Everything You Need to Know About Upper Dolpo Trekking in Nepal
18 Jun

Everything You Need To Know About Upper Dolpo Trekking In Nepal

Upper Dolpo Trekking in Nepal ventures on a typical journey that is wholesome with amazing landscape variation, cultural differentiation, natural wonders, and spectacular religious blends. This comprehensive guide will provide an in-depth insight into cultural practices, permits, and other mandated requirements, the difficulty of traversing, the length of the trek, the Upper Dolpo trekking route, basic tips for traveling, the best time for travel, and other resourceful information to Upper Dolpo Trek.


Overview of Upper Dolpo Trekking in Nepal 

Upper Dolpo Trekking in Nepal lasts for a maximum of 24  days to 42 days and begins from the capital city of Kathmandu in Nepal. It then heads westbound towards the high Tibetan villages of Dolpa district in the Himalayas outlying the northern region. The trail to Upper Dolpo is naturally fulfilling with most of the stretch of the trek passing through Shey-Phoksundo National Park which is rich in its biodiversity.

Local Village and Landscapes in Upper Dolpo Nepal. 

Landscapes in the Dolpo region of Nepal 

For the most part, Dolpo resembles a typical Upper Himalayan region such as Humla and Upper Mustang. The highly elevated stretches of Himalayan belts in Nepal portray a semi-arid landscape beyond the elevation mark of 3000 meters. Dolpo region is surrounded by the Himalayan peaks of Kanjirowa and Dhaulagiri Mountain ranges. These high mountain valleys provide an amazing backdrop with raging rivers that originate from the glacial moraines.


Lowered elevated areas of Dolpo are deep alpine valleys carved by raging Himalayan rivers forming various lakes along their trails. Shey Phoksundo Lake is one of the iconic landmarks of the Dolpo region at 3589 meters. Along these high hills are formed plateaus like the ones in Tibet, that are dotted with small villages all across the region. With the majority of Dolpalis following Bon Buddhism, numerous monasteries are established all across the space.


The spatial distribution of the region can also be characterized by deep gorges and sheer rocky cliffs as you ascend. Dolpo is another rain-shadow area of Nepalese territory with its rugged cliffs, eroded hills, and vast stretches of barren lands. The region receives an average rainfall of 472 mm annually with 85% humidity.

Nomadic lifestyle in Upper Dolpo Nepal


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Cultural Significance

The Upper Dolpo region is home to a unique blend of cultures, mainly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism and the ancient Bon religion. Throughout the trek, you will come across centuries-old monasteries, chortens, and mani walls, showcasing the region's rich cultural heritage. Dolpali people share their cultural practices close to their neighboring Tibetan counterparts. Owing to its remote location, there has been less cultural drift in the practices of people who are less influenced by modern culture to date. Trekking to Dolpo provides an enthralling opportunity of experiencing an authentic Tibetan lifestyle outside of mainland Tibet.


With limited accessibility, the majority of Upper Dolpali people are engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry, and trans-Himalayan trade. For adaptation reasons, these people migrate from place to place seasonally along with their cattle in search of pastureland annually. Upper Dolpali people also have distinct oral traditions that include their own myths, legend, tales, folklore, and language which is seemingly alike of Tibetan descent for obvious reasons. Festivals such as the Phoksundo Festival and the Shey Festival are celebrated with great enthusiasm, featuring traditional dances, music, and religious ceremonies.

Our Happy Team at Niwar Pass (5130 meters) during our Upper Dolpo Trek 

The Difficulty of Upper Dolpo Trekking in Nepal

The Upper Dolpo Trek is considered one of the most challenging treks in Nepal, with a difficulty level of challenging grade. The trek involves long days of walking, steep ascents and descents, and crossing high-altitude passes, making it physically challenging even for experienced trekkers.


