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Dolpo Explore
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Dolpa is one of the most interesting trekking destinations of Nepal for many reasons. First of all, with an area of 7,889 sq. kilometers, it is the largest district of Nepal, and yet one of the most sparsely populated. Its topography is very interesting. It contains the deepest lake of Nepal, lake Phoksundo, which also happens to be the deepest lake of high altitude in the world. Dolpa is one of the few Nepali districts that is behind the Himalayan mountains, due to which it gets very little rain. Hence, most of the hills are bare with little vegetation. Harsh weather combined with high hills makes this area one of the most inhospitable in Nepal, and yet the barren and majestic hills lend it a rare beauty that is absolutely mesmerizing. Due to the harsh living conditions, few people live or travel in these areas. As a result, the people of Dolpa are part of a very isolated culture found in specific pockets of northern Nepal. This is a land where life still revolves around horses, mules, and yaks, people still wear traditional attire and jewelry, waters are still divided on the basis of a dice game, and the remains of the dead are given to wild vultures. Even today, much of Dolpa is restricted area for tourists, which contributed to the preservation of unique culture of Dolpa.  

Some of the attraction of this route are: Dho Tarap, a human settlement at the highest altitude in the world, Shey Gumba, religiously the most important Gumba in Nepal, and lake Phoksundo, the deepest lake of high altitude in the world.

Flora and Fauna
Upper Dolpa region is full of rare herbs and wild animals. Lucky tourists can sight blue sheep, ghoral, and even cheetahs, and many other species of wild animals. Also, the forests of Upper Dolpo are home to rare plants like Yarsagumba, Jatamasi, Panchaunle,  Chimailo, and many others. 

Yarsagumba
Upper Dolpa is one of the few remaining sources of Yarsa Gumba, an exotic half plant, half animal that is considered  a powerful aphrodisiac. Every year, in May-June, the Shey Phoksundo National Park opens its doors to the seekers of Yarsagumba. Local villagers travel in droves to great heights to seek this elusive plant that is found only in high altitudes under specific weather conditions. At a diminutive six inches, the Yarsagumba is hard to spot on ground for anyone but local experts. Even the locals have to  endure tough hardships of high altitude, cold, and harsh topography to reap the Yarsagumba in its prime condition. They then sell it to local dealers at up to Rs. 1,200 per piece. The economy of Dolpa leans heavily on Yarsagumba, called simply “the insect” by locals, and “Himalayan Viagra” by its enthusiasts. In July-August, droves of local traders can be found collecting Yarsagumba from villagers, and taking it over to China or Kathmandu for sale. At the end of the chain, Yarsagumba sells for more than Rs. 5,000 per piece in retail. 

Trekking in Dolpa
Appropriate Trekking Seasons
The months of  March to September are good for embarking on this trek. After September, it starts snowing heavily, and trekking is possible only with heavy duty equipment. From November it is completely impassable. The best time is from March to May, as it may rain in June and July. 

Communication
Travelers may lose communication at many stretches of the journey. Satellite phones work in any place, but are expensive. Phone networks which are popular in other parts of the country do not work well here. Ncell works in big towns like Dunai and Khalanga, but not at smaller villager. Namaste is only available at Khalanga and Dunai. Hello Nepal is the most popular network, and works in some of the larger settlements like Saldang, and Bhijer. Hello Nepal towers are being constructed , Tinje, Dho Tarap, Chharka, Kagkot, Mukat, and a few other places. Sky Nepal is the second most popular phone network.

High Altitude
Any height more than 3,000 meters above sea level is considered to be high altitude. During Dolpa trek, travelers frequently go above 3,000 meters and there are several passes of more than 5,000 meters. Hence, travelers should be well prepared for altitude sickness. Though anything abnormal that happens above 3,000 meters is considered altitude sickness, some of the common symptoms are listed below.
-- Headache
-- Difficulty in breathing
-- Disinterest in food
-- Vomiting
-- Difficulty in walking
-- Dizziness
-- Sleepiness
-- Tiredness
-- Anger / Irritation
-- Body aches
-- Slurred Speech 

Travelers should carry enough water, food, and medicines to alleviate altitude sickness. 

