The peaceful Lower Dolpo Trek is one of Nepal’s hidden gems. On this trail, you are lead over adventurous high passes and while experiencing the spiritual tenderness of the well-preserved Tibetan culture. The trek lies in the isolated western region of Dolpo. All the landscapes and people are similar to their northern neighbors in Tibet. The lower Dolpo circuit is a loop near the southern side of the Dolpo, dotted with small villages, shepherd huts, tons of unique flora and fauna, and the majestic Himalayas. Spend days hiking through the mysterious, high altitude terrain.
Most of the Lower Dolpo Trek lies inside Shey Phoksundo National Park. You’ll hike through forests of pine, juniper, birch, and fir trees with a variety of seasonal alpine flowers. Also, you are bound to see some species of rare wildlife, like the snow leopard, Musk deer, Himalayan Thar, Ghoral, Himalayan Black Bear, and many more.
Walking through the rain shadow area provides for spectacular sceneries. The beautiful Shey Phoksundo Lake, nearby Chepka and a tiny Bon Po village is otherworldly. Camping next to the turquoise water and waking up with a clear view of the Himalayas is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There is an awesome viewpoint near Ringmo village. The trail is not very well-maintained, but the view from the top is breathtaking. Tarakot village shows the authentic Himalayan Tibetan Buddhist lifestyle.
Dho Tarap is a larger, but equally, a scenic village inhabited by kindhearted locals. It’s a nice place to explore and pick up some souvenirs. The Lower Dolpo Trek is a one-of-a-kind Himalayan trail that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. By the time you leave, you will probably be contemplating when you can come back and go for the Upper Dolpo Trek. While crossing the Numa La and Baga La Passes, don’t forget to take your camera out and click some incredible photos of the snow-capped peaks of Dhaulagiri and the expanse of choppy peaks on the Tibetan side of the border.
What is the Best Season for Lower Dolpo Trek?
The best seasons for the Lower Dolpo Circuit Trek are spring (March, April, and May) and autumn (second half of September through October and November). March and April are right after winter, so the flowers are blooming, skies are clear, and the landscape is colorful. May is still before the monsoon season, so it’s also a great time for trekking in the Lower Dolpo region.
This month offers a peaceful experience on the trail, with pre-monsoon alpine flowers and splendid Himalayan views. Late September, October, and November are right after the monsoon in Nepal, so they offer lush green landscapes, bright flowers, clear skies, and warm weather. Monsoon season (June, July, August, and the first half of September) is doable if you have vacation time during this period. Among these, August and September are recommended because there is typically less rainfall in these months. The Lower Dolpo Trek cannot be done in the winter due to heavy snow on the high passes.
How Difficult is Lower Dolpo Trek?
Lower Dolpo Trek is a moderate level camping adventure in Far West Nepal. The altitude on the high passes and, at times, the weather on the trail are the most difficult parts of the trek. You will be lead high in the Himalayas, to an altitude of 5130 meters/17,421 feet above sea level. The days when you cross the Numa La and Baga La passes are the most challenging due to there being less oxygen in the air, but they are also the most rewarding.
It is possible to get unexpected snow and rainfall during the trek, and you may face uncomfortably cold temperatures, but our well-trained guides and porters will minimize the risk of any unexpected challenges to the best of their abilities. They are prepared for all circumstances and will ensure your safety and success on your Lower Dolpo Trek.
Can I take the trek if I have never camped before?
Sure, you can – easily! It may even be more interesting and adventurous for you. What better place to have a first-time camping experience than the magical Dolpo region of Nepal? Sleeping in a tent takes some getting used to for the first couple of nights, but you will soon fall in love with it. Our team sets up camp each night in a comfortable spot with an amazing view. After trekking for 5-6 hours each day, you’ll easily be able to fall asleep. Every evening, our team sets up the tent and packs it up in the morning. Enjoy the lovely morning views and feel the fresh, positive vibes of the mountain atmosphere.
People and Lifestyle of Lower Dolpo:
The population of Lower Dolpo is low due to its remoteness/how far it is from the nearest city. Those who live there, though, are exceptionally friendly and helpful. They welcome guests warmly and live up to the saying that ‘guest is god.’ They rely on locally grown potatoes, barley, corn, and buckwheat for sustenance. They are known to be diligent, disciplined workers, and recently, the younger generations are usually sent to Kathmandu or Nepalgunj for a better education. Both the young and old folks are known to be incredibly kind, helpful humans.
Where do we get drinking water?
Drinking water is the single most important key to having a successful trip. Of all the problems that can happen on the trail, dehydration is the cause of 99% of them. Bottled water is not able to be carried into the area, and you cannot buy it while you’re there. We provide water purification tablets so you can drink from the rivers, streams, and lakes in the area. If you don’t like the taste of the chlorine or iodine tablets, we recommend buying a handy filter to use for the trek. It is the best way to drink clean mountain water and maintain its original taste. You can use both filters and tablets anywhere that there is spring water. Filters are lightweight and can be carried in your day pack.
