We have all heard of Everest Base Camp trek and Annapurna trek but only a true wanderer chooses the road to Dolpo-Nepal’s hidden utopia. However, to add more to beautiful memories; explore an extremely off-beat adventure destination that is also a seat of rare ancient traditions.
Practices like trading with goods instead of money and polyandry are still prevalent here. Not to mention Bon-Po religion that precedes Buddhism.
Anyone who wants a generous dose of age-old rituals, extraordinary landscapes, and of course, the adrenaline rush of trekking the Himalayas is welcome to attempt the Dolpo trek. Wondering what to expect and what is the best time to visit?
Himalayan Trekkers answers you some of the most frequently asked questions about this unconventional trek.
Dolpo Trek Highlights
- Experiencing the typical Bon culture and unique lifestyle of the inhabitants.
- The most popular place for Yarshagumba hunting.
- The destination where Eric Valli’s movie, Himalayan Caravan was shot.
- Sky-burial, polyandry, and Paincho and Parma (exchanging goods instead of money) are still prevailing.
- One of the most beautiful and unique places in Nepal is full of ancient monasteries and temples.
- The hidden gem of Nepal from where an amazing Himalayan view of Mt.Kanjirova, Mt. Dhaulagiri, and other ranges can be seen, similarly home to world-renowned Phoksundo Lake and Snow Leopard; a perfect destination for adventure seekers.
1. How difficult is Dolpo trek?
Dolpo can be classified as a difficult trek, not so much for the height as for the duration. It is quite a long trek consisting of 20 to 28 days on average, depending on the route that you choose. While one will pass through valleys, forested areas like the Phokshundo National Park, trekkers will also have to brave a number of high, freezing passes like the Baga La (5,070 m), Sela (5,094 m), Nangdola (5,110 m), Numa La (5,190 m) and Jayanta (5221 m).
2. What is the starting point of the trek?
Unlike the more popular treks of Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Base camp, the way to Dolpo is more costly in the mode of transportation and bit tough but besides that, this destination is rich in natural flora and fauna.
Once you have arrived at a major city like Kathmandu or Pokhara, exclusive charter flights need to be arranged beforehand to reach Nepalgunj. Then, another pre-booked connecting flight from Nepalgunj will take you to Juphal from where the trek will commence.
The alternate cheaper option is to commute via roadway from Kathmandu or Pokhara but it is an extremely arduous and prolonged journey.
Himalayan Trekkers will do the necessary groundwork on your behalf when you finalize your trip.
3. When is the best time to do Dolpo trek?
Dolpo trek is somewhat infamous for the thick layer of snow that engulfs the region so Himalayan Trekkers will advise you to plan your trip in the Summer (April and May) and Autumn (September and October) months when the weather is bright and sunny.
4. What are the accommodation facilities during the trek?
Himalayan Trekkers will make sure that you have comfortable and warm accommodation all across the route. Teahouses or lodges are sparse in this area so finding random accommodation on your own can be a challenge.
5. Are food and water easily available throughout the trek?
Again, as tea houses and eateries are limited along this route, ration and other cooking supplies should be ideally carried from Pokhara or Kathmandu. Himalayan Trekkers will take care to ensure a steady and timely flow of food all through the duration of the trek. Any meal preferences like vegan or any specific diet are best disclosed earlier to allow convenient preparation beforehand.
6. Is any permit required for the trek?
As the Dolpo region is segregated into Upper Dolpo and Lower Dolpo, separate permits are required. The entire area is regarded as restricted so trekkers who are planning to visit Dolpo will require the TIMS (Trekkers Information Management) card, the Upper Dolpo Special permit( Issues from Immigration of Nepal under the guarantee of An authorized Trekking agency), and the Lower Dolpo permit ( She Phoksundo National Park). The Dolpo permits are issued by the Department of Immigration of Nepal.
Moreover, a licensed guide and a group of minimum 2 trekkers are mandatory. As a result, there will always be an expert suggestion.
7. Does Phone and Internet work in the Dolpo Region?
Himalayan Trekkers will strongly recommend that you purchase a local Nepalese sim card like NCELL or NTC if you want to stay connected with friends and relatives. However, there is no guarantee that you will get reception everywhere as it is pretty out-of-the-way.
On the flip side, enjoy a technological detox and immerse yourself in the grandeur of the mountains.
8. What to pack for Dolpo trek?
Instead of packing a large number of heavy woolens only, take a combination of light woolens and heavy woolens. Hiking t-shirts and tops along with running/exercise shorts and trousers are ideal for day trekking in the lower altitudes.
Accessories like woolen socks for night time and quick-dry socks for day time are suggested along with scarves, buffs, and gloves.
Sun protection is of utmost importance to prevent Ultraviolet rays from harming your skin. Be certain to include sunhats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and lip balm.
Rain protection is equally necessary so a reliable set of water-resistant overalls and a windcheater will go a long way.
Last but most importantly, an excellent pair of worn-in trekking boots with good grip and high-altitude medicines has to be on the list.
9. What currency do need to carry?
As there are so few opportunities or requirements to spend money along the way, you will not be needing much cash. Whatever expenses are to be incurred will be done beforehand through Himalayan Trekkers.
The maximum Nepali Rupee/ NPR that you may spend will account for drinking water or energy bars.
10. Is travel insurance required?
Travel insurance is definitely required for such isolated and high altitude treks like Dolpo treks. Himalayan Trekkers will highly propose that you ensure proper financial back-up for any unforeseen emergency like accidents or natural disasters.
Convince your mind to follow your heart and come visit the mysterious hidden valley - Dolpo that is also the setting of Eric Valli’s movie, Caravan that was nominated for the Oscars. Himalayan Trekkers await to welcome you to Nepal!