 

Itinerary of Upper Dolpa Circuit

Day

Place of Origin (O)

Lunch (L)

Destination (D)

Altitude of Destination (in meters)

Waling time from O to L

Walking time from L to D

Max altitude of the day (in meters)

1

Juphal

Kageni

Chhepka

2,491

3 hrs

3 hrs

2,491

2

Chhepka

Rechi

Chunuwar

3,130

3.5 hrs

2 hrs

3,130

3

Chunuwar

View Tower

Ringmo

3,647

2.5 hrs

1 hr

3,715

4

Ringmo

Choklapuk

Ruktang

3,594

4.5 hrs

2.5 hrs

4,026

5

Ruktang

Pack Lunch

Base Camp

4,677

4 hrs

2 hrs

4,677

6

Base Camp

Pack Lunch

Shey Gumba

4,354

2.5 hrs

4.5 hrs

5,352

7

Shey Gumba

Namgung Gumba

Saldang

4,085

7 hrs

4 hrs

5,120

8

Saldang

Namdo

Rhakyo

4,151

2 hrs

4.5 hrs

4,151

9

Rhakyo

Pack Lunch

High Camp

4,850

3 hrs

3 hrs

4,850

10

High Camp

Takshi

Dho Tarap

4,090

5 hrs

1 hr

5,107

11

Dho Tarap

Lang

Tangum

3,586

3 hrs

5 hrs

4,090

12

Tangum

Laini Odar

Lashikyap

2,718

5 hrs

2 hrs

3,586

13

Lashikyap

Shahar Tara

Dunai

2,095

3.5 hrs

4 hrs

2,718

14

Dunai

-

Juphal

 

4 hrs

 

 


Day One
The trek starts from Ranjha airport, a small airport on top of the town of Juphal. Currently, it is the only airport in Dolpa and can be reached from Nepalgunj. The road takes you through a little sojourn in the town of Juphal, after which it descends steeply. For about an hour, the road is muddy and stony with little vegetation. After that, there is a short stretch of motorable road that lasts up to Suligad. Suligad is the entrance to Shey Phoksundo National Park. Here, the tourists who have not paid their entrance fee can do so. Beyond Suligad is restricted area.

From Suligad the road becomes horizontal, with mild inclines in between. The road is populated with tea shops in between at Khalaripi, Kageni and Sangta. Kageni and Sangta are both ideal lunch places as they have plenty of hotels. Sangta even has a charming campsite with water and toilet facility. The campsite offers a view of the raging Suligad River. Our actual camping was at Chhepka, which is more densely populated than the above mentioned intermediary villages. It also provides campsite and water facility. 

Day Two 
Day two starts at Chhepka and goes on to several small outposts like Dhane, Kiptarung and Rechi. The road follows the Phoksundo River upstream through dense forests. The road inclines mildly uphill at first, and later the incline grows steeper. At some points, the rod dips down to the level of the water. At these points, there is a stone embankment which contains the water and yet lets travelers be close to the water.  On this day travelers cross Phoksundo river several times over small local bridges. At one point between Rechi and Chunuwar, there is a dramatic point where two rivers of distinctly different colors merge to form a single Phoksundo River.  

Dhane contains a shop in a tent, where you can buy basic food items. It also contains a trash can and water source. Kiptarung and Rechi also contain tents for basic necessities, and at Rechi a hotel is coming up. The camping is at Chunuwar, which houses a hotel, a campsite, a village water tap and well managed public toilets. It also contains communication facility through a PCO.

Day Three
The third day’s trek goes steeply uphill for the first three hours. There is minimal vegetation, and the hills are very dusty in dry seasons. The road offers a bird’s eye view of the unique beauty of surrounding hills. These hills are made almost entirely of gray stone with little vegetation. The bare outcroppings have jagged tops, which lead their majestic beauty to the beauty. At the end of three hours of uphill climb is a view tower, where travelers can rest. The view tower offers a view of Phoksundo falls, a spectacular 3-step waterfall that drops down 167 meters from the Phoksundo lake. After a ten minute walk uphill from the view tower, the travelers can get the first glimpse of Phoksundo lake. After that, the road goes gently downhill and the view of Phoksundo lake gets clearer. After walking for about an hour, one arrives at the village of Ringmo. This village of mainly Buddhist people lies on the banks of Phoksundo lake. 

We camped at Phoksundo lake after only half a day of walking in order to enjoy the beauty of this lake. There is plenty of open space to camp beside the Phoksundo lake, and also public toilets. The village offers a PCO and electricity to charge mobiles. The Phoksundo bank also offers a spectacular view of Numala Bagala passes which are on the way to Dho Tarap.

