DOLPO CIRCUIT TREK –
14 Days. Max. Altitude 5,318m
Basic Tea-House Trekking and camping (4-6 nights) with guides and porters.
Pre-trek Briefing: HE Office (Kathmandu Guest House) 5pm on day prior to Day 1
Dolpo is situated in the north-western region of Nepal, bordering the Tibetan plateau. This sparsely populated area has an abundance of natural and mineral resources and an incredible altitudinal range, from just over 1,500 metres in the south (known as lower Dolpo), to 7,381 metres at the summit of the Churen Himal, the highest peak in upper Dolpo.
The landscape is dramatic; wide glacial valleys, precipitously steep slopes and high ridges, folded and faulted limestone and sandstone, moraine deposits, rock headwalls and peaks above 6,000 metres. The arid climate is reflected in the sparse nature of the natural vegetation, except in the river valleys where higher rainfall supports lush vegetation and forests.
There are no motorable roads in Dolpo so the sense of remoteness is very present.
The valleys of northern Dolpo are associated with myths and legends and over the centuries many holy men have been drawn to its splendid wilderness and have spent years here in solitary meditation.
The Dolpo people were a pure Tibetan race and the fine chortens (stone monuments) and most of the gonpas in existence today were founded by the lamas who settled in Dolpo to record their philosophies and mythologies in learned texts. Undertaking a pilgrimage to a sacred site is an important activity for the region’s Buddhist inhabitants. The Tibetan New Year is fêted at all gonpas, with numerous other small festivals and events celebrated throughout the year. Visitors are usually welcomed and it is a great privilege to witness such events.
In summer the weather is pleasant, with mild temperatures and clear skies usually offering views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks and the spectacular high altitude lakes.
Dolpo: the Hidden Land; land of sacred places.
DAY TO DAY PLAN –
Day 1: Fly to Nepalgunj (55mins)
(O/nt Altitude 158m) To reach Dolpo, one first flies to Nepalgunj, an important business and transportation hub in the southern mid-western region of Nepal. The border with India is a mere 8 kms away, and culturally and climatically the area more resembles India than up-land Nepal. The town’s bazaar is full of horse carts and colourful people, and there’s a real sense of movement of both goods and people to and from India. Here too one finds Bageshowri temple, one of Nepal’s most important Hindu sites.
Day 2: Flight Nepalgunj-Juphal (35mins) (2,475 m), trek to Dunai
(O/nt Altitude 2,140m/3hrs approx.) It’s a spectacular flight over sheer, snow-capped mountain ridges to Juphal airport, a gravel airstrip hewn out of the dramatic surroundings. It’s a different world; crisp cold Himalayan air now fills the lungs – far removed from the hot, steamy plains left behind.
Commence walking through fields of wheat and vegetables to the Thuli Bheri River. The trail follows the river and comes to a beautiful gate chorten (stupa), which marks the entrance to the VDC (Village Development Committee) of Dunai. Inside the chorten are beautiful Buddhist paintings of mandalas and important Buddhist deities. Dunai, a village of approximately 2,500 people, is also the headquarters of Dolpa District. Its hilltop monastery merits a visit.
Day 3: To Lingdo
(O/nt Altitude 2,391m/5hrs approx.) The route soon enters a landscape reminiscent of the European Alps. Rocky slopes are dotted with pine trees, and on the horizon is the snow-capped peak of Kang Tokal (6,294 m). The way forward is undulating, mostly following the Thuli Bheri River, with small clusters of habitation here and there.
The region is inhabited by Tarali Buddhists, a Magar group with strong Tibetan links. After the small settlement of Byasgar, the landscape quickly becomes dryer and more rock-strewn. The path is sometimes carved out of the rock face, and at times very narrow. At the small village of Lingdo there is a guesthouse and campsite plus a check post were permits will be checked.