Physical Challenges

Lower Dolpo trek starts from Jhupal and ends at Jhupal as well. We Visit Himalaya treks offer 18 days Lower Dolpo trek which is less challenging than Upper Dolpo Trek. However, Numala Pass 5309 meters and Bagala Pass 5169 meters high passes involve the lower Dolpo trek that connects us with Phoksundo Lake.


Similarly, Upper Dolpo trekking also starts from Jhupal and ends at Jomsom. It is also called Upper Dolpo high route trekking. The Upper Dolpo high route trek involves several high passes such as Nagdalo La Pass 5350 meters, Mola Pass 5030 meters, Niwar 5120 meters, and Jungben La Pass 5550 meters. Jungben la Pass is the Last pass above 5000 meters that connects Dolpo and Mustang district.


The Upper Dolpo trek spans approximately 230 kilometers in length and we Visit Himalaya Treks offer 28 days Upper Dolpo Trek starting from Jhupal and ending at Jomsom. The route involves several high passes, steep ascents and descents, and stretches of rugged terrain, making it physically Challenging.


Mental Challenges

In addition to the physical challenges, the Upper Dolpo Trek can be mentally demanding as well. The trek unfolds in a distant and secluded region, characterized by its isolation and limited infrastructure and assistance. Trekkers must be mentally prepared to face the challenges of harsh weather conditions, high-altitude passes, and long days of walking in rugged and isolated terrain.


Acclimatization & High altitude Sickness

One of the biggest challenges of the Dolpo region trek is altitude sickness. It is vital to acclimatize gradually and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. During the trek, ensure that you follow the "climb high, sleep low" principle to help your body adjust to the changing altitude. Therefore we Visit Himalaya Treks design our Lower Dolpo Trek itinerary and Upper Dolpo Trek itinerary with very carefully adding additional days for well acclimatize that is very important such as high passes and challenging trekking in Nepal. 


How Long is Dolpo Trek?

The Lower Dolpo trek starts from Jhupal and ends at Jhupal as well. We Offer a Lower Dolpo full camping trek for 18 days including a day rest and acclimatization day at Dho Tarap3844 meters for well acclimatizes for the upcoming Numala Pass 5309 meters and Bagala Pass 5169 meters.


The Upper Dolpo trek is challenging, we offer 28 days of Upper Dolpo starting from Jhupal and ending at Jomsom following the High route of the Great Himalayan Trail Route. The total distance of the trek is approximately 230 km, with a maximum altitude of 5,350 meters. Along the way, you will pass through several villages including Ringmo, Phoksundo Lake, Shey Gompa, Saldang La Pass, and many more. Most of the trail is off-the-beaten-path and offers a unique experience for adventurous travelers.

For more experienced & adventure lovers, we offer a long and even more challenging trek Jumla Rara Lake Upper Dolpo Trek Via GHT trail. It starts from Jumla via Rara Lake, over the Nyingma Gyanzen Pass (5563 meters) connecting us from Mugu to Dolpo and Mustang. This is the high route of the Western part of the Great Himalayan Trail that leads us to Jumla, Rara Lake, Dolpo, and Mustang within a 42 days long journey. Trekkers should be well prepared for the unpredictable weather conditions in the region as well as for high altitudes.

Our Campsite at Shey Gompa Upper Dolpo Nepal


Upper Dolpo Trekking Route

The trek from Juphal to Phoksundo Lake traverses through the capital of the Dolpo district Dunai which is a bustling town sophisticated with modern amenities. You will traverse across the Bheri River to reach Dunai. Followingly. The trek route to Upper Dolpo is filled with an enthralling adventure through the rugged Himalayan landmass. The trail heads through sparsely settled Tibetan look-alike villages which reside the Dolpali people.


The route starts from Juphal airstrip and trekkers across the Shey Phoksundo Lake, Ringmo Village, Shey Gumpa, Saldang village, Shimengaon, Tinjegaon, Mo La Pass, Chharka Bhot, Niwar Pass, Jungben La Pass and Jomsom. Alongside you will walk through a desert-like barren landscape adorned by the majestic Himalayan mountains: Dhaulagiri I (8,167 meters), Churen Himal (7,385 meters), Kanjiroba(6,883 meters), Putha Hiunchuli(7,246 meters), Sisne Himal(5,404 meters) among others.