Phoksundo Lake
With a maximum depth of 145 m, Phoksundo is the deepest lake in Nepal and also the deepest lake found at such a great altitude in the world. It is a freshwater lake completely devoid of any animal life. The lake is fed by streams that originate from the Himalayas, and hence its water is very cold. It is famous for its deep aquamarine blue color, but at close observation, it can be seen that the lake changes color with according to the amount of ambient light. It takes on a whole range of shades from deep green, shimmering silver, to its usual deep blue and gray. 

The legend of Phoksundo
The word Phoksundo is of Tibetan origin, and is made up of three words: Phok which means spread out, Sung which means three, and Dhu, which means stone. These words describe the shape of the lake, which has three corners jutting out from the center. 

Once upon a time, there was a Lama in Tibet. There was a demon who was troubling his people, and the Lama started chasing the demon. The demon was carrying a bowl of oil in one hand, and a bowl of water in the other. The lama chased the demon all the way from Tibet to Phoksundo, where the demon spilled his bowl of water, which formed a lake. The demon then escaped, leaving the Lama trapped behind the water. This is the locals’ story of the origin of this lake. 

Day Four
From this onwards we enter restricted area. Ringmo village is the boundary between Lower and Upper Dolpa. We started out by walking on a rocky precipice over the Phoksundo lake. The precipice offers different angles to view all three corners of Phoksundo lake. The precipice is also the site of a dramatic scene in the popular French movie Himalaya. The road climbs and dips to the level of the lake, where we crossed several shallow streams on foot. We encountered many streams that empty into the Phoksundo lake. After walking for about two hours, the road swerves to the left, after which the first corner of Phoksundo is obscured from view and we only get to see the last corner. The track goes up to a height of 4,085m, after which it steadily descends through a dense pine forest. After walking downhill for about two hours, we got to Choklapuk, a lovely beach perfect for camping. Located on the edge of Phoksundo’s corner, this place offers a wide expanse for resting and relaxing, and a wonderful view of Phoksundo lake and surrounding mountains.

After lunch, we walked horizontally along a gorge with mountains on both sides. This was one of the most adventurous parts of the trip. This road is flooded in summer and we walked through ice cold water and among thorny bushes. The river is ice cold, because it descends directly from the Himalayas, and is the major source of the waters of Phoksundo lake. 

Camping was at Ruktang, an open space beside the river. On the left side, this place offers a view of Kanjirowa mountain on clear days, which is full of snow even in the month of July.

Day Five
On the fifth day, the route is very unique. We crossed Pisten River over and over again without bridges. The river flows inside a gorge, and alternately embraces each side of the gorge.  As a result, we have to either walk through the river or due to which we have to walk on the dry side. The walk is uphill but not steep. The water ranges from shallow to knee deep, and the current is very swift. Sandals are recommended for entire day. Several waterfalls fall into the river from both sides. 

On this day, we climbed up to a height of 4,677 meters. Although this is a considerable height where altitude sickness usually takes hold, this day the cold water alleviated the symptoms of altitude sickness. The lunch was packed this day, because the geography was not very suitable for cooking. Camping was at Base Camp, on the shore of the river. There is a wide open space at the river shore, with stony ground and thorny juniper bushes.

Day Six
This day was the most arduous day of the trek, since we crossed our highest pass on this day.  The road is inclined steeply, interspersed with short stretches of gradual inclines. The final few hundred meters are in a sandy mountain, where our feet slid at every step. Altitude sickness may take hold at this point, and travelers should be well prepared for that. 

After crossing the pass, the other wide offers a spectacular view of light sand colored mountains. The monsoon rains in Nepal come from clouds which travel northwards from the oceans in the south. But most of them disperse their water in Southern Nepal, as they cannot cross the tall Himalayan mountains. Hence, some places in Nepal which are behind tall mountains do not get much rainfall. Dolpa is one of them. The results of little moisture can be seen in these parts, where the mountains are bare and sandy, and the vegetation is very sparse. 

We had packed lunch on this day. After walking downhill from the pass for about four hours, we get to Shey Gumba. From a religious point of view, Shey Gumba is considered the most important of all Gumbas in Nepal. It is almost a Mecca for Buddhists. Though the building itself is modest, the statues in the Gumba are very expensive, some of them are coated in gold and silver. They word Shey itself means “biggest of all” in Tibetan. 

