Dolpo Trekking Challenge

Are you a serial and experienced trekker? Do you love adventure and challenges in life? If your answer is yes, then the Dolpo trekking challenge is for you.

Dolpo lies between the Trans-Himalayan region and the Tibetan plateau. Dolpo trek is one of the most strenuous trips in Nepal. Hence, it is not famous for moderate-grade hikers. If you already decide to attempt the Dolpo region hike, check its difficulty level before signing up. 

Restricted areas of trekking in Nepal do not allow independent travel. You must have at least two people as your companion for the trip. And it requires a special permit, which costs more than a free zone individual trekking (FIT) pass. You can opt for the Lower Dolpo Trek, which is less expensive than the Higher Dolpo Hike.

Meanwhile, the natural beauty you witness in the inner Dolpo is much larger than the price you pay for it. Here are the major attractions of the Upper Dolpo Trekking Challenge:

  • Pass through several highlands above 5000 meters. 
  • Desert-style land and a stunning village in the foothills of the gorgeous Dhaulagiri massif (8,167 m). 
  • Hike the trails of Shey-Phoksundo National Park. 
  • Observe the colorful turquoise of Shey Phoksundo Lake – the deepest lake in Nepal 
  • Centuries-old Bon culture and monasteries 
  • Dolpo Pa Culture and helpful locals 
  • Wanderlust camping experience in a charming environment

Brief Overview; location, history, and cultural significance

Upper Dolpo is one of the most isolated regions in Nepal. It was shut off to foreigners until 1989, whereas the lower part was open for tours and travel. The Inner Dolpo Trek takes us to the far-western border village in Nepal.

The Dolpo offers a breathtaking view of the Dhaulagiri massif. Even though it lies in Nepal, its locals are from Tibet. They follow a unique type of religion, Bon- a sister religion of Buddhism. The locals have saved Tibetan culture and lifestyle in its original form to attract visitors.

Their primary profession is agriculture. Dolpo people also collect Yarchagumba, a type of caterpillar fungi available above 5000 meters. It has immense health benefits. 

Dolpo rose to fame when the 1999 Oscar-nominated movie ‘Himalaya Caravan’ used its location. After that, it dragged the attention of serial adventure lovers. Many parts of the area are still unexplored. Nowadays, Dolpo is a popular destination for higher-altitude treks. 

Dolpo region is divided into four valleys; Chharka, Mukot, DhoTarap, and Phoksundo. It offers a rawness of natural beauty. Shey-Phoksundo national park and glacial lake, the Bheri river, Langu river are a few among them.

Historical evidence shows that the Tibetan Yarlung Dynasty conquered Dolpo between the 6th and 8th centuries. Later, it became a part of Lo Manthang- the ancient capital of Upper Mustang, when its King conquered Dolpo. 

The unique Himalayan flora and fauna of the national park add to the pristine beauty of Dolpa. Locals pray and worship in the Gompas of their territories. One of the oldest Gompa, Shey-Gompa, is famous among travellers. 

Trekking Trail of Dolpo Hiking Challenge

When Nepal Trekking comes into the picture, trekking routes appear first. If the trails are clear, you can complete the Nepal trekking package and vice versa. But you can’t get clear roads like the Everest Base Camp Trek or the Annapurna Base Camp Trek in Dolpo.

Dolpo is a geographically challenged region to develop its road infrastructure than other regions. Even though its route is remote, it gets less disturbed by rain and floods as it lies in the rain shadow of Mount Dhaulagiri. 

Dolpo trekking length ranges from 8 to 27 days that depends on which package you choose. Likewise, your time and budget also affect its duration.

Nepal Trekking Routes offers 18 days for Lower Dolpo Hike and 27 days for Higher Dolpo region treks. If you have limited time yet want to explore the Dolpa region, then the Dolpo Helicopter Tour is best for you. 

The forbidden Himalayan land is only a 4-5 hour flight far from Kathmandu. Our 26-day package is suitable for those who prefer long days of trekking and want to explore hidden beauty and the cultures of rural people.

First, we fly to Nepalgunj from Kathmandu. Then we fly to Juphal from Nepalgunj. Our trek begins in Juphal Dolpa after we arrive at the airport. 

What is the Difficulty level of the Trek to Dolpo Challenge?

