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Trekking in Nepal

Dolpo Region trek

Starting Point : KTM-Nepalgunj
Ending Point: : Nepalgunj - KTM
Grade info : Moderate
Transportation : Flight
Total days : 14 days (Ktm-Ktm)
Trekking Hour : 5-6 hours a day

Dolpo, one of the highest inhabited plateaus in the world, was closed to trekkers until 1989. Those that did get to visit this area needed special permission from the Government. With the changes in the regulations governing visits, a remarkable part of Nepal, hitherto almost unknown, has suddenly become a major destination for trekkers and mountain lovers. It is an area of roughly 2100 square miles inside Nepal's northwestern frontier with Tibet, encompassing some thirty villages and monasteries at altitudes if eleven to fifteen thousand feet. Dolpo is in Nepal but, its people - in race, religion and culture, are Tibetan Buddhists descended from nomadic tribes who settled in this area around the tenth century. Being in Nepal, the Chinese occupation and subsequent "cultural revolution" of Tibet did not affect the Dolpo-pa (People of Dolpo), and their religion and culture has survived as one of the best preserved examples of Tibetan Buddhism in the world. In fact, people living in certain pockets of the religion practice Bon Po, an animistic religion that pre-dates Buddhism and which, some believe, is actually the precursor to Tibetan Buddhism as we know it.

Lower Dolpo, the area opened to trekkers, is thickly forested with conifers and cut by gushing rivers. The upper portion of Dolpo, however, is an extension of the Tibetan Plateau and has the same wild, windswept, open spaces characteristic of Tibet. The region was declared a National Park in 1984, making it Nepal's largest National Park and the only one encompassing a Trans-Himalayan eco-system. The National Park status has helped preserve not only the culture but also the wildlife. The lower Dolpo is home to the endangered musk deer, which may be glimpsed along the trails and to a great variety of birds. Though rarely seen the blue sheep, the Himalayan black bear, snow leopard and the Himalayan Wolf are also found in Dolpo.

Your journey to the land of the Dolpo-pas begins with a flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, followed the next day by another flight to the STOL airstrip at Jumla. From Jumla the trail follows a south-easterly direction through the villages of Gothichaur, Chaurikot and Hurikot. Then heading north-east, it crosses the Kagmara La at 5115m to the villages of Pungmo and Ringmo to culminate at the Shey Phoksumdo Lake. Trekkers are not allowed to go north beyond the lake. The return journey will bring you south through the villages of Sepka and Aankhe to Dunai for the flight back to Nepalgunj and then to Kathmandu.

Lower Dolpo Exploration Trek Itinerary

Day 01:
Take a flight of 1 and half hours to Nepalgunj, a major city in western Nepal. Stay overnight at hotel.

Day 02:
Transfer to the Nepalgunj Airport for an early morning flight to Jumla. From Jumla trek heading in a south-westerly direction, the trail passes through terraced fields of wheat, potato and barley and some small villages. It is a pleasant day's walk to the village of Gothichour. encounters with Dolpo-pa traders with their caravans of pack animals, laden with salt from Tibet, headed for the middle hills is likely. These traders supplement their income by selling their meager agricultural produce first in Tibet, in exchange for salt and then carrying the salt from there to the Nepalese middle hills. They sell the salt, buy more agricultural produce and repeat the cycle. It is amazing that most of this trade is carried on through a system of barter, almost as ancient as the hills themselves.

Day 03:
From here, the trail continues south-west to Manisangu, where there is a small police check post where you will need to show your trekking permit. After this has been examined you will continue to Sherpa Gaon. This is one of the few Sherpa enclaves in the Dolpo region and you will have the opportunity to witness Sherpa culture, as it used to be, unchanged by the onslaught of modernity. From Sherpa Gaon the trail follows a series of ups and downs to the village of Churta.

Day 04:
After a long day of constant climbing through hamlets, and the occsional forest, cross the first of the high passes on this trip - the Mauri La (4326m). From the pass you descend to the village of Chaurikot and on to camp. It is very likely that as you pass through villages in this region people will flock out of their houses to see you. Do not be alarmed. Some of these people have never seen westerners before are curious to find out more about them. You should ask for permission before taking photographs. People who have not seen cameras, ever, do not like strange objects which make funny sounds pointed at them.

Day 05 & Day 06:
From Chaurikot you follow a series of ups and downs to the village of Rimi, high above the north bank of the Bheri River and then head northwest along the Garpung Khola (Khola=small river), which is a major tributary of the Bheri to Hurikot. Continuing from Hurikot you cross the Garpung Khola to its southern bank and reach Kagmara La (5115m). As you pass through villages people may come out to you ask for medicines for headaches and various other ailments. Please DO NOT pass out medications unless you can determine the nature of the ailment and provide follow up medical care.

Day 07:
This is a day for you to spend acclimatizing to the high altitude and to get some real rest after the strenuous trekking of the last couple of days. You will need to go to bed early today to be able to wake up and make a very early start tomorrow.

Day 08:
Waking up early you start out, upwards, for the Kagmara La before the day gets hot and the sun melts teh snow (when there is some), making ascent difficult. This is going to be a long day. On the ascent to the pass the forest at first is quite dense and sighting are possible of the Red Panda and various kinds of birds. On the rare occasion you may be lucky and see markings of the black bear, snow leopard or the Himalayan wolf.. On still rare occasions you may see the animals themselves. After crossing the Kagmara La, the trail descends to Chouri Kharka from where magnificent views of the Kajiroba Himal are available.
After descending for some time you arrive at a birch forest where water is available. Your camp will be set up at a grassy spot near the forest. It is possible to sight blue sheep on the opposite slopes but, you need a good pair of binoculars as these animals blend very well with the surrounding landscapes.

Day 09:
Further decend to Dorjan Khola. Continue through the village of Pungmo to Suli Khola and then turning north you continue to the village of Ringmo. Ringmo is one of the enclaves where Bon Po is still practiced and is situated very close to Phoksundo Lake.

Day 10:
The icy waters give off a blue to turquoise color and a sunny day by the lake gives you some much needed rest. If the weather is good you can see the peaks of the Kanjiroba Himal and the other peaks surrounding Kagmara La. It is also possible to visit the Ringmo Monastery at the edge of the lake.

Day 11:
Set off from Ringmo, heading south back over the previous trail as far as the point where the trail meets the one from Kagmara La and then proceed further south to the village of Sumdowa. The headquarters of the National Park is located at Sumdowa. Trek further south along the Suli Gad River to the village of Aankhe on the east bank of the Suli Gad River.

Day 12:
Continue trekking south through the village of Roha Gaon to the settlement at Suli gad along the river and then continue to the large settlement of Dunai. Cross the river and head west towards the airfield at Juphal from where you will catch your flight to Nepalgunj and then to Kathmandu.

Day 13:
This is a spare day in Juphal, incase you are delayed getting there for a number of reasons, including sickness or injury to any of your group members. You will be booked onto the flight to Nepalgunj and then to Kathmandu the next day.

Day 14:
The flight to Nepalgunj is in mid-morning therefore there is no early morning rush to get to the airport. There will be a transit period of some hours in Nepalgunj before your flight to Kathmandu is called. Arrive in Kathmandu in the evening.