The legends of Shey Gumba
Once upon a time, the people were making a Gumba in Digarji. The people would build all day, but every night demons would come and destroy whatever was made in the day. The Gumba could never be completed. The people finally decided to ask Guru Rimpoche for advice. The Rimpoche suggested a most secluded place that demons would never be able to get at. That place was Shey, which is surrounded by tall mountains of more than 5,000 meters on all sides, and is almost inaccessible for outsiders. The villagers came to Shey and built their Gumba, but even the gods were reluctant to stay in such an inhospitable place. Once the villagers installed the gods and went back home, they found that the gods had already flown back, and had arrived at their village before them. The villagers went back to Shey Gumba again. This time they shackled the gods with iron chains, and that is how Shey Gumba came to be. 

The Shey Gumba is also said to be commissioned by the king of Jumla. The kingdom of Jumla ceased to exist several hundred years ago, but Shey Gumba still houses a sword and an inscription from the king of Jumla.

Crystal Mountain, which stands right in front of Shey Gumba, is supposed to be the younger brother of Kailash Mountain. Kailash Mountain is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. Some people worship the two mountains as females, considering them to be sisters. Many legends are connected to this origin of this relationship. According to one, the Lama from Shey Gumba flew to the top of Crystal to meditate in a cave, and from there he could see Kailash Mountain. It is also believed that the Ghyangtok Gumba at Kailash and Shey Gumba were constructed in the same year.

Shey Festival
Every twelve years, in the year of the dragon according to Tibetan calendar, Shey Gumba holds a festival. Though the Gumba has a ceremony in September every year, there is a major ceremony every twelve years. This festival is celebrated grandly by inviting Rimpoches from other surrounding Gumbas. Buddhists from all over the world flock to this festival. During this festival, devotees make a rotation of Crystal Mountain. 

Day Seven
On this day we crossed the second pass of the journey.  From Shey Gumba the path is muddy at first.  We walk on the side of a hill on a mild incline. There are also some stretches of steep incline. After walking for about three hours, we get to a gorge with a shallow river. We walk uphill along the river shore, then we climb a short stretch of steep incline. The final stretch takes us almost horizontally on a dark, sandy mountain. 

After crossing the pass is a steep downhill trail. Though the hills are barren without greenery, there are all kinds of wildflowers in red, yellow, pink, and blue sprouting from rocky surfaces. We follow a river downstream, and we see more and more barren rock like hills. Lunch was at Namgung, a small village that offers an open brick kitchen for trekkers. If the travelers are weary, they can camp at Namgung instead of walking four more hours to Saldang, as Namgung offers a good camping facility as well.

After walking uphill from Namgung for two hours, we reach a hilltop that offers a panoramic view of light green colored mountains far into the distance. We descend from the hilltop to the village of Saldang. Saldang is a beautiful valley, its green fields in stark contrast to the bare hills around. Saldang is densely populated compared to the surrounding hillsides. It is a fertile valley which grows potatoes, rice, wheat, and barley.  Saldang also has a primary school, a health center, and communication facility through Hello network. It has a good campsite and running water as well. 

Saldang contains a Gumba called Samiye Choying Gumba. This Gumba is older than Shey Gumba, and has been modeled on the Potala Gumba in Tibet and other gumbas in Thimpu. It has been recently repainted for the festival. The Gumba officials have decided to retain old style stone roofs, instead of giving it a tin roof, so as to preserve its original look. 

Alternative: This is a very long stretch to complete in a single day, and it can be broken down at Namgung. Lunch can be packed and camping can be done at Namgung.

Day Eight
We start this day from Saldang with mild inclines and declines. We walk along a gorge where the bottom is populated with green fields of local barley. We pass several villages on the way, and the mountainside is dotted with little chhortens, or Buddhist shrines. Many of them are hard to access. Lunch was at Namdo, a small village with a school and communication facility. We had to cross a knee deep river twice to reach the camping spot.  The campsite was at a river shore a few miles out of Rhakyo. It was on open ground on a small precipice overlooking a river. Thorny juniper bushes were the only vegetation.

