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This trek through Upper Dolpo is similar to our signature trek – Upper Dolpo: The Crystal Mountain Trek but in reverse. It is also a few days shorter as it bypasses Dho.
At the edge of the Tibetan Plateau lies Dolpo, the legendary “Hidden Land” that for years has been off-limits to outsiders. The Upper Dolpo trek into this beautiful, wild, and crystalline landscape begins as we head East to Ringmo on the shores of Phoksumdo Lake. We gain access to a world of rugged people and remote monasteries including Saldang and Shey (Crystal Mountain). We then head to the massive gorges of the Kali Gandaki.
Our trek through true Himalayan wilderness will gain us access to this unique place, which is home to one of the few enclaves of un-oppressed traditional Tibetan culture. En route we pass many of the highest and most beautiful mountains in the world: Maachapuchhare, the Annapurnas, the Dhaulagiri massif, and the remote Kanjiroba Himal. It is not difficult walking, but there is a lot of it!
The Upper Dolpo trek is no tourist tea-house trek, and you will not find our route outlined in any of the Himalayan trekking guidebooks. It is rugged, unspoiled, and unforgettable – arguably the best trek in all of Nepal.
Crystal Mountain, the holiest mountain in Upper Dolpo, is the English name of a mountain near Shey Gompa, the most important monastery in Dolpa. Dinesh Gurung, Crystal Mountain Treks founder, named the company after a trek to the area in the early 80’s. After successfully running the Upper Dolpo trek for several consecutive years, we have now adopted the “Crystal Mountain Trek” as our signature trek.
This Dolpo trek DOES involve sleeping and hiking at high altitude. We will, as we do for all high-altitude treks, provide a GAMOW bag for this trip. A GAMOW bag is a portable hyperbaric chamber that looks like an inflatable extra-large sleeping bag. The effective altitude inside the inflated GAMOW bag is about 5000 feet lower than the altitude you are at; it has been very effective in the past in relieving headaches and other symptoms of altitude sickness. We also carry supplemental oxygen (1 or 2 depending on group size).
The Upper Dolpo trek is rated challenging and involves trekking at high altitude. Most of the hiking will be above 12,000 feet, with nine major pass crossings (the highest being 18,250 feet). Our highest camp will be at about 16,000 feet. There can be snow on the passes. No technical climbing experience is required.
This trip is non-technical and suitable for anyone in good physical condition who loves to hike and would enjoy camping out for an extended period (30 days). You should feel comfortable hiking about 10-12 miles per day at these altitudes while carrying a daypack of approximately 15 pounds. Our maximum altitude gain in one day will be about 4,300 feet, our maximum altitude loss in one day will be about 3,800 feet. Because of the altitudes involved, this is a serious trek. If you don’t have experience backpacking in remote areas for lengthy period, this trek can be more than what you asked for. This is not a backpacking trip; your gear will be carried by porters.
|Day 1||Arrival in Kathmandu. (D)||Kathmandu||1,340m/4,300ft|
|Day 2||Exploring Kathmandu. (B, L, D)||Kathmandu||1,340m/4,300ft|
|Day 3||Fly to Nepalgunj. (B, L, D)||Nepalgunj||150m/500 ft|
|Day 4||Fly to Juphal. Trek to Suligad. (B, L, D)||Suligad||2,050m/6,725ft|
|Day 5||Trek to Chepka. (B, L, D)||Chepka||2,970m/9,744ft|
|Day 6||Trek to Forest Camp. (B, L, D)||Forest Camp||3,010m/9,875ft|
|Day 7||Trek to Ringmo. (B, L, D)||Ringmo||3,600m/11,811ft|
|Day 8||Acclimatization day. (B, L, D)||Ringmo||3,600m/11,811ft|
|Day 9||Trek to Riverside Camp. (B, L, D)||Riverside||3,700m/12,156ft|
|Day 10||Trek to Nangdala Base Camp. (B, L, D)||Nangdala Base Camp||4,650ft/15,255ft|
|Day 11||Trek to Shey Gompa. (B, L, D)||Shey Gompa||4,370m/14,337ft|
|Day 12||Rest and explore. (B, L, D)||Shey Gompa||4,370m/14,337ft|
|Day 13||Trek to Namgung. (B, L, D)||Namgung||4,415m/14,484ft|
|Day 14||Trek to Saldang. (B, L, D)||Saldang||4,070m/13,353ft|
|Day 15||Trek to Nisal Gaun. (B, L, D)||Nisal Gaun||3,871m/12,700ft|
|Day 16||Trek to Shimen Gaun. (B, L, D)||Shimen Gaun||3,850m/12,628ft|
|Day 17||Rest day. (B, L, D)||Shimen Gaun||3,850m/12,628ft|
|Day 18||Trek to Tinje Gaun. (B, L, D)||Tinje Gaun||4,100m/13,480ft|
|Day 19||Trek to Kharka. (B, L, D)||Kharka||4,100m/13,480ft|
|Day 20||Trek to Chharka Bot. (B, L, D)||Charkabot||4,300m/14,100ft|
|Day 21||Trek to Nulungsumde Kharka. (B, L, D)||NulungSumde Kharka||4,100m/13,480ft|
|Day 22||Cross Niwar Pass. Camp at Kharka. (B, L, D)||Kharka||3,140m/10,300ft|
|Day 23||Trek to Sangdak. (B, L, D)||Sangdak||3,780m/12,400ft|
|Day 24||Trek to Phalyak. (B, L, D)||Phalyak||3,140m/10,300ft|
|Day 25||Trek end at Jomsom. (B, L, D)||Jomsom||2,743m/8,400ft|
|Day 26||Fly to Pokhara. (B, L, D)||Pokhara||1,400m/4,500ft|
|Day 27||Fly to Kathmandu. (B, D)||Kathmandu||1,340m/4,300ft|
|Day 28||Final departure|
Arrive at Kathmandu. Transfer to your hotel. Overnight Hotel.
