sometimes drops down to the river beds. Once crossing the village of Sahar Tara, you will directly stop in a well facilitated town and headquarters of Dolpa region namely Dunai. Overnight in Dunai.
Day 21: Dunai (2140 m) - Juphal (2475 m) 3 - 4 hrs
On the very last day of the trek we are bound to walk uphill as Juphal is located on the higher grounds when compared with Dunai. From Dunai the first two hours is almost horizontal and after that it is a steep ascend for around another 2 hours. Once in Juphal we call it a night and catch a morning flight bound to Nepalgunj. Overnight in Juphal.
Day 22: Juphal - Nepalgunj - Kathmandu
You will board an early morning flight from Juphal to Nepalgunj. Later that day, you will board another flight from Nepalgunj to Kathmandu. Once in Kathmandu we will transfer you to your hotel. In the evening, one last time, we will gather for a farewell dinner and over the dinner we will talk about the trek and your experience in Nepal.
Day 23: Farewell
Your Upper dolpa circuit to Shey Gompa trek officially comes to an end when we drop you off at the airport.
- Airport pickup and drop by private vehicle (Depends on the gropu size).
- Welcome dinner at typical Nepalese restaurant in Kathmandu.
- 2 nights Hotel accommodation at 3 star category in Kathmandu inclusive breakfast.
- All government and local taxes.
- A comprehensive medical kit.
- Highly an experienced Trekking Guide, Assistant Guide, Cook, assistant cook and Porters.
- All accommodations on the trails and full board meals during the trek (staple meal of Daal Bhat for lunch and dinner or any one item from the menu).
- Best available local lodges/camping /Teahouse in mountain.
- Accidental and medical Insurance of Nepalese staff.
- Both way domestic flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj to jhupal/Jhupal to Nepalgunj to Kathmandu.
- Certificate of trek Completion.
- Travel and rescue insurance
- Personal expenses (phone calls, laundry, bar bills, battery recharge, extra porters, bottle or boiled water, shower, mineral water etc).
- Nepal entry visa fee and airport tax during the departure.
- Lunch & dinner in kathmandu horel.
- In case of natural calamities i.e. political unrest, cancellation of flight due to weather, landslides etc the extra charge should be borne by themselves.
- Nepal visa which obtained at the airport on arrival (4 copies of passport size photo).
- Tips for trekking staffs.
- Anything else that is not mentioned on what is included.A