This part of our trek is part of a trade route to China. There were many caravans of yaks, horses, and mules going to China. The Tibetan border opens for 15 days each year, during which people in the northern villages of Nepal go to Tibet and shop. They buy merchandise, clothes, and other necessary items, and much of the Yarsagumba trade takes place through this route.

Day Nine
On this day we prepared to cross our last pass of. We walked up a mild incline along a river inside a gorge. We crossed the river at some points.  For a long stretch, the track was almost horizontal along a river shore, but towards the end, the incline became steeper. On this day we left valleys and villages behind, and the scene went back to barren hills with a few signs of vegetation here and there. Lunch was on the way at a height of 4,427 meters. Camp was at High Camp, at a height of 4,850 meters. This was our highest camp of the journey. Even in the month of August, this place was very cold and foggy. This was our coldest camp of all.

Day Ten
On this day we crossed the last pass of the journey. The road from High Camp to Jengla Pass is steeply uphill with stones and boulders on the road. Since we camped at a great height, in the morning we were able to cross the pass very soon, at about one and a half hours. The road going down from the pass is gradually descending at first, and then becomes almost horizontal. On the left are barren ridged hills that look as if they are carved out of individual rocks. Each ridge in the hills is of a different color, red, ochre, or green. They look like parallel waves from afar. On the right, where we walk, there is more greenery.   A river, which will later join the Bheri, flows in between. 

Lunch was at Takshi,  a little village in a broad valley. The valley is very beautiful with lots of yellow wild flowers, and fields of local barley. There were a few houses and tents. About an hour from Takshi is Dho Tarap, where we camped. Dho Tarap is the world’s highest human settlement 4,090 meters. The people of Dho still follow traditional culture, and the houses are built according to traditional architecture where most of the living space is underground, and a small part of the house juts above ground. Dho Tarap is a junction from where roads diverge to Jomsom, Mustang, and Tibet. Hence, we would see a lot of horse, mule, and yak traffic around Dho.

Day Eleven
From Dho Tarap, we walk in a windy gorge that  is almost horizontal. Even though the sun is shining, the wind makes warm clothes necessary on this section of the trail. We follow the same rive as yesterday. We walk on a high, bare precipice and watch the river pass through narrow gorges. The river constantly changes shape, becoming wide and shallow in some places and deep and narrow between close set hills. Sometimes it even disappears between and under the hills. There are ridged hills on both sides. 

We encountered a couple narrow valleys with a few tents. We also passed several open spaces which were junctions for horses and mules to rest or pass the night. Lang and Tol Tol were two of these junctions.  Lunch was at Lang. Camping was at Tangum, a meeting point of two rivers. 

Day Twelve
The trail starts with a mild incline, but takes us to a height of 3,800 meters. The river sets our course as it whistles far below. From this day we see growing vegetation. The pine forests go from scarce to dense in a matter of hours, and there are two spectacular waterfalls on this stretch of the road. This stretch of the road is very cold due to the wind. Also, t where he gorge is made up of almost perpendicular hills, which allow for only a few hours of sunlight. 

After descending from the height of 3,800 meters, we came to Laini Odar, a narrow valley with a tent. We had lunch there. Camp was at Lashikyap,   a large village on a precipice overlooking the river. The river that we followed was joined by another river to form Thuli Bheri. Thuli Bheri becomes a large and fast flowing river tat offers numerous possibilities.

Day Thirteen 
The track led us through a gentle horizontal walk through dense vegetation. There are lots of village on the way, notably a group of separate villages near each other that are called Tarakot, Tarabagar, Shahar Tara and Tuppo Tara. From Tarakot we walk along the shore of the river. The road sometimes climbs to the top of the hill, and sometimes dips to the level of the river. Lunch was at Shahar Tara, one of the intermediary villages which was directly on our way. Camping was at Dunai, the headquarter of Dolpa, a large town with electricity, health center and communication facility. 

Day Fourteen
The last day of the trek led us uphill again. We had to get to Juphal, because Juphal is the only city in Dolpa with an airport. The road from Dunai is a wide motorable road up to Kalagauda. We walk on this road horizontally for approximately two hours. Then there is a steep uphill stretch for about two hours, as Juphal is situated at a considerable height than Dunai. Finally, we arrive at Juphal airport on top of town. From here we can take a plane to Nepalgunj or Surkhet.