Are there toilets along the trail?
Our team builds a temporary toilet at every camping site. In the remote higher regions of the trail, be prepared to hide behind large rocks or bushes to take care of your business. In the lower parts of the trek, you will find toilets in guesthouses that you can use.
How many passes are there on this Trek?
There are two high passes on the Lower Dolpo itinerary. The first, Numa La Pass (5310 meters) happens on the 10th day. Then, you cross the Baga La Pass (5130 meters) on Day 11, the very next day. The first pass is higher and a bit more difficult than the latter. From both passes, you can see the expansive Upper Dolpo area, with snowcapped peaks in all directions. Hiking through the untamed wilderness up to the majestic passes is unforgettable – easily two of the most beautiful moments of the trek.
How do I get Lower Dolpo Trek Permit?
Two permits are required to trek into Lower Dolpo. The first permit is the Nepal Tourism Board, which costs $20 for the first week and $5 per day for additional days. Also, the Lower Dolpo Trek falls within Shey Phoksundo National Park, and the national park entry fee is $30 per person. The permit from NTB can be purchased in Kathmandu from the Nepal Tourism Board office. Make sure you bring your passport. The national park permit can be bought at the entrance to Shey Phoksundo National Park as well as the national park office in Kathmandu. It is better to buy both permits in Kathmandu to make the trek smoother. However, we manage both permits for you, and they are included in the cost of the trek.
How is the Trekking Trail in Lower Dolpo?
The trekking trail around the Lower Dolpo area is well managed these days. In the lower area of the trek, you’ll walk on a road (though there aren’t any cars). The rest of the way, the path follows an age-old trail built and maintained by the locals. Some parts of the trail, like on the Numa La and Baga La Passes, are quite narrow, so be careful during these parts. The trail leads through villages and completely desolate wilderness areas, so you’ll experience a diversity of landscapes. After reaching Shey Phoksundo Lake, you join the same trail as the Upper Dolpo Trek for two days, and then the trail widens and mellows out to Dunai for the last bit of the trek.
What is the required Physical Fitness level for this Trek?
Lower Dolpo Trek is considered a moderate level trek in the trans-Himalayan area of the Dolpo district. The trek requires a good level of fitness to have a successful journey. If you have regular hiking experience, just try to maintain that before departing for your trek by doing some up and downhill walking. The trails are manmade and there are significant elevation changes, so it’s best to do some training beforehand (especially if you don’t have much prior trekking experience).
It helps to hike in some mountains nearby your home or do some cardio at your local gym to build your stamina. Please consult your doctor or a trainer to get a more personalized fitness regimen to follow. As mentioned, if you have previous experience, training just helps you have a more comfortable trek. We recommend starting training for about 8 weeks before your departure date.
What day is the hardest on the Lower Dolpo Trek?
The hardest day on the Lower Dolpo Trek is Day 10 when you trek from Numa La Base Camp to Dhanighar via Numa La (5310 meters). Another challenging day is the following one – Day 11. This day, you trek from Dhanghar to Temche via the Baga La Pass (5170 meters). These two days are most difficult because of the drastic changes in altitude. Both mornings require an early start to get the best weather. Have no fear though, after days of preparation and acclimatization, these climbs are manageable and moreover, they are super fun and exciting.
What should I do if I get sick on the trail?
Please don’t be too worried about getting sick on the trail! All problems come with a solution and our team is always ready to solve it as quickly as possible. If you do experience symptoms of altitude sickness, please share them so you can continue the trek safely. Please don’t hesitate to tell our guide when you have any sort of problem. They are always happy to help! The guide will take the necessary action according to your symptoms/level of sickness. If it is a minor issue, the guide will take care of you and might recommend staying somewhere for another night to rest. If it is a bigger problem, the guide will take you to the nearest hospital.
Geography of Lower Dolpo:
Dolpo is the largest district in Nepal and is a situation in the Far Western side of the country. Dolpo is bordered by Tibet to the north, Mustang to the east, and Myagdi, Jagarkot, and Rukum districts to the south. There are 23 village development communities in the district. Much of the Dolpo region is taken up by the Himalayas, with forests in the lower region. Along the Lower Dolpo Trek route, there are 6 waterfalls. There are fewer flatlands in the area, and the flatlands that exist are where the villages are. The only piece of infrastructure that connects Dolpo to the rest of Nepal is a road leading to the airport of Juphal from Dunai.
Geographical Categorized :
Alpine Zone: It covers nearly 8% land area
Subtropical Zone: it covers very little area
Temperate Zone: It covers a bit more than the Subtropical area
Trans-Himalayan Zone: It covers 70% of the land area
Culture and Festivals of Lower Dolpo:
The villages along the Lower Dolpo Trek have a rich culture with unique festivals. In the southern part of the Lower Dolpo Trek, villages are a beautiful mix of different ethnic groups. They are mostly Hindus who speak Nepali and other local languages. In the higher regions, most people are ethnically Tibetan. They speak their own language, follow their own religion, and have their own festivals. If you take the Lower Dolpo Trek at any time, there is a good chance your trip will coincide with one of the many festivals. Here is a list of festivals celebrated in the Lower Dolpo region:
Chaitey is the 12th month of the Nepali calendar and Dashain is the major festival for Hindus. The purpose of Dashain is to pay homage to Lord Ram. It is celebrated by eating delicious food, singing, dancing, playing games, and most importantly spending time with your family.