Trekking to the Upper Dolpo region is a strenuous task. You must have good physical fitness and endurance. Similarly, mental stability is needed when hiking at high altitudes. You have to walk daily for 5 to 8 hours.

There are three high passes above 5000 m, and you have to stay several nights above 4000 m. Since this is a camping trek, comfort and luxury aren’t expected. We recommend you add extra acclimatization days to your trip.

Altitude sickness can catch you when walking over 3000 meters, so you need to prepare for it. This trek is only for experienced and risk-taking individuals. If you succeed, Himalayan landscapes will reward you with the pristine beauty of nature. 

What is Dolpo Trekking Challenge Itinerary?

Our ideal itinerary follows 28 days of Upper Dolpo and 18 Days of Lower Dolpo trek. But there are numerous variations of the Dolpo trek available. Please keep in mind that Nepal Trekking packages and routes can be customized as per the needs of travelers. 

Variations to Upper Dolpo Trek

Upper Dolpo Shey-Phoksundo  Rara Lake Hike- 25 Days 

Dolpo-Mukut-Jomsom Trek- 16 Days 

Upper Dolpo Trek-Upper Mustang Trek via Lo Manthang-30 Days 

Upper Dolpo Trek combined with Upper Mustang Trek via Ghami (33 days). 

15-Day Lower Dolpo Circuit Trek

What is the condition of food and accommodation at Dolpo Trekking Challenge? 

Upper Dolpo is one of the food shortage places in Nepal. Some basic lodge accommodations are available there, but they are not sufficient. So, camping is the only option for the trip. We should have food provisions when hiking in the western part of Nepal.

If you book your trip with a trusted agency like us, we will take care of your food. You can’t get fancy food en route. The locals serve traditional meals like potatoes and Dhido (a local meal made of flour made of wheat, ragi, and buckwheat). 

What are Dolpo Trek Permits?

Upper Dolpo is a restricted hiking region, so it needs a RAP (Restricted Area Trekking) permit. RAP is a rule-bound package, and you can’t break its rules.

If you are exploring lower Dolpo, you need a Lower Dolpo Restricted Area Entry Permit. You’ll need both permits if you want to visit the upper Dolpo. You can’t do the Dolpo trek individually or solo; you must take at least one person. 

The government has restricted this area due to geopolitical reasons. And to protect biodiversity and traditional culture. Trekkers also need a TIMS and Shey-Phosundo national park entry permit to enter this place. RAP is available at the Nepal Immigration Department, TIA. 

What is the cost of the Trek to Dolpo Challenge?

The cost of Dolpo trekking is higher than open trekking areas. You need to pay for RAP and other permits to go to Upper Dolpo. For Lower Dolpo, RAP requires $20 per week per person and $5 from the 8th day. Meanwhile, for Upper Dolpo, RAP costs $50 per day for ten days, with an additional $50 per day after that. 

Your tour partner (Nepal Trekking Routes) also charges $4500 per person for the Upper Dolpo Trek because the cost involves managing overall logistics: cooking staff, crew leaders’ fee, gear, porter, and guide fees, plus transportation costs. However, the price can be customized or modified according to your need. 

Besides, you need not spend on personal expenses because there are no hotels, shops, or cafes. The flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj costs $200, while the flight from Nepalgunj to Juphal costs $180. 

What is the best season for the Dolpo Trekking Challenge? 

Many tourists prefer the spring and fall seasons to trek in Nepal. Both seasons are also feasible for Upper Dolpo Trek since temperatures are moderate and there is clear visibility in the sky.

On high passes, there is little chance of snowfall. And trekking in winter is not advisable because it is difficult to stay overnight over 4000 m and reach 5000 m passes. Trails get covered by thick layers of snow during the best season. 

Is the Dolpo region safe for hiking? 

Yes, hiking in the Dolpo region is safer due to its plain landscapes. Most of the route crosses through remote villages. But, with a few rugged treks like Upper Dolpo, Upper Mustang trek, and Jomsom, the track passes through dense forests and unexplored terrain. So, the lower and upper Dolpo trek is safe. 

Conclusion: Dolpo Trekking Challenge

Upper Dolpo Trek is a rugged trail that gives stunning scenery and landscapes. This trip is an adventurous activity for a physically fit person to test their endurance and strength level.

The trek to Dolpo opens up an abundance of opportunities to explore the richness of the Trans-Himalayan region. If you are keen and fit for the trip, let us know for further details.

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