Itinerary of Extended Upper Dolpa Circuit 
For travelers who cannot get enough of the adventures and cultures of Dolpa, there is a longer route that takes them through several villages. This is an opportunity for travelers to soak in more of the culture of Himalayan tribes, and to challenge their physical capacity. The itinerary of extended Upper Dolpa Circuit is as follows:

Day

Place of Origin (O)

Lunch (L)

Destination (D)

Altitude of Destination (in meters)

Waling time from O to L

Walking time from L to D

Max altitude of the day (in meters)

1

Juphal

Kageni

Chhepka

2,491

3 hrs

3 hrs

2,491

2

Chhepka

Rechi

Chunuwar

3,130

3.5 hrs

2 hrs

3,130

3

Chunuwar

View Tower

Ringmo

3,647

2.5 hrs

1 hr

3,715

4

Ringmo

Choklapuk

Ruktang

3,594

4.5 hrs

2.5 hrs

4,026

5

Ruktang

Pack Lunch

Base Camp

4,677

4 hrs

2 hrs

4,677

6

Base Camp

Pack Lunch

Shey Gumba

4,354

2.5 hrs

4.5 hrs

5,352

7

Shey Gumba

Taro

Bhijer

4,100

 

 

4,520

8

Bhijer

Phulak

Phok Khola

5,080

 

 

5,080

9

Phok Khola

Neng La Pass

Saldang

4,000

 

 

5,320

10

Saldang

Nagau Khola

Komasgaun

4,210

 

 

4,210

11

Kamasgaun

Chhiume

Pu Gumba

4,010

 

 

4,375

12

Pu Gumba

Sonma Gaun

Tinjegaun

4,160

 

 

4,170

13

Tinje gaun

Chhamdam

Thamgan Khola Dobhan

4,490

 

 

4,490

14

Thamgan Khola Dobhan

Phat

Penjan Khola Dobhan

4,480

 

 

4,490

15

Penjan Khola Dobhan

Chhola Bhanjyang

Tingyalaphu Odar

4,240

 

 

5,040

16

Tingyalaphu Odar

Takshi

Dho Tarap

4,097

 

 

4,280

17

Dho Tarap

Mirbubhane Khola Dobhan

Toltol

3,680

4 hrs

5 hrs

4,097

18

Toltol

Naurpani Dobhan

Lamchaur

3,600

5 hrs

2 hrs

3,780

19

Lamchaur

Chhedhul Gumba

Tarakot

2,095

3.5 hrs

4 hrs

2,718

20

Tarakot

Beluwa

Dunai

 

 

 

 

21

Dunai

-

Juphal

2,250

4 hrs

 

2,250


Apart from many small settlements, there are two major villages in this route: Bhijer and Tinje. There are also two extra passes that will test the traveler’s stamina. This track is full of alpine forests, interspersed with bare mountains. 

Itinerary of Lower Dolpa Circuit
The Upper Dolpa circuit is a tough one with many passes of more than 5,000 meters. Travelers can also choose a less taxing and popular route that takes them through scenic Phoksundo lake and Numa La pass. This trek is less expensive than the Upper Dolpa trek, because Upper Dolpa charges an entry fee of $ 500 for ten days of trek. The itinerary for lower Dolpa is as follows:


Day

Place of Origin (O)

Lunch (L)

Destination (D)

Altitude of Destination (in meters)

Waling time from O to L

Walking time from L to D

Max altitude of the day (in meters)

1

Juphal

Kageni

Chhepka

2,491

3 hrs

3 hrs

2,491

2

Chhepka

Rechi

Chunuwar

3,130

3.5 hrs

2 hrs

3,130

3

Chunuwar

View Tower

Ringmo

3,647

2.5 hrs

1 hr

3,715

4

Ringmo

Mandewa

Bagala Fedi

4,115

 

 

4,115

5

Bagala Fedi

Bagala Bhanjyang

Gyamdo

4,250

 

 

5,172

6

Gyamdo

Thaksi

Dho Tarap

4,097

 

 

4,250

7

Dho Tarap

Lang

Tangum

3,586

3 hrs

5 hrs

4,090

8

Tangum

Laini Odar

Lashikyap

2,718

5 hrs

2 hrs

3,586

9

Lashikyap

Shahar Tara

Dunai

2,095

3.5 hrs

4 hrs

2,718

10

Dunai

-

Juphal

2,250

4 hrs

 

2,250


From Ringmo, to Dho Tarap, the road is uphill upto Numa La Pass. Numa La Pass is the highest point of this stretch, which may contain snow even in the month of August. From then to Dho Tarap, the road gradually declines. It is full of tall, barren hills with little vegetation.