In the early afternoon, fly about an hour to Nepalgunj in the Western plains of Nepal. Nepalgunj is a bustling border town near the Nepal-India border. Expect hot and humid weather. Overnight Hotel Batika or similar.
Beyond here the valley narrows once more and the trail continues to climb and descend. At the confluence of the Suli Gad and Pungmo Khola we cross to the west bank and make camp at the village. Overnight in tents.
Overnight in Tents.
We have another two or three hours of contouring, sometimes steeply up or down, to reach Chharka and will probably pass villager en route collecting the evening’s firewood.
Overnight in Tents.
Transfer to airport for final departure.
Per person price (valid until December 31, 2020)
2 persons: US$ 6,000 per person
3 – 4 persons: US$ 5,400 per person
5 or more persons: US$ 5,100 per person
Single Supplement: US$300
US$ 150 per person discount available for alumni.
Upper Dolpo lies in a rain shadow in the high Tibetan plateau. The best months to visit Upper Dolpo are May, June, July, August and September. Hence, unlike other parts of Nepal which are good to visit during the Spring and Autumn seasons, the monsoon (Summer) months are the best time to visit Upper Dolpo. This is because these are the warmest months and the high passes have no or minimal snow.
All cooking gear and food have to be carried in from Kathmandu. The cook will purchase fresh fruit and vegetables and rice/lentils from the villagers en route. You will be surprised as to what the cook can make on a small gas stove. In general, expect porridge (Oatmeal), toast, eggs (various style), muesli, hash browns, sausages etc for breakfast. And sandwich, pizzas, momos, noodles (dry and with soup), rolls, fried rice, Indian bread with vegetables or Daal Bhaat (Rice with lentils) etc for lunch and dinner.
We would recommend the Upper Dolpo trek to seasoned hikers/backpackers only. You must be able to hike up to 12 miles a day (mostly at high altitude). While this trek does not involve and require any technical climbing, you must have the mental and physical toughness. You will be in the wilderness with little or no modern amenities (no shower, fast food, wi-fi) for over 25 days.
It is advised that anyone with a pre-existing condition consult their doctor before signing up for a trek. We rate the Upper Dolpo Trek a 5 on a scale of 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging).
The more physically fit you are, the more you will enjoy the trip. There are three aspects to training for any trek. 1) Cardiovascular Training will make your body more efficient in using oxygen. Running, walking, swimming or biking, or any combination of these are great for cardiovascular conditioning. 2) Strength Training by either using free weights or machines at the gym will build hiking strength. Walking stairs, especially with a pack will simulate the hiking environment. We also recommend practicing squats. Trekkers will encounter low hanging obstacles to duck under, and many toilets are at ground level, which requires a low squat.
3) Endurance Training is where you build endurance in the months leading up to your trek, slowly increase your length of training sessions. By the time you are 2 weeks from the scheduled trek date you should be able to ascend 3,000 ft. in a 3-4 hour period.
In the end, the more your training simulates a trek, the better off you will be. So hiking 4-5 hours outdoors, uphill and downhill, about once or twice a week in addition to other cardio vascular training at the gym or at home will greatly benefit and prepare you for the trek.
On camping treks, toilets are a hole in the ground in a small tent to allow for privacy. “Showers” are available during rest days and involve a bucket of hot water. On most days you can clean yourself with wet wipes. We will provide a small bowl of warm water with which you can wipe yourself with a towel.
Layering is key. And it’s always recommended to trek with good branded gear. A good pair of hiking boots that’s been broken in is very important. Good top and bottom base layers, a mid layer (fleece or capilene), and an outer layer (Gore-tex or other material). If you tend to get cold quickly, bring a down parka especially for the evening at the lodge. On most days, you’d be hiking in a convertible hiking pant that can be converted into shorts and one or two top layers.
if you’re trekking with Crystal Mountain Treks, we provide a sleeping bag (rated to 0 degree F or -17 degree C), duffel bags, down jacket and Steripen for water purification to our clients for no charge.