Vijaya Dashami ( Dashain):
Dashain is the greatest, most celebrated festival for Nepalese people. It is celebrated in every corner of Nepal. It happens in the month of October and lasts 15 days. During Dashain, all family members get together, eat lots of meat and other delicious delicacies, play cards, receive tika blessings from the elders and spend quality family time together.
Tihar is the second biggest festival in Nepal – primarily celebrated by Hindu people. Also, known as ‘the Festival of Lights,’ Tihar lasts 5 days. On each day, something new is worshipped. For example, crows, dogs, cows, oxen, and finally, brothers, all have their own day of worship. All brothers are blessed by their sisters so that they have a long and healthy life. Then, brothers give gifts to their sisters. Like Dashain, Tihar is celebrated with the good company of people’s family.
Maghe is the 10th month of the Nepalese calendar, which typically falls on or around January 14th. Maghe Sankranti is celebrated with a grand gathering of family members, eating yams/sweet potatoes, sel roti (typical Nepalese fried bread), and other delicious foods while singing and dancing. This festival marks a farewell of winter and a welcoming of the spring season in Nepal. Specifically, the Magar community is associated with this festival – singing and dancing in their villages in Nepal’s middle hills.
Chye Chu takes place in the 10th month of the Tibetan calendar. A ritual is performed by the head Buddhist lama before the winter migration so that the local villagers have good luck in the lowlands. This ‘festival’ is very fascinating and is specific to the Dolpo region.
Celebrated in the month of December, this festival is the Dolpo equivalent of marking the New Year – similar to Lhosar for Tibetans. Chaigu is celebrated for 13 days and on the final day, the head lama looks up at the starry sky and performs rituals. This holiday is celebrated specifically in the Dolpo region.
Chaitu falls in the month of Chaitra (the 12th month in the Nepali calendar), which is the month of March in the English calendar. This festival, believe it or not, is simply dedicated to rest and relaxation. Because the monsoon season requires a lot of labor, Chaite allows people to take a nice rest before the hard work. During this time, instead of working in the fields, people spend time with their families and neighbors while eating delicious foods, dancing, and singing. Like Chaigu, Chaite is celebrated exclusively in this area.
Keja festival takes place in the first month of the Nepali calendar, Baisakh, which is April in the English calendar. Keja commemorates the onset of spring in Nepal and is especially celebrated by and for the ladies. During this festival, women get together, make bread and other foods, dance together, and play games.
As there is a festival for ladies, there is also one for the gents. Yacha falls in the month of Bhaisakh (April in the English calendar). It marks the start of spring and the return of the local ancestor god, Chyopta, from the Terai region. The people of Dolpo practice a mix of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon Po, and this holiday is mostly influenced by the latter. During this festival, locals make triangular buckwheat bread and offer it to their god. Why triangular bread? Because as Chyopta stayed for a long time in the Terai, he ate a lot of rice, so they want to welcome him back with their local buckwheat bread. It is an exciting celebration for young boys as they play with each other and practice their archery skills. Every year, an archery competition takes place and a special prize is given to the best archer!
Shrawan Purney and Bhadure Purney:
Shrawan Purney and Bhadure Purney happen in the 4th and 5th months of the Nepali calendar. In the English calendar, this is during July and August. Purney, meaning full moon, is a special time in Shamanistic religions. During this very auspicious festival, the Dhami (Shaman) travel for long distances to return for the full moons. They perform dances with their typical dresses. For 2 to 3 days, devotees visit the shamans’ homes bearing flowers and fruits. They tell the shamans details about their birth and then the shaman predicts their future and gives them advice on their life.
Lower Dolpo Trekking Cost:
The Lower Dolpo Trek cost includes all accommodation, food, and transportation as given in the itinerary. If you’ve looked at the Upper Dolpo Trek, you’ll notice that this one is much cheaper. This is because the Upper Dolpo Trek lies in a restricted area, which requires a more expensive permit. Compared to other packages like the Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Base Camp Trek, the Lower Dolpo Trek is a bit pricier due to the fact that you have to fly there and it is a camping trek. On camping treks, we have to carry out own food, tents, etc., but the experience is definitely worth it. Nowhere else in Nepal can you experience the unique culture, silent trails, and the glorious Shey Phoksundo Lake.
How to get there?
Lower Dolpo is in the Far West region of Nepal, far from Kathmandu. It is still not possible to drive to the trek starting point, due to there not being a solid road system there yet. It is possible to take a Jeep, but it takes much longer. The best way to get there is by flying from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and then another flight to Juphal Airport in the Dolpo District. From there, we drive to Dunai – the starting point of the Lower Dolpo adventure.