Dolpo Region (Shey Phoksundo National Park)

The Dolpo Region, nestled in the remote northwestern corner of Nepal, is a rugged and mystical land that has captivated adventurers and trekkers for decades. This region is home to Shey Phoksundo National Park, Nepal’s largest national park, covering an area of 3,555 square kilometers. Renowned for its dramatic landscapes, ancient Tibetan culture, and spiritual aura, the Dolpo Region offers a trekking experience like no other.

Popular Trekking Routes

1. Upper Dolpo Trek

  • Duration: 18-24 days
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Best Time: May to October
  • Highlights: The Upper Dolpo Trek is a journey into a remote and culturally rich region that feels like a step back in time. Starting from Juphal, the trek follows the ancient trade route through rugged terrain, high mountain passes, and isolated villages. The trek passes through Shey Phoksundo National Park, home to the stunning Phoksundo Lake, a turquoise jewel nestled amidst the mountains. Trekkers can visit traditional Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, such as Shey Gompa, and encounter the nomadic herders known as the Dolpo-pa.

2. Lower Dolpo Trek

  • Duration: 15-20 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
  • Best Time: May to October
  • Highlights: The Lower Dolpo Trek offers a more accessible but equally rewarding trekking experience compared to its upper counterpart. Starting from Juphal or Dunai, the trek explores the lower valleys of Dolpo, characterized by lush forests, terraced fields, and picturesque villages. The trail leads to Phoksundo Lake, where trekkers can marvel at its pristine beauty and explore the surrounding area. The trek also offers opportunities to interact with the local communities and witness their traditional way of life.

Unique Features

Ancient Tibetan Culture:
The Dolpo Region is steeped in ancient Tibetan culture and traditions, which have been preserved for centuries due to its remote location. Trekkers can visit centuries-old monasteries adorned with colorful prayer flags, encounter Buddhist monks and nuns, and witness traditional ceremonies and festivals.

Phoksundo Lake:
Phoksundo Lake is the crown jewel of Shey Phoksundo National Park, renowned for its stunning turquoise color and pristine beauty. The lake, surrounded by snow-capped peaks and barren cliffs, exudes a sense of tranquility and spirituality. Trekkers can hike around the lake, visit nearby villages, and witness the unique flora and fauna of the area.

Remote Wilderness:
The Dolpo Region is one of the most remote and least visited areas in Nepal, offering trekkers a sense of solitude and adventure. The rugged terrain, high mountain passes, and sparse human settlements create an atmosphere of wilderness and exploration.

High-Altitude Deserts:
Parts of the Dolpo Region resemble high-altitude deserts, with barren landscapes, rocky cliffs, and deep gorges. Trekkers will encounter unique geological formations, such as the towering cliffs of the Tarap Valley, and experience a landscape unlike any other in Nepal.

Practical Information

Permits:
Trekkers need a Shey Phoksundo National Park Entry Permit and a TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System) card. These permits can be obtained in Kathmandu or Dunai, the district headquarters of Dolpa.

Accommodation:
Accommodation options along the trekking routes are limited, mainly consisting of basic teahouses and camping grounds. Trekkers should be prepared for rustic accommodations and carry necessary camping gear if planning to camp.

Getting There:
The trek typically starts with a flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, followed by a domestic flight to Juphal. From Juphal, trekkers begin their journey into the Dolpo Region, either trekking directly from Juphal or starting from nearby towns like Dunai.

The Dolpo Region offers an unparalleled trekking experience for those seeking adventure, cultural immersion, and natural beauty in one of Nepal’s most remote and untouched regions.