Jumla Alternative
Since our flight was cancelled for two days in a row, we decided to fly to Jumla and trek to Dolpa from there. This turned out to be a wonderful decision, since it provided a welcome diversion for us, and a better option than waiting in Nepalgunj airport. 

Jumla is a wonderful alternative because of its convenience. Jumla has a well constructed airport and the flights are regular from Nepalgunj. As a result, Jumla is well stocked on any kind of provisions, and most shops offer competitive prices. This offers an enormous advantage to travelers and trekking companies as well, because travelers do not need to stock up on food, vegetables or trekking equipments for coming to Jumla, and they can save up on transportation fees. 

Also, there are many motorable roads in Jumla, which provide the perfect setting for mountain biking. 

Flora and Fauna
Jumla is a haven for botanists, because it contains several rare flora. Jumla is the world’ highest altitude where rice is grown. Normally at this height, it is difficult to get enough irrigation for rice, but in Jumla, the Tila River which flows down from mountains irrigates the farms. Kalo Marsi is a local, patented species rice native to Jumla, and it is famous for its medicinal qualities. It is also famous as the favorite rice of Chandra Shumsher, a Rana Prime Minister of Nepal. Even today, the demand for this rice surpasses its supply, exacerbated by the fact that this rice does not grow elsewhere. The apples of Jumla are also in demand and are exported.  Also, many rare herbs like Satuwa, Jatamasi, Guchi-chyau, etc can be found in the hills of Jumla. One of them is Bhojpatra, a tree whose bark peels off in layers and was used as paper atone point. The plants Jumla are completely organic, as Jumla is declared to be a chemical free district.  

Culture
Jumla also has a rich cultural heritage as the origin of Nepali language. Till today, the majority of Jumla are from the Nepal speaking communities of Bahuna and Chhetris. Several unique cultural phenomena, like the Deuda dance, and Chopaya, a rice planting ritual where farmers play in muddy fields, can be observed in Dolpa. 

Itinerary of Jumla to Dolpa stretch
 

Day

Place of Origin (O)

Lunch (L)

Destination (D)

Altitude of Destination (in meters)

Walking time from O to L

Walking time from L to D

Max altitude of the day (in meters)

1

Khalanga

Gutthichaur

Manisanghu

2,770

7 hrs

2.5 hrs

2,987

2

Manisanghu

Chotro

Nauligoth

3,553

2.5 hrs

6.5 hrs

3,913

3

Nauligoth

Chaurikot

Kaigaun

2,600

2 hrs

5.5 hrs

3,615

4

Kaigaun

Ghodakhor

Liku

2,426

7.5 hrs

3.5 hrs

3,841

5

Liku

Tripurakot

Dunai

2,095

2.5 hrs

6 hrs

2,426

Day One:
The trek starts from Khalanga, the headquarter of Jumla and the site of its only airport. Khalanga is home to Chandan Nath temple, which used to be the Kuldewata (family deity) of erstwhile Baise Chaubise kingdoms. Even the famous Muktinath of Jomsom is said to be a division of Chandan Nath. 

From Khalanga the road follows Tila River upstream. There are many wide valleys, fields, villages and water mills on the way. There are also many hotels to snack at. The road is mostly horizontal, but there are inclines in between. We started descending from a maximum altitude of 2,987 meters. After the descent, there are hills with pine forests on the top and meadows at the bottom. These meadows are used to graze livestock. For lunch we arrived at Gutthichaur, which was one of the larger meadows. It contains a few hotels in tents. Camping was at Manisanghu, a well populated village.

Alternative: This day contains a very long stretch of walking, which may be too hard on the first day. This day can be broken down into two parts, with lunch at any of the intermediate villages, and comaping at Gutthichaur.

Day Two:
The trail starting from Manisanghu was a motorable road. It gently inclined up to Chotro. Chotro is one among several culturally unique villages. The people of Chotro are mostly Chhetri, and yet, they do not follow most of the cultural traditions of Chhetris. They follow Tibetan cultural traditions, complete with a Lama for major religious occasions. However, they do maintain some traces of Chhetris. Chotro is an example of cultural harmony and intermingling that permeates in Nepal. Many villages with this specific combination of Chhetri and Tibetan culture can be found in this belt. 