How do I get to Upper Dolpo?

Reaching Upper Dolpo is quite a challenging process due to its remote location. The best way to get there is to fly into Nepalgunj from Kathmandu. Then the next day, catch another mountain zone flight to Juphal and trekkers will start their journey on foot from here Juphal crossing several high-altitude passes as they make their way to Shey Phoksundo Lake. Trek to Upper Dolpo lasts for a maximum of 28 days that include everything arriving in Kathmandu Nepal to departure from Kathmandu. Trek to Upper Dolpo is a full camping trek with a strong support team that wishes to have it in the classic trekking manner.


Permits Required for Upper Dolpo Trekking in Nepal

Traveling to Dolpo requires restricted area entry special permits, Your Dolpo restricted area entry permits are obtained by the Department of Immigration of Nepal through the government authorizing local trekking agencies based in Nepal. The Dolpo restricted area entry permits cost as follows.


01: Lower Dolpo Restricted area entry permits cost USD 20 per client 7 days valid. Travelers will need a minimum of two to three weeks' valid permits depending on your itinerary as you are trekking in the Lower Dolpo region of Nepal.


02: Upper Dolpo restricted area entry permits are also Obtained by the Department of Immigration of Nepal through the government-authorized Nepal base Local company. Upper Dolpo Restricted area permits cost USD 500 per client for 10 days valid. And after 10 days per client it's $50 per day. Trekkers need to finalize their travel itinerary before issuing their restricted area entry permits. Because once permits are issued it is not refundable and transferable.


03: In other than above mentioned permits, trekkers also need to obtain a permit from Shey Phoksundo National Park. The park is located in the Upper and Lower Dolpo region and covers an area of 3,555 square kilometers. The permit costs US$30 per person. Which is valid for a period of whole trekking duration of lower or Upper Dolpo trekking days.


To obtain these all-necessary permits, Clients need to provide a Valid Passport and Valid Visa for their trekking operator. All these Permits can be obtained on a government working day. 


Gears required for Upper Dolpo Trek

Upper Dolpo trek is known for its challenging terrain and unpredictable weather, so it is important to bring the right gear for trekking to the Dolpo region of Nepal. Investing in high-quality trekking gear and equipment is crucial for a successful and comfortable trekking experience. 

>Trekking Boots: Sturdy, and comfortable, with ankle support and waterproofing.
>Sleeping Bag: High-quality, rated for temperatures below freezing (-20°C).
>Clothing: Layered approach, including moisture-wicking base layers, insulation layers, and windproof/waterproof outer layers.
>Headwear and Gloves: Warm beanie, sun hat, thick gloves for warmth, and thinner gloves for dexterity.
>Backpack: Good quality, 50-60 liter capacity to carry gear and essentials.
>Trekking Poles: Adjustable, lightweight poles for balance and knee support.
>Sunglasses and Sunscreen: UV-protective sunglasses and high-SPF sunscreen for sun protection.
>First Aid Kit: A basic kit with essential medications and supplies.
>Water Bottles or Hydration System: Carry at least two reusable bottles with purifiers.


How to Prepare for the Upper Dolpo Trek?

The best way to prepare for the Upper Dolpo Trek is by following a trekking training plan that includes regular physical activity and a proper diet. Building your stamina and endurance is essential for tackling the strenuous trek.


Physical Fitness
Being physically fit is crucial for a successful trekking experience in Upper Dolpo. Engage in regular cardiovascular exercises such as running, swimming, and cycling to build your stamina and endurance. Strength training, focusing on your core and leg muscles, will help you navigate the steep ascents and descents with ease.


Mental Preparation
Mental preparation is as crucial as physical preparation in any adventurous activity. Develop a positive attitude and determination to face the challenges and uncertainties of the trek. This will help you push through difficult situations and enjoy the overall trekking experience.


