THE UPPER DOLPO TREK
The Upper Dolpo trek goes to the legendary Ba-Yul or “Hidden Land”. Dolpo lies at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau in the great Himalayan rain-shadow. Upper Dolpo is geographically cut off from the rest of the world by a barrier of high mountains, deep gorges and thick forests. Hence, this beautiful, wild, and crystalline land had been off-limits to outsiders for many years. We gain access to this unique place trekking for multiple days to Upper Dolpo through true Himalayan wilderness.
Dolpo is home to one of the few enclaves of un-oppressed traditional Tibetan culture. It is not difficult walking, but there is a lot of it. Trekking to Upper Dolpo is no tourist tea-house trek. And you will not find our route outlined in any of the Himalayan trekking guidebooks. Instead, it is rugged, unspoiled, and unforgettable – and arguably the best trek in all of Nepal.
Crystal Mountain is the English name of a mountain near Shey Gompa. It is also the holiest mountain in the Dolpo region. Our founder, Dinesh Gurung, named our company after a trek to the area in the early 80’s. Since then we have run multiple epic treks to Upper Dolpo successfully for several consecutive years. Dolpo trekking is one of the handful signature classic camping treks remaining.
The Upper Dolpo trek begins north of the massive gorge of the Kali Gandaki. Immediately, cross the Toudje La (18,250 feet) just beyond Dhaulagiri to enter a world of rugged people and remote monasteries. This includes Dho, Saldang, Shey (Crystal Mountain), and Ringmo on the shores of Phoksumdo Lake. Steeply descend through thick forests to Juphal. Our trek ends with a flight out of Juphal.
ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS
The Upper Dolpo trek is a CAMPING trek. This means you will sleep in tents and will eat meals prepared by our kitchen crew. We use Mountain Hardwear (Trango) and North Face (VE 25) 4-season tents which are quite spacious and effective against the elements. We also provide sleeping pads. Meals prepared by our trek are also quite varied with many options including rice with locally available vegetables, spaghetti, dumplings, noodles, local breads etc.
Unlike other areas of Nepal, the best season for the trekking in the Dolpo region is the Summer/Monsoons (May through early October). This is because the Dolpo region falls in the rain-shadow.
The Upper Dolpo trek is rated “CHALLENGING”. It is rated 5 on a rating scale from 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging). 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. Furthermore, there can be snow on the passes.
However, this trip is non-technical and suitable for anyone in good physical condition. It is a great trek for anyone who loves to hike and would enjoy camping out for an extended period. You should feel comfortable hiking 10-12 miles per day at these altitudes while carrying a day-pack of approximately 15 pounds. Our maximum altitude gain in one day will be about 4,300 feet. And our maximum altitude loss in one day will be about 3,800 feet. Hence, this trek can be more than what you asked for if you don’t have experience backpacking in remote areas. Because of the altitudes involved and the many days in a remote region, this is a serious trek. This is not a backpacking trip; your gear will be carried by mules. Regardless of the rating, it is important to prepare for any trek in Nepal. Read our advice on training for treks.
This trek does involve several consecutive days of sleeping and hiking at high altitude. We will 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. Hence 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).
WHY TREK WITH US?
All our UPPER DOLPO Treks are private treks for a minimum of two participants. We do NOT nickel-and-dime on services – all inclusions and exclusions are clearly listed in cost details. Some companies will advertise trips for very low prices but they have a lot of exclusions that is usually not clear. With over 30 years of experience, most of our trekkers are either repeat clients or referrals. Additionally, we employ the most professional and friendly staff.
Finally, we are also proud to give back to our community through 3 Summits For Nepal managed by Crystal Mountain Treks staff. Contact us to learn more…