Upper Dolpo Trek: A Rain-Shadow Trail

Aesthetically captured by Eric Valli in his 1999’s Oscar nominated movie “Caravan” -also known as “Himalaya” and Himalaya – l’enfance d’un chef, Upper Dolpo is one of the restricted regions in Nepal. With only about 200 permits provided by the government in a year and the higher permit fees, the region managed to remain distant from urbanization.

Chorten Upper Dolpo

Chorten Upper Dolpo

Valli’s movie was a vital step towards putting Upper Dolpo in the world map, drawing the attention of the world who were left in complete awe. However, much is yet to be done to help the region to prosper economically.



Upper Dolpo is a high-altitude culturally Tibetan region located in the upper part of Dolpa District in western Nepal. Part of the region falls under Shey Phoksundo National Park. The inhabitants are the adherents of Bon, the religion that predates main-stream Buddhism. Still many ancient artifacts and architecture are found in the region attracting travelers from around the world.

For those who seek to explore the scenic Himalaya, there are Phuksundo Lake, Kanjirowa Himal and mountains embedded in its typical terrain.

Shey Phoksundo National Park

Himalayan Tahr

Himalayan Tahr is widely found in Shey Phoksundo National Park

Shey Phoksundo National Park 3,555 km(1,373 sq mi), established in 1984, is the largest and only trans-Himalaya National Park in Nepal. Covering the greater regions of Dolpa and Mugu, the park is home to some of the rarest flora and fauna found in the country.

It is home to 6 different species of reptiles and 29 butterflies. Animals, such as; Snow Leopard, Grey wolf, Musk deer, Blue sheep. Goral, Great Tibetan sheep, Himalayan Tahr, leopard, Jackal,Himalayan black bear and yellow-throated marten, dominate the region, along with Rhododendron, Caragana shrubs, Salix, Juniper, White Himalayan birch and the occasional Silver fir.

The park contains the famous Phoksundo Lake (Deepest lake in Nepal) and Shey Gompa, both of which are the major tourist attractions.

~Trek Map~

~Trek Seasons~

Trek seasons nepal

It is commonly trekked in two different seasons, Pre-monsoon (March to June) and Post-monsoon (September to November). Best weather is guaranteed during Post-monsoon season. Unfavorable weather can be accident-prone during trek.


Day 01: Arrive at Juphal. Trek to Dunai (2,850 m/9,348 ft)
Day 02: Trek to Tarakot (2,850 m/9,348 ft), 5-6 hrs walk
Day 03: Trek to Khani Gaon (2,543 m/8,341 ft), 3-4 hrs walk
Day 04: Trek to Tarap Khola (3,450 m/11,316 ft), 4-5 hrs walk
Day 05: Trek to Yak Kharka (3800 m/12,464 ft), 4-5 hrs walk
Day 06: Trek to Dho Tarap (4,090 m/13,415 ft), 5-6 hrs walk
Day 07: Rest Day at Dho Tarap for acclimatization
Day 08: Trek to Tokyu Gaun (4,200 m/13,776 ft), 5-6 hrs walk
Day 09: Trek below Numala pass (4,665 m/15,301 ft), 4-5 hrs walk
Day 10: Cross Numala (5,190 m/17,023 ft), and camp at Phedi , 6-7 hrs walk
Day 11: Trek and cross Baga La (5,070 m/16,630 ft) and camp, 5-6 hrs walk
Day 12: Trek to Ringmo (3,600 m/11,808 ft), 6-7 hrs walk
Day 13: Rest Day at Ringmo & for a hike to Phoksundo Lake (3,730 m/12,234 ft)
Day 14: Trek to Pungmo village (3,170 m/10,397 ft), 4-5 hrs walk
Day 15: Trek below Kagmara La, 5-6 hrs walk
Day 16: Cross the Kagmara-la (5,115 m/16,777 ft), 4-5 hrs walk
Day 17: Trek to Hurikot village(3,600 m/11,808 ft), 5-6 hrs walk
Day 18: Trek to Chaurikot(3,060 m/10,036 ft), 5-6 hrs walk
Day 19: Trek to Chorte Gompa (3200 m/10,496 ft), 5-6hrs walk
Day 20: Trek to Gothi Chaur (2,700 m/8,856 ft), 4-5 hrs walk
Day 21: Trek to Jumla (2,370 m/7,773 ft), 6-7 hrs walk


~Gears and Equipment~

  • Pair of hiking boots (well broken in) – One could spend over 5 to 6 hours a day on the trail, therefore, long-lasting boots are essential. The boots can range from light to medium, high or low. If one plans to trek during the months when it snows, the high boots become essential for proper hiking.
  • Soft and light shoes (sneakers) – Carrying light-weight sneakers for ‘after the day hike’ serves comfort.
  • Lightweight knapsack – It is useful for short trips away from one’s lodge, and will save you from carrying large backpack along. It should be large enough to fit a camera, spare clothes and a sleeping bag, if one plans to spend a night away.
  • Lightweight sleeping bag – Essential during peak seasons (October-December). Lodges do offer blankets, but are scarce during the peak season, therefore carrying a sleeping bag (-10 C°) can be a great precaution.
  • Fabric band-aids – Blisters are common due to rigorous walking. A good alternative to bandaids is duct tape. Works great for blisters and also proves invaluable in many other ways.

~Costs & Permits~

  • Upper Dolpo PermitUS $500 p. person for 10 Days (US $50 p. person p. day thereafter)

One must obtain a permit for entering Shey Phoksundo National Park;

  • SAARC Nationals – Rs. 1,500 per person per entry (Approx. US $15 p. person)
  • Non-SAARC Nationals– Rs. 3,000 per person per entry (Approx. US $30 p.person)


Get Free Advice from Trek Experts


3 thoughts on “Upper Dolpo Trek: A Rain-Shadow Trail

  1. Pingback: Upper Dolpo Trek (Juphal-Jumla): Cost, Map and ...

  2. Pingback: What to Buy for Trekking in Nepal? List of Essential Trek Clothing & Gears | Chronicles of ADVENTURE TRAVEL

  3. Pingback: The Wild West of Nepal | Adventure Travel Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s