Find Your Tour

Any Question? Email Us

Have Questions? Talk to Expert (Binod)

Binod Karki
Dolpo Region Trekking

Dolpo Region Trekking

Nestled in the far-western reaches of Nepal, the Upper Dolpo region presents a unique and challenging trekking experience that takes adventurers through one of the most remote areas of the Himalayas. Characterized by its rugged terrain, ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture, and minimal tourism infrastructure, this trek is a journey into a land where time seems to have stood still. For those seeking an unparalleled adventure, an organized tour through Upper Dolpo offers a glimpse into pristine wilderness, ancient monasteries, and some of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the world.

Why Choose Upper Dolpo?

Upper Dolpo is a hidden gem within Nepal, appealing primarily to seasoned trekkers and adventurers looking for something beyond the well-trodden paths of Everest and Annapurna. This region remains largely untouched by modernity, preserving its traditional ways of life and stunning natural beauty. The trek through Upper Dolpo is demanding, but the rewards are immense—ranging from the serene beauty of Lake Phoksundo to the chance encounters with elusive snow leopards in the Shey Phoksundo National Park.

Highlights of Upper Dolpo Trek

  • Explore Uncharted Territories: Trek through parts of Nepal that few visitors ever see, experiencing the untouched beauty of remote Himalayan landscapes.
  • Snow Leopard Sightings: Keep an eye out for the rare and elusive snow leopards in the Shey Phoksundo National Park, one of the highest animal concentration parks in the world.
  • Phoksundo Lake: Gaze over the turquoise waters of Lake Phoksundo, one of Nepal’s most beautiful and unspoiled lakes.
  • Ancient Monasteries: Visit Shey Gompa, an 800-year-old monastery at the base of Crystal Mountain, which gained fame from Peter Matthiessen's book “The Snow Leopard”.
  • Yarchagumba Harvest: Witness the spring hunt for Yarchagumba—a rare caterpillar fungus known for its medicinal qualities.

Detailed Overview

Geographical and Cultural Context

Trekking in Upper Dolpo is not just a physical journey but also a cultural odyssey. This remote region borders Tibet, and the cultural influences are evident in the local customs, languages, and architecture. The area is part of the Shey Phoksundo National Park, Nepal’s largest national park, which encompasses diverse flora and fauna, high mountain peaks, deep valleys, and serene alpine lakes.

Western Nepal, including Dolpo, is underdeveloped and one of the poorest regions in the country. The lack of tourism infrastructure means trekkers must be self-sufficient, often relying on camping and carrying their food supplies. This adds a layer of complexity to the trek, but also ensures a more authentic and untouched experience.


Accessing Upper Dolpo is a multi-step process that adds to the sense of adventure. Trekkers typically start by flying from Kathmandu or Pokhara to Nepalgunj, a town on the plains of Nepal. From Nepalgunj, a flight to Juphal in Dolpo District is necessary. Juphal is a small mountain airstrip, and flights here are often subject to delays due to bad weather.

For those who prefer overland travel, Nepalgunj is accessible by road from Kathmandu or Pokhara, though this journey is long and can be quite arduous. Currently, the road network is improving, but Juphal remains several days’ walk from the nearest roadhead, adding to the remoteness of the trek.

Permits and Regulations

Trekking in Upper Dolpo requires several permits, reflecting both the exclusivity and the need to preserve the region’s pristine environment. Permits are strictly enforced, and trekkers must be part of an organized tour. Your tour operator will handle the permit process, typically including these fees in the overall cost of the trek.

  • Lower Dolpo Permit: USD 20 per week
  • Upper Dolpo Permit: $500 per day (10-day minimum)
  • Shey Phoksundo National Park Entry Fee: Rs. 3000

Best Seasons for Trekking

The optimal times for trekking in Upper Dolpo are during the spring (April to May) and fall (October to November). During these periods, temperatures are mild, skies are clear, and the risk of snow at high altitudes is minimal. However, trekkers should be prepared for variable weather conditions, as late or early snow can affect the passes in April and November.

Trekking Difficulty

Trekking in Upper Dolpo is considered strenuous, and suitable for experienced trekkers only. The trek involves steep ascents, three high passes over 5000 meters, several nights above 3500 meters, and long days of trekking (six hours or more). The physical challenge is compounded by the fact that this is a camping trek, adding to the overall difficulty and discomfort.

Accommodation and Meals

Given the remote nature of Upper Dolpo, accommodation and food are limited. Most treks are fully catered for camping trips. Basic teahouses or lodges may be available in some villages, but they cannot be relied upon. It is essential to carry ample food provisions, as resupplying can be challenging. Organized treks will handle food logistics, but trekkers should remain mindful of the scarcity of resources in this region.

Trek Variations

Several variations of the Upper Dolpo trek offer different experiences and durations:

Juphal to Lake Phoksundo

A shorter trek that takes about eight days, offering a more accessible glimpse into the beauty of Dolpo, focusing on the stunning Lake Phoksundo.

Upper Dolpo to Annapurna Traverse

This trek extends the Upper Dolpo trek by about a week, traversing via the Dhorpatan Wildlife Reserve. This variation includes three days without any settlements, emphasizing the wilderness aspect of the journey.

Upper Dolpo to Jomsom

Linking Dolpo with the Lower Mustang region, this trek ends in Jomsom, which is known for its Tibetan-influenced culture and the rain shadow of Mount Dhaulagiri and Annapurna.

Dolpo to Rara Traverse

This variation diverges at Shey Gompa and ends at Rara Lake, Nepal’s largest lake, renowned for its bird life. This trek offers a different ecological experience and showcases the diversity of Western Nepal.

Essential Gear

Proper gear is crucial for a successful trek in Upper Dolpo:

  • Hiking Boots: Sturdy, waterproof boots are essential for the rugged terrain.
  • Clothing: Layered clothing for varying temperatures, including a waterproof outer layer.
  • Camping Gear: While tour operators typically provide tents and specialist equipment, ensure you have a quality sleeping bag suitable for cold conditions.
  • Food Provisions: Carry sufficient food supplies, even though organized treks will cater to your needs.

Trekking in Upper Dolpo is not for the faint-hearted. It requires physical stamina, mental resilience, and a willingness to embrace discomfort. However, the rewards are unparalleled. From the untouched beauty of Lake Phoksundo to the ancient monasteries and the rare wildlife, Upper Dolpo offers an adventure like no other. For those seeking to step off the beaten path and experience the raw, untouched splendor of the Himalayas, Upper Dolpo is the ultimate trekking destination. Joining an organized tour with a reputable company like Himalayan Adventure Intl Treks ensures that your journey is safe, well-planned, and unforgettable.


  • gov
  • NTB
  • TAAN
  • NMA
  • KEEP

Find & Follow Us on

Subscribe Newsletter