Upper Dolpo trek lies hidden behind the Dhaulagiri Range in Nepal’s mid-western region where snow fed streams run off high mountains but few are perennial. Lower (Outer) Dolpo is characterised by a semi arid topography with deep gullies and narrow valleys while Upper (Inner) Dolpo comprises a vast arid region of rolling semi-desert highlands, a continuation of the topography of the Tibetan plateau.
Dolpo region is most easily reached by a flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, in the humid south-west close to the Indian border, then to Dolpo’s airport at Juphal. A three days trek up the Phoksundo Khola through a mix of forests and arid landscapes leads to Ringmo and the beautiful Phoksundo Lake. This is Nepal’s deepest lake at 650m. It is 4,8km long and 1,8km, wide.Inner Dolpo Shey gompa trek traverses the cliff face along the side of the lake and then leads up the Phoksundo Valley gently at first then more steeply. Trail follows its narrow ravine to higher ridges and beautiful campsite to Shey Gompa a Tibetan influence settlement and prosperous Saldang village, a two kilometers ribbon Bön village of five settlements that lies on the trade route to Tibet.
Our trail to Lower Dolpo Trek leads to Jeng Phedi with the north face of Dhaulagiri into the green Do Tarap Valley, a vast plain set within high mountains. There are ten villages and numerous gompas of both the Chaiba and Bön Po sects. Do is the principal village in the region, barley the staple crop.
The Dolpo trekking trail continues through juniper scrub and wild rose and pleasant campsites. Hereafter, the river gradually descends into a deep, exciting gorge that becomes increasingly narrow and the path increasingly ‘precarious,’ before broadening out towards Khanigaon. Our route then leads into impressive forests before another gorge to the terraced fields around the old fortress town of Tarakot. The trail continues through a pine-filled gorge and rise up steeply to right beneath Jupahal for the flight back to Nepalgunj.