Weather and Changing Conditions
Trekkers must be prepared for unpredictable weather patterns and changing conditions during the trek. Proper clothing and gear are essential to face these challenges.


Safety and Health Considerations
The Upper Dolpo Trek is relatively safe, but trekkers must be vigilant about potential safety issues and health concerns. We suggest bringing your first aid kit, and additional medicine if you have been using it regularly. 


Vaccinations and First Aid
Before embarking on the trek, ensure that you are vaccinated against diseases like typhoid, tetanus, and hepatitis A and B. Carrying a well-stocked first aid kit is also essential for addressing minor injuries and ailments during the trek.


What to Expect on the Upper Dolpo Trek?

The Upper Dolpo Trek offers a wide range of experiences, from cultural encounters to breathtaking landscapes and adventures. Trekking in Dolpo is a life-changing adventure travel experience you will experience during the course of the Dolpo trek.


Scenic Beauty
The trek takes you through dramatic landscapes, including high Himalayas, lush valleys, and arid alpine deserts. You will be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys, making for an unforgettable trekking experience.


Cultural Experience
As you trek through the Upper Dolpo region, you will get a chance to explore centuries-old Tibetan villages and monasteries. Interacting with the locals will provide you with a deeper understanding of their customs, beliefs, and way of life.


The Upper Dolpo Trek is an adventurous journey that involves crossing high passes and navigating remote trails. The trek is perfect for those seeking challenging experiences.


Wildlife Encounters
The trek passes through several protected areas, providing opportunities for encounters with rare and endangered species such as the blue sheep and snow leopard. Keep your eyes open for these elusive animals as you trek through their natural habitat.


Food and Accommodation in Upper Dolpo Trek
Accommodation during the Upper Dolpo Trek is generally basic, there are no available tea houses or lodges. So we provide Camping arrangements during our Dolpo trekking in Nepal.


Trekkers can expect to enjoy a variety of Nepali and Indian cuisines during the trek. Dishes like dal bhat, momos, and noodle soups will be readily available. Our Cook and team will provide hygienic food that is always tasty and healthy. 

Shey Phoksundo Lake in Dolpo Nepal


Best Time for Upper Dolpo Trekking in Nepal

The best time to trek Upper Dolpo is during the late spring and early autumn seasons. From Late April to June and September to mid-November. The temperatures are mild during these times of the year, making it an ideal time for trekking in the Dolpo Region of Nepal.  The snow-capped mountains provide a stunning view during this season, and the clear skies make for perfect trekking conditions.


Lower Dolpo & Upper Dolpo Trek Cost

The Upper Dolpo Trek cost varies depending on the number of people trekking together, the services included, and chosen trekking package. Visit Himalaya Treks offers 18 days Lower Dolpo Trek Cost USD 2800 minimum group size of 2 trekkers per person arriving in Kathmandu to departure from Kathmandu. Similarly, we offer 28 days of Upper Dolpo Trek Cost USD 5600 minimum group size of 2 trekkers per person arriving in Kathmandu to depart from Kathmandu. Complete details about Lower and Upper Dolpo trek packages please go through the given link here.
Lower Dolpo Trekking Package.

Upper Dolpo Trekking Package.


The Dolpo region Treks offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for adventure seekers, with its challenging terrain, diverse landscapes, and rich cultural experiences. Proper preparation, both physically and mentally, is essential for a successful and memorable trek.


By utilizing the comprehensive Upper Dolpo Trek guide, you will be fully prepared to undertake the extraordinary expedition through the remote and breathtaking Dolpo region of Nepal. Visit Himalaya Treks, a local Nepalese company, specializes in organizing off-the-beaten-track and remote treks in Nepal. We are delighted to assist you in arranging your Lower or Upper Dolpo trek with our skilled team and extensive experience. We eagerly look forward to hosting your Himalayan journey in Nepal.


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