It is possible to buy cheap and relatively functional gear in Kathmandu – convertible pants, down jackets, fleece, Gore-tex jackets. But remember, you get what you pay for. Wool gloves, hats, socks are available too.
There are quite a few branded stores too. North Face, Moutain Hardwear, Marmot and Sherpa. If you’re coming from Australia or Europe, items in these shops are probably cheaper than back home. But if you’re coming from the US, it’s better to buy branded gear at home.
This is a challenging trek. Even for the hardy Nepali staff. Make sure your staff and porters have good gear and enough food to complete this trek. Ask your operator what they provide for the staff. Are they provided meals or are they responsible for their own meals?
We provide snow goggles, mittens, gore-tex parka, water-proof pants and good water-proof hiking boots (mostly Lowa’s) for the staff. Also, the staff and porters will be provided all meals on the trek. They do not have to cook for themselves in wood fire. We’d be glad to provide references who can allude to our claims.
There is mobile signal only at some of the villages at the beginning of the trek. Wi-fi is only available at some places. We will provide a satellite phone for this trek.
On camping treks, toilets are a hole in the ground in a small tent to allow for privacy. Showers are available during rest days and involve scooping out water with a mug from a bucket of hot water. On most days you can clean yourself with wet wipes. We will provide a small bowl of warm water with which you can wipe yourself with a towel.
Wir waren drei mal mit Crystal in Nepal unterwegs, darunter eine 40-tägige private Durchquerung des Dolpo. Jwalant war stets unser Kontaktpartner und hat für uns alles organisiert, vom Abholen nach der Ankunft in Kathmandu, Hotels, lokaler Transport, Begleitmannschaft, Ausrüstung, Essen, bis zum abschließenden Flughafentransfer. Die Leistung von Jwalant und Crystal war ausgezeichnet und wird von uns wärmstens empfohlen.
22 days trekking through Dolpo, slept in tent each night, averaged about 10 miles a day. Fantastic support from Crystal Mountain Trek – guide, assistant guide, cook, 3 kitchen staff, mule herder with 5 mules for 2 clients (white women in our 50s). Trip of a lifetime! amazing scenery, high mountain passes (over 17k ft), rivers, glaciers, waterfalls, rocks, trees, wild flowers, Nepali people, monasteries. Quite remote, stayed healthy, life changing. Very highly recommend this trekking company and hope to trek with them again soon.
I made two treks with Crystal Mountain Treks awhile back, and had exceptional trips both times. The Upper Dolpo Trek was my favorite excursion to Nepal, and it was a memorable one. It is a trek into a land of immense beauty, rugged terrain, and friendly people. Of more than forty-five years of hiking, backpacking, climbing and backcountry skiing, the Upper Dolpo Trek is the highlight. I thought I had been to the wilderness before, but nothing I had ever been to, came close to the remoteness, or the difficulty of access. We crossed swift rivers, and hiked over high passes, at an altitude that took your breath away. Literally. This is not the impossible journey, but you work for your views.
The villages and gompas we visited are much as they have been for hundreds of years. The local people were pleasant and friendly, and as interested in us, as we were of them. During our entire time in Upper Dolpo, we saw one other foreigner. This area is definitely not overrun with tourist.
The reason this was not the “impossible journey”, was because of our guide and crew from CMT. Our trekking crew was absolutely outstanding. All in our group agreed that the staff made an all-out effort to please us, and they did. From morning tea, to evening dinner, to crossing rivers in between, they did a fabulous job, with a smile on their face. They also did a great job with meals, which were delicious. The CMT crew was well equipped, carried a well equipped first-aid kit and a GAMOW bag. They checked our oxygen level every evening as a safety precaution. We felt very safe and secure.
If you want an outstanding trekking company to lead you into the wild, remote places of Nepal, make sure you sign up with Crystal Mountain Treks! In 2011 My friends and I spent 28 days hiking and camping in the Uppper Dolpo area following the footsteps of Peter Matthiessen, of the famed “Snow Leopard”. The staff lead us across numerous rivers and high passes, into vast valleys full of wildflowers, and pointed out Himalayan Blue Sheep on the high mountain ridges. We were invited into the ancient Shey Monastery and visited the Red Chalk Gompa that is carved into the mountain cliffs. If you want the trip of a lifetime with knowledgeable and friendly guides, choose Crystal Mountain Treks!
I did lot of scouting and test before choosing Crystal Mountain Treks.
We used them three times for different treks in different regions of Nepal. Each time we had wonderful experiences and everything went perfectly. One of the trip was crossing the whole Upper Dolpo from West to East, a 35 days tented trekking, involving 9 passes over 5000 meters (16000 ft), with no lodges and very little food supply on the way. Logistics was very complex, however, they managed it perfectly.