After Chotro, there are very few hotels or settlements to be found on the way. The road inclines gradually for a couple hours, and then there is a steep incline that goes up to 3,913 meters. The track is mostly made of mud and dirt, with lots of vegetation around. There are beautiful wildflowers all along the way, of red, yellow, purple, white and blue. The top is called Maurikot, which has a couple tents where travelers can rest. When going down from Maurikot, the road is horizontal at first and then declines steeply. There are a couple small houses and open spaces for camping. Our camping was at Nauligoth, a small settlement with a couple animal farms and hotels.

Day Three:
The road from Nauligoth starts on a downhill note. Through the day, the road goes both up and downhill. There are forests all along the way and white and blue flowers that grow wildly in grass. Also, there were many villages on the way like Balang, Jhyakot, and Majhkot.  Jhyakot is a pretty developed village with a medical shop, school, and laptops for all students.  On this day Bheri River comes in sight.

Lunc was at Chaurigoth, a small village in the way. Our campsite Kaigaon was a big village with schools and police outpost. This track is a part of a bustling trade route between Jumla and Dolpa and we observed many people, horses, and mules going to and from Jumla for trade.

Day Four:
This day we crossed our second pass of the trek. The road goes steeply uphill from Kaigaun up to a height of 3,308 meters. We can cross the steep incline after climbing for a little more than two hours. On top of the hill are a couple tents where milk and a few basic provisions are available. The next stretch of road is full of steep inclines and declines coming one after the other. There are dense forests on both sides. After following such a road for four hours, we arrive at the end called Lagna, at a height of 3,841 meters.

From Lagna, the road declines steeply up to the village of Ghodakhor. It is the first village after Kaigaon. There are very few hotels along the way. The road from Ghodakhor is full of steep ups and down, though it does not go up to a great height. There are many diverging roads on this day, and one needs a detailed map or a knowledgeable guide to negotiate the road. This ended up being the longest day of trek. Camp was at Liku, a populous village with a locally famous secondary school.

Alternative: There is a short path from Kaigaon that takes you directly to Shey Phoksundo in two to three days. This path goes through the village of Hurikot up the Kagmara pass. This pass is more than 5,000 meters above sea level, and the path from Kaigain involves climbing approximately 3,000 meters in two days. The recommended altitude change is only 400 meters per day. However, it can be attempted by physically fit trekkers.

Day Five:
A motorable road is being constructed from Liku to Tripurakot. From Liku, the road goes steeply downhill first and then straight through the construction. . Tripurakot is a rarity in this area, as it has electricity 24 hours a day.   The vegetation decreases from Liku to Tripurakot, and then completely vanishes from Tripurakot onwards. There is no water source between Tripurakot to Kalagauda, as the hills are barren. Lunch was at Kalagauda, from where the road to Juphal diverges. From Kalagauda onwards, the road is flat and motorable, and there are many Hindu and Buddhist temples along the way. Camping was at Dunai, the headquarter of Dolpa. Dunai is a densely populated town with electricity, communication facility, and schools. 

» Backpack / Duffel Bag
» Day Pack
» Trekking Boots/ shoes
» Socks x 4
» Sleeping Bag (4 season this can be rented in Kathmandu)
» Shorts x 2
» Fleece Pant / Jacket
» Flashlight
» Shirt/T-shirt x 2
» Thermal Underwear Top 2 / Bottoms 2
» Book
» Trekking polls (optional)
» Sun Hat / Visor Gloves
» Sun Screen
» Sunglasses (UV protected- imperative to have quality eye wear)
» Waterproof Jacket
» Waterproof Pants
» Watch
» Warm Hat with ear protection
» Permit / Money
» Camera / Film
» Down Jacket (this can be rented in Kathmandu)
» Small First Aid Kit

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sukute beach, riverside resort, rafting at bhote koshi
sukute beach, riverside resort, rafting at bhote koshi
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Testiminols Guest
Thank you to everyone at Equator for a great trip on Sun Kosi, especially to Arun and the rest of the team on the river who all worked very hard providing us with great support and wonderful food. We all had a fantastic trip and hope to come back to paddle more rivers and see more of Nepal in the future. It was also nice to meet you.
Catriona